Monday, March 26, 2012

Help Bail Out The Warden And Get Savage AfterWorld Dice


Meeting Jim Ward -- the creator of Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, and a host of other classic RPGs and supplements -- and seeing the outpouring of support for him and the Bail Out the Warden Fund at the Gary Con raffle and auction has encouraged me to make my own donation this morning. And I'd like to drum up more support from my readers. So here's my offer:

I have several Savage AfterWorld dice left over after my trip to Gary Con. These are normally only available from me at conventions, either by playing in one of my games or running into me and asking for one. But for a time, I'm willing to send one of these to anyone for every $5 donated to the Bail Out The Warden Fund. Donate $10 and get two dice (up to 5 dice max for a $25 donation). This offer is good WORLDWIDE as I have no problem mailing overseas to our Mutated Minions outside of the U.S.

To keep track of who donated and how much, after you've made your donation, please forward your donation confirmation email to me at gameagain (at) gmail (dot) com along with your mailing address. Even a simple $5 donation will get you one of these obviously-soon-to-be-valuable collectable dice! Regardless, your donations will help a great guy who started all of us along the path to post-apocalypic RPG mayhem.

Thanks everyone for your support in this cause.

-Sniderman -

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gary Con Day 3 Addendum: I Killed Andrew; Jim Ward Killed Me; And Michael Killed Everyone Else

Today at noon, I got to play in a Metamorphosis Alpha game run by James Ward. For a post-apocalyptic RPG fan like me, I'm not overstating it when I say this was the culmination of a lifelong dream as well as one of the most important events of this year's Gary Con for me. And meeting Jim and playing in the game he ran both not only lived up to my expectations, it shattered them. Sit back for a tale that ends with one man standing with an awesome prize.

I was the first one to arrive at Jim's table as he was sitting down and unpacking for the game. I introduced myself and let him know that this 3-hour game we were sitting down to was one of the prime motivators for my trip to Gary Con. He thanked me for that, adding "You're not trying to curry favor are you?" I assured him my praise was genuine, but suggested that any leniency my toadying could generate would be appreciated. So while we waited for the other gamers to show up, Jim and I just talked. We talked about Eldritch Enterprises -- the new game company founded by him, Frank Mentzer and Tim Kask. We talked about the games he designed. We talked about the recent medical issues he's had to deal with. He was very open and gracious, and it was great just hanging out with him on a one-on-one basis for a few minutes. Even took the seat next to him at the table.

When the other players arrived, Jim shifted into full gamemaster mode. "Now, I have a rather undeserved reputation for Total Party Kills," he said. "I want to make it clear that **I** rarely kill a player off. The players usually kill themselves off." Jim made the following offer:

"Even though I enjoy signing things for people, I never give anyone a personalized signature. I never have done it in the many years I've done this. However, here at Gary Con, if you get through the next 3 hours of my game and LIVE, I will give you a one-of-a-kind personalized James Ward autograph. So far at the convention, I've given away two. Will there be a third? You just gotta survive. That's it."

And the gauntlet was thrown.

In Jim's Metamorphosis Alpha game "We Got Ourselves a Bug Hunt!," we were space marines from the Warden who were taking a shuttle over to board an alien vessel we had made contact with. We were to bring back "something alien" for our superiors to analyze. The youngest player at our table -- Andrew -- was made the Lieutenant of the team and the oldest player -- ahem, ME -- was made the Sergeant. he gave orders, and I saw they were carried out. We all brought a list to the game table of various miscellaneous items we were bringing with us as personal equipment. Andrew announced he had a four-leaf clover. I offered him the use of the REAL four-leaf clover I carry with me. The table (and Jim) roared in approval over this coincidence. Assigned and equipped, we left our shuttle and entered the craft.

When we entered the craft's airlock, we found ourselves in a long, fleshy, gooey, slime-covered corridor. Some of us tried to open doors, some were set upon by xenomorphs, others tried to ID various gooey spheres and blobs scattered throughout. A few aliens popped up, and our weapons ranged from completely ineffective to HOLY HELL I JUST BLEW IT TO ATOMS. It was rough going in just the first corridor (everyone was being ambushed left and right). The Lieutenant reached down to pick up one of the gooey spheres. Not only was it adhered to the floor, the Lieutenant's hands stuck into it up to the elbow, effectively anchoring him. I arrived on the scene to help Andrew, when the "blob" he was stuck in started to crack open.

