Friday, November 25, 2016

WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!

I usually try to maintain this as a neutral ground, like the Tenkar's Tavern, but I think this is important enough to merit comment.  In the spirit of Richard T. Balsley's orangelist of RPG professionals, I have compiled my own list of industry professionals that ought to be boycotted.  Don't purchase a role-playing game supplement produced by any of the following:

Birch Bayh
J. W. Fulbright
Fred R. Harris
Harold Hughes
Edward M. Kennedy
George McGovern
Walter Mondale
Edmund Muskie
Gaylord Nelson
William Proxmire
Bella Abzug
William R. Anderson
John Brademas
Father Robert F. Drinan
Robert Kastenmeier
Wright Patman
Shirley Chisholm
William Clay
George Collins
John Conyers
Ronald Dellums
Charles Diggs
Augustus Hawkins
Ralph Metcalf
Robert N.C. Nix
Parren Mitchell
Charles Rangel
Louis Stokes
John V. Lindsay, Mayor, New York City
Eugene McCarthy, former U.S. Senator
George Wallace, Governor, Alabama
Black Panthers, Hughie Newton
Brookings Institution, Lesley Gelb and others
Business Executives Move for VN Peace--Henry Niles, Nat. Chmn, Vincent McGee, Exec. Director
Committee for an Effective Congress, Russell D. Hemenway
Common Cause, John Gardner, Morton Halperin, Charles Goodell, Walter Hickel
COPE, Alexander E. Barkan
Council for a Livable World, Bernard T. Feld, Prof. Physics, MIT
Farmers Union, NFO
Institute of Policy Study, Richard Barnet, Marcus Raskin
National Economic Council, Inc.
National Education Association, Sam M. Lambert, President
National Student Association, Charles Palmer, President
National Welfare Rights Organization, George Wiley
Potomac Associates, William Watts
SANE, Sanford Gottlieb
Southern Christian Leadership, Ralph Abernathy
Third National Convocation on the Challenge of Building Peace, Robert V. Roosa, Chairman
Businessmen's Educational Fund
Karl Feller, Pres. Internat. Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers, Cincinnati
Harold J. Gibbons, International Vice Pres., Teamsters
A. F. Grospiron, Pres., Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union, Denver
Matthew Guinan, Pres., Transport Workers Union of America, New York City
Paul Jennings, Pres. International Union of Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers, D. C.
Herman D. Kenin, Vice Pres., AFL-CIO, D. C.
Lane Kirkland, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO (but we must deal with him)
Frederick O'Neal, Pres., Actors and Artists of America, New York City
William Pollock, Pres., Textile Workers Union of America, New York City
Jacob Potofsky, General Pres., Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, New York City
Leonard Woodcock, President, United Auto Workers, Detroit
Jerry Wurf, International President, American Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees, Washington, D. C.
Nathaniel Goldfinger, AFL-CIO
I. W. Abel, Steelworkers
Jack Anderson, columnist, "Washington Merry-Go-Round"
Jim Bishop, author, columnist, King Features Syndicate
Thomas Braden, columnist, Los Angeles Times Syndicate
D.J.R. Bruckner, Los Angeles Times Syndicate
Marquis Childs, chief Washington correspondent, St. Louis Post Dispatch
James Deakin, White House Correspondent, St. Louis Post Dispatch
James Doyle, Washington Star
Richard Dudman, St. Louis Post Dispatch
William Eaton, Chicago Daily News
Rowland Evans, Jr., syndicated columnist, Publishers Hall
Saul Friedmann, Knight Newspapers, syndicated columnist
Clayton Fritchey, syndicated columnist, Washington correspondent, Harpers
George Frazier, Boston Globe
Pete Hamill, New York Post
Michael Harrington, author and journalist; Member, Executive Comm. Socialist party
Sydney Harris, columnist, drama critic and writer of 'Strictly Personal,' syndicated Publishers Hall
Robert Healy, Boston Globe
William Hines, Jr., journalist; science and education, Chicago Sun Times
Stanley Karnow, foreign correspondent, Washington Post
Ted Knap, syndicated columnist, New York Daily News
Edwin Knoll, Progressive
Morton Kondracke, Chicago Sun Times
Joseph Kraft, syndicated columnist, Publishers Hall
James Laird, Philadelphia Inquirer
Max Lerner, syndicated columnist, New York Post; author, lecturer, professor.
Stanley Levey, Scripps Howard
Flora Lewis, syndicated columnist on economics
Stuart Loory, Los Angeles Times
Mary McGrory, syndicated columnist on New Left
Frank Mankiewicz, syndicated columnist, Los Angeles Times
James Millstone, St. Louis Post Dispatch
Martin Nolan, Boston Globe
Ed Guthman, L.A. Times
Thomas O'Neill, Baltimore Sun
John Pierson, Wall Street Journal
William Prochnau, Seattle Times
James Reston, New York Times
Carl Rowan, syndicated columnist, Publishers Hall
Warren Unna, Washington Post, NET
Harriet Van Horne, columnist, New York Post
Milton Viorst, reporter, author, writer
James Wechsler, New York Post
Tom Wicker, New York Times
Gary Wills, syndicated columnist, author of "Nixon-Agonistes."
The New York Times
Washington Post
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Jules Duscha, Washingtonian
Robert Manning, Editor Atlantic
John Osborne, New Republic
Richard Rovere, New Yorker
Robert Sherrill, Nation
Paul Samuelson, Newsweek
