Blurbs from the Booth-A Tale of Three PDFS

I haven’t written about just my opinion of the gaming industry for a long time, and I have something I want to say.  Let’s get into it!  Today, I am telling the tale of three PDFs, what it says about me, what it says about the gaming industry, and what it says about what RPGs I will pay for going forward.


First, I want to talk about RuneQuest ( from Choasium.  This came out last month, and the build up was an email campaign and several release articles.  It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was enough to keep my interest as well as a Free RPG Day book I reviewed ( ).  I liked everything I saw, and at midnight, I got an email saying that I could buy it from both and, and if I bought from Choasium, I would get a gift certificate from Choasium toward additional products or the hardcover out later that year.  I demo Call of Cthulhu for Chaosium, and when I demo, I earn credits on their store.  I used those credits to buy their product, later I WILL buy the physical product, and my store players buy the product as well.


Today, Masks of Nyarlathotep launched ( ).  It’s MUCH more expensive for just the PDF which is essential a rerelease of an older module.  It’s updated of course, but I think I’m a super de dupper Game Designer (I make 10s of dollars off the RPG industry this year alone!), so If I really wanted to, I could could custom up everything, find the old resources… ya know what, let’s just buy the PDF and be lazy!  All joking aside, this product is slick.  Lots of resources, new updated things, books for the players, AND the same guarantee-buy now, get the cost of the PDF off the physical book!  It had the same build up as RuneQuest with an email campaign with some information and updates, but it might have gotten a slight boost as now Fantasy Flight is releases Egypt and Nyarlathotep themed products for their Call of Cthulhu lines as well.  But it was  the same deal as with RuneQuest, but this time I woke up at 3AM AND I didn’t have credits to burn.  NO thoughts or questions on if I should get this, but when and will this be my next campaign I run at the store?  This was bought with $60 of my own money because I felt like this was a good product from a company that cared.


Choasium makes me feel like they need me and want gamers like me.  I run monthly games at my store, games at cons, and even online for this company.  I feel like I work hard for them, and the reward me for being part of the team.  I put my time in for them, and they reward me with store credit and excellent product.  My only slight complaint was I wish I could use their credit offer on physical product from my local store, so I can support my local store like the Bits and Mortar program (  But, Chaosium gets upfront money from me and encourages me to basically buy physical product on layaway.  I give them some money now, and when physical product launches, I can use my credit on it to get it cheaper.  They sell books, have money to make books, and then get more money by selling me the physical book.  Win Win!


Those were two good PDFs, so how about a bad one?  Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes also launched last month.  I saw an announcement on Youtube from some people playing a game.  Yippy!  Who doesn’t love to watch other people game instead of game themselves!  That’s always fun….  And then I saw the release announcement, and I started a timer on my phone and started checking torrents.  I got to 18 hours before I saw my first torrent of the book.  I’m not saying I did anything illegal, but I did keep checking to see when it was out there.  Right now the fancy edition of the book is on amazon for $80 ( , don’t worry angry review is coming out tomorrow!).  Cool!  Can I just buy a PDF?  No, DnD has moved away from the PDF market (not really since their major cash cow is to just slapping their name on everything in the DM’s Guild and get money for NO work…)  because DnD Insider caused such a stir with physical stores feeling they were abandoned by an ever changing rule set and players who payed $10 a month basically getting the rules free anyway.  Ok, so its only physical books then?  NOPE!  I can buy a “license” for the content from DnD Beyond…for $33 ( )!  Just what I need!  Another app to update, purchase stuff for, and keep checking!  YA!  If I buy a physical book do I get money off the digital?  NOPE!  If I buy a digital book, do I get money off a physical book?  NOPE! Heck even Pathfinder gives you a PDF if you buy the physical from them!  If I demo games for you guys, do I get credits to buy books?  NOPE, SCREW YOU ED!  WE ENDED THE STORE PROGRAM BECAUSE WE’RE NOW FUNDING A FORMER PORN STAR TO PLAY DND AND APPEAR AT CONS!  Because we’re a family company.  (Does Ed really care that she is a former porn star?  No, but I really want to point out this is the weirdest future!  Who saw that one coming?).  So now I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO REASON TO GAME IN A STORE OR CON, SUPPORT A STORE OR CON, OR ENTER A STORE OR CON TO BUY THE BOOKS SINCE AMAZON BEATS THE STORES AND CONS EVERY TIME!  Welp, guess what PDF Ed DIDN’T buy?  It’s Tome of Foes?  Why?  BECAUSE IT DOESN’T LEGALLY EXIST FOR SALE!  I don’t need some app to game.  I have a table.  DnD Beyond makes by blood boil even more because you log in with your twitch handle.  So WHY EVEN GO TO THE STORES!  You didn’t make the PDFs because it hurt stores, and now you’ve decided to absolutely screw the stores because why shop at them and why should I demo at them since I have to now PAY to run your games and you will not support me an any capacity…