"SHOOT IT! SHOOT IT!" he hollared.

"Are you sure you want me to shoot the thing you're stuck in?" I asked, glancing at Jim who was smiling.


I shrugged. "OK, I back up and fire at the blob." Jim asked how much power I was putting into the shot and I said "I'll just let it go at whatever the default setting is." And the blob and Andrew were both vaporized. Jim took his character card and slowly tore it in half. I don't think Andrew took it well as he suddenly stood up and left the table, stating that he hoped I was the next to go. How right he would be...

After a tach nuke got away from us, the rest of us dashed back to the shuttle, sealing the door and launching just before the explosion occurred, surprising Jim and all of us when we didn't die. We maneuvered to another airlock, docked, chose new weapons that had proven effective, and entered -- all but Michael who stayed back to guard the shuttle entrance and to "hold down the fort" in case we needed covering fire during a retreat. This time, the hallway was clean white walls and floor, plenty of lighting, muzak playing over the comm, and two beautiful redheaded tour guides met us at the door. "Welcome! Enter! Let us show you around!"

As we were led about, we eventually succumbed to the hypnotic entrancing muzak. I wandered into a biohazard containment room which held a giant gooey "brain-bla-bla." (Jim's word, not mine.)

"You feel like taking off your helmet and plunging your face into the brain-bla-bla," Jim said. "Roll a D6. Do not roll a 5 or 6."

I picked up the die and held it to Jim. "Watch. I'm about to roll a 5 or 6," I assured him. I rolled and got a 5. Jim explained that I plunged my head into the brain-bla-bla and dissolved into a mass of ooze. He picked up and slowly tore my Sarge card in half. I laughed and sat quietly while the rest of the game progressed. It was worth sticking around for.

The rest of the team starting getting into trouble when the tour guides morphed into slathering aliens, more of those gooey spheres and blobs turned up, and the hypnotic muzak starting affecting the others. They all started running back to the shuttle. Meanwhile, back at the shuttle airlock, Michael had moved to the pilot's seat to get everyone out of there as soon as they got back. One of the aliens got in and he barely defeated it with just a few scant hit points left. Michael sat back down at the pilot's seat.

"Now then, " Jim said, "you can wait for the others to arrive...risking yet another alien attack that you may not survive...or you can go ahead, launch the shuttle, assuring your survival and getting a personalized James Ward autograph, but dooming your comrades to a gruesome fate." All eyes turned to Michael as he lay his head down on the table. He lifted his head, now laughing.

"I'm sorry guys. I truly am. I launch the shuttle and escape."

The table exploded in good-natured "I can't believe you just DID that!" laughter. It was an awesome screw-over job worthy of a game of Paranoia. Michael got his personalized autograph. We all got a great story to tell. And we all had a great time with a great gamemaster. After the game, Michael and I stuck around and BS'ed with Jim for a bit before we thanked him for the game and wished him well as we left.

Thanks again, Jim. It was a pleasure to game with you. And thanks for dissolving me into a fetid puddle of goo! (I will stat up the "brain-bla-bla" for Mutant Future one day soon.)

A lifelong quest comes to an end as I finally get the chance to meet and game with Jim Ward. A very gracious guy who seemed genuinely touched by the constant stream of copious praise and kudos from players and walkers-by.

And here's my non-personalized signed Metamorphosis Alpha rulebook (first edition reprint) and my "Jim Ward killed me and tore my PC card in two in front of me" souvenir he let me keep.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gary Con Day 3: Rebounding Grenades And Bailing Out The Warden

Today is my last full day of Gary Con as I plan to hit the road home nice and early Sunday morning. So I'm spending my last few hours hammering together this update and review while things are fresh in my mind. However, I have a rather lengthy "My encounter with James Ward" story that will go live while I'm on the road. So let's consider this post as "Part 1." Let's get to the wrap-up:

  • I was STARVING last night before I went to bed, so I called room service and had them drop off a pizza from the special "Gary Con Gamer Special" menu they had. It arrived in short order and I pounded it, then went to bed. The next morning, I was thankful my wife didn't come along on the trip. talk about "Save versus Poisonous Cloud!" Which bring me to...
  • This is a public apology to Jeff Sparks who played in my Mutant Future game yesterday. Jeff, you were totally right. I've been rolling my Mutant Future saving throws backwards (rolling low vs. rolling high). Thanks for taking the high road and dropping the issue during the game even though you were apparently looking right at the correct rule in the book at the time.
  • One nice Gary Con detail I forgot to mention: All gaming tables have a stand with a sign on it that identifies the table number from a distance (so you can find your game easily) as well as a "PLAYERS WANTED" or "GAME FULL" sign. You can tell as you walk in whether a table is accepting walk ins. helps to sign up for events, but you can also find a table willing to bring you in at anytime.
  • Classic bit of "Holy crap, did I screw up": In an 8 a.m. Star Frontiers game, I was in the rear of a group exploring a planet we had crash-landed on. As we cautiously made our way through a forest, our first combat encounter began with a ravenous pack of razor-toothed lizards (two dozen of 'em). I got initiative, so I threw a frag grenade into their midst. I botched the roll, then rolled again to see where the grenade ended up. It bounced BACK into our front line and went off. I took one player to -5 and another to +5 hit points. We were able to stop the bleeding and get both of them back on their feet, but I was ordered to not throw any more grenades for the remainder of the game. (We had a great time and succeeded in our mission, but that initial combat round will live in infamy amongst the group, I feel.)
  • Note to myself -- Next time, pay attention to the bottle of aspirin you purchase. I grabbed BABY aspirin by mistake. I'm popping these things like they were Skittles. It takes 6 of them to slightly affect a headache.
  • I later played in Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha game. That whole epic encounter and event merits a separate post, so stay tuned for it in a following post!
  • I visited Dan's Goblinoid Games booth again just to say "Hey." A new item was now for sale: prints of the cover art from Rotworld and Mutant Future -- signed and numbered by artist Mark Allen! I bought the top Mutant Future one, which was 2/200. Turns out I missed getting the first one (1/200) by minutes! ARRRGGGHHH.
  • Spoke with Luke Gygax about the attendance figures. He knows they surpassed 550 attendees this year, and that number may go even higher. And according to a survey attendees were asked to complete, it seems they're already considering how to grow the event for next year, as it seems ready to outgrow the Lodge.
  • I attended the Gary Con raffle and auction this evening. All proceeds were being donated to the Bail Out The Warden Fund to help Jim Ward with his sky-high medical bills. The raffle was run by Luke Gygax, and Tim Kask and Frank Mentzer were the co-auctioneers. there was some crazy-rare items up for bids, including the original banner for Gary Con 1, original artwork from some of TSR's classic games, and other items donated by the original movers and shakers. By the time the evening ended, $10,000 was raised for this incredibly worthy cause. (In fact, if you've read this far, please make a donation by clicking the link above or over there in the right-hand column. Thank you.)
  • As I made one last passthrough of the gaming area, I ran into Bill who was one of the players in my Mutant Future game yesterday. "I heard you missed out on getting that 1/200 Mutant Future cover print," he said. I asked how he knew about that, and he admitted that he had bought it. When he stopped by Dan's booth again later, Dan mentioned my angst at having been beaten. Bill then very graciously offered to trade my 2/200 for his 1/200, stating that he knew it'd mean more to me having the first one. Bill, thanks for the trade. It made my day.
I think that's just about it. I need to get up early, pack, and hit the road for the long trip back so I'm in my room at the end of the day now. Remember to stop by for my Jim Ward encounter tomorrow (it will go live while I'm on the road). I want to thank the organizers for a great time. I WILL be back next year for this awesome better-than-Gen-Con-by-a-long-shot event. And you should plan to attend too.

Addendum: Just returned from the registration desk -- again. To revisit my sole complaint about the event: After yet another day of regularly stopping by the reg. desk, checking on delivery status of the 2011 cap I ordered in February, being told to come back later, double-checking, come back later, etc., all the way up until 10 p.m., that frigging cap never did turn up. Although I was presented with a replacement souvenir of a much, much higher value -- and I do appreciate the effort -- it wasn't really something I particularly wanted. A refund or the new 2012 cap would have been fine. But I accepted what was offered just to settle the issue. The entire ordeal was a series of souring frustrations over four days...all over a $10 hat. Note to self: Never pre-order anything again. It's just easier to purchase items on-site.

