Archive for the 'Gaming Memorials' Category



25
Jan
12

The Real DIY Deal: Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord

This “recent and amazing donation to the Play Generated Map and Document Archive (PlaGMaDA) project: A beautiful, hand-made homebrew addition to the classic TSR Against the Giants series” is not news to Boing Boing readers, but it bears repeating.

Image from PlaGMaDA, courtesy of Tim Hutchings and The Scribe.

I had the pleasure of seeing the original (thanks Tim!) and it is indeed a thing of beauty! You can download the whole module thanks to Rended Press, whose awesomeness (like that of retro-clone creators) is in no way diminished by depending on the earlier contributions of the as-yet-untracked-down GJC Modules, The Scribe who donated it to PlaGMaDA, and Tim who thus made it what to our wondering eyes should appear.

Some things that have newsiness:

The first rule of Games that Can’t Be Named is that we don’t talk about Games that Can’t Be Named. No, wait, that’s clearly not true. Maybe it’s that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Anyway astute readers of the comments to that Boing Boing piece will note that Tim mentions that tonight’s Games that Can’t Be Named will be happening in partnership with PlaGMaDA. What does that mean? Will Tim be there and will he have the original “G2-squared” module with him?

Sometimes the veil of secrecy conceals the fact that even I don’t know for sure! What I can say is that we will be at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art on 137 Sullivan St. tonight; next Wednesday, February 1st, we’ll be inaugurating the Brooklyn Strategist‘s new location at 333 Court Street and another game that can’t be named.

Also newsworthy: PlaGMaDA needs your help to bid on an auction of awesome DIY adventures and character sheets from the distant past. Having recently and very entertainingly been schooled in the ways of collectors, I won’t link to the auction itself, lest that drive up the price. However, below is a picture of the goodness in which we will all share if your donation allows PlaGMaDA to make the winning bid.

Tim says the donations page is mostly for people wanting to contribute their gaming maps and documents to the archive, but it does have an email where you can contact him and pledge the financial support that PlaGMaDA needs to make acquisitions like this.

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13
Jan
12

positive representation of gamers: mission accomplished

For all my talk of the OSR having won, I forgot to fly a big banner and pose on the deck of an aircraft carrier for this latest one!

Over at RPG.net and Story Games, cherished nerdNYCer and NY Red Boxer E.T. Smith wrote:

I so hope I can level up a few more times before this dude completes his phylactery. Aircraft carrier = phat lewt.

So it turns out that a request by the NYTimes for pictures of actual gamers in the act of gaming D&D, first circulated a couple weeks ago, was not an attempt to to find out anything about the actual culture, or give a chance for gamers to represent themselves in a diverse and positive light. It was just a way to grab a bit of flash to garnish the WotC press-release announcing 5th edition.

The article, as has been hashed out here extensively, appeared in Tuesday’s paper, Jan. 10. The image chosen for the print edition is of a few folks watching a giant d20 with shapely legs strut about, a performance by the “D20 Burlesque” troupe. I suppose in the end, gamers actually gaming wasn’t hot enough to appear in the NYT (no disrespect to the skillful troupe intended).

Here’s the interesting thing about that image: it was taken at the Soho Gallery for Digital art during the “Dungeons and Dragons: On and Ever Onward” exhibit. The exhibit involved displays of art by golden age TSR illustrator Erol Otus and several artists working from his tradition. It was also a release party for “Adventurer Conquerer King,” a new game in the OSR style. Besides ACK, tables were playing original tan-box D&D (run by one of Gygax’s original players) and a huge table running BXD&D (I was one of a dozen players at that). Also briefly present was Luke Crane of Burning Wheel and a few other indie folks.

What is notably absent from that gathering was any element of modern D&D or anything to do with Wizards of the Coast, its corporate properties, or profits derived therefrom. It would be hard to come of with a gathering that better illustrtes the irrelavance of WotC’s strategies and ambitions on people who just enjoy playing and celebrating the games or making their own.

Three things I take from this experience.
* Somebody at the NYTimes know well in advance of the coming announcement. I really hate being reminded how much of the news-media is just a process of distributing press releases.
* I am slightly miffed that WotC managed to steal hard-won publicity away from independent producers by co-opting coverage of the gallery event, even if unintentionally.
*WotC’s stated goal of “unifying the editions” makes good press but is laughably irrelevant to significant audiences.

