Minoan Rodeo
Thanks again to everyone who takes time out of their finite lives to read these feeble peckings. You could be reading anything else. Thank you.

But enough of the usual tripe. I know you're here for the bull riding story. Here goes.

Last week was the town's last rodeo for the season. I was probably the only person to arrive by skateboard, but when you know you're going to be drinking rodeo lemonade, it's important to take transportation that - in case of operator error - can only hurt you.

Anyhow, last rodeo of the season. The last event of the night was bull riding. I've always wanted to be a rodeo clown, so while watching riders get kicked around by 1-ton bulls doesn't hold much fascination, watching the guys that save the guys about to get kicked by 1-ton bulls is a thrill.

Bull dodging is a speed/balance thing --- as long as you stay on your feet, you can out manuever a bull. But the instant you go down (ala bull riders) and the bull gets its horns into you, it's over. The bull will keep you off your feet with its horns, while it either tramples you or crushes you against the walls of the arena. The job of the clown is to distract the bull long enough for the rider to get back up and get out of the arena.

Last ride of the last rodeo of season. Rider gets bucked off out of the chute, and the 2 clowns do their thing, distracting the bull until the rider can get out of the way. Two cowboys on horseback hang out at the far end of the arena, just in case things get ugly. The rider gets out of arena, and the season comes to a close.

Almost. The lead clown, about 20 ft. from the bull, shifts his stance. It's a subtle thing, just a placement of weight, but anyone who is watching (mostly us aging guys who still want to be rodeo clowns) can see that it presages a shift from dodging the bull to engaging it.

The bull sees this, too. Suddenly, it's on.

The clown sprints at the bull. The bull lowers its head, and at the instant of impact, hooks the clown with his horns and flips him up, over his back and into the darkness.

The crowd can't quite believe what it has just witnessed. The cowboys atop their horses (the rescue guys, remember?) can't quite believe what has happened.

The bull however, has no problem with any of this. His instincts have been ready for this moment for the last million years. While we're all standing slack jawed, the bull turns around and gets ready for a little pay back.

The cowboys spur their horses forward, but it's too little, too late. Even at a full gallop, it will take them too long to cross the arena, and they're only now starting from a dead stand. The only one in the entire arena who is on top of his game is the other clown.

This is the part that amazed me. When his partner decided to try bull jumping, clown #2 was still 30 ft. off. Before clown #1 hit the bull, clown #2 must have already known what was coming, and started sprinting towards the bull. The audience, and the bull, never saw him coming.

Just as the bull turns around to do the clown-trample tango, #2 sprints past the bull's head. Bull, damned by his instincts, turns to chase after the new target, giving clown #1 time to get up and run to safety.

The crowd goes wild. The clown goes wild. Cowboy hats fly through the air, and the western Colorado rodeo season comes to a close.

The arena empties. Kids run out to play before they shut off the lights. Harley takes up his skateboard and heads home.

Now if you've taken Art 101, or a comparative religions class, you know where I'm headed next. Skating home that night I had the sense that I had come across this same scene somewhere else. And, kicking along the bike path through the darkness, it came to me. Minoa.

The Minoan culture was based on goddess worship, and evidence points to the practice of gender equality if not outright matriarchy. Some posit the idea the fall of the Minoans allowed for the rise of early Western monotheism. Had Thera not erupted, Western culture might look very different today. (Tangentially, some theorize that the destruction of the Minoans gave rise to the legends of Atlantis.)

But far more pertinent to today’s post, the Minoans practiced bull jumping.

The clown probably didn't know it, I'm sure half the audience didn't know it, but there it was. In no-name, cow town, Colorado, we witnessed the reenactment of a religious ceremony not seen since the end of the Bronze Age.

And that, dear Deather, is what happened at the rodeo.


My love affair with sweet Gennie
For all the hype, for all the congestion and chaos, for all the frustration, GenCon is an absolutely amazing show. If you’re a gamer, and if you’ve ever wanted to attend, you should do yourself the favor and make the time. Nothing else quite compares.

By now you had the chance to read half a dozen GenCon reports, all penned by smarter, more important people than myself, with more exciting things to report. So we’ll try to keep it short.

First and foremost, the folks. I'm not going to say fans, because in my heart of hearts I know that writing, illustrating, and editing adventures is only a third of the job. Before anything I write for d20 means a lick, it has to be played by GMs and players. You guys are collaborators and without you, this gig is meaningless.

Every time anyone dropped by the booth I had the fierce awareness that GenCon is finite, and that they could have been anywhere else. Instead of playing in some wicked cool game, grabbing some food, or sleeping, you stopped by to see us. I appreciate that. You guys rock.

