Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gen Con Day 1: Wednesday, August 15

The day dawned bright and bleary for the drive to Indy. Packed tight as an Apollo capsule astronaut into the back seat amidst bags, cases, and boxes of clothing, games, books, and snacks, we took off from Iola only about 15 minutes late, at 7:45 AM. Having only slept maybe three hours (I can never sleep the night before I leave for Gen Con), I slept most of the first leg of the trip down to Bloomington.

There we stopped for lunch. Unfortunately, the local area had a blackout just as our hamburgers were dropped on the (gas) grill, so we ate our truncated meal in the dark. Lacking caffeine with my lunch, I slept most of the rest of the way into Indy, too.

When I arrived I discovered much to my chagrin that the hotel did not have my name listed on the room; my buddies Steve Chenault (Troll Lord Games) and Aldo Ghiozzi (Impressions Advertising & Marketing) insisted it was. It took Aldo talking with the yahoos at the desk through my cell phone to convince them that I belonged in the room.

The delay almost made me late for the Wizards of the Coast dinner, at which the members of the press were given the lowdown on Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Little did we (or the planners there) suspect that the news was being accidentally broken as we ate and listened to Bill Slavicsek list the various changes and additions to the new edition (about which I will post much more in depth at a later time).

Altogether it was a very pleasant dinner and meeting. Aldo sat to my right, while the seat to my left was empty; I was told that it was the seat for Morrus from ENWorld, but that he was stuck at the airport. A shame, as I’ve always wanted to meet him. Other friends, acquaintances, and press colleagues were there, including Andrew Smith from Game Trade Monthly, Thorin McGee from Inquest, Joyce Greenholdt from Scrye, Milton Griepp from ICv2, and others I am sure I am forgetting.

We ran later than expected; the dinner didn’t end until almost 10:00 (thanks in no small part to Aldo and me hitting poor Bill with question after question). I rang my best friend in the whole world, Al, who I was supposed to call at 9:00 to arrange to meet downtown. He’s local, so Gen Con is a good time to hang out (really, with our schedules, the only time in the year we know we can get together). I called him as Aldo and I were walking to the Claddagh, an Irish pub. He and his girlfriend Angela just happened to be walking down the next street over, so I told him to meet me at the pub; he arrived there just moments after Aldo and I, and we met at about the same time we ran into the Trolls and the guys from Goodman Games. We all grabbed a big table in the back and caught up, it being a year since I had seen him, and this was the first time I met his girlfriend. It was a good time.

But it was a loud time, especially hanging out with the Trolls and the Goodmen. And THEN the band started playing. After a while we decided to go find someplace quieter; I would be hanging with the Trolls all week, and I would see plenty of the Goodmen, too; Al and I had only two nights to hang out, so away we went.

We wandered the streets for a while, looking for a place that seemed quiet. Most of the bars and even restaurants were in full-swing, with lots of gamers in town meeting up and getting ready for the con to start the next day.

One thing that struck me was the greater number of homeless people and panhandlers that I saw; the number must have been double or triple that which I saw last year. Al said that the mayor had busted the budget building the new stadium, and that money for police and other services was way down, plus jobs were in the toilet; sounds about right for the way things are going in general in this country.

Another thing that struck me was the new “art” that Indy had on the street corners. Each crossing downtown had a tall concrete fixture that showed a swaying or walking stick figure on a bright light board; I called it “Hookervision,” because the female figures sashayed and seemed dressed like whores and the male figures strutted like pimps (all that was missing were the ostrich feathers and goldfish bowl shoes). It was the uttermost garish and tacky display of public “art” I’d seen since the painted hippos in Fort Wayne some years ago (I understand that fad finally reached its horrifying conclusion with painted Darth Vader statues at Comic-Con San Diego... look it up, I dare you).

Anyway, we were spotted walking down the street by a good friend of mine, Bob Moses, owner/manager of the Chimera Hobbies stores in Appleton and Fond du Lac. We sat down with him and his friends at an open-air section of a bar (the name of which escapes me), and talked and drank for a while (mostly water, as they were driving and I needed to be up early). After a while the good food and drink of the evening overcame my long sleepy drive, and I decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Al dropped me off at the hotel, and I stumbled up to the lumpy, hard-as-a-door facsimile of a bed… most welcome at the time, though I cursed its lumpiness the next morning.

