Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day

Look down and see the road you’re on, as if you are on a marathon…
Let me start by saying thank you to all of you who have stopped by Orcsamongus and have had kind words to say. This journey is a permanent one, as I plan to be alive for many more decades to come. As my way of eating needs to stick with me, I think of this journey as a marathon. A marathon that will never end. I may get tired of it at times (I had a week where I couldn’t even look at another tomato), but the results far, far outweigh the minor annoyances of desiring some Sour Patch Kids, or needing to find a new type of lettuce to enjoy.

Won’t Stop Swinging…
One of the main points I made in my previous post was that I can still eat pizza, and what a relief! I live in a part of the country that is home to some of the best dang pizza in this nation. From Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, to Zuppardi’s Apizza in West Haven not to mention Colony Grill in Stamford and Letizia’s in Norwalk (my personal Top 5, not in any order). I love me some good pizza and whenever I try a new place out, I order a plain cheese, because if that sucks, you know they can’t do anything else right. But, here’s a secret for you: I think I’ve only had maybe 5 or 6 slices the entire time since I’ve been on this path of wellness. Why? Well, I guess I’m just waiting for the right time, or the right mood to strike, or the opportunity to partake of one of my Top 5, because I want to enjoy that slice. I’ve come to discover that healthy moderation makes things start to feel special again. Plus, I’m doing so well and I’m so stubborn that I won’t allow myself to partake of it too often. I bought a slice while I was at the local game store in town Battlegrounds Gaming (Hi Steve!), I picked up a piece while shopping for groceries at Wholefoods, and I made two frozen Amy’s pizzas (the tiny one, shared with my wife) for a couple different nights’ dinner.

One of the reasons to which I attribute my success, is the knowledge I have been given by my nutritionist, (Hi Abby!) and the fact that I’m actively using that knowledge. I know that pizza is going to taste amazing, I know I’m going to love it, I know I’m going to want more. So, the knowledge I have leads me to the understanding that everything I eat has consequences, either good, or bad. Dropping pounds and looking better and feeling better, wearing new clothes are all a byproduct of not slamming down a ton of pizza whenever the mood strikes me because I know I’m “allowed” to eat it. Let me say this, I can eat any dang thing I want to and I do. I eat ice cream, I have a piece of chocolate, I eat burgers, but all of it is backed up by the knowledge and the fact that I’m making a conscious choice. That’s why I say to you, if you want to lose the pounds, get yourself a nutritionist.

When you walk in golden halls, you get to keep the gold that falls…
My mornings start out with a large glass of water as soon as I wake up (one of the things I need to be more diligent on, if I’m being honest) and I’ll make three eggs, with some veggies and a cup of coffee. I cook the veggies in grape seed oil (it has no taste, I found I didn’t enjoy the taste of olive oil in my eggs) with salt and pepper. I may use some other spices to jazz it up, like the fine Arizona Dreaming blend from Penzey’s. For veggies I like to use peppers and onions, sometimes mushrooms. I should be throwing in some spinach as I could always use the iron, but I just can’t stand slimy, wilted green things. The closest I can get to a cooked green I can stomach is broccoli rabe, so I may try that one day. I whip my three eggs up and after the veggies have had some time to cook a bit, I throw in the eggs, making a scramble.

I make my coffee with a couple Splenda pellets (I tried using no sweetener at all at first, it didn’t jive with me, but if I had a choice between sweetener or milk, I’d take the milk) I also use whole milk. Why not skim, or 2%? Well, having some fat in your eating is not a bad thing. It’s satisfying, unlike carbs, which are not because you’ll only crave more. It’s the same reason I eat yogurt with fat content, I avoid the gimmicky non-fat stuff. First of all, it tastes better, it’s more satisfying and…costs less! My current yogurt of choice is Wallaby’s, into which I throw some cashews for a snack. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a typical breakfast for me now.

