Tag Archives: Gangbusters

My Awesome Gary Con X!

I had a packed Gary Con schedule compared to the prior two years. This was the first time I ran games. I ran 3 four hour games, and played in 4 games. Three were four hours and one 5+hours. Next year, I think I will run three games, but I won’t pack my schedule. I need more sleep.


Gangbusters – Stop The Flow
Two Kolchaks

Two of the three games I ran were Thursday. I started with Gang Busters. I had 8 pre-gens using the templates from +Mark Hunt’s version of Gangbusters. I proofread his current state of the rules from the fall, so I used his version with my edits. The pre-gens made character creation fast. Mark was going to play in my game, as I told him that I would run so he could play. Unfortunately, his dad went in the hospital and he couldn’t make it. I had no reception with my chrome book in the part of the hotel they  had us. Mark had hoped to do a Google Hangout for a Q&A after the game.

I never saw so many players botch a roll and then make the luck roll I gave them. At least, make the luck roll when it counted. Most lucks were under 30. I had 3 or 4 players in a row make their luck roll. The players were all law enforcement. One played a state trooper and played it so well, the others asked if he was a real officer, and he laughed as he was not in law enforcement. The characters found the source of the secret shipments of alcohol. I can’t give it away, or I can’t run that scenario. No characters died, but a couple got shot up really bad. One caught himself on fire, and another kept falling in the water. It was awesome how they played smart and rolled well, and foiled the bad guys. They got done an hour early.

Stars Without Number

In the afternoon, I ran Stars Without Number. I used the revised edition rules for the Kickstarter that delivered in January. I had never played it, so running was the first time I played it. I built 8 pre-gens. The first pre-gen took a long time as I was figuring out all the bits to do it, even with the spread on character generation. I did that to help me grasp all the pieces. I then used the quick character generation and did most of the rest in the time it took to do the first. The character sheet is a form-fillable PDF, so I have those NPCs for future use.

7 people signed up. It was fun to finally play in a game with +Forrest Aguire. All of the players made a lot of awesome rolls for skill checks. My usual poor rolls for the NPCs made things really easy for them. They also made smart decisions, and had a plan of action that was direct and simple and their good rolls compensated for how daring it was. Skilled players making smart choices, they also finished about 45 minutes early. One guy who made the most great rolls on skill checks saw me the next day and said that he didn’t make any rolls at his next game.


Against the Dwarfs
Against the Dwarfs

I had three games Friday. The first was AD&D in the morning. It was Against the Dwarfs by Bryan Skowera. This was the third of a series mirroring the Against the Giants modules. I played in the second one last year and had a blast. We made some poor tactical decisions early in the session and managed to luck into a plan that let us beat the bad guy.  I was able to play the Kobold cleric that I played last year, which was a lot of fun.

Friday afternoon, I played DCC with Brendan LaSalle. It was a hilarious scenario. We sang the songs of Electric Potato.

DCC with Brendan LaSalle
DCC with Brendan LaSalle


Lego Dice Tower by the Daughter of one of the players Friday night.
Lego Dice Tower by the Daughter of one of the players Friday night.

Friday night I was supposed to play in +Joseph Bloch’s game in his  AD&D Castle of the Mad Archmage setting. Unfortunately, Joe never showed. One of the people at the table found out he had told the con staff, but they never told us. I saw him the next day and totally understand why he did. For the con, I bought a rolling catalog case with a telescoping handle, so I could carry all of my stuff around the con and just pull it. I ended the con with no back or shoulder pain. It is a wise investment I will use at every con. Because I that, I had my Gamma World 1e book and my scenario that I would run the next day, so I offered to run it for the table. Two left for other things, and someone else joined in when they were walking by. It was a lot of fun for those who hadn’t played since back in the day, and those who had never played. It is very similar to Metamorphosis Alpha, so I kept asking what Radiation Resistance they had, instead of Constitution. They had fun, and I would end up playing other things with two of them later.


Gamma World
Gamma World

Saturday morning I ran Gamma World and all 8 showed up and I squeezed in two others, for ten total. I only had 8 pre-gens, so we had them quickly roll up characters for the two. I am glad I did that, they all had fun and it worked out to be a jam-packed and fun scenario. I used the additional secret papers with some background for the 8 pregens. I did not use those the night before as a secret, but told those players what the secrets were. Several of the players latched onto the information on their info paper. All I asked was that they not reveal it right away, which worked out great.

