Category Archives: GaryCon

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.

Tim Kask Talk – First Five Years At TSR

Here’s a write up from GaryCon 8 from back in March I hadn’t published yet.

I attended a session by Tim Kask on Riding the Rocket: TSR’s First 5 Years. I missed the first twenty minutes or so, but I enjoyed it immensely. Tim recommended that we read the book Orcs, and that it changed his view on orcs, and that he no longer sees them as just meat sacks.

Pat Kilbane filmed Tim’s presentation for use in his D&D Documentary. I had the honor of asking the last question, “What was the thing you like best about working at TSR, and what was the thing you liked least or might want to do differently in hindsight?” Others besides Pat also recorded his response on video, I wish I had. Basically, he voiced his disapproval of the Blume’s business acumen. He said that he loved working with Gary and having so much fun. The second thing he liked was the opportunity to go back to teaching.

Pat’s YouTube channel, Dorks Of Yore published most of the interview in a series of short snippets. You can see them all in this Tabetop RPGs playlist, along with their initial video about GaryCon. Alas, my question didn’t appear in these snippets, but will be in the final product. However, this screenshot from an FB comment I made and Pat’s reply is fantastic!

Awesome!
Awesome!

Gary Con Panel – Goodman Games – How To Write Adventure Modules The Don’t Suck

I have played a few DCC funnels at conventions and a few modules at the gaming table. I’ve even been a player in a play test of a module. I can’t mention that, but if my name shows up in the acknowledgements, you’ll know which one(s).

DCC seems to have a lot of interest in their modules, so I wanted to hear what their designers had to say. If I never have a published module, at least I can use the information to help design my own sessions, and games at conventions.

The panelists were Joseph Goodman, Michael Curtis, Jobe Bitman, Brendan LaSalle, and Bob Bledsaw, Jr. There were 20-25 in attendance, among whom were 3 women. When it came time to ask questions, only one of the women asked a question. That’s a significant ratio. What I wonder, is were the other two just there with their male S.O.’s, or were they really gamers with an interest in such things. Just my musings, no data to back up any of it.

What follows are just the transcription of my hastily scribbled and sometimes illegible notes. There are a lot of good points here for planning adventures in your own games, in addition to developing modules for publication.

Joseph Goodman started off by telling us that they have done this seminar multiple times before, and this time wanted to start off with each person telling what things inspire them.

1.) Things that inspire us to get a good output.

Michael Curtis

  • All writers are readers
    • Always have a notebook when reading – make note of certain words that evoke ideas, feelings, etc.
    • Follow up on ideas an author does not pursue.

Jobe Bitman

  • Movies, especiall humor.
  • Camping & hiking
  • New museum
  • New locations and feeling what the experience is like and relate to a fantasy world setting.
    • For ex. hiking is hard work, and there’s no way characters pack all the stuff they say that they do.

Brendan LaSalle

  • Big reader
  • Movies
  • Good TV
  • Poetry
  • Music – Heavy Metal Power Cords
  • Steals a lot of bad guy lines from comic books.

Bob Bledsaw, Jr. (Insight on how his dad prepared for campaigns & modules, from all the materials he left.)

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heilein, A. C. Clarke, poetry
  • Actually running campaigns
    • Notebooks filled with names of inns, NPC’s with brief designations, random monsters, and names & backgrounds for magical items.
    • Village book, fantastic weapons, Temple book, etc.
    • His father didn’t like to lead players.
    • Look at an inn as each class. How does a mage see this inn, a cleric, a thief?
    • What about a monster or obstacle is a problem for a cleric?
    • Leave world open

Joe Goodman

  • Goes to places with unique features
    • Elephant seal hatchery – they are 2,000 pounds and the size of a VW.
  • Monarch butterfly breeding ground – view through fantasy lens
  • Hurst castle
  • Wild zebras on beach near California coastal highway.
  • Alcatraz was a military island citadel before it was a prison.
  • Art and comic books

I think it was Brendan LaSalle who said these two things.

  1. Read Strunk & Whites Manual of Style once per year.
  2. Read what you have written out loud, or have someone read it to you with the Last Draft. If it doesn’t read well, it won’t play well.