ET I love you, but this is all wrong! We managed to steal some of WotC’s carefully orchestrated spotlight and give it to local independent producers and artists. This scheme succeeded remarkably well, I think everyone involved is as happy as adventurers who have proved James_Nostack wrong by actually using the pick pockets skill.

– The author of the NY Times piece, Ethan Gilsdorf, contacted me to get some quotes for the article. One of his questions was “where can the Times get pictures,” but I answered lots of other questions knowing that he wouldn’t be able to use most/all of what I said and that his editors might omit whatever was left.

– Ethan made sure that credit went where it was due by running a piece in Wired’s GeekDad blog, where he does have pretty much complete control over what appears. I think it’s a good idea to fill journalist-types with as much info about RPGs as possible – even if it’s not immediately useful it could crop up later – but Ethan is a deep-dyed gamer and all-around good guy, I was preaching to the choir.

– I likewise knew (but maybe should have been clearer in saying) that it was also possible that none of the pictures would make it in. Although I was sad when they pleased their corporate masters by using the WotC publicity photo on the initial website version of the story, I think it was actually a clever bit of subversion that for the print edition of the paper they went with the more interesting and local image.

– Tim Hutchings, curator of the gallery show, can be seen in the front row of that photo and continues to be as pleased about it as you can see he was to be watching the burlesque in the first place.

– One of artist Casey Jex Smith’s images from the show – a portrait of Mitt Romney as a character sheet – was covered in the Huffington Post, giving him mad press with which he and his gallery, Allegra LaViola, was very pleased.

– One of artist Casey Jex Smith’s images from the show – a portrait of Mitt Romney as a D&D character sheet – was covered in the Huffington Post, giving him mad press with which he and his gallery Allegra LaViola was very pleased.

– The Soho Gallery for Digital Art, whose owner is a gamer & was really glad to host gamers for these parties, was mentioned in the Times print photo caption, making him happy as well.

– d20 Burlesque wasn’t mentioned in the caption – I think because it is an in-joke hard to explain in so few words, whereas “Soho Gallery for Digital Art” is self-explanatory – but I think Anja and Keith are pleased as punch nonetheless. And they got to try out the Action Castle-style piece Jared Sorenson wrote for d20 Burlesque in front of a highly appreciative audience!

– All the attendees I heard from had a good time, that’s one of the things that counts!

– The other thing that counts is that this event is what brought Michael Mornard out – I’ve been trying to reach him ever since learning he was in NYC, with no success until now. Some of us got to play with him and we’re all benefitting from the resulting discussion of his playstyle, his taking part in the D&D Documentary and being interviewed for Of Dice & Men, and the resultant increase in shared knowledge of the roots of roleplaying and perspective on where we come from.

I am an OSR partisan but in the end we’re all fighting for more recognition of roleplaying games and their history. Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, we can call this battle a victory.

EDIT:  The Twenty Sided Store did get a profile and a slideshow in the NY/Metro region, and I did suggest that they send a photographer out there to get pictures for the D&D piece, but these two events are unrelated! Luis emailed me to say that the reporter for the profile happened to be in the neighborhood and attracted by the Twenty Sided’s logo and storefront, which are indeed attractive. It was coincidental that the profile appeared at around the same time as they were gearing up for the D&D article.

07
Oct
11

Infographic Poster of OD&D Encounters


A tiny detail from the 18x24 OD&D Wandering Monster poster, from the Blog of Holding site which has a cool script to randomly generate these. Dig the beard on that ferret; Paul has nailed the beardliness of everything in the LBBs.

When I helped the Gygax Memorial Fund create  a presence at the Old School Resource Group’s booth for Gen Con 2011, one of the things I did was to come up with things that could be sold there to raise money for the memorial. Some of these did come to pass as planned, like Cheers, Gary. Others didn’t materialize for one reason or another, like Crystal Caste dice with Gary’s face in place of the 1’s pip. Fortunately, other stuff I didn’t even dream of came along to fill its place.

Some of these may never be available again. The New York Red Box’s own Jedo did a set of old-school character sheets that he ran off on an old-fashioned mechanical printing press, with the type palpably embossed deep into the paper; another run of these would have to wait until he visited the distant lair of this press, which I imagine to be in the basement of the Temple of the Frog along with the pipe organ no one now living knows how to repair.

Other things that were at the booth, like Ethan Gilsdorf’s excellent Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks, were available before and are still. This is awesome, but not newsworthy.

