Category Archives: Conventions

Marmalade Dog 23 – Kalamazoo’s Local Con 2018

Marmalade Dog 23 was a lot of fun. I signed up to run two games, Metamorphosis Alpha and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Friday afternoon I signed up to play Red Box Basic, our DM didn’t show, so +Adam Muszkiewicz volunteered to run it, since I was scheduled to run Metamorphosis Alpha that evening. Adam looked up the module on his phone and ran it for us. That’s one cool thing about OSR rules, they are simple enough you can do stuff like that.

Adam Muszkiewicz fills in as DM
Adam Muszkiewicz fills in as DM

No one signed up for my Metamorphosis Alpha game, so I joined in a DCC game ran by Joel Davidson. It was his first time running DCC and he did a great job. We had a lot of fun, and only a couple 0 levels died.

Joel Davidson Running DCC
Joel Davidson Running DCC

Saturday morning, I played in +Del Tiegeler’s AS&SH game and had a blast. We made a wrong choice and missed a clue and had a TPK, all trapped in the tomb. I walked away with some art Del drew just for the session!

Del Teigeler's AS&SH Game
Del Teigeler’s AS&SH Game

I then ran AD&D, with a scenario from my Sunday Roll20 game. It was fun seeing how a different group of players approached the scenario and made different choices. I had two first time players and they both did great! One young couple is local, so perhaps we can do some gaming at the FLGS.

Players from my AD&D Game
Players from my AD&D Game

Friday evening, I played my card game with play testers one and two and they really liked the changes that came from play testing at Gary Con. I had a couple things happen that had not yet happened. It was just interesting to see them happen.

I got in another play test with play tester number one on Saturday evening, and had a couple things happen that hadn’t happened. One required a ruling, the other was just interesting.

I’ve now had 17 play tests, 15 with the current rules. I’m debating about some modifications to the rules to add in a bit more variety. I’m wondering if there’s a rule of thumb for the number of play tests a new card game needs. The two play tests at Marmalade Dog are the only ones I forgot to take pictures.

We won’t know when Marmalade Dog 24 will be until the schedule for next yet is set. It is dependent on the sports schedule. If it isn’t the same weekend as Gary Con, I’ll be there running games!

UCon 2017 Write Up

This year, UCon was November 17-19. It was my second con in November, after Gamehole Con two weeks earlier. See my write up for Gamehole Con here. It took longer to recover from my second convention in a month, I also ended up with a cold, and work got crazy with a new call tracking system that went in two days before UCon. I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend resting my tired brain and binge watching Netflix.

Now, the recap.

Thursday – I have taken off Thursday the last few years, and get to the hotel early enough to meet up with friends. This year, I was tired, and had to finish up my pre-gens for my Friday morning Metamorphosis Alpha game. In past years, I have gotten into some pick up games. I didn’t do that this year.


  • My morning Metamorphosis Alpha game had one pre-registered player. They were the only one to show. It needed at least 3 players, so I visited with others who weren’t playing and had a look around. I was bummed that I put work into that scenario, but I have it for another day.
  • In the afternoon, I played in Adam Muszkiewicz ‘s Ur-Hadad DCC campaign. It was a blast to finally get to play the wizard the first time I played DCC at Marmalade Dog 20 in 2015. The wizard seeking to trap lightning in a bottle and Meat Dwarf, played by Laura Rose Williams we once again on the same team. The rest of the team were new players. I was hoping to team up with Shane Harsch’s wizard for some #Wizbiz, but Shane was running a game at that time.
    Ur-Hadad is a theater of the mind city with only the most basic of maps of a specific area. It is a city where one can find and do almost anything. This is a great way to run a city campaign without the GM having to do a lot of work.

  • After Ur-Hadad, there was a panel with the artists of DCC with Doug Kovacs and Stefan Poag. I hit the wall at some point and nodded off. The conversation was wide ranging about art vs. commercial art/illustration. Doug is a very well-read person and has a lot of insightful ideas.

    DCC Artists Panel
    DCC Artists Panel
  • That evening, I played in Clayton William’s DCC scenario. We had a blast and some wild choices by one player nearly caused a TPK.
    DCC with Clayton Williams
    DCC with Clayton Williams


  • Del Tiegeler was there with his sons. They had a great time. I didn’t end up in any games with Del. He’s always willing to show what he’s working on. I didn’t take pictures of some things he is working on, since they are for projects yet to be announced, etc. I just love his line work. If you are patient, you can get him for commissions in between his other projects. Nearly a year ago, he did an alternate header for my blog.
    Del Tiegeler Showing Me Some Originals
    Del Tiegeler Showing Me Some Originals


  • I didn’t get his name, but one DM had dice and homemade dice trays for each player for his AD&D game. I thought the way he made the dice trays was cool, so I got a picture.