One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back…
Lunch varies. I might have a sandwich with ham or turkey, maybe both. Some grilled veggies are good or lettuce, tomato and onion. I try to use mustard instead of mayo and I’ve been having some mayo here and there but, while it tastes good, I don’t feel good mentally about having it (the knowledge) so I’m trying to back off on it, although it’s not off-limits. I get a grinder roll usually (or hoagie, sub or wedge depending on where you’re from. I once had the thought of travelling around the country and finding out what they call their sandwiches in all the various states and devoting a website to it, but that will wait until I’m rich, unless one of you wants to fund that adventure…I can dream) or bread. Wraps are a scam, they are no better in most cases than bread, so unless I really want a wrap, I pass. I also get a small salad with tomato, roasted red peppers, red onion, cucumber, carrot and maybe a couple artichoke hearts or hot peppers to change it up. Now and then, some dried cranberries. I used to add a hard boiled egg, but stopped doing that. I’ll only do that now if I miss breakfast, which is rare. And yes, I do put dressing on it. The house dressing from the place I go to is really good. That place is Jimmy’s Deli in Norwalk and they couldn’t be more helpful in accommodating my needs. They were actually some of the first people I told about my journey, as they are so helpful and they have observed my change in eating habits first hand, so it’s fun for me to banter about it with them. I may also get a small bag of nuts (usually cashews) to snack on. I get a big bottle of water and a V8, something I thought was the most disgusting thing in the world when I was a child, but I love now. That whole taste bud change I’ve mentioned previously. On the weekends I like to enjoy a burger cooked on my Foreman Grill, with no bun, a splattering of mustard and some marinated onions and peppers.

Damage Case…
Quick side story: I wouldn’t tell anyone about my weight loss for the first couple of months. For one thing, I didn’t want to say it and then not follow through and secondly, I was very guarded of the fact that I was doing it. I was doing it for me and my family and for someone to be all like “Hey, I know a guy who lost a hundred pounds!” was bulls#it to me. It’s like “You didn’t do any of this process, I did, so what the heck do you have to be happy about?” Disco Stu don’t advertise. It wasn’t until I felt good about my progress that I started talking about it to people. Right when I finally got under 400 pounds. That felt like something to me. My next milestone will be 347, as the last time I was weighed officially and it was documented was a few years ago when I was in the hospital for my blood issue. I was 447 then, so that’s my documented 100 pounds, even though I know I was around 470 when I started this marathon, I just couldn’t use a scale to measure that amount. I’ll never know how much weight I’ve lost and I don’t care. I weigh myself once every two weeks when I go to my nutritionist, that’s it. The numbers are a distraction to me. But I’m 364.4 as of this writing.

Here’s some various lunches:

If Eternity Should Fail…
Snacks. You should snack. In fact, snacking was a direct order from my nutritionist. I like to snack on pickles, nuts, yogurt, olives, or some pickled crispy snap peas, hot and spicy. I also dig hummus with some carrots or grape tomatoes. I tried getting some bags of stuff like rice cakes or popcorn cakes. They didn’t feel good mentally to me, and my nutritionist confirmed they’re for the birds. I might have some popcorn but it causes havoc with my teeth, so I found an alternative called Pipcorn which uses smaller kernels for less husk to get stuck in my gums. As far as sweets go, I like to have a Yasso yogurt bar (blueberry is great), or some real, honest to goodness ice cream. I’m just mindful to have a canelle or two of it, not a whole dang pint of it. (My weakness used to be a pint of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond.) A single square off a good dark chocolate bar can hit the spot.

I haven’t mentioned cheese. But really, I frakking love cheese. One of my favorite gifts from my wife was a three month subscription to the Cheese of the Month Club. But, cheese can be a big problem for me since I love it so much. I’ve found a work around that is like a game to me. It’s challenging and at the end I feel like I’ve won! I bought a small wedge of this amazing aged gouda. It’s got these little crystals that form in it and it tastes amazing. What I do is this: I cut a small slice, maybe 5mm, off the small end of the wedge and only eat that. I don’t go back for more. I know once I get to the back part of the wedge that is the largest width, I’ve earned it, so I enjoy that piece of cheese. I’m choosing to savor quality over quantity. Incidentally, it took me two months to go through that first wedge, but you can bet your bum I got another! I don’t snack as much or as mindlessly as I used to when I first started this road, but I attribute that to nothing other than not feeling as hungry as I did in the beginning now that I’m properly hydrated and nourished. So, go see a nutritionist. A point I can’t stress enough.

