Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012, If Not the End of Time.



Over the past week, I keep hearing about how bad 2011 was.
And all I am hearing is slaves singing songs over Saturnalia about the worldview of someone else. Granted I _LIKE_ rough straits, but 2011 was a good year for me. People were flexing their shoulders. I want to see where things are going.

And if the Mayans have it right, I am so beating up more than few illegal immigrants, I suppose that includes my mother and me-- they could have told us.





Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crafting a Good Yarn, Am I?

I ask myself that question often. Well, I probably already know Bennet's answer to this question, but excuse me while I indulge myself by thinking about it for myself.

Game-wise is one thing.

One of the things I've tried to avoid since becoming one of the hardest working GMs in the world (does anyone else you know run six to twelve events each year for non-regular groups, as well as about a eight to twenty games for his regulars?), is the urge to "go improv." You know, where you walk into a scheduled session and just wing it. Not sure why I don't, because the times that I have, it has gone well-- I swear that I've sold more than a dozen copies of T&T for Flying Buffalo the times I have. But I think it has something to do with the cathartic qualities of writing things out, versus the thrill of being spontaneous, as well as something of a showboat, as a GM.

On the other side of gaming sessions, I have to watch out to not overly push my story on the players. They often do indeed like to improv. Over the last two years, I have been experimenting with forcing the players to improvise just to see the dynamics in a more clear fashion. Alas I have found it, the GM's seeds make a good or bad session for everyone, and not just the biggest ham bone in group.

But at the table, it's still bits and pieces that come out during the course of play, despite pages upon pages of written text. So I've started putting in the image, sometimes image, that I want to describe and then start crafting the tale around that. From emails that I have received for my Elder Tunnel scenarios, this method has seemed to be somewhat successful. I often hear my script is well paced, which is a surprise to me, because I am not paying attention to that as I write these pieces. Mostly I am trying to fill out the world that feel makes my images, and sometimes spiffy game mechanics, coherent. That and fill up a couple pages for the print product. I suppose though the theatrical format facilitates a sense of stage management that isn't actually the intent. Glad I get something right.

Fiction-wise is another.

In the age of the internet and limited social network interfaces, many fiction writers that I know have started to think that anything over two paragraphs is boring and repetitive. I read a friend's "novel in progress" end up yes with 50,ooo words, but at the same time it had 92 chapters. While Kurt Vonnegut or Kathy Acker might think that is good thing, I as a reader could barely get into the ever-shifting pace. In the end, narrative needs a bit more than Point-To-Point mechanics. Still my own 14,ooo worded chapters, often come off as rote to me.

This year I am going to try something new, my Dreaming. Not as plot guides, dreams don't do that well. And the age of mass media imagery TV turning the human subconscious into a flat planet, my dreams just aren't the guide to amazing visions or deep inspiration towards things unknown that they once were. No I am going to use my dreams for guide to finding the emotionality of my characters. This just may be the key towards having characters that surprise me. I hear every fiction writer claim that their plots just fell together and they had no idea what was going to happen next because of those zanny, wild and whacky Out-of-Control characters on the page in front of them. Considering how formula most those authors tend to be, I think they are bullshitting. But I'd like to get more depth into characters, despite the lack of spontaneity in my daily emotions, so perhaps my dreams can help here.

And now to start piecing together "Bigger Than A Breadbox" for A Dark Gathering horror role-playing event, coming up this May in Syracuse, New York.

Monday, December 12, 2011

TAG 2.0?

I have been doing a lot of "rules design" in my head over the last week. Not sure why, just doing it. Making rules systems to me is kind of like spending time with the lawn or making cookies instead of buying them. Pleasurable work and good for practicing needed "gamer skills."

I have been playing D&D, err D20, err 3.75 err a game sessions over the past year. That is as well as run various T&T sessions to people that only ever played one of the variations of D&D. I have also been reading through Roy Cram's, Yorda's, vast and varied submitted works, I think they're supposed to be for PeryPub, over the last few weeks. One of his four and half projects that he is working is something called Mad Roy's Super Simple System (MRSSS for short), as opposed to re-learning MSPE for this Summer's issue of Elder Tunnels (the theme is modern T&T-based items).

It occurs to me that keeping it simple isn't always fun for audience when trying a new game.
I have never had a harder time explaining to people that rolling high on two six-sided dice is a good thing than after I explained the T&T Saving Roll to both hardcore veterans and casual players of D&D alike. From complaints that are blatantly wrong like, "there is no randomness;" to the intellectually honest, "I hate doing addition." So this system isn't the "simple system to end all simple systems. "

Instead I am taking experiences from playing D&D, err 3.75, err D20, err some games with an icosahedron and differential tables with Pery, Rook and JerryTel, and working on making the combat more step driven and defined. I have to admit even my T&T combat sessions are enhanced by adding details during the fray rather than coloring the results. And I am working in a couple "but ifs" so the players can feel that they're playing a trump card every now and then.

Who knows I may take my "Tom's Rip-Off of Tunnels and Trolls," fondly referred to as TROTT in Pery's and my household, and turn it on its head. More like a "Rolled Over Tunnels and Trolls, Expanded and Nuanced," hmmmm a ROTTEN core set of rules or something. Am I going to use this new system for my re-working of Spacers(TM) or the release of the "Powder Punk" setting this upcoming year? I dunno. But more than likely there will be a very quirky setting where I try out this new games matrix.

As of yet, there is no d20 in these blueprints though.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bogey Men, the Mothman and 665 Hits in a Single Day


This one goes to Bennet, who I'll still just keep continuing to delete his comments. Freedom of Speech means you get make an ass of yourself elsewhere or just do the "I HATE KOPFY" forum, please provide all my links for all your fans. I seem to have had a bad egg magumuffin this morning, so maybe your voodoo doll is working. Oops sorry a bit of salt and broccoli seems to have helped. Stay strong and remember to lock the door so your mother can't walk in during the ritual. I am your biggest fan, but sadly you're still just getting tossed off.

While that above is fascinating to me, I actually wanted to talk about the paranormal. Or should I say, "The Paranormal." Which happens to the title to a spin-off project of the horror role-playing rules I wrote called CrawlSpace for Monk and TAG in that order. Paranormal doesn't get worked on too often, but for the bad conspiracy/ superhero setting Nixon World I've been reviewing the cases of Big Foot and the Mothman. Anybody else notice that these occurrences tend to pop in places where everyone is "honest" and "knows each other?"

Then with just a little, very little actually, research a co
uple of things come to light. Someone that describes red-filtered flashlights on a National Guardsman's steel pot, with him flapping his poncho to scare away a car full of teenagers, as "red eyes that peered into my soul..." . Three years later, that person admitted to being stoned out of her gourd and "telling fibs." A decade earlier, half a continent away a restaurant owner makes casts of some large imaginary creature and runs around for about three miles away from the spot, and then makes a film of a friend in a gorilla suit; then years later gets outed by his son when he is dead and buried, as having conducted a hoax. Both of these people get described,... no.... keep getting described as "hardworking," "salt of the earth," and "honest" "folk." And then those other "good" folk around that keep collaborating the tales, even after the showings, fall into either the roles of superstitious or culpable with the hoax to begin with. Not even a one can crack a smile while maintaining the fireside tale.

And I'd like to thank everyone who helped Kopfy's Kreche, ""We're All Mad Here." Carnage 2011: part 2" get 665 posts in one day. That like put the month of November 2011 to the most audience that I have ever seen.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fantasy Movies Are Supposed To Be Bad, continued.


Last night we watched Conan, the Barbarian the 2011 release of the tale. This was definitely a King Kong of a fantasy flik for me. It worked for me as a mixture as a rambling sword and sorcery tale coupled with the latest Hollywood motifs and hooks. Worked into the motion picture was a smattering of allusions from the Robert E. Howard fiction. It was kind of weird to hear "Venarium" coming from the latest sword-wielding Hawaiian to make the silver screen in a groin cloth, as well as be treated to Harry Potter childhood scenes with gratuitous decapitations.


