I have been getting a LOT of great feedback from my the table top game (and book) Castle of Blackwood Moors.  Included are a few screen shots of some of the great feedback people have sent (part of Jon’s post I put in the last update).

This is cooler than I ever hoped, that people would like something that I have created. I just hope I do not become an arrogant jerk-face. I leave it up to you folks to harass me often so I do not too ‘big for my britches’. Sheesh, I sound like my mom when I say that.

I do like the fact Jon did give me some criticism by stating the one encounter was not set up well for group play.

Let me unpack that.

In the gamebook, there is an area where if you do not bring a certain object, it is an auto death scenario. Happens all the time in gamebooks. BUT the group he was in did EXCEPTIONALLY well and got the furthest of the three groups I ran in the four hour allotted time.  Honestly, I did not think anyone would get as far as they did… but as the old saying goes, never underestimate your players. I had the Outer Bailey all plotted out for group play, but did not do any of the Inner Bailey since I did not think anyone would get there. Needless to say, when the second group got there… well, I had to run the adventure right out of the book, including the deadly encounter.

Not making excuses or anything, just letting you know what happened. I like it when people cut things apart, makes me a better writer/designer.

Anyway, so without giving any spoilers, that is what happened.

Thanks again Jon and Mike for your review and running out and buying copies of my book!
Please continue to give me feedback, compliments, criticisms, venomous hatred; I can take it.

And I haven’t said it in a while, but thank YOU for stopping by. I hope this blog is entertaining and puts a smile on your face with all the crazy stuff I do here.

Fall out. Fall out with all the leaders and gangs. Fall out. Fall out with all the leaders and gangs.

The first post POST Gary Con 9!

So much has happened the past few days I totally nerded out (as you will see) and I got to run some adventures based on my book Castle of Blackwood Moors. It was a big hit and everyone really enjoyed it. This is a quote from one of the actual people who played in the game on the second day:

“As for how you ran your game, I’d be happy to play at your table again!  While I had good experiences at all my Garycon events, I wouldn’t go back to everyone’s table.”

This means a lot. A lot of times if you design something, you do not really get a lot of feedback. So it means SO MUCH to hear people actually say they like what you did and how you did it. (Thanks Jon! I would like to add I did not kidnap any of his loved ones or threaten to hide his tv remote or anything like that to get him to say nice things).

We will get back to the game in a little bit. Now to switch gears as we come to the first batch of pictures. If you know me, and I know I do, you will know I LOVE the Post Apocolyptical genre. The Mad Max series is my favorite movie series (even Fury Road even though Max is in it for only about 15 minutes, and Beyond Thunderdome ), Brave New World is my favorite book (and the great tv movie with Lenord Nemoy as Mustapha Mond. Canticle for Leibowitz. Love it, love it, love it.

Needless to say, the Fallout series is one of my most favorite video game series ever (I wish it would go a bit darker, but that is another topic for another day). So when I saw these three people in costume at GaryCon I just HAD to get a picture with them, and they happily obliged which is only the start of the awesomeness. After the picture was taken they asked me if I ever played Fallout and even they were amazed at what a nerd I am. So the one woman had a G.E.C.K. on her belt, she opened it up and gave me a small pouch. When I dumped it out in my hand… it was full of Nuka Cola Caps!!!  She said they were mine for being a fan and I was stunned. Remember a few posts ago when I said table top gamers are really a lot nicer and friendlier than some other kinds of gamers? These three really backed up this ideal in my mind. I never got their names, but if they ever read this blog, you three really made my day that day.

Okay. On to the next thing! In the last post, I mentioned Frankenparty! it was a great time and I met friends old and new.This year Frank had a kind of scavenger hunt, where you looked around his house to find clues and those who got all the items won a set of original dice from the original Mentzer Dungeons and Dragons box set!!! I tried my best but I got one wrong. One of the questions was about a type of rock, and I guessed Rose Quartz but it was really amethyst.  Needless to say I was pretty mad at myself (I get down on my self pretty hard when I do not know things like that), but I still had a great time as you will attest to the pictures below.

Not only that, look at the first picture! That is the original drawing Larry Elmore made for the Basic D&D box set! As you can see, they cut some of it out and changed it a little into the picture beneath it.