    Dice Tray With PVC Pipe Plywood & Felt
    Dice Tray With PVC Pipe Plywood & Felt


  • In the morning, I ran Delving Deeper, using a scenario I developed called, “No Really, It’s Me!” A clan of doppelgangers is tired of adventurers coming into the dungeon and getting into their caverns and killing them. So the party are doppelgangers sent back to town to stop the adventurers from returning to the dungeon. The players had a blast trying to think like doppelgangers impersonating characters. I greatly enjoyed the things the players came up with. There was a lot of great roleplaying. I set the scenario, and the players went with it. I just threw in some things to give them a challenge now and then. I really liked that they saw the description of the scenario and wanted to play it.
    My Delving Deeper Game
    My Delving Deeper Game

    Delving Deeper - Trying to Emulate The Selfie Queen - Satine Phoenix
    Delving Deeper – Trying to Emulate The Selfie Queen – Satine Phoenix
  • In the afternoon, I ran the Gangbusters scenario that Mark Hunt wrote for me to run at Gamehole Con. This was the fourth time I ran this scenario and once again, with a different mix of players, the story evolved differently.
    GB Player Character Sheet Doodles
    GB Player Character Sheet Doodles

    GB - Selfie Practice
    GB – Selfie Practice
  • In the evening, I played in Laura Rose Williams’ DCC funnel, Hole In The Sky, by Brendan LaSalle . It was a Contessa event. I tried to get in Laura’s DCC game last year, but it sold out fast. I would play with Laura as she is a great player and DM and a lot of fun. I kidded her about killing 3 of my 4 0 levels before anyone else lost any of theirs. My last character lived to the end when several of the other players lost characters.I had fun with the tattoo among the DCC swag. It lasted a couple days after I got home.
    DCC - Tatoo
    DCC – Tatoo

    DCC with Laura
    DCC with Laura


  • I played in Adam Muszkiewicz’s Quasquetherion Delving Deeper campaign for the 3rd year. I found my wizard character that I couldn’t locate for last year, and had fun getting back into that character. We did better than last year and avoided a TPK. I forgot to get a picture of the group.
  • That afternoon I played in Brendan LaSalle’s experimental 2 hour game. A giant DCC funnel with over 20 players. The largest game he had ever ran. He had some procedures to try and speed it up, and before we were very far along, he told us he came up with some ideas to speed it up. We were a diverse group in age, from pre-teen to at least my age, early 50’s. I’m not sure if some of the players were older than I. We had women from pre-teen to perhaps their forties, but age is hard to guestimate.

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

Brendan DCC

I had a blast. I was a bit surprised the crowd wasn’t bigger. Last year, I had several tables of 12 because several GMs had to cancel due to the flu. Perhaps the crowd was the same size, but very few GMs cancelled. There was record attendance this year – 1,005!

Next year,  UCon is the same weekend as Gamehole Con, so I will miss Gamehole Con. If you are within driving distance of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor, MI, this is a great game convention. It has a strong OSR presence, a historical Tekumel presence, lots of D&D of all versions, Pathfinder, and more.

UCon was my last convention for the year. I have one more convention related task for 2017. GM’s that sign up for Marmalade Dog 23, March 30- April 1, 2018, by December 31, 2017 get free admission and a t-shirt.  I want to encourage all OSR GMs in the area to run games. I will come up with three scenarios, one for each day.


Gamehole 2017 Recap

I attended all four days of the expanded Gamehole Con. This year, expansion to a 4 day convention that started on Thursday night was a test. As I arrived to pick up my badge and tickets, I saw Alex Kammer out front. I greeted him and he was trying to work out what was the only problem they had being ready for the con. Some laptops hadn’t been delivered that they would need for controlling some monitors the next day. Very minor. He was very calm and collected. He said that sign ups for Thursday this year were so strong, that it was already decided that they are now a four day con.

I ran three games and signed up to play in three, but only got into two of them. I kept my schedule fairly light. I went prepared to possibly run pick up games, or get into some. I enjoyed just visiting with different people, and enjoying watching people having fun. The food trucks were excellent. I favored the taco truck. Their burritos are awesome! The same truck as last year. I believe they are all the same ones as last year. I tried them all last year, and all were good.

One cool thing is if you buy the soda cup, that may just be for BM’s, I don’t recall, they had two soda fountains set up with free self-serve refills. Since I ran official games, I got to use the GM/Vendor lounge. There was water, coffee, snacks, and a few tables with chairs.

Gangbusters - Thursday
Gangbusters – Thursday

Thursday I ran Gangbusters – Mark Hunt’s new variation that is compatible with the original. (I proofread the current version of the rules he’s working on, and let that inform how I ran the game.) I ran a scenario Mark wrote, called The Con Game. A fitting double meaning, as there was a con involved in the scenario. I had 4 pregens from Mark, and made 4 more since I signed up to run for 8 players. The only issue that I encountered were that they varied from the templates, and it was the second session group that pointed it out to me. I’ll fix it when I run this in almost two weeks at Ucon in Ann Arbor. I made up maps for the locations, just squares on the provided Chessex battlemats, with indicators for doors, stairs, streets, alleys, and vehicles.

