Gen Con 2015 Schedule

If you are looking to get me to sign things, or to hang out with me, or buy me meals and drinks, this guide may be useful!

My (approximate) Gen Con schedule! Beyond these times, there’s always a good chance I’ll be at the Gaming Paper booth, or Green Ronin, or Paizo!

WEDNESDAY

Fly in 3:25pm

Meat dinner with friends 5:30 or so (I think)

Get-together at Vigo, as I am able 6:30-9:30

SMOG gathering, from the time I leave Vigo until I pass out

THURSDAY

Seminar: “Writing for Pathfinder” (11 am)

Seminar: “Pathfinder 101” (Noon)

Seminar: “Be The Next RPG Superstar,” (4pm)

Possible dinner, 5-ish to 7-ish

Mysterious Freelancer Get-Together, 7:30 until I pass out

FRIDAY

8am: Maybe a PFS scenario!

11am-1pm Maybe lunch (a few offers on the table!)

Noon to 5pm – The Four Horsemen Open: A Date with Death

Dinner, with John Reyst at least, 5-ish tom 7:30-ish

ENnies, Union Station, 8pm

Mysterious RSVP’d After-Party

SATURDAY

Possible early brunch with someone!

Mike Myler’s booth of Hypercrazyness (probably), Noon-2pm

Possible late lunch with someone!

Mysterious SMOG Gaming Event, 7:30 pm – Midnight

War Room, the pilot for Peter Adkison’s new Chaldea fantasy web series! Midnight, Westin Grand Ballroom III.

SUNDAY

Seminar: “Developing Pathfinder” (Noon).

Lunch – With one or more of a few folks

Dinner – With one or more of a few folks

Orrocs

Orroc
In the Basalt Mountains, mighty tribes of hill and stone giants rule almost without question, often enslaving orc clans and forcing them to do any work the giants consider beneath them. Interbreeding isn’t common enough for half-giants to overrun the mountains, but the giantish blood has clearly been infused into the orc bloodlines over generations, forming a breed of hulking orcs both larger and more cunning than their kin of unadulterated heritage. Known as orrocs, these massive and powerful humanoids spread the tyranny of their giant overlords for miles in every direction from the mountains, and orroc scouts and raiders often influence (or sometimes control) orc bands in wilderness areas weeks away from the mountains to harass and weaken nearby kingdoms.

Unlike both their orc and giant kin, orrocs cannot interbreed with humans. This may be one of the reasons orrocs generally feel an intense dislike for half-orcs, and often go out of their way to inflict cruelties on their most humanlike kith. Half-orcs have no instinctive dislike of orrocs, but generally the way orrocs treat them is enough for a trained enmity to develop.

A typical orroc is an orc barbarian 2 with the advanced template. One in four is a bloodrager or also has the giant template (and roughly 1 in 16 is both). In a group of orrocs, In any given group or orrocs, half are likely to be higher level. A group of 16 orrocs is generally includes 8 second level orrocs, 4 third level orrocs, 2 fourth level orrocs, one fifth, and one sixth.
Roughly 1 in 8 orrocs has a class other than barbarian or bloodrager. Brawlers are common, and hunters and slayers often serve as scouts and assassins.Orroc oracles and warpriests are less common, but those that exist often lead warbands. Orrocs are rarely clerics, fighters, rangers, and rogues though some such creatures exist. No orroc arcane spellcaster beyond bloodrager can be considered anything but rare, and only skalds and witches are common enough to be encountered more than once in a lifetime. Any other class is encountered only in unique individuals.
Orrocs are treated as orcs, ogres, and giants for all prerequisites.
Orrocs often have the Rock Chucker feat.

ROCK CHUCKER
You have your own form of the giant trick of rock-throwing.
Prereq: Ogre, cannot have rock throwing.
Benefit: You can hurl sling stones designed for creatures one size larger than your size as if firing them from a sling. You can hurl such stones as often as you are able to make attacks (you are not required to “reload” the stones). As long as you are in a rocky or natural setting, you are assumed to be able to find an unlimited supply of such stones under normal circumstances.