Julian Goodman, Chief Executive Officer, NBC
John Macy, Jr., Pres., Public Broadcasting Corporation; former Civil Service Comm.
Marvin Kalb, CBS
Daniel Schorr, CBS
Lem Tucker, NBC
Sander Vanocur, NBC
Carol Channing, actress.
Bill Cosby, actor.
Jane Fonda, actress.
Steve McQueen, actor.
Joe Namath, New York Giants; businessman; actor.
Paul Newman, actor.
Gregory Peck, actor.
Tony Randall, actor.
Barbra Streisand, actress.
Dick Gregory [comedian].
Charles B. Beneson, President, Beneson Realty Co.
Nelson Bengston, President, Bengston & Co.
Holmes Brown, Vice President, Public Relations, Continental Can Co.
Benjamin Buttenweiser, Limited Partner, Kuhn Loeb & Co.
Lawrence G. Chait, Chairman, Lawrence G. Chait & Co., Inc
Ernest R. Chanes, President, Consolidated Water Conditioning Co.
Maxwell Dane, Chairman, Exec. Committee, Doyle, Dane & Bernbach, Inc.
Charles H. Dyson, Chairman, The Dyson-Kissner Corp.
Norman Eisner, President, Lincoln Graphic Arts.
Charles B. Finch, Vice President, Alleghany Power System, Inc.
Frank Heineman, President, Men's Wear International.
George Hillman, President, Ellery Products Manufacturing Co.
Bertram Lichtenstein, President, Delton Ltd.
William Manealoff, President, Concord Steel Corp.
Gerald McKee, President, McKee, Berger, Mansueto.
Paul Milstein, President, Circle Industries Corp.
Stewart R. Mott, Stewart R. Mott, Associates.
Lawrence S. Phillips, President, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.
David Rose, Chairman, Rose Associates.
Julian Roth, Senior Partner, Emery Roth & Sons.
William Ruder, President, Ruder & Finn, Inc.
Si Scharer, President, Scharer Associates, Inc.
Alfred P. Slaner, President, Kayser-Roth Corp.
Roger Sonnabend, Chairman, Sonesta International Hotels.
Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace and New National Priorities Cont:
Morton Sweig, President. National Cleaning Contractors
Alan V. Tishman, Exec. VP, Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Inc.
Ira D. Wallach, President, Gottesman & Co., Inc.
George Weissman, President, Philip Morris Corp.
Ralph Weller, President, Otis Elevator Company
Clifford Alexander, Jr., Member, Equal Opportunity Comm.; LBJ's Spec. Assistant.
Hugh Calkins, Cleveland lawyer, member, Harvard Corporation.
Ramsey Clark, partner, Weiss, Goldberg, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; former Attorney General.
Lloyd Cutler, lawyer, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Washington, D.C.
Henry L. Kimelman, chief fund raiser for McGovern; Pres., Overview Group.
Raymond Lapin, former Pres., FNMA; corporation executive.
Hans F. Loeser, Chairman, Boston Lawyers' Vietnam Committee.
Robert McNamara, President, World Bank; former Secretary of Defense.
Hans Morgenthau, former US. Attorney in New York City
Victor Palmieri, lawyer, business consultant, real estate exec., Los Angeles.
Arnold Picker, Muskie's chief fund raiser; Chmn. Exec. Comm., United Artists.
Robert S. Pirie, Harold Hughes' chief fund raiser; Boston lawyer.
Joseph Rosenfield, Harold Hughes' money man; retired Des Moines lawyer.
Henry Rowen, Pres., Rand Corp., former Asst. Director of Budget (LBJ)
R. Sargent Shriver, Jr.
Theodore Sorensen, lawyer, Weiss, Goldberg, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York.
Ray Stark, Broadway producer.
Howard Stein, President and Director, Dreyfus Corporation.
Milton Semer, Chairman, Muskie Election Committee; lawyer, Semer and Jacobsen.
George H. Talbot, Pres., Charlotte Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. ; headed anti-VN ad.
Arthur Taylor, Vice President, International Paper Company.
Jack Valenti, President, Motion Picture Association.
Paul Warnke, Muskie financial supporter, former Asst. Secy. of Defense.
Thomas J. Watson, Jr., Muskie financial supporter; Chmn., IBM.
Michael Ellis De Bakey, Chmn., Dept. Surgery, Baylor University; Surgeon-in-chief, Ben Taub General Hospital, Texas
Derek Curtis Bok, Dean, Harvard Law School.
Kingman Brewster, Jr., President, Yale University.
McGeorge Bundy, President, Ford Foundation.
Avram Noam Chomsky, Professor of Modern Languages, MIT.
Daniel Ellsberg, Professor, MIT.
George Drennen Fischer, Member, Executive Committee. National Education Assn.
J. Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics, Harvard.
Patricia Harris, educator, lawyer, former U.S. ambassador; Chmn Welfare Committee Urban League.
Walter Heller, Regents Professor of Economics.
Edwin Land, Professor of Physics, MIT.
Herbert Ley, Jr., former FDA Commissioner; Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard.
Matthew Stanley Meselson, Professor of Biology, Harvard.
Lloyd N. Morrisett, Professor and Associate Dir., Education Program, U. of Calif.
Joseph Rhodes, Jr., Fellow, Harvard; Member, Scranton Comm. on Campus Unrest.
Bayard Rustin, civil rights activist; Dir., A. Philip Randolph Institute, New York.
David Selden, President, American Federation of Teachers.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Professor of Humanities, City University of New York.
Jeremy Stone, Director, Federation of American Scientists.
Jerome Wiesner, President, MIT.
Samuel M. Lambert, Pres., National Education Assn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

