Blurbs from the Booth-Two Cons, Two Weeks, TOO MANY!

I recently went to two cons in a row.  I was working for Catalyst running Shadowrun, so I had fun.  But, I saw some major differences between these cons.  Let’s go con by con and talk about my loves and hates of these cons.  Both cons started with some frustrations, but one ended being a con I will happy go back to next year.



AnCon is a smaller con in Hudson, Ohio, May 1-4.  It looked like it was about 1-2,000 people.  The con is completely inside of a moderately sized hotel with events in the conference rooms and regular rooms, dealers in the ballroom, and other gaming even in the onsite restaurant!  The con is organized by MSTB Gaming, and outside of Baldman Games, who I’ve worked for, these guys are the BEST in the business at making a con work well.  Everything is really well organized, lines are short, and the trains or Trains board games run on time.

I got to the con at 7 AM after driving for four hours because I’m poor, have to work Friday, and can only afford one night at the hotel.  I went to get my badge, and I found out I had to pay for a Judge badge!  I was unhappy, but its $25.  Some cons give out free badges if you work for X amount of time.  I was running 12 hours of Shadowrun, so I was somewhat cranky that I have to pay to do that!  But, I found out that this con does an exchange of each person who plays in your games pays two bucks to the con, and, you get one of those.  That’s not bad, but I would prefer to just get a free badge.  So, I was a little angry running into my first game, but that went away under a tide of fun as I ran three games of Shadowrun in a row.  Great times playing with some great people.

Sunday, I woke up early, got my roommates up early (remember:  we are poor so we split gas/room. It’s cheaper!), and got to the con.  We started with a game of Eminent Domain (review here), followed by Artimis.  Artimis is what all the guys/gals who CosPlay Star Trek wish they had when the show was running.  It’s a game where every person runs a different part of the ship: helm, weapons, engineering, communications, EVERYTHING!  I was the last to sit down, and no one wanted the captain’s chair, so Captain Ed it was!  I felt like an idiot, but my crew was competent, so we only lost one star base.  Only a few thousand died on my watch, so good job!  After that, we played a game called Wrath of the Dragons.  It’s a mix of a Eurogame with some American style elements.  You play dragons and each century you get to destroy Europe based on cards you play (Euro), but the cards you have are random (American).  It was great to play, and I sat down with the designer after.  I’ve spent way too much time and money, and got into long discussions on game mechanics and kickstarter price points.  Way too much gaming (or far too little!).  After that game, I bought a copy of an RPG called BareBones Fantasy.  It’s a lighter RPG that is mostly d100 with three main attributes.  You do one thing a turn, and can do more, but each additional action costs you -20% for success.  I’m really looking forward to playing that one.  Then we headed home.

I really loved this con.  Its small and I ran into friends I haven’t seen since GenCon.  I loved it a lot.  The staff was on the ball, and all the spots were set up well in advance.  Heck, free WIFI!  If you live close, go to this next ~May.  I’ll be there.


I also went to MarCon.  MarCon is a con that moved a bit.  This year it was on Mother’s Day, but it’s been over the Easter weekend a few times.  It’s at the Columbus Convention center (same one as the Origin’s Gaming Convention).