And here is my last set of photos from the Con:

This gargantuan lending library of games was available in the restaurant/lounge, available for any and all pick-up games you could possibly want to play.

This game of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Part the Second" was run by Brother Maynard's Brother (aka Michael Browne of the Dead Games Society). Every time the PCs would ride their horses, they had coconuts to clap together.

A game of Fuzzy Heroes being run for children. A miniatures game that uses toys and stuffed animals? **I** wanted to play!

The Kenzer and Company booth was always busy with fans of Hackmasters and KODT.

On display in the lobby was the original prototype for TSR's Dungeon! boardgame.

The Circvs Maximvs trophy to be awarded to this year's winner.

This print of the Gary Con III wizard logo is surrounded by cards autographed by many of the original TSR writers, founders, artists, and "old guard." This was for sale for $500.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gary Con Day 2: Timemaster, Mutant Future, and the Phantom Flusher

Howdy folks. It's Day 2 at the Celebration of a Life Well Played. I'm getting ready to leave my room this morning to begin the day, so the following posts are updated throughout the day until I return to my room later tonight:
  • During the night, I was awakened to bloopgurglehissssgurglebloop. Dozed back off. Half-hour later, bloopgurglehissssgurglebloop. Discovered my room's toilet must have a leaky stopper flap. Water leaked into the bowl and, when the level was low in the upper tank, it'd refill. I fixed it by shutting the bathroom door. (Will mention it to the front desk in the morn.
  • One heartbreaking moment: When downloading my pix to my computer for last night's post, I found some pix on my digital camera my wife had taken of our dog just days before we had to put her down. They must be the last pix taken of her. Had no idea they were on here. Damn, that was a tough discovery to make. I has a sad. :(
  • My throat feels like I was gargling with barbed wire. Really overdid the gamemastering yesterday. Need to dial it back a bit to get through today's Timemaster and Mutant Future games. I'll be voiceless tomorrow if I'm not careful. (I had hot tea and throat lozenges for breakfast.)
  • Before my Timemaster game, I swung into the dealer room and finally met Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games. Sadly, I only had a few minutes to shake his hand and exchange pleasantries, but I told him I'd swing back through before the day was up.
  • Speaking of Timemaster and Mutant Future, both games went very well and much fun was held by all. Had two players in the Timemaster game who were tasked with ensuring the first run of the Pony Express in April 1860 was a success. There was a riverboat fight, a horse chase, an ambush at a remote relay station and -- most interesting -- a "reset" of the timeline when the Bad Guy sent a warning to himself earlier in the timeline. But they were able to puzzle it out and set the Continuum straight. In my Mutant Future game, plantlife was growing wildly out of control and the mutants had to get to the bottom of it. By the time they reached the source of the problem, they were face-to-face with a pissed-off 25-foot-tall mutant oak tree.
  • I asked one of the last players to arrive for my Mutant Future game if he was familiar with the game. "I think so. I wrote two modules for it," he said. It was Jeff Sparks who wrote both Re-Energizers and Realm of the Technomancer.
  • Met Dan Proctor later in the hotel bar where he, his wife, and I had a drink and talked about editing, accents, linguistics, and future plans for...well...that'll be a post for another day.
And now on to the photos...
My Timemaster game in full swing.

The lobby's been hopping with pick-up games since I arrived!

A large-scale miniatures battle in progress.

Dan Proctor and I.

Dan was kind enough to autograph my Mutant Future rulebook.

Oh, and there was a special hardcopy limited release of the hot-hotty-von-hottest RPG currently abuzz. Grabbed my copy for $20. Yet anther benefit of being here!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gary Con Day 1: Bustin' Ghosts And Donation Frustration

