Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tonight's Rifts Game


-Someone punched the legs off a robot.

-Someone flew right through the guts of a robot.

-Heads turned into bloody or electronic sludge with called shots.

-Mini-missiles almost destroyed an entire dune buggy full of player characters.

-A giant rail gun was also mounted on the same dune buggy, with relatively predictable results.

-Serious time was spent attempting to figure out the terminal velocity of a rhinoceros dropped from the sky.

Yep. I love Rifts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More Rifts Ahoy

I haven’t posted much this week, but between work, family, IndyCar (WILD weekend there, let me tell you), and finishing up some stuff on the Megaversal Ambassadors, there’s not been much time for RPG blogging. The good news is, yes, we’re playing Rifts again tomorrow night! More explosions to come, a small town to defend, and a bandit army that’s going to come at them with all sorts of tricks! 6 against 100—in Rifts, we call that a 50/50 shot.

I’m worried one of my players lost their character sheet; he thinks he left it at my house, and I don’t see it anywhere. I usually scan in character sheets, but our scanner hasn’t been working quite right as of late. Along with the fact that we’ll have another noob with us this evening (awesome!), it illustrates one of the big issues with Rifts character generation that I’ve oft mentioned before—it’s a lot of fun, but it isn’t a 5-10 minute job, especially with first-timers. That’s one of those things where Castles & Crusades* gets you up and going much quicker, whatever you think of the relative granularity involved.

I’ve been messing with a templates system, close to what you see in d6, but some of the classes are hard to pin down in any sort of template. For now, I’m going to have to hope we can knock it out relatively quickly in the time we have. Fortunately, when it’s one-on-one like this, it goes much quicker than trying to get an entire group to go step-by-step.

*-Speaking of Castles & Crusades, don't miss out on the C&C sale they're having right now at Troll Lord Games. A Player's Handbook for $10 is a steal!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not A Bad Little Weekend

Although I didn’t do any gaming this weekend, I still had a pretty nice time of it, in terms of RPG-related activity. I had long wanted to compile a handwritten book of some of my charts, tables, house rules, and special items for Castles and Crusades, and I got a nice jump on it on Friday night. I’m using an oversized acid-free sketchbook, and though it’d be easier to type it all out, there was something cathartic about having some time to myself, listening to my “relaxation” and “classical” playlists on Spotify and scribbling in this book all the while.

As much as I love my pdfs, there really is something nice about having this nice tome for use at the gaming table, even if it is in my chicken scratches.

I also decided to tackle my take on gem-based casting, where instead of regular spell components, casters must use precious metals or gems to cast spells. A 0-level spell may be cast with just a single copper or silver, but things get more expensive from there. Looking against spell components in the Castle Keeper’s Guide, some spells come out a little less expensive, whereas some are more expensive. For the highest-level spells, a flawless diamond or red ruby is needed. At lower spells, it might be a scrap of obsidian or tiger’s eye. It’s only for arcane casters; priests and the like must rely on their holy symbol, and I’m still working on some bits for that.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Neverwinter: The First What?

The city of Neverwinter in the Forgotten Realms has certainly had its share of publicity over the year—two video games (the Neverwinter Nights series), a pretty prominent place in Realms lore, and now it’s been cranked out for 4e as the Neverwinter Campaign Setting.

In the press release was buried this gem:

“It is the first-ever RPG book focused solely on one city”

Ahem. Let’s read it again:

“It is the first-ever RPG book focused solely on one city”


Of course, the Neverwinter Campaign Setting is not the first RPG book focused solely on one city. It isn’t the second, or third, or twentieth. Scads of books have focused on a single city, such, as, oh, The City of Greyhawk, which had an entire boxed set dedicated to it. There was Ptolus, which had about 3 reams of paper dedicated to Monte Cook’s behemoth. Palladium Books had Century Station. Judges Guild has City-State of the Invincible Overlord. Flip through the RPGnet Gaming Index, and find countless more examples.

For crying out loud, it isn’t even the first Forgotten Realms product dedicated to a specific city! Waterdeep cleaned up in that department in editions past. Even Ravens Bluff got 64 pages.

Of course, this isn’t the first time WotC has conveniently forgotten the history of Dungeons and Dragons. In the run-up to 4e, we had the Realms and Dragonlance mentioned as the first D&D campaign settings, while Greyhawk was quietly pulled off to one side.