What is the point of this angry rant?  I love gaming, and I love sharing my hobby with others.  I am a geekvangelist.  I go to community events and set up a table with RPGs to show off the game and how fun it is.  I organize at least 10 events and one day of con games each month, minimum.  I feel I’m part of any RPG group that will have me and will support me getting gaming out there as well as their product.  Wizards of the Coast just doesn’t care, and it makes me sad that 5e is its teeth set into the RPG industry.  Its a good system, but the people behind it just don’t care about the places it came from, the people who sell it at a local level, or even the hard work poured in by the people trying to make their game happen.  Is any company perfect?  No.  I love Chaosium, but their store support is a bit limited.  They support me on the back end, but not as much with me buying stuff at the store so they get money through the store.  Heck even Paizo now does an in store support by having some stores give away con certificates and every so many dollars spent that day in the store allows for rerolls and other things to help players and keep them gaming in the store.  But, this final book from WotC is the final straw that broke my camel back.  I used to be a local coordinator.  I made store events happen, run weekly games, worked hard with other coordinators to make sure con games happened across the state, and felt like I was part of a team.  Now, who the fuck cares?  WotC is going to have some pretty people pretend pay on YouTube next to an unboxing video of a barbie, hope Twitch says alive compared to Discored or a hundred other up en comers, and abandon everything I worked hard to keep going.  They don’t even support cons as now cons need to individual purchase adventures for DMs through the DMs guild so now every con makes their own adventures.  This has resulted in the Living Game or Adventurer’s League feeling more splintered than it has ever felt before.  But, DnD is what the gamers at my store want to play, and I make games happen.    So I make this pledge now, I will NOT purchase a DnD adventure that I am running for a public event.  If I am not supported in any way, then neither will I support them.


So this is the tale of how three PDFs altered my perception on gaming.  If I feel supported as a point man out in the wild for a game, then I will follow you to hell and back.  I’ll purchase, sit, and read RPGs late into the evening if I feel that the hard work of making gaming happen out in the world is something you care about.  If I feel you are just using a name you bought because a card game you owned made ALL THE MONEY, then I am not just another stream of revenue for you. I give up time with my family and friends to journey across the country and internet to find places where people who don’t know what they are missing are to introduce them to something I love.  If I feel you don’t care, then why the heck should I?  And if you don’t care about the things I care deeply about, then why should I try to support you in the things you are doing?



Blurbs from the Booth- Origins Wrap Up

Last time I wrote about my Origins Experience. Let’s finish up with the last few days of Origins.

Day 3-Friday

Day 3 started like any other: got up, worked out, ate some food, and hit the road.  For food, I brought a Colman cooler full of apples, string cheese, pretzels, and tomato juice.  Hey, I’m on Weight Watchers, so we’re trying to eat a bit healthier at the con!  Also, having a mile long hustle to my station is a bit of a bonus to losing weight.

This was the first day I was able to hit the con floor.  Origins always seems massive, but I know it’s nothing compared to the big dance–GenCon.  It’s also fun to see a few familiar faces as I walk around.  I talked to the fine people at Prolific Games, Stronghold Games, Plaid Hat Games, and Catalyst Game Labs as well as many more.  That’s the absolute best part of this con-small enough that you actually get to KNOW people in the industry, but large enough that industry GIANTS will be there talking with their fans.

I was also able to pick up a couple of games.  Lynnvander was there and they were giving out kickstarter copies of Albion’s Legacy.  I got my copy there, saving everybody some shipping.  I also got a copy of Jarl, the successor to The Duke.

Then it was off to the Catalyst Games room to run some Valiant, Cosmic Patrol, and Shadowrun.  Not too many takers today for Valiant and Cosmic Patrol.  These are still awesome games that run quick, but I know they are not the main attraction for Catalyst.  After Valiant/Cosmic Patrol, I was able to get a game of Jarl in.  It’s a great game that builds on the mechanics of the original.  Can’t wait to play some more.  My time with Catalyst ended with some Shadowrun.  I ran the first level con missions.  I love these Origins Missions as mine is about breaking into the CAS via plane and getting lost in the woods with some hillbillies.  Lots of fun roleplaying and laughter was had by all.

Friday ended with me attending the Secret Gaming Cabal event, but there was trouble afoot.  I later learned the full details, so here they are.  The Secret Cabal sells pint glasses.  They don’t make any significant money off these, but they are still selling items while not playing to be part of GAMA, the show host, or renting a booth.  That’s the kind of offense they take your badge for.  And that’s just what happened.  A GAMA representative took two of the Cabal’s badges and was about to cancel the event.  Some words were exchanged, and my personal hero Stephen Buonocore, president of Stronghold Games and the hardest working man in gaming, stepped in and fixed the issue.  Once again, I’m glad I’m also a demo agent for Stronghold Games!  While at the meet up, I got to talking with some guys from Canada.  Great guys all, and it’s fun to see the international appeal of different board games.

Day 4-Saturday-My Birthday!

Saturday was my birthday, so I was lazy and didn’t work out.  I started the day the same as any other by eating, running to the convention, and then hitting the con floor.

At 10 AM, I had two events: the board game geek exchange and a Dungeon Fighter demo.  I was the only person there for Dungeon Fighter, so I started a demo, and then ran off to the BGG event.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I did not expect this!  People hold up signs with their name so others who bought or traded games with them can get their games.  I got the Bioshock Infinity Game, Caverna, Kingdom of Solomon, and Small World Realms all for about $110.  Great deal!  I was sad my Dungeon Fighter demo fizzled, but that was my fault.  However, Happy Birthday to me!

Then it was off to Catalyst to demo RPGs.  Here is where some awesome happened.  I had groups for both Cosmic Patrol and Valiant.  We had an amazing time; the Cosmic Patrol group was a group of friends who absolutely love 60’s Sci-Fi, and the Valiant RPG was with another group of guys who have read the majority of the comics.  Those demos fly by too fast, so it was then off to running intro games for Shadowrun.  And here’s where it got strange.  We didn’t have enough new players for Shadowrun, so I was the odd man out.  With no players, I got bored and just started grabbing people walking past our room and getting them to join Shadowrun: Crossfire.  I got a full game together (they almost won, but lost in the final scene), and one of the players asked to demo the RPG.  He and another intro player were taken away by the room captain to something special.  I found out later they were sent off to play Shadowrun with the show guest of honor.

