Friday, November 27, 2015

U-Con's "Adventures In The Big City" OSR Roundtable Airing On Save Or Die!

In what is becoming a U-Con tradition, I was once again privileged to be part of a panel of gaming stalwarts as we discussed OSR-related topics. This year was "Cityscapes And The OSR". Ryan Thompson and Adam Muszkiewicz co-hosted the roundtable, as Bill WebbJim WamplerJohn ReystBill Barsh, and I discussed adventuring in a cityscape rather than a dungeon, the various products -- both classic and new -- that supported these kinds of games, and our thoughts and experiences running our players through a fantasy urban sprawl. Jim Wampler's podcast Save or Die! recorded the session, so if you want to get your players out of the dungeon and into the streets, give it a listen! (Click the banner above or this link to go to the podcast.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

U-Con Day 3: Breaking Codes And Digging Out

Hey gang, Day 3 of Michigan's U-Con Gaming Convention ended a day or so ago, and I'm running a bit behind with my final day wrap-up. So, just for the sense of closure, let me delve into my memory and let you know how the final day of U-Con shaped up:
  • I woke up and looked out the window at the Winter Weather Wonderland spread out before me, concerned about the 2.5-hour drive home ahead of my later that day. On the plus side, the sun was shining pretty brightly which was melting the snow off the roads. On the minus side, my car still has a 10-inch layer of drift snow covering it. (NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOVEMBER AND IN THE NORTH, SO PLAN ACCORDINGLY.)
  • Even worse, the warmest clothing I had packed were t-shirts, jeans, and a hoodie. Even my sneakers were thin canvas ones. I froze my keister off trying to clean the snow off my car. (NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: SEE PREVIOUS BULLETPOINT.)
  • Played Codewords for the first time with a sizable group of two five-person teams. This was a very fun game, and I immediately ordered a copy when I got home. Wish I had known about it earlier as this would have been a great game to have during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • I passed through the dealer's hall for one last pass, and ran into Roy Snyder who had just bought a stack of games from another vendor. I went nuts when I saw one of those games was Task Force's Super Villains. This was literally my first RPG-ish game, purchased and played with before I ever played my first D&D game. Funny story: I've been trying to recall the name of this game for years. Roy sold it to me for what he paid for it. Thanks Roy! Holy Grail Achievement Unlocked!
  • Walked through the OSR Room again to see if there were any drop-in games I could check out before I left. I gotta hand it to the U-Con organizers and staff -- having all OSR events happening in one large room was a great idea. As a GM, I loved being at the same table for the entire convention. And if I wanted to play any old school games, I knew where to look.
  • And thus, U-Con -- the last convention I shall attend in 2015 -- came to an end. The drive home was uneventful, and I was home just in time to crawl into bed and drop into a well-deserved post-con coma.
And here are the lessons learned from this year's event:
  • For all game conventions I attend from October to March,  I need to remember to pack warm winter clothes and a friggin' jacket. Even though most of my time is spent in the hotel/convention center, I **WILL** have to leave the building at some point, and I should have something appropriate for the season. Plus, I may have to dig my car out again.
  • I need to create a convention "checklist" of stuff to always bring with me. Normally I pack days in advance, and I have time to reflect on items I need to take. This year, I zipped out the door and left behind something important. So I'm no longer going to rely on my memory.
  • Although it's an obscure game, Stuper Powers! went very well, and we had a GREAT time. I believe I shall add this to my regular convention game rotation.
  • However, with the no-shows I got with Ghostbusters, I'll probably only run it at larger conventions with a bigger OSR contingent like Gary Con or NTRPG.
  • Speaking of the OSR, having one room dedicated to all of my favorite games was a Godsend. I loved having a one-stop gaming depot for the entire convention, and I would love to see other conventions adopt this.
  • As much as I love wearing game-related t-shirts at cons, I'm usually wearing a hoodie or Hawaiian short over top of it, so you can't see my shirt's cleverness. And my actual everyday shirt of choice is a polo/golf shirt anyway. So I may have some con-only polo shirts made up with game-related logos/patches on the chest pocket. Stylish nerdery!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