Pictures of You…
Dinner. A piece of protein the size of my palm, veggies and salad. Always. Unless I go out to eat for a special occasion, I stick to this formula. Even when going out, I make sure I cover my bases but I may eat more than usual as it’s a special occasion, not the norm.

While I’m mentioning special occasions, I abhor the notion of a “cheat day” and so does my nutritionist. I have a litany of cuss words I could use to describe the concept. Instead, have knowledge, use it and never, ever diet! If you do this, why the heck would you ever need to “cheat?” So you can have a “break” in your regimen? Relationship rules apply to food too. Diets end. Cheat days help that process. Why work so hard to then have a day that’s going to send you spiralling out of control? Eat right all the dang time and if you want something sweet or different, be conscious about it, own it, and then like my nutritionist says, “move on.” That’s a heck of a lot better than that other accursed concept. Once again, see a nutritionist, get the knowledge, be accountable to yourself, lose the weight.

Here are some typical dinners. I love me some bison meat and my wife makes a mean bison bolognese with bean pasta. Yeah. Bean pasta. If my Italian wife, who has more right to know what good Italian food is than most people due to her lineage, says it’s delicious, then you know it’s good.

When I cook chicken breasts, which has become pretty often, I use various different spice mixes to change it up. We have a place called Penzey’s here that has a huge selection of spices, some in mixes ready to go, others that are just the base spice. I recommend switching it up! One night, barbeque, another night Jamaican Jerk or garlic and herbs. Keep it vibrant and exciting. Salads. At some point you may just not be able to look at another tomato. So keep changing it up. If you go to your local market you’ll see many different greens, use one one week and then another the next. Keep some variety flowing. For veggies I like green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, heck, most of the ones that exist. Plus, you can eat all the veggies you want, which is why I say: Save A Gamer, Eat A Veggie. Made my own hashtag with that one.

Pump it Up…
Moving on, I know I’ve talked about providing you with some recipes, those will roll out with the next post. Same with the giveaways from Lesser Gnome. Here’s a teaser:

In the meantime, if you want to ask me any questions, need someone to vent to, or just want to send me money, I can be reached via e-mail at On Twitter my main account is @Icetower but I use @Orcsamongus as well. I have a Facebook account for Orcsamongus, but hardly anyone likes it (poor me!). I’m on Google+ as well, just search for Daniel W. Cisek. How can you help me? Share this post with anyone you think may benefit from it. But please don’t say “Here’s how to lose weight ya fat ass!” I find people aren’t receptive to that, plus, the best advice is to see a nutritionist! Thanks folks. Let’s get moving and prevent Grognarok!

Deaf Forever…
Here’s a bonus pic:

Links for some of the places and things I have mentioned:
My Nutritionist
Lesser Gnome
Lloyd Metcalf Art
Frank Pepe
Colony Grill
Jimmy’s Deli
Battlegrounds Gaming

In case you haven’t noticed, my titles for each section come from music I enjoy. The below pic is a lyric from W.A.S.P.’s new album Golgotha, specifically the song Last Runaway. It means quite a bit to me.

Currently listening to: Bad Magic – Motörhead, The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden, Golgotha – W.A.S.P. and Last of Our Kind – The Darkness. Along with the 1st Wave channel on SiriusXM. I wish they would stop playing The Smiths everytime I get in the car. F**k Morrissey! The Cure forever!

Grognarok’s Transformation and Mine.

Let me please introduce myself…
My name is Daniel W. Cisek and I’m a gamer. I’ve been a musician and a Disc Jockey on a top-rated Connecticut radio station. I’ve been playing games and enjoying comics and music all my life, starting with the Holmes version of Dungeons & Dragons I bought at some long ago Pennsic War (IX maybe?) with money I made selling daggers and knives for my father. I enjoy all aspects of the hobby, collecting, playing, Gamemastering (which is my main role) and even owned my own game store. I’ve wormed my way into some of my favorite settings, getting myself into the Deadlands Noir core book (Savage Worlds) and the upcoming Death and Taxes by Lesser Gnome. I had a love letter to one of my favorite games, Hackmaster, published in the letters column of KODT. I own the original painting for the DCC Wizard cover. I designed a tile for the board game The Duke by Catalyst Game Labs that was given out as a prize at Gen Con for the first tournament held at a major convention for the game. I’ve played with some of the greats at cons, including Clint Black, Ernie Gygax, Merle Rasmussen, David R. Megarry and Jeff Combos. I’ve played more game systems and in more game worlds than I can even count.