I had 5 players most of whom had not played it or not since back in the day. They were quite trigger happy as they shot a couple of the fleeing customers at the speakeasy they raided at the beginning of the session. I had them pick a number between 1 and 15 and for the first I counted out from the front of the list of templates and the rookie cop gravely wounded Claude Arbukle, the beloved vaudeville star. One of the FBI agents on the task force shot another. Counting from the back of the templates, he severely wounded John Marlow, a private investigator. When he found Marlow had a gun in a shoulder holster, he put it in the hand of the unconscious Marlow.

The rookie cop got fired for shooting the beloved Arbuckle, it was all over the papers. The FBI agent who shot Marlow rolled his presence to convince the station chief to take on the rookie cop as a emergency provisional agent, and kept the former rookie cop out of jail. Everyone wondered when they’d get Tommy guns. They finally got enough evidence to do a final raid, and then one of the players got a Thompson. The party gave it to the player with the highest agility. They took out the bad guys, and solved the case. The rookie cop got shot up and narrowly avoided death. I think a couple other characters in that session had minor wounds.

Gangbusters - Friday
Gangbusters – Friday

Friday night I ran The Con Game again, this time with seven players. They fired into the ceiling at the speakeasy raid, but this time I threw in some hoodlums coming out of the basement leading into the alley. One with a chopper and the other a .38. They killed the crooks, so they didn’t learn anything from them. Again, they wanted access to Thompsons, but until they got to the last location, didn’t have anything to warrant their distribution. Being a bigger group, I put more gunmen in the location and let the players have two Thompsons. They had a different plan, but got spotted on their approach. In the end, the players prevailed. I believe 3 were seriously wounded, and one received a kill shot but made  his luck check to have 1 HP. He had another kill shot and failed his luck check, so 1 kill.

I ran both sessions with a simplified combat method. Roll to hit, then roll a d10. 1 = minor wound, 10 = dead. So I let players take up to two 4s or 5s for damage before death. I also used the rule that if they take damage equal to half or more of their HP, they will die without getting to a hospital within the day. In both sessions everyone had fun, and I recall that in the second session there were comments that they liked how fast the combat went.

I had a lot of fun with both sessions and enjoyed how each group had their own approach to solving the case. Until the last Gary Con, I had not played Gangbusters for 30+ years. I don’t believe I ever ran it back in the day. I don’t think we played it very often. So Thursday was the first time I ran Gangbusters. I didn’t find it difficult, since I have ran lots of other games.

I started off explaining the stats, punching score, hit points, and that one can take twice the HP in bruise damage. There weren’t any real questions. All the players had roleplaying experience. I had a blast and enjoyed the surprises and laughs from the players’ actions. I showed off my second round of Mark’s box set, and let everyone take a look. Some thought it might be from the Kickstarter, so I explained that it hasn’t gotten to the point of Kickstarting yet. I did hold up the 100 pages of the current rules I printed using my suggested edits. I only had to refer to them in the first session to figure out who the wounded speakeasy customers were. Also, I clarified the damage rule using the d10.

Saturday night I ran a weird WWII scenario I developed called The Kiel Experiment, using The Front – also by Mark Hunt, based on The Black Hack. I first ran that scenario last November at Ucon for at least ten people, since several GMs were laid low by the flu. Saturday night I only had two show of the four that were signed up. I gave them each two PCs that they rolled up. The one with leadership, I let roll a d10 and get 4 NPC soldiers to help out. The players were a father and son. To set the mood, I asked if they had seen The Philadelphia Experiment – they had not. So I had to explain it very briefly, and that this scenario was my take on the German version. They really enjoyed the session, and since there were only two of them, they finished it in two hours. The next day, the father saw me in passing and let me know that they looked up The Philadelphia Experiment the night before and watched the first ten or fifteen minutes, and really liked it. My bad – I forgot to take a picture of the players at the table.

MCC Friday
MCC Friday

Friday morning I played a 0 level funnel of MCC (Mutant Crawl Classic) with Jim Wampler. It was a lot of fun. I was amazed – I’ve never had all 4 characters survive a funnel. Out of 7 players, 5 had no deaths. One person lost two and another lost one of their characters. We only got to the penultimate boss monster. It is basically Gamma World with DCC rules. Of course, with DCC type rules, it gets really interesting. We got an MCC button and a pick from a bag of pewter minis based on the original Ral Partha Gamma world minis. I got a rabbit with a submachine gun.

MCC Satruday
MCC Satruday

Saturday morning I played a 1st level MCC adventure, again with Jim Wampler. Again we got an MCC badge and a pick from the minis. My character was a mutant with bat ears that gave him echo location. He had a delusion that his dazer gun talked to him, so I had fun with that. His last power was the ability to control anything with iron in it, i.e. magnetism. Another player was way into roleplaying, he said, “That’s my superpower.” He plaid a mutant plant, basically a tree person, that he named Larch. He was in character and wow, I would play with him again!

