Spawn of Cyclops Con Third-Party Publisher Reference for Gather.Town

Gather.Town uses iframes to embed websites. When a con-goer comes across your shop icon, they are prompted to interact by pressing X, opening a window within Gather.Town.

Original G.T documentation embedding for websites can be found here:


Important bits:

-The page needs to be HTTPS

-Some specific websites block being embedded in iframes. If it is blocked, the website administrator needs to change the permissions.

Unfortunately, DriveThruRPG works to block iframes. Same with Instagram and Facebook.

However, there is a simple work around to direct attendees to your offerings on DriveThruRPG:

1. You will need an https landing page. Blogger / blogspot will do, or a google doc, or your own website.

2. Select and post links to your products. Be sure that each link includes
This instructs the browser to open a new tab, outside of the Gather.Town frame, sending the viewer directly to your publisher page on DriveThruRPG.

If you are using Blogger/Blogspot, Google makes this easy. When you enter a link, a window will pop up, asking if you'd like the link to open a new page. Obviously: Yes!

A sample landing page for an artist or publisher might look something like this:

Thanks for stopping by our booth! Check out our con specials on DriveThru RPG!
Also be sure to check out my DCC Adventure, Doom of the Savage Kings.


The raw text code for the above can be found and copy/pasted from here:



Through the Gather.Town interface, the above post would look like this, with all of the links opening into new windows:

If you're feeling sassy you can host links to all your titles with thumbnails and brief descriptions. Maybe you take photos of your DCC RPG adventures in milkcrates to give it that thumbed-through record store feel. Whatever. You're smart and cool. You can make it work.

If this doesn't make sense for any reason, let me know and we can create a single simple post, here, that will direct folks to your offerings on DriveThru or site X. A little 3pp directory of sorts.


Character as Class

The merits and flaws of Race as Class have been debated elsewhere.  The focus of the discussion is wrong.

This is no-one's fault: From the outset of our hobby, every PC and every NPC was depicted through the same lens. So it should come as no surprise that, 20 years later, every bartender is a retired fighter with the HP of a dragon, every village elder is secretly a powerful wizard, and every PC need a special hook to stand apart / above the crowd.

This is a consequence of our wargaming history. Our first PCs were Heroes advanced from Fighting Men. But per Appendix N, we should be looking at Character as Class.

Conan is not simply a level 6 Warrior. He's The Warrior. When he enters the tavern, people notice. When he fights, people die. There are other mercenaries, reavers and barbarians in the world, and many of these NPCs might threaten him in a fight, but there's only one Conan. Translated to the tabletop, only PCs have the capacity to become a Warrior. One hundred NPCs might train their entire lives, but no matter how deadly they become, they will never have the suite of abilities of the Warrior. It's not a job title, it's a destiny.

Other classes should be no different. PC Clerics aren't simply priests; they are holy men with the ability to work miracles. Fantasy Popes shouldn't be able to cast spells or heal, but the party Cleric can. You are the sole living instrument of a god. Followers flock wherever you wander, lords tremble in your presence, kings have you assassinated. You're not playing Friar Tuck, you're playing Jesus.

As a Wizard, you aren't the village elder. You're Merlin. Sure, per Appendix N, evil sorcerers exist to blast your PCs with a spell (or three), but just one Wizard has traded his soul to a devil in exchange for the ability to twist reality to his whim. Even if you wanted to retired to village elder-dom, devils and demons will be beating down your tower door with contracts in hand.

And even the Thief. Whereas cutpurses work the bazars, catburglers prowl the nights, safe crackers do their magic, and assassins stew their poisons, you alone have mastery of each discipline. There is no treasure that can't be stolen, no secret that can't be revealed, no regent safe from your blade.

Extrapolated to world design it becomes clear that PCs are an explicit threat to the social order. An avalanche of plot hooks follow, simply in response to characters being Appendix N PCs. Overlords despise you; exiled kings and queens are desperate to hire you. Like Beowulf, you are the only one capable of slaying monsters. Like Merlin, you decide who sits on the throne.

Blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. Character as Class.


Social Mapping for Judges-of-Little Brain

Continued thoughts from last night, when I asked the G+ RPG folks for recommendations on games that effectively manage social space / interactions the same way that our D&D-like games map physical "dungeon" spaces. I am not a game designer --- so please, brighter internet minds, point out my missteps and errors. 

