Category Archives: Con Season

I Run Starfinder!

For those of you who missed the Starfinder stream premiere game yesterday, you can watch the video here!
I had a great time, and once again want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. 🙂

Starfinder Twitch, June 13th!

So, this is happening.

Starfinder Twitch

Top 10 Signs Your Game Group is Looking Forward to Starfinder!

  1. The players all suggest maybe they can add just a few very modest adjustments to the current Pathfinder game. Like allowing androids, lashunta, and ratfolk PCs. And playing Iron Gods. And adding psychic powers. And lasers. And a spaceship.
  2. Mondays and Fridays now include a “blog break” to look for more previews on paizo.com. And to debate what alignment each of the newly-revealed gods is most likely to e, since THAT is a great use of everyone’s time!
  3. The Star Wars vs Star Trek debate has morphed into which one has MORE fantasy elements, since Star Wars has laser swords and space wizards, but Star Trek has multiple pantheons of actual gods, half-elves, and bat’leths.
  4. The wizard tapes his wand of lightning bolt to the top of a flintlock, and insists on calling it a “blaster.”
  5. Any NPC that threatens a PC is told he can’t take the sky from them. No further explanation is forthcoming.
  6. The miniature-focused members of the group are gluing plasma cannons onto lizardfolk, Hellknights, and dragons. … Especially dragon.
  7. There’s a lot of talk of running. In shadows. And the Emperor. Or Heresy. Or both.
  8. Everyone picks up a repeating crossbow, and the ranger and magus work together to invent “hollow point” quarrels.
  9. Your friends are part of why the first offerings of Starfinder games at Gen Con sold out in 30 minutes.
  10. The inquisitor wants to know if studying mass combat in the Dragon Empires allows him to add “Han” as a descriptor for a class features, and then begins referring to “Han Solo Tactics.”

Patreon

I’m not saying funding my patreon will get you more Starfinder previews… because it won’t, it totally won’t.

Know Thyself: The Sap Scale

One of my many coping mechanisms for my various mental issues is my Sap Scale. The more exhausted, emotionally drained, and prone to panic attacks I am, the more likely I am to cry at things that don’t really deserve it. Thus I have “The Sap Scale,” which helps determine how big a sap I am being, and what the appropriate steps to take care of myself are. Obviously, this scale is personalized for just me, and this level of detail is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I do use this kind of detail to keep an eye on things.

The Sap Scale

  1. Cry at the end of “Old Yeller.” This is normal. Not crying here actually indicates a different problem (see “Landmarks of Emotional Numbness” chart)
  2. Cry at the end of Iron Giant. Still normal, and only noteworthy because I have done it up to 10 times in a single day, and still seem fully affected.
  3. Cry at the end of a CW superhero show’s season finale episode. Normal level of Sappiness. Take two deep breaths and check again in 4-6 hours. Consider the potential benefit for catharsis.
  4. Cry during a particularly intense RPG encounter involving debate, philosophy, morality, and characters you care about. Enhanced Sappiness detected. Engage and maintain internal monitoring of mental well-being, but do not stress over it. Really, don’t. It’s okay. You are allowed to have emotions.
  5. Cry at unexpected insults or disappointment. Despite feeling otherwise, this is normal and a reasonable baseline. Engage reality-checks, and be prepared to escalate self-care if Sap Scale number rises. Avoid beginning arguments and hard conversations until Sap Scale number declines. Check for self-care levels (Are you short on sleep? Short on food? Facing long-term stress of discomfort? If so, try to address these issues quickly.)
  6. Cry at the memory of tragedies and losses from 3 or more years ago. Check mental processes for signs of a death-spiral, and examine if this is really what you are crying about. As able, use stress release and/or low-impact support network contacts to ensure if things get worse, you have the needed mental assistance.
  7. Cry during a typical RPG encounter. Emotional alert. Alter or delay any stressful plans, and proceed as for scale level 6.
  8. Cry at a McDonald’s commercial. Emotional high alert. Take self-café steps immediately.
  9. Cry at the trailer for a Michael Bay movie. Active emotional emergency. Move to safe space asap.
  10. Crying. No apparent reason. Tears won’t stop, may drown in own phlegm. If this happens just because you woke up and have to face the day, call support network for help without delay. Yes, even though you don’t want to be a bother. Do it. Right now.

My Patreon

As much as I dislike talking about money on posts discussing mental health… my coping mechanisms are good enough to generally let me realize it’s reasonable to add a small note about the way people who enjoy reading what I write can help me afford the time it takes to write it.