This is a company that has shown no respect for the history of the game, other than a few superficial trappings that do nothing. Is it an outrage? No, but it is more sloppiness, ignorance, and disregard from a company that continues to show themselves a poor caretaker of a legacy game. It’s the little comments like these, an aversion to open licensing, and a history of heavy-handed behavior over items such as pdfs that ensure many gamers of previous editions will not embrace WotC, not matter what they decide to make available.

We want gamers running our companies, or at least influencing things. We want some sign you love the history of this game, or are at least cognizant of it. We want you to sound less like a shill, and more like a fan.

Next week, perhaps they can announce their next Dungeon Master’s Guide product is the “first-ever D&D resource for Dungeon Masters”. It would certainly be keeping in line with previous behavior.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Castle Keeper's Guide

One of my purchases at Gen Con was the Castles & Crusades Castle Keeper's Guide from the Troll Lord Games booth. Since our group is running Castles & Crusades (and has in the past), I've been waiting to pick up this tome, which was stuck in long development for what seemed like forever.

In any case, I have it now, and I'm really enjoying it. Of course, I've haven't read very far in yet, but so far it reminds me of a Dungeon Master's Guide mixed with Unearthed Arcana. It really breaks down a lot of the ideas behind Castles & Crusades, examines them, and presents you with options for your game.

Of course, it is written in that very distinct, voluminous Troll Lord prose; that's going to be a turn off to some people, but I generally like it. It gives the work a bit of character and lift.

I'm going to hold off on a full review until I'm completely done, but so far this is the sort of thing I want in an RPG Game Master's product: give me different mechanical options, help me look at the system and how it can work from my style of gaming from all angles, and give me the inspiration to make my game better. The big tests for it will be how it stacks up to the AD&D 1e DMG and the Hackmaster 4e GMG. If it can come anywhere close to the use I've squeezed out of those worthies, it will have been a purchase well made.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Gen Con Haul

Before I left for Gen Con, I made a list of things I possibly wanted to pick up at the show. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) Carcassonne Expansions
2) Castles and Crusades Castle Keeper's Guide
3) Gamescience Dice
4) Stars Without Number Hardcover
5) Fight On! Compilation
6) Hirst Model Arts Molds

I actually did pretty well with my list, grabbing the first three items. I didn't get #4, 5, or 6, but I still think we're planning on some some Hirst Molds, we're just going to have to go in when we have a little more money. On the Stars Without Number hardcover, it came down to a choice between that and the Castle Keeper's Guide, and since I already have SWN in another format, the CK Guide got the call this time.

As for the Gamescience dice, that's always a blast. The lighted display at Gamescience is just awesome to look at. It's mesmerizing. I'm pretty happy with the glow-in-the-dark d20, d24, and d5 I purchased as well. There weren't many of the precision-edged Armory d30s left, so I'm really happy I picked one of those up when I could.

In addition, as I mentioned yesterday, I picked up DungeonMorph Cards from Inkwell Ideas, which I really like. I also picked up some reaction/emotion d6s from Flying Buffalo, complete with angry, happy, really angry, neutral, and really happy faces. It'll be fun to use them for random NPC reactions.

My wife bought two board games from Out of the Box Games: Word on the Street and Shake n' Take. Both are family-style games that my oldest daughter should be able to play as well.

On the board game front, I am really, really disappointed I didn't get is Conflict of Heroes, from Mayfair Games. We demoed this, and it's one of the easiest, most entertaining wargames I've played. Sadly, the $80 price tag was too much, and I didn't have enough time to get the Mayfair discount by demoing a whole host of games.

Ticket To Ride was also under consideration--it'd be nice to have a copy of my own, finally--but it wasn't going to happen this weekend.

I thought long and hard about picking up Burning Wheel Gold, but I thought long and hard about my experience with Burning Wheel Revised. The game, and especially scripted combat and social conflict, are tough sells for a lot of game groups. I had to be realistic and pass on it.