Tales from Gen Con

Paizo was kind enough to ask me if I had any thoughts on Gen Con. I ended up writing more than 1,000 words on my experiences, and how they have both shaped and been shaped by my career path.

AFK E&E “Advanced Guide” Drink Review: Jedi in the Street, Sith in the Sheets

I’ll be reviewing the drinks from the Advanced Guide menu at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery. Every drink is reviewed only after I have had one, drunk from start to finish.
Clearly the “Jedi in the Street, Sith in the Sheets” wants to be both geek-mainstream and a bit naughty. It’s a drop shot (a shot that you drop into a slammer glass of other liquid), of vanilla vodka, cherry vodka and grenadine dropped into Ultra Blue Monster and blue caracao.
That *ought* to be too much, but the bartender who blended this recipe knew what she was doing. The end result is definitely a strong mixed drink, but it’s eminently sippable. It goes particularly well with a simple side or a dessert, which makes it a nice “hanging out and playing games” drink, perfect for the AFK.
One of my favorites.

AFK E&E “Advanced Guide” Drink Review: Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

I’ll be reviewing the drinks from the Advanced Guide menu at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery. Every drink is reviewed only after I have had one, drunk from start to finish.
The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is just about the only drink on the Advanced Guide I’ve had versions of before. This has been making the Convention circuit for decades on one form or another. Most are terrible.
The AFK E&E version is gin, tequila, triple sec, 151, blue curacao, grenadine, bitters, Sprite and, of course, lemons.
According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, drinking one should be like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.
There’s definitely some of that here. This has a strong alcoholic taste, and packs a bit of a punch. To my surprise it is neither too sweet nor too sour. With that many distilled spirits you can’t expect to note more than “booze” flavor, and you get it. But the mix does manage to give it an actual vaguely-citrus flavor and independent character, which I enjoyed.
IN any case, it’s namesake is a classic, putting this high on the list of Geek Drinks you should try… if you have a ride home.

AFK E&E “Advanced Guide” Drink Review: Sonic Screwdriver (4th Doctor)

I’ll be reviewing the drinks from the Advanced Guide menu at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery. (With thanks to Stan! and Andy Collins, for the suggestion.) Every drink is reviewed only after I have had one, drunk from start to finish.
There are numerous “Sonic Screwdrivers,” and this one is the “4th Doctor” version.
Cherry vodka, orange juice, and cranberry juice.
Sweet, but not cloying. Surprisingly smooth. Mild alcoholic bite. Warms the insides nicely.

AFK E&E Drink Review: Star Lord

I’ll be reviewing the drinks from the Advanced Guide Drinks menu at the AFK Elixirs and Eatery. Every drink is reviewed only after I have had one, drunk from start to finish.
The Star Lord is gin, white rum, citron vodka, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and sweet and sour.
It ended up tasting like Hard Grapefruit-Aid to me, though there’s no grapefruit in it. It’s sharp, with a pronounced citrus flavor and a good alcoholic kick.