This post, however, is about something that was at the booth at Gen Con (although it may have been overlooked), sold out, but is now available again – Paul Hughes’ infographic poster showing all the dungeon and wilderness wandering monsters from OD&D, along with the procedures for generating encounters thereof. You can get this useful and eyeball-kicking item through blogofholding for just $7.50 plus shipping. Paul says:

Put this on your rec room wall, and you can use it to generate random encounters without having to flip through books, or just stare at it glassily while descending into a spiral of madness.

Cheers Gary is the other item Paul was invaluable in creating, and the one that was done specifically for the Gygax Memorial Fund rather than just having some copies donated for the booth. I hope to have an announcement soon about when a new print run of this will be available soon. The T-shirts and buttons for the Gygax Memorial Fund are still potentially available, and will be actually so as soon as I do an inventory count and help the talented & hard-working Jason Hurst get them set up at http://www.gygaxmemorialfund.com/.

27
Sep
11

The World Dave Made: Panel Discussion for the Arneson Memorial Gameday

What would modern culture look like if it weren’t for Dave Arneson?

At the Third Annual NYC Arneson Memorial Gameday, a panel discussion will explore all the things we owe to his life and work. That’s a legacy that stretches from his involvement in the birth of role-playing games as a player in Dave Wesely’s Braunstein, to the invention and refereeing of Blackmoor, the first fantasy campaign,  through his co-creation of Dungeons & Dragons, and into his later career teaching game design at Full Sail University. Panelists will present key aspects of our Arnesonian inheritance, including the concept of having a character that represents you in an imagined realm and is described by statistics that reflect your advancement as a result of experience, and talk about how these ideas continue to shape progress in their own fields. Here are the folks I’ll be encouraging to say interesting things while playing the role of moderator:

  • Luke Crane is one of the most influential role-playing game designers working today and an outspoken advocate of self-publishing. His participation as  panelist and game-master affords a chance to see both theory and practice.
  • Brian Droitcouer is a staff writer at Rhizome–an organization supporting art that engages emerging technologies based at the New Museum–and a regular contributor to Artforum. He is currently organizing an exhibition titled “Big Reality” that takes role-playing games as a starting point for considering how consumer technologies have integrated fantasy and play in everyday life. He will offer some thoughts on the place of role-playing games in contemporary culture, and examples of how it is reflected in the work of some artists.
  • David Ewalt is a senior editor at Forbes Magazine, where he reports on the game industry, and is writing a book about Dungeons & Dragons, which will be published by Scribner. David will be sharing insights from his interviews with people in all walks of life who were influenced by roleplaying games.
  • Nicholas Fortugno teaches the Game Design and Interactive Narrative program at Parsons New School for Design and is the co-founder of the NYC game design studio Playmatics LLC. Nicholas will be talking about why learning to play Dungeons & Dragons was simply the most influential element of my childhood and has profoundly shaped his career, his identity, and his life.
  • Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of the award-winning book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, his travel memoir investigation into fantasy and gaming subcultures. He also blogs for wired.com’s Geek Dad, and writes about movies, books, and pop and geek culture for Salon.com, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.
This year’s Arneson Memorial Gameday will be held from 9 am until 11 pm at the Brooklyn Strategist on 288 Atlantic Avenue. It’s open to everyone and admission is free, with a suggested $10 donation to juvenile diabetes research.
We’re funding the costs of this better-than-ever event with a Kickstarter effort that includes donor rewards that may be of interest to you whether or not you can make it to the Gameday. Go check it out; your support makes this possible!
16
Sep
11

Annoucing the GMs for the Arneson Memorial Gameday

Scott LeMien - skatay on New York Red Box & nerdNYC - created this awesome logo. Click on it to see more of his work!

Saturday, October 1, 2011 would have been Dave Arneson’s 64th birthday. If you’ll be in the area, come help celebrate it from 9 am until 11 pm at the Brooklyn Strategist!

Here is a partial list of the designers and GMs who will be participating:

  • Luke Crane will be running games of Arneson’s adventure DNA/DOA using a hack of Burning Wheel Gold
  • Darren Watts will be running games of Lucha Libre for the HERO System
  • Michael Curtis will be running games of Stonehell Dungeon
  • Joseph Bloch will be running games of Adventures Dark & Deep, and will have a new version of the Bestiary
  • Paul Hughes will be running games of 4E Dungeons & Dragons using his poster of the OD&D random monster charts
  • Tavis Allison will be running games of Adventurer Conqueror King

From 9 until 5, we’ll be doing open-table games with a focus on kids and drop-ins. From 5 until 6:30, there will be a panel discussion that will be the subject of my next post. After that we’ll set aside some of the space for socializing with wine and beer and snacks, as well as more focused gaming sessions.