The decapitations were right up there with the obligatory Ron Perlman appearance in any fantasy film with a budget larger than a lunch at Hardees. And I can't say that he did all that bad, considering his role as a Barbarian chieftain was probably written by a guy who just scripted a 3-D Lassie remake due out next Arbor Day or some such. The villains were kewl. Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan were great as the cruel necromancer, Khalar Zym, and his witch daughter, Marique.

The rest of the movie had the look of what one comes to expect from Hyboria these days, ever since that music video in the big, bad 1980s. Ruins and statues every ten steps. People dragging stuff over harsh terrain and being whipped for unexplained reasons. What was new was the film-makers' take on getting some explosions into the "epic." Not a lot of money on special effects for sorcery, but cabbage and orange-filled wagons waiting for boulders to be rolled into them. Heck, we all know Robert E. Howard's works are "low fantasy" anyway.

Not a bad fantasy flik at all.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holy Days and Pepper Sprays

I was off Thanksgiving, and though I often volunteer to work it, I took it off. I made Peryton and me oven baked "fried" chicken, peppery Brussels sprouts and cheapo macaroni and cheese. I found some some pecan pie for desert. All in all, I rather enjoyed the little holiday meal. I felt kind of rebellious, which always kind of satisfies me to begin with, but this was something different. The meal was fancy for us, as in we didn't order out, but instead cooked at home. But at the same time, besides the desert (we don't do a lot of pie), it was nothing specially bought for the occasion. The meal and the concurrent viewing of Ralph Bakshi's Fire and Ice, was quite a bit of fun and somehow "spiritually" satisfying.

Neither of us got on the phone and pined for old times with relatives. We certainly didn't start an itemized list of what we should be thankful for. We were thankful for a chance to have dinner together on a Thursday without either of us having to go to work that day. We didn't say it aloud, but it showed.

Of course, I over thought things, I wanted to walk over to my FacetuBe account on my laptop and post something like, "Christians, celebrated this Thanksgiving like our Founding fathers! Fast for three days every couple of months!" But most people probably don't realize that the tale of the "first Thanksgiving with the Indians and pilgrims" was something made in 1905. So I t
hought of a subtler joke to poke fun the event going on around me instead. That said, this year, I start the "High Season" of the winter with a new perspective on collective behavior as well as my usual axe to grind against Christianity during the Christmas days.

Santa Claus and private gift giving events became part of the Christmas tradition in English-speaking cultures a little before American Civil War, when wealthier folk got tired of poorier drunken rabble swinging by their houses to sing to them with carols. Ads were placed in papers, and mildly talented poets were featured like authors of Harry Potter books to get this tradition started. And this year, as the #Occupy movements with their rather anti-Capitalistic notions have stirred up trouble while pointing out alternately that park regulations are better enforced than banking and investment law and pepper spray is food product, Christmas shopping started at 4pm on Thanksgiving day in some places.

My instinctual distrust of mass movements, seems to be b
orne out in reports that I read that evening and the next morning. True to form, some idiot fully involved in the absurdity of of the Holy Days pepper sprayed a group of people during this "new shopping craze." And others were trampled, while even dead people were stepped over during this festival of purchasing. Security forces and police seem to have been busy elsewhere, letting people live their lives as they fit it seems as long as it's inside a Walmart.

I can't wait for my big turkey feast day next Memorial D
ay or Arbor day now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"The Mushroom Consumed" Carnage 2011, part 5

Sunday, 6. Nov.
Andre's Room of Ruination was full and there was an impromptu ceremony where he was receiving an award for one his warship war-games, during the Napoleonic wars, or there about. And though Pery says she came into the party after I did, I remember seeing her there when I first walked in. I could be wrong. Things get a little fuzzy, and all I can say is that I wasn't the only person keeping the party going until 6am this time around. I think Scott, Ben, Mike (Gandalf from the RPG Bomb) and CCrabb were hanging
just as strong as I was. Two highlights of the party for me were my recitation of the life of Black Bart the pirate, and Andre's continued threats to just go ahead and pay the $50 late check-out fee.Around 10am, the PeryPubbers were all packed up and bathed, believe me, this group requires that last part frequently, and we were ready to hand in our room keys. So we hung out waiting for noon when we promised to hook up with Zach and CCrabb for a departing lunch/breakfast. Hanging out in the now emptying lounge area overlooking the lake, we lounged on couches. Gaylord, Dr. Nik and others sat with us to chat us up for bits. Tyler swung by with his microphone and absconded with me and Pery in separate turns for quick interviews. Zach was with us recounting his wildman exploits with the Zack-Pack back in their room.

I have missed an event of importance in my recountin
g of this tale so far; Monk's games, both Fudge, I believe were hits. Not only were they hits, but the man had tens of ppl fawning on him every time he walked into a crowd. Apparently, while I was wandering around looking for parties, this man was sequestered away in private rooms and dispensing humor and gamer insight. The is indeed the guru of Rock'n'Role-Playing(TM) with his adventures "Clerks Vs Zombies" and "Beastie Boys in Billsburg." All that said, it was great to see my close friend have as much fun as I was having. K Bell mentioned that the whole convention rekindled his faith in his GM-abilities, which I never knew were being questioned-- the man's just good at what he does.

Well the departure lunch went off after CCrabb checked in the last round of RPG games. And we were on the road by around 2pm. The drive was scenic and windy, with the sun in eyes all the way. We made it to Syracuse a little after 9pm, and found our favorite Red
Roof Inn there, really we have one. And the PeryPubbers enjoyed their first night in separate rooms of the entire trip. I actually fell asleep at midnight and slept until 7am Monday morning.

The rest of Monday was spent checking out a couple places for Andre and my spoken of "Hoot thing." Keep tuned in for news on that. At 1pm we kicked out Monk and K-Bell to fend for themselves at the Syracuse airport, I'm sure they're fine, they like airports and know enough not to run out into traffic. Pery and I made our way back home, but first had to swing into Tag's restaurant and stage. Pery was downright rushing out of the car, forgetting everything as she saw our little spot's neon sign. It was kind of sweet.

So at about 9pm on Monday, our trip through the rabbit hole was over as we pulled into our driveway.




Friday, November 11, 2011

"The Smiling Cat" Carnage 2011, part 4

Saturday, 5. Nov. (continued)
Upon entering Andre's Billiards Room of Doom, I entered the cozy after-party that I've been hanging out at for the last two years. Stevie-D and Zach were actually new additions, but Ben from Schenectady, Andre (obviously) and CCrabb are my after hours gang. Stevie-D faded first, and Zach went out for a cigarette to never return. At around 3am, Ben bid everyone adieu. At that point I usually head home, but this time around, I decided to "go for bro" , so I pressed onward into the realms of sleepless debauchery. And debauch it was; Andre treated CCrabb and me to his death metal collection. CC
rabb got poky and admitted that even editors have creative thoughts every now and then. I think Andre and I were arguing about the Randolph Carter cycle, Christi metaphorically passed away long before, when suddenly we were talking about doing a small horror get-together-- "One your Hoot things." was his choice of words. And just as I was about to go into details as to how these "hoot things" occur, the cognac hit in and I got dizzy and noticed it was after 5am. with promises to return, I left an equally dizzy Andre to straighten up his den of death and death-metal before he stumbled to his own bed.

So there I was, back in my room, everyone mildly snoring, and me staggering ass drunk
at about 5:24am. I just knew I was going to sleep until 11am, maybe even past noon. Maybe people were going to have to shake me awake ten minutes before my afternoon games! 9:14am Pery sits up and sneezes, I am awake for the rest of the day and I know it.

Once again Monk and K Bell were up for the walk into town, or at least along the gas station and greasy spoon strip next to the New Hampshire border. The fresh air did me well. And I was ready for my upcoming events.

Coming into the resort, I saw the line for next year's reservations underway. Seemed kind of depressing to me, so we sent K Bell up to stand in line for us.