Saturday was highlighted with Catalyst buying the Catalyst Demo Team pizza.  I’ve worked for quite a few demo companies, but none have bought me dinner!  Best part was it was my birthday so I got a free birthday dinner thanks to Catalyst.  Once again, Catalyst is showing how much they appreciate and love their demo team.  I honestly don’t need a ton from the game companies I work for, but it is these little things that really make me feel appreciated. That makes me feel proud to go forth and demo these games at other cons.

Day 5-Sunday

Sunday is a sad day as the con’s ending.  I worked out, checked out, and for once, drove to the con.  I barely made it to Christian Gaming Guilds mass.  It was a packed room full of awesome people.

After church, I hit the con for the last time.  Sunday is deal day!  I bought a few games, but the biggest were the deals at the AEG booth.  AEG knows how to make money the last day!  I like to think I’m a hustler, but ho-ly cooow, these people were a well oiled machine!  I ended up buying Empire Engine, the dual expansion to Lost Legacy, and Planes.  They even threw in a laughy taffy to sweeten the deal!  Saved a bunch, but bought more than I was planning.

My final event of the con was a winner takes all game of Realm of Heroes by Mr. B Games.  The rules would be taught, and the winner would get to take the copy of the game home with him/her.  I showed up, and I was the winner-Mostly because no one else showed up!  Not even the person teaching the rules.  I went to the Mr. B Games booth and was told they might not have even registered the event.  So that was a bit strange.  But, they said since I was the winner; why not take a copy of the game.  So in the next few weeks, get ready for a review of Realm of Heroes!

Then it was back to the say good bye to all my demo friends at the Catalyst booth and game room.  Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Post Origins News and Highlights!

Honestly, my best part of the con was something I saw on the way out.  One of the players from my grab-random-hall-goes Crossfire game ended up playing a regular Shadowrun demo that turned into the special guest game.  He ended up back playing a full four hour game that Sunday.  That’s why I do this-not for free games, not for cool swag, but to get people into the hobby.  It felt good to be part of his first Shadowrun experience.  I hope to see him next Origins.

First the sad news-I came down with some major con crud, which is why this is so late.  I ended up going to Urgent Care and getting some drugs to deal with not being able to breathe.  Didn’t get anything that makes me see colors, but I do get to breathe.  So, I’ll call that a win.

But the good news- Despite all the extra fun having to drive around much more than I wanted to; I did get back into working out.  Hotel exercise rooms are always deserted during cons.  I ended up losing two pounds during Origins.  As I’m on Weight Watchers, that’s a loss I’ll take.

So all said and done, I bought a few games, ran as many as I could, and feel appreciated by my friends and the groups I worked for.  Origins may have beaten my physically but emotionally and spiritually, I feel better than ever.  Can’t wait to read, play, and run some more Shadowrun-See you in the Shadows!

Blurbs from the Booth-My time at Heroicon!

Last weekend I had the pleasure to head down to Decatur, IL to run Shadowrun.  It was a blast.  This is the first year for a new con called Heroicon, and they are doing things right from the start.  Let’s hit a few high points:

  • Open table signs-You never know what’s open at a con. Small cons don’t have as exhaustive pre-con sign ups, and this one was no exception.  But, they had visible signs at each table that told passersby if a table was open.  Well done!  A suggestion-Have each table also have an event list with times.  Saw this at AnCon, and it is my favorite organization idea I’ve seen in a long time!
  • Free GM badges-I drove six hours to get to the con. I’m scheduled 12 hours for game demos.  I’m here to make games happen, and I hate when cons then ask me to pay money to run games for them.  Heroicon didn’t!  That already makes me feel good before I even leave my house in Michigan.
  • Price-This is a small con, and attendees shouldn’t have to pay GenCon prices for Decatur, IL games. And they didn’t!  One day with unlimited gaming was $15!  Want three days?  that’s $25.  Want free cold food all con with all the soda you can drink and unlimited gaming?  $60 for the VIP.  I spoke to a VIP, and he told me it was well worth it.  Feeding two guys and myself was over $60, so I should have bought the VIP pass anyway!  Also, FREE GAMING!  You spend money on the badge, and that’s it.  You don’t need crazy extra tickets.  Again, great job!
  • Game Library-Love cons with games you can just play. This one was good, but it wasn’t the GenCon game library.  Those guys/gals are close buy.  Next year you might want to talk to them. However, I was happy to just see a game lending library there!
  • Dealer room-There were a few dealers on hand. There was even a good selection of goods out there with a few people pitching kickstater projects.  Good to see new blood in the community!
  • People- Very friendly, very open, and very helpful. I had just spent several hours on I57, so I wasn’t lucid or in a good mood, but the con organizers all helped me find my spot and get running games like a champ.  That will fix your angry driving mode in a hurry!
  • Magic Tournament Room-If you have a con over a Friday night, you need a Magic event. I don’t even play Magic and I know that’s a rule!  They had one.
  • Game Variety-I ran Shadowrun. I also talked with Paizo GMs, the local Local Coordinator for DnD, Warhammer addicts, and board gamers alike.  Lots of different games make for a good con.
  • Room Price-Had I had a bit of extra cash, I’d have stayed an extra day. Its $80 bucks for a day.  For a hotel that is really decent, that’s a steal!

All and all, this is a great local convention that I can’t wait to go back to next year.  I met some good people, played some great games, and had a blast.  Check out HeroiCon at  and I hope they run this next year!

Blurbs from the Booth-How I spent my Winter (Fantasy) Vacation

It’s that time of the year again-WINTER FANTASY!  I love Winter Fantasy.  It’s the one con a year I can get my wife to go to.  We have a blast, and sometimes, just sometimes we actually get to play on the same side of the DM screen!  This year I went a bit earlier and run a ton of DnD.  Let’s go day by day, and I’ll tell you what I thought.