INTERVIEWS 1.6

“So… Sudden-Oven-Man?”
“I prefer James.”
“Really? Is that your actual name?”
“It is, amusingly enough! When your first name is James, letting that secret out doesn’t actually give the shadowy conspiracy of anti-appliance villains a lot of help tracking your home or work address.”
“You have a, ah, ‘normal’ job?”
“I do, though I’d prefer not to go into it. It’s boring. Tedious, even. But if I told you I was a pizza delivery man, which I’m not by the way that’s just a hypothetical,but that might actually put other ‘Jameses’ who deliver pizza in danger. In case the League of Oven Repairman Assassins ever went on a rampage.”
“You don’t seem to take this very seriously.”
“I get called ‘Sudden-Oven-Man’ on national television. How serious should I take it?”
“So if you don’t like the name, how did you get it?”
“I strongly suspect it’s related to my ability to spontaneously manifest 40″ O’Keefe & Merritt ovens anywhere within a few hundred feet of myself. It’s a nice model. Four burners, chrome griddle, oven on the right side, ‘Grillevator’ broiler on the left side. It even has side salt & pepper shakers.”
“We mean, who chose that exact name, which is so closely associated with you, and why didn’t you fight against it if you dislike it?”
“I’m pretty sure the Chicago Comet stuck me with that nom de mask first, when I got involved in the Battle of Bronzeville. As for why I haven’t fought it… what’s the point? I summon ovens. Suddenly. What am I going to come up with that’ll replace ‘Sudden-Oven-Man’ in people’s heads? If the ovens could produce fire I might go with ‘Grillevator,’ just because I like the sound of it, but it’s not like they come connected to gas lines.”
“Why DID you get involved in the Battle of Bronzeville? Over the years it’s become very clear you’re not motivated to be a full-time hero. Sometimes years go by without you doing anything with your powers.”
“I got involved because people were dying, and the heroes on-scene were overwhelmed. We all thought Gargoyle was dead, Red Tail was having to hold the line at Sunset on his own and Hexen started yelling near a shop where I was that we had to evacuate. She turned to face down a wave of razorlings to give us time to flee.. and I just didn’t see how she could do it. Not alone. A cop ran up next to her and started firing his pistol, and I figured I had to do my part. So I began dropping ovens on them.”
“How do you do that?”
“Gravity, mostly.”
“We mean, how does your power work? Where does it come from? Why… why ovens?”
“Oddly it’s not just ovens. I can also summon a small stretch of tile floor, a gust of warm air, a cast-iron cooking tray, and some wonderful oatcakes. They just don’t come in as handy.”
“Do you know the origin of your power?”
“My grandfather was a Boomer Baby. No, I won’t say if you know him. My mother didn’t have any powers we ever noticed. And I summon ovens. Pretty clearly it’s a skip-a-generation thing. After Bronzeville, Doctor Phoenix checked me out. He says the oven, and the other things I can summon, are quantum projections. He suspects when the Big Boom hit in New York, one of the things it destroyed was a kitchen that had all the items I can now create, as hiccups in the space/time continuum.”
“Are their any limits to your, er… oven-summoning powers?”
“Many. The ovens don’t last long, about six hours on average, though if they get hit by high-energy states they sometimes go ‘piff.’ They are all the exact same oven, or copies of it. I’ve studied it pretty closely. There’s a scratch on the chrome on the left-hand side, and it’s not completely even on a level floor. It has momentum relative to the most influential gravitational field it’s being summoned within, which is a fancy way of saying it always appears stationary compared to the planet. I can’t ‘throw’ ovens, just drop them or set them on the ground. But it’s pretty heavy, so both those things work pretty well. The back is tougher than the front, weirdly, and I have learned to summon it in new orientations, so I can drop it point-first on someone. The oatcakes too, for that matter. And I have a maximum range of less than 1,000 feet, though Gargoyle won’t let me say exactly how far.”
“Do you interact with Gargoyle often?”
“Weirdly, yeah, I do. He arranges for training for me, though I’m never doing enough hours in a week to satisfy him. But I’m not really a hero. I don’t want to be. I help where I can or must, but I have no interest in forming the Kitchen Society for Justice, or anything. You said sometimes there are years I don’t do anything with my powers, but that’s not really true. My main power is humanity, just like everyone else. I pay my taxes, love my family, volunteer at a soup kitchen. Overall, I think those do more good than creating sudden ovens in the name of liberty. And, of course, there’s the babysitting.”
“We’re sorry, what?”
“Well, sometimes its ‘dog sitting,’ or ‘quantum anomaly sitting.’ That’s actually the main way my powers are used, which is to say to not use them but be able to if things go wrong. When one of Gargoyle’s allies needs someone to keep an eye on something, generally something weird, but they don’t think it’s important enough for a real hero to be sidelined doing it, they call me. I’m back-up. It’s a lot less dangerous, though I did once have to drop 47 ovens on a Fanashi Warcaster to protect a baby mammoth.”
“Does, does that sort of thing come up often?”
“For me it’s four or five times a year, on average. Some other folks in the back-up business have gigs almost every week. More during alien and demonic invasions. I mean, look, we live in a world where people can fly by force of will. Mythic objects are walking around as people. Super-science allows zero-point rods to rewrite reality. Psychics can travel through time with the power of their bald minds. People wear onesies to fight crime. That’s the top level of weird. But there are lots of levels between that and spoon-bending, and for a bunch of us, that’s where we can contribute the most.”
“So you’re saying there are a lot of people doing… back-up?”
“Oh, yeah. More than full-time heroes. A lot of retired heroes in their 70s and 80s who don’t happen to still look 22. Apprentice Supreme Spellcasters. Younger sibling of kid sidekicks who can’t go into the field yet. And folks like me, weirdos with bizarre powers that are only sort of useful. We often call ourselves the Oddities. Sometimes we get together for Bar-B-Ques.”
“You’re kidding.”
“Not this time, no. It’s a messed up world. I summon ovens for justice. None of that should get in the way of having a good time with friends.”