After some dork swiped two tables in the role-playing room, the Carnage Passchendale as I like to call it, I had to head into the main dining room. But hat tip to Tyler, the executive decision was handled with less than a second's ind
ecision, and his place I would have done the same thing. That said, I hope something will be said to the table-grubber about his being a DICK in a hobby where everyone actually tries to get along. My T&T game "The Mines of Naram-Sin" still filled up, with an extended family of five (headed by Ari and Chris(?)), and Michael Behrman, I say his name just because anybody with the name "Bear-Man" is just kewl beyond normal bounds. The game went a little over, I blame myself, as well the party taking an hour to approach the entrance of the tunnels I had for them, and the final encounter ended up with a "total party kill" event" which I didn't engineer. Still it was a good game, and the family angle keeps my public-speaking skills well practiced.

Had dinner with Pery, Andre and Zsuzsa and then Monk and K Bell. I couldn't stick around because I had to work my characters for my CoC game coming up. No room hijinx, just me forgetting a great costume that I was going to outdo Dr. Nik with this year.

My "Castle of the Moth" for CoC was one awesome event for me, if no one else. Zach and Derek showed up. I saw Heather and Patrick across the room, yet again avoiding actually playing one of my games, the scalawags that they are. But Dan and Dan, two true Lovecraft fans, and Lucas, also a man who knows a good Cthulhu tale when he hears one, showed up to fill out the table. Now while the plot never got around to the deep Mythos knowledge that I had in store, I felt like I was watching a movie. The characters were a disparate collection of people with separate interests as to why they were in the scenario I presented. In the end, with a couple of "character feeds" (The GM tells the Player what his PC should do), I had a nice gruesome yarn unfolding in front of me. The was only a "Bigfoot" of a CoC game for me, next year will be better. But after the high caliber performance of the players involved, I am not sure it will open to the public.

The after-party started innocently enough. I bought my Castle Moth players a drink of their choice, except Lucas, who abstained. The next thing I know Ray was sitting on my lap, where I was keeping the camera in my front pocket. After pushing him off, I forcibly told him, "The Story is that it was a hot chick that broke the camera!" I mean if I was going to get in trouble for breaking a piece of technology with Pery, it had better be worth it.

I actually found Pery, and a room full of others already in Andre's Den of Iniquity and Villainy...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Off With the Head." Carnage 2011, part 3

Friday, 4. Nov. (continued)
Me stumbling into the hotel room just before 5am, didn't surprise anybody. Even me speaking of the debauchery-filled orgy that I had just come, to the sleepy Peryton went over without a second yawn. But when I looked at my cell phone, which I had left in the room the previous evening, with the text message from her saying "It's 3:45. Where are you?" I had to wake her up and shake her shoulders demanding, "3:45 am!?! Where the hell have you been tramping about?"

"With shotguns and An
dre?" She answered. "Where else?"

I hate when she does that, but fair's fair. Her party was better than mine.

At about 7:30am, I realized I was awake and experiencing a Switchback Ale headache. The aspirin and glass of water that I had before lying down was helping, but som
e fresh air would definitely help. Luckily Monk and K-Bell were awake as well, so we did my yearly "breakfast walk" from Vermont to New Hampshire, because no one along the way takes debit cards. Truthfully, we had some cash so we actually just hit the bridge between the States to say that we had.

Back in the room, I fi
nished up the characters for the afternoon's fast approaching T&T game, "Raiders of the Temple of Marduk." Didn't take to long, so I tried to nap. Didn't stop Monk and Pery from having some hijacks with my still conscious, unbeknown to them, body. Just before we were headed Monk came around the corner in the room and caught Pery pouring her wine cooler into her exercise water bottle. I can't complain because of the alcohol, I had been washing my mouth with Miller High Life since 7:45am, but the wife's downward spiral being a flask full of Mike's Cranberry Lemonade not scotch or something else was just too hilarious for everyone in the room.

So "Raiders" had CCrabb, John Prushko, and couple of guys from Connecticut, Dan and Don. The session itself was a nice mixture of just the right size, three to four players is my comfort zone as a GM, and old-school gamers trying out T&T for the first time. It was a
n awesome game, though the players skirted my whole WWII parody by sneaking around the Neo-Assyrians, none too affectionately called "the Nazis." Instead we had a group of adventurers finding their way to a lost Temple with only chaos spawn in their way. But my monsters, some goat-folk and a Chaos ogre worked out well for my tastes. Overall, a perfect game.

In between the afternoon games and the start of the evening's events, found the PeryPubbers rallying at the bar. Shocking I know, but even more surprising, I was the fir
st there. So besides Joe the bartender, whose mixture of wit and wisdom I don't think I could live without at Carnage, I was making my well rehearsed rant "Canadians are Cylons" to Tara, a LARPer, Charles from New Hampshire, and a fellow wearing the official Green Mountain garb of a flannel shirt and baseball cap, hiding his face. The last fellow looked familiar and was laughing, but I just wasn't sure if I knew him (I couldn't see his face).

After dinner, it was time to run my Spacers scenario "The
Sirens of Sedna." Coming up to the table was the fellow with the hat, who was indeed ZACH! My prodigal son from last year's Spacers game. Well I kind of kept him in a hole, but you know. As well as his long term friend Derrik, not sure if I am spelling that correctly. Steven Dresser also showed up. And a new fellow named Jamie. Patrick, also a member of the Zach-Pack, from last year swung by to observe the game. Once again I had a good sized group, and Stevie-D (from now on) had some special coffee with magical coffee beans that made on tipsy as well as the beverage tasty. Had a great time myself because of the great players. I think I did okay having forgotten to bring my own rule book.
Who didn't make it was Heather Ryder, who will always be one of the Original woman of Spacers. She did make it for the picture above.

Luckily my midnight game was a wash, I was feeling tired. Dan from Connecticut did swing in to give me a scare, JERK, while Zach and I played a couple hands of poker just to pass the time.

Saturday, 5. Nov.
I can blame Stevie-P and CCrabb for getting Zach and me riled up again by wanting to hang out and waking me up. Once again Stevie-P's magical coffee doing its thing. I dragged C.J. Henderson from some place during a trip to the bar, to do a reading of one of his books. My cohorts had disappeared to spots unknown, but I had great time listening to part of his story "Around the Mulberry Bush" read aloud. The writer excused himself after the session, and I found I was restless.

I found Stevie-P, CCrabb and Zach heading towards Andre's little billiards room of doom...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

"We're All Mad Here." Carnage 2011: part 2

Thursday, 3. Nov (Continued)
When everyone finally was awake and refreshed, the PeryPubbers were in the car and rolling by around 9:30am. Everyone was having a good time as Mavis, o
ur car's GPS unit, navigated us through the Adirondack region of New York. I am sure everyone was more than happy to be educated on my thoughts of all the Amish living in the area as well, especially Pery as she needs to know more of my personal opinions everyday of her life. We were having a ball and discovering some parts of the world that I didn't think existed outside of the Ukraine, the Troika and various parts of outer Mongolia; gas stations where you didn't have to pre-pay.

Heading into Vermont, yes we found a way back to an interstate, despite Mavis's love of antique shops and dairy farms, we were treated to rough streets of Rutland and then into the Green Mountains. As often as I've driven the route, the only thing I noticed was signs of the flooding from Hurricane Irene and a definite lack of bathrooms. Monk and K Bell were eating it up with a spoon though. And soon enough, we were at the Lake Morey resort.

The first night, I intended to get my characters for my scenarios done, and I got as far as getting the character sheets photocopied. Then Thomas and Ben f
rom Schenectady and Dr. Nik dropped by, and we had a beer to dampen our throats filled with the dusts of the roads we travelled. And then Gaylord, Steve and about sixteen other Toms swung by, and I couldn't be rude and not have beers with them as well. Tyler even stopped by to discuss a little Dr. Who and Pery's little game spin-off.

Friday, 4. Nov.
By 2am, I had finished four out of 30 characters, was staggering drunk, but was stubbornly hanging out waiting for Pery to finish Andre Kruppa's CoC game. I stretched my arms and rubbed my eyes... Wallah it was 4:30am and I was waking up at an empty bar. To quote Monk, "the day could only go up from there."

"Chasing Rabbits." Carnage Convention 2011: part 1


An old German Riddle:
Q: How does one make
catching rabbits easier?
A: Run fast enough to sprinkle pepper on its tail.
No one takes credit for this mean joke played on many kids until they are about 162, but is almost universally adored.

