Wednesday, November 19, 2014

U-Con's "What Is The OSR" Debate Airing On Save Or Die!

On the first day of U-Con, I was privileged to be part of a panel of gaming stalwarts as we discussed "What Is The OSR, Anyway?" Ryan Thompson hosted the roundtable discussion with guests Adam Muszkiewicz, Doug KovacsJim Wampler, and I as we debated what the OSR "is" and our respective opinions on what "old school" truly means. The conversation was fascinating as we all brought our personal histories and experiences with gaming into the discussion.

I had lamented the fact that no one had thought to record the session, but it turns out I was delightfully wrong! Jim's podcast Save or Die! had microphones running, and this one-hour session was recorded for everyone to enjoy. I learned a lot and got some great insights on the issue of the OSR, and I think you'll enjoy it as well. Set aside an hour (and your preconceptions), then click this link or the banner above to listen in.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

U-Con Day 3: Ping-Pong Balls, Sunday Services, And "These Are Not Toys!"

Howdy folks, and welcome to my overview of Day 3 of U-Con, the final day of the event. The summary below was written throughout the day, but this intro is being written after returning home. Winter has finally arrived in Ohio. We have a winter weather advisory for the area, and I have a fire going in the fireplace and a mug of cocoa so let's review the final day of my final convention of 2014:
  • Dammit, I made the classic game convention blunder. I brought my smallest suitcase to carry a minimal of clothes as well as my laptop bag and that's it. This morning, I got everything in my room packed away -- when I realized I now had all of this new swag, t-shirts, games, and souvenirs and no way to carry it all out to the car. I need to remember to always pack an extra bag or use my biggest suitcase. Instead, I made four trips. (Argh.)
  • When I entered the convention center, I was a bit surprised by the church service in progress. Apparently, the auditorium is used each Sunday by a local church. It was interesting to watch gamers wearing Lamentations of the Flame Princess shirts filing by the Sunday morning church folks gussied up in their Sunday best.
  • In the vendor's hall, the Float a Goat folks broke out a new game to entice folks with: Zombies - The Game on a Glass. Folks were trying it out by hurling ping pong balls across the room and into a pint glass. It was addicting, as EVERYONE was giving it a try. (I missed 10/10 attempts. Double argh.)
  • Just got a text from my wife. My part of Ohio is getting 2-4 inches of snow tonight and 1-3 inches overnight, so heading out before nightfall is a must if I hope to avoid the start of winter while on the road. So the late afternoon games I was contemplating will have to wait until next year. (Triple argh.)
  • Some kids have been making some noise in one vendor's booth. They're playing around with items he has for sale like dice and miniatures and card games and other fun stuffs. He marched over to them, and without a trace of irony said, "Hey, these are NOT toys!" 
  • It's five minutes until the vendor's hall closes for the convention. Been eyeing a game at another vendor's booth all weekend. After closing, I was planning to pick it up. Annnnnnd...I just watched someone else pick it up and purchase it. (Quadruple mega-ultra-dammit-argh.)
  • After the hall closed, I wandered over and mentioned I had missed out on that game I wanted to the vendor. And he proceeded to bring out SECOND copy he just happened to have. Plus, he gave me a 20% discount on it! And Sniderman ends his time at U-Con on a high note!
All in all, I had a great time at U-Con, and I'd like to thank the organizers, the players, the vendors, and Ryan Thompson who put together an awesome OSR track. And I'm already making plans for those conventions I'll be at next year. So, if you're in Iowa City; Hudson, Ohio; Milwaukee; or -- yes -- Ypsilanti, look me up and I'll reserve a spot at my gaming table for you.

And now, onto the final photos for U-Con:

 Just yesterday, this area was home to pick-up games of Gamma World, M:TG, and D&D 5e.


Zombies: the Game on a Glass. Beer and flying ping-pong balls...a perfect combination!

A ping pong ball in flight during a try at Zombies.

And we wrap up with my purchases, trades, and swag. 