All in all, not a bad Gen Con haul. It probably pales in comparison to some, but I just feel fortunate I was able to attend and pick up a couple things. That's more than many can say, and I feel like none of my purchases were "impulse buys" I'll never play. That's a good feeling.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gen Con Indy: Day 4 & Wrap-up

As I mentioned elsewhere, this year's show really didn't seem to have a "best in show", dominating product. I don't think that's a bad thing; there is no overwhelming big dog right now. WotC and Paizo might share the top spot for the moment (more or less), but there are a number of other gaming companies that seem to have hit this happy stride in regards to their publishing model and product line. I think that's one of the big reasons folks seemed pretty content at this year's show overall.

The new convention hall area and configuration, is, in a word, superb. I really feel like next year will especially be a good year to go to Gen Con. Right now, the city streets are still a mess as they try to get ready for the Super Bowl. There should be plenty of hotels looking for business after the Super Bowl concludes, as well.

My favorite product of the show has to be my Inkwell Ideas DungeonMorph Cards. With a box of 90 DungeonMorph cards, I can randomly or deliberately mock up a dungeon in no time flat. Here's a photo of a quick layout I did, with the keychain and die to show scale:

Neat, huh?
My oldest daughter had her baptism today, so time was/is pretty limited. I will likely have lots more to talk about, but for now, I'm bone-tired, I have a race to watch, and my mind is pretty much fried. I want thank you all for reading and sharing over the past few days. It was pretty nice to cut back a little this year, but I certainly hope you don't feel too short-changed. I'm in talks with the wife to simply stay downtown last year, which would make it a lot easier to offer more coverage throughout the convention. We'll have to see how it pans out!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gen Con Indy: Day 3, Part 2

My (non-RPGing) wife was walking along when a booth rep from Chessex attempted to give her a coupon or pamphlet or somesuch. She laughed and said, "Hey, that's not Gamescience!".

I was horrified and secretly very proud at the same time.

Apparently she has been paying attention, but hopefully the gentleman wasn't offended--it was meant in good fun.

My wife and daughter stopped at the Edhellen Armoury booth and began fighting in the middle of the aisle with assorted foam weaponry. I believe my wife brought a giant maul into play at one point before I made them stop, explaining that wasn't really proper floor etiquette. It was really starting to turn into a more eventful day than I'd have liked.

I had a nice, long chat with Kevin Siembieda. Man, I wish would have recorded it. I think I mentioned in my chat with him the other day what fire and enthusiasm he still has for gaming. He gave me this incredible pep talk about gaming, about doing what you love, and not focusing on the little stuff at the table as much as the big picture. The guy gets all the flak in the world online, but man, he should give a seminar for discouraged gamers.

Honestly, it was nice to see the Palladium booth keeping pretty busy. Kevin said after a two-year absence, he wasn't sure what sort of reception they'd get. Well, you can definitely say Palladium's fans haven't forgotten.

I picked up the Castles & Crusades Castle Keeper's Guide. I went for the hardcover, since I had a coin that gave me 20% off my purchase. I think my whole group raided their store at some point or another. The printing and binding looks nice, which was one of my questions since Troll Lord Games is doing in-house printing now. I probably could have dropped another $100 at the TLG booth, but that wasn't in the budget.

There remains no big "hit of the convention". I've asked probably 2 dozen gamers and gaming bloggers, and no one can point to one product that just took over this show. I've been asked my opinion on Burning Wheel a lot, but I don't know how many copies they brought or how they're doing. I didn't get the feeling of that same "buzz factor" as, say, Mouse Guard, but it's hard to tell.

Honestly, if there's anything, I get the sense most people are generally pretty happy with their game or company of choice. Paizo and Pathfinder fans are enjoying what they're getting (Ultimate Combat was moving very well, it looked like), and you can see the same with fans from Margaret Weis to Cubicle 7 to Pinnacle. I don't know if it's the fact that we're coming to terms with things such as pdf pricing, online resources, and less traditional publishing models, or if we've stabilized after a long period of their being one big dog and everyone else. This show just seems a bit happier, if that makes sense.

OK, time for some more pics:

These two worthy knights were found over by the Paizo booth. It had
to be 150 degrees in that armor.
My daughter was in love with this sword. She totally had the Conan-style
wielding of it down, as well.

This picture turned out like crap, which is a shame, because mini-Stormtrooper
and mini-Boba Fett made my day.
Another shot of the action at Kenzer. They do an awesome job of
putting players through Hackmaster demos.

By request, another view of the Palladium Booth.

