Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Garycon VI Tidbits



A flash report of what I did, what I experienced, etc. at Garycon VI.  The convention wore me out in many ways.

*GMed Lost City of the Elders three days.  No one liked flying items/spells, it seems, which really limited general movement/evasion, tactical advances, exploration and such in this dimensional city.  More on these in a later post.  Overall good fun had with some nip-n-tuck situations where one party was surrounded and surprised at once and fought a pitched battle until worn down physically by the waves of enemies!  Keyword concept overlays for the adventures:  Darkness, Terror, Pressure (atmospheric).

*Seminar on open form processes.  Went very well with some avid note-takers who were having difficulty keeping up due to the wealth of information.  Attended by Luke Gygax and my brother Terry, the latter who had some very pointed questions that only one with a design mind can pose.  In the followup Q's Luke got me OT by asking about Robilar's TOEE adventure which I turned to Gary's and my own sparring with jokes and puns over the years, and with a few laughs coming from those exchanges.  Lots of open ears and eyes in this seminar as I am upping the ante as I approach finishing the book related to same.  It included a handout from one of the chapters about linear vs. granular design.

*Had good talks with my brother Terry.  He was busy adjudicating several games at Gary's old house on 330 Center Street.  He's in the process of compiling some game material for publication, including a battle board game design.  We will be staying in touch.

*Attended the 330 Center Street breakfast and met with Yolanda, the current owner of the house, who is very gracious and has the patience of a saint in allowing it to be "invaded" for the convention by all sorts of oddities.

*Had prolonged and in depth conversations with David Wesely, David Megarry, Jon Hershberger, Dave LaForce, Paul Stormberg and many others.  The talks with the former 2 'Daves' were of specific interest due to their historicity, design path inquiries/exchanges and related.  Once a designer, always a designer.

*Paul Stormberg and I visited with Jeff Perren at a healthcare facility in Illinois, about 45 minutes from Lake Geneva.  He is in good spirits and humorous, as usual, after having sustained major surgery.  I will be visiting with him in the future as he is relatively close to my location, which I had not been previously aware of (in fact, there had been an errant rumor circulating that he had died!).

I'll post some pictures and some more convention details in between my writing, including a poem I am composing for my old friend of days gone by, Tramp.






Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lost City of the Elders + Mood Music

I looked (that is, listened) around a lot over the years to find music that would typify a party's seeing the LCotE and then entering its mysterious environs.

Matt Uelmen is the composer of eerie and inspired music for the early Diablo games, and the  selection below for D2 fits in with my conception of the eeriness of the city.

I use a very intricate template to ascertain what "phase" or "phases" the city is currently in, which I will be describing in a future book on the subject of models and formats.

The current phase for the Garycon VI LCotE adventures is darkness and terror.  Think of these in terms of overall impacts upon the environment, the mind, the visuals and the emotive levels and you will start getting the gist.

Link to music

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just A Little Bit...

Here are some quickie updates:

I am hovering around 85,000 words on my first non-fiction book dealing with the pre-TSR to TSR's earliest days, roughly 1969-1977. A massive chore with at least five differing areas of converging content: historical, game design theory, play theory, creativity and the open form concept, the latter which I am describing in detail. I estimate the finish of this project at 130-150m words.  Black Blade has already agreed to publish it.  It will include about 10-20 diagrams, most of which are finished.

The Dungeons and Dragons Documentary crew will be around the area just prior to Garycon VI.  The weather has crippled their activities over the winter months but they will be filming an extended session with me at my abode days before Garycon.  They had suggested filming it at Yerkes Observatory; but we ultimately decided upon another clean, well-lit place--my home.

Black Blade Publishing might (greater than 50% chance) have Bottle City (2nd printing) ready for Garycon.  They are pushing on that schedule but I have yet to hear about how that might play out.

My seminar on Open Form at the upcoming GC 6 is about half full, a good sign for those eclectic DMs and designers out there who I guarantee will benefit by attending it.

My brother will be in attendance at the con and is running a Chainmail game there.  That's right, the first person offered a job at TSR in 1974 contingent upon his remodeling of the Dungeon Hobby Shop/TSR offices (rewiring, re-carpetting re-plumbing, etc.).  He's also been approached by the D and D Doc crew to give his story from those days.

