Archive for August, 2012

Just a quick update.  We’ve moved to a real website, not like this was a fake one, but to gain more benefits and have more options we now have our own website.  Not much has changed yet, just that if you have landed here, you need to now to there.  See you all on the other side!

If you subscribe to this one I think you might have to resubscribe to the new one.  Definitely do that so you don’t miss a thing from the madhouse.

We were quite surprised, and honored, to find out we were nominated for this award yesterday, by our friends over at Wallcat Gaming (link on left <–This way!  No, that way!–>).  So there are some rules to being nominated.  First, I have to tell you all 7 things about me.  Then I have to nominate 15 other blogs and tell them the good news.  So, here goes, story time.

  1.  While in Nepal saving orphans from tigers…hah just kidding.  First and foremost about me, I am married and have a son.  I know you’ve heard about my awesome wife from time to time, we also have a teenager who is well on his way to growing up just like me.  Poor kid.
  2. I am a comic book collector, mostly X-Titles, but I do pick up a few odds and ends here and there, namely Conan from Dark Horse, Knights of the Dinner Table from KenzerCo., and anything related to Lady Pendragon or The Magdalena.
  3. I am an avid reader of Sci-fi and Fantasy as well as war history, and some popular fiction.  My library is upwards of 800 books.
  4. I am, and always shall be…your friend, Jim.  No wait, a gamer, that’s what I am.  I love FPS games and multi-player RPGs mostly, with the odd puzzle game thrown in.
  5. Our whole family is big fans of amine, mostly mecha and suspense, and pretty much anything put out by Studio Ghibli.
  6. I am proud to admit that I am a roleplayer, and have been for a long time.  Over 20 years now since my buddy introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons.  I’ve been hooked every since.
  7. I am a writer, if that wasn’t obvious.  Not saying I’m a good writer, but I can put words together and get a few people to read them so I guess that counts.

Ok, now for the blogs I’m nominating, in no particular order.

Ok, so I could only come up with nine.  I’m so busy I just don’t have 15 blogs that I follow.  Hopefully the above nominees are able to pick up my slack…I know, I suck.

We’re going to go out on a limb and say YES! No questions asked. Blog done, end of post…nah just kidding.  Seriously though, my love of this company aside, they did put on the best (in my opinion) booth of the show, again affirming my belief that they are one of the best RPG publishers in the market today.  I don’t just mean best as in best sales, award winning, and best product line, but also just a good company.  For me they are right up there in quality, and customer relations as Steve Jackson Games and KenzerCo.

I did a comparison between their booth and Wizards of the Coast’s booth, and to me there is no real comparison.  Sure, WoTC had the statue of Drizzt and the Spider Queen (pictures coming soon), but as far as showing off their product line they were more about hype than the product.  Where Paizo’s booth was packed, wall to wall with product, and customers, WoTC was really a big empty space with a couple of statues, a few computer monitors featuring DDO and Neverwinter, and a small bookshelf with some product.  While Paizo’s booth felt like it was all about the games and the fans, the WoTC booth seemed to be all about wow factor, and while the statues were very ‘wow’, riding TSR’s hard work just isn’t enough and you can’t forget about why you are there in the first place.  Games and gamers.

Did I mention that, as far as tabletop RPG’s go Paizo took the show? Not only in this writer’s humble opinion but The EN World RPG Awards agree.  Paizo dominated the Ennie’s at Gen Con with a whopping 9 awards out of 22 categories.  More than any single publisher in the running.  Winning categories included Best Aid/Accessory (Silver), Best Art, Cover (Gold [duh]), Best Cartography (Gold), Best Free Product (Gold), Best  Miniatures Product (Gold), Best Production Values (Gold), Best Website (Gold), Product of the Year (Gold), Fan’s Choice, Best Publisher (Gold).

In the picture to the right, that’s also an Origin award if I’m not mistaken, they have several of those as well.  The picture is the contents of the beginner’s boxed set along with a few other books scattered around.

Short post for now, more pictures to share of course, and a couple more articles, then we are going to get into full swing with our GW2 coverage as I continue to familiarize myself with the game.  Also stay tuned for news on an award we’ve been nominated for, next month’s gamer lady, and much more.