A common theme was to playtest a module multiple times to get the flow and pacing right. You have to know how it will play out before you publish it. Someone said if it is a TPK every time, then it’s too hard. If about half the party survives, then it’s about right.

2.) One thing they love and one thing they hate.

Brendan

Love: Brilliant little detail, for ex. Legacy of Savage Kings has a dragon in a cavern with the coins of his treasure lovingly stacked along the wall.

Hate: No matter what happens, you can’t change what happens. He gave examples of NPC’s you can’t kill, or some other thing that no matter what they do it won’t change. It is better to think of what will happen if they kill this NPC, etc. Trust your DM (who will run the module). ALWAYS put the players center stage as the main characters of the story.

Michael

Love: Enjoys ambiguity to cause reader and player to imagine options, avoids set in stone. Leave it up to recipient to fill in the blanks.

Hate: Story should emerge and not be stuck in a narrative since it is a participatory game.

Bob

Be a storyteller, not a story dictator.

Jobe

Hate: Really long details with buried information the DM or player’s need. Make it easy to find.

Joseph

Players are the audience, but the GM is the customer. Word count for GM/Judge is wasted, 1-2 pages at most. Pages should be for the benefit of the players.

3.) How bring ideas together?

Bob – List of Hobbits, only with warrior sounding names. His father’s notes were rich in lore from the books he read.

Michael – Pick three things and create a riff on it. Then come up with a brief synopsis, elevator pitch.

Brendan – Do like Shakespeare – Steal/steal/steal. What if it is a murder mystery?
Take random ideas and throw them at specific thing for the background to see where it goes and what happens.
He is a firm believer in a crappy first draft, just get it done, then refine it.

Michael – If nothing else, do something that you enjoy and are passionate about. Find a way to make it an adventure.

Bob – Don’t let your own misgivings stop you from paying or publishing.

Joseph – Get practice, especially with random stuff.

Bob – Some people have favorite modules that are not what is the most popular. Someone will like it, even if not everyone.

4.) How break out of the linear mindset?

Michael – Don’t make decisions for the players, just set the scene.

Bob – If there is an intriguing hook, it will draw them in.

Mike – For publication there is a set word count. How might players overcome this obstacle. Come up with 3 or 4 things.

Brendan – Billy goat Gruff, but 25th level character. Create a setting and villains. You can’t cover all your bases. Trust your GM.

Joseph – Mental checklist of

  • Player choices
  • There is a chance for every player to shine.
  • Visual Descriptions – Use hulking humanoid instead of just saying orc.
  • No ziggurats – New and exciting ideas.
  • Good title
  • Good summary  – Focused enough to do a 2 or 3 sentence description – elevator pith.

5.) Bad guy development

Leave as many decisions as possible up to the players.

Base on someone you don’t like.

Don’t lock the front door to the dungeon.

Don’t leave necessary information in an inaccessible place.

No lock without a key. This can be a secret door, or another way around the obstacle. Always a way around it.

Brendan – Once you decide what he is, Imagine as your character or you personally. Such as a dragon or necromancer.
What will you do to stop adventurers?
What will you fail at?

Q&A

How get into the situation?/Start the setting for the adventure? (This was my question. I have trouble getting a good starting point for adventures.)

Brendan – In media res [In the middle of the action/story.] especially for a module, one-shot, or convention game.

Joseph – Robert E. Howard – In media res.

Brendan – Let the players screw themselves. Maybe they are all clerics, so they need hirelings to fill in the gaps. Always have a situation that requires dealing with magic.

Jobe – 1.) Be comfortable with system you are using, and just knowing the system might give you an idea.

2.) Avoid crating bottlenecks, have some secondary way to achieve the goal. A “key” to every lock doesn’t have to be literal.

Joseph – Easter Egg – Some benefit to players that test everything and one room *. Game changers – Players wreck the story line, handle it at the table.

Word count/size?

Brendan – Have a set number of encounters for four hours. For a convention setting, 6 to 8 encounters for four hours. Most modules can be played in four hours.

Jobe – Word count – Write as expressively as possible in the lowest word count.