U-Con Day 2: Punching A Wizard, Fighting A Monster, And Watching The Snowfall

Hey gang, Day 2 of Michigan's U-Con Gaming Convention is now coming to a close. Well, actually the gaming will go on overnight, most likely. But for Yours Truly, I am well and truly destroyed...but in a good way! I have gotten a lot of gaming under my belt, and I have one or two final games to play tomorrow before heading out. So here's today's missive from The Frozen North! (And I mean that literally. Read on...)
  • Woke up this morning a bit sore, but otherwise well-rested. Met Larry Hamilton in the convention center lobby. We ate some muffins, drank some coffee, and BS'ed about our mutual lousy chess-playing abilities.
  • Saturday morning is here, so it's time for THUNDARR!!! I had three players for "Warlord of the Sacred Library", and they each played two copies of their respective characters. (Read the adventure and it'll make sense.) Some highlights: Ookla threw his counterpart to the top of the Washington Monument to tackle the wizard lurking there. Sadly, he overthrew his target and Ookla sailed up and over. Later, both Thundarrs -- currently hidden in a giant robot -- kicked open the chest panel and lept into action, catching the guards by surprise! Princess Arial managed to use her magic to wrest control of the wizard's magic tome while her counterpart fired magic blasts of light at the evil warlord. And -- my favorite -- Ookla 1 throws the warlord across the room. The warlord goes to stand up and Ookla 2 standing nearby picks him up and throws him across the room again in the OTHER direction. When the warlord landed, both Thundarrs were there to deliver twin face-punches, effectively knocking him out. Lords of Light, what a game!
  • I'm of the opinion that this might be the last convention where I run two back-to-back games on two back-to-back days. I just can NOT spring back as fast as I used to.
  • After swinging by my room for a quick rest-and-recoup session, I sauntered back to the gaming area to run a horror-filled game of Cryptworld! I was planning to run a new adventure, "Wasted," but I didn't get it hammered together in time for the event. So I ran a game I've run before, "Unquenchable." My intrepid group of six rescuers were sent into the woods near Akron to find three hunters that had gone missing. Not to spoil anything, but the party did quite well, taking on most of the shadowy horrors with ease. It got dicey at the end when I nearly killed a player by having a giant THING score two critical hits as it chewed on him, literally beginning to swallow him alive. The final killing blow was the only thing that saved him. I hope my players enjoyed the game! 
  • When my CW game began at 2 p.m., there was a steady snowfall...the first of the season. When my game ended four hours later, I saw that the weather had mutated into the first OMGWE'REALLGONNADIE snowstorm of the season. This area has 6 inches of snow and it's still coming down. Leaving tomorrow will be...interesting.
  • Came back to the room to rest for a bit before playing some games later in the evening. Got wrapped up napping and watching Daredevil on Netflix. Just realized that a game I have tickets for started 20 minutes ago. Damn, sorry Mark. I was really looking forward to defending my Road Kill Rally title from last year's game.
  • As I climb into bed, I can hear snowplows in the parking lot trying to clear off the still-falling snow. Tomorrow morning, I'll get up early to assess the road conditions as I figure out when I'm leaving...or even IF I can leave! I'll have a third and final day entry when I get home, so watch for a delayed "Day 3" report to come later!
And here are today's photos from U-Con!

 Lines for today's con were lined up at 9 a.m. sharp when the doors opened. About an hour after this photo was taken, that entire lobby was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with attendees getting badges and signing up for games.

 While Thundarr raged at a nearby table, Jim Wampler ran a group through Mutant Crawl Classics, the upcoming post-apocalyptic RPG written by him. Would love to play in the game some day.

 The OSR Track had its own room here at U-Con. There were some amazing swag bottles set out on one of the tables for folks. Snagged one for myself, and it will become a part of my convention travelling pack.

 The boardgame room filled the ballroom. Every table was filled with players from the moment it opened to the moment it closed each day.

I took this photo of the snowfall when it began around noon. By that time, there were a couple of inches on the ground. By evening, we had hit 6 inches, and the snow was continuing to fall as evening fell.

