Day 1: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As we start in on the actual writing portion of the House of Ink (the mentorship program I am in), I have decided that my writing journal needs to evolve. Writing on the computer seems to make it so that I get into the writing mode. I don’t know if it is the process of throwing out the word salad onto the virtual page, or what… but it works for me. At least for now.

This week (a day ago) I was facing another day of being overly tired. Since my dog went through her issue in the hospital I have been sleeping downstairs with her. In fact for the first week or so, my wife and I both were. Since her eye has healed, we have been trying to get her to sleep upstairs like she used to. Thursday night she was not having it. Since she wanted to go downstairs, my wife decided to take her down and let me sleep.

It worked – somewhat. I slept fairly well, getting 6 hours of sleep. The dog woke up twice, coming upstairs to find me. At 4:00 my wife gave up and put her in the bed with me and went back to lay down. The dog didn’t sit still as she still wanted to be in her chair, she just wanted me down there too. So I carried her down to sit in the chair with her while my wife slept down there a bit before work.

I have said often that I am an emotional support human, and people chuckle at it. This is the reality of it though. She would wake up in the middle of the night and need to find me. And if she does it on her own, she can get lost if she loses track of where she is. Luckily, I don’t usually sleep through the night anyhow. And I have been known to go with less sleep than normal at most times. On the upside, I always have a dog to snuggle with. The dark side of that is training her to not have to sit in my lap while I write. It also means that if she is hurt that she will shut down with the vet, but complain and cry to me as soon as she is touching me.

And I wouldn’t give it up for anything. The task for me is to figure out working around these obstacles. So that is my focus walking into this writing phase.

Reviving My Gorilla

It has been a while, please excuse the dust. And yes, I realize the blog is kind of an out-of-date idea, but I am old. And honestly I am doing this for me, not anyone who may or may not be reading this. That said, I am aware that some folks might read this. For those new to my little corner of reality, a synopsis:

Craig Ferguson once said in an interview that “writing a novel is kind of like making love to a gorilla – you’re not done until the gorilla is done.” Thus, the name of this blog. It was supposed to be a ride-along on the journey of my path to publishing a novel.

Several years ago I hit a wall. A hard wall. Something happened in my life that shoved me violently off that path. Since then I have walked the path of the game organizer, convention organizer, and game developer. It lead me back to considering what it would take to revive the desire to write in me again. What story would be born in me that would have to make it out into the world? Enter the global pandemic…

It began with working from home. I set up my library to be my new office. Figured out how to maintain my work on the Badgers website using my home wifi and computer. Which evolved into 50% hours on a work share program. This year it became 100% furlough. I had time on my hands.

It began with me signing up to work the Virtual Weekends through Wizards of the Coast. It is within my skillset and was a way for me to bring in some money. At the very least it was a way for me to pay for the tools I was picking up to improve the online play experience for those picking up tickets to my events. My normal players just gain the benefit of this by default – so remind them they are lucky if you know any of them.

I also received a newsletter that mentioned a mentored writing program. You see, I know quite a few authors. And it appears that an author I am friends with experienced a similar problem that I had. And she was offering a mentoring program on working through it. She was also offering what could be a built-in online critique group. Or at the very least, like-minded folks going on the same journey I am. It was a cost, but it was also a value for what it offered. And the above-mentioned income that was going towards my new productivity tools… it could cover it.

This was the first week of it. The start is a little rocky as I already had a charity event planned the first weekend, and a conflicting work weekend during the second Zoom meeting. But I can download the recorded videos and still be involved in the online discussions and Q&A until week three. And I can now schedule around the Zoom calls for the rest of the weekends.

One of our first assignments is to address what is a potential block for us identify/vocalize the fix for it. Which leads me to a story of sorts. You see, there is a quote that I have heard used in a movie or two that I recognized. It may have been something handed down in various dojos, military units, or whatever. All I know is I have heard it before, though it comes from a point in my life where my memory has some issues.