We got transported away and these robot “gods” wanted us to retrieve an object. The night before they sent us off, each of us had a visitation from a different one, promising us even more gifts if we gave the item directly to them. Jim took each of us into the hall, so no one else knew what we knew. I have never been in that situation, so I decided, “This is a con, I’m going to go for it.” We finally got to where we could see the object. As soon as Jim was done describing it, I said, “I’m going to run and grab it.” The whole table was a bit surprised I did that. Two other players tried to intervene. One rolled a 1 trying to grab my beloved dazer since my hands were full with the object. Another tired to shoot me with his dazer, and rolled a one. I was amazed and had a good laugh at my luck. I then “spell burned” to use my control ferrous metal, and rolled high enough that I go the maximum result. My manifestation was that I was cold to the touch, and with the max result, I looked metallic and could control any number of objects. (In hindsight, I could have really betrayed the party and just killed them all….) I crushed the guy’s dazer and threw him across the room. We were then transported back, and I tried to run towards the “god” who promised me wealth and power. The other gods and their gated in minions and the rest of the party rolled initiative. I rolled a nine and the player on my left rolled a 20 for initiative. I laughed. He then declared he would use telekinesis to take the object from me, with spellburn. He then rolled a second nat 20! My ability to resist was ruined as my strength was weakened by my prior effort. My magnetic control only lasts 1 round per level. Being 1st level, I blew my chances. He then sent the object to the “god” he was working for. He lived and got all the power and riches and the rest of us were rended by demons. I had a great Magneto impression, but it wasn’t good enough. I had a blast being the betrayer who was himself betrayed. What a way to go!

How D&D Changed the World
How D&D Changed the World

Friday night I sat in on a seminar by Michael Witwer (Empire of Imagination – AFF), and Jon Peterson (Playing At the World – AFF), and hosted by David Ewalt (Of Dice and MenAFF) – How D&D Changed The World. It was a great seminar. One participant Christoph, is from Germany, now living in the U.S. He asked about the non-North American aspect of RPGs & D&D. Jon Peterson immediately had answers and talked about games Christoph had not heard of. I got a chance to visit with Christoph afterwards, and more later on Sunday. It is pretty obvious that without D&D computer RPGs wouldn’t exist, or not with levels and hit points. All of those in the entertainment industry who were influenced by D&D, etc. make it seem that we are in a post D&D world, since we can’t avoid mentioning it, and those who never played it know what we mean by many terms.

I was nice to visit for a bit with Michael, but being a busy man with a young family, was only there for the day. Jon meets so many people, I’m not sure he recalled meeting me at Gary Con in the spring. I met David for the first time. He is the only one of the three that I don’t have his book. I’ll have to correct that once I get through Jon’s tome. (My backlog is far too large….)

I also spoke with Pat Kilbane a couple of times, and he is making progress on the D&D History Project documentary. I back the Patreon and last week he showed us a portion of the trailer. All I can say is, it’s cool and I can’t wait for more! I am humbled that he thanks me for my support every time I comment online, or each time we are at a con. I do far more getting the word out than I do finance wise. If you can help out, join the Patreon. The interviews are done, it is down to shooting stills,finding some historical footage, and then the editing.

Stephen Chenault Signing My C&C PHB
Stephen Chenault Signing My C&C PHB
Stephen & I with My C&C PHB
Stephen & I with My C&C PHB

One of the guys I game with on Roll20 backed the latest Troll Lord Games Kickstarter and got each of us a C&C PHB. I asked Stephen Chenault to autograph it. I told the guys last Wednesday night that I would. Stephen is very gracious, and easily agreed to do so and pose for a picture.

Satine Ruty & Me
Satine Ruty & Me

Sunday, I didn’t get the game I wanted. I signed up for Top Secret: NWO by Merle Rasmussen, and ran by him, but didn’t win a spot. I was going to sign up for D&D, but I offered to give Ruty and Satine a ride from their hotel to the con. We were staying at the same hotel. So I got to visit a bit more with them. I offered them a ride to the airport so they didn’t need an Uber, and got them there with just enough time to catch their flight. I did actually get to finish a conversation with Satine Thursday night instead of being interrupted by people walking up wanting to talk to her, etc. I didn’t get to talk much with Ruty. They are both a whirlwind of activity. Satine mentioned a couple of things I don’t think I can talk about. She hinted at more awesomeness to come in 2018. I have no specifics, that all she said.

The dates for Gamehole Con 2018 are November 7-11. The website has already been updated for 2018. Alex and crew are on top of things, and the preparations for next year have already begun. I have been told that UCon in Ann Arbor, MI is the same weekend next year. This is out of control for both conventions as they are dependent on the college football schedule. This affects at least three of the regular cons I attend. If they are the same weekend, I will be attending UCon, since it is only two hours away, and in the same state.


Grand Con 2017

I attended two events at Grand Con, visited with friends, and spent a bit of time in the vendor hall.

Grand Con is in Grand Rapids, Michigan which is about an hour away from where I live near Kalamazoo. I elected to drive back and forth each day, as time and cost of gas seemed worth it to me vs. a hotel nearby.

I signed up for one game each day, with the plan of lots of visiting or perhaps running or playing pick up games. A few weeks ago, I got an email that the Saturday game was cancelled. Plans changed as my son’s car has issues and he has been borrowing my car to get to work.  He works nights and this particular weekend, he worked all three evenings of the con.

