I Can Only Assume You Want to Role-Play with Jimmy Pardo

I feel like I missed a beat somewhere. Never Not Funny‘s Pardcastathon charity auctions include playing a game of FATE with Jimmy Pardo — comedian, podcaster and “America’s Hair Dad” — and Eliot Hochberg, with Mike Olson, designer of Atomic Robo, running the game. This must be Eliot’s doing, as I can’t picture Jimmy having any idea of what a role-playing game is, beyond what he’s been told by Eliot and Garon.

As of this writing, there are six hours left on this auction, which benefits the charity Smile Train, which provides corrective surgery for cleft lips and palates. Bid on an auction, or go to Pardcast.com to donate!

And please, oh please, let them record the game as a bonus episode of Never Not Funny.

Board Games’ Golden Age

This Guardian article, Board games’ golden age: sociable, brilliant and driven by the internet, has been going around the social media circles, saying in part:

Many industry figures point to the internet as a key factor in the growth of tabletop gaming. The rise of smartphones and tablets has given players an inexpensive way to try digital versions of board games, and many go on to buy physical copies as well.

I’d say that beyond the board game app field, unfettered access to information alone has had a huge effect on the number of people participating in tabletop games. Almost every discovery moment I experienced personally in finding out about tabletop games came from the internet; and in turn, those discoveries drove me on to find out about a new game, or a new school of thought or way of playing a particular game.

And it’s not just me. I’ve watched enough online discussion about games in the last — yikes! — ten years — to see the patterns in topics. There are always people discovering a game for the first time, taking their first steps into the hobby. Concentrated repositories of information like Boardgamegeek.com and the RPG.net Index, in concert with efforts like Tabletop, which reach technologically-sophisticated datavores, make what used to be a hobby with a low profile and high social barriers, far more accessible.

Now a newcomer doesn’t need to be inducted into the hobby by someone who’s got a copy of Illuminati or the Dungeons & Dragons box set, and introduced to the weird little store hidden in a strip mall or the attached garage of someone’s home. If they hear of something interesting, they can click a link or do a web search, and get a landslide of information to get them excited about this cool new thing.

Post script: and that’s not to say the hobby is yet accessible enough. There are still barriers to entry, especially social and economic. I hope that, with time and the changing of attitudes, those continue to be eroded and overcome.

[Link via Carnage.]

Winter Weirdness 2015 Game Day

winter_weirdness_bannerWinter Weirdness flyer. January 10th, 2015 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre, Vermont.Green Mountain Gamers announced the time and place for their Winter Weirdness game day: January 10th, 2015, from 10am to 10pm at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre, Vermont. Mark your calendars!

The Church of the Good Shepherd’s been a pretty amazing space for these game days. The undercroft is a cozy space that’s like a cross between a church hall and a rec room. The church has always been a great host, and Green Mountain Gamers tries to return the favor, first with a food drive to benefit the church’s food shelf and now a raffle to benefit the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

These game days are great casual, drop-in events. Bring a game, try someone else’s — I foresee lots of new holiday loot fresh from the shrinkwrap — and make some new friends. It’ll be fun!

(And Green Mountain Gamers announced the date of their mega-sized spring game day: March 15th at the steadfast Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee.)

Stoker’s Dracula Unredacted

As per usual, when I let myself listen to Ken Hite explain his upcoming project, regardless of whether I’ve already decided I’m going to let it pass, I find myself being sold completely and totally — this may be part of why I let my Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff subscription lapse.

This time, he’s raising funds for The Dracula Dossier, presenting the unredacted, annotated first draft of Dracula, which is the after-action report of British intelligence’s miserable repeated attempts to recruit the vampire called Dracula. Ken dropped in on his friends David and Dave at Blurry Photos to talk about the project, Dracula, Bram Stoker and vampires. Blurry Photos has become my favorite paranormal podcast these days, thanks to Stecco and Flora’s inimitable style and collective sense of humor. So when Ken drops in to talk about Cthulhu and role-playing games, it’s like a crazy crossover between your favorite, yet separate things. Their level of familiarity with role-playing is also adorable; Stecco talks about modules, encumbrance and showing up to Castle Dracula with a 40 person raid party for the loot drop.