A 10' x 10' corridor, running north and south. Contrary to what we've were told in the 3.x DMG this doesn't actually limit player choice:

    Player 1: Screw your railroad. I sit down on the floor.

    Player 2: I stab my friend who is sitting on the floor. Does that count as prone?  

    Player 3: I take out my quill and design a game that doesn't suck.

Creative players could go on forever, getting nowhere, just like in any urban / social adventure.  What dungeons DO make apparent are choices that yield results relevant to the adventure. Sometimes those choices are obvious (north or south) and sometimes they are hidden (the secret door concealed in the ceiling). 

Dungeons don't invest time in null choices. ("The corridor runs north to south? I try walking east.") That's left to the judge to adjudicate with common sense. ("You walk into a wall.") Same too, with PC-introduced relevant choices ("I use pass wall to open a passage to the room just west of us."); the judge is expected to be able generate an in-world response on the fly.

A social adventure could be mapped the same way. Judges don't need to know all the null choices, they just need to see the choices that yield relevant results. PCs can banter all night with the attractive, sexually-ambiguous, masked noble, and that's a legit choice, but --- like sitting down and writing graffiti on the dungeon wall --- it's not a choice that's relevant to the adventure. ("Your patroness, the Seer of Inculii will be assassinated on the full-moon. If you want her continued support do something about it.")

Combined with a timeline that tracks antagonist NPC actions, and I think you might have a technique for creating a dynamic social adventure that a judge could easily grok, while allowing for meaningful players decisions. Per +Zak Smith 's suggestion, a player handout would show images of everyone at the party; the judge's social map would trace lines between the NPCs with relevant information. You might have different maps as the timeline progressed and additional NPCs were sucked into whatever nefarious plot was in the offing, etc. 

Having typed this, it seems obvious, but maybe it can help another judge out there. I need to try running it, to see if it actually helps at the table.


Harley Wins D&D

It gets lost in the hubbub ever since Gen Con moved to Indianapolis, but each year the folks of TSR get together in a bar in Lake Geneva to decide the year's "Game Wizard," aka the coveted "I Won D&D" award. The last few years I've been slighted (the 2012 award went to +Jon Marr for the video where his giggling daughter was crushed to death beneath the DCC corebook; the year before went to +Erik Jensen for when he DM'd the game where his son turned a town of ghosts into giraffes). 

But this year, I think I'm in the running. 

Submitted on my behalf by a fifth grader in one of my playtest groups: 

You should be able to click to enlarge. Here's the translation from the caption:

"The sad moment when you realize you wasted all your ammunition on the first monster."

So what might the judges infer about my game?  
-D&D is largely interchangeable with DCC. 
-Ammunition is finite. When you get a chance, flaming ammo is better. 
-It looks like orcs have roughly 12 hp.  
-Orcs have weak swords. 
-It's okay to kill PCs with hordes of enemies.

I may accomplish nothing else of note, but I helped a 5th grader get excited about D&D. I win. 


'cause gamers are awesome

I attended GenghisCon this weekend as a special guest of the Denver Gamers Association. The event doubled as the kickoff to the Goodman Games convention season, aka the 2013 World Tour. Huge shout out to +Justin Suzuki , +Andy Collier and the rest of the DGA crew for throwing a seriously awesome event. 

I ran three DCC games (playtests for future releases) Saturday and Sunday. Players got clever, I flipped them off (this is turning into a "thing") and intelligent play trumped devious design nearly every time. But that's par for the course; it wasn't until Sunday game that things got memorable.

Sunday morning games are usually your drop slot – when it is a 3-in-6 chance that no one shows and you get to go back to bed. But this morning's DCC gamers proved more determined than most and we sat 7 at a game intended for 6.

And guided by the light of Brother Leo and the twisted machinations of Manse the Black, the PCs dominated some DCC: 

Wendy kicking ass. She's playing a bar bar bar bar bear eee ann 

Child-demon-witches were slain; a universe egg was accidentally cracked opened; Mary the Barbarian killed the party's own wizard (later resurrected as a nascent god); a wicked army was routed by an incredibly determined barbarian, her lover and a thief; and the world's largest thaumaturgic circle succeeded in suckering away the PCs long enough for the bad guys to kidnap the slain-wizard-turned-godling. 