U-Con Day 2: Fumbles The Dwarf, Brother Fahthur, And My Old-School Dice Bag


And Day 2 of U-Con draws to a close at 1 a.m. Today's entry is gonna be a bit sparse content-wise, as I spent most of my time in the vendor's hall manning the Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter booth. But I still met several interesting folks, and have a report to share about my time at today's U-Con. And although I didn't get to run a game, I got to play a game. So here is today's report live from the convention (or at least, it was written "live" throughout the day...):
  • Got to the booth this morning, and made the acquaintance of my new booth-next-door neighbors. Matt and Noah of Float a Goat Games are selling their card game "Something Different" that was successfully Kickstarted earlier this year. Matt and I got into a lengthy discussion of the awesomeness of the Ghostbusters RPG. I was more than happy to point him to the Nerdy Show's Ghostbusters RPG Franchise Kit as well as my own two Ghostbusters RPG adventures. Nice to meet you, guys!
  • There have been a surprising amount of requests and inquiries for supplemental material for Starships & Spacemen. Sold a few copies of the rules, in fact. Looks like the space opera genre is popular and in need of support!
  • Just had a flashback to my days as a convenience store clerk, as I played the "How Much Is This Game" a lot back then. A pre-teen walked up to the booth and picked up a game. "How much is this?" "That's $15.00." He sets it down and picks up the next item. "How much is this?" "$20.00." Down it goes and the next item is picked up and the price is requested. He ran the table, asking for prices on everything, then moved to the next booth and started the process again. After 45 minutes, he had the prices of everything in the vendor's hall before he walked out without buying anything.
  • Just spent some time talking with fellow blogger Larry Hamilton of Follow Me and Die. We discussed our respective "entry points" into role-playing as well as attending cons throughout the country. (We also commiserated on the "overwhelming big-ness" of Gencon.) Good to meet you Larry!
  • Brought some stuff for the auction. I then stopped by and saw what other folks brought for the auction. Huge lots of crazy rare and oddball stuff. I decided not to bother as my paltry offerings paled compared with some of the awesome games and such up for grabs later today.
  • Stopped by Roy Snyder's booth to take advantage of his Buy 3, Get 1 Free sale. I was surprised, stunned, and very pleased to find the core TORG rulebook set for $10! Grabbed a few supplements for it while I was at it too. I've always loved the game and have been looking for an excuse to wade back into The Possibility Wars again!
  • When I stopped back later, Roy presented me with a brand new dice bag. And this dice bag is now the most legit "old school" item I've ever owned. We laughed about the fact that this item was not designed or marketed to role-players, but it was sought after and coveted by role-players back in the day. See the pictures below for a photo of the old school item in question.
  • If you were interested in picking up Deviant Database, Deviant Database 2.0, or One Year In The Savage AfterWorld, I'm sold out. Sorry.
  • The auction is underway, and the vendor's hall has emptied out while it's going on. Amusingly enough, all of the vendors used the mutual "downtime" to shop at each other's booths.
  • During the booth downtime, the other vendors and I discussed The Hidden Alignments of D&D (Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Dick, etc.) as well as misused 1st-level magic-user spells. We agreed that there should be a podcast looking at various spell effects from a real-world scientific perspective. Proposed title: "Wizards Breaking Physics".
  • Ran off to my game room at 8 p.m. to run Cryptworld, only to find that no one had signed up. I was disappointed, until I saw Roy Snyder about to run his game of DCC's "The Tower Out of Time," and he let me join the team. Adam, Peter and I were tasked to find out everything we could about this odd tower that suddenly appeared in the middle of our forest claim. I played a cleric (Brother Fahthur) and a dwarf (Nameless Anon, later renamed to "Capt. Fumbles"). During the course of the game, I healed a hireling named "Skeeter" who eventually became "My Pet Skeeter"; my dwarf shot into combat and hit our thief, then fumbled his axe, then suffered a mental attack paralyzing him for a few rounds (which is when he became "Fumbles"); my cleric rolled a critical hit -- and max damage -- WITH a paralysis spell active on the weapon (poor ape-man had his legs shattered, but he couldn't scream because, you know, paralysis...). Our game ended when our warrior, enlarged to 25% of his normal size as well as blessed by the cleric, grabbed the Bad Guy and hurled him into a blazing beam of red fire AKA "Doing what Vader did to the Emperor." All but two of us managed to escape just before the tower teleported 29,000 years into the future. Great fun! (In spite of Fumbles' constant disappointment with the dice.)
And now, onto the pictures of today's events...

 The Goblinoid / Pacesetter booth is restocked and set up for Day Two.

The auction piles were getting bigger and bigger as folks turned in their valuables up for bids.

And the auction is well underway. However, during the auction, attendance ainthe vendor's hall dropped off to zero.

The Possibility Wars are about to relaunch! Core Earth is once again under siege!

Now THIS is an "old school" dice bag. Thanks Roy!

Our intrepid team of adventures just before things went downhill fast in The Tower Out of Time.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

U-Con's "Gimme Shelter III: Down To Earth" For Mutant Future Available For Download

Last night I ran the newest chapter in the "Barter John" series of Mutant Future adventures at U-Con - "Gimme Shelter III: Down to Earth". And I'm making it available to you for download by clicking this link. Feel free to download it and run your PCs through it. (You might want to grab Gimme Shelter I and Gimme Shelter II first if you want them to experience the full "saga.")