D&D Print-on-Demand

THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

It's probably already blowing up your news feed (I saw it over at the Tavern), but Wizards of the Coast is slowly rolling out their backlog of D&D pdfs in print-on-demand format.  They have a smattering at the moment (only 19) — a handful of books for Basic/Expert, 1e, 2e, and 5e — but the plan is evidently to roll out more each week.  Check 'em out!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fifth Edition Hirelings from the Walfismeer

In my long-running D&D game, I introduced two hirelings using rules and setting material from Clint and Cassie Krause's Driftwood Verses.  (You can read about Geverspike and 254 over on the Crux of Eternity wiki.)  They are adventurers who left their grim homelands to find their fortune elsewhere.  (And, in the case of Geverspike, hopefully get away from the wretched ways of his slaving kin.)  If you want to introduce them as hirelings in your D&D 5e game, their statistics follow.

If you prefer, they are available in .doc format, and have been formatted to print on a 4"×6" index card.  Download here.

Geverspike the Blattarian
Medium humanoid, chaotic neutral
Armor Class 13 (15 when wielding 1 shield, 17 when wielding 2 shields)
Hit Points 42 (7d8+14)
Speed 30 ft.
Str 13 (+1), Dex 17 (+3), Con 15 (+2), Int 11 (+0), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 10 (+0)
Saving Throws Str +3, Con +4
Skills Athletics +3, Insight +3, Perception +3, Survival +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Hideous.  Blattarians gain advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) rolls against humans and demihumans, but they gain disadvantage on all other Charisma rolls against such creatures.
Limited Flight.  Blattarians have a fly speed of 30 feet, but must land between each such movement.
Squishy.  Blattarians cannot wear armor, although they can wield up to two shields.
Actions
Multiattack.  A Blattarian can attack with up to four equipped weapons.
Matchlock Pistol.  Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target.  Hit: 8 (1d10+3) piercing damage.  Rules for early modern firearms are in the DMG, pg. 267-277.
Scimitar.  Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.

254 the Vassal
Medium humanoid, neutral
Armor Class 13 (studded leather armor)
Hit Points 35 (5d10+10)
Speed 30 ft.
Str 15 (+2), Dex 12 (+1), Con 15 (+2), Int 8 (-1), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 10 (+0)
Saving Throws Str +4, Con +4
Skills Athletics +4, Insight +3, Stealth +3, Survival +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
Bearer of Burdens.  A Vassal’s carrying capacity is doubled as if it were a Large creature.
Iron Stomach.  Vassals are capable of ingesting just about anything without getting sick.
Underfoot.  Vassals gain advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) rolls.
Actions
Cowering Cur.  If a Vassal spends a round cowering rather than attacking, next round, creatures must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw to attack the pitiful creature.
Greatclub.  Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 4 (1d8+2) bludgeoning damage.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Hundred [mass]Acre Deathcrawl

In case you've been missing it, Randy Andrews has been posting animal classes for Dungeon Crawl Classics (we have a chicken, goat, and bear thus far).  [Edit: Rat added November 5, 2016.]  In a conversation on Google+, I made reference to a "Thousand Acre Deathcrawl," then stormed a brain and this fell out.  I hope to expand on it shortly, but this should be enough to get you started.  And sincerest apologies to A. A. Milne.

If you prefer things in portable pdf, download it here.

The Hundred Akers' Copse.  Click to enlarge.
Compare and contrast with this facsimile of A. A. Milne's Hundred Acre Wood.
Many years ago, all hundred members of the Akers clan — a coven of mad criminals, slackjawed backwoodsmen, weird occultists — left for a wooded land, never to return to the lands of Men.  The place where they settled came to be known as the Hundred Akers' Copse, and wise men do not go there, for they pursued their fell research in that accursed place.  In the intervening years since the Akers left the lands of Men, the place has turned into an eldritch hellhole of demons and mutants.