Wednesday, 2. Nov.
Heading of of Cleveland at 8:42am, only twelve minutes late, perhaps wa
s not the smartest thing to do as Pery and I started heading to Fairlee, Vermont by way of Syracuse, New York; rush hour traffic downtown and then towards the uptown area to get out of town was a little trying. But then again, Cleveland doesn't really have traffic jams. So the old ball and chain and I were in free-flying mode by around 9:30 and cruising through space and time to pick up Monk and K-Bell at the Syracuse airport by 3pm. We passed the time pretty much alternating between silent expectation and gamer small talk. Stuff like Ravenloft versus In Nomine and our viewing of Torchwood: Miracle Day the night before-- I had fallen asleep, but was impressed overall.

While being a little euphoric at being headed towards our "Fall convention," Pery and I were a bit guarded, as this time around we had many moving parts in the works to make things work for this trip. We were picking up a couple of our best friends in an unexplored airport in a city where I pretty much knew nothing about, except its place on a map and that Peter Weller (Robocop) is a Professor of History at its university. There was a little crimp in funds until the upcoming Friday. Pre-generated characters had to finished. My laundry wasn't done. Just all sorts of needed to fall into place.

Lucky for our square-jawed smiles, because when we arrived at the Syracuse International Airport, a poor cop detailed to the joint, pulled me over for running a Stop sign. I read him in about two seconds and knew he was going for the ticket, if not a full search of the car and a grope of my wife. When he came back with my ticket, without th
e other things I was half-expecting occurring, I made him repeat everything and clarify everything he said in his well-practiced spiel, and and then had the gall to pleasantly ask him directions for the surrounding area. I even asked how many Stop Signs there were in the airport's thoroughfare. There were twelve before we could get back on the interstate again. He was about to explode just before he was done, must've needed a coffee break or something.

Finding Monk and K-Bell was not hard at all. I walked in to the rather small airport, and the only "Arrival/Departure" screens were right next to where the couple walked around the corner in two minutes-- before I finished reading through the arrival lists. Monk could only laugh as he heard about me picking on the local law enforcement officers after only fifteen minutes of my arrival in their fair city. And as it happens when Monk and K-Bell arrive, the car was filled with mirth once again. Everyone, except Pery, giggled as I ran yet another Stop Sign, as my red hair started showing again.

It was still early
, so we decided to travel on. Monk suggested it would be good to get some distance between me and the city of Syracuse's popo. But after an hour, the rush hour traffic started to resume, so Pery pulled out her GPS and searched for hotels and whatnot with a watery landmark within their title. As we all know, a "watery landmark" means interesting in tourism -speak. So we broke off of the toll road and headed into the wilds of New York state's bedroom communities. We ended up in Little Falls, down in their gentrified Canal District. The B&B where we stayed was decent enough, but I won't go into details because the owner had problems with his credit card machine, which I found out via a note, and then couldn't find the replacement cash tip when I left it in our room the next morning before check out.

Of course "no one and none of (his) staff had been in the room" before he decided to call me trying to shake me down at 5pm the next day.
Of course he knew that I wouldn't lie about leaving dozen or so dollars he did not know how to process before completing the bill. He tried to convince me that Monk and/or K-Bell stole it from the "tip" envelope when I wasn't looking. When I mentioned that I knew had known them longer than I knew him, he realized that his coy mind game wasn't working and shifted into full aggressive douche bag mode. I never said "fuck off" but I told him to call me when he found the money to apologize or wanted to admit that he swiped it from his waiter who deserved it.

But I digress, there is a little story here. In Little Falls, the refurbished antique shop/bed & breakfa
st/artist studio district is about 200 yards from a railroad track. Of course the trains every thirty minutes or so. While we were sitting in the B&B's ajoining pub/restaurant, a train was going past and a busboy opened the door to the kitchen. The clock over the door way, which happened to be behind our table (our choice no one else's) fell from its perch, and shattered on the floor. After cleaning the mess up, our waiter, who was a lot of fun as well skilled stated, "That is spooky."

"It would be spooky if it was still October." I replied.

That drew a room full of laughter, it made convincing Monk and the waiter to perform a re-enactment of their reactions, just for the purposes of this blog.

Thursday, 3. Nov.
Awake at 5am means one can have some time to himself. I took a walk hoping to find some coffee and a paper, but found a laundry mat. One more thing off of the checklist to get everything working right. I met the place's owner and his big-ass dog. Are big dogs the fashion these days? I noticed everyone with a pet that I had ran into out in New York's bedroom land territory had dogs that their children could mount as
warhorses...










Between the cop and the B&B owner, I guess I was finding out in "upstate" New York that if you aren't a fast rabbit, everyone is either providing pepper or about to sneeze on you.





Monday, October 31, 2011

I've got a feeling...

Well it's Halloween and outside of some music videos and purchasing a dozen of bags of candy, I am not participating in the festivities, except at work. Still I will celebrating soon enough at the Carnage Convention in New Hampshire, and my second big party of the year. Because lordheads know that I have so many, but this one really sticks out.



And as guy who that has to work most what everyone else calls a the "real" Holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and new Years; this upcoming event is kind of my Winter holidays. That is until Elvismas, January 8th, which is the birth of the real new year after all.



Happy All Saints' Celebrations folks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Declare War on the BBC and Marriage.

Did I forget to mention that NPR has made my list as well?... Okay one crisis at a time here.

Sure the Kenyans sent troops into neighboring Somali around the da
y of its release. All for it, I dislike the name Al-Shabob as much as I dislike Shirai Law. Fine, police are provoking riots in Oakland. Okay, I get it, somethings take precedence. But Elder Tunnels Halloween 2012 has been out for two weeks now, and neither the BBC or NPR has mentioned this earth-shaking event. While sales and response have increased a bit from last year's at this time, I expected to be living on a remote Island in the India Ocean by January off of the profits. Instead I have to do shameless plugs in my blog... sigh.

Thursday was Pery's Birthday, and I was sweating about what to do to make her day special. Couldn't do much financially. Monk and K-Bell got married in-between GenC
on in August and the Carnage Convention this upcoming week. Then the was the release of that rag that I mentioned above. And it happens to be re-cert time for a couple classes required for my profession, which I love despite my avoidance of thinking about it. Needless to say, my OT has had to be spent elsewhere. But we're married, so I just felt obliged to do something. So Wednesday night and Thursday night at work, I concocted the most ill-conceived Birthday party ever. At home in the AM, I FaceBooked a few people, as well as invited my partner, Em, Pery's unofficial son, about a party at our usual hangout The Old Angle. I then freed up $30 bucks for a cake, and wallah instant awkward get-together. The place was crowded, because I suppose no one else in Ohio City has a job on Fridays, and there was only Larry behind the bar and on the floor. We had to sit in "the Castle" which usually isn't lit. About six people shuffled in, out of eight invited (not bad), but not many stuck around longer than 45 minutes and it was taking 40 minutes to get any service. Em stuck around for dinner, and Pery seemed happy with her new toys from the Amazing Spiderman cake that I had purchased. But if I hadn't been married, and if it wasn't for Monk's marriage, I wouldn't be so damned broke or have a canker sore from the damned cake icing.
Okay it since it's Halloween, my first, or second, or sometimes fourth, favorite holiday time, I figured I'd mention some of the better scary movies that might not register on most people's radars. Call it Kopfy's Kamera Kampy, err Obscura, err Obskura. Oddly enough there are some zom
bie movies, despite my rule "A little bit of zombies or pirates goes a loooooong way."

Dead Heist- This urban horror is definitely a Sasquatch (on a scale of Smurf to Godzilla). While I do like me some Krimi flix, what I especially like how it gets over the End-of-the-World and comes up with a way to end the zombie invasion. Not to spoil too much, but soccer shin guards are essential!

The Horde- Once again an urban horror with the trappings of a Krimi flik, but this time in French. Don't you feel cultured? This one is a King Kong. Just the scene on on the roof of the project building makes this film worth the watch, and there is a whole lot more.