Friday I took him to work, played in a game from 7 to 11 pm, I didn’t get home until about 12:20 and bed about 1 am. Getting up to get him from work before 6 am meant that I was just too tired to safely drive. Having tried sleeping and driving about 25 years ago, I don’t recommend it, and definitely don’t wish to repeat it. I took a nap for the first time in I can’t recall, and spent Saturday doing very little. Sunday I drove up for the 9 am game and was delayed by a 5K run that held me up for 10 minutes a mere 100 yards from the site and parking garage. I was nearly an hour early, so it was not a problem. I learned that those in the con had no idea about it.

Don't Sleep & Drive
Don’t Sleep & Drive – I choose not to do a repeat.

Friday’s Game

The Friday game was one hosted by the group, We Hate Bards. I’m sure there’s a story behind that name. The GM was Raven, the 4th or 5th female GM I have had. (I am glad that there is more variety in GMs in my experience. Even better that I am loosing track of just how many it has been.) It was D&D 5e and the session was called, Welcome to the Iron Realms: Play Smarter, Not Harder.

There was only one other player, so I am glad that I ignored my thoughts of not going Friday night. She had a neat hand drawn map in her GM notebook to show us the layout of her campaign world. We had to find out why the trolls were interrupting the iron trade, which gives the name of Iron Realms. Each character has 5 “minions” to help us. They dwindled to one each by the end of the session.

We avoided an unnecessary combat and gained allies to help us deal with our first fight and guided us into the swamp. We also avoided fighting a giant frog that probably would have smoked us. By playing smart and gaining allies and avoiding a fight with the frog, she awarded us 2nd and 3rd levels.

We took a moment to note out new hit points and new feats/abilities/paths. I chose a dwarf barbarian. I got to roll the abilities and create my character. She had a few pre-gens, but had not completed that process yet.

I specifically chose a 5e game, as I need to play it more to get familiar with the specifics of its rules. Even though I leveled up this character, I did not catch that he was resistant to bludgeoning damage until after the consequences of being knocked out were resolved. Even with a fancy printed character sheet, it was a general sheet and not optimized for the class. There was just too much to look at to find the option, and I wrote it in a corner of the sheet in a way that it did not stand out.

I am not used to there being different categories of damage and having the ability to resist different types. I skipped 3e, 3.5e, and 4e, so it is a new concept to me. This is similar to when I played in +Satine Phoenix’s game at Gary Con 9 that not until the last initiative of the game did I roll with advantage like I should have all session.

For me, I can handle a lot of options once I am familiar with them all, but with as many options as a 3rd level character has, I need a character sheet that is not “busy” with bits I don’t need, and all that I do need is on one side of the page. Combat related things need to all be on one page. Surprise, initiative, resistances, and anything that aids combat (melee or ranged). Spells are a different matter.

It was a great game with an interesting puzzle that took us a while to figure out, but we did it.

I am used to the rules being easy enough that I have a pretty good idea of what a character can do. Granted AD&D is not rules light, but there are not so many races and classes in the core rules that one can’t easily have at least a general idea of what they can do. With 5e, even though I have the core books and have read them, there is so much to them, that for even an experienced player, with out regular sessions to keep up with the details, one can quickly become overwhelmed. With that much involved with a character, character death would definitely suck. I can see why many prefer to always play the same class and race in 5e, as they have that one figured out.

The Iron Kingdoms
The Iron Kingdoms

Sunday’s Game

I played DCC with +Brendan LaSalle on his birthday! The Inn At Five Points. We were all second level. I elected to play a wizard. There were only a few first level spells. The only spells that I was able to put to use in the situations we found ourselves, was flaming hands and invoke patron.

Brendan used his d50 for the Minor Mercurial Effects table from his contribution to 50 uses for a d50. I left mine at home. I need to add it to my dice bag (I think it will fit).

I asked about invoke patron, and as my character is neutral, I ended up with some nondescript entity best described as “Mehhhhh” (be sure to emphasize the shrug). I wish I had a recording of the way Brendan said it.

In short, the neutral cleric in the party did something and rolled a crit that changed the whole nature of the scenario. Instead of fighting for our lives, we were taunting the bad guys. The two clerics, one neutral and one chaotic, an elf, and my wizard all invoked their deities and patrons. The chaotic cleric was able to spell burn in this situation. The neutral cleric got a lot of help from fleeting luck and halfling luck, and the elf and I spell burned for 20s. Once we all had 4 20’s our dieties and patrons helped us out and got us to the ultimate destination for the evening. We were set upon by beasts  that nearly killed us while we were still in need of 3 weeks of rest to recover from so much spell burn. We managed to beat the beasts and find a safe place to hold up and rest.

Finally, we encountered some sprites that would help us if we took out their greatest nemesis. We managed to find this creature and our dwarf stonemason who rolled poorly to OK rolled a 20 to set the trap to destroy the creature. The one to trigger it rolled really well and luck boosted the efforts to smear the beast into a stain.