Also, if you look close at that picture of the books. You can see The Castle of Blackwood Moors on Frank’s shelf! How great is that! For a newb writer like me, its pretty great. I also gave a copy to Jim Ward this year since I took a lot his writing advice over the years, and both Frank and Jim were huge influences on me, and they are both wonderful people. Very no-nonsense , direct people who also both have a lot of experience dealing with social misfits like myself, so I always enjoy speaking with them.

Finally, in the picture of me sitting at that desk… This desk is now at Frank’s house (and I had pictures of this last year if you ever seen them), but this was Gary Gygax’s original desk. The one he sat and created Dungeons and Dragons at. Very cool. The only uncool thing is look at how fat I have got since I have been living in the USA. Bad me.

Okay! the next, NEXT thing. Here is me running my first game at Gary Con. The people were great and everyone said they had a great time, thank goodness. There is even a picture of one page of the notes the gent who sat at the far left took (His handwriting is so much nicer than mine!). There was a second page, but the picture I took turned out really poorly. I think I must have sold thirty books over those few days.It is always great to see what players do when you run a table top RPG and it made me feel alive in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Running table top RPG’s is really my calling in life I guess since nothing makes me happier. The only down side to running games like this is once all the other people came in at 10 (if you recall I started at 8), the game rooms were packed SO tight everyone had to scream at the top of their lungs to be heard and I was going hoarse by the end of the game. Mr. Luke Gygax sir, if you read this, please, please, please spread the rooms out a bit more next year… or if you can request a smaller room or something. If I could get a smaller quieter, room, I would run 3 or 4 games a day for each of the 4 days.

Welp, that is GaryCon 9, 2017 Fun friends. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. In a few days, I will get back to the regularly scheduled thoughts on game design, rpgs, and blow the dust off of Hendl’s Landing finally.

Do not forget to keep perusing your passion. I know everyone says that. It has almost become kind of a cliche, but if you can touch your dreams, what truly makes you happy in life… I promise it makes the bad days so much more worthwhile.

EDIT: I should start a contest, who ever is the first person to guess which song is used in the title, wins… something. Not sure yet.

It’s a Frankenparty. Who could ask for more. Everybody’s comin’, leave your body at the door. Leave your body and soul at the door .

Another ANOTHER short post as I am getting ready to leave to Frankenparty!  What is Frankenparty you ask? Well true believers, Frankenparty is a house party held by none other than Frank Mentzer, the gent who created the Red Box Dungeons and Dragons set…  No not the 4th edition one… that was just a terrible attempt to cash in on the coolness that is the original Red Box. I digress. Where was i? Oh yeah! It is a party at Frank’s house. His ever awesome wife feeds us, we play games, we talk about Dungeons and Dragons, we play a ton of board games (Frank I am coming for you! You kicked my butt last year at that balancing game so this year I will have my revenge!!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding you will probably kick my ass again), and generally have a great time.

One of the things I really like about table top gaming and the gamers that play it… is we are a very pleasant bunch. Think about the nature of some games…. so in games like League of legends, call of Duty etc.sure you have your team mates, but it is an us against them attitude while playing against faceless opponents. Now take board games, where there is an essence to win, but the people are sitting around face to face with you, and unless you have problems, I am willing to bet you are all laughing and joking even as someone places a road across your land in Settlers of Catan (I hate that guy. Just kidding He owes me five bucks so he is my best friend in the world). On top of that, look at Role Playing games. Everyone strives toward a common goal, sure its usually to beat down everything you come across and strip them bare so you can sell all of it, but it is still a ‘together’ activity. This is why I prefer solo video games (when I am anti-social), and role playing games to all others. I like that dynamic of ‘all of us use our strengths for a common goal’ style of game play.

The point of my ramble is this: Everyone I have met at 8 years of Garycon have been truly remarkable. Sure there are a few people that wont shut up about their favorite edition, or they will tell you about cool stuff their Half elf, half demon, half llama, half halfling, half half eaten sandwich, half vampire, half bike rack, half half and half did in a campaign six years ago but that’s okay. We are nerds, and social skills are never our strong suit. But we are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet (and I mean that. The word passionate gets tossed about a lot these days by mainstream folks and unless you are practically autistic like I am, you know these people have NO IDEA what they are talking about).