Player of the Character Tree made a sketch.
Player of the Character Tree made a sketch.

In less than 30 minutes they went to the weird hermit on the edge of town to get help with something. He figured out their issue was a dead battery, but he had no way to charge it. Then the gorilla with an electric shock attack like an electric eel said, “I’ll charge it!” I said, “That’s a great idea! How much damage does it do?” “Uh, 4d4.” “Great, roll 4d4!” I picked up 8d6 and rolled those once he gave me his total. “OK, the hermit falls over dead and you all take 15 points of damage!” I started laughing because the hermit had information for them. I was already short on sleep, which makes me either cranky or slap happy. I was so tickled, I laughed so hard I had tears. I’ve never had my players bring me to tears before. They eventually got on the right track and found what they were looking for and we ran out the clock on the session. They all had an excellent time.

The GM in Tears from Laughing at what the players just did.
The GM in Tears from Laughing at what the players just did.

After a long break in the afternoon, I had AD&D with +Michael Shorten. I should have taken a nap, but I play tested my card game. I ran out of steam and had to back out early. One of the players in the cancelled AD&D game who played in my Gamma World scenario the night before is an architect and offered to be out mapper. he did a rough sketch map, and you could tell he is used to working from verbal descriptions and his map was clear and easy to follow. He mapped at a scale we could place our minis. That was a really cool thing. He also lives in Grand Rapids, so we’ll probably game together occasionally.

AD&D with Michael Shorten – AKA Chgowiz
Full scale mapping by a real life architect.


Sunday morning, it was up bright an early to finally get to play Top Secret with Merle Rasmussen. It was the new Top Secret from the Kickstarter. It will finally ship from the US and European TSR warehouses this week or next. I liked how he randomized the map by each player building one section. It was serendipitous how my map worked to make an easy ending to a nearly out of control scenario, and we managed to get done early. I really like the simplicity of how the map works and how it randomizes the scenario.

That was a good thing, as I met Tom Wham going one way as I came down stairs, and he was not in a rush,  so I finally got my copy of Awful Green Things from Outer Space signed. I forgot to bring it to Gary Con 8, last year at Gary Con 9, it was always raining and since I wasn’t in the venue’s hotel, I didn’t want it getting wet. I also had him sign my Gamma World 1e, which he edited.

Top Secret: New World Order with Merle Rasmussen.
Player built map. Gets players involved and randomizes the scenario.


First Gary Con X play test of the card game with the roommates. Dave Weeks & RJ Thompson of Gamers & Grognards.

I had a long break and ran several play tests of my card game. I had a total of 12 play tests at Gary Con X with 31 play testers from Wednesday through Sunday. Some played more than once. My game was a big hit with all who played it, and one person asked the name of it, and that was enough to hook them to want to play it. Nearly all asked, “So when’s the Kickstarter?” without prompting. My response was either, “yeah, so when IS the Kickstarter?” or “Ummm, when I announce it?” It was awesome to have the rough edges worked out on the third play test, and very little changed after that. It is a much smoother and faster playing game than what I wrote about in the first two play tests before Gary Con here.

Paul reads my blog. We played in Laura Rose Williams DCC game at the Contessa Track at UCon in November. He play tested my game.
2nd Gary Con X play test. Paul, Clay Williams, and Laura Rose Williams (AKA “Meat Dwarf”). It was nice to get a woman’s perspective on my game. She liked it!
Clay is a bit of an artist and sketched some trucker he saw somewhere.
It looks like a police artist sketch of a serial killer. I think Clay was getting ready to run a horror game….

I have lots of offers to help with various aspects of card design, art, card production, etc. One person told me he had an idea that might not require Kickstarter. Two recognizable companies said they could help me with one or more aspects related to Kickstarter/fulfillment.

Nate of WASD20
The Initiative Coffee Co.
Ruty Rutenberg took a lot of notes about my game.
Jayson Elliot of the new TSR and Peter of Mythwits.

I find the whole thing hilarious as I don’t play many card games anymore since I don’t have a regular group that plays card games. I have a catchy title, an interesting premise, and rules that make it quick to catch on. I was saying, “I’m not a card game guy.” but not that I have a card game I realized that I am so I started saying, “I am a card game guy.”

I finally played the game today with my oldest son, and he gave me more suggestions about where to take it once it hits critical mass. He also is really good at card tricks, and made a joke with two of the cards and made it look like he turned it into another card. Now THAT will be in an announcement/Kickstarter video.