And now, against all reason and sense, you're going inside.

The Goal: Like a lot of hexcrawls, there could be any number of "goals" — rescue a companion, grab treasure, learn a new spell, or just go into the toolbox and mess with stuff.  The straightforward goal is, "The musteloids have been stealing treasure from nearby settlements for years; there must be a king's ransom in their hideout (hex 08.19)."

The Lairs: I haven't fleshed out the lairs yet, but you can compare the two maps and determine roughly what could go in each lair — a barbearian in hex 02.11, the bunnyman clan in hex 15.06, mutant bees in hex 25.02, the musteloids in hex 08.19, possibly an owlbear in hex 26.14.  The last, lonely necromancer of the Akers clan lives in hex 34.22.  The sole civilized inhabitant, the Lord of Thrushes, is an Elf who guards these woods, warning away travelers; he lives in hex 35.10.

The Crawl: A hex is a couple of miles across (maybe two or three miles) and should take roughly an hour to cross.  Hexes that are a little harder to traverse (like grassy hills or marshes) take an hour and a half.  Difficult hexes (like dense forests) take two hours to cross.  Each day of travel, or each time you change terrain, roll 1d6.  On a "1," a random encounter appears from the random encounter table.

Random Encounters (roll 1d6):
1 — Hellephant
2 — Musteloids
3 — Bunnymen
4 — Giant beetles
5 — Mutant bees
6 — Namruu

HELLEPHANT

Hellephant (type I demon): Init +2; Atk tusk +5 melee (2d6); AC 14; HD 4d12; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP half-damage from non-magical weapons and fire, infravision, spells (+4 spell check): darkness, detect invisible, ESP; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +4; AL C.

Hellephants are demons of greed somehow bound to the Prime Material Plane, specifically being trapped in the Hundred Akers’ Copse.  They can smell precious metals and gemstones, and they roam the land searching for these things, which they then eat.  (They care little for weapons or magic items, unless these things contain precious metals or gemstones as part of their construction.)  If they encounter any characters carrying such things, they will demand them; even minimal resistance is met with immediate and merciless violence.

Hellephants digest consumed valuables quickly, although there is a 10% chance that any given hellephant still contains precious items in its stomach, perhaps a handful of gold coins or a single gem.  (Of course, the beast’s killer can only determine this by splitting the stomach.)  Additionally, a hellephant’s bones have magic properties.  If pulverized and spread on a stick of natural wood, the holder can cast locate object for the next 1d4 days with a +4 spell check.  (If the holder is a wizard with the locate object spell, she gains a +4 bonus to her locate object spell checks for the duration.)  If used as a weapon, the arm and leg bones deal damage as a club, but are enchanted as if by a 16-17 result on sword magic (see DCCRPG, page 367).

MUSTELOID

Musteloid: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d8), dagger +2 (1d4); AC 13; HD 2d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP backstab +6, hide in shadows +4, sneak silently +6; SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

Musteloids are strange, wiry weasel-men who inhabit the Hundred Akers’ Copse.  The mutant descendants of the original Akers clan, the musteloids have trained in secret among themselves as a den of thieves.  They roam the Copse in packs, trying to steal anything of value and return it to their lair.  There is a strong possibility that any given musteloid pack has recovered valuable items and is en route back to their hideout.  Musteloids are usually encountered in groups of 2-10.

BUNNYMEN

Bunnymen are a degenerate tribe of cannibals also derived from the Akers clan.  They are so-called because they dress themselves in the skins of the slain as well as the hides of rabbits, and they frequently fashion distinctive caps with rabbit ears (or strips of flesh in a facsimile of the same).  Barely sapient anymore, they descend en masse upon anything that crosses their path, falling upon it with sticks and bones wielded as makeshift clubs.  Treat bunnymen as subhumans (DCCRPG, page 429).  Any group of ten or more is typically led by a berserker warchief (DCCRPG, page 433).  There is a 25% chance that a given pack of bunnymen will be riding giant beetles (DCCRPG, page 397) into battle.

GIANT BEETLES

Giant beetles are native to the Hundred Akers' Copse; in fact, a large nest of them is located in hex 21.10.  They typically burrow underground, although they can also be found traversing the plains themselves.  Specimens are often aggressive.  Some have been trained by the bunnymen as mounts.  Giant beetles are detailed on DCCRPG, page 397.  All varieties can be found in the Hundred Akers' Copse.

MUTANT BEES

The strange energies of the wood have mutated a beehive in hex 25.02, and members of the hive constantly scour the landscape for both nectar and living meat.  There is an equal chance of encountering an insect swarm (DCCRPG, page 419) or a group of killer bees (DCCRPG, page 419).