Just like the title says, being level one sucks.  Sure, it’s kinda fun to meet new experiences head-on, learn something, and come out feeling like you conquered whatever it is you set out to do, but when you jump in head first and it overwhelms you…well it’s a whole mess of crazy amazing that can leave you standing there trying to catch your breath.  That was Gen Con for us this year, our first year there.  We are not new to conventions at all, we’ve been going to Wizard World/Comic Con, and C2E2 for years now, but this was a whole new level.  Usually we go up to Chicago, a routine trip for us that we can make blindfolded by shear memory, walk in, get in line for tickets, go in and have a blast.  It’s all in one room, everything is easy to find, the layout is nearly always the same.  Gen Con, however, was above and beyond a new experience right from the start.  The moment we pulled into downtown Indy and saw the crowds, the traffic, and trying to find a place to park, I knew we were in for quite the ride.  This thing takes place in the Indiana Convention Center, along with a multitude of other hotel and theater venues around downtown!

The first thing we walked into was this massive wall of posters (I want one!) for what I would consider the two heavy-hitters at the con.  As you can see, Paizo has two posters there…fitting for sure.  What you can barely see the top of, is a card house competition that was set up below.  People were trying to be a world record for building a card house and some of them were amazing.  It is an annual event called Cardhalla, a free event open to anyone, to help build a city of cards from those donated.  They were built out of Magic the Gathering cards mostly, but there were hundreds of other collectible cards in the mix.  On Saturday night they destroy the entire thing in a charity event.  I was already in awe and I was just in the lobby.  We walked around this place, trying to find where to get our tickets, and that’s where we started to grasp the scale of the place.  Not only did they have a massive hall with the main ‘show’ so to speak, but dozens of smaller rooms, lecture rooms, and even booths set up in the halls outside everything.  We didn’t even know where to start, literally.

Apparently we had walked in the wrong entrance, and will-call, where we were to pick up one of our two tickets, was on the other side of the building.  After walking around, and finally asking at an information desk we found it.  Got my ticket, then headed for the press room to get the press pass which was in my wife’s name.  There was an interview in the press room in progress, so she went in by herself while I waited.  No need for an extra body in there, especially if they were busy with an interview.  I waited a bit and when she came out there was a surprised look on her face.  Turns out the press pass was a 4 day pass!  We had no idea.  Looks like next year we might be going for more than one day.  Now it was time for us to split up, she had signed up for a couple of spouse events, so while she did that I was going to go hit the convention floor for a quick once-over.  See, I am tall and walk fast to start with, meaning my long legs make it even worse.  I figured I could get through the convention floor, scope out the important stuff, see if there is anything that has to be done at a certain time, and then when we walk through together we can take more time to see everything.  Well, we know what happened while I was on the convention floor, so let’s talk about spouse events.

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a Con.  How many people would love their spouse, significant other, girlfriend etc. to go to one of these things with us, but face the fact that it’s more about us than them and they would probably just be bored?  Gen Con is the first I’ve heard about that has accounted for just that.  You can take your spouse, or whoever, that might not be into gaming as much as you, and still find something to do.  They had craft events such as themed scrapbooking, jewelry making, and needlework.  There was an open craft room for anyone to go in, use supplies and tools, and just get creative.  Several active events were available including pole dancing fitness classes, belly dancing, country and 70’s/80’s dancing.  They provided some non-traditional events like massage classes, recipes for gamers, and chakra balancing.  Finally if they just wanted to get out there were tours of local museums, breweries, haunted sites, and even a tour of the catacombs under Indy.  This is a great way to share your passion for gaming with a spouse that isn’t quite into it so they do have something else to do while you geek out at the convention.

