Saturday, March 3, 2018

Gary Con X

About this time, 4 years ago, I was quaking in my boots as I planned for my first excursion to Lake Geneva for Gary Con VI. "I finally get to meet these people who seem to get me!" ...followed by the dreaded, "What the hell am I going to wear in that weather?"

I ran no games. I immersed myself in it completely...and laughing at Doug's table is still, all these conventions later, in my top memorable experiences. As was the greeting I received in the bar the first night...which Bob will not let me live down.

(It also turned out to be an on-site interview, though I didn't know it at the time. Good thing, that.) 

I'm jittery as I prep/pack for Gary Con X, but the anxiety is a different flavor after a few years' exposure. Now it's, "I get to see MY PEOPLES! My FAMILY!" ...and still, "What the hell am I going to wear in that weather?"

This year I am running a paltry 4 games, 2 slots each for 2 DCC Lankhmar adventures (1 pending publication, the other... well, mine. It might be more of a sandbox, depending on the table. And that worked brilliantly at the off-book game last year.) Oh, and Rat-Snake circles are happening in the lounge this year after hours. Every night, if y'all want.

I simply cannot WAIT to see those of you who'll be there. I will dreadfully miss some who aren't able to attend, but I promise to make the most of it on your behalf.

Friday, July 7, 2017

It's almost Voting time!

In case anyone hasn't heard yet -- Spellburn made the short list of ENnie nominees this year!

We're ecstatic and humbled, and we hope we can count on you to rally the troops when the voting opens! (July 11 - 21, 2017) Winners will be announced Friday night at Gen Con!

To get you revved up into voting gear, let's do an informal set of questions -- all about DCC RPG, naturally! The link to my little quick-and-dirty, UNOFFICIAL** survey is below. Using the ENnies as a base for my inspiration, here's a sampling of the questions I'm putting out there:

Favorite Dice set
Favorite Free Product
Favorite Zine
Favorite Cover Art
Favorite Setting (from Goodman Games or third-party publishers)
Favorite Adventure you've played in
Favorite Non-DCC adventure/product to run using DCC rules

There are so many resources and products out there! Some fall off my radar. Some are extremely helpful to players (and judges) new to the game, or new to RPGs as a whole. If you don't mind taking a stab at it, I think it could prove beneficial to the DCC community. Thanks!

Type in your favorite under each heading. (I simply do NOT have time to populate the multiple-choice lists, sorry!) It doesn't matter if you don't have the name exactly right. Try to limit your entries to one per category. And best of all, you can come back to it if your answers change over time. 
(Please comment here if you run into any errors with the link or the survey.)

DISCLAIMER: I will periodically post the answers, as a resource for players and judges alike. 

**Yes, this is an UNOFFICIAL, independent survey. It is neither prompted nor requested by any publisher. This is not to be considered corporate research data in any capacity. Any and all results, whether in part or in whole, will be revealed independently by me [on my blog, in DCC RPG communities on G+/FB, or on air via Spellburn]. I am not collecting e-mail addresses with this form, and your answers will never be released in conjunction with your identity. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Free RPG Day: The annual holiday of our people!

Free RPG Day many highlights in a 14-hr span!

~ Reuniting with Troy Tucker, the guy responsible for "all this",  and bringing my 1st printing #DCCRPG tome to its *6th* Free RPG Day event. I will eventually have to retire the poor thing, but yesterday was not that day.

~ Running Dieter Zimmerman's Not in Kansas Anymore for a group of not-quite beginners, including one of the FLGS owners, and player Riley stealing the show (he made the whole damn thing so enjoyable, I felt zero pressure - I officially want him in EVERY GAME I EVER RUN UNTIL THE END OF TIME... "Live your truth, man!").

~ Ran The Arwich Grinder for the first time ever. I unabashedly used different voices and inflections and made sound effects (which were probably as atrocious as my mapping skills) and a whole bunch of stuff that I usually shy away from, all because I could tell it was weirding out David and his kid (who were over from FLL). A+++, will run again, has potential to let me run something that might actually surprise/impress Bob!

~ Seeing familiar faces from folks who came out last year, and meeting new people who traveled from St. Pete, Tampa, Sarasota, and Ft. Lauderdale (2-3 hrs one way) just to come to Dungeon Games and play games.

~ After busting ass to coordinate GMs and sign-up sheets for scheduled games that some people poo-pooed, the FLGS had their highest sales day in the store's history. Yeah, I take a little pride in that. We do what we can to help those we love.

~ Handing out the first-ever print product from Sanctum Secorum...

~ Getting to surprise players with DCC RPG swag that rarely makes it into the wild! I'd been sitting on the stadium cup set from last year, so I brought one for each game and let them dice off for it. Some of the new players were as ravenous for "one of everything" as I've been in the past. Kindred spirits!