And then there's Hisss- Imagine Cat People meets Bollywood. This movie is so quirky that you have to like it. Of course Pery got jealous of the hot woman I couldn't help but gawk at. Between a Sasquatch and Robo-Monster, but definitely merits a bowl of popcorn.

And so now comes Continuing Education credits... sigh, homework.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fantasy Movies are Supposed to be Bad.


Scott Malthouse, usually a keen observer of the universe of the fantastic, has it wrong this week over at the Trollish Delver, where he states, to paraphrase, the first D&D movie is the best ever. Where he is wrong, besides just being ironic for satire's sake, is that the movie Dungeons and Dragons is the last of good old fashioned bad fantasy flix on the silver screen. The following year, big budget block-busters would pull the rug out on decades worth of low budget productions by Italian producers combing gyms and researching issues of Penthouse for their short list of stars.

It might've been the same year as the 2000 release of D&D, but when Russel Crow co-opted the sword and sandals drama, he and his gang destroyed decades of hard work by producers of some of the weirdest movies of all time, swords and sandal dramas (sometimes confused with the Toga and Torches sub-genre). Directors such as Umberto Scarpelli and even Cecil B DeMill took the success of the Biblical dramas and turned them on their heads to produce tales with scores of lush olive skinned women and an over oiled body-building man, with a few guys running around in Centurion armor. While Gladiator was about as coherently written as classics like say Goliath versus the Vampires, Ridley Scott just turned the whole thing into schmoltzey face time for a few actors, ignoring the basics.

And then the next year came my now most hated fantasy movie series ever, the Lord of the Rings series, that rejected every precedent of sword and sorcery films, by not having the characters wander over a 300 meter block of woods with a scrap wood city built in a nearby streambed, but instead making action packed video game trailer, with silly romantic interludes for the bored wife dragged into the theater and finally plenty of Man-Boy Love Association promos for the pudding eating critics. And what one got was Peter Jackson's wife's take on what would Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom do if they ever got Viggo Morgensen alone, with snowboarding. Gone, from then on, are the days of Deathstalker and Hawk the Slayer, for long lasting scenes of Gandalf and Frodo staring at each while, while Bilbo glowers. Samwise and Gollum are in a flat out cat fight throughout the last flik of this overdone soap opera.

And from there it has only gotten worse. The Christians and the established anti-Christians began their fantasy movie wars against each other with Hollywood video-game trailers of their takes on The Chronicles of Narnia and His Dark Materials, respectively. Definitely no adult movie entertainers or former Playboy models in either of those two franchises. A bit more amusing has been the Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and Terry Prachet adaptations here and there. Each showing that others can stand on the shoulders of both Clive Barker and the master JRR Tolkien to craft "new angles" in writing essentially teen fiction for the new millennium film media and have tens of million of fans without having ten fans that ever read a book. These efforts would give the Vampire subgenre a true and authentic message when crass and badly produced CGI masterpieces would soon be bombarded on the mass viewing audiences throughout the world.

Now I am not saying that any of these new takes on fantasy should be any different than they are. Believe me in ten years time, they will appear to a new crop of viewers as bad as Krull, The Odyssey with Armand Assante or Legend. What I am saying is that fantasy fliks need to stop trying to appeal to everyone at every age group all at once, well more accurately in the same flik.

As an example of a producer/director getting this axiom, I have, with much chagrin, George Lucas. This lover of midgets, seems to have understood this in his prequels of Star Wars. The first was a cartoon, with a couple adult scenes designed for the parents who could not talk about sex around their 10 year-old. Second is for 14 year-olds, the parents are still there but having a beer at Chilis at the other end of the mall. The third is flat out a 15-19 year old melodrama, who can himself to and from home-- or in Kevin Smith's case, a 40 year-old who's mother is still willing to come pick him up. But in making fantasy movies, it shouldn't be an over-funded "art school" project, released a decade after graduation, that shows an understanding the basics of photography with film production and a knowledge of Stanly Kubric films and the Flash Gordon serials. And this project should not turn into a psycho-social experiment in how much money one can squeeze out various markets over three decades... But I am diverging here.

A fantasy flik on the silver screen these days could attempt to be not "family-friendly" by not not saying the word "fuck, while providing graphic images of blood and gore for a PG-13 crowd, and it would find fans. Even if the project would not get mega-market release in all the affluent suburbs of the USA, Canada, the UK, France and the Ukraine all at midnight of the same day, and Alan Dean Foster or Michael Stackpole writing the novel-- mostly because the novel was already written!

Luckily there is the Scy-Fy channel which keeps the flix about the character types and finding the actors that can quirkily fit them. I speak of my favorite fantasy flix of late The Knights of Blood Steel and Dark Kingdoms. This leaves the family-friendly stuff for network TV, like the upcoming Once Upon a Time (how clever) and Grimm.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sitting by the presses

And so Peryton and I sit tonight. We think CCrabb will be sending the Halloween issue of E-Tunn to us this evening, so after watching too many episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine after dinner we've moved to our traditional places at the computers doing much of nothing. Pery did get the cover ready, a nice piece by Jeff Cortez, who did the last issue's cover as well. Of course, back in August I set the release date at 15.Oct, so I wouldn't be surprised if it takes until tomorrow.

Been researching a lot of 1970s over the past year, mostly for something called "Nixon World" for a very niche audience, a group in Arizona that actually plays Ken St Andre's PowerTrip superhero RPG. This project has taken in two directions. There is the rather sci-fi'ish conspiracy aspect, which the Trollgod talked about that started the thing. And then the notes I am taking make from the actual history is making some good background for a realistic, well somewhat, espionage background for a game like Mercenary, Spies and Private Eyes, Top Secret or what has one. So once again on another lark (a lark from lark hee!) I outlined an MSPE scenario for Carnage coming real soon called "The Wrong Side of History" in which characters play PCs that resemble Carlos "The Jackal" Martinez, Gudrun Ensslin and a few other of the losers of the Cold War. Their KGB contact has been something of a hoot in writing up, a Pavel Moskin. I made him a one time fighter pilot during the Korean War, one of the "secret" ones who flew for North Korea. So now all I have to do is remember how to play MSPE again, I do have the book. I'll relearn it when I format the scenario after I flesh it out. With "Wrong Side" I decided not to go with WHAP! because I need to totally rework the game, to make it fun for me run. Too things going there, and not as efficient as I feel a T&T derivative rules system should be.

And for anyone that is awaiting the Powder Punk project, that is still coming along nicely. The spells, this is a fantasy game after all, are taking a while to write up, as they aren't your typical one spell does one thing. The spells are more like learned rituals, multiple spells occur in a single one, depending on a person's attributes. I think it's a nice way of showing how the magic is slipping off the world, but still have enough for plots about witches and witchhunters to be fun and not political treatises on the suppression of feminism throughout history.

Well CCrabb is on-line, wahoo she's getting the magazine ready.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

And Carnage will ensue

Working a lot of overtime this season, to pay for Elder Tunnels publication and Monk and K-Bell's wedding present. But it looks like it'll be an easy task to have enough cash to make our yearly trek to Vermont to make the Carnage gaming convention. And despite the increased fatigue, the creative juices are flowing.

One thing about working in the day, is that I get to see Cleveland and environs in the day light. In previous years, my OT shifts were in support of Indian baseball games, but luckily this year this honor has been handed off to newer medics hand picked by my supervisor just to work these events-- a thought that had occurred to me years ago, I disagree with Baseball past Labor day. This has lead to some cell phone camera work to entertain Pery during her work days. Call it urban exploration on the clock. At night, it'd have to called, "living out a cop show as a side character." Still surprising to see how the day time world goes on and not have to work at baseball games.



While out on the road during these extra work shifts, I don't get to carry around my laptop PC (I know, such a Luddite no magic phone Eye-pad or what has one); but my shirt pocket notepads are filling up with notes and jots. And during my time off, the notes are getting transcribed into typing at a steady pace. Also I've had the energy to work on my epic novel, some 20 years in the making now, of an orkish invasion into the Fair Lands of a fantasy world, from the orks', and whatnot, perspectives. Not sure how far I'll get into it this time, but I'm posting the roughs in daily fashion at the Trollhalla, so next time I start it up I won't be likely to start it all from scratch once again.