Traveller Books! I'll never get tired of seeing that.

I'll finish up with some thoughts and additional tomorrow. I have my oldest daughter's baptism tomorrow, so I'd probably be in big trouble if I missed that in the morning.

Gen Con Indy: Day 3

I brought my wife and daughter along to Gen Con today. My wife picked up some Carcassonne expansions, and of course we had to stop by Out of the Box to demo some of their great games.

Ran into an old friend from high school today! He's a Gen Con noob, but you could see he was really wowed by how awesome it was. It's one of those things that pales unless you see it in comparison.

I picked up my copy of the Castle & Crusades Castle Keepers' Guide, and I bought some dice, including some "reaction roll" dice right from Rick Loomis at Flying Buffalo.

There's a bit of noise about Wizards of the Coast potentially releasing old editions of D&D once again. Personally, a) I have zero faith in the company to not mess it up, and b) I already have my ideal game of D&D, and it's not going through their filter.

Enough with that. I've been harsh on WotC this year, and that's not what this is about (at least not completely). Here's some pics and commentary:

Mongoose did have copies of Stars Without Number! Here's a random
interior shot. 
The Stars Without Number cover art.
Rick Loomis at the Flying Buffalo Booth, presiding over
an inventory of Tunnels and Trolls, Nuclear War, and
a few odd dice. Always great to see them!
Some new Gamescience dice! The white ones glow in the dark, and are a d20,
d5, qnd d24. The orange and green dice sort of have a cool neon glow of
their own.
I wanted to shake Ash's hand afterwards, but, you know...
The Chaosium booth was loaded with books. Cthulhu remains a popular
icon at the convention overall. Sorry to whomever's butt that is there, but I
only have this one shot.
Kenzer had a nice display up for their Hacklopedia of Beats. The production
values and usability look to be off the charts.
That's it for the moment; more to come soon!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gen Con Indy: Day 2, Part 2

Again, I had limited internet opportunities today, so this report is coming in late.

Coming in this morning, we of course saw gamers sleeping in the various hallways connected to the Convention Center. Some just slept an hour or so after a whole night of gaming, some are "living off the land" during the convention. It's sort of admirable and adventurous, in it's own way, but it doesn't do much for the hygiene levels on Days 2-4.

The big announcement today was Margaret Weis landing the Marvel RPG license. The booth personnel were all smiles after the early afternoon announcement, and they plastered Marvel stuff everywhere. They couldn't have been prouder. Honestly, that's been the biggest news to come out of the convention so far.

The new convention hall is a dream--more room to maneuver, to visit a booth without feeling like my butt is hanging out in the aisle, etc. Everyone's giving it great reviews.

Vendors are still optimistic overall; there's more of a positive feeling overall, I think. I can't put my finger on why, but it just seems like perhaps it's a byproduct of having multiple companies really having their stuff together right now.

OK, here's some pics and commentary:

First off, by request, a cornucopia of Chessex dice!
The Lego Heroica games are like a Lego Dungeon Crawl. So many guys
my age were there, checking it out and just as impressed/excited as the
little kids were. What an awesome product!
This kid's Jawa costume rocked, pure and simple.
The Pathfinder Society gaming area appears to have doubled over
last year. There seems to be little doubt, no matter who you talk to
here, that Paizo is ascendant.
The Maps of Mastery line at the Game Mechanics booth is really impressive
in person. Talk about professional quality!
We got a pic of the Beholder statue lording it over the RPGA room.
Then we Shifted One Square and got the hell out of there.
DriveThruRPG is showcasing their print-on-demand skills with the 2-volume
edition of Monte Cook's Ptolus. It looks great, as did the rest of their POD items.
This Angry Birds game was sold out by the time I saw it. Fun stuff!
Obi-Wan in the background there was sort of the odd man out when it
came to photo ops. I sorta felt bad for him. The Sandtrooper, though, was
tearing it up.
It is really nice to have the folks behind GOLD: The Series with a booth there.
They has a number of production shots decorating the place, and are
always great to chat with. 

Tomorrow, I'll be attending with my daughter, so we'll be sure to get her keen insights as well!

Gen Con Indy: Day 2

I'm writing this early Friday morning, because I'm not sure how the internet situation is going to be. In any case, I wanted to make a correction from yesterday on WotC. Apparently, they are selling something somewhere; it's just not apparent or very prominent. I'm not sure what the deal with the booth folks telling us they weren't selling anything this year was.