It is great how spectacular rolls make for a game unlike any other. Brendan did a great job of rolling with the flow of our rolls and choices, and he had as much fun as the rest of us. I’m glad I got to help give him that present.

The Inn At Five Points
The Inn At Five Points

Vendor Hall

The room with the vendor hall was a huge cavernous room. The vendors were along two sides with the board game tables in the middle.

I visited with +John Reyst of Open Gaming Store and James Means of Game Science.

Open Gaming Booth
Open Gaming Booth

Game Science has plans for a new d100 with an improved braking system. It is manufactured in Adrian, Michigan, and will be available soon. I bought the last of the prior version of the d100 they had, as I had not yet acquired one.

They also plan to have a d30 in 2018 and a d7 in late 2018 or early 2019. I confirmed that it is OK for me to share that on the blog.

Game Science Dice
Game Science Dice


Final Thoughts

Grand Con celebrated its fifth year. The location at the DeVos Place was bigger than they needed. Without a contiguous allocation of space, there was a lot of confusion. My arrival Friday evening was after they got the kinks worked out and I had no difficulty finding the RPG space. However, the RPG space was well separated from the vendor hall and board game area.

They do a good job with their online registration system, and picking up my pre-registration items was easy.

Grand Rapids doesn’t like giving you free parking close to downtown sites, $10 a day! Also the DeVos Place didn’t have a sign that I could see, so people who don’t spend a lot of time in Grand Rapids would have a frustrating time figuring out what building it is, when Google Maps doesn’t tell you you’re there until you are past the parking entrance and showed me that I should cross the street to the government building. Also, the city communicating with the venue and the venue management passing that on to the con would have helped with the confusion Sunday morning with the 5K shutting down traffic.

Other than getting to the con location, I really didn’t have any problems. I had a good time in my events, and didn’t stay long enough to partake of the limited on-site food.

You can read +Clayton Williams’ con report here with details of the entire con.

Gary Con IX Wrap Up

This year’s Gary Con was awesome. Other than some trivial issues it was all good.

I arrived Wednesday, picked up my registration pack and saw a few friends. I also wandered around the vendor hall during setup. Black Blade Publishing/Goodman Games had a spot inside the door across from registration. I immediately say a lot of things I wanted. After going to our hotel (NOTE: Don’t wait, if you want to go, call the Grand Geneva now. We had rain the last few days and walking in the rain to the con is no fun.), we went to Frankenparty IV. Frank Mentzer opens his home to attendees, and just asks for a small donation towards the food.

Frank had out a painting that was suggested for the original red box cover with a full adventure party, and not the lone fighter facing the dragon. That picture had not been made public before. He also has Gary Gygax’ old TSR desk. I got to sit next to Darlene the artist while I ate. Later, while I was in Frank’s office listening to him tell stories Darlene walked in to say her goodbyes and Frank told her things were a go. Then he turned to us and said that he is launching a Kickstarter in a few months for his campaign world. Darlene will be doing the maps. (So much for avoiding Kickstarters….) Frank says that he has a letter by Gary Gygax that says his campaign is in a certain location in Greyhawk. Obviously he can’t use any names owned by WotC, but this should be cool!

Red Box Alternate Cover
Red Box Alternate Cover - Info
Red Box Alternate Cover – Info

We stopped by the Grand Geneva and met a few friends and had a drink before going to our hotel.

Thursday before my first game, I wandered by the vendor hall. The doors were open early so I went in and picked up my Epsilon City Kickstarter and the one for How To Write Adventure Modules The Don’t Suck. I also bought Dungeon Alphabet, Monster Alphabet, and the OSRIC Monstrosities book. I also saw these cool map pads that I knew I’d be back later.

Across from that I visited with Jeff Talanian of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. He managed to easily sell the last of his first edition boxes.

He was next to Frog God Games, so I stepped over and met Erik Tenakar. Nice guy. I also saw Zach Glazer & Bill Webb, and met Mike Badolato.

Erik Tenkar
Erik Tenkar

My first game was in Ernie Gygax’ Hobby Shop Dungeon. He had a laminated copy for us to see. It is a HUGE dungeon. He put up some video on Facebook, where you can see me scribbling notes as he reads his intro.

Posted by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. on Monday, March 27, 2017


I didn’t have anything else scheduled until 6, so I wandered around, bought more stuff, got some signatures, etc.

From 6-8, I attended a Seminar by Satine Phoenix and Ruty Rutenberg where they explained how they do their Maze Arcana livestream. They explained how you can do it with good enough webcams, but you have to be careful not to overload the computer. Very informative. It was also great to catch up with Satine. I had no idea who she was when we met at last year’s Gary Con, also her first time there.

Ruty, Satine, A.J., and me
Ruty, Satine, A.J., and me

Friday I started off with Mark Hunt’s Gangbusters. The premise was that “The Masks” were putting on too much pressure, so it was time for one last job. He gave us Penguin, Two-Face (who had to flip a coin), Poison Ivy, Riddler, Flat Top, Joker, and two characters he generated. We found out that we were up against Dick Tracy, The Shadow, and Batman. We laughed so hard that I got a headache. Flat Top managed to kill Dick Tracy and take his watch, hat, and coat and drive away. Sean, who played Two Face got tails like 11 or 12 times in a row, which was hilarious!