But that’s for another post…

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gen Con Blogging

I'll be leaving for Gen Con in the bright and bleary tomorrow morning. I hope to be able to blog at least once a day; I will not have my own computer, so it will be catch as catch can on web access. I have a very important meeting Wednesday night, and hope to blog about the results that night or early Thursday...

I will have XXXI on sale at the Troll Lord Games booth (#515). In addition to XXXI the Trolls have between nine and 11 new products at the show (!!!) including the Eastern Mark Folio Gazetteer for Castle Zagyg. Promises to be very cool!

I should have enough copies of XXXI for everyone, but to be sure, drop by early. It will run you $10 plus tax.

If you want to hang out, look for me at the booth during hours; if I'm not there, leave a message with your cell phone number and I'll catch you later.

Friday, August 10, 2007

XXXI Preview: Mycretian Gifts

The Mycretian class has always been a special, unusual class. The original as presented in the City State of the World Emperor was a mix between classic Merovingian-era saint and New Age Ganja-Priest, with a dash of Fred Saberhagan's ARDNEH worshipers (from Empire of the East and the Swords series) thrown in for flavor. For the Wilderlands of High Adventure Castles & Crusades version of the class, I chose to go with something more focused on the Merovingian-era saint aspect, as the WoHA is generally a grim and gritty sword & sorcery style setting (though there's a bit of oddness and even some wackiness here and there, I'll admit) and the younger crowd just won't get the late 70's era references. One thing that remained constant was that the Mycretian class is overpowered... they are distinctly an NPC class, though judges can allow their use as PCs if they feel the player can handle it. Mycretians are meant as a Lawful Good foil to the campaign; they are those damn do-gooders who always screw things up or need saving from their own righteous acts. They have some variety, though; they run the gamut from Ned Flanders-style Samaritans to Solomon Kane style "swords of God."

One of the most powerful abilities of the Mycretian is the gifts they are given by their god, Mycr. These gifts are frighteningly powerful... not destructively, but in what they can mean for a person's soul and his loyalties... which is merely one of the reasons they are universally despised by all non-Mycretian nobles and rulers!

FRIENDLY SUGGESTION [Level 3, CT 1, R 50 ft., D 1 hour per level, SV charisma negates, SR yes, Comp V]: This gift can be used on any sentient being, even if it is normally immune to charm spells and effects. Using a few simple, soothing words, the Mycretian can suggest to a single target that he needs to re-evaluate his life, his morals, his ethics, and even his deity. If the target fails his saving throw, he will do exactly that; he will break off whatever he is doing, even combat, and seek out someplace safe and quiet where he can contemplate his life, for up to one hour per level of the Mycretian. At the end of this period, the target must make a wisdom saving throw. Failure means that his alignment shifts one more place toward Good; if already Good, it shifts one more place toward Lawful. If the target serves or worships evil gods, he will abandon them and seek out more pleasant deities, most likely Mycr himself. Note that this change is not a magical effect; it is the spirit within seeking a higher purpose after thoughtful introspection. This change cannot be reversed through a dispel magic or any magic short of a wish.

RELEASE SPIRIT [Level 4, CT 1, R 50 ft., D special, SV wisdom negates, SR yes, Comp V, S]: With this gift the Mycretian causes the spirit of one target creature of Evil alignment to separate from its body and manifest as a duplicate of the creature itself, though where the original appears foul and hateful, the duplicate appears kind and friendly; if the original is dressed in ugly clothing and fearsome, infernal-style clothing and armor, the spirit duplicate appears in wholesome clothing and awe-inspiring, celestial armor. The target must have hit dice/levels no greater than double that of the Mycretian, or the gift automatically fails. The spiritual duplicate has all the abilities and duplicate items of the creature, and uses them to its utmost to defeat its original; however, all damage it deals will only be subdual damage, regardless of the form of the attack. If the original has a Chaotic or Evil weapon, the duplicate’s weapon will be Lawful or Good, and so forth. The spiritual duplicate will never attack any other being, even in defense. The original suffers a -2 penalty to hit from the frightening and unusual nature of its opponent; others may attack it, though to any but original target the spirit double is incorporeal, and can only be hit by magical weapons. The duplicate is not an illusion, so it cannot be disbelieved, and it is not summoned nor extraplanar, so such spells will not affect it. If the original is defeated by its spiritual double, the spiritual double disappears, and the spirit rejoins the body. When the target awakens it must make a charisma save with no bonus due to hit dice/levels, or be affected by a friendly suggestion gift as though activated by the Mycretian. Note: no individual may have more than one spirit duplicate in existence at one time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A personal note