Ah, winter in beautiful Fort Wayne, Indiana!  I was caught in the massive snow storm that keep many a GM, DM, and player at bay.  I was supposed to run a game, but my table wasn’t there, so I was shipped to an adventure I didn’t prepare, hadn’t read, and was running for some of the major heavy hitters who coordinate the DnD Adventure League.  So, no pressure then?  It all turned out well though.  I had a blast, my players had a blast, and the adventure turned out to be a good one.  It wasn’t as much fun as my current favorite, DDEX1-4, but DDEX1-10 is an awesome adventure that really sets up the next season well.  From there it was off to check into the hotel, but I screwed up and checked into the wrong hotel.  That made for a fun hour.  Even more entertaining, I was going to stay at the other hotel the next day, so I had to move my gear over for exactly one night.  Good times!



The best advice I can give Dungeon Masters besides don’t follow the rules too much is to buy a cot!  I slept like a baby in my room with four other DMs, and hit the floor early.  I was selected to martial for the con, so if you don’t get to your games quickly, I’m one of the people you get to blame.  I got set up and run an awesome adventure.  This was even more fun because I was able to actually read the adventure ahead of time.  Lunch was the ever loved King Gyro that I ate as I listened to the first DnD DM seminar.  Now I expected this to be completely useless.  I’m not a bad GM, so I think I’m ready for anything.  And, this seminar discussed the basics of DMing.  But, honestly, I was pretty impressed.  Sometimes it’s good to go back over the basics, at least quickly.  Then, I was back for more marshaling.  However, most of my players couldn’t make it due to the storm, so I was selected to play Baker Street.  Let’s give this a short RPG rundown!





All tests are six-sided dice rolls with a Sherlock Die.  The regular dice all are successes when you have a value of four or over.  Just like all fun six-sided dice games, 6’s explode and are rolled until they don’t roll a six.  The Sherlock die has a 1, 2, and a 3 on it as well as Watson, Sherlock, and Moriarty.  The 1, 2, and 3 on this die makes 1’s, 2’s, or 3’s count as successes on the other dice.  Watson adds one success, Moriarty makes all dice with a three or less count against your successes allowing for negative scores, and Sherlock lets you name a number and all those count as successes.  That’s the entire base mechanic.  When you do something you’re specialize in you add two extra dice, and when you do something else you use your ranks in that.  Not trained?  Then roll two dice and the Sherlock die.  Done.  Attacks and Defense work the exact same way.  I roll my dodge, and you roll your weapon attack.  Weapons all have a set number of dice, so you roll those dice and the Sherlock die and repeat the basics above if you hit a character by beating their dodge roll.  For each hit with the weapon, you reduce the condition of your target with wounds. Wounds reduce the dice numbers that count as a hit, until you are knocked out or killed.

What does stand out is the investigation mechanics and threat.  When you enter a room, you can roll investigate.  That allows you to get a number of clues.  Those clues all have leads, and you can do a different check to eliminate leads.  This really helps me as a GM and a Player by now I don’t have to try to be smarter than my players or GM, and if I’m accidently way too cleaver for my own good and hide my story too deep,  my players have a mechanic to actually find the story threads.  If the players want to explore again and reduce more leads, they then can search again, but they might raise the threat of the adventure.  As the threat goes up, the bad guys get harder, the Moriarty side of the Sherlock die gets worse, and more problems arise for the players.  It keeps the tension up while still letting the players choose what happens.  It felt organic and fun.


While I like Sherlock Holmes, I was never a diehard fan. But this really drew me in.  It’s after Sherlock “dies” falling off the falls.  Watson hires some help, and that’s where the players come in.  Our game had a chimney sweep, a child laborer, and a prostitute.  Guess which one I was.  I did work hard for my money!  What was fun was all the pregenerated characters were all characters from other Victorian stores and events.  My lady of the night was from Whitechapel, so if I wasn’t helping Watson, things would not end well for me.


All and All, Baker Street is a fun RPG, and I even got a cool new die out of the demo.  Well worth it!  Go give it a try!

Thursday finished with my wife coming into town late, and I ran another DnD game of Tales Trees Tell.  That went well, and my players and I had a blast.  Then, my wife and I did what all red blood Americans do when they’re in a hotel room alone together-We played a game of Star Realms.  I kicked some butt that night!



The wife’s in town, so I bought her tickets to my games that day.  Also our niece came to the show for one day.  I marshaled for the first slot and sat down at my table.  It was an adventure I hadn’t played yet, but I had prepared it called Raiders of the Twilight Marsh.  My players enjoyed that one.  They fought a dragon, I made a horror, and my niece who hadn’t played DnD till then had an amazing time.  Lunch happened quickly as I attended the second DnD Seminar discussing the use of inspiration.  I really liked this one.  It had PowerPoint slides, some good audience interaction, and it discussed giving player’s narrative control.  I want to do that more in my games, so this was right up my alley.  After lunch, I marshaled again, but I still didn’t have any players, so I was given a chance to play Neo Exodus.  This is a new Pathfinder compatible Living setting.  I played a cleric of a semi-computer god.  It was fun, but my only problems where Pathfinder problems.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time.  But, combat takes so long, and set up can be a pain.  However, it was fun.


That evening, I marshaled, and then the wife and I hit the con and played some board games at the GenCon board game library.  We tied played Carcassonne: The City.  Then we hit the hotel room and played some more Star Realms.  I didn’t do as well that night.



Saturday was my easy day.  After marshaling, I run my first table of Pool of Radiance Resurgent.  I had a great time, and my players decided to just bluff their way through it.  Goes to show you how much you can customize this game as instead of having a necromancer dominate the undead you can have a diplomancer just talk your way out of anything the DM throws at the players.  That was a good time.