Oh, here's a couple of bonus pics from yesterday:

The Indie Press Revolution Booth is smaller this year,
and sort of wedged in the middle of the GPA uber-booth.
Yes, I got my picture taken with Lord Vader (this is not that pic). And I addressed
him by his proper title. You don't mess with some things.
Troll Lord Games is handing out coins for their GMs who run for them
and the like. They're redeemable for booth product.

In any case, as a worst-case scenario, I'll take a ton of pics today, and post them when I get home. If I get a good internet connection, I'll do another midday update.

Thanks again for reading! If you have any requests or questions, the best way to get ahold of me today is through my email: mail.rpgblog(at)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gen Con Indy: Day 1, Part 2

Apologies for the tardiness of this post. I had some severe internet issues today. In any case, here we are with more.

It's tough not to love what Inkwell Ideas offers. I grabbed a set of Dungeonmorph Cards today, and they are all sorts of awesome. The Dungeonmorph Dice that they had demo copies of were pretty sharp, too:

They also offered a free map as swag:

I also got a preview of the One Ring RPG. Interesting system for modeling the effects of fatigue, which is pretty key through Tolkien character journeys. It's a pretty good-looking slipcase set, with plans to expand the world not unlike the Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader/Deathwatch/Etc. model:

It's impossible not to love the level of detail from both Dwarven Forge (resin, first photo), and Fat Dragon Games (cardstock, second photo):

Here's Palladium Books. Kevin Siembieda is signing for a fan here:

I took this at the Privateer Press booth before it opened. Super-cool display:

This is like a quarter of Mayfair's demo space. They rock the demos like none other:

Steve Jackson Games had this gumball-type machine. Put in four quarters and get a limited-edition Munchkin figure! Talk about popular! (And yes, that is a brain in a jar next to it. You could totally touch it).

That's it for now. I hope my internet woes clear up tomorrow, otherwise it might be a late update!

Gen Con Indy: Day 1

Mid-afternoon: Greetings from the Gen Con Floor! The vendors I've spoken to thus far have said it's been a brisk business, with customers happy to part with their fundage. There's really no big hit, although Margaret Weis has a big announcement coming tomorrow at 1 concerning a "big" license. Honestly, there's just no "big buzz" game or product, but that doesn't mean there's not lots of awesomeness.

Paizo had a line to just get in their booth once more, with Ultimate Combat selling well. There was an early rush for Luke Crane's Burning Wheel Gold, though as I write this there are copies remaining (no idea how many they brought).

The biggest booths of the convention have to belong to Fantasy Flight and Mayfair, each of which are really jumping already! Privateer has a smaller presence, but is flooded as always.

The convention hall has moved to a bit roomier of a setup this year, and the hallways don't seem nearly so congested. However, the registration line for those who didn't order their badges ahead of time is as long as ever.

Green Ronin's booth is in the back of the hall by the entertainers. What a crappy location, listening to Luke Ski do parody songs all day. If there's a hell, Green Ronin purchased booth space.

White Wolf is also in the back of the hall, too, but at least they have actual books on sale, unlike last year.

Oh, by request I asked a WotC rep is there was any progress on bringing back their back pdf catalog. After a pause, he very politely asked, "Are you talking about DDI?".

We will never see those pdfs again, guys.

OK, time for pics:

Gamescience: So awesome they glow.

Gamescience is also now doing "green" recycled dice!

Some nice terrain by Itar's Workshop. Check 'em out.
One thing people don't mention about Gen Con is new book smell.
Probably because it has to compete with Game Funk.

Early copies of Adventurer Conqueror King at the OSR Booth.
The opium den of Gen Con.
The expanded/revised Rifts Vampire Kingdoms has advance copies here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Welcome To Gen Con Indy!

Just a quick update—I’m off work and ready to head to Gen Con early in the morning! We’ll be leaving from Noblesville (NE Indy ‘burbs) at 0600. I’ll be stopping by the press room to pick up my credentials, then hitting up breakfast before the hall opens.

I actually saw a gamer-related bumper sticker on a car this morning while heading into work. It’s really cool to see the influx of gamers into my hometown this week. Which brings me to my welcome message...

