A while back I ran a public open-table OD&D game as part of the opening ceremonies for the Doomslangers exhibit at the Allegra LaViola gallery. One of the players was Kevin Pearl; when not scouring dungeons, he is part of the comiXology Social Media & Production Team. So when they were preparing for the launch of the Dungeons & Dragons comics from IDW Publishing on their Comics by comiXology service, Kevin reached out to me to put together a gaming event as part of the launch party.
If you’re in NYC and free this Wednesday night, come play with us at Jim Hanley’s Universe; check out the flyer image at right, or the press release below, for details. If you’re coming, be sure to RSVP at the Facebook event page!
Even if you aren’t in the area, or need more lead time to arrange your gaming schedule, I think this is a noteworthy development in a conversation we’ve been having here at the Mule. To review what’s gone before:
The scenario I ran for the Doomslangers show where I met Kevin was a room I created for the Tower of Gygax at Gen Con, which first got me excited about the possibilities for party gaming: ways to do outreach to new players through a reduced barrier to entry, and to entertain existing ones on a larger scale through audience participation and easy drop-in/drop-out. I ran this scenario again at Jaysoncon, where the Tower of Gygax approach worked as well for the small audience celebrating Jayson’s birthday as it did for the hordes who queue up at Gen Con to see how long they will survive before death means they have to give up their seat to the next player in line.
My experience trying to run 4E for a mixed group of experienced current players and newbies or long-lapsed ones at the D&D installment of Ryan McGinness’s 50 Parties series pointed out some of the issues that have to be taken into account to make this kind of public, all-access gaming work. The bachelor parties and birthday parties for kids and adults my fellow Mules and I have done since then are attempts to try out solutions.
I’ve said before that there are interesting questions for the OSR about the interface between this kind of party gaming and the long-form campaigns that we normally celebrate. There is also an important conversation to be had about commercialization and commodification of our scene. Ryan McGinness told me that he created 50 Parties in reaction to “the proliferation of parties with corporate sponsorship, where you’re always going to a party that exists to showcase the introduction of a new brand of vodka”. At the time this seemed as far away from my geeky world as could be, but in NYC these worlds are now in collision.
The fact that I really like both vodka and the IDW D&D comics doesn’t blind me to the issues here. How can we keep the collision of worlds from being a disaster and instead ensure that we get their planet’s women and Coca-Cola in exchange for our surplus ray-guns and radium saucers? I’ll have more to say about this down the road; for now, here’s the press release:
Harken to the call of adventure as comiXology, IDW Publishing, and legendary comic shop Jim Hanley’s Universe team up for an unprecedented Dungeons and Dragons gaming event!In honor of the latest release of IDW’s massive collection of fantastic Dungeons & Dragons comics on Comics by comiXology, comiXology and IDW Publishing will be hosting an evening of classic Dungeons & Dragons gaming at Jim Hanley’s Universe in New York City! Gaming oversight provided by Tavis Allison of http://www.adventuringparties.com/When: November 23rd, 2011 6:00pmWhere: Jim Hanley’s Universe on 33rd Street, right next to The Empire State Building in New York City.What: Come prepared with a Dungeons & Dragons Digital Comic already downloaded on your device and receive a free comiXology t-shirt that adds + 5 to your base Awesome factor! Didn’t understand that last joke? Worry not as players need not be experienced in the grand tradition of D&D to play. Adventurers of all levels are invited to take part in an evening filled with magic, adventure and a whole lot of geeky fun. So gather up thy lucky dice, digital devices, and whatever else one might need to slay Orcs or hunt for treasure and come join us on November 23rd at Jim Hanley’s Universe.