Joseph – c. 10,000 words is about 16 pages in the format of Goodman Games’ modules.

How develop balance in a module? How do you know you have it right?

Brendan – Playtest/Playtest/Playtest as much as you can before publishing. Run at conventions, local game store with people you don’t know. A minimum of 3 times to playtest, once with friends, twice at conventions, no upper limit really.

Michael – Six months after it is released, you will know if the balance is right.

Jobe – If more than have killed, then still needs work. If less than half killed, then it’s probably pretty good.

Bob – Be prepared for anything. There should be enough source material to plan for unexpected things players do. Always leave a way out of a tough situation, but don’t make it easy.

Mark Hunt – An Interview – The Return of GangBusters

I knew +Mark Hunt from G+ and just happened to meet him at +John Reyst’s Open Gaming Store booth. I recalled seeing a post about Gangbusters, but it had not clicked that it was back. Mark has a license to the GangBusters game! I first learned of Mark with his prolific postings of items for White Star. Many know him for his DCC setting Drongo.

Mark was signing a Gangbuster’s box, and it had the look and size of what I remember from 30+ years ago. The guy asked Mark to sign it and I was really puzzled, thinking it was an original boxed set, until Mark explained that it was his game.

We talked about collaborating on some things in multiple genres/rule systems, one of them being Gang Busters! Wow! I haven’t played in 30+ years, so I guess I need to brush up on the rules….

I did a phone interview with Mark on Saturday, March 12th. Before I started asking interview questions, he mentioned that he is good for the next 3 or 4 years of putting stuff out on a regular basis.

Interview Questions

When did you get your start in RPG’s?
Summer 1979. D&D Red Box and Blue Box. One day in Jr. High, we talked about it in the  Lunch room & met up after school.

What games have you played?
Call of Cthulhu, AD&D, probably hundreds since then. Powers & Perils, Champions, you name it, I played it. I have played every year since then. I once played Champions two years straight.

What games have you ran?
I have ran pretty much just about every game. Which helped a lot with game design, you have to play games and know what is out there, if you want to make games.

I’ve been running GangBusters since 1983. I have enough stuff on hard drive to fill a dozen books without even trying.

What games do you still play or run?
GangBusters, D&D, Swords of the Empire, DCC, Basic, Swords & Sorcery, C&C, Call of Cthulhu, and boardgames, just games, our group tries to keep playing.

How many women players have you had in all of your games?
Dozens, our first group had women back in 1979, and 3 or 4 at a time all the way to the present. It’s easy.

Does you wife play?
No

Does it cause problems?
No, she plays computer games, some are RPG’s, just not table top.

What does she think of your endeavors?
She likes it, especially when they start cashing in. I take what I make and roll it into producing the next game.

Have you ever had a woman GM?
Yes, a few. They are just like everyone else.  I’ve played all over the world so I had all the kinds of game masters that you can think of.

You played all over the world because you were in the Air Force?
Yes for six years and it included the1st Gulf War. We used to play Twilight 2000 in Germany back in the 80’s. A game where we go to war with Russia and get stranded in Europe when it happens. We used all the strategies and tactics we knew, and we had more authenticity than most people.

You seem to have an eclectic taste in genres and historical periods, do you find it hard to focus with so many different irons in the fire?
No.

Why not?
I like to read all kinds of stuff. I know a lot about this, this and this. If there is something you need to know, read a book. My dad says, They hide things they don’t want people to know in a book. A game designer should always be reading, and learning more stuff.

You got your start, at least in my experience, of publishing ships, classes, and supplements for White Star. Was that your real start?It was actually Drongo, then Planetary Transmission and some free items for White Star.

NOTE: Drongo is a DCC compatible setting.

I know you have a Napoleonic era game in the works, and other things, what can you tell us about that?
Swords of the Empire will be ready by the beginning of next month. People can follow on the G+ page and watch development of it, and see how it has changed and evolved. I revise based on feedback from others’ comments in the community.

The latest project seems to be a runaway success – GangBusters.
Is that a game you played back in the day?
NOTE: See above, he’s been playing and GMing it since it came out in 1983.

