Connections

I’ve come to realize that I’ll never be one of those super consistent bloggers. I tend to wander away and not stay connected to my technology. I turn my phone off at night ~ and yes, I hear some of you gasping out there when I say that. It’s not such a big deal to me.

This weekend is a fine example. It’s Labor Day and I’ve avoided being on the computer since about Thursday. What have I been doing? Glad I asked myself…

Spending time with my kiddo. Doing work around the house. Going to cook-outs. Playing games! That’s the one that has taken up a whole bunch of time this weekend. Social interaction LIVE and in person! There was role playing, card playing and board gaming – why put limits on fun?

One of the cool parts of all this game playing was getting out to a local game convention. IF you’re in the Harrisburg area you should definitely check out the Gamers of Summer. I think they’ve got a winter version too – I just can’t seem to lay a hand on the link right now. I’ll update that when I track it down.

It was a lot of fun. I dragged some of my games along with me to share with new friends. I got to play a game I was interested in to see just how much I liked it. I got to PLAYTEST a game too! Looking forward to when Cup Full of Lies is finished and out there for public consumption (from Frugal Mule Games).

An enjoyable, relaxing weekend across the board (see what I did there?) and it didn’t require being connected to the computer or the tablet or the phone. Get out there and play a game!

The Dwarvenaut

Things lately have been super busy and more than a little crazy. One of the things I’ve found that brings me back to myself again and again is gaming. I have loved playing Dungeons and Dragons for a long time. I’ve also loved to see what people do with their miniatures. I’ve personally got a bunch of the old Grenadier miniatures box sets along with a big stack of others. Carrying lead is always fun when you move… it’s even heavier than the books!

I’ve painted my minis, used them for games, created maps and maps and adventures… but I’ve always had these massive, grand visions of what the game could be with a little extra visualization. How wide is the corridor really when you compare it to the mini?

Dwarven Forge has been that answer for somewhere around 20 years now. I just watched a film about Stefan Pokorny, the founder of that company, called The Dwarvenaut. I’m glad I watched the film. IF you’re a fan of miniatures and the passion that goes along with this wonderful game you should hop onto Netflix and check it out. It’s a good look behind the scenes of the company and their third Kickstarter campaign. I’m glad I got to see the passion behind this company. It certainly gives me a lot more perspective on what they offer and what’s behind the cost of the sets. I plan to dig into these and see if I can add them to my game.

Check out the trailer here:

Influence

I’ve talked to a lot of people and written a number of blog posts about the influence that Dungeons and Dragons had on me growing up. I’ve seen more and more people putting forth that yes, they in fact were part of this movement too – or that they were directly inspired by the development of the game industry. Little things can have massive influence or they can be what keeps somebody tethered to reality. Sometimes the tether doesn’t hold as they rise so far so fast – but the memories others have will still be there. It’s important to remember that even the people we see in the media, behind all that hype and glamour, they are still people. This news bit doesn’t surprise me as much as it might others. Scott Weiland was a gamer too. Once upon a time Marilyn Manson was a kid named Brian who’s grandma wouldn’t let him in the house if he was all made up*. Knowing people before they got super famous will give a different perspective.

People connect through role playing games and board games. It’s part of the realm of Fandom I really love. Get out there, find some friends and play a game.

(*important note – that Manson story is indirect, from a friend of mine – it is not my own. It’s always amazing to me how these sort of things crop up in conversation.)

Fearless or Embarrassing?

Once, I was fearless. There was a time when I would just put words or art or actions out there and just let them be what they would be. I had an art instructor tell me once as she held up an old painting of mine, “I liked this painter better. You didn’t have fear. Look at these bold colors…”

It’s not easy to get past that. It seems to be getting worse as I get older, not better. Yes, I’ve moved toward positions of greater responsibility in my day job and in my community activities. Yes, people are starting to look at me and say things like, “Oh, yeah… I thought you looked familiar.” It’s almost like I’m right at the edge of…

That’s just it. The edge of what exactly?

I had the opportunity to do yet another thing that was outside my comfort zone yesterday. I took the chance and I think things turned out well. I have told people in a quasi anonymous way that I am an old school role player but I have not given that claim much agency lately. Well, I busted out the books and dusted off some old notes and for the first time in many years ran a D&D game yesterday. It was a slow starter. It was a very small group (made even smaller by the fact that one of the invited came down sick). Two of the players had never played before, nor had they had any real exposure to the game outside of what showed up on Community or Big Bang Theory. I’ll admit – this was way outside my comfort zone. I’m at a loss to figure out why, but I was not at all confident – and that’s just silly. I’ve been playing longer than either of the new players has been alive. Maybe that was it? Maybe all this discomfort lately is my stupid, weird version of a mid-life crisis? At least I won’t be trying to buy a Porsche I guess.

I fumbled, but didn’t roll a 1, so we made it through the game. I think I could have done some things better or some things differently but nobody ran screaming… well at least not from the living room. Their characters on the other hand, let’s just say it was refreshing to get the reactions I did. Hopefully we’ll get to do it again.