Whew, it's been a loooong day of gaming goodness, so I'm dropping by my room with updates as I have them. Here we go:
  • Went to bed last night at 9 p.m. Yes, I crashed early at a 24-hour game con. But I rolled out of bed at 6 a.m., bright-eyed and ready for the day (and still crazy-early enough to take care of everything I wanted to get out of the way before my games started at 2 p.m.)
  • Discovered my Timemaster pre-gens had a bunch of data and info inappropriate to the game I was going to run. Spent the better part of the morning retyping them by hand (stupidly forgot to save the originals), then raced to the business center to print them off for tomorrow.
  • The business center is right next to the now-up-and-running registration table, so I stepped over and asked how to donate items for the benefit auction on Saturday. I was told they weren't accepting donations just yet as they just opened and were trying to get the paperwork and mechanics of the table organized. No problem, and I noticed the boxes of Gary Con souvenirs being placed out for purchase. I asked about about my pre-ordered (and pre-paid) items, and was told those pre-purchased items would be available for pick-up that afternoon. So I agreed to return later.
  • Ran into Luke Gygax and reintroduced myself. I reminded him that we played in the same Tower of Gygax game at Gen Con last year, causing the GM to do a spit take. "Yeah, Sniderman! I totally remember that!"
  • Walked through the gaming rooms and snapped pix of games in progress. There are a LOT of folks playing this year, and I'll bet attendance records are shattered.
  • Didn't really sit down to play anything today as I didn't have enough free time in a hour here and there, but no good "gaming stretches."
  • Returned around 1 p.m. to pick up my pre-ordered swag and was told that they'd be available around 3 p.m. Since I was running a game from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., I figured I'd swing by afterwards. Picked up a dice bag that I hadn't ordered. Very keen! (Pic to come...)
  • Ran my Ghostbusters game at 2 p.m. Much fun was had, with lots of failed Ghost Die rolls popping up to drive the players insane. At the end of the day, they saved the world and got free ales and wines for life. (They also caused Lake Erie to turn into vodka, but that's another tale.)
  • One nice service for the GMs that Gary Con offers. After your game starts, a rep walks up with a rolling cooler. GMs are free to help themselves to a pop or some candy to fuel them through their game. very cool of the organizers to do that for the GMs!
  • Whipped by the registration booth at 6 p.m. to find them packing everything away, closing up for the evening. I was able to pick up most of my swag (shirt, glass stein, two cups), but the 2011 cap I ordered wasn't delivered to the convention hall and wouldn't be there until possibly Saturday. I offered to buy the new 2012 cap, paying the difference, but they were already put away and would be available in the morning. Also wanted to pick up raffle tickets and a swag bag (particularly for the nifty Gary Con d4 dromo die), but -- again -- too late and was told to stop by tomorrow morning. I didn't even bother to ask about when, where, and how to make my auction donation again.
  • Ran my second Ghostbusters game from 8 p.m. to midnight. Didn't have anyone sign up, but Mark and Robbi -- who both played in my earlier game -- showed up to play a new adventure. Great fun as the 'Busters fought a Lovecraftian Great Old One. They met both "Dagum" -- Dagon's redneck brother and "Jimmy" -- the slow Deep One. (Excuse me, "Shallow One.")
  • There's a game of Are You A Werewolf? going on in the lobby now (midnight), but I'm beat. I'd love to play, but I have a game at 10 a.m., and I want to visit Dan Proctor at the Goblinoid Games booth when the Dealer Room opens at 9 a.m. Maybe I'll play tomorrow night instead.
Overall, I'm having a great time, but I'm still irritated at stopping multiple times throughout the day to pick up some items I purchased (months) in advance. (And I still don't have it all yet.) as well as still having auction donations I need to drop off. But this is all bush-league bitchin' so don't mind me. I'm, just tired and all will be straightened out in the morning.

Enjoy these random shots of this, that, and the other thing:

This Gary Con banner featuring the KODT cast hangs above the stairway leading down into Gary Con Central.

Got my Dead Games Society Gamemaster Power Ring of Gaming on! Wonder Twins powers, activate!

Gary's Table of Honor right in the thick of all of the gaming. I think it's a great yearly tribute to him. And speaking of gaming...

This is a jousting tourney simulation. The players at either end were "clopping" coconuts together with each pass of the jousters. Very cool set-up!

Me and two players in my first Ghostbusters game as we waited for the rest of the PCs to show up. Great game, great fun! Brew-ha! (And Robbi and Mark played in my SECOND game a few hours later!)

This is ONE of the five rooms running games on Thursday around noon. Every table was packed and running. And through a nearby set of doors...