Sadly my Oktoberfest activities were mostly limited to watching celebrations at nursing homes while at work, and viewing pictures of the Bayern Munich soccer team's Facebook page. Still Pery and I had an on-line party with our friends Mystic Fool, from New York, Misha the Berserker, from Russia and Khaydhiak, from Florida last Friday night and Saturday AM. A totally spontaneous party, it took us all by surprise, and there was much dancing and rejoicing.

One cannot live on bread alone, one needs BEER!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Something to Sink My Teeth Into

The problem with doing this powder punk stuff is that it gets my neo-Romantic heart beating again. Back when I was stumbling about in and out of colleges, drugs, play-writing and relationships that resembled those more of cats and dogs than fully conscious beings (my late teens and twenties), one of the salient trends in my reading was that of the writings Voltaire, Goethe; and then moving up the line to Emile Zola, Anton Chekov, Fydor Dostoevsky; even further into Bertolt Brecht, Bernard Shaw and Jean-Paul Sartre. Mind you, most of this reading was fictional works and stage scripts, not books on philosophy. One director of my plays at the time once said, "You don't get out much, but when I need Chekhov you're the man to drink with. Let's revel!"

I actually got out a bit more than the man assumed, but that's not the point here.

At 24 until about 31, I got my act together a bit and joined the Army, got serious about my studies, and did the adult things-- have a kid, buy a house with a satellite receiver in the backyard, drive a Ford Fairmont station wagon and whatnot. About the same time my cultural explorations became more in tune to FM Classic Rock stations, along with whatever was available at airport newsstands and mandatory textbooks. I could barely talk my party bruder in Germany, the second time around, to attend a showing of Death of Salesman, let alone an in-German presentation of Faustus.

And then getting out of Army, married life and other things, I decided it was "Me time" again. This took on the focus of being a fantasist. In case you are unfamiliar the term, a "fantasist" is, as according to the
World English Dictionary is pronounced "fæntəsɪst" and is a noun that describes a: 1.) a person who indulges in fantasies. 2.) a person who writes musical or literary fantasies. I think everyone reading this knows, I fulfilled this bit of actualization with a vengeance over the last twelve years or so.

But until recently, my most important concerns have been about whether JRR Tolkien or Lord Dunsany reflected the true face of fantasy. Now with the research that I have been doing my previous interests have been coming to the fore.

Did you know that Voltaire was always gossipy about his friend Fredrick the Great of Prussia? Okay sure that's nice, let's research his reign of Prussia. And then the next day on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, As It Happens was broadcasting sex poems written (in French) by Great Fred to his boy Voltaire. I am not making that up, the mainstream media is diverging into subjects that I thought I was making up a week ago.

Sadly for me, it has always been easier to understand the causes of the European Great War an the German Counter-Offensive (often called WWII), than to relate to most folks in the arts fields of things. So I am suddenly struck with the yearning for a bit more than video-tape Filmers and digital analoguers have to offer-- godshead bless Stargate and Dr. Who, they're just the cheapest speculative fiction shows ever made.

But when the Clevelang (big stuffy and over-princed) theater runs a Bertolt Brecht piece like, The Life of Galileo, I am stuck at looking the cheap-seats for a mere $100 dinner date, for the Peryton and I. That happens to be a bit much for my tastes.

I produced a rendition, The Caucasian Circle of Chalk back in 1987. Alas, no one cares.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Think I'm turning Viennese, think I'm turning Viennese...


Wow there's a lot that happened between Febuary 1326 and July 1698, which I had already figured before I started reading more into the events within these points in time about eighteen months ago. You see in 11 Feb 1326 the very first hand-held weapon powered by gun-powder was displayed in the city-state of Florence and on 2 July 1698 an engineer fired from the English Navy, Thomas Savery, was able to patent a steam engine that would be used for industrialized applications. The time in-between these two events, I call," the Age of Powder," and I like to delve into a fantasy with it to make a forthcoming Powder Punk setting. I have to laugh, most of the people that have heard me use either of the phrases assume I am speaking of the powdered wigs.

The most fun of this process has indeed been just all the historical research. I didn't realize the gaps I had in world history even my degree in History. For all the ignoring that the US education system does of the whole cultural schisms there is a lot of stuff that would be nice if our foreign policy makers knew about obscure places with far off sounding names, like Canada. One cannot ignore that the great ethnocentric struggles of the last millennium have shaped where we all are today. We often overlook the Muslim/Christiandom antagonism, the whole Catholic versus Orthodox, and then the Protestant versus Catholic, usually skipping from the Magna Carta to Lincoln's address at Gettysburg, PA, leaving the rest for people getting a PHD or making a BBC channel 3 documentary. And the history is about as punk-ish as I can make it, St. Josaphat of the Catholic and Othodox faiths is Buddha dammit!

And besides Alexandre Dumas's story of d'Artagnan, a cycle taking over six years in serial form to complete, which would become known to the English-reading world as The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and the Man In the Iron Mask; there are plenty of works to draw from in popular culture for my Powder-Punk 'research." Russia and most of the former Soviet Bloc seems to be infatuated with the 14th through 17th centuries. The movie 1612 is about the rocking-est thing I have seen from the era. And then there is whole pirate craze in our own western climes, which is, for the most part, pre-Steampunk. I suppose the cosplay crowd at the conventions will be drawing upon the Showtime series The Tudors, which is a music video recounting of the Henry the 8th gang.

All the study itself would have been great if I stopped just at the siege of Antwerp and the various sieges of Vienna.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And big parties take care of themselves... GenCon 2011, pt II.

Sligo's text message vibrated my phone on the metal counter downstairs in the kitchen of our cottage. I groggily got up and carefully made my way downstairs. It was a little past noon and time to get up. Saturday at GenCon was well underway, and it was time for me get revived and moving. Pery stayed in bed, and I can't remember if CCrabb was still asleep on the couch bed or not. Maybe I am thinking of Friday AM. 

I found Monk and K-Bell sitting at the table where my Spacers "Attack of the Androids" scenario was supposed to take place. We faked a loud argument where we alternately threatened violence and calling GenCon staff to come to the amusement and annoyance of the tables around us. And when a couple players of his Wizards and Gunslingers "Blood Stone Quarry" showed up, we stopped abruptly. No one showed up for my game, so I chatted with the crew at the Events desk for a couple minutes before heading to the lounge in the Crowne Plaza. James, the bartender from the night before, and I talked for a bit, while I enjoyed my a cup of coffee and my first beer of the day. We both liked soccer, which meant that I could get a soccer channel on one of the TVs. Bruce Wayne showed up around 3pm, having won a free Stratego game from a 50th anniversary competition going this year. We caught up a bit and met a fellow from northwestern Michigan, and chatted away the afternoon. Wayne actually napped a little as his schedule is usually very booked.
About 5:30pm Wayne and I wandered over to Cladagh, Klahh-Daghhh or however it is spelled, the Klingon joint where you get fish and chips. We got a large area on the patio and awaited folks to start showing up. And alas a lot of folks started popping up. Monk and K-Bell were the first I believe. Chris Rowan, and his friends Chris and Jeremie. Then Caed and two more. CCrabb found the spot. Rook and the Doctor were in the joint, but they stayed inside where it was cooler and they were chatting up a couple potential business partners. Peryton was the latest. And though Ronin, my name for Chris Rowan now, wanted to talk business, I pretty much wanted to party. After dinner, our group went from a gaggle to a lot of smaller groups. I was doing the "group leader" thing until I realized that I'd probably have more fun if I didn't. Pery, Monk and K-Bell went back to the B&B, while the rest of us promised to meet at the GenCon dance.
Bruce Wayne's g/f Amy, planted the idea in our head back in January about checking out the dance this year. Alas she was in Chicago, but since Ronin and crew were heading there, it seemed appropriate enough. CCrabb stuck around as her midnight game was still way off. And Caed of course made a dazzling appearance during a James Brown song. Wayne was in a dancing mood, so I kept getting him in trouble by getting towards the middle of the dance floor, where of course the pretty and physically fit folk like to dwell. So while reliving my high school dance days for a bit, I went back to the table where the adults were sitting.