~ And, finally, the payoff that's stuck with me for the past 12 hours: My last table was a DCC Lankhmar demo, with players rolling up characters from scratch, which really helps immerse them into the literary material and showcases a few of the fundamental system changes from "regular" DCC. One of the players had been in last year's playtest campaign but the others were inexperienced and pretty rapt...until the characters continued to separate and go their own ways, despite leads and prompts to join up. At some point I stopped trying to fight it, and just gave them each 5-10 minutes of their own little "chapters", then they finally merged together for the primary story thread with about 90 minutes remaining. I embellished "Literary Lankhmar" and created a challenge with the promise of a tidy settling of debts...and the ending left me with the resolve that, while it's a great setting and I'm a little tied to both Leiber's and DCC Lankhmar, it really feels better in an ongoing capacity. (More on that pontification later.) One of the players who'd driven from Sarasota had been sitting with a nonplussed expression for the better part of 3 hours, but at the end he said, "I really wasn't sure. I was thrown off by the lack of 'party' activity...but now I realize, it's just like the books! Even Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser are rarely side-by-side for the whole thing! I'm really looking forward to this now!" Not only did I breathe a sigh of relief at not bogging things down for the player or diminishing his enjoyment of the past 4 hours...but apparently I succeeded in my translation of the material - and even better, I invoked the feel of Leiber!! I may do ya proud after all, Michael Curtis. :)

{more pics may come, just so I can keep them all in one place for archival purposes}

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get these guys some cue cards.

Recording late at night during the cooler months (y'know, when it's not ~80 degrees at 10pm) is great.

Recording late at night these days results in comments like, "Huh. I hear crickets."

Me: You bein' funny?

"No, I really hear crickets."

Me: <mute> <unmute>

"Yep, it's Jen." 

Me: What the...? <take off headphones as I move away from the computer> Huh? Oh hey waitasec... <return to desk> Yep. You're right, guys. We've got crickets tonight. At least we're storm-free...


So, um, fair warning: while my sound editors rock, we might have crickets in the show(s). Both podcasts, even. Damn. And the more I mute, the more noticeable they'll be when I unmute. 

Asshole crickets. They're not even on cue.

And now, every single night, my awareness of the noisome nuisances has heightened exponentially. Holy hell, these crickets sound like they're lined up around my window like there's an iPhone release for insect-kind at midnight, followed by a rave giving out free Fireball. I suppose it could be worse; could be tree frogs after a good rain -- they'll keep me up at night -- or those damned whippoorwills... God bless the silent lizards who eat these things.


**Related, but not really: Any first-hand experience with/suggestions for a standalone mic with an on-board mute button?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Not much on the DCC front. In the meantime...

This week has left me feeling ... fragile.

We rejoiced at being able to get back to our home AD&D game after the pile of deadlines. And then this...?! Sheesh. It's been two days, and I think I can finally talk about it now:

Active Cast:
Me: Roska, lvl 11 half-orc fighter
Toni: Nimue, lvl 12(?) elven ranger (polymorphed to look like a drow a year+ ago)
Neil: Bactine, lvl 14(?) gnome cleric

Roska tried to save her longtime friend, Nimue, who was fighting an invisible (to the rest of us) foe. After seeing a cleric get thrown back by some force, Roska asked Nimue if she needed help. She said yes, so Roska ran in, knowing something bad might happen, but - Nimue FRIEND! Roska tried to use Wave -- yes, THAT Wave -- to shield her. All of a sudden Wave EXPLODES and a mirror image of the drow (which only she & Nimue can see) is charging in to attack her.

Didn't expect THAT kind of bad. :(

The shock of Wave's destruction was definitely felt around the table, to a person. The Cube of Friendship shall be missed...especially by the squishy magic-users.

{At that point, I may have been heard to say something glib like, "I'd rather Roska had died, than lose Wave."}

The faux-drow kept pursuing Roska even after Nimue's body hit the ground. What kind of screwed-up betrayal is this?? The little half-orc brain couldn't process it. She ended up relenting to the mirror image of Blackrazor.

Oh, yeah, did I mention our friend was wielding Blackrazor?

Throughout all this, I don't know if having Toni at the table in person vs. via Skype would've made things better or not. If she'd been here, there probably would've been real tears and Bob would've felt even worse. It was definitely tense. (I still love you, Toni! I promise!!)