4E: The big news of GenCon 2007 is the announcement of 4th edition. The generous folks at Wizards announced over the course of the con that 4e will adhere to an open gaming license. What this means to the rest of the world is that 3rd party publishers will continue to be allowed to print material for Dungeons & Dragons.

Put another way, Harley is still employed. Rock over London.

New Titles:This year saw a ton of new releases by yours truly. The very cool new edition of Temple of the Frog, the 1e Saga of the Witch Queen, the GenCon edition of DCC #51.5: Sinister Secret of Whiterock, and the killer box set Saga of the Dragon Cult.

I also contributed to DCC #49: Palace in the Wastes and the mighty, mighty box set DCC #51: Castle Whiterock (though I would never claim to be the primary author on either of these awesome books).

This year the Goodman Gamers hosted a seminar, How To Write Adventures that Don't Suck. This one was a complete surprise. Sold out, with standing room only. We did a head count mid way through the seminar and came up with 62. Um ... to see who again?

My Deathy minions raided the room next door for chairs (this has got to be a MAJOR no-no daffy) , but we were still standing room only. A ton of awesome people turned out and the hour flew by. We could have gone for another hour, easy. The best part is that it was just gamers talking to gamers --- sure we sat up front, but really we were no different from everyone else in the room.

Plus, if you stuck around through the credits, you got to see us demonstrate the new 4e grappling rules. I'm the guy on the right back, crushing the designer of X Crawl in a bear hug. I'm not sure he even knows I'm there ...

ENnies Report: We had 6 nominations this year, but still no prize to take home to Chicago. Last year I was dejected, but this time I just enjoyed the ride. The ENworld folks did an awesome job this year --- it was a great venue, and we even had tables for the nominees (instead of standing in the back along the wall). Of course, being seated up front meant that we couldn't duck out through the kitchen, but such is the price of big fame. (Right, Ice?)

*Photo by the mighty Luke Johnson. Check him out.

White Wolf Party: The Deathy minions, led by El Presidente, trekked out to the White Wolf party. Author and friend Dieter Zimmerman threw down like a rockstar --- many thanks.

As always, the Wolfies were excellent hosts, though the dj'ing seemed a little weaker than last year. Or it could just be that I'm whining because the one Sisters song was run over a lousy, faux techno beat.

We danced regardless, up to and including the music that used to drive us out (that should give you a sense of how poor the previous mix was), but around 2:30 or so they shut down the "drive out" music, and pleaded with us to leave. Timing was perfect, for on our way out, we overheard the following exchange:

"We forgot the dodgeball."

"Anyone want to play dodge rock?"

Made it home around 3 in the morning, but the crew was still pretty amped, so we busted out the skateboard and fell down on some good old fashioned Indy concrete. (Brick actually. There's a very narrow, very sharp, quarter pipe atop ledge, out on the plaza. Got a good ankle smack in, and a couple kick turns, but never quite landed the ollie off the ledge. There's always 2008.)

But Did You Hang Out? Last year I promised to hang with a bunch of folks and failed. This year I promised to hang out with a bunch of folks and actually did managed to hang out with a select few. Saturday night, prior to the WW party, I ran an impromptu sessios of Sinister secret for the talented Mike Ferguson, and the mighty Deathers. I was a little off my game, but the session went okay. I'll do better next year, and maybe even get to see a few more folks ...

And the Deathy Shout-Outs: Of least importance to anyone else, but closest to my heart, are all those people that I've gotten to know. Ultimately, these folks are why I love life, which makes loving GenCon pretty easy. (It's rough because GenCon is a working con, so my "hang out" time gets narrowed down to 11:PM to 2:AM --- by the time I'm ready to go, most folks are asleep.) This list is corny, and incomplete, and linkless until I have another spare hour. You don't have to read it, but it is important to me that I post it, so here goes:

    *The Mighty Deathers: the Saurus, Spackle, Alex, Jacob, Taco & Superfan. A writer could never have a better band of cohorts.

    *The Young Dragons and Ebberites! Thank you to Ed, Scott, Jaliegh, Marce, Lara, Jeff, and especially Kam (who put up with sleeping in the same room as the Deathers, bless him).

    *The Ash-Down Troupe! Never was a more talented group assembled. Fear their skilz! Props to Wentz and Emily, John and Jeff, Jess and Ruth. Here's hoping Marissa makes a showing next year.

    *The Trolls, Necros, and Cimmerians: Case and Ashley, James and the Chenaults, Vicki and Marcey, and Eric and Vincent. I'm only now realizing that we lost my bag and Taco's camera the same night. (Note to self: divest of any gear before heading out with this crew. You'll be naked at the end of the night anyway.)

    *The 2007 DCC Tournament Judges. These are the guys that ran a game for Monte Cook, the man that designed 3rd Edition. They're that hard core. Do I need to say more?