Another room filled with games and gamers taken just moments apart. This place is HOPPIN'. (You can see the Kenzer and Co. booth in the rear. The Dealer Hall opens tomorrow.)

Issue 8 of Wisdom From the Wastelands Released

Issue 8 of Wisdom From the Wastelands, the new weekly Mutant Future missive from Skirmisher Publishing, "Diseases and Medical Options." From the press release:

During the final wars that destroyed the Ancients’ civilization, some of the most horrifying weapons unleashed were terrible biological diseases and plagues. Such diseases were great equalizers, their viruses and bacteria striking down unlucky victims regardless of wealth, ethnicity, or homeland.

Although the Mutant Future core book touches on optional rules regarding diseases and their effects, this issue provides Mutant Lords with a wider range of possibilities. These additions expand the Constitution Table, include healing rates and negative hit points, and provide simple but effective rules covering mutants using the Ancients’ drugs and medical equipment. Several new types of disease — both infectious and mutagenic — are also introduced, as well as detailed rules covering symptoms and a new type of saving throw. In short, everything a ML needs to make player characters’ lives that much more “interesting.”

Put on your hazmat suit and stay away from that sneezing mutant! Issue 8 is only 99 cents and available at Drive Thru RPG.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gary Con Day 0: Gaining An Hour And Drinking A Buncha Cows

Just got back to my room and I'm calling it a day. I only got 3 hours of sleep last night, drove 7 hours to get here, and have been running around and meeting folks up until this moment. Plus the fact I lost an hour (see entry below) all makes for one very tired and sleepy Sniderman.

Here are some thoughts and observations regarding the trip out, the lodge, and the as-of-yet-unstarted con:
  • Toll roads from Ohio to Wisconsin are an absolute bitch. By my calcs, I paid $17 just for the privilege of driving on roads identical to the free ones I drive on. I'm reminded of the Bugs Bunny 'toon when he has a sailboat in the Panama Canal: "Twenty-five cents to go through this thing? Ehhh, I'll walk foist!"
  • As I pulled into Lake Geneva, I got behind a car with the license plate: 688-TSR. Not sure if they're gamers or if it's just an incredible coincidence. Wish I had grabbed a photo.
  • Sorry for the lousy resolution on my previous post's pix. All I had was my phone camera.
  • I stopped at Burger King at 11:30 a.m. when I got to Wisconsin because I was starving. I walked in and they were still serving breakfast. Confused, I ordered a breakfast sandwich and went to my car. It wasn't until I sat down that I realized I had crossed from Eastern to Central Time Zone, losing an hour. It was only 10:30 a.m.! One positive note, I just got an extra hour of gamin' because of it!
  • The lodge is very nice, very comfortable, with a great staff thus far. I really like the small, intimate feel of the area, so the convention will be small, but bustling once underway. But all of the signage is high quality with a big-con feel. The screens in the lobby running constant Gary Con daily updates is also nice and appreciated.
  • However, my room is the second-most-furtherest from the lobby/gaming area. I literally must walk the entire length of the building each time.
  • Picked up my pre-registration materials. because I'm running games, my Gary Con lanyard is black with "DUNGEON MASTER" on it. Tres cool.
  • I met Michael, Colin, and Chad of the Dead Games Society in the hotel bar for a DGS Meet-n-Greet. Great to finally put faces to their online personas. Great guys too. Looking forward to gaming with them this weekend. If you're interested in playing and running out-of-print RPGs, this is the organization to join!
  • Gary's favorite beer was Spotted Cow, and it's on tap and flowing freely at Gary Con. Had one this afternoon. It was followed by 3 of its brothers. Damn is it good. During Gary Con Happy Hour, when Spotted Cow will only be a buck a glass (or free if you bought one of the special cups, like I did), I will be in soooo much trouble.
  • The Gary Con motto is "A Celebration of a Life Well Played!" It works as a great memorial to Gary, but it also reminds us all to go out and enjoy ourselves.
Not a lot of activity tonight, except for a handful of pickup games in the lobby. My guess is that most folks are getting reacquainted or just resting up for the big day tomorrow. I did grab a few "environmental shots" while things are quiet though. Here you go:
Entrance to the lodge.
Signage at the restaurant check-in.
Cool to see this poster-sized blow-up of the Keep on the Borderlands module!
Registration desk is quiet...for now...