I am still rambling. I guess my point is that table top gamers are really the nicest people I know and I am thankful Frank invites me into his home every year ( I sure as heck would not invite me into my home, I am kind of weird).

Last but not least, lets take a look at the pre-generated characters I made for the Castle of Blackwood Moors adventure I will be running. Even though I am using a modified basic D&D character sheet, the mechanics and abilities are all of my own design. For example, if you look at the Helm and Shields, they have a +______HP next to each of them. This shows that unlike most versions of D&D Helms and Shields do not raise your Armor Class, they give you additional hit points. The first amounts of damage you take till be from these items, and when they are depleted, they will break, ruined forever.  I wanted to set up a mechanic were equipment is valued, and non permanent. In by the book D&D, a shield lasts forever and players do not give it an ounce of thought until they find a magical one. Now my players judge how many hp their shield has left, should they replace it? In a world where there is little magical healing, they need to constantly think about this for survival. A simple change, but it greatly altered the way my players think.

Oops. I am rambling again, this time about game mechanics. I will shut my pie hole and on with the character sheets!!!

Needless to say, please do not steal my game mechanics, or I will tie you to a chair and make you watch the Star Wars Holiday special 5 times in a row.

Hope you like the character ideas, and I hope even more that you will head down to Lake Geneva this week and roll some dice with some great people!

If you don’t think you know any great people, I encourage you to keep looking. They are out there, I promise.

Sometimes you kick, Sometimes you get kicked, Sometimes you kick, Sometimes you get Kickstarted.

Happy Mondays!

Hope everyone had wondiferous weekend.
Gary Con is this weekend. Make sure you come and see me in the Evergreen room 1 on Thursday and the Evergreen room 3 on Friday and Saturday at 8am each day. Yeah I am an early bird, that is when I do my best stuff.

I will post pictures of the event here so if you cannot make the event, stop back here and you can gaze upon the oodles of people having fun. Or maybe they will be lynching me… so who knows..

Anyway, as I continue to write the second book… its getting to the point where I need to plan out the promotional video for the Kickstarter campaign. For those of you who have not seen the original kickstarter video (shame on you! I wont be your friend for at least 5 seconds……………………………………………………………………………………….Okay. I am your friend again. Wasn’t that painful?) you can check out the video here:

Still a better love story than Twilight. *ahem* Sorry. Anyway, the video was a lot of fun to make and I would really like to do something else fun and zany like that for the second book. On a side note: Sheesh was I a pork rind in that video. I think I lost about 30 lbs since that was made.

I’d like to try and get some of the old school people from TSR to help me out, but I do not want to wear out my welcome with anyone. I am a well mannered Mad Overlord.

But that is it for today, another short post while I make some pre-generated characters for the upcoming con.

Roll some dice in honor of Gary, he really gave us the power to unlock worlds of imagination.

If you do not have any dice, just ask me. I have plenty.
Later kids!

EDIT: Since I was in SF for almost a month looking for work, I missed the launch of Reid San Filippo’s Kickstarter… goes along with today’s theme thank goodness. Funny how things work out sometimes.


Wait? Who is this David Konkol guy that will be writing some things for this project? I don’t know him myself, but I heard he was built upside down -i.e. his feet smell and his nose runs.

If you would like to back the project, head on over to:

Looks like a great project! Go Reid go!


Prepping for Gary Con… And the math behind switching an adventure from solo to group play.

Goooooooood Morning!

With Gary Con just a week away, I have been putting the last touches on the table top adventure version of “The Castle of Blackwood Moors”. Expanding the combats so they will work for a group of adventurers instead of just one. More treasure. Reworking traps, yadda yadda.  I am just redoing the outer bailey at this time since in the four hour blocks of time I am given at GaryCon, I do not think anyone will get into the Inner Bailey… but who knows what players will do.

