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Upcoming Convention Appearances

Hi folks,

Over the past year, I’ve really been trying to up my game as a game master and part of that is trying to run as many games as possible for as many people as possible. So this year I’ll be running at a variety of conventions in my area. Here’s a run-down of where I’ll be and what I’m up to. If you’re in the area for these events (mostly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area), feel free to come by and say hi, or better yet, take a seat at the table.

I’ll be running 7th Sea (second edition) at SoonerCon in Midwest City, Oklahoma on June 23 and June 24. The scenario is called the Ninth Eye and features a ghost ship, a strange island, and pirates.

I’ll be running the same scenario at Lone Star Games Expo in Grapevine, Texas on September 8th. The following day I’ll be running a D&D 5th edition scenario called “Primordial Children”. This one is set in the world of Exandria, the setting created by Matthew Mercer on Geek & Sundry’s live stream “Critical Role”.

At FenCon, which is in Irving, Texas on September 21st through 23rd, I’ll be running 7th Sea, the Ninth Eye again. The schedule is still pending for this con, so check the website at fencon.org if you’re interested.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to getting to play with new folks and running fun games at these conventions. I learn a lot about players and gamemastering through these experiences. And folks are generally pretty great. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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See You At SoonerCon!

10419498_10152418013636989_3890608278189311689_nThere’s going to be some good gaming going on SoonerCon this year (June 22-24)!

On Friday night (6/22), I’ll be participating in the Dresden Files LARP (“Dresden Files: Seasons of Winter”) from 6 pm to 10 pm. This will be part of the Lawton, Oklahoma gaming group of which I’m a member (https://reddirtroleplayers.weebly.com/).

I’ll be also be running a 7th Sea (2e) session at on Sunday (6/24) from 10 am to 1 pm.

Even if you don’t catch these cool games, there is plenty of good gaming to be found! Check out their gaming schedule for more details.

UPDATE: I just got email confirmation that my 7th Sea sessions are incorrect on the online schedule. I will be running from 10 to 2 on Saturday and 10 to 2 on Sunday. It will be the same adventure each time, so if you miss one, feel free to catch the other.

 

Con Games on the Seven Seas

flat,800x800,075,f-c,0,75,800,331.u3So I’m gearing up for a busy summer of gaming at two of my favorite conventions–SoonerCon and FenCon!

In June, I’ll be running two session of 7th Sea (2e) at SoonerCon. One session will run Saturday from 10-2 and the other will be Sunday from 10-2. I’ll also be helping with the Dresden Files LARP on Friday night. The official schedule hasn’t been posted yet, but I’ll update when that happens.

In September, I’m slated to run 7th Sea (2e) at FenCon’s gaming room. The schedule hasn’t been worked out yet, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.

7th Sea is a swashbuckling storytelling game of derring-do and thrilling heroics. Think “The Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Princess Bride meets The Three Musketeers.”

This is going to be a bit of work, but fun work, and I’m really looking forward to sharing stories with folks attending these conventions. I’ll update the schedules as they get posted.

Coming Back Home Again

godfatherThis past Christmas, I finally moved on a decision I had been contemplating for some time, but hadn’t committed to yet. It was an important decision, probably the most important one I would make for the next twenty minutes or so. It has probably changed my life.

I purchased the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual) and a new set of screens.

Then I bought the Tal’Dorei setting, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

And a membership with D&D Beyond online.

A-hem. So, yeah. That’s one reason why it was such a momentous decision. When I commit to a new game, I tend to go whole hog. And, I’ve already invested untold dollars into my Pathfinder collection (it’s pretty much complete with the exception of setting-specific guides, as I homebrew my setting).

Also, I like Pathfinder. It’s got some flaws (what game doesn’t) but it is a solid fantasy roleplaying system. I still think that it caters to the min/max set, but I’ve basically made my peace with the game and enjoy it quite a bit.

But, ever since 5e had come out, I had been curious. In all of my online venues, I was hearing good things. Even those that had some complaint about it seemed to complain about things that I thought would be a benefit.

For example, “It’s a simplified version of the game…” people would bemoan, but I would think “Isn’t that a good thing?” Complex does not necessarily equal better and I do get modifier fatigue from calculating all the various options available in Pathfinder. In my experience, it is nigh impossible to make a character “on the fly” as a GM in Pathfinder–there are too many variables to calculate and keep track of. Maybe a simplified version would alleviate this. Further, it would allow more new players to get rolling dice earlier.

So, yeah, curious. Also, there was a little of that “first love nostalgia” going on as well.

