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.

Overkill…
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.

Dwarven Forge is the Best.

When I owned my comic and game store, I had a shit ton of Dwarven Forge resin pieces. I had to sell them when the store closed. I have been wanting them again ever since. Now, with Dwarven Forge’s Game Tiles, that day has arrived! The Kickstarter is shipping out and I got mine. I’ll get more pics up (since I’m no longer crying over GenCon) as I work on my Halloween Labyrinth Lord game of The Tomb of Horrors!

And yes, I’ll stop neglecting this blog, I was a bit butt-hurt over missing all of my conventions this year, so I took it out on the blog (which was designed as a GenCon Blog).

On a similar note, I’m booked for GaryCon VI, with a room booked at the Lodge. This will be my first trip to the Lake Geneva area and I can’t wait. Well, other than the time I drove to Milwaukee for Gen Con, but it’s not the same thing.

Soon, more Kickstarter crap to show. Deadlands Noir, Hell on Earth Mini’s, Alea Tools’ new colors and Dwarven Forge Game Tiles.

UPDATED: Added more pics Oct. 24, 2013 11:12 a.m. Also, I should mention that I got 3 painted sets, a painted Chamber of Sorrows and a Painted Dungeon Dressing Pack.

Since I’m not going to Gen Con…

See what I did there?

So, I’m not gonna have all sorts of Gen Conny stuff to babble on about, I’ll blather on about all the Kickstarters I’ve had come in. Maybe I’ll slap some piccies up here on That Darn Intrawebz of the stuff I got. Let’s see, Deadlands Noir, Hell on Earth Mini’s, a Settlers of Catan Board and Dungeon Roll.

That should keep me busy. Yeah. I’ll get right on that.

I also just picked up a Fluxx Board Game. I got the Corrupted Dwarven Brewery (The Puddin’ Works!) for Labyrinth Lord I’m working on (I want to blog more about it, but I don’t want to spoil my players’ surprise) and The Batman Miniatures Game Minis I’m knee-deep in. Plus, all those Hell on Earth Mini’s should keep me busy, but I’ll probably just lay on the couch and watch bad movies with the pup while I’m on vacation. I don’t know why, but that little dog loves Houseguest. Yes. With Sinbad. No. I’m not kidding. Yes. I need help. “Patty Melt, Patty Melt, Patty Melt on Rye.”

Gen Con 2013

So, this blog was originally conceived as a way for me to blog about Gen Con, to put my own thoughts on The Best Four Days in Gaming out there.

Last year it went better than I expected, I had a great Gen Con, I blogged quite a bit and got a whole bunch more hits than I expected to get.

This year, I’m missing the Con for the first time in a decade or so.

So, by extension, I’m probably not gonna blog about Gen Con this year. I’m not gonna be there, so I’m not gonna waste my time and energy doing research and linking and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, so if you go, have a blast. If you play in The Duke Tournament, send me a pic of your Swashbuckler Tile and let me know how it works for ya.

Hopefully, I’ll make GaryCon. We’ll see. Life has been topsy-turvy for the past few months and it’s only gonna ramp up in the next few.

TLDR: I’m not going to Gen Con so everything sucks. Nyah.

The Duke Tournament at Gen Con

WHOO HOO!

So, I won the design contest for The Duke‘s Gen Con Tournament Tile. This tile will be given away to all who participate in the Tournament at Gen Con. I’m pretty excited about this as I’m really loving the game so far and now I will have an official game piece I designed! Pretty cool if you ask me.

The tile is called the Swashbuckler and it was created with the thought of Errol Flynn, Pirates of all sorts,  Captain Jack Sparrow and especially The Princess Bride. The tile jumps in from on high off a chandelier or the top of a staircase, lands next to an opponent and with a flick of his rapier or main-gauche, he strikes the enemy down or sidesteps to prepare to leap again. The light side tile is left handed, while the dark tile is right handed, evoking the famous battle in The Princess Bride (which is one of my wife’s favorite movies).

I hope all of you who play The Duke enjoy the Swashbucklers as they get into your hands at Gen Con.

image-284096-full

D and D Next at Gen Con.