 Six investigators faced the lurking woodland horrors found in "Unquenchable," one of my favorite adventures for Cryptworld.

Stopped by the Goodman Games booth to pick up some DCC RPG stuff I didn't yet have. Lots of new stuff was offered, including "Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet", a new Purple Planet adventure by Jim Wampler!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

U-Con Day 1: Inept Superheroes, Adventures In The Big City, And Drunks At The Red Dragon Inn

Hey gang, as Day 1 of Michigan's U-Con comes to a close, I'm adding the last few details from today's events to this blog post. As usual with these travelogue posts, I've been adding to the bulletpoints below each time I've stopped by my room to change, drop off stuff, or grab a quick recharge nap. And so here's today highlights, lowlights, and headlights:
  • For what it's worth, I have chronic sleep apnea, and I sleep with a CPAP machine. That "important piece of equipment I left home" I mentioned in yesterday's post was the afore-mentioned CPAP machine. So I got a crappy night's sleep and woke with a raw throat. I apologize to anyone in the neighboring hotel rooms who were probably kept awake all night by my wall-rattling snoring. (And it's only gonna get worse in the coming days...)
  • Decided to wear my new Player's Handbook t-shirt today. Got lots of compliments on it, including requests as to where I bought it. Homemade FTW!
  • After a quick breakfast of bagels and Monster drinks, I arrived to run three hapless "superzeroes" through Stuper Powers -- The First-Rate Game of Third-Rate Heroes. We had a great time with much "Mystery Men"-type super-mayhem! The superteam consisted of Super Snot Bros. (a sewer-travelling phlegm-thrower who had more than a passing resemblance to a certain videogame plumber); Kaptin Kardashian (a white leotard-wearing heroine with blizzard dandruff and muscular thighs that can cut girders in half); and Ragnar the Mighty (the Norse viking who can call down Valkyries to do his bidding and "The Spear of Destiny (?)" with its random assortment of misfiring powers). While touring the Smithsonian, some deactivated Dreddroids became active! Super Snot Bros. fired glue-like mucus at the rogue bots (Battle cry: "Bless me!") while Kaptin K. tore their arms off with her Thighs of Doom (Battle cry: "I'm too hot for this!") Ragnar joined the fight in progress, and managed to bring down Valhalla's wrath! (Battle cry: "Fear my righteous spear and woolen pants!") A mighty battle ensued at other Washington landmarks such as the Washington monument and the Capitol before the final showdown with Dr. Dredd at the Pentagon. It was like a live-action Tick cartoon, and we laughed and joked and had a great time. I rewarded their awesome play with new copies of the Stuper Powers rules. Thanks for the great game guys!
  • Sadly, my Ghostbusters game was cancelled when only one players signed up. What was cool though was that he brought his original boxed GB game from the 80s! I rewarded him with one of my last custom-engraved Ghost dice before we went our separate ways.
  • Stopped by the Vendor's Hall as Roy and Kevin began setting up the booth. I put together the Goblinoid Games corner and helped set up some of the other parts of the booth before scampering up to my room for a bit of rest before this evening's OSR panel that I'm a part of.
  • The OSR panel was held in the large auditorium of the convention center and very well received and attended. Bill Webb, Bill Barsh, Jim Wampler, Ryan Thompson, Adam Muszkiewicz, John Reyst, and I discussed Urban Gaming, touching upon the differences between your standard dungeon-crawl and cityscape adventuring. The roundtable discussion was recorded for a couple of podcasts, and I'll post links to them once they go live.
  • Holy crap, I just heard that this area is under a winter weather watch for tomorrow morning. So, once again, I'll be at a game convention for the first snowfall of the year.
  • Around 10 pm, I dashed to the boardgame room to try two games I've wanted to play for a while: Coup and Red Dragon Inn. In Coup, there were five of us trying to bluff our way through political intrigue. We played four games and everyone won at least once....except me. (Cue sad losing Price Is Right music.) I then played in a massive 10-player game of Red Dragon Inn. It ended quickly for me when five people played Gambling cards which ate up what little money most of us had, putting us out of the game. Also, you might think playing Red Dragon Inn with actual drunk people would be fun. I can assure you, it is not.
  • Back at the room at 12:30 a.m. to hammer out the last post here and to get to bed. Tomorrow morning, Thundarr the Barbarian rides again!
And here are some assorted shots from today's event at U-Con!