So, if you like, check out my Patreon here. 🙂

Festival of Golems, Page 4

My assaults on the Land of Nod were largely failures, though a beachhead was made.
But by sunup I was wrestling with the Breakwaters of Possibility, wrangling a thousand adventures yet unknown into their orderly sagas. (And ensuring all such paid such homage to the Leath-Ri of Constellations as is his due).
Then I spoke to the Convocationers, as it worthwhile every year, and bespoke the Unbowed Threat as she destroyed iconic lives.
It seemed fun, so I spelled her for a time, and drew eight deaths from four bold souls.
And then, the toxins of Nod begin to take their toll. I assisted the Diva of Done and Puzzler Prince in instructing on the details of enhancing a universe… and grabbed a bagel.
More slaying of mighty heroes within a few hours.

Festival of Golems, Page 3

Had dinner in the Hall of True Heroes, sitting next to the Dominant Star. Then engaged in a little war, which the True Heroes won, as one would hope. Sat for a bit near the Tavern with the Dominant Star, Magician of Infinite Theory, Lady of Unexpected Madness, and then briefly with the Queen of the Button-Men and Pristine Flight and his word-egg. The Leath-Ri of Constellations fared by our way, and asked after the keeper of Cups, to him we did direct.
But I tire now, and while one Festival Duty is complete, the Golem Lords still have such wonders to show me…
I shall brace myself, in my redoubt in the Land of Nod.

Festival of Golems, Page 2

As it too often does, time has defeated runes, and the eldritch lines are dead. I am sure the Council of Esigil shall have words–and phrases, connotations, inferences, and meaningful gestures–for me when the clock next makes it’s bicenteted turn, but for now, I must bend to the inevitable… er… inevitable.
A caravan must be made ready! The Puzzler Prince and Late Knight have their own lengthy and spectacular ceremonies, and there are bells, and books, and candles to tote and guard.
Many of the pathways are unsafe, and we must allow for battles and threats, so must we depart now, or nearly now.
With luck, we shall make good time to the Grove of the Tree of Light and Tree of Dark.

Festival of Golems, page 1

Every year for PaizoCon (and any other major convention I go to), I do a silly, color commentary about my day rotated through the lens of high fantasy. This year’s begins now.

As always, the last hours before the Festival of Golems are hectic ones. This year’s preparations are more greatly complicated by the ascension of the Last Dragon Scribe, and the Golem Lords’ efforts to anoint wardens to keep those passages he once guarded. I have no doubt the newly dubbed Knight of the Lexicon and Dame of Heralds shall perform their duties well and truly… but there has been no time to test their trials, Further, my own Guild of Astrologicians must make ready for the arrival of the Great Guiding Star, and this leaves us more strained than ever. The Devil’s Advocate guides us well, but I suspect the Puzzler Prince ties of hearing the debates twixt myself and the Leath-Ri of Constellations.

The Altgrave of Paths made his arrival, and brought with him Vivid Voivode, from the Stormlands. We broke bread with them and the Halfling Tyrant, Wit of Wisdom, Citymaker, and Grove Guardian. Vivid Voivoid shall take shelter in our realms, and visit the Festival of Golems regularly. The Altgrave of Paths, of course, has other paths to walk.

I have made most of my wards, and readied those forces I can. There is another day of the neverending battle between runes and time, and then my festival duties begin in earnest.

My PaizoCon 2017 Schedule!

Heya Folks! PaizoCon is upon us! Here’s my schedule!

THURSDAY

I’ll be around the hotel beginning Thursday late afternoon-early evening, but I’m disappearing for secret meetings for the middle part of that time. Still, I should be around and free to talk to, hang out, buy me drinks, whatever. ☺

FRIDAY

Early — I’ll be around registration somewhere from the opening moments of PaizCon to 8pm or so. Hopefully, I will be pre-caffeinated.

11am – I’ll be running the Pathfinder RPG Delve! It’s free, fast, and fun!

1pm – Seminar! “Enhanced Gaming: Using Props Effectively”

With Jason Keeley and Jessica Price, in Olympic 3

“Join Paizo creative staff for an entertaining discussion of how to bring more of your game out of your head and into players’ hands by using props and other game enhancements.”

5pm – I’ll be running More Pathfinder RPG Delve! More fast! More fun!

SATURDAY

8am – Into the Emerald Star Spire, Part 7

Same game I run every year… but now with lasers!

2pm – Seminar! “Designing an Alien”

With Adam Daigle and Jason Keeley, in Olympic 2

“Get a sneak peak at the Starfinder monster creation rules! Together with Paizo’s elite monster-crafters, you’ll create the statistics for the alien brainstormed in the preceding Concepting Aliens seminar, plus explore the differences between creature creation systems in Starfinder and Pathfinder.”

7pm – PaizoCon Preview Banquet

I’ll be sitting at a table, feel free to come by, sit down if there’s a spare seat, or at least say hi!

SUNDAY

10am – Seminar! – “All About Starfinder”

With Amanda Hamon Kunz, Jason Keeley, Robert G. McCreary, and James L. Sutter, in Olympic 2!