If you’re in town for the convention and reading this, welcome! Indianapolis loves having you in town (although some folks still don’t understand what we exactly do for these four days), and I hope you find your stay pleasant. Sorry about the heat, but I hope you get the chance to explore a bit further afield. We have an amazing AAA ballpark right across from the convention center (with home games each day of the convention!), great museums, the World’s Greatest Racecourse, plenty of nearby dining and shopping, friendly locals, and a keen interest in improving our city year after year. Maybe it’s a little corny to love my hometown, but I make no apologies. Gen Con is a big deal for the merchants and vendors downtown, and they appreciate you deciding to spend your time here.

If you weren’t able to make it this year, well, we’d certainly love to have you make it sometime soon. Consider yourself here in spirit.

Keep in mind I’m not doing a continually-updated liveblog like last year; instead, I’ll be doing 1-2 big updates per day. I should have my camera (or at least my cell phone camera), so, as always, if there’s any coverage requests, let me know and I’ll do my best. I also have a couple of interviews lined up I think you guys will find interesting.

In any case, whether you’re waiting for the big day tomorrow in Indy or following along remotely from anywhere else in the world, welcome to Gen Con. Get ready for the madness!

A Few Last Thoughts On Gaming, Before Gen Con

This will mark my seventh consecutive foray to Gen Con, a streak that deployment by the US Military, living overseas at times, and a previous roller coaster of an employment situation could not halt.

I've spoken volumes before about what Gen Con means; for some gamers, it seems silly to assign such a significance to a single convention, but for many of us, it remains Gamer Mecca. It has that sense of coming home, whether we live in Indianapolis, London, or Seattle.

My Gen Con attendance has seen me go from a 20-something, separated from his family, with nothing to do but mess with gaming material, to a 30-something with three kids, a long work week, and another job on the side. My gaming situation is different than it was in 2004 or 2008; I've got less time to game, but I appreciate every chance I get all the more.

Even as my gaming habits change, Gen Con cannot be sullied. For that extended weekend, gaming is still king. It reminds me each time that the passion for gaming hasn't died, even as the time to game has shrunk.

I've been through gaming funks before, including one earlier this year I never thought I'd come out of. But here I am, ready for another Gen Con, ready to see friends, publishers, and new swag alike. I can't wait for that electric current, that Gen Con "feel" most attendees will nod and agree exists, but just can't quite find a way to explain it to someone who's never been.

I appreciate that Gen Con still reminds me that there are thousands of other gamers out there in my situation, scrapping and scratching to find time to get some good gaming in. It reminds me of what the hobby can be. It reminds me that buying new dice is something that never gets old. It reminds me taking a few days to spend time with friends in a common interest is something priceless.

Gen Con remains a refuge, a boomtown of gaming that sees us all in our precious element for a short window of time. We are conquerors, kings, experts, and sometimes even celebrities in our own right.

It'll be over all too soon, and we'll be back to being data analysts, collectors, customer service representatives, salespeople, and all the other vocations we work at to be able to support our loved ones and (occasionally) our hobbies. But while it's upon us, I'm going to enjoy every moment of it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Declarations

Joseph Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard had an interesting post on Sunday, even it was really just at its core explaining some of his preferences as a gamer. I’m going to go ahead and make some declarations of my own, many riffing off of his, some not:

I definitely think there’s often a disconnect, where people see games in terms of technology. New isn’t necessarily better. Of course, neither is old, but there isn’t some inevitable march of RPG progress.

As far as Elves, I’m not a fan of them as player characters. I like them with a little bit of arrogance, removed from the worries and wear of a short human life. I will admit, about 50% of my gnomes are in the “let’s blow stuff up” category. Dwarves are awesome, and need not be modified in any meaningful way from their Tolkienesque form. Halfling are ideally a bit more round about the middle, fond of pipeweed, second breakfasts, and a distinct lack of rough travel.

I don’t mind players adding meaningful bits to my world, but stay out from behind my screen. You don’t narrate that a sword appears or the dragon falls over dead. That’s my job.

I’m not even super-fond of half-elves and half-orcs, let alone dragonborn. If a class has a “-singer”, "-weaver", or “-dancer” suffix, that’s probably a bad sign. If you need a) more than 3 total words or b) generally any compound words at all to describe your race/class, I probably don’t like it.