    *And of course the Goodman Games crew. Joseph, Mike, April, Jason, Ken, Adrian, Chris, Ken, Kenwig, Jeremy, Jess, Kam, Ruth, Jeff, Aeryn, Luke, Lyz, Brandon ... the list goes on.

A final thank you to the gracious Marce Rockwell. Eberron author and friend, this is the woman that commanded me to eat on day 3 (or 2?). Regardless, she took good care of me, and didn't have to. Go buy her book, Legacy of Wolves, you won't regret it.

So you made it through the thank you credits. (I'm sure I'll be updating to add more as I get more sleep.) Of course you deserve a carrot for making it to the end of this blog stick. And here it is:

There are lots of kind, good-hearted people in this business, and I get to hang out with some of the best. But perhaps the single most polite and genuine person I spent time with at GenCon was this person. We hung out for 2 of the 4 nights, and she was always a lady. Whatever else you'd like to say, those down south girls certainly know their manners. (Photo by Jay Adan.)

True story. A really nice kid.

Remember that for next year, kids. Booth babes are people, too.

Till next year,

(And just in case you were worried, "Sweet Gennie" refers to GenCon, not the Troll Lords' booth bait.)


Deathers, Represent!
OR, As if you needed a reason to pack your black latex.

One of my favorite experiences from last year's GenCon was dancing to Sisters of Mercy at the White Wolf party and watching the co-ed naked dodgeball that followed. I got home way too late (waking up Kam as I stumbled in), and was up in a few hours to meet a publisher.

The only thing missing was you. This year, let's change that.

White Wolf has posted tickets on their company blog, here:


Hope to see you there.




DCC Trivia Contest
This year Goodman Games is hosting a GenCon trivia contest with cool DCC giveaways for the fan boy or girl that manages to recall the greatest amount of largely pointless knowledge. The first round of questions already posted over on the Goodman Games site, and on the file link below, so in effect round one is a take home quiz. Bust open those DCCs and get cracking!

So what do you need to do? Print out the quiz, write in your name and answers, and bring it by the booth at Gen Con (#2615). The deadline is Saturday at the close of the exhibit hall. Come back Sunday at 1:00 to find out if you advance to the finals. At 1:00 we’ll hold the finals at the booth, where the highest scorers will compete to answer even more trivia until someone walks away with the grand prize! Which is – Goodman hasn't decided what, yet, but it will be cool.

(If you're a regular reader of Choose Death, you'll see that Technobi2k's DCC alter ego, Obitu-que, made it into the quiz. It's a strange, strange world. Anyhow, to the quiz.)


Just as exciting, at least to me, is that Torgo the Eye Gouger and his band of illiterate kobolds are tasked with grading the quizes. As a favor to Torgo, I'll be rounding up additional henchmen of the literate sort Saturday night, to help with the quizes.

And we all know you can only hire henchmen in bars.

Heh. Drunk, illiterate kobolds. Harley's inner geek just dropped into turbo. GenCon, here we come.

DCC Free Stuff
Okay, so maybe you don't want to work for the grand prize. Or maybe you're like me and you hate quizes. Or maybe you just want free stuff.

Fear not, dear Deather. Goodman Games will also be giving a way of a host of really cool adventures over the course of the Con*. Here's a list of what and when:

Thursday: Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn

Friday: Dungeon Crawl Classics #51.5: The Sinister Secret of Whiterock (Gen Con alternate cover edition)

Saturday: Wicked Fantasy Factory #0: Temple of Blood

Sunday: Etherscope: Just a Delivery

Just stop by the booth and demand your goodies. Feel free to introduce yourself to the Goodman Games crew and check out ...

Castle Whiterock

Against all odds, this monster made it to press. Over 700 pages of DCC goodness packed into perhaps the most comprehensive mega-dungeon ever.

Adrian and Chris did an awesome job on this one, and Jeff LaSala seriously rocked the gaz. section. And as a developer, I made sure to set aside the town for myself. As a kid I spent years running around Greyhawk City, and this was a chance to get back to the alleys and cobblestone streets of my youth. The town is small enough to wrap your head around, but big enough to have the environs necessary for gritty urban goodness.

Plus, it was a chance to toss in a little 'punk. Nothing overt, but the undertone is there. A touch of gritty darkness for your DCC campaign. This was one of those rare projects that I loved every minute of. Hope it shows.


(*While supplies last, blah, blah, don't come complaining if you show up at 5:30 pm on Sunday and nothing is left.)


Dorkness Rising

*laugh* Note those the placement of those fine DCC adventures. >:)

At a previous GenCon, I had the good fortune of getting to see rough a cut. This is a fantastic movie. If you haven't had the chance to see one of the showings, I heartily encourage you to do so. Good stuff by good folks. Can't wait for the final version to come out.