From then on the con was free for me, or so I thought.  After the 1PM marshaling, my wife and I went to J. K. O’Donnell’s.  God, I love this place.  It’s got great beer, great food, and an authentic atmosphere.  We tried to go Friday night, but there were just WAY too many people there at night!  I had an authentic Irish breakfast which was eggs, blood sausage (not bad by the way), fried vegetables, and other meats.  I’ve always wanted to try an UK breakfast, and now I have. I also got a little tipsy (man am I out of practice!), so my wife and I went back to the hotel, and took a nap (I’m getting old!).  That evening, fully refreshed, I marshaled, and I asked to run a game of Arcanis.  I love Arcanis, but don’t get much of a chance to play anymore.  So, I grabbed all my d12’s, the wife grabbed her old character, and we played a game with some other people from MI.  The evening ended when back in the hotel room with more Star Realms and opening up my copy of Tiny Epic Defenders.  I lost Star Realms, but we did win at Tiny Epic Defenders.  Quick rundown time!


In Tiny Epic Defenders, you make a deck of bad things to happen to the kingdoms’s different locations.  Then, you also shuffle in your action cards.  When a bad thing comes up, a location takes some damage.  When it takes too much damage, the location is considered destroyed and all damage now goes to the capital.  When the capital falls, the game’s over.  When your turn comes up, you can do three actions which can be location’s ability, heal one damage on a location, move, or use a special character power.  When the deck of bad things and actions runs out, you draw a new card from the timer deck, shuffle, and repeat.  When you can’t draw from the timer deck, a major threat appears somewhere.  Now players have to race to do damage to the final monster as quickly as possible.  The mechanics are quick and easy.  Also, I have the deluxe version, so I get a few more monsters and final threats.  Honestly, it’s easy, and fun.


I liked this game, but I didn’t love this game.  Predicting where and when monsters will damage locations isn’t a bad game, but the end game is a bit anticlimactic.  To damage the last bad guy, you spend one action for one damage.  You get three actions, so you just position yourself on him or her and pile on the damage.  It doesn’t feel as tense as the rest of the game.  It’s great game if you have 20 minutes and want a co-op game, but if you want some more meat in your co-op game, you will be a little underwhelmed.



The last day of the con, and the last spots I’m marshaling.  My first spot was open, so the wife and I played Shadow of the Demon Lord with the creator Robert Schwalb.  That was a blast, as it’s always fun to see who makes the game your play.  Also, it’s always fun to play with the creator of an RPG when they’re hung-over and questioning life choices that involve cheese taco rollups!  Let’s do a quick rundown of Shadow of the Demon Lord.



This game is a d20 system, but not the standard d20 I know and love.  Ability modifiers use a flat ability – 10 system.  Have Strength 12?  You have a +2 modifier.  Have intelligence 8?  Then it’s -2.  Easy.  Easy is a word I’ll say multiple times here, and I mean that in the best way possible.  To succeed at most things you have to hit a 10 with your modifier and dice roll.  Again, easy.  Attacks all hit the ability of the target or an armor class that you figure out once.  Easy.  To modify situations you add six-sided dice.  Get a bonus from a character blessing you?  Roll a d6, and add the result.  Get a penalty from a monster?  Roll a d6, and subtract the result.  The adding good dice counteracts adding bad dice, and you only count the highest dice added.  This makes the math MUCH similar or easier.  The biggest number you will add will be around 10.  Done.  This is a really sleek system.  It feels enough like all the RPGs I love while still having its own distinctness.


I had a long talk with the creator about this game.  For all its glory, it felt…short.  And he told me that was by design.  We all have heard tales of grognards who played epic 40+ year games of D&D.  But for every story I hear about that, I read about Pathfinder games that die in under a month.  This game is designed to be played quickly, and leveled up quickly too.  You won’t play one game for 10 years, but you will pay for ten sessions.  When put that way, all my doubts vanished.  It’s a definite shift in perspective when you’re told that although your characters have an awesome story to be part in, you won’t be playing them that long.  But, honestly that’s the truest thing I’ve heard of from the RPG industry in a long time.  As for the in game theme, it’s a grab bag of bad (in a good way).  The Demon lord is an extradimensional thing that is bad.  When it tries to enter our world, its shadow is cast on different things causing a bunch of different things like the zombie apocalypse to lite beer.  That means anything you play can happen in this world.  From plagues to fallen angels, you can decide the Demon Lord’s shadow is causing some sort of havoc in the world.  Also the world is a strange mix of gaslight/steampunk/Lord of the Rings.  Players can be anything from any of those worlds.  I was a clockwork priest of the world who believed that the world and all living things are all made of tiny machines the others could not see.  My crazy choice all slid well into the game.  Robert Schwalb is a fantastic story teller, and any game that has demonic statues fart out baby headed centipedes obviously is going to be a good one.

If you get a chance, when this game comes out on kickstarter, throw money this way.  I know I am.


Due to the unfortunate accidents some other DMs had, I was asked to run one last game.  I hoped in to the DM chair and met my boss in the DnD Adventurer’s league Frank.  I hadn’t met him all con, and this was my chance.  We played a great game of Pool of Radiance Resurgent, and then had some spirited conversations about the future of the League.  I’m looking forward to what’s happening next, and I didn’t get fired, so I left happy!