Once I had picked up my wife from her classes we headed for the convention floor.  Mind you, I’m a fast walker, and at my pace I only made it halfway through in the two and a half hours she was doing her thing.  This place was huge.  On the way back we got several great cosplay shots, the one here being one of the best I saw.  There were a lot of people mixing genres/themes, I saw a storm trooper in a kilt, several steampunk variations of non-steampunk characters, but this one took the cake for me.  It was probably the way the mask was done, it looked exactly like the ones from the original movie, and the person behind it had the mannerisms down.  Between the way the mouth worked, just like the movie, and the oddly submissive head tilt the chimpanzee characters had in the movie this guy/gal was perfect.  Even the stance was right out of the movie, as if a chimp had gotten off the Planet, and found his way into the imperial army in a galaxy far far away.  By far one of the best, but a convention wouldn’t be a convention without a Slave Leia.

Posing here with, what I presume is, Bloodrayne, this was one of the few Slave Leia’s attending the con.  As you can see, this is a no-joke costume that requires some serious commitment and self confidence.  This is definitely not a costume for the shy introvert, or the gal that’s too worried about how she looks and cares what others think.  If you are going to wear the brass bikini and chain, wear it proud like this lady does.  By this time we are in the convention hall and the madness is just overwhelming.  Once we got through artists alley, our first stop after Tracy Hickman’s booth, it was time to hit the main area in earnest.  First though, a word, again, about how family friendly this con is.

On our way to the beginning we passed the Training Grounds, an area for kids with games, puzzles, toys, books, and even foam weapons.  The perfect place to get young kids interested in games, crafts, miniatures, and for them to have fun when the rest of the convention is boring.  They even provide child care in a room down the hall from the convention floor, with the help of a group called Sitters to the Rescue.  Between all of that and the Family Fun Pavilion that is dedicated to family friendly games for all ages, this con does live up to the standards that all gamers expect.  Many of us gamers are older, with families, spouses, kids and such, and while we all hope they will share our love for gaming, that’s not always so.  At least this con offers ways for families to share time together, or apart while still enjoying a weekend event geared for everyone.  For the older kids, they also had quite a few video game opportunities available.

Finally, I just have to say, this con is really for everyone that loves games.  You don’t have to be into RPGs or miniatures, LARP or fantasy to enjoy this event.  I would say fully half the booths were dedicated to card and board games.  I heard a few years ago, someone say that gaming was dying, that roleplaying was going to be a thing of the past.  I have to say I just don’t see it.  I see gaming evolving, becoming something different, but I certainly don’t see it dying.  The traditional RPG company booths were just as busy as the zombie card game booths, or the miniature wargaming spots.  If Gen Con is any indication, Gaming as an industry is still growing with no signs of stopping.  I am excited to see what comes out of this change!

Stay tuned for more about the Con, along with, hopefully, a training guide for GW2 coming soon!

I wasn’t sure what to write out first, there were so many experiences at Gen Con that I’m sure it’s going to be more than one post and we were only there for a day!  I finally settled on this post first, the highlight of the trip for me.  Everyone has their idols, heroes, people they look up to that have influenced their life choices, their careers, and what they hope for their future.  Of course my parents and my family have had a huge effect on my life, but the one thing that I want to become before I go on to the next great adventure is an author.  My love for writing, reading, fantasy, and finally all things literature, was probably bubbling latent underneath the surface.  Little things tapped into it, fantasy games on the Nintendo, a friend introducing me to Dungeons and Dragons early, a couple of books I read when I was very young.  All of these helped to build a foundation for what I am today, but nothing had such a profound effect on me than when a friend pointed me in the direction of the Dragonlance Saga, a world created by authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman for the Dungeons and Dragons RPG.  The story of its creation is long, but interesting, but that’s for another time.  Needless to say, when I read The Legend of Huma I was hooked.  You could say that Richard Knaak, who wrote Huma, was the one that hooked me, but the world created by Weis and Hickman is what landed me in the boat.

