Alea Tools’ Initiative Tracker Arrives.

It’s no secret I love Alea Tools. They have an excellent line of magnetic game pieces for miniatures and other purposes. If you need to track status effects or wounds on a mini, just put a piece of magnet on the bottom of it’s base and you are good to go.

I get quite a bit of use out of the sets I have, even so far as to forgo minis and just use the markers. With a wide array of colors, you can have 20 or more distinct minis represented on a field with color choice alone. (In a play-through of Tomb of Horrors, while using Dwarven Forge, I found out I had enough markers to accurately represent all of the various spheres in the second long hallway in the classic dungeon.) You can also use dry-erase markers on them, which leads us to the Initiative Tracker.

You can jot down the name of a PC or NPC on the marker, stick it to the board and you have an instant Initiative order, With handy arrows that can be placed above the markers to indicate position in the current round.

I’m sure I will be getting a ton of use out of this fine product.

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Hall of Spheres. My Alea Tools worked perfectly as I had more than enough colors so that each sphere was unique. Love those things.

Hall of Spheres. My Alea Tools worked perfectly as I had more than enough colors so that each sphere was unique. Love those things.

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The Pig-Faced Orc Returns!

I always loved the Pig-Faced Orc. Being a site called Orcsamongus, this is a most worthy topic: In the new D&D Starter Set, the Pig-Faced Orc makes his return!

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Various sources claim that Gary Gygax stated that the pig-faced orc was a result of miscommunication with his artists, but I don’t care. Long may the Pig-Faced Orc Rule! Which they do in my project “Orcsamongus”, but that is not ready for full disclosure…yet.

If you’d like to pick up some great mini’s of these guys, check out Otherworld Miniatures as they are having a sale on them right now!

I’m finding quite a few things I like about the new D&D so far, i’ll make a list, but I still want to PLAY it.

GP Adventures Website Goes Live

If you have read Gygax Magazine #3, you would have seen part of the Hobby Shop Dungeon with the finely crafted THE MARMOREAL TOMB OF GARN PAT’UUL. If you liked what you saw there, this next one is a no-brainer. With the official opening of the GP Adventures website you can finally get your hands on the Halls of the Beggar King, “This 38-page digital offering presents an inside look into GP’s design process. Once an exclusive preview for the Gary Con VI convention in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, it features a single, complete level detailing 117 areas of the Beggar King’s hideout on the coast of the Duinnsmere and north of Nester’s Folly, the Hobby Shop Dungeon.”

Also on sale is “a Child’s Tale by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr., Nerissa Montie and Simon Todd.”, Sammi-Zowa Versus the Dueling Dragons.

I missed out on getting Halls of the Beggar King at Gary Con VI in print, so I was jazzed to see the .pdf up on the site. I saw Sammi-Zowa at Gary Con, but I failed to pick it up there as well.

Thankfully you can now navigate your browser over to the GP Adventures website, and grab them up for yourself.

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Also got my Free RPG Day shirt in!

What’s New With The Burger King Kids Club.

I’ve been working quite a bit on my various home games this week, as Gary Con got my creative juices flowing. The Burger King Kids Club is currently enjoying our game of Labyrinth Lord. They have taken their characters through my Dwarven Brewery, The Puddin’ Works (Dingleblatz Brewery), which led them to the Underdank and a journey to find a way back out, all while encountering a MindFlayer that sent them to space. After crashing back to the planet surface in a Federation Starship, they found the Pyramid and Temple of Buttinkhamen, after a skirmish with some Klingons. They found themselves in Whisper and Venom’s Gauntswept, traveling in their Apparatus of the Crab, when they found themselves approaching an oasis. Thopas was there sunning himself by the water and with loads of indifference he hired the party to retrieve an item for him. They were then instantly teleported outside a Frost Giant lair to the North of the Gauntswept, in heavy snow and facing down a group of polar bears and their Frost Giant masters. What will they do next? Hopefully not encounter one of my favorite creatures that I never get to use, the Remorhaz! Heh.