These are very interesting times, but the weather sucks, so here's a pre-taste of warmer days ahead.




Monday, January 20, 2014

Wanted: _Bottle City_ Errata




I'm collecting errata for the Black Blade reprint of Rob's Bottle City level from the original Lake Geneva Castle. 

This is what I have thus far:

- Add a description about how one-way doors are represented on the map, and how they work in the Bottle City level (this erratum already appears in the Bottle City transcript .pdf download).
- Clarify where key #12 on the map is, as it seems to be missing.  My best guess is that in the trio of round rooms in the NW map (SE of 1, S of cavern A, and N of cavern C), the NE-most room has a red 1 marked on it, and that Rob never drew the corresponding 2 to make "12" BITD, or perhaps the 2nd number faded over time, or was covered over by tape or erased or something.
- Remove duplicated paragraph on the Whelk on pages 10-11 (the text appears once without a sidebar box surrounding it on page 10, and once again within a sidebar box on page 11).
- Fix the initial text in the OGL, which identifies the book as Tower of Blood instead of Bottle City.

If you have found any errors, omissions, typos, or text that requires clarification in Bottle City, please add them to the comments in this thread, or email me directly.

Thanks!

Allan.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Watch Where You Step! (Dark Druids Preview)

Illustration rough by Ian Baggley
A quick teaser/preview for the forthcoming new printing of Rob's Dark Druids module!

Ian Baggley delivered this rough (i.e., unfinished) illustration today to check over. Even though it's just a "rough," it's still pretty amazing. I threw him a curve-ball: I asked for a silhouette-style illustration (because it needs to stand out on a 2-page spread that has two other illustrations that are larger), and oh man did he deliver! It's so cool!

Ian might be best known among gamers for his copious artwork in the North Wind Adventures products, wherein he shows his amazing skill with charcoals (I believe). But the above rough shows he has skill with other media too! Dark Druids will feature at least 14 illustrations by Ian, most of which are inked from pencil sketches. (That's my layman's guess based on the end result. Apologies, Ian if I got the detail wrong there!)

Over the coming weeks, I'll show some previews from all the other involved artists. (Reminder: Rob already posted a Dark Druids art preview by Andy "ATOM" Taylor a couple weeks ago.)

Once I'm a little closer to being done with the production, I'll put some teaser info on the Chaotic Henchmen Productions site. (I don't want to put any info there until I'm more confident about ship date, price, etc.) In the mean time, here are some random factoids: 56 pages; classic-style detached cover with maps on the cover interior; outdoor section plus three dungeon levels; 71 keyed areas; an outline for continued adventures; historical commentary about how the content was used in the original campaign; a bunch of new magic items; four new monsters; a new class and cult; roughly 40 spells; roughly 50 illustrations!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Spontaneous Role Playing with my 5-year-old


... or how a kid taught his dad a few things.

But first, a quick, "hello!" My name is Guy Fullerton, and besides playing AD&D and various other rpgs, I also occasionally publish and/or help produce rpg modules & supplements. Rob kindly invited me to post here, and in a few weeks I will post a some teasers and tidbits about the upcoming reprinting of his excellent Dark Druids module. For now, though, I offer a brief anecdote on an unexpected role playing session with my young son...

As a parent, sometimes I get into odd conversations in places that might surprise a non-parent. A few days ago, while in the bathroom to keep my five-year-old son company while he sat on the potty before bed (too much information, sorry!), I happened to mention D&D. I don't recall the exact remark, but it might have been about running my lunch-time AD&D campaign earlier that day. The conversation quickly became challenging.

Me: "blah blah ... Dungeons & Dragons ... blah blah."

Son: "Dad, how do you play Dungeons & Dragons?"

Me: <pause> "Uh. It's like... Hmm."

A parental predicament! How does one explain D&D to a five year old who is supposed to go to sleep soon? I chose a simple answer, so as to keep the definition flexible, but also to avoid any monster-ish bits (bad dream fuel), and to avoid exciting conflict bits that might get him wound up before sleep.