Well that was my time out in Fort Wayne.  I’ll be back next year.  I had a blast, but I do have some suggestions for next year:

  • Credit Cards-I haven’t seen cash for three months. My family gives my digital money now!  You should be able to take my digital money
  • Day Passes-My niece came for one day and then drove back to MI. That day cost $30 bucks!  My wife played for four days, and that cost her $30.  Something is not right here.
  • Reduce the price of events-$8 is a bit much. Now, I know you have to charge so we all get to play, but $8 is a bit much for four hours.  We’re talking Origins prices here, and while awesome, Winter Fantasy isn’t as big as Origins.
  • Different Games-I love D&D, but this right now is basicaly an only D&D con. I want some different games.  I don’t want Winter Fantasy to be an only D&D con.  If Wizards of the Coast wants to step in, throw money at the con, and make it only D&D, that’s one thing.  But, if this is an independent convention, I want at least a smattering of other games to play.
  • Event books-This year the games weren’t really published off the website. I didn’t know what was happening when.  I had to ask more than a few times to know what I can even play when.  I’m not looking for tome, but even a list of what and when would really be nice.  I didn’t even know when half the DnD DM guild stuff was happening and I ended up wondering into both events almost by accident.

Blurbs from the Booth- Multiple Characters to one Player

I’ve seen a problem at my table a few times.  I have one player who ends up playing multiple characters.  This has happened a few way.  One is the most broken feat out there for Pathfinder and DnD3e-Leadership!  With Leadership, a player gets a follower as well as a small army as they level.  Now one character gets two turns while the rest get one. Next is the funnel for Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Players start with five level zero characters and during their first adventure will lose some, but form a bond with one or two.  It’s a great way to build your character’s backstory, but it does have some problems.  Once  I had a player walk out of a funnel with four player characters at level one.  Now they want to play all four.  The final way is when a table is a little light, and the players decide that they can fill up that table for me by just playing more than one character.


So the first question you probably have is ‘Why Do I hate this so much?’  Well, it has to do with roleplaying.  Sure, in a hack and slash game playing multiple characters would be easy.  No fuss and no muss.  But in a game that has any amount of roleplaying, multiple characters just kill the game.  Now I have players who either don’t roleplay their multiple characters or roleplay too much and completely dominate the table.  Or I have players who have events happen that they just don’t tell me about!  If I as your GM don’t know it’s a thing, then it’s not a thing!  I need to know what your up to so I can build that into the world I’m running.  Finally, I have players who bilk the system by using multiple characters to just be extra powerful.  I hate that the most!  I hate power gaming for power gaming sake.


Well, what’s a GM to do?  Well I’ve made a few compromises and changes.  One, I no longer allow leadership.  I don’t like the feat and no organized play group does either.  It’s ok in some circumstances, but those are exceptions, not general conditions.  Next, I just don’t have games if I miss too many people.  No, you do not get to play Mike’s cleric if Mike is not here!  Mike wants to play, and we’ll play when he’s here.  And finally, in DCCRPG, when a player runs multiple PCs, his/her PCs tend to be the target of the monsters more often.  Monsters go for the biggest threats, and if you’ve got six guys standing in a group, then that is where my fireball goes!  Now admittedly, some of these solutions are mean and may target a player unfairly, but sometimes it’s helpful to remind players that this is more then just a dice rolling contest.  I want a story, and I hope they do too.  Multiple character to a player never end well as some players just won’t have the luck that the person with four characters will have, and that lesser player will not get a moment to shine or even feel like they are useful.  And that is a feeling I’m trying to avoid.


What do you think?  Am I over reacting?  Do you want one PC to a player?

Blurbs from the Booth-Do I really love Dungeons and Dragons?

Well it’s Sunday, and that means option time.  And today, I’m going to write about Dungeons and Dragons.  In the comments below, you can start your own edition wars, but today I want to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for a little bit.  I’ve written a ton of RPG reviews, but what’s really strange is most of these I think I like more than DnD.  But, I play more DnD and Pathfinder than any other RPG.  So my question today is-Do I love Dungeons and Dragons?

This seems like a pretty no brainer question, right?  Ya, you play a bunch, so you do.  But at the same time, DnD has pretty much all I hate in an RPG.  It has one time failure.  Roll a dice wrong, and you don’t open the gate or you don’t know the important thing.  Also, I have to say, I hate the D20.  A single die that just has a flat distribution of numbers doesn’t really demonstrate the reality of life.  Sure, it makes for easy math, but most often your average.  Life doesn’t have these massive swings.  Most of the time you will roll a 10 driving to work.  Sure you might need a 5 to do it and have a +3 to the drive skill, but honestly does the 2 really matter?  Does rolling a 20 on the drive check before the mod really reflect you critically pulling into the drive way?  I like when there is a distribution of numbers.  I like the bell curve!  Also, I like my number mattering.  As with my above driving example you roll your d20 and drive to work.  You get a perfect 23.  Does that really matter anymore than the 5?  Heck in DnD rolling a 19 most times won’t even get you more damage.  I like when the numbers matter too.

So those are all things that prove I don’t like DnD/Pathfinder.  But the question remains-If I hate the major parts of it, why am I staying?  All of the above are major flaws in the D20 system, be it 3.P 5e, or even 4e.  How does one rectify that fact?  Well, I have a few ideas.  First, there is some legacy.  I cut my teeth on 3e.  That’s not a misprint-3e.  Sure it’s broken, and the math fails about 3/4 in to the system, but its fun with your friends.  Also, I like the worlds.  Math isn’t everything, and you can role-play with a quarter.  I like Golarion and the Forgotten Realms.  I love these places.  I’m sitting are reading tons of books both on fluff and on mechanics and I know these places.  These places have earned a place in my heart.  Also, these games are big.  McDonald’s might not be the three Michelin Star material, but it’s pretty ubiquitous.  I love getting geeks together to get some games to happen.  These platforms both have some awesome support, and I do love them for that.

What do you think?  Do you love some games despite the game?  Do you hang on to a game that irks you a bit because it gives you something else?  Leave your thoughts below.