What made you decided to go for a license to GangBusters?
It was just sitting there and I just asked if I can use it and it went from there. If I like it, there has to be others that like it. If I can sell enough and it can pay for the effort I put into it, all the better.

Is it an exclusive license, that is, are you the only one licensed to do anyting with GB?
So far, I’m the only one out there. I’m working on several things, just making stuff work. I can’t go into more detail at this time.

How hard was it to get the license to do this?
More or less I just asked Rick Krebs and he was receptive. I can’t get into any details on that either. There is stuff [other famous IP] that people can probably pick up if they put in some effort to research it. It is not impossible, is the best I can say.

What did Rick Krebs say when you asked him, was he excited?
Others had talked to him and it never went anywhere, so I showed him what I can do and he purchased it and reviewed it. When the writer likes it and says keep doing it, that’s a seal of approval.

Why the twist with the “Weird Tales & Paranormal Investigations?
Actually it existed in the original setting. In Polyhedron magazine, they had an adventure with giant bugs that took over a farm. I did not create it out of thin air, it existed in some shape or form in the original game.
The original game talked about various ideas for how to expand it. All I did was expand it. I read all the articles where they mentioned GangBusters. I am making it modular so you can use or not, or expand or not, cause at the end of the day it is still a game of cops & robbers. If you can’t find an adventure after a night of watching TV, with so many police procedurals that are on now, I can’t help you, NCIS, X-files, etc. Warehoue 13, Thin Man, etc. There is so much that fits.
Me – It’s seeing the connections.
Mark – Exactly. I increased the book size to show what you can do with it. It doesn’t have to be just gangsters. You can do journalists. The Incredible Hulk is about new reporter chasing the Hulk cross country. The players  could be a pool of reporters in an Enquirer type organization.
Me – GangBusters is set in the same time period as H.P. Lovecraft was writing.
Mark – I’m staying away from the Cthulhu mythos, there is more out there than just that.
If you want to play Call of Cthulhu play it, it’s a great game. If you want to go in different directions, play my game. Play GangBusters, there is enough out there to keep you busy

I really like the NPC card decks, what was your inspiration for those?
Old police mugshots. I make cards with mugshots, with enough stats to run. I made the first 18, then another 18, and eventually I’ll have a full deck of 52 cards. Literally take a card and you are ready to play. At Gary Con I passed out cards, and said, this is what stats mean and we were up and running in minutes. NPC’s, bad guys, players, etc. They are small and portable. Once you know the rules that’s all you need. Keep it in your wallet and you’re ready to play whenever and wherever. [See this YouTube video for a sample of the cards.]

Me – They make a great tool for a pick up or convention game for pre-gens. There was a lot of buzz from those who played in the games Mark ran.

It’s been mentioned on the G+ TSR GangBusters Community, that you plan to do a Kickstarter. I know that you have a goal to have everything ready before the Kickstarter and to keep it manageable. How much can you tell us about that?
I’m still working on it. Eventually there will be a box set, hard back book, GM screen, and modules, plus add ons will all be figured out and done. So once we hit our goal and are funded, I will order and ship. I did a test run of box sets, and people are impressed with what I have now. Some have shipped to Spain, England, all over world now. I hope a Kickstarter will help it reach a bigger area.

When might we get wind of the Kickstarter?
Depends on when I get done with something in the background – I can’t talk about it – then preparing for the Kickstarter will start to speed up.

What is the secret to your prolific output? I ask, because it is an amazing story that just floored me. I was giving you a hard time at Gary Con to slow down because you’re making the rest of us look bad.
Last year was my last chemo – I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and going through treatments. I said to myself, “If this is my last year, I’m going to do what I want to do,” and I literally drove myself to do these games, even if only 5 words in a day. After a year, I had a lot. I just hacked it out piece by piece. “Never give up, never surrender,” as they say. Marks’ wife can be heard in the background: “He’s not going to do anything else. By Grapthar’s hammer….”
To the outside world it appeared like I was cranking it out fast, it seemed like a lot real fast. As they say, an overnight success is ten year’s worth of work. A lot of games that blew up were simmering in the background and no one paid attention until they got done.