NAMRUU

The namruu are predatory cats that tend to hide in trees in the hopes of surprising passing prey.  They are strange and grotesque-looking with earth tone hides, and lean and skeletal appearances.  Namruu have the same statistics as giant lizards (DCCRPG, page 420).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Doll Baby (Unnatural Entity)

The following is an unnatural entity for Unknown Armies.  Stats are for third edition, but conversion for first and second editions are provided.  As always, feedback is welcome.

Nobody is entirely certain, cosmologically speaking, what happens to a fetus that miscarries. (If the Supreme Court can't agree on it, what makes you think the occult underground would do any better?) Conventional wisdom suggests that they pass beyond the Veil just like any other decedent. However, there are rumors that sometimes, the parents' grief and love and anguish keeps the ghost from passing beyond the Veil. Weirdly, some occult scholars claim these form the basis of legends of the Fair Folk (see Postmodern Magick, pg. 129-131), but some claim that under the right circumstances, the fetal ghost can become a Doll Baby. (The "right circumstances" aren't well known, but it's suspected that it's any stillbirth wherein the parents are upset enough to turn it into a power-object fixation. Does mom carry around a doll and refer to it as her dead child? There's a strong possibility that child will become a Doll Baby.  Granted, nobody knows because the circumstances required to make a Doll Baby are intensely rare and few people even know about them.)

Doll Babies flit around the astral plane, nearly invisible, trying desperately to find the appropriate emotional resonance to feed. ("Feed" might be a strong term; the Doll Baby wants to live the life it missed, but in this case, feeding is a relevant enough analogy.) Specifically, Doll Babies feed on the parental instincts of those without children — a child playing with a baby doll and miming taking care of it is a potential candidate, although two teenagers taking care of one of those artificial babies is an even more potent resonance.

Once the Doll Baby has found suitable foster parents, it gets to work. To maintain the emotions it needs to stay on this side of the Veil, the Doll Baby implants the suggestion that the parents are loving parents, and they should try to have a child. The Doll Baby feeds on emotions throughout this process, but its ultimate goal is to live the life it missed by any means necessary. Most Doll Babies do this by attempting to possess the conceived child in utero or as it's born.  If a Doll Baby fails, it usually leaves; most occultists assume it expends the last of its energy, and so either dissipates or passes beyond the Veil.

Doll Babies have enough psychic oomph to permanently throw out the soul of the possessed child, but at the end of the day, they're basically just revenants.  Once they find themselves in a familial situation, they have little volition for anything else — such are typically quiet, often nonverbal, and occasionally catatonic.  Such children are often erroneously diagnosed with autism.

There are unsubstantiated reports of potent Doll Babies able to possess the actual dolls themselves and create Unnatural Phenomena, but so far, no one has proven such things.

[Stats below are for UA3. For previous edition stats, you can just use the generic stats for Revenants (UA1, pg. 154, or UA2, pg. 305). A resisted Soul check against the parents can instill the desire to have a baby; a resisted Soul check against the baby possesses it. (Possession rules can be found in demon section, UA1, pg. 147-149, or UA2, pg. 220-222.)  Assume babies have Soul 10 for the purposes of resisting possession.]

Doll Baby (Significant)
Raging against the dying of the light
Wound Threshold: 30
Instill Love 50%: The Doll Baby rolls this ability to instill parents with the desire to have children.  It works just like a coercion attempt: either the parents can start family planning, or take a rank-5 Self challenge.
Possession 30%: The Doll Baby rolls this to attempt to possess an unborn or recently-born child.  It if fails, the Doll Baby leaves and never returns.
Urge 30%: Doll Babies have an Urge stat, relating to being part of a family.  Outside of a body, they're astral voyeurs; inside a body, they try to be the warm center around which a family gathers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

GenCon 2016: Break Today

At Gen Con, I obtained several autographs.  While I won't bore readers with those, I did get a request to see the copy of Break Today signed by everyone at the UA3 panel.  (Incidentally, the anecdote that won the book was my elevator pitch for my old Chicago game.)  Click them to enlarge:








Friday, August 26, 2016

Fear and Loathing in Indianapolis: GenCon 2016

"The idea of trying to 'cover this race' in any conventional press-sense was absurd: It was like trying to keep track of a swimming meet in an Olympic - sized pool filled with talcum powder instead of water. The Ford Motor Company had come through, as promised, with a 'press Bronco' and a driver, but after a few savage runs across the desert – looking for motorcycles and occasionally finding one – I abandoned this vehicle to the photographers and went back to the bar." — HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


As previously noted, GenCon 49 (August 4-7, 2016) was the first for me and Nicole.  Pretty early on, I determined you can only talk about those things at GenCon which happen to cross your field of vision.  Before I begin, though, a general statement:

I managed to meet (briefly, of course) a bunch of industry people over the past few days.  With no exceptions, everybody was particularly gracious and enthusiastic.  (The most enthusiastic person I met is probably Sandy Petersen — it's hard to gush about your game in a way that makes it really intriguing without sounding pretentious or self-aggrandizing, and Sandy does both those things extremely well.  He's pumped about it, and now I'm pumped about it.)  I mention this, because I had the following anecdote from Monte Cook in mind before I went.
It was the summer of 1991, at the GenCon game convention. I was still fairly new to the industry and my friend, Rob Bell, the Champions line editor, was "showing me the ropes" at GenCon. He asked me if there was anything I'd seen at the convention that interested me. I said that there was a really interesting-looking game with a rose on the cover where you played vampires. I had been interested in vampires since I was very young. I had written a research paper on the topic in high school, and in so doing practically memorized the encyclopedia entry for "vampire." (There weren't a lot of source options back then.) While this was before the vampire and goth subcultures really existed, among some of my friends, I was known as the "vampire guy." 
Anyway, Rob took me over to a little table with one guy behind it. On the table were arrayed a number of freshly printed Vampire books. Rob chatted with the guy behind the table and introduced me to Mark Rein*Hagen. I told him that I thought his new game looked amazing and gushed about it a little. He silently listened to me with an expression that spoke volumes: I wasn't telling him something he didn't already know. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rob give Mark a knowing look and motion with his head toward me. Mark sighed, and then said as condescendingly as I’ve even been spoken to, "Here you go, kid." He didn’t need to add, "Now get away from me, son. You bother me," because it was already clear.
That was both my first and my last interaction with Mark. I did (and still do) love and appreciate the book.
— Monte Cook, Monte Cook's World of Darkness, page 10

Nothing like that happened during this convention — everybody was uniformly rad, even if they were somewhat busy.  (Incidentally, Mark Rein*Hagen was over at the Chaosium/Petersen Games booth, promoting I Am Zombie.  I likely would've spoken to him, but there's a surprising amount to do crammed into four days, and I tried super-hard not to be an annoying fan.  Maybe next time.)

Anyway, since it makes the most sense, I'll try to tackle the majority of this chronologically.  Photographs by either Nicole or me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The trip to Indianapolis was spent taking turns driving and listening to most of The Disaster Artist.  (It's just as good as you've heard.)  It takes roughly ten hours to get to Indianapolis.

This billboard is yuuuuge.
Trump and vasectomy.com?  Truly this is God's country.
USA!  USA!  USA!
Finally, we arrived.

Pictured here hiding from the Trump billboard.
We got to the hotel, which despite being about twelve miles away from the convention center, was pretty swank.  Note the chemostat bioreactor hot tub.

I've been in apartments smaller than this.  My hat included to scale.
We went to the con briefly, determined that the will-call line was completely insane, and decided to tackle it on the morrow.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nicole by the welcome sign.  Featuring someone's random legs.
The will-call line was slightly less mad this morning, and we managed to navigate it with time to spare to get to our 10:00 AM game.  We also met Eric Cartman:

If we didn't eat Cheesy Poofs, we'd be lame.
The 10 AM game was Black Forest Patrol for new World of Darkness Chronicles of Darkness.  We played American soldiers in World War II.  Something weird happens — there's panic and fear and Nazi zombies.  We finally trace the source back to a Nazi base, which has been overtaken by grey aliens doing some interdimensional something.  Our radioman calls in an airstrike, which doesn't work (force fields or some such), but we end up destroying their plans the old-fashioned way: grenades and satchel charges.  Our superiors probably thought we were nuts, but we saved the day.

We also uncovered this infinite bathroom.  Spoooooooky.
We originally signed up for an Onyx Path freelancing seminar, but decided to (sadly) skip it in favor of the dealer's room.  (We had our own shopping list, as well as rushputin's shopping list, so we had business to attend.)  We had to pick up a bunch of Dungeon Crawl Classics stuff (in addition to the new modules and such, we also got a gaggle of Doug Kovacs prints, including his Moria piece for a Middle-earth RPG, possibly late-stage MERPGreen Marythe classic DCC wizard corruption picture; and his take on Dürer's Melencolia I), peruse the new shirts from Lamentations of the Flame Princess (sadly, I otherwise had everything at the table), and swing by Modiphius in the hopes of signing up for the new Star Trek RPG playtest (and getting Kirk and Picard miniatures).  We were largely successful while also getting to meet James Raggi.

The first and only time you'll probably see my dumb face on this blog.
I don't even know what's happening.
We also met Sarah Babe of Plot Points, working at the Modiphius booth.  Having started listening to them, they largely cover industry news and product reviews — useful if you want somebody else to digest a thing before you decide to buy it.  Check it out!  (I was just listening to the one about Shadow of the Demon Lord, and while I was interested before, it just jumped to the top of my list.)