Blurbs from the Booth-Top Ten RPGs of 2014

Just like last week (, I feel it’s time to go over the top ten RPG products I reviewed in 2014.  Same rules apply-I need to see your product AND review it in 2014.  Want your favorite or your product up here?  Get me a copy!


  1. Emergence RPG reviewed here Did you like Guardians of the Galaxy? How about a whole society of humans who emerged on to a planet in the 1980/1990’s with Orcs, Dwarves, and Elves? Only thing I want more of is content for this RPG.


  1. Numenera RPG reviewed here Numenera or The Strange was ending up on this list one way or another. The wife made the call for me as I’ve run both for her, and she wants more Numenera. It’s got quick character building, extremely fast combat, and a very intuitive skill/combat system.


  1. Crawl! Issue #10 reviewed here I love DCCRPG. I run one game a month and one con game a month. I AM STARVED FOR OFFICIAL PLAYER CONTENT!  However, if I can’t get my official fill from Goodman Games, there is always Crawl! ! (That’s intentional Crawl! has an exclamation point.)  This issue was the demi-humans issue.  You want that Halfling rogue?  You got it!  Also, this is the cheapest thing on this list at three bucks!


  1. AMP: Year One reviewed here How about the X-Men? Well, there is no official RPG anymore for the X-Men, but there is AMP: Year One. Mutants super heroes with crazy powers and customization makes a great RPG.



  1. BareBones Fantasy Reviewed here A short simple RPG that plays fast. I love quick systems, and this one is short and to the point. All characters are made quickly and the game plays even quicker.  Also, the books are CHEAP and they look like graphic novels!


  1. Victoriana 3rd Edition reviewed here Why yes I love Shadowrun, Steampunk, and forcing my players to have to choose what happens when they push themselves. Here is a system that does all of that in spades. Also Cubicle Seven proved how classy to me they are by releasing the update to their Lord of the Rings RPG for FREE.  Great content and guys/gals all around.


  1. Run and Gun for Shadowrun 5e reviewed I love me some SR, and options was what any player really wanted in 2014. And options are what we got.  It’s not everything we could hope for, but it was something big!


  1. Darkwood Adventure Arc #1-The Deft and the Deadly reviewed here Pathfinder needs a spot on this list, but this isn’t from Paizo. I really like what these guys are up to. They’re making a brand new world, and this book not only describes a small adventure but is part world guide.  Great bargain for less than 15 bucks!


  1. 13 True Ways Reviewed here 13th Age is one of my favorite RPGs to come out recently, but if Catalyst is somewhat quite, Pelgrane Press is downright mute on new content for its RPG. 13th Age players want options, and this book gave them plenty. From the monk that made me super happy with proper martial arts forms to just tons of new content, I love this book.


  1. Dungeons and Dragons-5th Edition- DM Guide reviewed here, Monster Manual reviewed here, and Player Handbook reviewed here No surprise here. It’s the game I play the most if you follow my twitter.  WotC had one of the cleanest launch products I’ve seen in a while.  It felt classic and new at the same time.  Well done!

Blurbs from the Booth-Top 10 Reviewed Games of the 2014

Everybody else gets to put out there top 10’s, well, so do I!  Qualifications are I had to review your game in 2014.  Only 52 (wow, I play a lot of games!) were selected, and I narrowed it down to 10.  Let’s see if your favorites on the list.


10- Shadows of Malice-$50- Review here –  It’s not the prettiest one on the list, but it makes up for that in sheer effort.  This game covers a ton of ground from world building to theme.  It’s completely random, but if you don’t mind lots of dice rolling, it’s a blast for a co-op game.


9-Terra Mystica-$80- Reviewed here-  The first euro on the list.  This is a fun game, but man is it deep.  Think Mariana Trench deep.  It’s a fantasy game about terraforming, but worker placement and action selection blend together into a beautiful game.  Also, you could beat someone to death with the components in the box-lots of wood pieces in this one for a great value.


8- Viva Java: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game- $30-  And now the first family game on the list.  This one is an extremely light game, but it’s got a few sneaky elements of depth that will surprise you.  It’s quick, teaches in less than five minutes, and you can master this in 10 minutes.  Quick fun.


7-Eminent Domain- $40-  An awesome 4X game that is also a deck builder with a twist.  Every action you take also gives your opponents the same action.  That’s a fun twist that blows Dominion out of the water for me.


6-Tiny Epic Kingdoms- $20- How about a 4X game the fits in your pocket, plays in 45, and has more depth than most games out there?  How about if that game costs about as much as a quarter of the other games out there?  SOLD!


5-Firefly the Board Game- $60-  Take Shadows of Malice and wrap it in an IP I love.  Give it awesome components, and you get this amazing game.  Randomness can bite you in the butt hard core, but all American-style games like this have that problem.


4-Panamax- $50- Ya, I know, it’s a game about moving ships.  That might seem boring, but honestly its one of the more impressive semi-cooperative games out there.  You can’t win unless you invest in the others.  You can ship if you don’t work together.  Lots of tough choices have to be made to make this game work and for you to win.  And that a fun brain buster of a game.


3-Sushi Go!- $13- It’s a drafting game about making the best sushi choices you can.  It’s quick, it’s fun, and you don’t need to be able to read to play.  Family fun at its best!


2-Skull and Shackles Adventure Deck 2- Raiders of the Fever Sea- $20-  I love the Pathfinder Adventure card game, but I also think this is the best version of it out there.  Simply put, you will feel like a pirate and an adventurer as you play this adventure deck.