27
Jul
11

Stuff to Do on Gygax’s Birthday

Today marks the birthday of E. Gary Gygax, and I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of those who are helping make it a memorable one.

The first and most important is you. Your gaming, your enthusiasm, your participation in our community all help keep Gary’s legacy alive. What you’re doing is great – but if you’d like to do a little extra today, here are some suggestions:

  • Leave a testimonial at the Gygax Memorial Fund. Reading these ones that are already there is fun and inspirational too! If while at their site you feel like making a contribution to the Memorial’s effort to build a statue of Gary in Lake Geneva, that’s great too – updates to the site caused the donation button to stop working for a while, but it’s fixed now.
  • Take the world’s hardest Gary Gygax quiz and use the HTML code to share your results! Paul Hughes, editor of the “Cheers, Gary” book produced by the Gygax Memorial, put together this cool test at blogofholding.com. I use the fact that it isn’t legible against the Mule’s black background to conceal the fact that, even using Google, I only got 90%.
  • Play in the Tower of Gygax, an annual event at Gen Con capably organized by Chris Hoffner and Tim Weisser. This year it’s in JW Marriott, room 303, table HQ – it starts Thursday at 8 am, runs late into every night, and is easy to drop into with generic event tickets. Save versus Death aptly describes it as:

 a commemoration of classic D&D as envisioned by Gygax and his contemporaries; a game of wonder and danger whose currency is imagination and improvisation.

  • Visit the Old School Renaissance Group at Gen Con booth #1541. There you’ll be able to pick up “Cheers, Gary”, a book of his correspondence on the EN World Q&A threads and meet Gail Gygax, who contributed an introduction, and also editor and fellow-introducer Paul Hughes who may have some eyeball-kicking posters as well. Sadly not attending the con are Josh Roby, who laid out the book and its cover, and Erol Otus who did the awesome illustration thereof.
  • Plan to attend GaryCon IV, which honors his inspiration the best possible way: four days of old school gaming from Thursday, March 22nd, through Sunday, March 25th, 2012, in the place where it all began: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I’ll see you there!

Other people I’d like to thank not named above are Memorial Fund board members Gail Gygax, Jody Mikkelsen, and Jim Ward;  Mike Shannon, the civil designer who has volunteered to draw up CAD plans for the Gygax memorial site, and JP Robson who will be constructing it; Memorial Fund accountant Mike Buttleman; Jason Hurst, the webmaster for http://www.gygaxmemorialfund.com and all-around great guy; and Adjua and Erin at McNally Jackson, and Kim at 360 Digital, who helped us get “Cheers, Gary” printed in time for Gen Con.

And the final thanks, of course, goes to Gary; without you none of this would be possible.

09
Jun
11

Third Annual Dave Arneson Memorial Gameday: October 1, 2011

This year’s Dave Arneson Memorial Gameday will be the third to be held in New York City, and the first to be celebrated on the day of Arneson’s birth, October 1. I don’t have much more to say about this yet – I just want to get the word out well ahead of time, instead of waiting for the last minute like I usually do.

Lushomon Canal. OMG that's a triceratops pulling a wagon.