We also had the opportunity to talk to Robin Laws about Worldbreaker, a globe-spanning, apocalyptic campaign for Esoterrorists wherein the unthinkable happens and the esoterrorists come incredibly close to penetrating the Membrane.  (Or possibly succeed, if your players fail.)  We also learned about Fear Itself, 2nd Edition, at the Pelgrane booth.  (I just learned that there's apparently a second edition for Esoterrorists, too.)  I'll have to grab all these things at some near-future point, but I was largely budgeted for DCC at the convention.

Also also, we had the chance to talk to Sandy Petersen (and his wife, who was somehow even more gracious and excited than he was, if that's even possible) about his miniature games, Cthulhu Wars and Glorantha: The Gods War.  He also teased an upcoming project that is a board game or miniatures game similar to his work on Doom, so that's exciting.  We also managed to score some autographs from him.  (And if I'd thought about it, I would have brought a bunch of Lovecraftiana to shove at him and get him to sign.  Long-time listener, first-time caller.)  Another situation in which I'll need to pick up more Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition stuff at some near-future point.

Also also also, this marked the fortieth anniversary of Judges Guild and Metamorphosis Alpha.  As such, Goodman Games had birthday cards to sign!



The rest of the day was subsumed in wandering.  We returned to the hotel to rest for the night's event: Glitter Guild Burlesque.  It was very good, although Nicole really summarized it well — there were so many acts that the whole thing was a little rushed.  The acts were all pretty good, although the people doing DC Comics acts (particularly the people from Plan 9 Burlesque) really stood out.  Despite all that, the hands-down best act had to be Bazkua Joe's Speed Racer.  The guy got a standing ovation for reasons I'm sure the following video cannot fully convey.


Of course, in our show, he didn't end with the checkered flag, but with only the helmet.

Friday, August 5, 2016

After a somewhat late night, we missed Zzarchov Kowolski's book signing at the Lamentations booth, but we did revisit the Goodman Games booth to get the tome signed by the band.  We also got Aeron Alfrey and James Raggi to sign stuff.  (And we picked up one of Alfrey's Baba Yaga mini-prints.)

A wild Aeron Alfrey appears!
Next was the Unknown Armies panel.

Located in this hotel designed to look like a train station.  The creepy statues set the mood.
Girders.  Again, train station chic. 
Stained glass on the elevator ceilings.
(The audio is available here.)

Greg StolzeCam BanksColleen RileyJeff Tidball, and John Nephew.  If you followed the podcast blitz for UA3, there is nothing new or earth-shattering as Stolze discussed most of the revelations on the podcast circuit.  Things include the idea of wiping away the metaplot as per Chronicles of Darkness, and tying the Shock Gauges into skills as per A Dirty World.  Stolze's writing a new book (although he again said that the next Unknown Armies book has already been written, and it's Big Machine by Victor LaValle), and it's apparently going to be written in second person.  So there's that.  The Atlas Games crew also discussed probable release dates. They (unofficially, of course) expect to hit it earlier than April 2017, and they'll probably release ebooks and dice as they're ready. (They have to ship dice separately because adding dice to books throws them out of media mail and so changes the shipping charges.) The first three books are more-or-less in layout, and they're working on Book 4 and 5.

In personal news, they did a giveaway for your best Unknown Armies anecdote, and I won by describing my old Chicago game.  ("A group in Chicago hunting ghosts and doppelgangers with their friend's magick-detecting erection.")  I got a copy of Break Today on which everybody in the room (including the panelists) scribbled strange things.


Me, after winning that book.

We again wandered and rested, as we had a LARP at midnight.

The teeming throng of humanity.
Saturday, August 6, 2016

Midnight was "Nundercover" by Kettle of Fish Productions.  They cite it as Cthulhu LIVE 4th edition, but it's actually a super rules-lite variant.  There aren't any stats (unless you can do something special on your character sheet, like the super-strong nun who can break limbs and knock people out); just take logical actions and they'll probably work.  The big rule is that you get tokens, and you can spend them to establish facts.  ("Fortunately, I hid a gun in the desk earlier!")  If something bad happens, you also spend tokens to not die.  Pretty simple.

The setup was everyone is in a convent, and some people there are not nuns.  (I was playing Paul Giamatti, preparing for a role.  Another player was playing Anne Hathaway with the same rationale.  Nicole, on the other hand, was playing Regan MacNeil, who joined the clergy after her ordeal.)  The big issue we found was that comedy games are really hard to do (or possibly just hard for strangers to enter; the regulars seemed to have fun with it) — it was wacky and zany and we had no clue what was happening most of the time.  It was fun, but not the style of Cthulhu LIVE game to which we are accustomed.