Mark announced his Gangbusters Kickstarter this summer. He had a mockup of the rules which is complete with place holders for art. Mark had one game each day for 8 players and each had a waiting list. He asked me to run two games next year. I and others told him to go to Gamehole Con. I told him that I planned to run at Gamehole Con this year, and will run a session of Gangbusters. I will also run at UCon in Ypsilanti, MI.

Gangbusters - Mark Hunt
Gangbusters – Mark Hunt

That night, I got to play in Satine Phoenix’ first time running a convention game. It was my first real time playing 5e. She did great and kept us entertained and busy. We had something happen that initiated a timer, so we had two hours to get a resolution, and we made it with 1 minute and 22 seconds to spare! We had one character die, which was also the first time one has died when Satine ran the game. Later at the bar she told me that she was glad I was there for a friendly face, and moral support. Zing! Straight to the feels! She took a picture of our group that got re-tweeted by Geek & Sundry, which was cool!

Saturday morning, I played in a party of adventuring monsters who went “Against The Dwarfs”, for taking out their allies the giants. Ryan, the DM plans a sequel to that for next year. His premise, plot, and NPCs and the voices were all memorable. I have to get into that sequel next year!

AD&D - Against The Dwarfs
AD&D – Against The Dwarfs

That night I played in Michael Shorten’s AD&D game set in his campaign world. He had a very interesting setup. At one point we ran into a cave of shriekers and he started wailing, he can really hit those high notes! Every other table in the room stopped what they were doing and imitated him. He then said, “And that is what you hear.” It was epic! It is one of those moments that you wish you had it on video to share with the world!

AD&D With Michael Shorten
AD&D With Michael Shorten

On Sunday, I played Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. It was a scenario by Goblin Punch, The Meal of Oshregaal. We failed in our mission, but had a blast.

Sometime during the week, I also talked to Pat Kilbane a couple of times. He was getting in several final interviews for the documentary. It was so cool that he was appreciative of my banging the drum to bring attention to the Patreon. This movie will happen, and if you can give something towards the Patreon, it will speed up that process.

I took a bunch of things to get signed, because Jeff Dee was there, but I never saw him when he wasn’t running a game or I didn’t have the books with me. I picked up the Holmes Blue Box rulebook a couple years ago, since I gave my original to my youngest brother when I went to college. I asked Tom Wham to sign it and he said, “I didn’t do anything in that.” I said, “You’re in the credits,” and handed it to him. He flipped through it and said, “That picture looks familiar, I guess I did.” Lots of fun moments like that.

James Ward made it and looked OK and was always his pleasant self. He signed a book I bought and the two Kickstarters I picked up. I sat and watched the final moments of the last two characters in his Metamorphosis Alpha game fall resulting in a TPK.

MA with Jim Ward - TPK
MA with Jim Ward – TPK


Tim Kask recieved the second annual E. Gary Gygax Lifetime Achievement Award, which James Ward had received last year.

The E. Gary Gygax Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Tim Kask this weekend at Gary Con IX, and deservedly so….

Posted by Jim Wampler on Sunday, March 26, 2017

On the way home, we stopped by Lake Geneva Games and had a tour from Mark Clover. He encouraged us to come early next year and game. We then went 30 miles out of the way for my passenger to pick up a package at Noble Knight Games and save on shipping. They have a small storefront with a huge warehouse in back. The storefront was unimpressive. If you are local, or in the area, go pick up a package. Otherwise, see their booth at a con, like Gamehole Con, or order online.

Lake Geneva Games
Lake Geneva Games


Noble Knight Games
Noble Knight Games

When I woke up one morning and had the half awake thing where an idea can come, I had an idea for a card game, so I sat up and typed all the high points into my phone. I think it might be good enough to Kickstart. It depends on how well I can execute the mechanics….

I always take off the Monday after a con to rest up and run errands. While out running errands, I had an idea for another card game, that is even better than the first one. It is also more clear in my mind, and the mechanics just write themselves, it seems. When inspiration strikes, it often comes in truckloads. More about both ideas later.

I still have a lot to write about, and a lot to write about once it is OK to go public.

Last year, there were about 1250 attendees. This year there were about 1300 pre-registered, with over 1700 total attendance. At some point, we will reach the limits of this largest venue in Lake Geneva. I hope they always keep it here. Time will tell.

I am so ready for next year, where I know I’ll be running two sessions of Gangbusters. Not sure I’ll run anything else, as I also want to play.

I almost left out playing in Frank Metzer’s OD&D game. I’ll have to write about his old school mechanic for everything.

Frank Mentzer - ODD
Frank Mentzer – ODD

Until next year!

Getting Ready for Gary con IX!

I’m excited about Gary Con IX. One more day of work before I can hit the road.

If you can’t make it to Gary Con this year, maybe you can find a local convention.

I wrote about sites where you can find conventions in your area here. Small local cons are a great place to run your first convention game. That was my experience, and I had a blast.