I was sixteen years old and competing in my first “real” martial arts tournament. A national one in Chicago. In my belt’s age/weight class, there was only one other kid who was just barely in my class (teen 175-200). This kid clocked in right at 175, and I was running 195. My choice was to let the younger kid bounce to the lower weight class (technically topping at 175) and jumping into the adult weight classes (minimum age was 16), or just fight a single match at my first major tournament. So I bounced to the adult ranks.

My first fight was against someone who was 26 years old, running about 215. During the course of the fight, I walked into a spinning back kick that should have been called for contact. I spit my mouth guard out fifteen feet (the width of the ring). I had never taken as hard of a hit from a person before. I was allowed a short time to kneel and catch my breath (and have the ring doctor check me out). My sensei came over to coach me, and after I flinched like Ralph Macchio during the first few exchanged in Karate Kid’s tournament, took me aside.

“What you running out of the ring for, Alfano? You’ve fought like this plenty of times.” The answer for me was that those fights were against my fellow students. We were there to learn together. We were friends – brothers and sisters in arms. None of them have ever kicked my spine taking the scenic route.

“This time, I’m afraid sensei. I can’t seem to catch my breath.”

It was then that he made me center and focus my breathing. He told me that only idiots aren’t afraid during a fight. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but continuing on and thriving in the presence of fear.

What does that mean in this context? It means the idea of starting back up weighs on me. Without being negative I have to admit that and give it a name. You cannot defeat an enemy you cannot name. And for me that name is Grief. It started with the loss of my last dog, Aladdin. And it continued with the loss of my good friend Blaine. Those things anchored me down and kept my muse silent.

My enemy named, I must also admit I am afraid to face it. If I wasn’t, then there was no reason it should be holding me back. But I will also hold on to the words one of assistant sensei at my dojo said to Sensei Fields, “We have a warrior here!” It was during a lesson in which I wasn’t pushing the maneuver enough as I had another fear of using my full strength. I was afraid of hurting someone. After the 4th or 5th time of going through the reps he barked at me to put him down hard or he was going to pair me up with someone else. Like a drill sergeant he barked that at me and swung at me nearly full speed. I spun the block and arm bar we were practicing on him and dropped him to his knees and he slapped the ground with the flat of his hand. Part tapping out, and part celebrating. “Yes! Now that is how to take an opponent down!” It was then he called out to Sensei and named me Warrior. Sensei Fields later said it wasn’t the strength with which I took him down that elicited that – it was the look in my eyes. He said that their view was that someone could be a really good fighter without being a warrior. A warrior spirit was something that couldn’t be trained – it just was.

So Grief is my enemy and my fear. And the Warrior doesn’t back down from a fight.

Teams and Pages for the Marathon

So I put the participants through the randomizer to block people into tables. I massaged the data a little (to seat family members together), and this is what we have for teams. And as we are in Season 8, the teams have been named accordingly…


As Jarlaxle controls the largest network in Waterdeep, his table will be the streaming table. And you will notice that even adding a DM, we have only two seats left free.

If I inadvertently missed paired players, please let me know ASAP.


In order to set up table plans (who has what at the appropriate level, etc.) we will be using Discord again. To allow for Mike to not have to sustain the server, we have opened a 25th Hour Events server and input in the table names as channels. For now I have left the channels open so anyone can view them. For the invite, follow the link below:

Pledge Pages

Each player is encouraged to go up to Extra Life’s site and set up a pledge page. The easiest way is to go to the Dungeons and Dragons team page and click the “Join Our Team” button. It will prompt you to make a page.

Hint: The account/page costs nothing, but if you pay the $19 to make it a Platinum Account, at certain intervals you will earn perks they will send to you.

Dungeons and Dragons Team Page

When setting up the page, I would alter the default text to include specifics about the event. The personal touch will tell friends and family this is actually your thing, and not a cookie cutter situation. And here are some perks we have put through as a suggestion for why people might want to pledge to your page instead of some other one…

  • pledges are tax deductible (and comes with the option for a receipt for tax purposes)
  • all donations stay local (you choose the hospital when you set up the account)
  • total pledges will earn you boons in the game

Single Donations

These are done by single donation amounts. A donation for these amounts will give you the specific boon.