You mentioned you were seeking a license to do a game with a big name, and well-know IP, but it fell through. 
Any clues to other IP’s you have your eye on? (Probably not, since you don’t want to spoil it.)
Exactly. I’m always looking for more stuff, but can’t mention them, so I don’t get scooped. If it’s not being used, why not? A Lot of stuff is just sitting quietly. It’s not hard if you do the work and ask. The worst they can say is, “No.”
Drongo for DCC is mine and I can always go and do a BX version. As long as I don’t compete with one of their [Goodman Games] products it should be OK.

Any hints about projects coming up?
Oh geeze, let me look at my hard drive. I’ve thought about one or two retroclones, but will mention those when the time is right. I don’t want it all at once, that is, I want to spread it out. Cloaked Avengers is a new class for GangBusters in the next month, like the Shadow. You can add to an existing GangBusters game with mysterious powers. I’m also working on a WWI alternate history for GangBusters.  I plan to stage so it’s not out all at once, and do one or two adventures to flesh out stuff  I already have.

Joe’s Diner was 6 or 7 pages, then 18, then 32, then I made little booklets. The PDF is automatically updated, so it’s done. The only way to get it in book form is in the boxed set.
Me – That’s a smart way to drive sales.
Mark – Exactly.

Have you seen all the talk about yesterday’s press release about the new TableTop Library site?
Yes. I’m thinking about trying to sell stuff there, it’s one more avenue for sales.

Anything else you want us to know about?
Hit me up on G+ if you see me, and help out get the word out, Swords of the Empire, GangBusters , Fantasy game – no name yet. Everything is just falling into place so fast it is ridiculous. I might have Boxed sets [of the yet to be named and released fantasy game ] at NTRPGCon.

GangBusters boxed sets and T-Shirts, and Swords of the Empire boxed sets will definitely be at North Texas RPG Con.

– – –

Mark is a really nice guy, easy to talk to, and inviting. Other aspiring game designers were asking him to look at their stuff, and he was looking forward to it. He knows game mechanics. Just wjile talking about general ideas, he had an idea for something. Being in his presence, I couldn’t help but be infected by his enthusiasm for games. If we lived in the same town, I’d find a way to play in his games.

Mark is enjoying life and riding this dream of designing games and having a blast while doing it. I expect to hear exciting things in the coming weeks.

Gary Con VIII – Podcasting Panel

The Gary Con Podcast Panel, with hosts from Game School, Gaming and BS, Cube of Death, Drink Spin Run, and Dead Games Society discussed gear, and other practical aspects of podcasting.

I am interested in podcasting, but I’m not sure that I have what it takes to make it a regular thing. I went to get some insight into the process. The basics to get started are less than $100 on the low end, to unlimited. This is not a formal article, but more my notes on the discussion.

The panel was recorded, so it is intended to be shared somewhere. Until then, here is a very quick outline of the presentation from my notes. I look forward to the recording so I can figure out what a couple of quick scribbles are in my notes.

Tech

Each podcast host mentioned the gear they use and things to consider when getting gear for your own podcast.

The bare minimum needed is a microphone, headphones, and a way to edit sound. Less than $100 if use free sound editor.

  • Microphones – 2 main types
    • condenser – wide range, very sensitive. Need to have a separate room/space to pad out noise
      • Blue Yeti
    • dynamic – Rejection – front & center
      • ATI 2100
  • Headphones
  • Sound editing program/mixer/ soundboard
    • Audacity is free sound editing program
  • Pop filter – also speaking past microphone if pop filter not enough
  • Vibration isolation
    • scissor arm
    • separate table for the microphone

Hosting

  • Can host files on your own or use a service. If host on own it can lead to limitations of bandwidth.
  • RSS Feed – This is how people find and listen to your podcast.
  • iTunes & Website – Squarespace – simple installation
  • Host file at Blueberry or Libsyn – Both have plugins for WordPress. both have $x a month plans.
  • PodBeam
  • Free at Archive.org – it is slow and can make listening choppy, or freeze.
  • Filesizes – 200 MB is too big for download, usually 30 or 40 MB.
    • There is a site that explains sound quality based on file size. good quality at around 40-50 MB