Luckily it was just a mirror image of Blackrazor, so Roska's soul wasn't irrevocably gone. In the clusterf*** we also lost our highest-level cleric in the party. Roska was brought back via "poor man's resurrection" (raise dead + animate dead) by the 9th-level cleric at the scene; Nimue was left with 1/2 her XP and NOTHING but the sword - but looks like HER again; Bactine was irrecoverable. It's gonna take quite a bit of equipment-juggling to get through the rest of the Demonweb Pits at this point, especially without Bactine and the 2 absent clerics. GRR. NO MORE ALIGNMENT SHIFTS, 'KAY PEOPLE??
And that's how my week went. *sigh* Starting to remember why funnels are better: no time to get attached to characters or crucial items...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Swordfish Islands, or "The best thing I discovered at NTRPG Con"

I've been having more fun with this than I can express. I think part of it is in the order in which I started reading the material: 1) Toxic Elven Smut (NTRPG release) - loved the map, the day/night encounter tables, and some of the monsters were born of fantasy-gone-horror. The system-neutral factor is a plus, as I'd mentioned. Not sure where (or how) I'll use the introductory story plates, but they should be used. Yeah, I'm hooked. 2) I read through the first couple of chapters of the Field Guide to Hot Springs Island. Brilliant stuff. The whole premise is that the chain of islands is discovered after a cataclysmic event, an unknown period of time after it was half-submerged by water...and other stuff. I got through the letters coming from the first people to stumble across Hot Springs Island (or, at least, the first whose notes survived), some correspondence to/from universities about studies made from these notes and personal accounts, as well as a couple of "alphabets" for languages cobbled together from said explorers' notes. Given what I'd already read in TES, some things started shifting into place in my brain.

I should preface this by explaining that this volume, a good-sized trade paperback, was sold as "something suitable for the players to read." Don't make the mistake of giving away any of this info without first digesting it yourself - or at least having a copy handy for your own reference. No stats are involved anywhere, but I feel the judge should understand the conclusion of "Oh, this must be where *this* happened" before players are given the clues to make that connection. For instance, Hot Springs Island was predominantly inhabited by elves prior to the cataclysm, but there's little to lead to this at first.

**NOTE TO JACOB: NEED THE FIELD GUIDE IN PDF FORMAT. SERIOUSLY. Being able to print off a single page (or portion thereof) to hand out would be *perfection*. 3) After an unwilling hiatus, I returned to the Field Guide today and picked up where I left off: Plant life. Some very cool stuff. Some had me cross-referencing Toxic Elven Smut, making some mental connections and leaps of logic, which got me flipping through ... 4) ... the "public" version of Toxic Elven Smut [2nd printing], which elaborates on some of the monsters with motivations and gives more info on the primary powers & influences of Hot Springs Island during its heyday. It had me flipping back & forth between the TES versions and the Field Guide, putting more things together.

5) Then there's the Lapis Observatory. Absolute genius. The whole thing is consistently presented in system-neutral format (so my DCC pals can see where I'm going with this). The observatory, one of the most easily-accessible areas from the main shores of Hot Springs Island, sheds a little light on the history of the island with the critters and artifacts. As for encounters: you can either roll to determine what kind of stuff is waiting on each floor, or compile it yourself -- and remember, while special attacks/qualities are noted, you get to stat them up to fit your needs.

After an hour or two of this fevered reading, cross-referencing, and reading some more, I feel energized (I want to run this for every one of our local groups NOW) and fully satisfied, as if I've just conquered a huge Cthonic mystery set forth by one of Bob's old CoC campaigns, with the levels of research and library use that my brain just went through. Damn if I don't want to start taking notes and flagging pertinent pages...but it'll need to percolate for a bit while I tackle some real-life adventures first.

Mind you, I'm barely halfway through the Field Guide. I still haven't hit the follow-up correspondence or known monsters [save for those appearing in the zines], or any number of other goodies.

My understanding is that Hot Springs Island is but one of many to be described in the upcoming compendium (likely a KS) for the Swordfish Islands. And I can't friggin' wait.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I miss my FLGS.

Just stopped into a comics & game shop in the area by our hotel.

Good points:
...Such a store exists!
...Shop Guy was more knowledgeable about RPGs than comics (the lady behind the counter was the comic guru - also a nice change.
...Shop Guy had nothing bad to say about Goodman, save for not having core books available for long stretches.

But then he went and said DCC was "too crunchy" ... and I may have gaped at him like a clubbed seal.

Hubby suggested helpfully that it may have been the spells. S.G. said he was the only one in his group (5E players, per previous convo) who could grasp it.

Then S.G. went on to rave about Dark Eye, and how it kind of has the same type of swingy spell results.

I ... uhh...

It is so hard leaving someone with a misconception about something I have a passion for. I would've offered to run it for him tomorrow (my last full day in town) if I had the day free, but I don't...and I don't know if I could summon the patience to weave a thread of logic through that, anyway.

If any readers find themselves in southwest Nevada, I'll pass on the quasi-FLGS info so you can tag in on the proselytizing!