I’ll be thinking heavily about whether I want to back The Dracula Dossier before the fundraising campaign ends on December 4th. You can check it out on Kickstarter.

Little Free (Game) Libraries

A little free library, shaped like a miniature house filled with books, mounted on a post.

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the Carnage math trade results, I am keeping the change ball rolling by weeding out my library of board games and role-playing books. In the past, I’ve tried sales and sale/swap game forums, and had mixed results. The legwork involved in listing and shipping rarely seems to merit the cash return, particularly now that the more salable titles have all found homes. So now, in the interest of Less Stuff, I’ve begun filtering out the games and books I don’t want anymore to Burlington’s little free libraries.

Due to locations, a little discretion goes into what is seeded where. Leaving Chez Geek by a children’s playground seems like it would be poor form. Fortunately, there are at least four little free libraries within my walking radius, so everything can be evenly distributed. And it’ll get me outside walking more, which can only be a plus.

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game World Championship Match

There was a great deal of hubbub last week coming out of Roseville, Minnesota to do with the living card game scene. I’m still processing the news and seeing what other folks have to say about it. In the meantime, here’s the final match of the Call of Cthulhu world championship. Astonishingly, it does not include perennial contender Tom Capor. Instead, it’s the surprising match-up of a Miskatonic Explorer deck versus a triple threat alliance of Silver Twilight, Yog-Sothoth and Miskatonic.

Former Cthulhu developer Damon Stone is one of the commentators, too. That voice, man. That voice. Check out Fantasy Flight’s stream of the match-up below:

Microscope on Black Moon Games

My friend Justin got a shout-out from Ars Ludi yesterday. Justin’s been getting back into role-playing games of late, and has taken a particular shine to Microscope, a world-building game. At Carnage this past weekend, he ran a Microscope session geared for kids, which it turns out has been a running thing for him, now that I see this photo of a game in Black Moon Games‘ Lunar Lounge.

I haven’t had the chance to try Microscope, but I think I’m going to have to make time for it, next time I cross paths with Justin. Maybe at one of Green Mountain Gamers’ events, like Winter Weirdness or the Spring Meltdown.

A Fistful of Carnage Recap

” . . . and it has tomatoes.”
“Tomatoes. Are those the soy or the lent in soylent?”

The grim reaper rides a pale horse, wearing a tall cowboy hat and a rifle in each hand.Another Carnage has come and gone. I spent most of the weekend working in the Snowshed, where the role-playing and card games were based, but I did manage to play some games:

  • Stetsons Are Cool was Robin Lea‘s Doctor Who-based adventure, in which we Time Agents tracked down a highly dangerous zygma beam device in ancient American west. I may have gone a little goofier with team leader Kip Brannigan than was appropriate, but I think he and medic Hanso had a good back and forth repartee going.
  • Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game was a nice mid-slot game to play while working the information desk with Rod. He’s picked up the core set and Sleeper Below, so he played cultists and Cthulhu against the Syndicate’s tricks, and then Yog-Sothoth’s discard effects.
  • The Great Snowball Battle is a cute card game of little kids slinging snowballs at each other until everyone gets called inside for losing their hats, boots and gloves.
  • Ticket to Ride‘s Switzerland map is annoying.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse was played with another old hand and two newcomers who originally thought we would play Citadels because I mumble; one of them dug it and the other one I probably ought to have handed a deck other than Bunker’s.
  • Gygax Magazine Pub Quiz, Saturday night in the bar, was a hoot. Our chief heckler of the last two years became the fill-in host, so the tables turned in a way. Next year, though, I look forward to James and Mary slipping back into the hosting duties.

The Game with No Name math trade netted me some great stuff, too. I turned HERO books, Gamma World and Revolution! into Netrunner cards — hello, Grimoire playset! — and a classic copy of Wiz-War, which I’ve wanted to try more of. Plus, after the trade concluded, I got to help a lady rebuild part of her Cheapass Games collection, after a tragic loss to fire. So this year’s trade was a win on multiple levels.

Our second year at Killington was good. We had a better idea of what to expect and how to do things. There were unanticipated questions, of course, with the resort and our attendees, but nothing outside the usual stretch. In the end, we had a great convention, and folks had fun. Mission accomplished!