Tips & Tricks

  • Microphone Discipline:
    • Never Eat at the microphone.
    • Mute if not talking.
    • A pause from a guest is not an invitation to talk. Wait and make sure they aren’t just taking a breath.
      • Wait five seconds before you speak, they may just be taking a breath.
  • Do a pilot episode that you never share to work out the kinks.
  • Start small wit an inexpensive microphone and audacity to make sure it is something you can and want to do before laying out large sums on high end equipment.
  • Longevity gets guests.
  • Podcast fade – Most podcasts fail within 7 episodes.
  • G+ Podcasting Community
  • Make a thing you are interested in so that you keep doing it.
  • Don’t set self up for failure.
  • What value do you bring to the community with your podcast?
    • Content – What is your niche? (Avatar)
    • Conversation
    • Scripted topics of discussion
      • Plan episodes from a storytelling perspective. Does not need to be a complete script, but an outline to guide the conversation.
  • Podcast: Out On The Wire on Public Radio.
  • Avoid long intros
  • Avoid upspeak. this was a particular pet peeve of one presenter, and I must say, I agree with him.
  • Listen to other podcasts to figure out what you like.
  • Half hour podcast is ideal. (80% of people listen to podcasts on the commute to & from work or otherwise in their cars.)
  • Getting Guests & Good Interviews
    • Guest Dock – Form on site the guest fill out. Pick 3 things you want to talk about in order of importance & have them write their own third person bio, and any NSFW disclosures.
    • What is on & off the table?
  • Logistics:
    • Acts or segments to break it up. Used a timer
      • Show notes to reference the time of each segment.
    • Length of show
    • Audio bumpers after each segment.
    • Grab Bag – old quick idea for a topic. (Originated with boring guests.)
    • Call & Oates – Hall & Oates on crappy MIDI.
    • Shared Google Drive for collaborators to work on scripts, planning, etc.
  • Hosting – Solo, or with a co-host.
  • Facts/Interviews/Learn Things
  • Host Chemistry is important is multiple hosts.
  • Have some in the can, that way you can take a day off.
    • Record several sessions before post the first one, if a weekly podcast.
  • Have a location where you record that is limited on errant sounds, such as traffic, family members, pets, etc.

Promotion

  • How grow audience?
    • Social Media
    • G+ community – put post after done recording episode announcing the topic, and another when it is posted.
    • Twitter feed.
    • Mailing List – email sign up.
    • Do a guest show & the very best it can be
    • Audience participation
    • Mention what you liked on other podcasts
    • Crossover/cross promotion
      • Not hard to get other podcasters on your show
      • Increase Luck Surface Area

Pet Peeves on Podcasts

  • Interrupting guests
  • Excessive rants
  • Laughing at something for no reason.
    • No nervous laughter
  • Not passing important visual queue to the audience
    • ex. Look at this, when audio only.
  • Super long intros & transitions (bumpers)
    • 15 second into. tops
  • Forced Academia – Level of pompousness/arrogance
    • Don’t condescend
    • No bad/wrong fun
    • Don’t shit in pool

Audience Questions

  • How handle multiple guests?
    • How “GM” the interview?
  • How do you triage or post-mortem each episode? (My question)
    • Pay attention to each piece
    • Take notes
    • Feedback from listeners
    • LISTEN to each episode the very next day.
      • What was good, what can be done better, what segment doesn’t fit, etc.
    • Listen to yourself.
      • You will find things in the way you speak and your own vocal quirks that you want to fix.
  • What is the right ratio of recording the show to editing?
    • Silence is no problem at all.
    • Don’t fix everything.
      • Max 4 hours to fix a one hour show.
      • Find the right ratio of re
      • Editing is the difference between a good show and a great show.

[Update: Added links to Part I and Part II of the recorded panel at Dead Games Society.]

A Solo Presentation and Chat With Michael Witwer

Following the presentation, Growing Up Gygax, there was another presentation by Michael Witwer, Genesis: Unexpected Journey of Gary Gygax. The word that this event was moved did not happen, or else I was the only one signed up. There was audio visual trouble, so we just sat down next to each other and he ran the Power Point on his laptop.