I was unhappy before I set foot in the door.  A weekend badge is $50 bucks.  If you GM 12 hours, they refund your money via PayPal.  I hate that.  PayPal takes time and I have to hope no one loses my money in the middle.  Since I still have to work and am poor, I got there at 7AM.  I wanted to be early to set up, and get my badge since my first game is at 9.  And, here is where the fun starts.  None of my games were listed in the program guide.  NONE!  That’s a problem, but it’s even worse when I’ve been yelling at the staff via email to check if I have games down there for two months before I spend four hours and $120 driving.  So I was a bit mad.  Then badge registration doesn’t open till 9AM.  It’s a major problem when you can’t get your badge before you get to your table and both open simultaneously!  I talked to a few of the con attendance vets, and they said this was on par.  So I was pretty pissed come game time.  I cleared my head, and hoped for gaming to make life better. I headed down stairs to where gaming was.  And here’s where some learning comes in.  MarCon is great at what it does, and what it does really well is Panels.  MarCon hosts an impressive amount of panels on geek stuff.  Topics ranging from NASA funding to how to Cosplay your favorite Lolita Stars were all in the program.  So, for my first four hours of gaming, I sat in a large room with lots of tables with no players.  Table top gaming was in a large room with lots of six feet in diameter tables.  That’s good, but we’re mostly out of the way and not a priority of the con.  The room for board games was pretty small, and I’ve been spoiled by the GenCon Board Game library, so when I only saw 10 games, I was let down.  Computer gaming had a large following with a projector set up for rock band, and a LAN ready to rock.  My second game actually happened, and so did my third when I started to convince random passersby to come play.  I ended the day happy, and I   decided not to stay the night and went home early.  I did meet the Looney Labs crew and they are AWESOME!  Bought Loonacy because I met the wife of the husband and wife team that runs the company.  Also got to play a secret edition of fluxx that I can’t wait to play again!

This was a learning experience.  I can’t leave this con completely mad.  There are some people putting in some hard work to make gaming happen at this con.  I might not have been thrilled to start the day as an unlisted crazy person sitting behind a GM screen in an empty hall, but I did get two of my three games going.  Shadowrun made life better.  Just like a good beer after a long, hard day!  Also, I went to a panel con expecting a gaming con.  Panels are fine, but not my cup of tea.  That was a big hit from the learning stick.  What makes me mad is organization above the gaming guys.  You HAVE to open before events start.  I don’t care you don’t need tickets to do stuff.  You need a badge to attend panels or play games, so if the con starts at 9, you have to give people a chance to get a badge before the panel/gaming open.  That’s really important.  Also, all events need to be listed on your program.  I know priority number one is getting the sponsors in that book, but priority number two must be accuracy.  I’m going out there to convert some people to my game.  If I don’t have any advertisement of my game, it doesn’t matter if I’m even there.  Organization can only get worse down a chain of command.  The MOST I can do is keeping the same level as what I was given; I CAN’T make things more organized above me.  I left this con disheartened.  I’m not sure I’ll come back next year.  Its four hours away, and since it not completely a gaming con, that’s a long way to travel for a gamer.

So two cons in two weeks.  It’s not as much fun as I originally thought.  It’s kind of expensive, and you see how different things can be.  I did learn a few things.  One, learn more ahead of time.  It’s good to be early and all the other standard courtesy thing, but if a particular con doesn’t roll out of bed before 9.  Then, no amount of early will help.  If one con is externally rules conscious, then you have to be too.  Two, if you ask nice a hotel might waive any fees for dropping your room the day of.  Thanks Hilton!  Three, while it might not seem it at first glance, if you look, people really care about their fandom.  I started my MarCon furious, but by the end I saw some gamers who really wanted to make sure other gamers had a blast.  Those guys/gals are building a community out there.  Maybe in a few years it will really grow.

Daily Punch 5-19-14 Reactive Jump feat for DnD Next

Played some Next yesterday, and this feat is something my Dwarves needed to not die!



Reactive Jump

Move! Darnit!  Do you want to die!

Benefits:  Gain the following benefits:

  • Increase you dexterity by one up to a maximum of 20
  • When you are targeted by a spells that instantly hits or a spell that effects you at the start of your turn, roll a saving throw instantly instead of waiting for the start of your turn.  This counts as the save for the effect, so failure imposes all negative effects that the spell normally has.  If you save, you spend you interrupt action, take no damage, and move up to half your speed immediately.




Daily Punch 5-16-14 Snatch Spell feat for Pathfinder

My wife plays a half-orc monk Toof, and, Toof took a beating from scorching rays.  After a day she says she wished she could snatch those rays like arrows. There’s an idea….