So, after this adventure I should be able to run through Whisper and Venom, but what next? Well, I have some ideas. First off, I’m working on translating the old TV show Land of the Lost, into my next game. I originally planned to use Savage Worlds for the system, but I was hit with some inspiration at Gary Con and have decided to use another system for the game entirely. I don’t want to spoil the game for my players with a direct “This is the game I’m going to run.” because I think the game will be all the better for a little mystery up front. I’ve started working on my Forge of Ice Saleesa minis, so I should be ready to run this as we wind up Whisper and Venom in the next few weeks, which will also see a player return to the table after an absence. It will be good to have him back.

The main other item catching my eye right now is Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I picked up the box set and I’m very impressed. The quality of reading is top notch and the old-school Diamond Dice, Box Set and Poster Map, along with some great subclasses, make this game look very solid while giving me a stiff dose of tactile nostalgia. I’m getting through the Players’ Manual as I’m writing this, so I hope to know whether my group would be into it after next Wednesday’s game. If what I’ve seen and read so far is any indication, we will be rolling some AS&SH as well.

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Gary Con VI Recap.

I got back from Gary Con VI just a few days ago and I have to say, it was an absolutely amazing Con and experience.

I left Connecticut in the morning on Tuesday March 25, 2014. We drove up to I-84 to cross New York State near Newburgh and the Hamilton Fish, it’s then a nice, pleasant drive down to Scranton and then to I-80. We stopped for the night near Toledo, OH, which was my goal for a solid day of driving. The next day, it was wake up and drive the 4 or so short hours to the Lake Geneva Ridge Resort and Gary Con VI!

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We got there around 1 p.m. on Wednesday and settled in our Lake-View room. Great room, lovely view and overall, a very, very nice place to stay (great bathrooms!). After a quick nap, we went to get some food from the bar. I can’t say how amazing it was for me to sit in this hallowed hall and stare out at the Lake while having some bourbon. I ordered a fantastic grilled cheese and some beer and cheese soup made with a local brew, Spotted Cow. Both were glorious to behold and ingest. (Next time I bring back some Spotted Cow!) That evening, I was scheduled to play a Newbie Night game of Star Frontiers, which was cool as it was all people playing and running it who were making this their first trip to Gary Con.

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Photo by Mark CMG.

It was nice to finally be able to play Star Frontiers, as I have never played nor owned it and it’s one of my “gotta own it someday” games. We played the classic scenario Crash on Volturnus. I played a human military guy and was able to take out a few baddies. Driving/travel fatigue got to a few of us while we were doing the Hex-Crawl portion of the module (nice to refresh myself on Hex-Crawls) and when I got back from bringing the wife some food, the game had disbanded. Our generous GM offered to give the box set he used for the adventure to one of us. It was down to two of us who wanted it. An epic percentile roll-off ensued with my opponent rolling a 47, which I then promptly followed up with a 46! Only at Gary Con. There was no other way this could/should have gone down, other than me actually winning of course. I was *this* close!

I got settled for bed because I knew the next day was the start of the Con itself and my game of the Hobby Shop Dungeon with Ernie Gygax DMing was at Noon!

Thursday. After waking up and hitting the modest Dealer’s Room, I was able to procure my copy of the Whisper and Venom Compendium Hardcover from Lesser Gnome’s Zach Glazar and I finally met Thopas himself, John Hammerle! Both great guys with an excellent product that you should give them money for. Also in the Dealer’s Room were Jeff Easley and Larry Elmore, amazing artists I don’t need to tell you about, it was great to see their paintings and prints. I was able to snag a copy of the 1981 AD & D DM Screen that I have been wanting to replace for years, the one with the Dave A. Trampier art adorning it. Later in the day the news broke of his death at the Con, I’ll cherish this screen even more now.