Michael identified the correct name of the sanatorium Gary explored as a youth, with its below ground tunnels. He referred to them as steam tunnels or laundry tunnels. At the mention of steam tunnels, I found it oddly ironic about the “steam tunnel guy” in the 80’s.

Gary called it the Oak Hill Sanitarium. It was actually the Oak Wood Sanitorium on Catholic Hill, so Oak and Hill were put together, causing the difficulty. When Gary was young, the building still stood and the steam or laundry tunnels were still accessible. There were also holding cells, very much a dungeon setting.

It was cool to sit down and talk a bit about his book, Empire of Imagination, etc. Recently, the audiobook version came out. Next the paper back is forthcoming and will have additions and corrections. Michael is super cool and a nice guy. He has ideas for other books, but he’s not sure if he’ll ever do another biography. I bought a copy of Michael’s book, and got his autograph.

On Saturday, before I left, I ran into Stephen Sullivan, and got a copy of the color print of his map for the end pages for Empire of Imagination.

I only wish I had the energy and drive to brave the cold and find some of the sights. It’s only fours hours or so away, so I might try when it’s a bit warmer, and make a weekend drive of it.

Stephen Sullivan map for Empire of Imagination
Stephen Sullivan map for Empire of Imagination

D&D Documentary Number 3 – Rebuilding Trust

While at Gary Con, I attended a session titled, D&D Documentary Teaser and Q&A. Pat Kilbane is working on a D&D documentary. It is a third documentary totally unrelated to the other two documentaries now tied up in litigation*.  There is enough about this documentary to impress me, that I decided on the spot to write up a separate article to give it the focus it deserves. In short, I will do what I can to promote it.

My new friend, +Satine Phoenix, is one of the interviewees in the three clips we were shown, and she happened to join in, as she was early for Frank Mentzer’s D&D game in the same room, following this 1 hour session.

I wish I had the foresight to record this. It was a good discussion, and my notes were only on the high points. As more comes along, I will mention it here on my blog.

Satine & Pat after the presentation.
Satine & Pat after the presentation.

The three interviews in the sneak peak were with:

So far, shooting for those on the West coast has been done. Next, while at Gary Con, he is interviewing all the old guard from the beginning to get their perspective. He filmed a session by Tim Kask on the first five years of TSR. I had the honor of asking the last question.

Rather than have yet another Kickstarter for a D&D documentary, when the previous two are tied up in litigation, Pat wants to focus on building trust with the intended audience. His idea is to do small two minute pieces as part of a Patreon to create a track record of delivering smaller bits, until there is enough trust to do some form of fundraiser, such as Kickstarter.

An example of the short videos he envisions is the Gary Con Two-Minute History video, featuring Luke Gygax explaining what Gary Con is.

You can follow Pat’s efforts on the Facebook page, Dorks of Yore.

*Full disclosure, I am in for and most likely out $50 for the second documentary’s Kickstarter, The Great Kingdom. The first film that Kickstarted is Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary, which I missed the Kickstarter altogether. You can find details of the trials and tribulations of these two films with your google-fu. I want to stay positive and show what Pat is doing. As with most of us, I think we just want any film, that is well done, to come out while the old guard is still available.

GaryCon VIII Wrap Up

I got back from GaryCon VIII, about 8:00 PM Sunday. What a blast!

Not that they’d ever change the name, but “Awesome Con” sums up my opinion of Gary Con.
 
Gary Con, AKA Awesome Con!!

I only played three games all weekend, but I had a ton of fun meeting people, swapping stories, and sharing our mutual love of gaming.

I got signatures of tons of gaming celebrities, like Darlene, Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Terry Kuntz, Jeff Butler, Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, David “Diesel” LaForce, Mike Mornard, Jeff Perren,Terry Pavlet, Stephen Sullivan, Jim Ward, Tom Wham, Lou Zocchi, and Ernie, Elissa, Heidi, Cindy, and Luke Gygax, and more.

I showed those artists from back in the day a stipple drawing my brother did of a dragon. It’s about 18 x 24. They were impressed, which I thought was cool.