BUT, just as victory was in the PCs' grasp, fate's fell hand played its trump card: the gaming convention fire alarm ...

Fire trucks showed up, guys with hoses ushered us out. Game over. 

But this is where the smaller local con got to shine. Had we been at GenCon, it would have been lights out, thank you for your $5, please go to the next hotel. But not GenghisCon. No effing way. Instead we all grab our PCs, a fistful of dice and a battlemap and finish the game here:

Wendy's PC has now become a pillar of flame. She died.

... on the frickin' lawn cause gamers are just that awesome. Game on. 

+Doug Keester 's wizard, turned nascent god / blank moral slate takes the opportunity to indulge in the philosophy of "do what thou wilt", and decides that that is the whole of the law.  The Wizard transformes Mary the Barbarian into a screaming pillar of fire, deep freezes Merrick the Gambler, scorches someone else (Brother Leo, maybe?) and was well on his way to becoming Master of the Universe, until he was tackled off the top of the ziggurat by Bob the Unknown Warrior, landing at the bottom with ONE HIT POINT, only to be felled by a well-placed dart, hurled by Brother Leo. 

Cause yeah, we do this shit in our heads. And because gamers are awesome.

#DCCRPG #Genghiscon #DGA


First, let 'em Die

Repost, cause I'm an idiot:

This weekend I ran a DCC RPG game for two fourth graders and one dad. As mentioned on G+, my original thought was to not kill any of the PCs. Instead, at 0 HP they'd fall unconscious. Later, they'd be recovered by their comrades, and continue on.

After all, I wanted them to have "fun" right? I'm trying to create life-long gamers, here. 

Well meaning, but very, VERY ass-backwards. 

Fortunately the players' actions forced my hand:

  • Beset by a veritable tide of bristling black spiders, Zero the Dwarf leaped into their midst. The tide washed over him, the rest of the PCs bolted, and Zero was never seen again. 
  • Parlaying with brigands atop a cliff, Zero Mk II decided to break off negotiations with a magic missile cast at melee range. Zero lost initiative and the brigands charged, pitching Zero to his rocky doom some 50' below.
  • Deep beneath the brigand's ruined tower, Jazee the Slave opted to take a stand against a horde of oncoming brigands, with predictable results. 
Each time, the group took a five minute break and had a slice of pizza while I helped the player roll up a new character. (By the end of the session, he could do it solo.) 

The same player lost three characters during our session. Not once did his interest flag. The deaths weren't arbitrary or due to DM fiat – the player made his own decisions and they went poorly. As a result, he grew more focused and (slowly) more cautious with each new PC.

But what if, per my original plan, he had only blacked out, to be revived by his companions at the end of the scene? 

What a boring, trivial game – utterly devoid of player agency, consequence, or reward – that would have been. 

Instead, death was the great motivator. Remove death and what would we have had? Why even act at all? The results would all be the same. 

So, yeah. Thank you Zero, Zero Mk II, Jazee, and finally, Golgoth*. Lesson learned.

Want to convert kids into lifelong gamers? Kill them (rather, let them die) early and often. 


(*Even his names got better.) 


Secret to a good life: Knowing when you're through.

Guess all my friends are doomed to live hard lives. 

I need to listen to more ska-punk prior to skating. I ride my bike over to the park, so if I can find a small boom box to strap to the handbars I could really get this thing amped. 

(Fort the record, the best boom box skating I've ever done was to C&C music factory, courtesy of Rotwag.)

The latest project is vert skating this monster:

Mostly I stick to the street and the channel on the left. My vert skills are finally starting to emerge. I'm working on popping out of 8' bowl, and ever so slowly working my way up to the coping. I'll post video at some point.

There was a contest at the park this AM, so my usual morning skate was cut a little short. But, the upside was that the presence of other skaters gets me to throw down. I hate physical competition, but tend to excel when it is presented to me. I usually charge the bowl pretty hard, but this morning I was going at it.

Next Up: Heather and I are rolling out to Montana, via Wyoming, tomorrow. We'll be gone for two weeks, backpacking, camping and seeing the family. Don't die while I'm away, because I'd hate to miss it!



