Posts Tagged ‘conventions

09
Aug
12

Orc Stomp

Orc Stomp is a 5K fun run being held twice at this year’s Gen Con – once on Thursday at 8 am, and once on Friday at 6 am. I didn’t get it together in time to register, but will be doing it anyways on Thursday morning. If there’s room, I’ll join in with generic tickets; if not, I’ll cheer on the official runners and then do the route myself once they wrap up.

Click for the Orc Stomp page on Facebook!

I’m currently training to run an entire 5K without walking, which hasn’t happened yet. Yesterday’s combined walk/run time gives me an ACKS movement rate of 76 feet per round, which falls woefully short of the 120′ I should be able to do as an unencumbered human. However that pace is an average of my speed over 228 rounds. ACKS assumes I can only run at 120′ for a number of my rounds equal to Constitution x 2, after which I will become exhausted and have to walk at 40’/round for the next 60 rounds until I can run again. Somewhere in there is a way to calculate my Constitution score, which vanity and/or laziness compels me to put off until my time improves a little.

I heard about the 5K at last year’s con from Rich Rogers, who I’d gotten to know online when he interviewed me for the Canon Puncture podcast and then met in person when he stopped by for the continuous Adventurer Conqueror King demo game. I’d been finding that doing things like running up the hotel steps was helping me stay alert during said extravaganza, so I was excited to commit to something longer and more structured at this year’s convention. Rich interviewed me recently for This Just In… From Gen Con – you can hear the results here – and hooked me up with some 5K guides from Active.com that helped me get started. Rich is going to be running on both Thursday and Friday morning, and it would not surprise me if he will also be running to and from each of the far-flung This Just In reports he’s got scheduled throughout the con.

Also planning to run on Thursday are Andrew Pascal and James Sprattley, two-thirds of the team behind the forthcoming Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. At least one of them is training to do a marathon, so they are probably fully capable of discussing the project during the run. (I’m still at the stage where I’m breathing too hard to talk, against the advice of those running guides.)

Other less-strenuous opportunities to learn about what promises to be a truly excellent documentary (and meet third member of the team Anthony Savini, who plans to sleep in on Thursday) will be the Filmmakers Meet & Greet on Friday at 10 am, and the panel devoted to their documentary on Friday at 4. Following a ten-minute preview of their footage, I’ll be moderating the panel discussion. Since this is scheduled immediately after the Kickstarter panel I’m on, getting from one to the other will provide me with another opportunity for running!

11
Jul
12

Hoping to See You at Gen Con

In hopes of getting together with Mule readers at Gen Con 2012, here is a rundown of stuff I’ll be doing at the convention:

  • I’ll be running an Adventurer Conqueror King mini-campaign Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening after the exhibit hall closes, going as long into the night as our stamina permits. It’ll be a casual, open-table affair, with easy drop-in/drop-out. I’ll have pre-generated characters at all three levels, or you can bring your own Adventurers, Conquerors, or Kings rolled up using the rules for starting characters at higher level. For that matter, you can bring characters from whatever other RPG you may have, subject to the usual “your ring of wishes doesn’t work on this plane” revision. Folks are welcome to play for one or multiple nights. Location TBD; leave a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll keep you up to date on where we’ll wind up.
  • During the exhibit hall hours, I will typically be at the Old-School Renaissance Group booth, #1359. I’ll be glad to sell you a copy of ACKS, answer questions about upcoming projects, and share enthusiasm for all manner of cool gaming stuff.

The major exception to my general plan to be at OSRG booth while it’s open will be the seminars and panels I’ll be doing as part of the Industry Insider track. Here are a rundown of the ones I’m part of, presented chronologically & with links to their info:

Can’t make Gen Con this year? CONcurrent will be running during the Best Four Days in Gaming to provide a host of gaming sessions and related discussions using G+; register here if that looks like fun. I won’t be taking part myself, but I will be doing another panel via G+ hangout about Kickstarter and Indie Game Development between now and then. You can watch it live this Thursday at 7 pm EDT, and the video of the session will also be posted on YouTube.

20
Apr
12

I’m a Third Level Gen Con Industry Insider Guest of Honor

I am proud to make two announcements concerning yesterday’s events:

  • My Glantri character, Gael Ur-Boss, reached third level – the greatest such achievement of any PC I’ve played in Quendalon’s campaign!
  • I was announced as one of the Industry Insider Guests of Honor for Gen Con ’12.