Progress on the Apocalypse

I continue to work on Warlords of the Apocalypse.
It’s still slow going.
The recent Anachronistic Adventures compilation available through Bundle of Holding has the new, revised base classes that have been updated to be more stand-alone, and will serve as the basis for the Warlords classes. A lot of its rule systems (ESP, PL familiarity, “running a low-magic campaign) are also the testbed for WotA systems.
I have more custom art from Erik Lofgren, which will act as chapter openers.
The augmentation rules (including mutation, nanocybernetics, and strange devices) are close to ready for another playtest.
But since I have a full-time office job with Paizo, a half-time developer gig with Green Ronin, and publishing duties with rogue Genius, my spare writing time is not enough for things to happen quickly.
I has *hoped*, for obvious reasons, to have a draft ready when Mad Max Fury Road came out. Equally obviously, I didn’t manage that, although the effort is one reason I have made some solid progress.
It is still absolutely my plan to make this book happen. I also still don’t have a solid eta on when.wota_vehicles_co

Jurassic Island!

JURASSIC ISLAND
An Anachronistic Adventures “Adventure Sketch” for four characters of 4th-6th level, set in a Progress Level 4 campaign.

Adventure Sketches are the framework for an adventure, with a rough breakdown of the who, where, when, why and how. A GM still needs to fill in the blanks, but there’s enough here to run a game with some fast thinking (or flush it out to suit your own needs). Monsters either use options available at various sites online, or give notes how to convert such online resources.

Anachronistic Adventures is a pulp-adventure toolkit for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and is currently only available as part of the “New Paths” Bundle of Holding.

The Sketch

Professor Edward Prendick, Jr., working in isolation on Noble Isle to continue the work of his father, has managed to devolve modern creatures into those of the Jurassic period, especially dinosaurs. To keep them from escaping the Professor created the “Tithonian Tower,” an Eiffel Tower-like broadcast station able to create the “primal wave,” a frequency that forces all prehistoric creatures to move to within at least a few miles of it.

While he is still working to perfect the devolution process (for some reason many of the dinosaurs he devolves from birds maintain their feathers, which he is sure is wrong), the Professor is short on funds and must find a major source of income.

His supply contact on the nearest mainland, Captain Karl Englehorn, convinced Professor Prendick to take on investors. Depending on GM needs the investors might be members of one of the nations of WW I, or of WWII (Nazis are particularly popular, but what if it was an off-the-books American or British plan?), millionaire businessmen looking to create an event destination for the ultra-rich (“Jurassic Island),” or an aging moviemaker looking for his big comeback film. The Professor assumes that as long as the buildings for guests are outside the Tithonian Tower’s range, no dinosaurs will get close enough to cause problems. The big unveiling is in a few days.

Unfortunately, a major storm rolls in, and lightning strikes hammer the island. Lightning has taken out the Tithonian Tower, and large waves have broken the sea gates around a saltwater lagoon holding numerous 30-40 foot long pliosauruses, who swim into the waters around Noble Isle.

That’s when the heroes arrive.