After a bit more poking around, I set off for my Hobby Shop Dungeon game. We assembled in the VIP room and quickly found out the game had been moved upstairs. With 12 people playing, my table space was at a minimum (none of that stuff was even mine!) so I kept my books and dice on the TV stand next to me.

It was refreshing to have a DM ask who the Caller would be and who would be the Mapper. We were all admonished when Ernie realized none of us brought graph paper to the table. I was going to pack some too, dang-it!

I chose to play with a Gnome Illusionist/Thief and we decided to start on Level 6 and work our way up and out of the Dungeon. The very first room we walked into, we encountered a Basilisk, which promptly turned two of our party to stone (one poor fellow was never revived from his statue state). I luckily had memorized Gaze Reflection, so I figured I was going to be the Hero of the Day. I walked into the room with confidence and threw my spell, only to have it essentially miss the Basilisk’s gaze and dissipate in one round. Oh well, time to try a Wall of Fog on my next turn, which was much more effective, allowing us to slay the beast with no more players being tuned to stone. The beast was slain but I was able to get one final attack on its corpse, digging my blade into the vile creature, I declared that I had in fact slain the beast, even though it was already dead. Gnome technicality.

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Photo by Mark CMG.

During the game, I kept freaking out because I wanted a Gary Con Challenge Coin and I was worried I would miss out on them since I was playing in this game until after the Dealer’s Room closed. My stupendous wife went down and got me one during the game. I love it sooo much!

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We ended up with a bit over 20,000 Victory Points, as we only made it up to the 5th Level. All in all a great game I was honored to be a part of.

Things I learned during this session: Bring graph and hex paper. We fought a monster that Ernie said he has never fought in all his years of playing, and I forgot to ask what it was :/  Edit: From Ernie “Wind Walkers a mated pair!”  When faced with a task that seemed we would not accomplish, opening a door, Ernie said “It must be insurmountable!” Then, someone promptly made the roll and we succeeded. What a great line. There is nothing like old-school playing. Paladins need to take off their helmets when Detecting Evil. ALWAYS take Read Magic. Ernie missed a door in describing a room, instead of backpedaling, he just said the door was covered in cobwebs in a dark corner of the room so we must have missed it. Great save. When using a shield to block falling debris, the DM rolls damage as normal and then the player gets to roll a d6 for each die the DM rolled. A player getting a 5 or 6 on the roll meant 1 or 2 points of damage were negated by the shield. Good call.

Friday: Goodman Games Seminar, The Ride of the Black Eagle with Doug Kovacs, Whisper and Venom with Zach Glazar.

The “What’s New with Goodman Games” Seminar ended up being quite the forum for announcements. New DCC DPG module Kickstarters, a Judges Screen and the big news: The Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition Kickstarter. It’s always great to see Doug Kovacs art upclose as well.

The Ride of the Black Eagle DCC RPG game with Doug Kovacs as Judge was really fun. We were a little slow to get started as we were eating and chatting, but once we got rolling, it was a blast. Doug blew my mind with a creature he had created (which I won’t spoil here) that was really a treat to interact with. I played a cleric of Ronnie James Dio and my wife played a fortune teller thief. Great game with great people. It was a pleasure to meet them all.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Friday Night it was time for Whisper and Venom. It’s no secret I love this setting, also I’m running Labyrinth Lord for my weekly group, so this was a perfect fit. This was another fun game with a light-hearted group of players. It turns out Thopas is exactly the kind of jerk I expected him to be, so I have plenty of first hand knowledge to use against my players as we enter Whisper and Venom in the next week or so. I was excited to meet and play with the guys from Lesser Gnome, hanging out with them was a highlight of the Con for me.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

Photo by Mark CMG.

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Saturday, I was booked for a game of DCC RPG at 10a.m. (The Second Phantasmagoria) with Michael Curtis Judging, but I awoke with a pounder of a headache and decided to just take it easy for my last day of the Con, as I was going to be driving another 12 hours the next day and I didn’t want to be a less than decent player. We spent some time walking around the Resort and grabbing photos.