The D-list superhero group "3 Guys And A Pinto" make short work of Dr. Dredd and his plans to destroy Washington DC in my game of Stuper Powers!

Roy Snyder highsteps through the frame as the Goodman Games booth starts to take shape earlier in the day.

The theme for this year's U-Con is "Urban Fantasy," and the t-shirt is AMAZING.

Adam, Jim, Bill B., Bill W., and me during the OSR panel. John took this picture, and Ryan was sitting behind him, which is why they do not appear here. Also not shown is the audience seated directly to the left  in the auditorium.

Wow, now THAT is an OSR gamer's license plate if ever I saw one. I salute you, Owlbear Car Person.

Friday, November 20, 2015

"Apocalypse...NOW?!?" For Stuper Powers Now Available For Download

As this post goes live, I'm running a group of U-Con players through a new adventure for Stuper Powers -- The First-Rate RPG of Third-Rate Heroes! If you'd like to run it for your own home group, here it is available for download. Click the cover to download it. Enjoy, and let me know if your superhero wanna-be's were able to stop Doctor Dredd from destroying Washington DC!

U-Con Day 0: Fighting Zombies In My Room And Giant Beetles In The Lobby

Hey gang, Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman is attending his last gaming convention of 2015 -- U-Con Gaming Convention way up north in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Had a great time last year, so I decided to make a return visit this year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I won't be manning a booth in the vendor's hall, but Roy Snyder will be carrying Goblinoid Games/Pacesetter goodies in his booth, and I am truly appreciative of his offer to do so.

As always, I'll be live-blogging from the event, giving you the lowdown on what I've done, seen, played, and experienced. So stop by for the next few days to get a attendee's-eye-view of U-Con! I'm here a day early to settle in and get ready, so here's a bit of a preview of what's happening during the setting up hours leading up to tomorrow's convention:
  • For my last con of the year, I'm planning on running as many games -- and playing in as many games -- as I possibly can in the 2 1/2 days of the convention. By my count, I'll be running/playing in 8 separate gaming events over the next 60 hours. It's been a while since I've tried to cram so much in. I even hope to play in a few after-hours games. Pray for me.
  • Sadly, my Cryptworld game script for "Wasted" didn't come together in time to a stage where I was happy with it. So I'll be running "Unquenchable" in its place. It's still a horrific romp for the players, and I wish them well on their "rescue" mission. (Mwah-ha-haaaa...)
  • Game stuff aside, I just learned that the first true snow of the season is to hit sometime tomorrow/Saturday. Groovy. I was hoping to drive home to Ohio in the first snow of the season, just in time for all drivers to careen and skid randomly.
  • The TV in my room doesn't work. DAMMIT.
  • I left an important piece of equipment at home. DOUBLE DAMMIT.
  • Just got a text from Roy. He and Kevin will be getting in around midnight tonight. I'll be unconscious by then, but hope to meet the guys for breakfast in the morning.
  • I learned some time ago to always bring some nifty solo games to play in my room/in the hotel lobby during downtimes so you keep in that fresh "always gaming" mindset while at a game con. This time, it's Run, Fight, Or Die.
  • Zipped down to the lobby around 8 p.m.-ish to pick up my badge and see if anyone I knew was in yet. Ran into Larry Hamilton of Follow Me and Die, and he and I drank a beer and BS'ed about Games Long Past.
  • A little later, Bill Webb of Frog God Games walked over, pointed at Larry and I and said "C'mon, we're playing Swords and Wizardry over here." Not one to turn down a pick-up game tossed into our laps, Larry and I joined 8 other victims for one of Bill's "Everyone will probably die" games. We did pretty well considering we started off naked in a dark, lightless cave. I even managed to crush a giant beetle with a big-ass rock.
  • Around midnight I had to bail since I need to be up early tomorrow to prep and run Stuper Powers, followed by running a game of Ghostbusters RPG, followed by participating in an OSR discussion on urban fantasy, followed by playing a game of Coup, followed by playing in a game of Red Dragon Inn. So I gotta get some sleep...right...NOW.
And here are some photos of today's first "unofficial" day of U-Con!