One example of this, are the vines that grow on the outer walls. In the solo adventure, they only did one Hit Point per round of combat  (two, if you rip them out of your skin) since it is up to that one player to carry enough healing and the skills they had to choose from were limited. With a group however, there are now a diverse set of characters each with their own skillset. A typical group has a a few talented people for combat, some for healing, some for sneakiness and so on. In addition, if you reach zero hit points in the solo version, no one is there to bandage you up, so it is game over. In the group version, some one can assist you if you go unconscious and because of the wide variety of skills available to a group as I mentioned, the survivability level edges a bit higher.Because of this, the vines now do 1 to 3 hit points of damage, that does not seem like a lot, but it changes the dynamic quite a bit. If a healthy character starts off with 9 hit points in the solo version, they know instinctively they can climb 8 rounds before they use their last hit point and go unconscious. That same character will be a little more nervous knowing they could be at that last hit point in just 3 rounds in group play, and therefore be a bit more careful.

One of the great things about randomness in RPGs is it constantly provides that element of suspense.

I did not think of it until right now… but I should have made a graphic for this. Ah well, I am sure I will discuss this more in the future (since this kind of thing is fascinating to me) and I will try to make it a bit more presentable.

Getting ready for my flight back to the Wisconsin (where I heard they had a huge snow storm and I missed it *sad face*). Until next time folks, have a great day and try to do something nice for at least one person you know, I am sure they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Take your hat off boy. When you’re talking to me. And be there when I feed the tree.

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

Going through more pictures of my San Fran trip! These are pictures of the Muir park…. WHICH!! If you did not know (I didn’t either until I got there), these are the woods that were used for the forest moon of Endor in “Return of the Jedi.”

See? This blog educates.. as well as entertains.

Anyway, I went with three very cool people from the games industry: Shannon Ingles from Telltale Games(Who was tiny, awesome and Hobbit-like as you will see from the pictures), Jobye Kyle Karmaker from Monolith (Who was the commander of cool and blazing his own trail) and Farid El-Nemr from Ubisoft (Who had tons of stories and was .a very insightful gent).

All three were really great people and very patient. Because we were not even to the car yet, and I met some one from my tiny Mad Overlord days… MARY JOHNSON!!! She used to live a few doors down from me where I grew up in Wisconsin…. yet here she was in a seaside breakfast place in San Rafel Califonia! We caught up on old times and I really could have sat and talked to her for another hour at least.. but it was bad manners to keep everyone else waiting on me so off we went (Mary, if you read this, send me an email! I really want to add you on Facebook!) but those three sat and waited patiently while I gabbed and gabbed. You poor folks.. I apologize.

Plus, all three of them had great stories of past endeavors in the game industry. I consider myself lucky to be able to wander around in a woods and almost get lost… and devoured by evil wooden bears and drown in a stream and…  what was I saying again?

Never mind. It was great to spend some time with these peeps.

As you can see, it was beautiful there. The air was so clean I think if I stepped straight from Beijing into Muir woods, my lungs would probably just explode… or at least weep with joy.

Anyway… that is most of my pictures of the trip. Next time we will be getting back into game design, getting ready for Gary Con, and poor, forgotten Hendl’s Landing.

Stay safe everyone! Beware deadly, wooden bears… or Ewoks.

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry. And them good old boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye. Singing, This’ll be the day that I win a Raspberry Pi (3).

For those who do not know, the Game Developers Conference (known here on out as GDC), is the largest game developer conference on the planet. While E3 and China Joy are larger… that is more about the showing of games, not that much about the development side. It is always great come to come to an Fran every year and talk about the actual development of games. While it is great to talk games (I know I am saying games a lot but I haven’t had any caffeine yet) with my friends… even friends who are in the marketing area of games, conversations with them are like the following:

ME: “This game is really interesting and fun.”

FRIEND, ENEMY OR SOME RANDOM HOBO ON THE STREET: “Yeah. But why didn’t they add this feature or that level. The game would have been so much better with this feature, its like the developers didn’t care!”

ME: “…:”

Now let’s look at the SAME conversation when at GDC:

ME: “This game is really interesting and fun.”

PERSON AT GDC: “Agreed, but I heard they had problems with some of the code not working, and the at the last minute they had to pull some features due to some marketing issues.”

ME: “That is too bad, but that is the way it goes sometimes.”

PERSON AT GDC: “Yep. That is the world of game developme… Why is that RANDOM HOBO ON THE STREET holding a sign that says,  Will play Mario Cart for food?”