  • $10 Potion of Greater Healing: Your character finds a potion on a dead adventurer at the start of the event (limit 8)
  • $20 Critical Success. You character feels the blessings of Tymora and gets a 20 on a single roll for an attack, saving throw, or ability check (limit of 4)
  • $100 Magic Item. The Blackstaff has awarded you for your past work with Force Grey in the protection of Waterdeep. She sends a magic item for you to use this night. (Admin assigns the item granted. It lasts only through play at the event. Afterwards, the item is unlocked for that character as per Season 8 rules. Limit of 2)

Total Pledges

You will earn boons and rewards based on the total amount of pledges you earn. This isn’t the only way to earn bonuses towards the event, but it is a good way to get some extra karma in without digging deep personally. These will include a number of certs and boons provided to us by the Admins at Adventurers League and Wizards of the Coast, and also some special goodies provided by your organizers at 25th Hour Events.

  • $100 total raise – a special boon from your AL Organizers at 25th Hour Events
  • $250 special unlock – too be announced prior to the event, during announcements
  • $500 special unlock – Is there one? Start raising funds, and find out?

Upcoming Marathon Charity Event

It is November, so that means a number of things around Casa de Zombie, but the two big ones are Gamehole Con and the Marathon Charity Event. Today I am posting the first set of players locked in to the Marathon Tables. As well as the format we are going to be doing…


Originally I was going to have people muster into groups, allowing people to set up parties of adventurers that had balance. I then realized just how much time that would eat up, plus it would minimize one of the things I like about special events similar to this one… mingling in with players you don’t normally roll with. So I am randomizing seat placement as I did last year. This will allow people to set up their teams for the event ahead of time.

The only caveat is going to be that people placed at the streaming table can ask to opt out of that seat if they don’t want to be on the stream. If that case arises, I will deal with it then.


As we are going to be doing Dungeon of the Mad Mage, I am asking players to bring in 5th level characters. If you have a character a single level away (up or down) to that, contact me and we can make sure it works. The goal is to have everyone start at a similar level. Most people aren’t down for 24 hours being the sidekick. 😉

If you do not have an Adventures League format legal character high enough level, contact me. There is the potential to run other content on a table (if there are enough people like that), or we will figure something out.

Goodies and Donation Options

There will be certs for participating, just like last year. There will also be special certs and boons awarded for hitting certain milestones in your fundraising (or simply donating yourself). In addition to the online donations through the extra life page, we will be having in-store donations going to Journey Mental Health Services to aid in their critical care suicide prevention help line.

We will also have a number of raffle items and potentially some auction items at the event. So be prepared!

The List, volume 1

  1. James Blount
  2. Nelle
  3. Nix
  4. Scott Peterson
  5. Rylie Sprouse
  6. Sean Sprouse
  7. Jeff Taras
  8. Ruth Imoff
  9. Devin McDemott
  10. Dan Perrine
  11. Wes Smith
  12. Trezy
  13. Scott Larkins
  14. Shane Webb
  15. Vern Bronson
  16. Nick Bruske
  17. Tim Schaab
  18. Jenna Schmitt
  19. Ian Pinsker
  20. Mark Mapes
  21. Sean Ruch
  22. Anna Ruch
  23. Anjalie Schlaeppi
  24. Jacob Shelton
  25. Nick CALO
  26. Adventurer of Clearwater Pond (send me your real name to confirm your spot)
  27. Fi St. John
  28. Liam St. John
  29. Laura Hart
  30. Brad Sumner
  31. Trena Williams
  32. Joe Janisch
  33. Nicholas Van Sciver
  34. Dennis Lassiter
  35. David J.
  36. TJ Anderson
  37. Mrs. Anderson (Hey, TJ… email me some info)
  38. Ben Rathert
  39. Jake Schultz

Don’t See Your Name?

If you don’t see your name on the list (even if you RSVP’d), it is because you haven’t gone to the Extra Life page I set up for the event and put in your donation for the seat. Don’t worry though… I am in the process of securing a couple more DMs, so we can still add you. Please go make that donation now.