As for me – I think doing something and not totally failing has added to my willingness to step out and do stuff again. Perhaps I’ll be more proactive and get things done. It’s worth a shot – even if I do critical fumble, at least I’m doing the stuff I think is fun.

Comfortable and uncomfortable

All in the same me.

I’m working really hard to get my creativity on track and start getting some work out the door. My slump has cost me – I don’t think I’m being invited as a guest to my favorite convention again this year. I really would like to change that. It’s depressing and a little daunting to be dependent on others that way. I’m planning to move out of my comfort zone and try something new. I’ve had a couple of brief chats with some friends and it seems like something that *might* be able to happen. I think this Friday will be a test of that. I’ll not be at work and have the opportunity to set up one of the first steps toward making it happen.

Right in the middle of all my inner turmoil I’ve found a way back to a creative spark I haven’t felt in years. Some friends asked me about my “secret” passion – Dungeons and Dragons. I put secret in quotes because I am, and likely always will be, hesitant about telling others I play in person. Don’t ask me – I don’t understand my hang ups that well. The point is, I crawled up to the attic and dragged 6 or 8 boxes down from storage. I’ve been thumbing through old character sheets (Morgan Firedrake lives on!) and adventure notes from games I’d run in the past. I had forgotten the shear volume of work. I had neglected that creative push that was trying to stay ahead of a band of smart, experienced adventurers. It’s been really fun along with motivating.

So – there will be more on my vague “something new” project as soon as it becomes something more than a daydream. Until then, I’ve got lots of work to do (just as soon as I make one more choice in my pick your own path adventure book).

My Un-requested Response

I’ve been away for a while. Most people get apologetic about blog-fade and commit to doing more. I’ve even done that in the past. Not this time. Real world stuff happens ~ and I’ll post more about that later.

I’ve been thinking about role playing and how much I miss it lately. Work, parenting and other things have combined to leave me very little time for it, but I hope to get back to it someday soon. When I started playing it was all about the fun of getting together with friends and firing up our imaginations. I’ve still got my entire collection of stuff. As I look back at them, they are round and worn at the edges. Collectors everywhere are certainly twitching at the idea of a colored in with colored pencils version of the inside cover art. We weren’t collecting, we were playing, having fun, letting our imaginations run wild. We fought off the monsters, we were the heroes in a time when the world seemed against us. So, in a totally unasked for and unexpected response to a friend posting some other person’s favorites list, here’s a list of my Top 10 favorite old school D&D modules.

#1 I can’t really argue with this at the top of the list. It’s a first for many and fun for most. Some very memorable stuff in there.

B2: The Keep on the Borderlands by Gary Gygax (1979)

#2 I liked the story elements in this next one. I actually have used it more than once in various forms in my own campaigns, often adding other little touches to make the story matter to the current set of characters.

B3 Palace of the Silver Princess by Tom Moldvay and Jean Wells (1983)

#3 As always, being the hero on a mission… we just sturggled to get past that muddy patch before we even got to the gate!

A-1 Slave Pits of the Undercity by David Cook (1980)

#4 I loved the problem solving mixed in with the action. I actually think I have 2 copies of this around here someplace.

C-2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness by Allen Hammack (1979)

#5 I was blown away by the art ~ particularly the maps of this module (and the series really). I didn’t like being channeled toward the same story line, but man was this a pretty module.

DL-1 Dragons of Despair by Tracy Hickman (1984)

#6 I was totally delighted when I found so much of this in the book Ready Player One. I’m glad it’s had the unlife it’s had! The quintessential “I’m mad at my players, I’m going to kill them all horribly now” module.

S-1 Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax (1978)

#7 This one was a high level quest that had a lot of weird stuff in it. My favorite part was attempting to envision three dimensionally how the web map worked and what happened when you tried to jump from one piece to another.

Q-1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits by Gary Gygax and David Sutherland (1980)

#8 As I went through these as a kid I was usually drawn to the action, but this module had a lot of story based encounters that relied on avoiding violence. It was fresh to me in that way.

UK-1 Beyond The Crystal Cave by Browne, Kirby and Morris (1983)

#9 The unusual treasures and my friends use of said treasures in new and creative ways are really the things that stick out most about this module in my memory… seriously, folding boats?

S-4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax (1982)

#10 It’s kind of cheating to put this one on the end – because it’s really three in one. I didn’t get the originals on their own, I got this version and loved it.

G1-2-3 Against The Giants by Gary Gygax (1981)

So there they are – my top 10. They live in nostalgia in my mind and still have a place on my shelves here at the house. There were many other modules and after that world settings that I really wanted to dig deeper into. The longer into the late 80s and early 90s I went, the more difficult it became to keep up with everything, let alone play it all. I was always intrigued by the Spelljammer stuff but never got to play it. I loved the look of the Desert of Desolation series, and was really happy to see the Al Quadim setting. I actually won some art from the Al Quadim setting when I was at Gen Con just as it was coming out. The picture below is from that set of art. Sadly I feel a little like the genie as I come to the end of this post. All of these treasures are just there at my fingertips but I’m being pulled back toward all those “real world” things I’m supposed to be taking care of…

AlQadim_Genie