Friday, March 31, 2017

Urkoid Drawrring

Back to drawing, getting back up to speed after a whole bunch of worldly deadlines. Here is an Urk from my sketchbook. Carry on!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

30 Hours at Gary Con IX 2017

Gary Con is an annual event (I misspelled "annual", my spellchecker wondered if I meant "anal" instead) held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. says "Welcome to one of the best kept secrets in gaming! Gary Con is an annual game convention held every March in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It honors the memory of the Father of Role Playing Games, E. Gygax".

Two years ago I stuck my toe into the water and ran the ignominious "Towering Inferno of Death", an adventure using the non-award winning Crypts-N-Creepies game system. I missed it the year before last, this time I did not miss the deadline to sign up to run games for the 2017 event. Instead of a singular event, I would be running four.

I rolled up to the Grand Geneva around 11 am, this gave me an hour before my first event. I zipped through the vendor area and met Lou Zocchi selling platonic and non-platonic solids. He wore a bow tie, not to be hip, but I imagine he's probably been wearing one since the 60's. A very nice gentlemen, although I was hoping he would have more than few 0-9 d20's for sale. They were all tepid colors, only slightly brighter than the covers of the worn out sci-fi novels and 70's era Strategy & Tactics he was selling on another table. Across from him someone was selling wall decor, I snapped a pic of the one that caught my eye featuring the Millennium Falcon.

Being here brought back vague memories of my friend Mike the Mangler’s dad driving us in 1980 to Gen Con XIII at Parkside. I recall buying a Grenadier Demogorgon in the Dungeon from the plastic bins behind the counter. I went to another before MECCA with Mike Lange and ran a “Poseidon Adventure” event using the Mach game system. I remember playing Trivial Pursuit with the Blumes. It was not a fun experience, they knew the answer to every freaking question. But I digress.

I was set up in Evergreen 1 for my first event “Psst...Wanna get small?”  I knew from last time getting people to play an unknown game with a dumb name was going to be tough. When I asked people to play they would even say “I’m here to play D&D”. Ouch. Four people signed up online, only two showed, both had the first name “James”. Both excellent players and as far as I could tell enjoyed being shrunk down and fighting for their lives in a matchbox.

My second event was kind of a breather, basically I brought my 70’s era Cosmic Encounter game and had slots for players.  I ended up with three, so the four of us played two games until 8 pm. I lugged all my stuff back to the car. A bit after 8 I ran into James (from my earlier game) who was sitting down to play QUAGS Fratboys Vs. Crabnado. There was five of us, myself, James, the GM and a younger couple. The genre is akin to B-movie and meant to be very light hearted. I felt like I was totally out of my element, first I knew nothing about frat boys and the couple there were like these amazing stand-up roll players. They were constantly in character and  making up the funniest and strangest stuff on the spot, constantly until midnight. It was not a “game” but an amazing experience. I simply have no words.

I went back to my hotel and climbed into bed. Where I was staying was very practical, eventually I got used to the steady hum of the various machines on the wall of my room and buried elsewhere in the complex. I got up early and had a complimentary breakfast, while sipping my Starbucks singles enhanced beverage I put final touches into my big event that I would be running at noon. I got to the parking lot at 7:30 am and manhandled my bins and map cases up to Evergreen 3. E3 was much better than E1, it was slightly less loud and there was a window on the wall letting in natural light. Additionally, I was running the noon even from the exact same table, so no moving camp.

Suffice it to say my 8 am game went belly up (You break bought it). The cynic in me would write that it’s frustrating to be at an event where creative people gather to celebrate uniqueness and be spurned by “I’m here to play D&D” syndrome. Fortunately, it’s a less pressing voice in my consciousness, I decided to enjoy what comes and put my energy into creating content and not complaining. So far this has been a good deal. However, I was worried that the four or five who had signed up for my last event, the “big one” might not show. I walked around and studied what other groups were doing and bought two books in the vendor’s room. I had a nice chat with Allan from Black Blade about the Tomb of Horrors. Fifteen to noon I headed up to Evergreen 3.

At noon one player had showed. By 10 after it was still just the two of us. This morning while trying to hustle players they would ask what they would be playing. Going out into the hall now, the answer to that question would be “’s a game I wrote called Blind. The premise is that you don’t know what kind of game you're in”. Throw on to this that the game lasted six hours. I could feel my skin getting thicker. Several steps out into the hall I accosted a young couple and asked “looking for a game?” Their answer was a quick yes. I paused. “A game that I can’t tell you about and lasts until 6”? I pointed into the room at the table. I made a rapid circuit of the halls, nothing. Three it was then. I had put a lot into this game over the last 5 months, every scrap of it was built from scratch. The setting required research. The artwork was as important as the mechanics. It was a game I had wanted to make for a few years, GCIX was the artificial deadline I needed to get this thing done.

It turned out that the four of us were exactly the right people to play this game. As far as I am concerned it was one of the best, maybe even the best, RPG experience I’ve been part of. I will talk about what went down in a few days over on the BLIND blog.

To wrap up: I plan on going next year. Crypts-N-Creepies is always going to be that funny game no one’s heard of. BLIND is that other game I can’t tell you much about and takes six hours to play. There will never be accolades or big fat checks. All I need are a few brave souls to make these things happen.  Thank you James, James, Scott, Jess and Jason!

Back to my regular game and to the 2.0 version of C-N-C. Plus the usual stuff here and more chapters of God's Workbench!