“Your one-stop seminar for all things Starfinder! Get previews of the mechanical differences between Pathfinder and Starfinder, learn about the setting and how it has evolved, hear about upcoming products beyond the Starfinder Core Rulebook, and ask a panel of the game’s creators all your burning questions!”

11am – Seminar! – “Pathfinder & Starfinder Compatible Publishers Workshop”

With Liz Courts and Ashley Kaprielian, in Olympic 2

“Get a detailed overview of the Pathfinder Compatibility License, and learn the ins and outs of producing Pathfinder and Starfinder material, and learn what pitfalls might await a beginning business owner.”

1pm – Into the Emerald Star Spire, Part 8

More of the same game I run every year… but now with more lasers!

MONDAY

12pm – Seminar! “Starfinder Versus Pathfinder”

With Jason Keeley and Robert G. McCreary, in Olympic 2

“Starfinder evolved from the Pathfinder RPG, but plenbty has changed along the way. Come find out about the game mechanics of the new game, and askl top Starfinder developers all your questions!”

2pm — Miniatures Trading Afterparty!

Hosted by Erik Mona, in the Hotel Bar

Bring things you think are cool but don’t need, and try to trade them for things that you need but don’t have!

Empress of the Geeks Day and WorldCon 1984

Mother’s Day Story

Every year for the past many years, I have for Mother’s Day told a story about my mother, Empress of the Geeks. Most stories I have told more than once. About how she was a GM for a group of young boys not because she was a fan of RPGs, but because we wanted to play and no one else would run a game for us. About how she used those opportunities to sneak in educational missions at the end of each game, making us look up a definition of democracy to negotiate with lizardman tribes, or have to know all the States and their capitals to represent researching into ancient kingdoms.

Or the story of her saving Christmas by figuring out what to give an entitles little brat (that’s me) who refused to tell her what he wanted for Christmas other than “adventure.”

But I don’t think I have ever told the story of my mother and my first WorldCon.

I was introduced to D&D in 1982, and by 1984 I was buying D&D, Gamma World, Tunnels and Trolls, Arduin Grimoire, Boot Hill, Star Frontiers, Dragon Magazine, miniatures, dice, and so on. I was hooked.

My mother took me to my first science fiction convention in 1983. It was a tiny affair in my home town of Norman, OK. I’d guess attendance was 500 or so. It was a one-shot con that never took off.

And then in 1984, she took me to WorldCon, in Anaheim, CA. My sister didn’t want to go. My father didn’t want to go. But I did, and my mother did, and she set a financial goal for me (to be met mostly mowing yards, mostly for my grandparents) early in that year. I met it, and she booked flight and hotel rooms… and gave me half the money back as spending cash.

She set down ground rules… but they were amazingly lax given my age. And then she… trusted me.

This was a 4-day convention. Cell phones were not an option. I was barely a teenager. And she trusted me to set my own schedule, get my own meals, handle my money, and not do anything stupid.

Well, not do anything TOO stupid.

I listened to panels with Gordon R. Dickson and Jerry Pournelle. I shared a bus-ride to Disneyland with C.J. Cherryh. I saw Robert Heinlein. And I gamed.

Oh lord, how I gamed.

Homebrews. Boardgames. Card games. Miniature games. As I recall, my first introduction to Car Wars, Warhammer 40k, and Champions. I had my first TPK. I had my first game that ran past midnight. I played a Gamma World game where the PCs ended up going back in time, coming to the convention center, finding the room we were playing in and, under a cloak field, debated whether nor not to kill us, the players and GM, to prevent us from thinking up their cursed world—WHILE we roleplayed that event. And I won’t lie… at that age, with that much Mountain Dew in my system, at 2am… the idea my own PC was arguing to kill me freaked me right now.

I ordered my first steak dinner by myself. I took my first taxi ride by myself. I went to the release party for the last issue of the first series of ElfQuest comics, got into a drum circle, met an older girl, and had a puppy love weekend con romance with her as she made appointments to hit specific games with me.

I saw my mother every day, at least once. She made sure. She asked how I was doing, checked that I had money for food, made me tell her my approximate plans. We had a legal pad in the hotel room, and we each wrote down where we were going… at least roughly.

The freedom had a major impact on my ability to trust myself, and it all came from the fact my mother trusted me. But her main accomplishment in this regard wasn’t that weekend.

It came in the weeks and years before, when she raised me to be a child she felt she could trust. I didn’t make that easy. And I know she must have had reservations. In retrospect, I can see some of the slack-giving moments that came before, and at, that con.

And while yes, I did some stupid things, I survived just fine.

And it was a major watershed in my life.

And she made it all possible. She knew when to hold my hand… and when to let go.

Thanks, Mom.

Patreon

My mother’s also pretty pragmatic. She absolutely won’t mind that I use a story about her to boost my patreon, where you can support me in writing these stories, and my other geekly productions.