I’m jumping in and trying the YouTube thing, so here’s a video where I talk about Gary Con.

Where Can I Find a Game Convention?

There is a lot of talk online about what game conventions are happening, or those that many plan to attend.

I recently had a friend inquire about cons in his general area. I thought I had written about

Google is my first tool of choice to find things with an online presence.

There are several site that share lists of cons. My favorite is Game Convention Central.  I last wrote about them in 2014. It has groupings by country, and then region within the country. Like most lists I found, since my primary language is English, and I live in the USA, the lists focus on the U.S.

Game Convention Central has a page to submit cons that aren’t on their list. They also have a game/gamer search for those looking for players in their area.

BoardGameGeek also has a list of conventions. It is also grouped by country.

Similarly, Wikipedia has a list of gaming conventions grouped by country and region.

Upcoming Cons is a site that has a long list of cons in date order on the front page. It goes to November, 2017 and has one at the bottom already for 2018. It is mostly US. I spied one in the UK. They have a page to submit cons not already on their list. They also have a rating system, and have categories to divide up the cons. This seems to be cons of all sorts, with a specific gaming con list.

Local cons in your area may be organized by the local college or university and not much advertised beyond campus and local game stores. If you don’t already know about cons in your area, and they are not on the above lists, if and when you do find them, please add them above to help others find them.

When the local con in my area, Marmalade Dog, isn’t the same weekend as Gary Con, I will be at it running and playing games. Support your local cons, not just the ones with all the big names. Local cons have more opportunity to find local players of like mindset. They are also a lot cheaper and can be from one to 3 days. Best of all, you don’t need a hotel since you live nearby.

No WOTC at GenCon 50

WOW! Not the year i’d pick to skip Gen Con, the 50th is a big deal. Personally, Gen Con is too big for me, and also a time of year I can’t easily get off work. I first saw mention of this over on Tenkar’s Tavern.

I hope their attendance at Gary Con and not Gen Con doesn’t force rapid growth at Gary Con. It’s cool to keep it in Lake Geneva. I’d hate to see them cap attendance or move, but I also don’t want it too big.

Same with GameHole, good size.

I’m curious what no official D&D presence at GenCon will mean? I assume no WOTC means no “official” D&D games/tournaments. I’m sure they will still have DMs running their adventures that count for their adventure league or whatever it is called. It probably won’t hurt as people will still play.


Local Con Date Conflict with Gary Con IX

Marmalade Dog, a con hosted by the West Michigan Gamers Guild (WMGG) and held on the Western Michigan University campus is the same weekend as Gary Con. I was able to attend both last year because they were different weekends.

Unfortunately, the date is set by the people in charge of the calendar at WMU and they have to take what they are given.

I intended to step up and make sure an OSR track happened this year, but I don’t want to put in all the work if I can’t follow it through to the end. I was getting ready to plan what games I might run, but figured I’d better verify the dates before I put in the work.

The cool thing about this con, if you sign up to run games by December 31, you get a t-shirt and free admission for each day that you run a game. So if you are nearby and won’t be at GaryCon, consider running a game at Marmalade Dog.

Find the closest game convention in your area and join in the fun. If you are unable to run a game for whatever reason, sign up to play. Even if you only participate for a day, you still show the convention organizers that there is interest, and it will happen again next year.

If you are looking for a list of game conventions, here are some sites that have lists.

A good and organic list is at Gaming Convention Central. The main page is focused on the USA, but it has links for conventions worldwide. One can also submit conventions not on their list here.

Wikipedia also has a list of Gaming Conventions. Gamehole Con is missing from this list.

Board Game Geek has a good list that is also worldwide. Their list is a WIKI so it appears that you can easily edit to add to the list.

The site Upcoming Cons has a list that shows which cons are next, but it missing several cons on the other sites. Reading more about this site, it appears to be a tool for convention organizers to handle their registration, so it only has cons using its tools. This is a very narrow focus, so I can’t recommend it for finding a con in your area.

Lastly, if you can’t find anything local on these lists, do a google search for gaming conventions in your area. Once you find them, add them to the other lists so it is easier for others to find them. If you have an FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store), make sure that the local con is advertised there. If you are looking for people to play with in person, the FLGS and local cons are the way to go. The online sites for finding players only seem to work when you are closer to major metropolitan areas. Unless you want to drive an hour or more one way. Those sites are only as good as those who sign up. If there are none in your area, or none with an interest in your area of interest, you will be disappointed.

Crit Success Rings – A Review

Back in March, 2016 at GaryCon 8, +Satine Phoenix gave a bunch of us these d20 rings, that you can wear and roll a d20. Very cool.

They are CritSuccess rings.

They take a bit of working the grit out, dish soap & warm water work well. Once you have them spinning freely, they seem to generate random numbers.

It is a cool trinket for those of us who collect dice and other game memorabilia.

I can see using them for a DM roll of a d20, if it needed to be secret.

They also have rings for other single dice and multi-dice combinations like 3d6. If you really like a ring or two on every finger, this might be for you.