Special class abilities, skills, and feats can be fun perks, in moderation. I hate min/maxing, which an excess of any of those three former items may encourage.

I really, really love random tables and charts, especially when they’re optional.

I have never had an “evil character campaign” end well.

The pdf revolution has been great! There are still times I want a printout or hard copy, though. New Book Smell is aces.

Laptops are a-ok at my table, but they’ve also been a distraction at times, just like smartphones. Groups need to be respectful of that sort of thing if they’re going to use them.

I am a proud member of the Order of the d30. I also love Zocchi dice, but things like a d24 are fun novelties, and not much else. I want to ensure the core dice for any game are at least reasonably accessible to players.

Ever since I became a parent roughly 6 years ago, I can’t stand any setting or adventure that sees children injured or harmed in any way. I hate seeing it, I hate reading about it, and I hate it as a plot hook.

I think the style of Dungeonpunk sucks. If you have that many buckles and spikes on your armor, it will take you 37 hours to get dressed, and you will likely impale yourself in the process.

I am almost exactly as old as Keep on the Borderlands. There are still no modules that come close to helping you learn how to be a sandbox GM quite like that one.

I am a really horrible Game Master when it comes to horror gaming. I can do sci-fi, fantasy, supers, but I suck when it comes to horror.

I mean this in the nicest way possible: I don’t care if an RPG uses “he”, “she”, “him or her”, or “it” as a pronoun throughout their examples. Whatever gets your point across. If certain pronouns in your examples help you deal with your white male guilt, go for it.

On that topic, men and women are treated the same at my table. I don’t see a need for any special treatment for either, but you’d better not act like a creep, no matter what your gender is.

I almost never use alignment. It’s problematic and easily gamed by players. Rather, you are how you act.

Yeah, gore….not really my thing in illustrations or art. It’s a style, but not one that’s at the top of my list. I like too much Goya not to have some appreciation for horror art, but I’m not a fan of too much of it in my gaming.

I’m a Christian and a gamer, who holds generally small-government political principles. Yes, I’m a pretty terrible Christian sometimes, and I’m probably an even worse libertarian. I don’t mention either on this site or online much, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy seeing my ideals, moral code, and God mocked. Yeah, you’re free to do it, but it’s irritating, especially when I’m just trying to discuss gaming, and one of the reasons I probably don’t post some places as much as I used to. I’m not about to start linking to in-depth National Review articles I find interesting or discuss my religious convictions here, because that’s not what this site is about. It won’t come up again, because I know it’s pretty irritating to jump online for RPG chat and see a bunch of other unrelated stuff thrown into the mix, but I felt like I needed to at least get that out there.

There are times when I look at what people are raving about on RPGnet or elsewhere, and I really think the hobby has passed me by somewhat. I look at where I was 4-5 years ago, and I don’t have that sense of commonality anymore. Then I tell myself to suck it up, quit being emo, and I go play with my kids for a while.

Monday, August 1, 2011

20 Must-Visit Booths At Gen Con Indy

Pretty snazzy title, eh? I went through and identified 20 booths you absolutely won't want to miss at this year's Gen Con Indy. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

1) Alea Tools (Booth 2026): Alea's magentically stackable markers are always neat to see, and they've had a dozen different uses at my gaming table. I believe they're also planning some Gen Con giveaways, so make sure you don't miss out.

2) Burning Wheel (Booth 311): Let me assure you, if you have any interest in Burning Wheel Gold, you'd best grab it immediately. When Luke Crane sells books at Gen Con, they have an alarming habit of disappearing quickly.

3) Cubicle 7 (Booth 711): C7 remains one of the best booths to visit for a diverse range of games at Gen Con. Make sure you swing by and scope out The One Ring; it's always interesting to see how a Tolkien-based RPG plays out.

4) Dark Platypus (Booth 405): Besides having one of the coolest names at the convention (I also love the name Giant Treehouse, Booths 1049-1249), Dark Platypus should have some pretty neat pewter tokens and gaming accessories, perfect as I slowly admit my time for painting miniatures has long since flown the coop.

5) Dwarven Forge (Booth 1313): Every year I visit this booth. I look at all the incredible building and dungeon models on display, and think about how they'd look on my kitchen table. Then I sigh, and turn away. For they are beautiful, but they are also out of my price range. See also: Miniature Building Authority (Booth 1637).