At around midnight, Amy called and was back in town. Bruce Wayne bid CCrabb and me adieu. We ended up at Scotty's, her midnight game didn't happen. It was a funny time. I was wearing my Army ring on my left ring finger, instead of my wedding ring. It's a habit of mine since my right hand has gotten to fat for rings. But since it was hot and the day was all but over, I took off the ring as we sat down at the bar and placed it in my shirt pocket. The waitress and everybody else at the bar noticed this. Arched eyebrows ensued. And minds went straight to the gutter I am sure. The waitress we had had an agenda as she took out orders when the other woman slipped off to the bathroom.

"So have you two been married long?" She asked.
"Oh we're not married, " I answered blankly. " To each other."
"Ah you two do make a nice couple." She went on. "So what are you two drinking?"
"Make it two beers." I answered. "I think she wouldn't mind a Killians. We haven't known each other long."
"Anything else to make the evening special?" She asked.
"Some nachos." I answered. "And if you could call us a cab, to get back to the hotel?"

Back at the cottage, CCrabb and I made a point to wake Pery up with loud "shushes" and slurred whispering. Pery stayed up for a couple minutes while we recounted the events of the evening, and our steamy drink at Scottys, and then she stumbled back to bed. We were having too much fun, so we had a couple more beers before ending our reveling. We either talked about the fantasists of the early 20th Century or the Middle East, I get our late-night drunken discussions confused.

Sunday morning rolled around. Peryton and I both had games at 10am so got out the door quickly. We said "bon voyage" to CCrabb who would be driving out with fellow Green Mountaineer Nik Palmer, Dr. Nik. And we both showed up almost on time.

Pery ran another iteration of BEAN "Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the Book of Beards." Monk was mixing things up with
B-13 "The School Days Of Napoleon Dynamite And Friends." And I was doing my victory lap with CoC "Rat-Pack versus Cthulhu IV: Lilith Be a Lady Tonight." Dan the usual Sinatra was a little later than me, so I didn't know which table I would be running at. But Russ, Lisa, Matt and Adam, mostly from New York City, if I remember correctly found me. And Dan did show up.

The thing about "Lilith" is that Frank Sinatra has been the heavy-weight for the past three years, with Dean Martin playing his Spock. So this year, the fourth of a supposed trilogy, I mixed things up. Lilith knew "Charm" better than the Chairman, and worked her feminine guile and seduced the hapless crooner within seconds of meeting her. And poor Dan, Frank's PC, couldn't make a resistance roll this morning to save his character's life, which was a lucky thing for me. The other Rat-Packers got to work and cleverly managed to foil Lilith and her minions, not once but twice to save our dude in distress. Sammy Davis Junior showed some amazing swordplay when defeating two of the Dark Templars. And even a nightgaunt couldn't distract the Pack from saving their friend. Juliett Prowse, this year's new 'Easy on the Eyes' member, did some rather jujitsu moves with her purse and high heels at that.

At the wrap, there was Monk, K-Bell, Sligo and I alone in the little conference room where we had been playing all weekend. I almost felt sad, but then remembered the victory dinner at Champions. Pery made her way there after finisher her before Christmas shoplifting of Dr. Who items. Trollgod and Corencio showed up as well. Paul Haynie, G'noll from Trollhalla, did a cameo with his lovely wife, seriously one beautiful woman. His performance at either end of the table was impeccable, but alas he would not stay to partake in the meal.

I spent some time back in the Exhibitor's Hall purchasing the books that I had promised to buy on Thursday. I ran into the guy behind Pagan Press, one of the joys, of so many, of my life. Pery also helped me find David Nett of my favorite Web series Gold: The Web Series. Nett, from here on out, thanked me for my pathetic sponsoring of his show, and I also a northern European to his northern European descent rebuffed him duly. Still I got an autographed copy of the DVD and kewl character cards. I also met the future superstar James Paul Xavier, who happens to be my favorite actor of the series.

Sligo then took us around town and showed us his favorite local game store, the whales of the Adventure Gaming world these days, the Arsenal. I liked it the moment I walked in the place, because I like the soccer team. Besides having a kitchen to keep the some revenue flowing in between sales of game products and gaming events, the place is just crawling with rooms for gaming-- both electronic and tabletop. This place is a treasure. Expect a future Hoot or Holler to be located here in the near future folks, first Frito-pie is on me.



We then were able to Sligo into hanging out with us at Bruce Wayne's new abode. Here we played Stratego, some new marble game called Stomp, and K-Bell and I played Rummy. Jordan likes to complain that we never hang out with him enough. Well, I'll have everyone know, he had to kick us out. I hope Sligo is still married the next time I see him. 

Monday, we drove Monk and K-Bell to airport and headed home. Poor Pery had to head to work the next morning, whereas I had the next two days off. Hence my long and winding blog recounting GenCon 2011. I almost want to be depressed, but now it's time to get ready for Carnage 14

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Take care of the little things... GenCon 2011

Wednesday AM arrived finally and I wasn't over-worked the night before, nor were Peryton and I running late when we pulled out of the driveway to get to GenCon 2011. I was a little more than happy. To start the celebration, I asked Pery to text message CCrabb obscure quotes from 1930s spy novels, in German, to tell how close to the meeting point we were. Oh yeah, this year we were picking up our favorite and all powerful Editor, Christine Crabb. And after a stop at the Strongsville Mall, in front of an Applebees, all three of us were en route Indianapolis, while her family was en route back to Vermont. Everything was coming together nicely and it wasn't past 10am.

The drive from Cleveland area to Indianapolis was only a conversation in duration. We found a Mexican restaurant, as everyone knows, that is one of the joys, of the many, in my life. So I think we were in the car like 15 minutes. We pulled into the Stone Soup Inn at around 4pm. Pery and I then took CCrabb on her first road march from the B&B to the convention center. The two miles, mid-90s degree temperature and high humidity, I am sure the woman caught a glimpse of how insane we are.



A staged reenactment of before leaving Cleveland and arriving in Indianapolis
My Wednesday night game, "Cthulhu Mansion" (part III) was a wash. I was about five minutes late, having picked up my badge before walking over to the game. I think another GM might've scooped my players after speaking with the room monitor on the way out; but after two seconds of thinking about it, I gave less than a damn. I stopped into the cocktail bar called "Olives" at the Omni hotel, had a vodka tonic and cooled off. Pery and CCrabb were able to find me there. I even had a cigar. Throughout the night we were able to catch up with Yoggy, Caed and Brock and a host of others as well. It was an "Old Home Reunion" evening, the likes of which we hadn't had over the past years at our beloved Con. Of course, I was seen cavorting with two pitchers of Killians all over Scotty's that evening. I think I made about 67 new friends each trip to the bar. We didn't get back to the cottage until 1am.



Thursday AM, I had breakfast with Monk and K-Bell and the three of us walked down to the convention together. Pery was ill and had to cancel her morning session, which had a full table-- Steppenwulf, of Mandy and Steve Butka. I was amazed to find that I had three players to playtest my PowderPunk setting in "The Wrong Side of the Fuse" scenario. Met a Tuki and Trevor, along with CCrabb and Sligo. It went alright, all the rules are still a bunch of pages on my laptop computer, so things were pretty loose and freewheeling. The group were all pretty ready to be in the hip version of the year 1501 A.D. and in a port just this side of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. My cheesy accents just weren't up to snuff though.


At lunch, I called Pery to see how she was doing. I told her about the sold out table that she missed. When I mentioned that I was surprised that I had players for the PowderPunk session, she full-heartedly replied with, "Serves you damn right!"
I suppose she didn't expect staying out so late on Wednesday.

My afternoon session of PowderPunk was a wash. Monk was running his WHAP! "The Diary of Cassanova" steampunk session just a couple of tables over. Pery was on her way down for a 2pm game. I decided to head over to the Dealer's Hall and catch up with Looming Rick Loomis and Trollgod Ken St. Andre. This year Peryton Publishing, which Ken keeps calling "Peryton Press," bought a slot in the Flying Buffalo card deck, so our Sabriel-designed peryton is the two of diamonds, alongside with the Smiling Troll Joker and the Chaimail Chick Queen of Hearts; I picked up the cards from booth to lug around.