Snatch Spell

You grasp spells like arrows from the air

PrerequisitesDeflect arrows, Snatch Arrow, Qinggong Monk Archetype

Benefit: Once per round when you are targeted by a ranged or melee touch spell or spell-like ability, you make a dexterity saving throw equal to 10+1/2CR of the creature casting the spell or spell-like ability if the effect does not have a saving throw or save against the effect as normal if there is a saving throw.  If you succeed, the spell has no effect and  you gain a ki point instead.  If you are targeted by additional spells in a round, those spells effect you as normal.  If you fail against the saving throw, you are effected as normal, but you may use this feats against new effects this round.  Spells with multiple attacks such as scorching ray count as different effects.




Daily Punch 5-15-14 Alter Elements spell for BareBones Fantasy

How about one more spell for BareBones fantasy?



Alter Elements

Range: 2 spaces per spellcaster level

Usage: Unlimited

Duration: Concentration

Resistance: None or STR


Effect: This spell allows you to command the very elements of Keranak.  The element must be in the environment, and must be either air, earth, water, or wind.  Any processed element such as steel can not be manipulated using this spell.  You may command these elements into any shape or phase you choose.  An example is moving water to form a bridge then freezing the water.  You can also command the element to be hurled as if with a telekinetic blast.  Elements not under your control follow the normal rules of nature such as a ice bridge melting in the desert or partially completed rock bridges collapsing under their own weight.  Follow the rules for telekinetic blast amounts and max amount of material moved with a single use of the spell.




Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Taking the Narrative By the Tail: GM Intrusions and Special Effects

Product– Taking the Narrative By the Tail: GM Intrusions and Special Effects


Price– $0.99

TL; DR-Length hurts this short book 83%


Basics-This small, six-page guide give ideas and suggestions for how to better implement GM intrusions and new ways critical successes and failures can impact your game.


Crunch or Mechanics AND Fluff or Story-GM intrusions are a mixed bag.  As the guide and main book point out, the GM doesn’t roll dice.  Therefore, this is HOW the GM rolls dice.  Want a character to trip and make a scene?  Offer an intrusion.  Want an item to start beeping strangely?  Offer an intrusion.  This book honestly offers NO new mechanics, but it really explains mechanics that are already part of the system.  And it explains the hardest to grasp of the Numenera core rules.  For that, I really liked it.  There is no story whatsoever, but this is all about how to tell the story.  You’re adding to the story through these intrusions since its part experience offer and story alteration.  It’s the same story as mechanics. Here is HOW to write a Numenera story, and, HOW to mess with the players/story on the fly.  For that goal, it’s done really well and taught me how to better execute that part of the rules and story.  I would have liked more discussions on how often to do intrusions.  I’ve never been in a game of Numenera, so I don’t know how often other GMs add intrusion.  Are they a major way to add experience points to a game?  This guide should have addressed that.  Special effects kind of get half a page.  For an idea that gets top billing in the title, it really needed more! 8.5/10


Execution– This is an extremely short book, but it’s also less than a buck.  The product does have some new art, which is nice for such a short book.  It reads quick and well, but there isn’t a lot there to make it long.  Its well done, but I would have liked a bit more.  I’d suggest a few more suggestions for both the intrusions and especially the special effects.  Also, if you publish a six page minibook, the seventh page should not be a giant advertisement!  I’ve bought all those books, but for a dollar, I don’t like 1/7th of my book to be an add or half a page is old art from the bestiary! 4/5


Summary– This is a short book that any Numenera GM should really read.  There is nothing for players in this book.  I can say from experience that the hardest part of GMing Numenera is intrusions.  When/how should I do it is a major problem when I run my games.  I do feel better equipped to add better thought out intrusions into my game more often.  However, I do have some remaining problems.  The addition of special effects was kind of a joke.  It’s got equal billing, but less than one half a pages.  That should have been its own six page guide.  All said, this is a decent guide to GM intrusions, but not much in the way of special effects and its extreme short length hurts the guide. 83%

Daily Punch 5-14-14 Rapid Recovery Feat for DnD Next

Something my character really want to have for those times when you don’t have a healer!



Rapid Recovery

You can spring back from the grave with an almost eager zeal!