Return of the son of the teeming throng.
After sleep, we returned to gather autographs from Jobe Bittman.  We then had a conspiracy theory panel, but skipped it in favor of the Delta Green panel.  (The audio is available here.)  Shane Ivey, Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Kenneth Hite, and Greg Stolze.  (I mean, if your options are a conspiracy theory panel without Ken Hite, or a panel with Ken Hite, the choice is obvious.)  They went over some of the information regarding the Kickstarter, a few products coming down the pipeline (I'm excited for Hite's Fall of Delta Green — he had me at the psychedelic Burroughs option), and talked about some of the new rules and integrating the new Delta Green into the world.  (If you're like me and missed the Kickstarter, there are now two Delta Greens — the reintegrated official one, that now has a massive budget but has to deal with bureaucracy, and the cowboy operation still out in the cold, which has no support structure but still plays by its own rules.  Also, bonds act as sanity armor — so you can either go mad by yourself, or prevent madness by slowly losing touch with those around you.  Fun times all around.)  The panel got me pumped to revisit it, and I'll have to pick it up, you know, eventually.

We left the panel to go meet Zak S. at the Lamentations booth and get stuff signed, and managed to get there before the line got insane.

Zak and Nicole
We also had the opportunity to meet Charlotte Stokely and Stoya.  I'm guessing it's odd that we primarily know them as D&D players, but them's the breaks.  (I'm guessing it's also odd that there are famous D&D players, but them's also the breaks.  Will role-playing games be added to the Olympics soon?)

I'm pretty sure interrupting a D&D game is a sin, but it was cool to say hello.
Finally came the What's New With Goodman Games? panel.  (The audio is available here.  The video is below.)  Jobe Bittman, Michael Curtis, Joseph Goodman, Jim Wampler, Brendan LaSalle, and Harley Stroh.


They talked some about Lankhmar and Michael Curtis' upcoming DCC supplement for that as well as some potential upcoming releases (like teasing Punjar 50,000), but the big news was the reveal that Goodman Games has the license for Dying Earth by Jack Vance with Jobe Bittman developing.  It will be separate from DCC but broadly compatible.

With that, we returned to the hotel to prepare for the last day of Gen Con.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

We had only one mission today: the Goodman Games raffle.  (We also got the pictures with James Raggi, seen in the Thursday entry.  The camera always tells the truth, but it also always lies.  Also, after days of attempts, we finally got our Kirk and Picard miniatures.  Score!  Also also, Nicole got a print of The Song You Sing by Nen Chang.)

The raffle, of course, began with awards:

Joseph Goodman presents the Enter the Dagon II championship belt
The champion!
Joseph Goodman presents the Carnival of the Damned trophy 
The champion!
Jim Wampler and Bob Brinkman with MCC Reliquary of the Ancient Ones tournament trophies
And the winners!
Another winner!
The Warlords of the Purple Planet trophy 
And the winner!
And then, the raffle:

It takes a while.
Many of the tickets were unclaimed (whether their pairs were not in circulation or their owners did not attend is unclear), so they eventually allowed those whose raffle number is off by one to claim prizes.  One of Nicole's tickets and another raffler's ticket were each off by one, so it came down to a dice-off.



And Nicole won.  We got a rad piece of Stefan Poag art; you can see it on page 23 of DCC #92: Through the Dragonwall.


Me, again

With that, we were on the road again.  We finished The Disaster Artist before proceeding to Wigfield: The Can Do Town That Just May Not.  (The audiobook is also as good as you've heard.)

Also, the parking garage stored their Christmas garlands here.  For some reason.
Apocrypha

The Pathfinder room.  Ye gods.
Some big, nasty thing from Malifaux, no doubt
Here be dragons.  And 'looners.
This is Jack Burton...
...in the Pork Chop Express...
...and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.
An ogre, courtesy of coolminiornot.com
Boffer LARPers!
Life-sized, remote controlled Robo Rally.
A Klingon band, pictured here with an honorless Starfleet petaQ.
Those are some Dark Souls-style clouds in Indiana
Cosplay

You already saw Cartman; here are some other cosplayers we found at Gen Con.




The Predator was with Jack Burton, which really raises the question of why we have not yet seen Jack Burton vs. Predator.








Nicole was really excited to meet Robbie Sinclair 






She made that scale armor. 
These guys had Cartoon Network corporate backing, so maybe they don't count as cosplay?
Final Thoughts

Gen Con was very fun, but I think you have to go once and stumble through it to determine how best to tackle it in the future.  Trial by fire.  Next year is the fiftieth anniversary of Gen Con (and, perhaps more importantly, Zak's party), so I think we're going to try to go.  And do it correctly this time.

(Plus, Unknown Armies will have released by then, so I'm sure there'll be something awesome at Gen Con.)

Also, there is nothing that has gotten me more jazzed about DCC than interacting with the DCC band.  I was originally going to run some games (first DCC, then Unknown Armies), then (probably wisely) decided against it.  Next time, I'd definitely like to do so.  (But I'll probably just stick to DCC.)  Playing more games next time would be good.  (Admittedly, a lot of that was because I registered late.  Ah, well.)

One last thing, to reiterate: everyone we met was uniformly generous, helpful, and enthusiastic.  Every industry professional to whom I spoke got me jazzed about some game or other.  (Naturally, it helps that I talked to people whose games I already enjoy, but still.)

Be seeing you.

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