They likely arrive as a group. Maybe they are a military analysis team, sent to figure out where money is going during the war. Or a news team, to cover the upcoming Big Event. Or a rich patron and her security detail, coming to see the Big Event. Or the film crew gather by the aging moviemaker without being told what they’d be filming. Or unrelated innocents who have to be rescued by small Noble Isle boats when their ship’s engine is mysterious torn out and the ship happens to drift by. Or each may have a different reason for being there compiled from those starting points.

In any case, the heroes are brought to the main pavilions, where they are told the seas are getting worse. The small boats of Noble Isle can’t handle the increasing waves anymore, and any larger ships that could do so that might be contacted by radio can’t risk getting close to the island. The Professor is content to just wait out the storm.

Jurassic Swarm

Then the compsognathuses attack.

It’s a sudden swarm of 12 of the dinosaurs into the main dining room, attacking everyone and everything. Present are (at least) the Professor, Jack Wright (the portly chief engineer), and Captain Engelhorn, and likely some serving staff. Not only must the PCs survive, but how many NPCs they save impacts the adventure.

After the attack, if Professor Prendick is alive, he realizes the Tithonian Tower must be down, and an expedition must go restore it, or eventually dinosaurs will swarm the compound and kill everyone. He also notes he has a single man-portable primal wave repeller (+2 deflection bonus to AC against attacks from dinosaurs, megafauna, and pterosaur), at his lighthouse lab (see below) if those going to attempt to make it to the Tower want to risk a trip there first.

If the professor is dead, either a survivor or the professor’s notebook lead PCs to head to the nearby lighthouse lab, where his control panels are, which can ID the problem. If the PCs have to go to the lighthouse, they face an encounter of two pteranodons, drawn to the lighthouse’s light and are unlikely to find the hidden primal wave repeller without some tracking or analysis class features.

If anyone asks if there are velociraptors or Tyrannosauruses on the island, he angrily answers that of course there are not! That would be irresponsible… since both those dinosaurs are from the Cretaceous, NOT the Jurassic. He is, after all, a scientist.

If chief engineer Jack Wright is alive, he can sketch out the things that might have gone wrong with the Tithonian Tower if it was hit by lightning, and raid the beached boats for parts to fix it, giving the PCs the materials they need and a bonus to fix the Tithonian Tower once they arrive and a +4 circumstance bonus for checks to do so. He’ll go along if PCs insist, but he’s a 4th-level expert with low physical ability scores, and is overweight enough to count as heavily encumbered even when not carrying anything. He’s not convinced he’d survive long enough to be any help.

If Wright is dead, either the Professor or his notebook can provide a general idea of what might need fixing, but no one thinks to grab parts from the boats. Instead, either the Professor or his notebook, or Wright’s files (in his office in the same building as the attack) point to an Engineering Shack half a mile beyond the Tithonian Tower, The PCs can get everything they need from there, but they’ll either have to carry enough stuff to encumber at least two of them (thus making the encounters at the Tower more difficult), or they’ll have to go to the Tower to identify the problem, then go to the Engineering Shack for supplies, and then back to the Tower to fix it.

Crossing Jurassic Island

If Captain Engelhorn is alive, he can use one of the small boats to get the PCs halfway to the Tithonian Tower by taking them up a river. No one else knows the islands rivers well enough, and if the PCs try it they end up stuck on a sandbar, needing to walk.

There is a single pliosaurus attack (use stats for an elasmosaurus, though the pliosaurus has no neck) during Engelhorn’s boat trip, but it cuts the number of other random encounters from 4 to 2, so the PCs potentially have one less fight. It also reduced the trip from a six hour walk to a one hour ride and three hour walk, which may reduce fatigue.

Additionally, Engelhorn reveals that he has discovered a hand-cranked Klaxon ™ sometimes drives off dinosaurs, and is willing to part with a spare. Engelhorn hasn’t revealed this to anyone else yet, to ensure he had a bargaining chip for when the big money begins to roll in. (The klaxon takes two hands to operate, and allows a PC to make an Intimidate check to demoralize a dinosaur. On a natural 20, the dino turns away from the noise and flees).