Benefit:When you stabilize after being knocked unconscious or naturally regain 1 hit point via normal healing including rolling a natural 20 on a stabilization check, you may spend a number of hit dice equal to your constitution modifier as normal.  This requires no action and occurs immediately when you you regain consciousness.



Daily Punch 5-13-14 Druid Class for BareBones Fantasy

With Wild Shape, we can have a druid!




This skill represents experince with the forces and order of Nature

  • Dual Natured– For each level in this class gain +5 in scout and cleric.
  • Natures Blessing-each druid level gain one of the following spells- wild shape, control weather, dispel, divination, entangle, heal, summon, transform.  Use the cleric skill to determine all effects for these spells.
  • Master of self and animals-Increase the number of times you can use Wild Shape and Summon to twice druid level for each.

Level     Name

1           Initiate

2          Druid of Earth/Wind/Fire/Water

3          Master of the Elements

4          Druid of Summer/Winter/Fall/Spring

5          Master of Seasons

6          Supreme Circle Leader



Daily Punch 5-12-14 Wild Shape Spell for BareBones Fantasy

I bought the BareBones Fantasy RPG at AnCon.  I’m liking what I’m seeing, but I know my wife would love to play a druid.  How about we start working on that….


Wild Shape

Range: Self Only

Usage: 1/day

Duration: Varies

Resistance: None


Effect:  This spell allows the caster to alter his/her shape into that of a living, natural creature.  The time and creature rank are similar to the Summon Spell, but with the deration multiplied by three.  The caster uses all the attributes of the creature summoned, but BP are not altered.  Any wounds done to the caster remain after the caster has reverted.  The caster may still cast spells while in the wild shape.  This may not be made permanent.  Any effects like permanent loss of ability points remain after the spells end.

Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Loonacy



Producer-Looney Labs

Players-Two to Five

Set-Up/Play/Clean-Up- Five minutes (YEP!  FIVE MINUTES)



Basics-I usually do long, drawn out, complicated games, but here goes a quickie.  Loonacy is a quick shape matching game.  Each card has two shapes dividing the card in two.  If you play Fluxx, you will recognize all the shapes are former card art from all the different Fluxx games.  There will be between four and one piles of cards.  Players rapidly SLAM cards onto piles where at least one shape matches.  There are NO turns, and no quarter given!  Can’t play a card?  Then you point to the draw deck, and when all players are pointing, you draw, and start again.  No turns, not long thought process, just slamming cards down as quick as possible.  AMAZING!  First one out of cards wins!


Theme-There is no theme here, but then again, there should never be theme in this kind game. 0/0


Mechanics-The game is quick and simple.  It’s not bad, but for my crowd, some of the hard-core Eurogamers got in fights over how to draw cards.  REALLY GUYS!?  It’s fun, but a bit simple. 4.5/5


Instructions-The instructions cover one side of a page.  That’s it.  But, you don’t need any more instructions than that! 5/5


Execution-Cards are nice, and the art is good.  BUT, I really hate recicled art.  This product is ONLY recycled art as it’s all the art from every fluxx game out there.  It’s not bad art, but it’s recycled.  If you can get past that, it’s a great product. 4.5/5


Summary-Want a card slapping game you and your friend can play at Burger King at 4AM after a marathon DnD game?  Here you go!  Want a game you will spend weeks organizing at making sure all the players can make it?  This is not it!  This is a fun, simple game designed to get players having fun quick.  Honestly this is Uno if all the players just played at the same time and all the offensive cards were removed.  If you like the Fluxx team, buy this.  If you want a quick family game, buy this.  It’s ~15 bucks.  For a simple, quick game, that’s a good value. 93%

Daily Punch 5-9-14 Web Guru Positive Quality for Shadowrun 5e

My local technomancers have been having some problems.  How about some positive qualities.


Web Guru

Cost: 15 Karma

You are awesome and you know it!  The net is your biz and you’re its wiz.  When you use a complex form, increase the results of the complex form by 1.5.  As an example, if you use resonance spike and have 4 net hits, you cause 6 boxes of damage.