You see, I started my RPG passion with D&D’s infamous “Red Box” back in the 1980s. It opened the doors of the hobby to me. I was hooked. In high school, when I moved to a new town and new school, I played 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) with my friends–friends I still play with today, almost thirty years later. I moved onto 2nd edition AD&D and then…other shiny objects.

I had gone to college by this point and was getting into to other games, other genres. I played Star Frontiers, Vampire the Masquerade, Paranoia, Warhammer Fantasy, RuneQuest, Torg, Ars Magica, and Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Also, my friends and I were scratching our fantasy itch with a homebrew game a member of the group had written.

Fast forward to the new century, and we’re still playing the homebrew game. Meanwhile, D&D has gone into 3rd edition, 3.5 edition, and finally evolved into Pathfinder. I’m hearing good things about them, but continue in my homebrew game. Then D&D comes out with 4e and the internet explodes. People either seem to love it or hate it, but there is little indifference. Grognards like me tended to dismiss it as a tabletop MMOG, but I was still curious. Still, I never got an opportunity to try it out. C’est la vie.

Eventually I decide to try out Pathfinder…and I fall in love again. I homebrew a setting and I’m off and running. That campaign has been going on for the past 5 years.

Meanwhile, D&D comes out with its 5e and my curiosity is piqued. “It’s more role-play oriented,” I’m hearing. “It’s a more streamlined system,” I’m hearing. Still, some grognards don’t care for it because of its seeming lack of complexity, but I’m hearing a siren call. I desperately want to try this game. My old love was looking good, striding confidently, and I wanted to be on her arm again.

So I tried it out at a convention. The scenario was less than ideal and the DM not the greatest, but I got a sense of the game. It was simple–but elegant in its way. There were some ideas I was intrigued with–passive senses, inspiration, etc. Very interesting–but I’d never get my players on board. Plus, I’d already invested so much in Pathfinder. We’d have to meet again some time in a used bookstore, if at all.

Then I started watching Critical Role. I saw the game in action with a stellar DM and a great set of players. That did it. I HAD TO PLAY THIS GAME!

So, I dropped the dime on the rule books at Christmas and have been playing it with my wife for the past two months.

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D&D has come back to its roots in many ways and also opened the doors to the future of roleplaying. It really is a simple, yet elegant system that puts a lot of control in the hands of the DM and also moves the game away from “optimization“–a plus with my style of play (though you certainly still can optimize if that’s your cup of tea). It removes some of the number-crunching and makes more room for fun. It truly love what they’ve done with this edition. I highly recommend it.

 

My New Obsession: Critical Role

100UnfinishedBusinessSo, I’m a bit late to the game (as per usual), but ever since I discovered it, I’ve been obsessively watching episodes of the web-stream series Critical Role. Better nate than lever, and all that jazz…

If you haven’t seen it, it’s essentially a stream of the weekly D&D 5e game of a group of voice actors led by Matthew Mercer–a voice actor and DM-Extraordinaire. His group of 7 players (known as “Vox Machina”), with the occasional guest, adventure in the world of Exandria, primarily on the continent of Tal’Dorei, saving the world and causing mayhem wherever they go.

There is drama, pathos, adventure, comedy, and, most of all, lots of heart. Mercer has put together an unforgettable campaign and manages the proceedings like a pro. While the voice acting chops help, it’s his gift for storytelling that really makes the campaign come to the life. Just watching the show for as short a time as I have, I have picked up several tips for upping my GM game. Plus, it inspires me to aspire to have a great a time as he clearly is behind the screens.

But the group is just as great. They really get into their characters and roleplay well. You can tell that they, and their characters, are good friends and work together to have a good time. They let each other have their “special moments” and really gel as a unit. The relationship displayed between player and DM is ideal and shows what a great group can do with the game. Vox Machina is a strong because of the bonds forged in fire by the players (Liam O’Brien, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, and Marisha Ray).*

Currently, there are 115 “canon” episodes of the first campaign. They will be starting a new campaign in the new year. Each episode is anywhere from 3-4 hours of game play (it’s literally just a stream of their session, largely unedited). I’m currently on episode 68 and slowly making my way to the end so I can start fresh in the new year (I probably won’t make it, but I’m going to love getting there). The episodes can be found on Geek & Sundry, YouTube, Twitch, and on Alpha.

So, in the words of Grog Strongjaw (Travis Willingham): “Vox Machina! Fuck. Shit. Up!”

* Orion Acaba was originally part of the cast for the first 30 or so episodes, but then left the show for personal reasons. He was also a lot of fun in his episodes as well.