ME: “…:”


As you can see, while I really value my friends opinions (because I am pillar of compassion Mad Overlord), it is still nice to be able to talk to folks who understand that game development is tough! There is a reason games take a sizable chunk of money and lots and lots of manhours (or womanhours), to create.

That said, I met lots, and lots of people. And for a socially awkward person like myself (I know I hide it well, just look at what a cool and well adjusted human being I am on this blog and then multiply that by your shoe size) it was difficult at times. But I came away with a stack of business cards that could choke a chain smoking walrus so I consider it a very successful endeavor.

I consider myself lucky to have met so many truly wonderful people at GDC. 99.9999% of them were really great. There was one guy who would not stop talking about how wonderful he was and how much stuff he knew but I just smiled and nodded a lot and just daydreamed about Fallout 4.

Last thing! While most people who know me (those poor souls), know my programming skills are scratchy at best. But I joined the Google Cloud program-a-thon to learn more about it. The POOR, POOR, guy who ran it had to deal with a zillion questions from me. He really earned his money that day let me tell you. Anyway, I won a Raspberry Pi 3 which is totally awesome. But I am going to give it to Matthew  Ciarlante, the gent who I am working on the Black Earth game with.  He (and his fiancee) let me crash at their place when we do our 48 hour game jams, not to mention he is the also the gent who answers my endless bombardment of Unity scripting questions.

So there you go Matt, free Raspberry Pi 3 coming your way. Thanks for everything buddy.

The real last thing is…. the pictures! Not many actual pictures of GDC since I was too busy meeting people and learning things (learning >> pictures). But here are the few I have. Mostly of the Unity booth (The new version of Unity is going to have some GREAT features). There was a booth whose slogan was ‘Better Coding through Mad Science” So of course I had to give them one of my little Mad Overlords!

They really liked it and they were fun to talk to. Also viewed in the new Amazon game engine, Lumberyard (which looks really powerful) and of course, the Raspberry Pi.

That is most of the GDC pictures. I still have a lot of pictures left though. Muir woods.Frank Lloyd Wright stuff… etc.

Anyway, back to following up to all those business cards. It was fun to meet everyone, (yeah, even the guy who talked endlessly about himself, I still learned a lot from him).

Remember. Every day is an adventure. Hug your loved ones and sing as loud as you want in your car. But if you sing as loud as you want in the check out line at the supermarket, I am not going to be held responsible.

Till next time!

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks. You better run, better run, faster than Ultima Dragons.

Hey hey everyone!

I am still in San Francisco, but GDC 2017 is finally over. In the coming days I will be making a few posts about things I have learned, saw and did. But at first I will talk about a few days about the Ultima Dragons.

Who are the Ultima Dragons you may ask? Well, taken (stolen) directly from their homepage is the following definition.

“The Ultima Dragons are a large virtual club founded in 1992 on Prodigy who have since moved to the Internet due to Prodigy’s outrageous rate structure. The club is dedicated to helping others with their Ultima questions, discussing Ultima, and, most obviously, sharing information and creative exploits.”

Do not know what Ultima is? Shame on you! (Not Shame the Dungeon… that is a little inside joke there) Ultima in this context means the Ultima series of games by Origin Systems, Inc.

I joined in 1995 around the time they jumped to IRC, but due to my shyness and general social awkwardness, I just lurked and even if someone hit me with a virtual pie or anything.. I just remained quiet. But I still followed them over the years and this summer they had a kickstarter for their 25th anniversary. Yeah. You read that correctly. This internet club that sprouted up around a computer game has been around for 25 years. Pretty impressive I’d say.

As fate would have it… it started the weekend before GDC, so I could go there, pretend I am cool and still have time to head to GDC and look for a new career. All I will say, is I am so super happy I went. I met a lot of fantastic people, had some great laughs. Even met Lord British (aka Richard Garriott) again. I used to see him quite a few years at Gen Con when it used to be in Milwaukee.

Oh, I forgot to mention… it was at Disneyland! I never been to Disneyland before so that was an experience.  But true to my nature… instead of going on rides and seeing things… I sat and worked on the Grim Future/ Blac Arth computer game in my spare time. As you will see in the pictures below.

In the coming days I will show some of the cool things I got from the Ultima Dragons meetup.  As well as pictures from GDC.

Until then, take care yourselves and drink some orange juice. Vitamin C makes you happy!