4.30.2007

Shared World Design Camp
OR The NoPro Road Goes South


Q. What do Troy Denning, John Wick, Douglas Niles, and Harley Stroh have in common?*

A). Not a damn thing.

B). All but one are brilliant creators in the world of fiction and game design.

C). We’re all being put up in Spartanburg, South Carolina for a week this summer, to teach a classes on shared world design.

D). B & C.

Jeremy Jones of Wofford College is putting together an incredibly cool summer camp for high school students interested in shared world design. The students will study history, biology, religions, and physics during the day, and attend design seminars in the evenings. All for the sole purpose of writing, designing and illustrating their own shared worlds by the end of the week.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Jeremy deserves an award.

I have the great privilege of being one of the teachers, joining such luminaries as .... Douglas Freakin’ Niles.

This is the part where I roll to disbelieve. Douglas Niles. The Douglas Niles. And John Wick? A mere 5 years ago I was saving every post-graduate penny to buy his Legend of the Five Rings rpg books.

Fortunately, I’m not going alone. I called in artillery support from Jeremy “Topo Rex” Simmons, the signature cartographer for the DCC line and co-designer of the Wicked Fantasy Factory adventures. This will also give us the chance to spend some down time together --- Simmons is one of those folks that I keep meaning to see at GenCon, but never manage to spend time with.

I’m still not sure that I’m worthy of the honor (after all, this is still Harley we’re talking about here) but I’m going to do my best to ensure that they get their money’s worth.

Plus, it just sounds like a lot of fun.

So. Give Jeremy Jones a Deathy shout-out, swing by Spartanburg in late July, and say a prayer for me.

//H

*Answer upside down on the bottom of your computer.

4.27.2007

GAMA Report Day 4: Sin City, There and Back Again
We broke down the Goodman booth with due efficiency, shook hands and handed out DCCs to the last of the convention crowd then hitched it to the airport where I scrambled to get out a few last emails to a very patient cadre of DCC writers.

Short aside: If you are worried about the industry with all the recent changes (WoTC pulling the license on Dragon, Dungeon, and Dragonlance), don’t be. There are dozens of passionate, professional publishers working hard to get RPG material into the hands of eager retailers. The folks that are in the business right now are the ones that were smart enough and savvy enough to survive the crash of the d20 glut, and they’re working hard to make certain they’ll be around in another 10 years.

Some last impressions:

Steve Chenault, of Troll Lords is a brilliant man and a gifted storyteller. If you have to be in Vegas, I hope it is with this man. Who else can come to Las Vegas with $11.00 and leave treating folks to steak dinners? Only a Chenault.

Chris Doyle, is a fantastic designer/author. (The list on Pen and Paper is incomplete, by the way. That man has written more material for the RPGA and STAR WARS alone, than I have in my entire career.) If you get a chance to sit down with him and talk about his current projects, I highly recommend it.

Eric K. Rodriguez, along with the rest of the Mongoose folks, made for great company, both at dinner and on the showroom floor. (BTW, Eric - I believe - is also a bouncer, which could explain why his Conan writing is so good.) Thanks for taking the time to drop by the booth and drop off the books.

I got a pre-release copy of the The Order of the Stick Game and it looks to be ludicrously fun and funny. If you're into board games, or OOTS, this is a good choice, and if you're into both, it is a no brainer.

As for the volatile cocktail of gaming designers + alcohol + Vegas’ more risqué “offerings,” stories have begun to surface, but they’re not fit for public consumption. Hit us up at GenCon, or better yet, get the Troll Lords to tell you.

Till then,
//H

P.S. More later this weekend on something very, very cool: http://www.woffordsharedworlds.org/

4.26.2007

GAMA Report: Day 3
(Don't ask what happened to Day 2)

Michael Stackpole has great taste in food and scotch. Dinner conversation ranged from evolving IP rights (and legislation's relation to Disney and married senators), to teleportation traps, to shared world design, to the dangers of firing self-loaded rounds in automatic weapons. Articulate, intelligent. Basically everything you'd hope to be as a writer.

Me? I just listened and smiled.

Also, I got my greedy hands on a pre-sale copy of Knights of the Dinner Table #126. TacoJon, my friend and yours, did an awesome job with his first original DCC. When copies go up for sale, be sure to get one.

Finally, James Mishler has proven once again to have a depth of knowledge (and creativity) that puts me to shame. The sample of his Free RPG Day contribution rocks.

If it's good to be be humble, GAMA has provided ample opportunity.

//H

4.24.2007

GAMA Report: Day 1
OR Vegas is Weird, Industry is Good

Courtesy of Goodman Games, I had dinner sitting beside Jolly Freakin' Blackburn. Doesn't get much cooler than that, pseudo-French hot pants and bad burgers not withstanding.

Kenzer and Co. brought a pre-sale copy of Aces and Eights to dinner. The book rocks like Boot Hill on whiskey and cocaine.

Also, a big, Deathy shout-out to Cassandra of Tabletop Adventures. This small, enterprising company put in the effort to come to GTS to learn the ropes/outline their plot for world domination. You have to respect that kind of dedication. Most folks don't bother to plan, expecting the world to be handed to them on a platter.

And finally, thanks to Jason, the retailer enough to share his experiences of Iron Crypt. Claims they studied one encounter for 2 weeks.

Wow. Humbling indeed.

More to report, but now it is time for some well-deserved sleep.

//H

4.22.2007

Viva Las Vegas
Harley Stroh, world’s luckiest d20 author, is sitting at the Denver International Airport, waiting for his flight. In two hours he will be in Las Vegas, where he will do his best to convince retailers that they should carry DCCs in their stores. Run some games, sign some DCCs, and schmooze with the industry.