Everyone who shows up to play in my Thundarr the Barbarian or Stuper Powers games is gonna walk away with one of these!

During a quick in-room game of Run, Fight, or Die, I found two other survivors -- the Mechanic and the Nurse -- then managed to find the Town Line just as I was about to lose my last health point. Good thing too, since the next zombie wave was going to slaughter us all. (But I did have two molotov cocktails on-hand just in case...)

 Adam Muszkiewicz of Dispatches From Kickassistan arrived later in the evening with his 4-month old baby in tow. I didn't catch the kid's name, but Bill kept calling him Baby Frog, so let's go with that. Knowing Adam, that very well may be the child's legal name, I dunno.

Here, Bill Webb explains to us just how horribly we're about to die. Being as we started naked and weaponless, it wasn't hard to believe him.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Michigan's U-Con Starts One Week From Today!

We're now one week away from U-Con Gaming Convention to be held November 20 - 22 in frosty Ypsilanti, Michigan. I enjoyed myself so much last year, that I decided to return to run (and play) in several games. Although I won't be manning a Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter LTD booth in the dealer's hall, Roy Snyder has graciously offered to carry the entire game line in his booth at the convention! So be sure to stop by the Goodman Games/Troll Lord Games/Out Of Print Games and Books booth and toss some gold pieces in Roy's direction!

This year, I'm planning on running several games, as well as participating in the OSR Track as a special guest. I'm all about the "old-school" gaming this year, so be sure to sign up for any one of these amazing events referred by (or attended by) yours truly!

Friday, 9 a.m.
Stuper Powers!: “Apocalypse...NOW?!”
Doctor Dredd and his evil team of villains have taken over Washington DC! They plan to start World War III unless your team of "D-list" heroes are able to stop them. Will your ability to "Induce Slight Headaches" and "Turn Things Plaid" be enough to thwart Armageddon? (Nah...probably not...)
Friday, 1 p.m.
Ghostbusters: “Ragnarok-A-Bye Baby”
Judgment Day may be at hand!  In the center of all the chaos and destruction, one place seems untouched – The Wee Tots Nursery School. Could this be the Antichrist’s day care center? The Ghostbusters are mobilized to save the world (and perhaps change a diaper or two)!

Friday, 6 p.m.
OSR Discussion Panel: Old School City Scapes Roundtable Panel
Come gather round and take part in a round table style panel with the OSR Track's Guest of Honor Bill Webb (Frog God Games), Industry Insider Jim Wampler (Goodman Games), our track's sponsor John Reyst (, along with Tim Snider (Goblinoid Games) and Michigan's own Bill Barsh (Pacesetter Games). We will discuss cities and their importance in old school gaming from the earliest days to the OSR as it is today. Time permitting, discussion and Q&A will be allowed with the audience. Hosted by Gamers & Grognards' Ryan Thompson and RPG Podcaster Adam Muszkiewicz (Drink Spin Run). Free! 

Saturday, 9 a.m.
Mutant Future: “Thundarr the Barbarian: Warlord of the Sacred Library”
Lords of Light! Drakexx the Unstoppable has established a stronghold in the forbidden Congers Library where thousands of Ancient texts are stored. What use does a warlord have with these tomes, and what secrets does he hope to unlock? The tribal shaman of the village of Linkon has tasked Thundarr, Ookla, and Princess Ariel with stopping and driving out the mindless brute!

Saturday, 2 p.m.
Cryptworld: “Wasted”
It's a raucous Saturday night at "Sweet Oblivion," the roadhouse on the outskirts of town. But this night of revelry will turn to horror when Death stops in for a nightcap. Can you survive The Night of The Living Dead (Drunk)?

And, as always, I'll be live-blogging from the convention, so stay tuned next week for observations, news, and you-are-there coverage from Michigan's U-Con!