Particular reasons I care about these announcements:

  • Playing Glantri is fun. Having a character who is more capable will make it more fun (although it is to be noted that third level is nowhere near making Gael a force to be reckoned with in any Glantrian party these days).
  • Doing panels and workshops is fun. Having a larger audience resulting from the extra publicity from these being on the Industry Insider track will make it more fun (although it is likely that the bulk of this audience will be attracted by those GoHs more illustrious than myself: Wolgang Baur, Stan!, Dennis Detwiller, James Ernest, Matt Forbeck, Jess Hartley, Kenneth Hite, Steve Kenson, T.S. Luikart, Michelle Lyons, Ryan Macklin, Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Jason Morningstar, Susan Morris , Mark Rein-Hagen, Elizabeth Shoemaker-Sampat, Gareth-Michael Skarka, Christina Stiles, George Strayton, Richard Thomas, Rodney Thompson, and James Wyatt).
It’s a truism that no one wants to hear about your character. I’m deliberately drawing a parallel by talking about my beloved Gael (did I tell you that s/he got a +1 to Constitution just from becoming a six-year-old orc instead of a five-year-old one, even before s/he leveled up?) in the same breath as my Gen Con appearances. These are games you can play within the world of roleplaying. If you invest enough time and effort, you’ll get a recognition which is meaningful to the other players in your group.  But even should you make it to name level, it’s still a game that’s pretty uninteresting to anyone not intimately involved.
That said, here are some reasons you might care about these announcements nonetheless:
  • You will be adventuring in Glantri and need a comrade with not zero, not one, but two whole first-level cleric spells!
  • You will be at Gen Con this summer and might be interested in stuff I’ll talk about at the panels and workshops I’ll be on.

Panels etc. are yet to be determined, but here are the ones I said I “would feel comfortable hosting” in the application to be an Insider GoH:

Fund Your Game Project with Kickstarter (panel)             

From publishing your RPG or boardgame to opening a gaming café, learn how crowdfunding can help you achieve your dream from those who have succeeded (and failed) with Kickstarter.

Raising Money for Charity with Gaming Events (workshop)

Learn how you can use your gaming skills to help a good cause by studying previous examples, getting practical advice, and participating in a celebrity roleplaying event to raise money for a gaming-related charity.

Record and Share Your Roleplaying Sessions (workshop)

Podcasts and actual play videos are increasingly popular as ways to share the excitement of your games and help bring new players into the hobby. Learn how to get started!

Teaching Games (panel)

Educators, parents, and kids share their experiences with programs that introduce kids to gaming, from school curricula to homeschooling to summer camps, and pass on advice and inspiration.

Getting Paid to GM (panel)

A survey of professional opportunities for roleplaying gamemasters and advice on how to get started.

Lunch hour being over, I should get back to the business of Getting Paid to Have a Day Job, but will perhaps come back to this topic (or ones raised in comments) in future.

25
Mar
12

Zombies Don’t Have Gender

Image

The other day I was reminded that I never posted how things went when Javi was DMing at Anonycon.

The quick summary is that he had a great time and was eager to do it again this weekend. He has not yet learned practical aspects of the craft: if you let the players buy dragons at the ride shop in town, or pour the M&Ms GaryCon’s DM concierge service brought him onto the table and say “everybody take four”, it will take a long time to get everyone to focus on the dungeon again. However I am filled with pride that he knows that dragon-riding and candy-coated chocolate are good ways to awesome up your players.

Quote from the player of the druid Layla, sitting to the left of the GM screen: “Skeletons don’t have gender.”

Quote from Javi, boasting to a spectator: ‘I’m draining levels!”

Javi played in two other all-kids games earlier at GaryCon. Friday’s was very expertly run by the player of Sir George, identifiable in the picture above by his black gm lanyard. Saturday’s Haunted Keep was run by Paul Stormberg, who taught me that bringing a treasure chest full of coins, jewels, potions, wands, and cloaks is a great way to awesome up kids especially; he kept them enthralled for seven hours (!).

23
Nov
11

my son the convention DM

This is Javi wearing his Halloween costume: a green slime in disguise. He will not be wearing it while DMing, as the mask makes it hard to see the numbers on the dice.

In the early years of being a parent, people would talk about how the first year of a child’s life was the best time of all. I believe that this nonsense is part of the directed forgetting we evolved so that humans will have multiple kids and ensure the survival of the species. If we really remembered what it was like to change our shirts six times a day because spit-up leaked through the cloth forever worn over our shoulders, and be woken up at each of the hours of the morning that go wee, wee, wee all the way home, procreation would come to an abrupt halt after we’d done it once.

The thing that kept me going through the various torments of early childhood was the knowledge that the best times were yet to come. Not wanting to be the kind of parent who already has their kid’s college picked out or expects them to follow precisely in their footsteps, I didn’t have specific moments in mind. However, this is definitely one of them: my nine-year-old will be DMing his first convention game next weekend at Anonycon in Stamford, CT. Here is the description we came up with for his event:

D&D Classic – The Dungeons of Ramburgh (D&D 4e)
By Javi Allison. The people of Ramburgh are being tormented by undead monsters from the desert. Will your heroes find fame and fortune in the streets of the city and the dungeons beyond, or will your corpse soon join the ranks of those shuffling toward Ramburgh? This adventure was developed and playtested in the D&D afterschool program at Hunter College Elementary School. Javi is one of the program’s most talented DMs, and will have adult help managing the rules (4E Essentials), but grownups should still expect a different kind of D&D: fresher, funnier, weirder! Paragon-tier pregens will be provided, or you can bring your favorite 11th level characters from LFR or your home game. (Reminder, LFR Characters cannot receive XP, GP or items from this adventure … but players can still have fun. ;-))

The reminder was thoughtfully added by the convention organizers, who put together a great event every year. I’m looking forward to it!