6) Gamescience (Booth 2009): Soul-crushingly, there will be no Colonel Lou Zocchi at the Gamescience booth this year. Speaking of crushing, ever notice how this booth is slam-packed full of customers whenever you go? The cult of Gamescience is thriving, I am pleased to say.

7) Gaming Paper (Booth 1456): Fortunately for me, I can afford Gaming Paper, which is doing its best to come up with more and more interesting, useful design. Best of all, it's cheap. Monte Cook and Ed Greenwood will also be signing at the booth at various times during the weekend, thanks to their input and utilization of the Mega Dungeon 1 set.

8) Geek Chic (Booth 1049-1249): If you’ve somehow missed out on these gaming tables before, don’t. It’s one of those booths where it’s fun to walk around, dream….and frantically estimate in your head just how much trouble you’d be in if you spent your children’s budding college fund on one of these tables.

9) GOLD The Series (Booth 2042): Our favorite webseries is back, and this time they've got a booth! Besides the series on DVD, they'll have plenty of gamer apparel and accessories as well.

10) GPA (Booth 412-413): Indie Press Revolution, Evil Hat Games, and Hero Games will all be represented in this booth block, which should make for a pretty lively (and crowded) gathering!

11) Hirst Arts (Booth 1827): This is the year, I promise. Some of us are finally going to go in together buy some of Hirst's molds. Honestly, just getting to look at the structures they make from these is an absolute inspiration.

12) Inkwell Ideas (Booth 1942): Hexographer has changed the way I do my game mapping, but Joe Wetzel will also be there with Dungeonographer product as well. Take some time to get some advice and tips for what these pieces of software can do for you.

13) Koplow Games (Booth 1513): I’m including this booth because I’ve had several questions on where to get “trick” or “cheater” dice. I will assume it is for amusement purposes only, as any use of those in a game is generally grounds for instant banishment. You can usually find them here. You didn’t hear it from me.

14) Old School Renaissance (Booth 1541): You knew it was coming, eh? Lots of publishers you’ve probably seen discussed on this site will be represented at this booth. From the brilliance of Exepeditious Retreat Press to Frog God Games to Sine Nomine Publishing, if you're of a classical mind towards your gaming, this sounds like a must-stop. Keep in mind, the Gygax Memorial Fund will be there, so save a little bit back to donate, if you're so inclined.

15) Paizo Publishing (Booth 302): Paizo's big release this go-round is Ultimate Combat for Pathfinder. They're right by a main entry of the new exhibit hall this year, so it'll be interesting to see how busy they are.

16) Palladium Books (Booth 1125): I believe Palladium will have ~100 advance copies of Vampire Kingdoms Revised and Expanded for Rifts there. Also, it's Palladium's first time back to Gen Con in a few years, so stop by and say hello!

17) Pinnacle/Studio 2 (Booth 605): Aside from Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition, this will be the home of our friend Rogue Games. Make sure to swing by and see them (as I need to do, as I need to pick up Thousand Suns Revised).

18) Plaid Hat Games (Booth 753): I'm not usually super up on board games, but Dungeon Run looks like too much fun not to check out.

19) Triple Ace Games (Booth 1523): If you haven’t seen the incredible settings like All For One, Hellfrost, or Sundered Skies, this is your best chance yet. A segment of gamers go to Gen Con looking for that next setting to run. There's a good chance this is your booth. Whether you run Savage Worlds or something else, you’ll want to check out what these guys are up to. (Hint: Brilliance).

20) Troll Lord Games (Booth 709): After sort of sliding in at the last minute in 2010, the Trolls are back with a full booth presence in 2011. Their new adventure A8: Forsaken Mountain will be available, there will be special Castles & Crusades coins available, and they're planning a ream of events at Scotty's Brewhouse through the weekend.

Of course, these are hardly the only booths worth visiting at this year's Gen Con. This is just the tip of the iceberg--lots more worthwhile booths are out there! If this wasn't enough, those with kids (or anyone who loves Lego!) will want to check out the Lego booth (108). Fat Dragon will be there once more, with their hard-to-believe paper minis (809), and Gamers For Humanity will once again be linking in to all sorts of neat efforts (1349).

Have fun exploring!