Truth is I’m scared witless. Las Vegas? Trade Show? Running games for retailers? This was never part of the plan.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech lives on in our public awareness, diminishing the importance of any emotion I might be having. This week I’ve had a hard time posting anything to the blog. It seems unseemly, garish even, to celebrate milestones in my life, when so many others have been denied milestones altogether. With no television I’ve been free to work through the repercussions in my mind, from the lives lost, to the potential liberties that might be lost through reactive legislation.

Martin Luther King, Jr., once said something along the lines of, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”*

Put another way, he might be asking, Am I my brother’s keeper?

Virginia gives us the answer. If someone, somewhere, is suffering, it will affect my life. And no matter how isolated I might be, if I am a suffering, I will affect someone else’s life.

I am my brother’s keeper. Not the government, not the police, not any legislation. Me. And you are mine.

So what does this have to do with a blog?

As artists and writers, we create. But I've been silent the last week. To be inspired to silence is to allot Cho’s violence more power than it deserves. Silence, out of respect for the families and victims, has a place. Silence, out of fear of impropriety, strips away any claim I might have to art.

When tragedy strikes, we shouldn’t be silent. When tragedy strikes, we should answer it with creation. That’s our job, the obligation earned by living in America. Those of us with food in our bellies owe those less fortunate more than our meek silence. This writing thing isn’t just a gig; it’s a duty.

They just announced boarding. Please excuse the unedited nature of this post. Next post coming from the GAMA trade show.

Viva.

Viva, Las Vegas.

//H




*Here’s the full quote:

In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.

4.21.2007

Cooler minds than my own.
So a lot to post today, but before I do, check this out.

One of the great things about RPG writing is that there are real people that take up your words and invest them with life. A writer provides the raw materials, but it is the gamers that are actually responsible for any magic that might arise. Case in point, Into the Wilds, an adventure I wrote for Goodman Games.

Mister Hook/None the Wiser, an architectural illustrator, took what I wrote and created these beauties:

The Town of Wildsgate


A view of the Spires


(See the rest, in full rendering, on the Goodman Forums).

Um --- Wow. That's a lot cooler than anything I've ever created.

And the amazing thing? I'm surrounded by amazing, talented folks doing the same thing. While Hook is turning out amazing renderings, TacoJon is working on another 1e conversion to follow up with his Iron Crypt success.

Humbling. Very humbling.

Anyhow, feel free to give Hook a shout out on the Goodman Forums , or check out his homepage at http://misterhook.net/.

//H

4.04.2007

Doesn't post for months then you can't shut him up.
A friend just shared the unreleased art for her first novel.

Like, wow. Can't wait to be able to post it.

//H

Free RPG Day: June 23

June 23 is Free RPG Day, when gaming stores across the States will be handing out free gaming materials. Goodman Games is producing 3 new adventures for giveaway, so if your favorite local gaming store isn't participating, tell them to get on board. It's a great way to bring customers into brick and mortar stores, and it's a great way for folks like you and me to get free stuff.

And unlike most free stuff, this stuff doesn't suck. :)

You can find a list of participating retailers at www.freeRPGday.com.

//H

4.03.2007

What I meant to write is,
You're Not Published Until You're On Amazon*


Neversfall, a Forgotten Realms novel crafted by my dear friend Ed Gentry is up for pre-order on Amazon. No cover art yet, but as soon as there is you'll be hearing from me.

*Steve Katz, "the most important living American novelist," once assured me that until you're published in NYC, you're not published. Go ahead, mock him; Steve can appreciate a good ribbing.

You're Not Published Until You're In KotDT

It is my very profound pleasure to announce that Knights of the Dinner Table #126 will feature a DCC written by none other than Jon "TacoJon" Hershberger. ("Blackstone's Maze" is for d20; sorry grognards.)

Jon is the same man that brought you the 1e version of Iron Crypt, laying waste to untold numbers of PCs at last year's GorillaCon and GenCon. Jon has even more 1e Goodman goodness in store for GenCon 2007, and --- God willing and if the creeks don't rise --- we'll have a very special GenCon 1e release.

But that's months away. Go forth, my Deathy minions, and demand your copy of #126!

//H

NoPro Skate Show: 2007
The Old Man Slam Jam is coming to Indy, and you’re invited. Last year I wanted to rally old friends and new to skate the streets of Indy and adjoining parks, but things just got too busy and it turned out that there was a BMX clinic at the Indianapolis skatepark the same time we wanted to use the facilities. This year “no” is not an option. After sitting around and playing games for hours, getting out to breath some air and scrape some skin isn’t just a good idea, it’s mandatory.

So, bring your boards, bikes, and blades, kids. This year we’re falling down on concrete.

Zen and the Art of Falling
This past week I had the chance to get down to Boulder and Fort Collins. These days I’m either skating alone or with kids at the parks, so getting the hit the streets with old friends yields nothing less than heart-bursting joy.

Corny, but true.

We hit old spots on the CU campus, bombed a hill that left Rob bloodied, and even found 2 new skate spots that - somehow – we had missed the five years I lived in Boulder.

Skating involves the curious illusion of danger. We’re not really looking to get hurt, or at least the odds are very slim (says the guy with the titanium in his leg), and when we’re screaming down a hill towards a parking lot, I’m trusting that everyone else is skating within their means. To state the obvious, it never ceases to amaze me how practice makes all the difference, even when falling.

Put another way, we’ve become really good at falling down.

It calls to mind a quote I came across on the Goodman Games forums. It read, “An amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can’t get it wrong.”

That’s me, an unpaid, professional faller.