I'm hoping Rotwag will weigh in, but there is a part of me these days that looks for "good" art to enliven (or humanize) shared spaces. Formal or informal, I'm asking art to elicit a positive response in the viewer / participant. 

(Off topic, it's pretty easy to elicit a negative emotional response. We're passed the days when pooping on a gallery threshold is satisfying in any meaningful way.)

Anyhow. Enlivening shared spaces. 

The Carbondale skatepark abuts a set of new tennis courts. Tattooed gutter punks and over-40, overweight citizens of Dog Town are separated from attractive tennis players in white shorts and skirts by a mere 12' chain link fence. No joke. On one side kids are shouting, "Fuck yeah!" and smacking their boards on the ramps when you land a trick. I'm not sure what tennis players shout to show their approval. 

The other weekend I broke two boards the same day, trying to land a nose slide down the mini-hubba. With broken decks to spare, I climbed to the top of the fence and wired my broken deck to the skatepark side of the fence. Like a concrete wall hit with graffiti, the inhuman, chainlink border was transformed into a canvas.

Hence my joy when I headed over to this park the other day for my morning skate only to find a second deck wired to the fence. Suddenly it was participatory. There was a viewer and they "got" it. 

Which is a long way to say I'm proud of wiring trash to a chain link fence, but there you have it. I have two more broken decks in the trunk and they are going up tomorrow. 


Halloween, check

Before the shave: 

In  retrospect, I should have been leaning back, not forward, and wearing a light colored shirt, so that the beard would stand out. 

But alas, to Heather's dismay, I've shaved. 



Oh hell yeah

The Maxies are coming to town. What? You haven't heard of them? Why then, here's their bio:

Americans...get preparation. THE MAXIES ARE HERE!!! We illegally relocated to your sunny South California to show how make best SUPER PUNK ROCK PARTY and the spread MAXIE MANIA!!! We are biggest band in GREENLAND and shitty North Western Europe. We bring CHAOTIC POWER POP PUNK ROCK to make dancing for one and all. We punch American punk rockers and American rude boys right in the cocksucker. GREENLAND punk rockers and rude boys much more dangerous. We lose many Maxies to immigration. But THE MAXIES are like disease transmitted sexual, we comeback in smuggled package smelling like fish. We hope to our loving to see many cute American girls and very sexy American boys at our SUPER PUNK ROCK PARTIES!!! This brings much warmth to our ice cold hearts. 
Always has the top 10 on Greenland radio and G-MTV. We have two songs in the top 40 in Finland, Denmark and Sweden. In GREENLAND, we SUPER PUNK ROCK PARTY with your bands that beg to join (Coldplay, Green Day, Slipknot, U2, Alkaline Trio, Muse, Kid Rock, 30 Seconds to Mars, Blink 182, Madonna, Nickleback, Sum 41, NIN, The Killers, Rammstein, The Who, etc.). These bands sucks next to us. In U.S. and A., we throw SUPER PUNK ROCK PARTIES with many queercore bands (Reel Big Fish, Narcoleptic Youth, Adolescents, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Adicts, Re-Volts, Knock-Out, D.I., The Exploited, The Dopamines, Super Nova, Sham 69, Angry Samoans, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys, etc.). THE MAXIES are more famous then these. We are true kings of ROCK. More PUNK than ROCK. More ROCK than PUNK! If you don't like us, then your taste is only in your mouth! We will be in U.S. and A. until we are deported. We are soon to be in your top 10 radio. We will be bigger and better than your famous Black Flag, Bad Religion or shitty REM. Get ready for the best thing you have ever heard! WE RULE!!!!!


MCA, Rest in Peace

Or, "I mix business and pleasure, way too much"  

Kale and I lived a summer to this soundtrack. Built my first skate ramp, couch-surfed in the Springs, looked for lost Ren Faire girls, and spent a lot of time falling down on concrete.

If I was still living in a dorm down in the Fort we'd burn our top 10 Beastie tracks onto 50 CDs and skate town, dropping off music in random places to be discovered by random people. Maybe that still needs to be done. At the least, we should bleed for the love we've received.

So be it: Skating + Bleeding for MCA, coming soon to a pavement near you. Fortunately we are old and slow, so the blood will flow readily.