Guess Where I Am?

I'll give you two hints:

I'll post a Day 0 update later this evening...

Gary Con Or Bust

As this post goes live, I'm climbing in the car and starting my 7-hour sojourn to Gary Con IV in Lake Geneva, WI. Looking forward to running several games, playing in a few, and meeting the movers, shakers, and founders of the hobby we all enjoy. Just found out that Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games will be there as well, so I'm looking forward to finally meeting the mind behind Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord. (Plus I want to pick his brain on Timemaster's "future." Heh.)

I've got the laptop and a camera, so I'll be posting regular blog updates from the event with pictures, news, and whatever seems interesting. Stay tuned both here and at Time Corps HQ for on-the-scene coverage of this ever-growing celebration of all things Old School!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Issue 7 of Wisdom From the Wastelands Released

Issue 7 of Wisdom From the Wastelands, the new weekly Mutant Futuremissive from Skirmisher Publishing, has been released. This issue's theme is "Planar Creatures and Concepts." Whenever a mutant triggers a plane shift, something just may step through from another dimension. Meet a few of these extra-planar critters in this issue! Issue 7 is only 99 cents and available at Drive Thru RPG.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Week 'Til Gary Con IV

Gary Con IV in Lake Geneva, WI, starts one week from today on March 22-25! This celebration of gaming's roots, held in the town where it all started, seems to be attracting its biggest turnout ever this year. It's all about the Old School, as the designers and creators of yesteryear rub shoulders with the fans and gamers of today. You can NOT call yourself "OSR" without a pilgrimage to this event, folks!

And here are the games I'm running this year as part of The Dead Games Society:

DGS Presents: Ghostbusters - How Dry I Am
Thursday, 2 pm – 6 pm
Several class 5 free-floating vaporous manifestations are tearing up a college kegger. The Ghostbusters are called in to dispatch these Prohibition Poltergeists. But is this a single case of ‘spirits' versus 'spirits,' or is there something more malevolent trying to end drunken debauchery in our dimension?

DGS Presents: Ghostbusters - The Shadow Over Yonkers
Thursday, 8 pm – Midnight
Random citizens of Yonkers, NY, are waking in the middle of the night to wander mindlessly and wide-eyed into the Hudson River, never to return. The Ghostbusters are contacted by Prof. Clark Olmstead of Miskatonic University (Yonkers branch) to investigate the phenomenon. Is it Innsmouth all over again?

DGS Presents: Timemaster - Postage Due
Friday, 10 am – 2 pm
An undelivered letter in mid-1800 America has thrown the timeline into chaos. What does this single piece of correspondence contain that makes it so critical to future events? Time Corps agents will be dispatched to the point of incursion to ensure the mail goes through!

DGS Presents: Mutant Future - Weed World
Friday, 4 pm – 8 pm
Within the last month, the growth of all forms of vegetation has visibly accelerated, threatening to overrun and choke off your tiny post-apocalyptic village. Does an Ancient children's bedtime story of "The Devil's Greenhouse" and the mutated plantlife lurking within hold the key to surviving this floral horror?

If you're going to be there this year, sign off in the Comments below. Introduce yourself if you get the chance! Mention The Savage AfterWorld and get yourself a nice bit o' swag for your dicebag! See you there!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best Advice Ever On How To Design And Write Con Scenarios

Ever since I got involved in role-playing way back in Ye Olden Tymes, I've enjoyed running games more than playing. At the neighborhood FLGS, I was the guy running demos, and at the local cons, I was the one who inevitably GMed most of the events. But running a one-shot game at a con is a much different animal than an on-going campaign for your pals. You have a limited amount of time to introduce, set up, and run the game; you want to make sure everyone gets his (or her) chance to shine during the event; and you want to ensure you're able to reach The Big Finish before time is up.

Con games are all about timing and planning, while still making sure everyone has fun.