I love this hobby and I’ve wanted to find a way to give something meaningful back to the community I’ve been a part of all my life. I originally started this blog as a way to do that. It was my “Gen Con” blog. I reported on the convention as I attended, moving on to Gary Con as well. But for reasons I didn’t understand until recently, the blog had been stagnant for a while, to the point where the podcast I was developing at Gary Con (“Grognarok” – named in tribute to those old school gamers I admire most) has become months late and still has yet to see the light of day (the interviews I conducted with John Harris of Prolific Games along with Zach Glazar and Lloyd Metcalf of Lesser Gnome fame at Gary Con will still appear here in the future).

What I haven’t mentioned, is that in addition to gaming for decades, I’ve also been morbidly obese for decades. Growing up “the fat kid,” I was wearing a size 36 jean in fifth grade eventually graduating to the whopping size 58 pant and size 5X shirt I wore until just recently.

We need change and we need it fast…
Recently, the term Grognarok has taken on a new meaning to me…still a tribute, just a different kind. I love this hobby with all my heart, but I fear for its future and our mass extinction. Grognarok is coming. Grognards are getting older, fatter and doing very little to keep themselves healthy. I know this because I’ve been guilty of that myself for most of my 44 years here on Earth.

If we don’t do something now, treat ourselves better and collectively find a way to get healthier, we are going to see major problems and chasms within our community. The recent plights of James M. Ward and Tom Wham are on my mind. And myself? I was almost a quarter ton a few months ago. A. Quarter. Ton. That number puts things into perspective, as did the reality that my doctor’s scale couldn’t even register my weight beyond three dashes, “- – -.” I’ve always known that I’ve needed to lose weight, going on several diets over the decades with the same result. The diet would end and I would gain back even more weight than I had lost. I knew if I did that one more time, I would be 500 pounds and sure to die in a horrible manner, so I wasn’t willing to even consider it. I had looked into surgery, but was deathly afraid of it. I had some problems with my blood a couple years ago that caused me to walk around with a hemoglobin of 7. That’s about half the blood needed in your body. That almost wiped me out. (Guys, don’t be embarrassed to tell your doctor you have a bleeding hemorrhoid, it could save your life.) I was in a dark, dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel. Stinkin’ thinkin’ as someone I know once put it.

I remember a few months ago standing in line at a CVS with some “groceries.” Butter, half and half, soda and Swedish Fish. I wasn’t standing more than 2 minutes in line and my legs were shaking, I was pouring sweat, I was about to pass out. I knew it wasn’t the problem I had with my blood, although it still causes me issues. I knew it was because I was fat. Not just fat, morbidly obese. I also had a pretty ugly incident with fat shaming I won’t go into here. I was fat, dying and I needed to fix it. The problem was, I was petrified of rebounding diets that would only undo themselves to even greater consequence, I was afraid of surgery and I was too damn stubborn to listen to people.

I was eating a lot of food, although I always convinced myself I wasn’t. For breakfast, I’d make some eggs with processed American cheese dripping off of them, cooked in a bunch of butter, along with four pieces of toast. I’d drink my coffee with half the mug being half and half and four scoops of sugar. At lunch I’d get a steak and cheese or cheeseburger with a Coke and fries. To which I would usually add a grilled cheese to help “tide me over.” On the way home from work, I’d stop at Wendy’s and grab some of those dollar menu items, two chicken sandwiches and two cheeseburgers. Small price, small consequence, right? For dinner, I’d usually get some form of Italian fare including an appetizer, entree and a grinder “for lunch tomorrow,” which never made it to the next day. And dessert. All the while never touching water and only drinking things like Coca-Cola and Gatorade. I would never drink diet soda because when I was young and had it for the first time, it left a horrible aftertaste. “Only real sugar for me from now on” was my proud, youthful, ignorant mantra. Although I was right that ingesting those chemicals isn’t any good for you.