Trollgod swung me around to see the Exhibition Hall. Well mostly to bump into attractive women authors and artists, as well as find Liz Danforth and S.S. Crompton. Lordhead the man got me committed into buying about sixteen new books this year. The authors being V.J. Waks and a cast of thousands associated with the Dragon Roots magazine. Breaking free of the Trollgod, I bumped back into Sligo and we spent the afternoon lounging next to the troll statue just outside the hall. Got to know two kids in their 20s, one was the daughter of the guy behind Adamant Games. Sligo and I played up the age differences and kept having them explain this or that costume walking by. Jordan, Bruce Wayne, and his son, let's call him the Boy Wonder, caught up with us for a bit.


Around dinner time, we had a little private dinner planned. I figured no one was coming so I asked a couple more people with they would like to meet us at Acapulco Joe's. More than a dozen showed up, including Corencio, Ken St Andre's son James. The cozy little CoC session, "Cthulhu Dawn" after dinner planned just for Caed and about four other people, also burst its seams, where we had eleven players all hanging out in our cottage. I had a lethal plot worked out, where a couple of players would survive and I would have an "End of the World" themed scenario worked out, but the players did all "smart" things like stay in one place and stick together, so I had to kill them all. Of course, I did experiment with how to turn a PC into a flesh-eating zombie. As the climax of violence started, I had one player-character wield a shotgun so poorly that he killed more of the other PCs than my attacking zombies. Trollgod did try to get the gang to head to a bar, an impenetrable fortress if ever there was one.

Friday was Grind Day and Night. Sligo called to see if I needed a ride to the con, which I declined. I chatted with CCrabb while having a sandwich and coffee before rushing out the door to my T&T events. Pery was sleeping in, and she smartly would be starting later than me. The walk downtown did not get any shorter, nor did the rain relieve the heat and mugginess, but that just made the air conditioned Crowne Plaza that much nicer.

I really should follow Pery's example and start games later in the day, especially when I plan on running all night, but there is something about T&T games early in the morning at GenCon that rocks. The morning crowd that is looking for an "independent game" tend to be some of the better role-players and the like to keep to a schedule. Martin, Kat and Beau were no exception to this norm I discovered. They were new to T&T and Sligo and David, last year's Michelangelo Walking Statue, was the player coaches that helped me out immensely while they developed characters, while I could take a break to clean myself up from the walk. And the murder mystery that is "The Big Sky" worked out wonderfully. I really had a good time. It was better than coffee.

"The Bubble Pit" T&T scenario in the afternoon would turn out to be a surprise for me. I show up after lunch with Sligo and David, to meet Mike Siegel and Kevin already working on their PCs, with T&T books and no other dice but six-sided ones. Mike is Mrrrik at the Halls, err Trollhalla, to the uninitiated. David and Sligo's characters were already ready to go. So instead of spending the first hour of the game teaching people how to roll up characters for the first hour, which is essential to illustrate certain conventions that T&T has, like DARO and TARO, we were ready to jump right into the story from get go. There was the PCs getting to know one another. I was able to throw in the wandering monster with a serious ambush. Then there was a bit of a tunnel-crawl, one of the joys, of many, in life. The story twist occurred. We as a group were able to get into some advanced "rules discussion," which meant interpreting rules among well-read and already competent T&T players-- Yes Sligo and I had to work something out. All without arguing because of the T&T directive that the GM running the game is right. Mrrrik is an Army man, so my love a break every 50 minutes to an hour, didn't surprise him and Kevin one bit.

Heading into the evening, I was able to hang out with Monk and K-Bell, and even my wife for a bit. Friday night was upon us, and the Peryton Gamer's Apocalypse All-Nighter was about to take place. At 7pm Monk ran his RocknRole-Playing scenario "Drag Racing Zombies From Beyond The Moon." Not too far from him, I was running CoC, well my version of it at least, "Cthulhu Over Casablanca." I couldn't pay too much attention because I had a fantastically talented group of role-players in front of me, with Dan, my most recurring Frank Sinatra player, leading the party as Humphrey Bogart. Dan of course did a wonderful impression of Bogart. The group overall was wonderful. The fellows playing Paul Henreid and Conrad Veidt played into Humphrey's "the nicest Nazi I know" jokes very nicely. And I've never seen a role-playing table so full of alcoholic beverages in all my life, usually there is only mine and Dan's.



Caed promised a little zombie attack during at least one of the All-Nighter's games. She mentioned that she had two people willing to show up. At 11pm, the Zombie Walk produced about 20 attackers. We had a little LARP planned out, but it turned into a break. And despite our best eforts, we couldn't get the nurse zombie to stick around for drinks. Peryton's Doctor Who "The Web of Light" scenario started at that time during the break, so she couldn't yell at me for hitting on the undead, again.

My midnight game, CoC "The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters" player's showed up on. time. Monk's Toon horror scenario with Beavis and Butthead as other characters started as well. Once again, I had a full house, and Caed. "The Haunted House Hunters" is a tricky game to run. Mix up a police procedure, with a reality-TV satire and add copious amounts of Scooby Doo, and the GM has my influences down pat. Mind you, this is one of my scary ones, so the comedy isn't built in. Well Micha, Austin, Dallas, Jason, Caed and Diane worked in the comedy very well. What was nice as well, they took their pre-generated characters and worked from there, so to speak. As the guy having to play various NPC's I forgot I regularly forgot I was the GM, the PCs were that strong. Though we were supposed to wrap up at 3am, we went over anyway.

Luckily no one showed up for my CoC "Cthulhu Dawn" session, at 3:30am the "Haunted House Hunters" and I relaxed and got in-depth. The comedy schticks were played out earlier, and the PCs got down to the mystery(s) in front of them. Calls were made to fathers who were retired cops, and family problems role-played out. The players started checking out historical information. As the right questions were being asked, I dropped more and more of the clues. The bigger picture came together. And the sanity started ebbing away one or two points at a time. When the twist to the tale came, I had one PC this close to being committed. Despite a shot-gun mass murder attempt at the end, I think everyone survived, and the main PC, a retired wrestler turned paranormal investigator, redeemed his heroic heritage.

Peryton's 3am game BEAN "Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the Book of Beards" had a group of six or seven people come in punctually and abruptly drop their belongings on her table. Apparently about four of them were members of a cult dedicated to her ATHF games with a couple of indoctrinated converts in tow already. My and Monk's gregarious groups weren't even noticed as the Pery-Pod People began their game. As I was so wrapped up in my game, I didn't know that Pery finished her last session in less than 90 minutes. Her and her minions then worked out a sequel adventure, to fill the rest of candle burning until sunrise.


The Apocalypse All-Nighter wrapped up officially at 5:42 AM. My players, incited by Caed, were all about breakfast at Steak and Shake. I had planned on Acapulco Joe's, but couldn't resist the pull. Peryton came along as well, sated by her cultists worship, yet hungering for something more. At Steak and Shake, I wasn't sure which made the breakfast, the lack of taste in the food or the really bad service, but I was so drained at this point I was punch-drunk amazed at my own ability to smile. Peryton was pretty wiped out as well, after she ate her baby cup full of yogurt she taped her fingers and glowered at me as we awaited my apparently hard to prepare breakfast. I said, "Hey, we just pulled off an apocalyptic all-night gaming session."
She smiled.
And we used our smiles to get us back to our B&B cottage. I had even mustered up enough strength to compose a little poem to "my", I felt familiar enough now to refer to them as intimates, Haunted House Hunters, before I exited stage behind me out the door.

"Fair gents and fine ladies,
I pray thee to grant your ears.
I doth think, that tonight,
Thee have grown me dears.

Still I am weary,
Upon this morn of heat dreary.
For time beneath our willow,
I must find my pillow.

So alas, allow me my due.
To bid you, you, you, you, you
And you Caed,
Adieu."

I almost forgot to pay, and had to come back rushing in to the cash register before the cops jumped me.

The wind was blowing, but it was full of steamy humidity and not many degrees below our skin's temperature. When we hit the apartment, we were sapped.