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.

20
Jul
11

4E, OD&D, and Cheap Urine Gags

Back in ’09, when the OSR and blogging were yet kinda young, I played in a Swords and Wizardry game that Michael aka chgowiz ran at Gen Con to showcase old-school play for a bunch of folks who were mostly recent-edition gamers: Phil (The Chatty DM, no longer a stranger to S&W), Dave and Danny of Critical Hits, and Greg who was neither yet working at the Escapist nor one of my co-authors on Adventurer Conqueror King (although we had worked together on Goodman’s Forgotten Heroes books, and one of the seeds of ACKS was a conversation we had later in the con about how the 4E idea of tiers of play relates to old-school campaigns). Although even the current holder of the D&D name is no longer all that shiny and new these days, I thought that Mule readers might be interested in the reflection on the experience I wrote in an email to these guys afterward:

I’m pleased to be able to say that my 100 percent old-school player death rate is intact, and that it was very satisfying to die with all my pockets, sacks, and backpacks stuffed with treasure!

Given the unique (to put it mildly) characterizations and hilarious & inventive improv skills on display all around the table, I don’t doubt for a second that I would have had a great time with whatever game we played, or none at all. I do think, though, that the stark & elegant simplicity of the OD&D system makes it especially easy to both give in to every wacky impulse and opportunity for a cheap urine gag and also still get in adventuring, exploration, and pulp drama. The 4E group I play with has lots of laughs & also likes to kick ass, but the process of having to add up your initiative bonus, choose powers, etc., etc. makes it harder for me to switch between the two modes.

I think that the lethality and hilarity of OD&D go hand in hand, which is why Leiber is for me the truest inspiration – the situation comedy of Fafhrd as Issek of the Jug is the bright obverse of the doomed pulp grimness of Thieves’ House. For me, the original rules do this best both by letting you switch from one face to the other more quickly, and also by reinforcing the feeling that luck and wits may stave off Death for a little while, but quickly rolling up a new contender is part of the essence of the game.

I am interested to see that this idea perfectly prepared me to be blown away by Swords without Master‘s emulation of pulp adventure via a dice mechanic devoted entirely to whether you narrate things in a glum or jovial way; when Eppy broke Conan’s melancholy and mirth down this way and quoted Leiber from memory at the start of that session to back up his thesis, I’d entirely forgotten having once reached a similar conclusion via that source myself.

07
Jun
11

The Tower of Gygax Will Make You a Better DM

As I was saying around this time last year, the Tower of Gygax needs DMs to volunteer to run slots during Gen Con. If you are interested in any of the same things I am…

    • having a good time
    • celebrating Gary Gygax’s legacy
    • furthering the old-school reformation
    • making RPGs immediately accessible to those who have never played before, or haven’t in decades
    • promoting what we see as the truest spirit of RPGs to those who may previously only have encountered its dim reflections
    • trying out ideas for how DMs could engage and entertain audiences beyond those  who are participating as players in the traditional sense
    • exploring ways that the RPG industry could provide services and experiences rather than goods and products
    • becoming a better DM

Here I am, earning that remaining one experience point running my Tower of Gygax room at JaysonCon. Unfortunately, my new level title - Courser - is lamer than the one before.

… then I guarantee you will find that stepping up to do this yields enough experience points to level up, and be one experience point away from the next level, in whatever your chosen class may be. You can earn that one missing experience point by running a Tower of Gygax event in your hometown. This is easy if you contribute your own room to the Tower, which is to say that you design an enjoyable deathtrap that will thrill and delight players and spectators, while killing the former at a flexible rate according to the number of the latter who are currently lined up to take their place. Doing so is not required: a big black book of rooms designed by previous DMs, who include luminaries ranging from Frank Mentzer and Tim Kask to Lizard and Mike Mearls, awaits your perusal when you sign up. Also, Tim and I are working on putting together a DIY Tower of Gygax kit, full of rooms and the kind of hard-won expertise that you could other wise only acquire as a ToG volunteer DM. This kit will enable you to not only amaze your friends who couldn’t make it to Gen Con and earn that remaining XP in the process, but also raise money for a good cause – whether that is the Gygax Memorial Fund or your own fundraising project.

If some of the above apply to you, but not the part about becoming a better DM, you should take a couple of generic tickets and come play in the Tower. Those seeking the extra XP that come from participation beyond the pale will find many opportunities to serve in non-GMing capacities like collecting tickets, organizing crowd flow, helping coordinate, and so forth.

Although the Tower vitally needs your DMing or other services, in proper Gygaxian dungeon-design fashion it has not made it easy for you to enter its halls. You may or may not be able to get hooked up via the Tower’s website, which has been inactive for over a year, but why leave it to chance and what seem like entrances but will cave in upon the count of ten? Leave a comment or send an email, and the Mule will ferry you and your belongings to those who can provide you with your quest.




Past Adventures of the Mule

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