So, I figure I’ll give D and D Next a shot. I’ve looked at the Playtest Packet and while I’m not exactly thrilled or overjoyed, I am curious. I’m going into this very lightly due to the clustertruck that was 4th Edition. So let’s take a look at what’s going down at Gen Con this year and see what I may want to dive into.

WOTC is not going to have a booth this year, instead focusing on a play area for D and D Next and 4th Ed. and so on. While some people seem to think this is a weird move on their part, I get it. It allows them to focus on the game (hopefully), get honest feedback (hopefully) and get to us the best version of D and D they can produce (pipe dream). Also they can come back next year with a big bang. I’m sure by no means will the Wizards presence be limited, that just would not be in their interests.

So, there will be the Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle book coming out for D and D Next which you have to pre-order and attend Gen Con to get. I’m thinking about getting it. I did, then I wasn’t, now I am again because at the very least I could give it to a friend. So there’s that.

Then there are a couple ways to play some Next, the first is the Confrontation at Candlekeep adventure, which is one way to get a set of dice. The others are a 28 hour Marathon and also Murder at Baldur’s Gate Weekend.

I’m glad it’s not gonna be a hoop jumper to get the dice as it was last year. Then, I didn’t even bother. But they heard us:

“If you attended Gen Con last year, you might have taken part in our dice giveaway. If you had to wait in a long line last year to get your dice, allow me to apologize. We had a lot of success with our walk-up and play events at PAX and PAX East, but our sense was that most gamers at Gen Con have mapped out schedules that preclude drop-in events. It turns out we were wrong, to the tune of several thousand people showing up to play D&D Next. That’s an order of magnitude more than we expected.

We’re bringing the dice back this year, but making it much easier to collect them. If you take part in the defense of Candlekeep, you get a set. On top of that, we’ve designed Confrontation at Candlekeep to meet the overwhelming demand we encountered last year. This year, we’re offering pregenerated characters, a quick turnaround to get people playing, the option for people to step up and DM for their friends (rather than relying solely on our indomitable volunteers), and other improvements to keep the game moving.”

Generic tickets only.
Run time: 2 hours

There will also be the Night with Dungeons & Dragons, which looks to be a party with food and stuff. Hopefully swag. The D and D 30th Birthday party was pretty good with giveaways, so here’s hoping. When: Thursday, August 15th from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM

So, at least I think I’ll be able to score some dice. I’d like to try out the game, I want it to be something good, but I’m worried they have gone too far from the D and D I love to come back. We shall see come Gen Con.

Full article can be found here.

OSR For You

I know the OSR movement has been around for a few years, myself really just finding out about it in the past couple years because of Facebook Groups and Google+ Communities, but also through the various blogs and Old School Gaming sites there are out there. Goodman Games’ DCC RPG was an eye-opener as well, containing a list of OSR Resources that I am still plowing through.

I know of OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the new Monsters and Magic, DCC RPG of course and Castles and Crusades. There are plenty of others out there as well. Not to mention you can just actually play the old Editions of Dungeon and Dragons again, thanks to the reprints that Wizards has been putting out along with the website dndclassics.com for all your .pdf needs.

I know OSRIC is a book that people have questions about, as I just researched all of this information for myself a few weeks back, I have also seen some posts on Google+ from people asking about the best version, etc. From my research and experience, get the Second Printing from Black Blade Publishing. It is up to date, it’s a beautiful book and mine was shipped quickly and packaged extraordinarily well. Just be sure to e-mail them, as the website’s store is miscalculating shipping. I’ve been very pleased with mine.

I have also picked up copies of the softcover Labyrinth Lord on Lulu.com. I’m quite impressed with the printing quality on these books as well. At Gen Con I will search out Monsters and Magic, I have the .pdf, but a book is always nice.

All in all, you should roll OSR Style for you. Because it’s something that appeals to you, not because it’s a trend.That’s why I am, it’s a way to reconnect with that little boy inside who dreamed of dungeons. And Dragons.

I’m pretty excited to roll OSR style, it’s been a long time since I used the old system, other than the HackMaster 4th Ed. years and my past year or two with DCC. I have a nice little campaign in mind…

Osric01 Osric02 Osric03 Osric04 LLAdv LLBasic