On Sunday, I made the rounds of the original TSR artists and and bought something from all but Diesel and Darlene, who were not there. If Darlene was there, I missed her

I also ran into Aaron Yonda, who plays Chad Vader and Hal from the Chad Vader YouTube series. I also met Brad Knight, who plays Randy from the same series, and got their autographs on my copy of the program guide. Aaron even invited me to game with them, but our schedules didn’t sync up.

I also met Pat Kilbane, an actor some may know, who is working on a D&D documentary. See Dorks of Yore for future announcements. I got him to sign my program book too.

Really cool, I met +Satine Phoenix, who I had not heard of before, but does more than one RPG podcast: Game School, on the TSR Podcast Network, and is a 20+ year D&D player. She also hosts her own PodCast, Drawmelt. She is also the very talented artist behind New Praetorians. It was her first Gary Con too, and it’s cool that I now call her friend. She was so cool to do a video plug for this blog! She also just gave me a sketch of a dragon she did at a con when I showed her a picture of a print of a dragon my brother did. I also asked her to sign my program. She even drew her own portrait.

I made several new friends, most that I know from online, and we finally met in person.

I even have an opportunity that isn’t a done deal yet, that is just making me geek out!

One of my online friends, +Mark Hunt, bought the IP for Gang Busters, and great things are coming. I recall seeing something about Gang Busters, but I had a lot going on when I saw that, and didn’t realize it was Mark until I ran into him. He has NPC cards with mugshots, and they make great character sheets for convention and pick up games. Follow the G+ TSR Gang Busters Community for lots of cool stuff. I’ll mention them when it’s ready. We talked about collaborating on some things in multiple genres/rule systems, one of them being Gang Busters! Wow! I haven’t played in 30+ years, so I guess I need to brush up on the rules….

I was present when a Hollywood style deal happened. It was a verbal 30 second thing. One person said they had an idea for a Kickstarter, but needed voice actors for the introductory video, and a person who lives in L.A. said, “Send me the script and I’ll get X and Y to do it. They’d love to do it since they are gamers.”

There are so many cool things I learned that I can’t talk about, either because it isn’t a done deal, or not my place to discuss.

I bought 3 Jeff Easley pen and ink drawings that he did for some game company in Canada that folded and never paid him. Not only did I buy the originals, but he signed over the rights! He is a super cool and nice guy! I’m going to be making t-shirts and other things to sell online (CafePress). I told him whatever I make, I’m sending him a copy. Using Gimp I got the black image for light colored items to look great, but swapping the colors and getting the transparency right for a white image on a dark shirt, is a bit tricky for some reason. So I’ll put some more time into it tonight. Hopefully, I’ll have things good to go for doing shirts soon.

Everyday of the last four days has been the most awesome and unexpected series of right place/right time that I have ever had in my life! I am just so excited! Zach, my youngest, said he’s never seen me so excited. I was telling that to someone else and they said I ought to buy a lottery ticket. I hadn’t even thought of that, so I did. Not that I expect to win anything, but just in case….

I don’t expect to get rich or quit my job, but I think I could make enough to pay off some bills quicker, and have some fun money. Even if it’s only enough to support my hobby, and I just have fun with it, is all that’s important. Life is good!

I’m so glad I was off work Monday to recuperate after not getting enough sleep several nights in a row. I’m getting ready for the huge mental shift in gears that will come Tuesday morning. There’s usually some catastrophe that happened when I’m out of the office that I have to clean up. So I have decided to not let whatever it might be derail this great mood! Turns out it was Outlook not wanting to start and asking for the debugger. Thankfully, just start it in safe mode as per Google search results.

No emergency, things not crazy busy, This is the best return to the office after time off I have had in a long time!

I’m going to review my prior Gary Con VIII articles and find all the places I mentioned I’m doing a full article. I can think of at least three I proposed, but think it might be six or more.

See below for links to my other articles on Gary Con VIII.

GaryCon Day 0, GaryCon Day 1, GaryCon Day 2, GaryCon Day 3, GaryCon Day 4, Gary Con Wrap Up