Walking toward Tithonian Tower results in 4 random encounters. Taking Engelhorn’s ride results in 2 random encounters for the last half of the trip only. Staying on the beech results in 1 random encounter every hour, for the 14 hours it is before a ship comes along to rescue people.

Jurassic Island Random Encounters
Roll 1d6. Until every encounter has happened once, don’t repeat any. If in the ocean, every encounter is 1d8-5 (minimum 1) pliosauruses.
1. Brachiosaurus wanders by. As long as it is not attacked, detained, or bothered, it just trundles off.
2. Nest of 10 archaeopteryxes
3. One angry edmontonia (Like an ankylosaurus without the club on the tail, but with boney shoulder spikes. Use an ankylosaurus, without the stun attack, but add a gore attack that acts as the tail attack but deals piercing damage, and it cannot target the same creature with both gore and tail attacks in the same round)
4. Pack of 12 abrictosauruses (use velociraptors without talon attacks, reducing them to CR 1 each)
5. One angry stegosaurus
6. A hunting pair of cryolophosauruses (size large theropod with a distinctive horned crest on its skull). Use stats for megaraptors, but remove talons, foreclaws, and pounce. Add a slam attack (+4, 1d6+3). Its brain is so primitive, it gains the mindless trait. The two cryolophosauruses are a CR 6 encounter.

Engineering Shack

If the PCs didn’t save chief engineer Jack Wright, they must got to the engineering Shack to find the full blueprints of the wiring of the Tithonian Tower. (Professor Prendick know the scientific principle behind the primal wave, but he let Wright design the various electrical supply components.)

The Engineering Shack, of course, is in the middle of the stomping grounds of a VERY annoyed camptosaurus (use stats for an iguanodon). However, someone with good wild empathy or similar ability to attempt to befriend animals could, with effort and if allies make no attacks, discover the camptosaurus is annoyed because it has burns on one foot (from a near lightning strike). A successful effort to befriend, followed by a successful DC 17 Heal check, results in the camptosaurus stomping off in peace. It then shadows the PCs, and if they get into serious trouble, comes to aid them.

If no one can attempt to befriend it, or no one makes a Heal effort, or the Heal check fails, it attacks.

Tithonian Tower

Tithonian Tower is a mini-Eiffel Tower (60 feet tall), with electric generators haflway up. To get to them, the PCs must deal with the unquestioned master of Jurassic Island, an allosaurus which is it addicted to (and is now in withdrawal from) the primal wave. The Tower has clearly has one corner generator 30 feet up damaged, and is a DC 10 to Climb. Of course, 30 feet is within reach of the Huge allosaurus (and its 15 feet of reach), and if it notices anyone on the Tower, it attacks them first.

Fixing the generator takes five successful DC 25 Knowledge (engineering) or appropriate Craft checks, and 50 lbs. of electronic parts (or 25 lbs. if material was gained from the chief engineer).

Fixing it also allows the PCs the make Perception or knowledge-gathering ability checks to realize the generator was hooked to wires designed to draw in lightning. Its destruction was inevitable when the first major storm hit the island.

Once it’s fixed, the PCs must escape, because all the dinosaurs are now headed toward them (2 random encounters, or 1 to get back to Engelhorn’s boat if it was available).

Back at the Beach

Returning to the beach, if the PCs investigate they can determine that Professor Prendick sabotaged his own tower. If he’s alive and is confronted, he confesses, and calles for his NEW creation, which he planned to give the island to once the dinosaurs left – Mighty Kon Jo, a girallon with the Giant Creature template. If the Professor is dead, a search of his lab turns up a secret map to a cove with his “New Ultimate Purpose,” and a trip there reveals the angry Kon Jo. If the OPCs don’t investigate, anyone they left alive at the beach says THEY searched, and found the map. If no one goes to look at the cove, Kon Jo shows up just before the rescue boats.

If the PCs befriended the camptosaurus, and it hasn’t helped yet, is shows up on the opposite side of the beach and challenges Kon Jo. In any case, Kon Jo either tries to rescue the professor, or avenge him by killing all PCs.

Once Kon Jo is dead, ships show up to rescue the PCs.

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