I should mention here that I am no longer employed by F+W Publications or associated with Gaming Report, Comics & Games Retailer, Scrye, or Comics Buyer's Guide.

My last day at F+W was July 27.

So when I speak here and elsewhere, I'm speaking for myself, whatever that is worth. :)

I'm still in the process of figuring out the whos, whats, and wherefores of what I will be doing going forward. I plan to spend as much time as possible on Adventure Games Publishing (I might even get that damned website updated) and start cranking out some Wilderlands of High Adventure products. I also plan to do a little freelancing here and there, regular articles, reviews, and maybe a rant or two, depending on the time available. First up is completion of the long-awaited Jewels of the East, a Lejendary Adventure gazetteer for Lejendary Earth from Inner City Games Designs. After that... I dunno yet. I'll know more after Gen Con.

My Gen Con plans have changed, needless to say. I will now be attending with Troll Lord Games and working at their booth (#515). I'll be selling Castles & Crusades and Wilderlands of High Adventure goodies. Plans to run games, however, have gone out the window, and will be re-arranged on site; so if you are interested in playing Castles & Crusades, stop on by the booth and ask about what plans have been made.

Alea iacta est, as some guy once said...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

XXXI Preview: Zsolt the Dolt

Been awhile... sorry about the absence, but things have been busy at Chez Mishler.

So for now, a preview from the Gen Con 2007 Limited Edition product, XXXI. The preview includes one of the 20 encounters added to the Tell Qa portion of the product.

Tell Qa Encounters
Here are 20 interesting encounters you can use in Tell Qa, or, with minor changes, in virtually any city or town of the Falling Empire. Roll 1d20 to determine the encounter. Each encounter has a disposition chart; roll 1d6 on the chart to determine the encounter’s disposition. The disposition might be toward the adventurers, or toward an NPC friend or enemy, or merely a general state of being.

4. Beggar: Zsolt the Dolt (NE male Smyrian 4th level beggar, SL Guild 2, AC 12, HD 4d6+4, HP 17, Attacks: dagger (+1 BtH, 1d4 damage) Dex 16, Int 14, Cha 14). Zsolt appears to be afflicted by some sort of brain damaging attack; he has a huge, ugly scar running from his right eye over his head to the back of his neck, and at times it seems to ooze blood and pus. No hair grows around the scar, and his body seems to be wracked with spasms of pain while he blurts out curses, imprecations, and (false) predictions. He also stutters terribly, has a wild left eye, and drools and spits a lot. It is all a clever disguise, though (except for the walleye and the spitting), and rather than being a wounded idiot, Zsolt is quite unharmed and cunning. He spies for both the Thieves Guild (#43) and the Ming River Road Gang (#80), and has at times set both sides up, for the right price. He never sells his true predictions, only false ones, as he prefers to use them to his own advantage. Zsolt has a 20% chance of knowing something semi-secret or unknown about anything important about the town to the adventurers (costs 2d6 sp minimum). Zsolt has 1d6 cp in his beggar’s bowl at any time, but keeps 5d6 sp and 5d6 cp in a hidden pocket of his rags. If he is “Hurried” it means he is carrying a pouch with 20 gp from the Guild or the Gang, and is on his way home, to his small flat in the tenement next to the Witch (#83) on New Wall Street. There, in a room otherwise bare save for a heap of sleeping furs and a cheap oil lamp, two sacks containing 201 gp and 219 sp are hidden under the floorboards. A beggar and a miser, Zsolt rarely spends ought but the coppers he earns through his daily begging, gleefully counting every gold and silver coin in the deep of the night. Disposition: 1) Hurried, 2) Sneaky, 3) Devious, 4) Hungry, 5) Bored, 6) Lusty.