Me: "You imagine yourself in a situation, and then decide what to do."

Son: <slightly furrowed brow, suggesting he sort of understood, but wasn't totally sure>

Me: "It's kind of like this: Imagine you are in a boat, in the very middle of a really big swimming pool, like the one at the athletic club*. It's getting close to dinner time, and you feel very hungry. Nobody else is around. What do you do?"

(*where he has started taking swimming lessons)

Son: "Eat some food!"

Gah! Not the best DM skills on my part there. I didn't describe the situation sufficiently, so:

Me: "Oh no! There's no food in the boat with you! What do you do now?"

Son: <pauses to think> "I wait."

Initially that answer surprised me, but in retrospect it makes sense. He's not much of a swimmer yet, so I wouldn't expect him to try getting into the water. And he's still pretty dependent on my wife and I when it comes to getting food. Admittedly the situation didn't give him any tools, so I decided to supply a potential, though indirect, tool...

Me: "You wait for a little while, and are even hungrier. Hey—here comes your big brother! He doesn't see you though, because he is walking across the pool deck to go somewhere else. What do you do?"

Son: "I wait."

My eyes opened wide with surprise. But that's okay; now he can observe a consequence...

Me: "Your brother passes by without noticing you, and he's now getting pretty far away." <pause>

Son: <silently waiting for me to talk more>

Me: "Your brother is out of sight now. You're still very hungry, and it must be around dinner time—you'd normally be eating right now. What do you do?"

Son: "I wait."

I gave my son a sideways look of suspicion. Maybe he's treating this more like a bedtime story. On the other hand, maybe he's just being silly. On the other-other hand, it's close to bedtime, and he's not at his best when he's tired.

Since my wife and I are generally the suppliers of his basic necessities, I tried to spur action by bringing one of us into the imaginative environment...

Me: "You wait more, and you are *really* hungry now. Oh look! Here comes mommy! She's walking near the edge of the pool. It looks like she is headed to the same place your brother went. But she doesn't see you in the boat, either. What do you do?"

Son: "I wait."

Here, I sorta wanted to shake my head in defeat, but again: Possible mitigating circumstances. I decided to wrap things up quickly and get on with bedtime...

Me: "Mommy walks on past, without noticing you in the boat. She goes out of sight, just like your brother did. Okay, kiddo—time to get down from the potty and wash hands and stuff."

So we did all the bedtime stuff, and he went to sleep.

On first reflection I felt like the experience (experiment?) was a failure. I thought of a dozen ways I could have framed a situation that was less puzzle-ish. And certainly I'll use some of those ideas next time we play this kind of game.

But later I realized it was actually a very rewarding experience. Obviously my son get to observe some consequences of action ... or inaction, as the case may be. More importantly, though, I saw how he might react in a situation of separation. I learned a little bit more about his (overly?) patient temperament. It reminded me that we haven't talked about how to get help when you're alone, or when you're not sure what to do.

For me as a parent, that's powerful stuff.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Garycon 6 Schedule + Other



I will be running Lost City of the Elders at Garycon VI in March:  Thu/Fri/Saturday

I am also scheduled to give a seminar on Open Form in RPGs.


Due to my personal commitment to writing two non-fiction books, which are proceeding tremendously well, I have decided to open this blog to various authors of note, who may or may not find the time to post items of interest here:

Timeshadows (Kyrinn Eis) who is the creator of World of Urutsk and maintains a high Google+ profile in gaming and discussion circles.  She is a personal friend and a designer of merit on many levels.

Allan Grohe:  Advanced studier and compiler of Greyhawk lore, game designer and partner at Black Blade Publishing. We share a lot of e-mails and phone conversations, so getting him to find the time to post something here might in fact be limited to my upcoming works through BB, but we can hope otherwise.

Guy Fullerton:  Guy's a real thinker and delver into the form. He is also the chief honcho at Chaotic Henchmen.  His insightful article on my Lost City of the Elder's adventure he partook in at Garycon5 was a really good piece.  I hope he finds some time from his busy schedule with family, Apple, Inc., and CHP to post something here.