There is nothing to announce yet, as I have someone doing some sort of statistical analysis, and he had some other ideas, so I am waiting on that. One cool thing a play tester said, “I like the simplicity of the game with simple rules to learn in 5 min. at a noisy bar at Gary Con.” Sunday, I was really tired, and I was making lots of mistakes in play. the rules are so simple that players can correct an exhausted creator of the game on his errors. Out of 15 games that have been played, I have played them all and managed to win 5 of them. I am usually spending so much time helping run the game that I am mostly reliant on getting good cards. However, it is so cool that people like my game and want to play it, that I’m OK with never winning a game. I’m usually very competitive in such games, but I find I’m much more relaxed about my own game. It is because I’ve already won the grand prize of the multiverse by making a game that works and people want to play. “I made a thing and people think it’s fun and want to play it!”

IF I do a Kickstarter, I will be very careful, and stretch goals will only be card game related, like better paper, better finish, etc. I will have all the work done on typing up the rules, lining up card printers, etc. I know it will be a success as one established RPG You Tuber played it and said he’d mention it when it was time for the announcement of something. I’m not mentioning the name of the game, or anything specific until I work out a few more things. I think I also need to consult a lawyer, among other things. Patreon is in my future. I know have all kinds of ideas for card games, along with my ideas for RPG supplements, and YouTube videos. I now have a new focus to make game stuff that I never really had before. That too, will not be overnight.

All I’ve managed to do today is type up my play test notes, write a big thank you to all the EXCLUSIVE Gary Con X play testers on social media, and watch a little TV so my brain can decompress. I also managed to crank out this article, as I know work will be crazy tomorrow.

If you plan to go to Marmalade Dog, March to , 2018, I will be there running one session of Metamorphosis Alpha, and one of AD&D, and I will have my prototype card game. Be one of the EXCLUSIVE Marmalade Dog play testers and get mentioned in the credits as a play tester.


IRCA – Larry Hamilton (me), Nate Vanderzee, and Zachary Ruhnke (he went to high school with Alex Gygax) Bill Allen and the Initiative Coffee Co. crew were not around when the rest of us were. It was great to meet face to face.


Nate Vanderzee of WASD20 was hoping to interview Satine Phoenix. I helped introduce them and watched him do a great interview. Satine is so fun. She teased us with her excitement of something big she can’t talk about. Man, am I curious.  Nate lives in Grand Rapids, so maybe we can get a chance to game together. It was really cool that he played my game and liked it!

Getting ready to interview Satine Phoenix

Getting ready to interview Satine PhoenixYou can see the interview here.


My Gary Con X Events Are Now On The Schedule

I got the email confirmation today that the three events I submitted to run at Gary Con 10 are now on the Schedule. Two are on Thursday, and the third is on Saturday.

Here is a listing of my games with links to the details on the Gary Con Tabletop Events page.

I told Mark Hunt at Gary Con IX last year, that I would run a game of Gang Busters so he can play. Mark is a lot of fun as a GM, it will be fun to see him in action as a player. Of course, it will be Mark’s version of the rules.

Way back when, I was more into reading science fiction than fantasy, and while we played various science fiction themed RPGs and even kluged together one of our own, AD&D was always our go to. I love D&D and fantasy RPGs, but I also love science fiction. I was inspired when I read H. Beam Piper’s Space Vikings [Affiliate Link], to come up with a scenario for a convention. Stars Without Number really caught my attention about that time. So much so, that I backed the Kickstarter for the revised edition. I even have ideas for a campaign, just not enough time to run another campaign right now.

I was the first to submit a game for Stars Without Number [Affiliate Link], and may be the only one. The final schedule of all the games is not yet posted, so time will tell. I got the email with the shipping tracker number for my SWN Revised Edition [Affiliate Link] book from the Kickstarter. It is backward compatible, and I have the new PDF, it will just be cool to have the final book in my hands as I do final preparations. Using the new form fillable character sheet will be fun too!

I’ve run several games of Metamorphosis Alpha [Affiliate Link], the first science fiction RPG, both online and at conventions. I describe it as Gamma World in space, since the rules are so similar. I managed to get a 1st edition boxed set, and will be using that to run my game. It’s not in mint condition, and even though Jim Ward signed it, games are meant to be played. I just love the art by Dave Trampier.


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.