An important advantage of the new time is that our event happens after the one the Aethervox Gamers organize, which lets me share some stuff from their game. As posted at Chirine ba Kael’s blog chirine’s workbench:
Scenery we got; “Saving Serqu’s Sisters” will be the two drop cloths from the old ‘Islands of Death’ game from 2004, with all the jungle I can cram onto the table. Lots of bridges for movement, and we have to use the Mayan bookends I got from Dave Arneson; they’ll be the Lost Temple of the Nameless Ones, which is a joke based on Prof. Barker’s SF fanclub in the 1940’s. (Memo to self; buy some FFG Cthullus for the temple; it’ll look nicer, and they’ll be happy.)
The second table will be the Lushomon Canal game from the first DLA MMM event three years ago; use some of the blank drop cloths from stock, and the 30 yards of light blue vinyl table cloth for the canal – we can eat our pizzas on it, as it wipes off and we have some very sloppy eaters. Use the ‘temperate’ scenery sets, and use the Sakbe road from the Battle of Anch’ke terrain set as a backdrop; it plays no part in the game itself, but looks cool as all get-out and will help get people interested. (It did.)
Forces:
“Sisters” gets all the Hlutrgu and their nasty little coracles. The humans get two larger galleys from the collection with larger contingents of troops, and we add the pirate fleet of three ships and a longboat for Harchar’s four henchpersons. Total, seven players minimum. Each boat or ship gets as many figures as it’ll hold, and we learned last time that the humans barely held their own so we add archers to the troops. We also add the two sisters as a player, because I have twin sister figures (the two Pathfinder “Seoni” figures) and giving the rest of the players a mobile objective with hidden movement will add to the challenge. The sisters get three chits, only one of which is actually them; the other two will give the rest of the players fits as they chase noises in the jungle.
Total forces, spread amongst eight players:
Sisters [one player] – derelict boat, two figures; goal, get saved by the Tsolyani and not killed.
Tsolyani [one player] – medium galley with 10 pikemen, 10 pikemen with bows, eight officers, one standard-bearer, one trumpeter; goal, save the sisters and arrest Harchar.
Salarvyani [one player] – medium galley, 10 infantry, 10 archers, five officers, one standard-bearer, one trumpeter; goal, rescue sisters (ransom money!) and arrest Harchar (reward money!)
Pirate Fleet [four players] – three small ships, one longboat; 20 marines, 20 sailors, four mates, one captain; goal, rescue sisters (ransom money!), keep Harchar out of the hands of law and order.
Hlutrgu – [one player, expanded to three to get late arrivals into the game] – eight coracles, 80 Hlutrgu; goal, kill all the humans that they can, sacrifice the sisters to the Nameless Ones at their Lost Temple.
“Canal” gets all the boats we have left, with a mix of mercenaries, pirates, and possible targets for piracy. And the River Police, who never seem to do much but always seem to get a lot of money in the course of the game.
Total forces, spread amongst six or seven players:
River Police – [one player] – small galley, six officers of the law; goal, get rich.
Vriddi Pleasure Barge [one player] – towed barge, rich folks; goal, don’t get kidnapped for ransom.
Temple of Dilinala – [one player] – medium merchant ship, ten Temple Guards disguised as dancing girls; goal, get off board with their valuable treasure.
Mercenaries – [two separate players] – two small galleys, each with ten warriors; goal, get rich.
Carolyn, the Pirate Queen of Butrus – [one player] – small galliot, ten warriors; goal, get rich.
Malia, the Pirate Princess – [one player] – small merchant ship, twelve warriors cleverly disguised as dancing girls; goal, get rich.
Now, the intelligent reader will note that an Opportunity for Considerable Confusion exists here; you’d be right, and that’s part of the charm of doing a game like this. It keeps things fun for the players when a) they board the ship full of helpless dancing girls, who pull out weapons and cut them to ribbons, and b) it’s the wrong ship full of helpless dancing girls who pull out weapons and cut them to ribbons.
(And yes, this kind of thing does take a lot of miniatures to pull off. We happen to have some 4,600 little lead people in the Aethervox collection, so we can do two boatloads of helpless dancing girls who happen to be fanatical warriors all armed to the teeth.)
That’s the set up. Pick a card at random, roll for move-counter-move, and we’re off on game turn one. Please feel free to ask more questions about all this; it’s what I’m here for…
All of this, and especially those gorgeous pictures, makes for great inspiration. It’s unlikely that we can do any of this ourselves here in NYC – we lack 4,600 lead people, for one thing – but I for one plan to try out some of these kind of Braunstein-like scenarios, for which Chirine lays out the design specs here. And it’s fantastic to see the maritime miniatures milieu in which Dave’s former gaming group believes he is best honored; Charlatan’s saltbox inherits the oldest of traditions. Even if what we do here is totally dissimilar, though, I think the universe of people who owe a debt to Arneson’s work – a set which most of its members are unaware of belonging to – benefit greatly from having two events: Minnesota’s with a unique and specific focus and a direct link to the original, and NYC’s that’s open to all the diversity of everything that Dave’s work has made possible, and admires it through the unearthed lens of distant time and space.
Another great thing about having these two memorial gaming events happen on different days is that it makes it possible for me to attend them both! Here’s Chirine again:
Planning for the next one, the Fourth Annual, is already starting; several of the folks at this year’s event have very kindly offered to do the spadework for next year, and I think it’ll be something Dave would be proud of. More on that, too, as we get things put together!
I join him in promising more details on our plans for the NYC gameday soon – I can say now that it’s unlikely to be at the Complete Strategist, like last year’s, because their basement is usually booked for the first Saturday in each month – and also in hoping it will make Dave proud.



Past Adventures of the Mule

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