And finally, NUMBER ONE…


1-Rococo- $60-  Yes, my favorite game of the year is a game about making frilly dresses.  No, I don’t have a problem with that.  Take anything I said about any of the above Euro-style games out there and multiply it.  This game has action selection, worker placement, multi-part economies, area control, deck building, multiple paths to victory, and the King of France!  If you want a game where you can build the best strategy you can completely different every time, this is your game.  I played this game by accident at Origins, but honestly, it’s one of the best choices I’ve made all year.

Blurbs from the booth- Can we enjoy something for once?

Let’s talk about three things that just came out-

Jurassic World Trailer-

Star Wars 7-

Terminator Genisys-


So odds are you’ve all watched those trailers, and my question to you is:  Can we no longer feel joy?  The reaction I’ve seen to all three of these trailers is overwhelmingly negative.  Why?  Those trailers don’t look any different from any other trailer for an amazingly awesome movie.  What’s happened?   From debate over how a light saber looks to outright racist reactions about Stormtrooper skin color, everybody is unhappy with these movies.  We’ve got almost a year till some of these movies come out.  Now, if you don’t want an action movie, then you’re right to say I don’t want to see that movie.  But, honestly all three look great and are all aimed at our inner geeks.

If you want to get into debates about little things, let’s look at all the logic together.  Lightsabers are an amazingly stupid idea!  They would kill most people who picked them up.  Even the Jedi/Sith would most likely kill themselves than their targets.  Also, lightsabers can’t block projectiles.  Lasers weapons work fine against blocking lasers, but three drunken rednecks with shotguns can kill even the most skilled force user.  But, you know what? They look really cool.  It’s Christmas time.  And, if you’re giving gifts, when you finish with the roll of wrapping paper, guess what noise we all make while swinging the tube around?  Same goes with Jurassic World.  Looks great and will be a fun ride.  We’ve got Pratt riding shotgun with some velociraptors and some new genetically modified dino thrown in the mix.  I’ve got a PhD in biochemistry.  If I wanted to start tearing down the movie, I could.  From dino’s mostly likely being covered in feathers to the fact the half life of DNA in amber is two million years, Jurassic Park could not happen.  But, that movie hits me right in the inner 12 year old.  Sometimes, you just have to let that child out and enjoy the ride.

I see this a lot in the geek community.  DnD 4e come out and most people didn’t even want to try to play it.  Now if you played it and didn’t like it, then you get to have an honest opinion.  DnD 5e comes out, and those same people who hated DnD4e sight unseen now hate this new product.  But, if you haven’t even seen the end product, or even read a summary of the product, why are you making opinions on things?  That’s like deciding you hate a style of music without even hearing a 30 second snippet of a song.  If the movies come out and they do suck, then I don’t have a problem with honest criticism.  But, let’s criticize the thing when it’s here.  Right now, we have 88 seconds of a two hour movie.

So my question is: can we feel joy anymore?  Can geeks see something new and not just jump on the hate bandwagon?  Do we have a compulsive need to hate so much you want to be the hate hipster who’s driving the bandwagon?  I’m sorry you can’t have that joy again of being young again with life being much simpler, but try to see the joy that exists in the world.  New things don’t have to suck, and you don’t have to hope the suck either!  Can we all just try to feel some joy?

Blurbs from the Booth-The Games We Play

Note- I love my wife, but this one might seem a bit down on her.  It’s not.  She’s who I most often game with-either because she loves the games we play, or (more likely) it’s because I drag her into my insane adventures.  Love you my dear.


I’ve been thinking about the games I play most often.  Once a month, I get a game of Pathfinder Society in as well as some Shadowrun and DCCRGP.  But weekly, I get a game of DnD in as well as the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  Why so much love for DnD and the Card Game?

Well, I think it’s because of WHO I’m playing with as opposed to WHAT I’m playing.  Most often around dinner, my wife and I will cook and then set up the Adventure Card Game.  It’s fun, and it’s better than just staring at the TV while we eat.  So, I play that game a ton.  What I don’t play is the Shadowrun Crossfire game as much.  It’s not a bad game, but my wife doesn’t like it as much.  Since Jackson’s gaming scene is pretty small and I like my wife, I choose to play with her.  So, no Crossfire on the weekly schedule.

This also goes out to non-cooperative games as well.  My wife hates games like Agricola.  It’s far too much stress as you NEVER have enough time to do all the things that you want to do.  I enjoy the frustration a bit, but she’s of the opinion that gaming shouldn’t be a stressful as life.  Also, she hates games like Magic: the Gathering and Sentinels of the Multiverse.  Both of those are games where you have to read a ton of information on small cards.  She love games like 7 Wonders as they play quick, have good strategy, and don’t make you read a novel each time you play a card.

I’m a pretty universal gamer, and I hope that the blog posts have shown you that.  So, how do I do that AND play games with my wife?  Well, I have to actively seek out other opportunities to game.  Cons are a great way to find the random games to play.  This is a great way to get new games to the table and to meet new gamers.  Also, buying the equivalent of a board game a week can get expensive, so cons give me a chance to play a game and not have to buy that full thing!

I also game online.  OCTGN, Board Game Arena, Board Game Geek, Roll20, and Boiteajeux also give me a chance to try new games, meet new players.  I don’t have to drive cross-country to play some new awesome games, and I get to see what else is out there.  Bonus-all of these are free!  Check them out if you get a chance.

And, as a final way to get new games out there, I game at my local store once a week and twice a month at a local groups clubhouse.  At these places I bring whatever games I want as I drag my friends into whatever strange Euro-card-dice-3D game hybrid I bought of some strange backwoods website.  It’s a blast when you can meet the crazy gamers out there who will enjoy whatever is brought to the table.

How about you?  Who do you game with, how do they shape the way you game, and what do you do to play different games?