When we were planning this trip I had no idea that they were going to be there, much less others like Larry Elmore, Ed Greenwood, and R.A. Salvatore.  As much as I loved Gen Con, their website sucks for getting information.  I hope that they fix that in the future, it was just too damn hard to find anything.  Anyway, I happened to see some mention of Tracy Hickman in their catalog while we were eating lunch, so I looked up his booth number, sure enough he had a booth.  Then I looked for Margaret Weis, she had one too.  Now I was on a mission, and adventure of sorts.  Of course if I had known they would be there I would have brought a book for them to sign, so first goal was to obtain one of their books, preferably one of the Dragonlance Chronicles, so I stopped at one of the booths selling used books.  No luck.  I walked all over the place trying to find one selling books, nothing.  Finally, I got a call from my wife that she was done with her scrapbooking class (stay tuned for talk about the awesome events for spouses), so I thought I’d breeze by Margaret Weis’ booth on the way to meet my wife.  There, on her table, was a plethora of their books, both hers, and books written by her and Hickman.  Now I was faced with the overwhelming decision of which to by.  I had them all, it wasn’t easy enough to just buy something to fill my collection.  I settled on a paperback reprint of the Dragonlance Chronicles, now my fourth copy of the trilogy, and Margaret signed it for me.

Margaret Weis, Gen Con 2012

Of course here I am, standing in front of one of the celebrities of my life…you can keep your movie stars and action heroes, Margaret Weis is part of the duo responsible for hours upon hours of story, suspense, drama, love, action, and imagination that filled my head with nothing but her words.  I’m trying not to sound like a stuttering fanboy while the guy next to me goes on about how she influenced his life, his writing, etc.  Hey!  That’s my story, I’m thinking, and then I realize that’s probably a lot of people’s story.  I can’t begin to imagine how many times she’s told about how she had a profound effect on someone’s life, how she inspired them to write, or design a game, or just got them into reading.  In a way I guess it made me a little less nervous to tell her that I felt the same way, and now my son is reading their work and he also has a passion for the written word that will set the tone for his entire life as well.

Anyway, she listened to the other guy’s story, thanking him and signed his book, and turning to me.  I did tell her how much her work meant to me and how it had made me what I am.  Gotten me to read, and interested in writing.  How her creation, with Tracy Hickman, had sparked a love for fantasy, role playing, reading and writing that I hoped would turn into a profession I would love in the future.  Yes, I gushed.  I’m sure she’s heard it a million times, but it had to be said.

I would have loved to spend all day talking to her about her writing, but she had more fans to talk to and I was still on a quest.  I had to pick up the damsel from her scrapbooking class, and still get a second name in my newly purchased book.  Of course my wife was excited for me when she saw the book, she knows how important these two authors have been to me, so when I explained that our first stop was back to Tracy Hickman’s booth there was no question, just a nod and a determine look to stand beside me on my quest.  So we reentered the grand melee that is the convention floor of Gen Con, our destination; the last booth in row 700.  When we got back there, much to my dismay, Tracy Hickman was giving a lecture and would not be back for several hours.  We had to endure to kill time, an easy feat at the convention mind you, until he returned.

Tracy Hickman, Gen Con 2012

Finally the time had arrived and we made our way back to the booth at the end of row 700.  As we came around the corner there was a line, no surprise, to meet the father of the Dragonlance Saga.  We got in line, and my lovely wife suggested she hold my place while I got talk to an artist that was close by, about doing a book cover.  Yes, she’s amazing.  So she took my copy of the Dragonlance Chronicles, and I went to see about a deal on a book cover.

We didn’t wait long after I got back and I finally got to tell Mr. Hickman the same thing I told Margaret.  How much their work influenced me and all of that.  He smiled and nodded, thanking me for the kind words.  He signed the title page of the book, next to Margaret Weis’ name, and completed my quest to meet these two great authors.  Sure, I have a pair of signatures in a book now, but the real treasure was to stand in front of them and tell them what I did.  I’ll put that copy in my bookcase, next to the other three copies, and remember it well.

Again, just incase either of them read this, I would like to say, thank you so much for giving us such an amazing world for our imaginations to roam in.  Your writing has always been something I have looked to for inspiration, and the depth of your worlds have always driven me to do better with my own.  I hope to one day be in your shoes, and maybe hear someone else say what I said to both of you, but for now that dream is far away and I have a lot of work to do.  Until then, keep it coming because we eat it up, and if you two ever get back together for any other books, be it Dragonlance, Deathgate, or a cookbook, I’ll be right there to buy it.

Visit them

Tracy Hickman

Margaret Weis