Some notes: The adventure is very short as there was only 3.5-4 hours to run it. Wanted to make sure there was a beginning, middle, and end, so I kept the encounters minimal. Also, it's my personal hammered-out roughs -- warts and all -- just enough to guide the game. Don't expect a polished product, as that was never the intent. Finally, some of you may notice some similarities between the mutants infesting the downed station and some other space-faring zombies found in another classic post-apocalyptic RPG. This is a coincidence -- I swear. :)


Friday, November 14, 2014

U-Con Day 1: Defining The OSR, Defusing A Nuclear Reactor, And Running Over the Elderly


Hi gang, and welcome to Day 1 and the official start of U-Con. My late-night Mutant Future game just ended, and it's around midnight as this post goes live. Today was fun and busy and busy. Ran some games, sold some games, talked about the OSR, and ran over little old ladies in my souped-up Deathmobile. Read on, and this will all make sense:
  • Remember when I mention I had been upgraded to the concierge floor? Turns out they had a decent breakfast bar this morning. A plate of free bacon FTW!
  • I zipped over to the convention center to get the Goblinoid booth set up, but I was a bit early. So I thumbed through the con book and saw a board game starting in minutes that I've always wanted to try out. Purchased my ticket and ran to the board game room to play...
  • Road Kill Rally by Z-Man Games! I sat down with three other players for this demented "Death Race 2000"-themed game of vehicular mayhem. You score points for running others off the road or -- even better -- running over pedestrians littering the roadway. After finding out senior citizens were worth the most points, one of the other players uttered The Quote Of The Game: "It's really advantageous to kill the elderly." After fighting along the track and as the finish line neared, I took my car up to 140 MPH, somehow kept it on the road, passed the other players, and plowed through a crowd of citizens who were stupidly in a crosswalk. I sped over the finish line to win the game! Great game, and I can't wait to play it again at home. (I have an unopened copy I've been wanting to try with the home group.)
  • My bloodlust sated, I got the Goblinoid Games/Pacesetter booth set up and business has been brisk. First sale of the con: Starships & Spacemen. And I just had someone pick up a "Mutant Future bundle" consisting of the rulebook, and my three MF supplements!
  • Overheard in the dealer's hall, father speaking to his young son. "No, I'm not gonna buy you any more dice. You haven't eaten what you have now." (Yes, that's a verbatim quote.)
  • John Buckley of The Knotty Works just stopped by. John's the author of the Going Postal series of Mutant Future supplements, amongst many, many, MANY other products and projects. John did some art for Deviant Database II, in fact, but he never got a print hardcopy. I was happy to present him with one I had on hand. He returned the gift by giving me an incredibly cool set of Mutant Future-based equipment cards. (All four sets!) He's playing in tonight's Mutant Future game as well. Nice to meet you John!
  • Tonight I was a guest panelist during a roundtable discussion of "What Is The OSR?" Doug Kovacs, Jim Wampler, Adam Muszkiewicz, and I were asked to share our thoughts and experiences about what makes something "old school." There were some very interesting insights and some great discussion amongst the panelists and audience. But in the end, it was agreed that defining what makes something OSR would be like defining what makes something "art". You know what it is when you see it, but what it *is* will vary from person to person. I wish there had been a video made of the discussion as it was very interesting and a pleasure to be invited.
  • After wolfing down a hamburger, I raced off to my late night game of Mutant Future -- "Gimme Shelter III: Down to Earth." The four intrepid scavengers were tasked with investigating a downed space station and to bring back everything that wasn't nailed down. Some highlights: Using an exploding cow to clear out a cave of mutants by driving the bovine into the cave, then hitting it with a slingshot pellet; "Sarge", a mutant human who was still fighting WWII, kept barking orders to "Johnson," a plastic army man he kept in his pocket; the two-headed, four-armed mutant who cobbled together a "laser-proof shield" by duct-taping together about two dozen AOL discs; the malfunctioning android who could only talk in one-syllable words, making him sound like Tarzan when he spoke; and the mutant housefly who charged into a nuclear reactor approaching meltdown who managed to shut it down as he took radiation damage each round, succeeding with only 3 HP left. Awesome job guys!
And now, onto the pictures of today's events...

Check it out. I'm a "special guest" AND a "VIP." I guess that makes me a "very special important guest person."

The registration booth was in full swing at 9 a.m. with the line stretching across the lobby and out the door!

As we take the hairpin curve in Road Kill Rally, I'm in the lead (yellow) and am about to plow through a "target-rich environment". The two red pedestrians are "advantageous elderly."

And my scorecard at the end shows the results. I took out two adults, two seniors, and a kid, as well as the checkered flag, crossing the finish line at 140 MPH!

