Saturday, July 25, 2020

2020: My Busiest Convention Year Ever?

Because I live in the middle of a gaming "black hole", it's tough for me to get to the table without driving an hour north or south of my present location. And, as all GMs know, trying to get a game together remotely is like herding cats. That's why I try to attend two or three conventions every year. It's where I'm guaranteed to have full tables of eager players ready to play. This year's global C19 pandemic squelched that, by cancelling face-to-face tabletop gaming events worldwide.

Or did it?

The first scheduled event this year I was planning to attend was Gary Con, which was also one of the first directly affected (i.e., shut down) by the pandemic. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the gaming community as we all saw the writing on the wall for the rest of the year. However, in an inspiring show of community and never-say-die, the Gary Con staff and organizers hurriedly assembled "Virtual Gary Con", which became solely an online convention. Admittedly, I had never run an online event before, nor had I played in one as I'm admittedly a grognard about such things. But I also wanted to show my support for a convention that I really enjoy and that was having a tough time this year. So I studied up, signed up for a Zoom account, and ran four online games over the weekend.

Shortly thereafter, Goodman Games wanted to test the online waters (and support Tabletop Events) by hosting their own virtual event, Cyclops Con! It's no secret I really enjoy their Mutant Crawl Classics line so - once again - I signed up and ran three more games online. A little less than two months later, Goodman Games' DCC Days expanded to encompass an online event as well, and thus DCC Days Online was launched. And, yet again, I ran three more online games.

So, for those of you who need help with the math, in 5 months, I went from an online gaming know-nothing to running 10 online events with a running time of around 40 hours. And next week, I'm running two events for Gen Con Online - each 4 hours long - taking me to 48 hours of gaming. Heck, even in my best convention-attending years, I've never run that many accumulated hours in a year.

And the year's not even close to being over. Here's hoping I see you at the virtual table this year.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Online Gaming Back in 1983? Yup, Welcome To "CB D&D"

It's fairly plain to see that the world of gaming is going to be online for the foreseeable future. Sure, I miss going to conventions and face-to-face table gaming. And I've heard more than one person lament that they refuse to try remote game sessions as "it's not the same." But to those folks, I gotta tell you you're really missing out as remote gaming has been around since gaming started. (In fact, I found an interesting article that suggests chess was played remotely via correspondence as far back as the 9th century!) In fact, yours truly is an old hand at remote gaming...

I recall playing by mail back in the 1980s, where I gave several of the games run by Flying Buffalo a try (still going strong today!), and I even played Silverdawn over the course of a summer back then. But my favorite session of playing remotely was the time I played D&D over my CB radio.

My first car was a 1972 Ford Pinto handed down to me from my mom. No AC, black plastic interior, AM radio (that didn't work), but it had a CB radio that still worked left over from the 1970's CB radio craze. I used it to listen to truckers gabbing as they passed by my house on the interstate about 1/4 mile away.

Anyway, during our weekly D&D game, my cleric (Brother Jarrod) got separated from the rest of the party deep in a long-forgotten crypt. My DM, Roger, decided he would run the two groups separately until they met up again. Due to circumstances, he and I were unable to get together that week. And my parents made it clear that tying up the phone line playing D&D ws out of the question. Roger, who lived about 5 miles from me, remembered that I had a CB radio in my car.

"Hey, I think I have a CB base unit down in the basement," he said. "How about we do this over the CB?" I thought it was a great idea, so around 7 pm on a Tuesday night (school was out for the summer), I got in my car, laid my character sheet and dice on the passenger seat, fired up the CB, and Roger and I played a one-on-one game over the airwaves. My handle was "Brother Jarrod", and he was "The Overlord", as I recall. We followed CB protocol as best as we could, finding an open channel (so we wouldn't tie up "real" communications), and ending each statement with "over."

"I listen at the door. Do I hear anything? Over."

"Nope, it sounds empty. Over."

"OK, I swing open the door and charge in! Over."

We got through a few rooms, and I managed to not die in combat as a lone 3rd level cleric lost in a tomb. Roger said, off in the distance, I saw a glimmer of torchlight - likely the rest of the party. (Over.) So I ran to meet back up with them (Over.), thus ending the session. The CB game probably lasted about 2 hours and was tons of fun. And, of course, just as we were wrapping up and signing off, an amused laughing voice broke in...

"What the hell are you two kids doing on this channel? Playing some kinda game?"

Yup, it was "some kinda game", all right! Over.

"Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files" Supplement for Quill Noir RPG Now Available

I knocked on the chief inspector’s office door and walked in before the invite. He glanced up from a stack of paperwork, an annoyed grimace on his face.

“Just returning the Henderson case file,” I said, holding up the tattered Manila folder. The chief wordlessly hooked his thumb toward the row of file cabinets lining one wall and went back to his Sisyphean task. I crossed to the cabinets, opened drawer “G-H-I”, and wedged it back into position. While doing so, my eyes fell upon several red folders stuffed in the back. I wrestled to pull them out and, once freed, I laid them across the tops of the cabinets. There were 10 folders in all, labeled “Case 1” through “Case 10”.

“Hey chief? What are these?” I asked over my shoulder.

“Huh? Oh, those,” came the chief’s bored reply. “Those are cold case files. Unsolved.”

I scowled at the thought. I don’t like the idea of someone getting away with committing a crime. It makes my overly developed sense of justice itchy. “Mind if I take these and give ’em a gander?” I asked. “Maybe I can open up some new leads.”

Once again, the chief glanced up, shrugged, and hooked his thumb toward the door, inviting me to exit. I bundled up the red folders and took my leave…


Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files is a scenario supplement for use with Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player and Quill Noir. To use this supplement, both the Quill rulebook and Quill Noir are necessary. Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files takes place in the world of Quill Noir, a time reflecting 1930s pulp crime fiction novels and 1940s detective films. Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files presents 10 new cases for would-be gumshoes and flatfoots to solve. You may find yourself investigating art fraud; rescuing someone from a burning building; testifying on the witness stand; or escaping from thugs who want to put you in a Chicago overcoat. 

Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files is now available at Drive Through RPG. (A copy of Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player and Quill Noir is required to play.)  Quill, Quill Noir, and Quill Noir: Forgotten Case Files are available as Pay What You Want releases, so try before you buy, if you prefer. Also, all have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.