The chase is better than the catch…
Enter my family, my wonderful wife and her parents. In a desperate plea for my life they offered to send me to a nutritionist. I didn’t think it would help, I didn’t want to change my life (although I desperately desired to change), I didn’t want to work at it, I didn’t want to use the DDP Yoga program I had bought a couple years prior, I didn’t want to give up my Coca-Cola and candy. And pizza. And cheeseburgers. And chicken parmesan. And pasta. And tiramisu.

But I called one. She didn’t get back to me right away and I thought, “Hey, I called.” A few weeks went by and she got back to me, explaining that she wasn’t taking new clients and offered to suggest someone else. “Yeah, sure.” I replied sarcastically. She gave me a number, which I called to once again go through the motions, and left a message. “I tried. At least I can get everyone off my back. It’s not my fault they won’t contact me. I didn’t want to do it anyway. I don’t like being forced to do things.” But she did call me back, and that call turned out to be one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Victory or die…
That first meeting with my nutritionist was a real eye opener. My wife tells me that my body language said it all. Arms crossed, ready for a fight. She said she wanted to begin with a “food interview,” whatever that meant. “What do you eat for breakfast?” she asked. I explained the breakfast I previously mentioned, ready to have to defend it. “Okay, keep the three eggs, but lose the cheese, cook them in oil instead of butter, and add veggies, ok?” I was floored. I could still eat three eggs? I didn’t have to fight for them? My wife tells me that here, my body language transformed – my position to defend morphed into one of cautious negotiation. Hmmm. “What about lunch?” I explained. “Ok, have a sandwich if you want, just make it turkey, ham, or something unprocessed, add veggies and have a salad.” I can eat bread? I decided to push it. “Can I have a hard boiled egg with my salad too?” “Yes, have a hard boiled egg with your salad.” This wasn’t starting to sound too bad…in fact it seemed manageable. “Dinner?” I left out the part about Wendy’s – that’s a secret between you and me. “You can still eat pizza if you want but instead have two slices. Not half a large pie.” I can still eat pizza? Now I’m thinking this has to be a joke. She went through various other suggestions, like no more soda and drink water, which I knew was going to be said, so I didn’t fight that. Frankly, knowing I could still eat my eggs in the morning and still eat pizza trumped the soda worries.

She explained that our taste buds change, and that what would seem good to me now wouldn’t taste the same as it once did. That’s an important concept – if my tastebuds were still capable of change, maybe I was too. The most important thing she taught me that first day was that I wouldn’t be on a diet. I couldn’t be on a diet. If I was going to do this I needed to change my life, my whole way of eating. “Diets end,” she said, “and you can never stop eating well. You can never diet.” This was the key I needed to learn. The key that would unlock the entire conundrum of obesity. I needed information and here was someone willing to give me that knowledge so I could learn to eat like a damn human being should. For the past three months, I have listened to her. I go back and see her every two weeks and guess what? I’m down over one hundred pounds. One. Hundred. In. Three. Months. I now know my place in our community. I need to share this information. I need all who read it to understand that change needs to happen now. Grognarok is coming, and it won’t be pretty. Arm yourselves. Call a nutritionist, listen to the advice. Seek support from your loved ones and friends at your gaming table. Learn to eat again. Do it together.

Next time: What the hell do I actually eat now? My recipes and…giveaways! (Thanks Lesser Gnome!)

Currently listening to: Bad Magic – Motörhead, The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden and Golgotha – W.A.S.P.

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.





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.

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!


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.

Quick D&D Starter Set Unboxing

Here it is! The new D&D Starter Set. I’ll give it a read tonight, and try to get some thoughts up. First impression: Is THAT what they are calling an Owlbear?

Go to Wizards and get your free copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules now!

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.


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.


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!

GC038 GC051

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.


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.

GC048 GC049


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!


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.



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.


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


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.”  🙂