The Goblinoid Games/Pacesetter booth is now open for business. Sadly, the GG banner on the wall kept falling down, so I had to put it on a stand behind me in the booth.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

U-Con Day 0: A Little Snow And A Little Mouse

Hey gang,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Snider is on the convention circuit again this week. Today, I'm in frosty-cold Ypsilanti, Michigan, for my first time attending Michigan's U-Con Gaming Convention. I love going to first-time cons as I never know what to expect and am open to anything and everything that may surface during the event. At U-Con, I'll be manning the Goblinoid Games / Pacesetter LTD booth in the Vendor's Hall, as well as running games of Mutant Future and Cryptworld. (And, God willing, I'll find time to chuck some dice on the other side of the screen too!)

As always during these events, I'll be live-blogging from U-Con each day to give you a rundown of what's going on, what I've seen, and what you're missing out on. Today is "Day Zero," which means nothing is really happening tonight (that I know of). But I always like to arrive a day early in case I get lost, bad weather, or Cloverfield attack. (And I can sometimes find a pick-up game amongst other early-arrivers.) So here is today's preliminary post on what's up at U-Con!

  • Was up until 3 this morning putting the finishing touches on my Cryptworld game to run Saturday night. Be sure to sign up, as it'll be a game to "remember." (SUBTLE GAME HINT) But I'm feeling that lack of sleep is starting to drag me under.
  • Wonderful. I have to drive from northern Ohio into Michigan the day the area gets its first flakes of snow. Didn't hit anything more than a few flurries, but there were some frightening cloud packs on route.
  • The best thing about the McDonald's dual drive-through order speakers? They can screw up your order in half the time!
  • Got to the hotel, which is honestly one of the nicer hotels I've stayed at during a convention (yes, including Gen Con). When I checked in, I got a gratis upgrade to the top-floor concierge floor! So I have my own lounge with snacks and beverages and breakfast and hors d'vourves. If I wasn't so exhausted, I'd totally start carting trays of cookies back to my room.
  • Ugh, I bought a mini-mouse for my laptop thinking that it might save space or something. This thing is so small, I'm getting frigging hand cramps trying to use it.
  • Took a stroll over the convention center around 7 p.m. to see how the set-up was going. Wanted to grab some environmental shots of the banners and what-not. Well, access to the center from the hotel is sealed until tomorrow to keep folks -- like me -- from poking around. So I'll have lots of U-Con photos tomorrow, but tonight, you get shots like these:


What the weather looked like as I crossed the Ohio/Michigan border at noon. I encountered one squall, but lucked out as I didn't hit the snow blast I was expecting.

That "mousepad" under my mini-mouse is my friggin' hotel room key.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

[Cryptworld] New Thing: Chocolate Vampire

(I meant to post this on Halloween. Sorry, but I couldn't help myself...)


STR: 4 (60) --- WPR: 6 (90)
DEX: 4 (60) --- PER: 7 (105)
AGL: 4 (60) --- PCN: 3 (45)
STA: 5 (75) --- NIACIN: 4.5 mg
ATT: 1/68% --- RIBOFLAVIN: 0.4 mg
MV: L 80†

Experience: 500 Proof of Purchase Points

Hiding in plain sight on your supermarket shelves, the Chocolate Vampire is one of the most diabolical things players may encounter in their investigations. Viewed by most as nothing more than a harmless, comical cereal company mascot, the Chocolate Vampire is actually something much more sinister.

The Chocolate Vampire does indeed “feed” on chocolate. The lair of a Chocolate Vampire is often filled to the rafters with horded candies, cocoas, powders, and other chocolate-flavored foodstuffs. It’s said that smell of the Chocolate Vampire’s lair can be detected a 1/2-mile away. To combat this, the Chocolate Vampire will set up his lair in a location where such a smell is undetectable – the basement of a chocolatier, the attic of a bakery, or in the heart of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

However, the Chocolate Vampire’s need for chocolate goes far beyond that of mere candies. The Chocolate Vampire must also feed on human blood as well, just as a normal vampire. But due to its craving for all things chocolate, the Chocolate Vampire has developed an unsettling ability to convert human bone marrow into spongy chocolate-flavored bits. These “marsh-marrows” are often sprinkled over its chocolate-laden foodstuffs – including breakfast cereals. Due to his seemingly innocuous, bumbling demeanor, he lulls his victims into a sense of false safety, luring them into his sweet-smelling lair where he begins his unholy marrow extraction-and-conversion process.

The Chocolate Vampire is often accompanied by two minions -- a strawberry-scented Conglomerate Man and a blueberry-scented Ghost. He used to be served by a cherry-scented Werewolf and a fruit-scented Mummy as well, until public opinion polls revealed these were kind of lame.