 

I enjoyed a nice Maduro Padron outside by the fire. My wife bought me a piece of original art from Pete, of a really cool Dwarf (Hammerfist the Rightous), which she said reminded her of me. It will look great on our wall! We also went to Anthony’s Steak & Seafood House so we could branch away from the Gary Con menu and get a nice steak.

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Got in a game of Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype as well.

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Sunday morning, we checked out and I had my last walk around the Resort. I’ll tell you this, I’ll take Gary Con any day over Gen Con at this point. It’s like the Four Best Days in Shopping Vs. The Four Best Days in Gaming…guess which is which.

Monday, on the way home, I decided we would stop off in Orange County, New York and see the Orange County Choppers building and get some lunch at the OCC Cafe. I watched the show for years and never made the one-hour trip to check it out, so we went for it on Monday. We also stopped by Paul Jr. Designs, but a cop was busting someone right in front of the entrance, so we kept on driving by.

I WILL see you next year!

I think I’ll shoot for NTRPG Con as well next year, we’ll see…

Things to do next year: Try to get in on Circus Maximus somehow, play a game of Dungeon! on Dave Arneson’s ping pong table, drink more Spotted Cow, remember my business cards so I can promote my dang blog.

Disclaimer: Some photos were taken by Mark CMG of Creative Mountain Games, and borrowed from his postings in the GaryCon Facebook Group (these photos say “Photo by Mark CMG.” in the comments of the appropriate photos). Please purchase the module Fighting Fire, the proceeds go towards helping Ernie Gygax recover from a devastating fire earlier last year. I proudly own a copy, you should too.   🙂

 

Mindflayers and Klingons.

The Puddin’ Works gets near it’s conclusion as our heroes battle a Mindflayer. Starting off on a lunch break, our heroes left the mine they were working in to get a Bladder Buster over at Dingleblatz Brewery. When they arrived, the Brewery had been closed, warned of corruption and danger, but offering them a ten percent stake in Dingleblatz if they aid in the situation, got them in the doors. They faced Shriekers and Green Slime, Black Pudding and Grey Ooze (The vats were corrupted). They found all the Dwarves who worked there had been killed and brains were removed. They get to the evil cleric Stinkydink Twerkabert and find out that the Brewery was corrupted as the evil cleric concocted a disgusting brew made with Dwarf brains. Slightly pink, with a frothy head, the cleric downed a mug of brew and was trapped by a Hold Person spell. As the heroes defeated him, his Duergar minions collapsed the room, leaving our heroes trapped with the only way out being down. So they descend into the Underdark to find out more about the mystery.

That was the main hook, they then went down and found the Barrel staging area, where the barrels of brew would be dropped to an underground river to travel to…where? Various clues led them onward. Through an underground lake whose ceiling was covered with Piercers (By the way, dropping Piercers from the ceiling as they are in boats, is pretty evil) they continued. Finally finding a small settlement after the Mushroom Forest. Told of a way out of the Underdark, they set out to find the “map and key”. Finding the cave, they enter. After a battle with a minor Beholder that destroyed most of their main magic weapons, they found a large chasm underground. Crossing with ease they came upon some more Dwarf skeletons with open skulls, and vanquished them as well. After successfully finding a pit trap, the heroes moved forward to find the room where the Mindflayer was. They made every single save versus the Mind Blast, except for one that resulted in a lame Stun. They fought and were about to lose the cleric’s brain to the Beast when a strange device rose from the Pool of Frothy Brew. The Mindflayer released the cleric as he scrambled to get to…his teleporter. He disappeared and as the cavern began to collapse, so did our party. They wake up in a strange room thats filled with smoke and violently shaking, as a balding man in blue walks through the smoke towards them and says, “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”

They then heard a voice say, “Collision with surface, imminent. Life support at 12%. Saucer separation in two minutes.”

And then I said, “I’ll see you guys next week.”  🙂