About two years ago, I was looking for some advice on how best to pace a con one-shot. In four hours, how much combat should you plan for? What kind of scenario works best and how involved should the plot be? While looking for some answers, I stumbled across the best advice on writing and running con games I've ever read. Gar Hanrahan of Figures of Text (a sub-blog of That's Not My Squid) had a five-part series in 2009 on How To Run Con Scenarios The Gar Hanrahan Way. Each of these posts addresses and explains the best approach when designing and running con one-shots:

1. Getting Started: Establishing the task for the players, forming a game outline, and writing your program/flyer "blurb."
2. Characters: Designing the pre-gens, establishing the group dynamic, and giving everyone a hook.
3. The Opening Scene: Engaging the players from the beginning, setting the tone of the game, and getting them pointed in the right direction.
4. Core Scenes: Timing the encounters, transitioning from scene to scene, and planning for your timed/triggered events.
5. The Finale: Drawing the players to the finish, providing an appropriate end challenge, and wrapping up with a dramatic conclusion.

The information and tips provided by Gar in these posts has been invaluable to me over the years. I suggest that anyone who plans to write and/or run a convention scenario read through these posts as the advice within is spot-on and crazy-useful. (It's also good advice for anyone wanting to run an evening one-shot game for their own players!) For my own use, I grabbed all of Gar's posts, formatted them into a PDF, printed them out, and put them in a binder for future reference. I've placed the PDF for download at Google Docs. Grab it here.

Not sure if you'll ever see this, Gar, but many thanks for your good advice. My con games have improved because of your help.

Issue 6 of Wisdom From the Wastelands Released

Issue 6 of Wisdom From the Wastelands, the new weekly Mutant Future missive from Skirmisher Publishing, has been released. This issue's theme is "Factions," which introduces new organizations and alliances vying for power across the blasted landscape. Issue 6 is only 99 cents and available at Drive Thru RPG.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two Weeks Until Gary Con IV

We're at two weeks away and counting folks.

Here's what I'm running...
Here's what I'm scheduled to play...
Here's me on Monday when I get home...

Monday, March 5, 2012

The World of Thundarr The Barbarian Sourcebook -- Final Version Released

In July 2009, I began Thundarr Thursday here at The Savage AfterWorld -- taking a facet of the classic post-apocalyptic cartoon Thundarr the Barbarian and converting that creature, item, character, or adventure for use with Mutant Future. Over the years, I accumulated quite a bit of material -- enough to produce a free-to-download sourcebook of the Thundarr universe for use in your games. And, as always, it's free and available to download over yonder in the right-hand column.

I've updated the book every so often, whenever I had new material to add. However, I've pretty well covered all I can with this excellent show, as the last new Thundarr sourcebook update was back in June last year. So, sadly, I'm going to call the Thundarr sourcebook "finalized" as I will not be adding any new material to it. I have updated the file one last time -- adding a back cover sheet to it as well as an additional blank page, upping the page count to a printer-friendly 68 pages. In fact, this is the final version I used for my recent test of MagCloud's services. So if you've been wondering when Snider was going to consider this sourcebook finished, the answer is "today." Click on the cover image or the right-hand column link to download the most recent update -- and last one ever -- of the Thundarr sourcebook. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Another Page Found Drifting On The Toxic Breezes

Another test page -- this one in black and white. Going for a "scrawled-in notebook" look. Art is deliberately rough as well. Thoughts?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shameless Cross-Promotion: Time Corps HQ

Hey Gang,

I have a second RPG blog I've been running for about four months now. Time Corps HQ presents adventures, inspiration, and discussion for Goblinoid Games' Timemaster RPG, as well as other time travel and "historical correction and enforcement" role-playing games. Timemaster by Pacesetter (now owned by GG) was one of my first RPG loves, and I'm very excited about the new release of this classic system from 1984.
  • Meet and interact with famous folks from throughout history!
  • Investigate historical events and correct those that have been altered!
  • Fight the Demorean menace and time renegades who warp The Continuum for their own nefarious purposes!
I have some interesting contests and giveaways coming for the site in the near future, so stop by and check it out! (And pick up a copy of Timemaster at Lulu or Drive Through RPG!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Issue 5 of Wisdom From the Wastelands Released

Issue 5 of Wisdom From the Wastelands, the new weekly Mutant Future missive from Skirmisher Publishing, has been released. This issue's theme is "Domesticated Creatures," which contains 10 new creatures that the people of the wastes have relationships with and make use of in various ways. Issue 5 is only 99 cents and available at Drive Thru RPG.