If there are any other questions, please email me ASAP so I can look into them. My address is


MadDnD and Pegasus Games Supports Extra Life

We discussed doing this a couple years ago and went with a 12 hour event. This year we started with two tables running a 24 hour marathon of Tomb of Annihilation. It stretched out to 5 tables when I ran out of Dungeon Masters to staff the tables. It was thus that our team of Dungeon Masters (Zombie Joe, Nick “Moonbeam”, Doc, Terese and Caleb) prepared to run characters starting at levels 1-3 (depending on their donations earned) through Tomb of Annihilation from start to finish.

To be fair, none of us expected that we would make it through to the end in 24 hours. That is a lot of time, to be sure, but this is a full book adventure. (We only made it to chapter 3 at any table… though I believe all tables made it into chapter 3.)

During the course of the night, we allowed for table donations at each of the tables. You wanted inspiration? The DM would negotiate what that donation would be. Want a boost to your healing, same thing. During the course of the night, we took in $528 in table donations across all of them. I know this as I was the one making the deposit and getting it up to Extra Life on the donation page. I had taken and announced our final tally (minus some donations that went through Facebook) to be $8766.00 for the team. I have since found at least one player that didn’t join the Dungeons and Dragons team which brings our final up to $8861.00.

That is an amazing amount of money to be raised, and we all had an awesome time playing. Even those of us that were having problems staying awake at the end. (I was oddly included in that as I didn’t take my own advice in some instances… like staying up past midnight the night before doing the printing for the event.) One of our other coordinators (the one that didn’t think that many people would jump in on this event) send me a message of “Did you mean $876.00?”

Magic items were collected, experience was earned and all players in question ended the night with Tier 2 characters (at least level 6, if not higher). Everyone was on the path, having a general location of the Soulmonger, and searching the city it was located in. Team Demon Koala (my table), I believe was first to find the location of the Soulmonger thanks to a spell earned (with nearly $10 in donations on the rerolls) from a holy statue of Ubtao and some quick thinking from my players. Team Batiri Goblins (Doc’s table) earned the first death of the team paladin at the teeth of a zombie t-rex. (And the player opted to start a new character as opposed to a surrogate.) Team Zombie Rex (Moonbeam’s table) had the most amusing death of “Death by Nanny PuPu making sandcastles”. (She buried the character alive in a shallow grave.) And Team Veggiepygmy (Terese’s table) had the first marriage between two characters. (Thank you Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.)

There are a number of folks that I need to offer some special thanks to for the event as a whole. It came together pretty quick, and being so soon after Gamehole Con, was a task to pull off.

Pegasus Games

Not only did they agree to keep the Playground open all night for us, but they offered a Pega-Minion for one of the tables. I took donations to make the Pega-Minion “it” during one or more of the encounters that night. This was done in two shifts, with Geoffrey taking the first 12 hours and James (one of the store managers) taking the second 12 hours. Geoffrey decided since the other players had been doing the donating, that they could name their character. Thus Peggy the Pirate was born. Peggy was male, and though a sailor… not a pirate. He was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good tale, so never let on to his true nature.

Dr. Hillbert from Odana Hills Dental

At the last minute this local businessman came in and donated pizza and soda for 40 players and DMs running in this event. He stopped in for a head count that night, went to get pizza, and came back to drop it off. He then escaped without even accepting credit or thanks from tired, hungry gamers. But that definitely helped to keep us all going. And left some extra bills in the pockets of the players for more table donations.

Chris Lindsey and Bill Benham with Adventurers League

They provided us with the reward cert for anyone who made it through the whole 24 hours of the event. And there were a few that almost didn’t make it. But we all hobbled through to the end. Each person crossing the finish line was granted the Extra Life from Pegasus Games cert that granted them a junior triceratops (using the rhino stats) as a mount. It is an awesome piece, to be sure. It will make for crowded streets when the parties want to finish the adventure with their same parties and DM.

Each and Every Dungeon Master

They prepped most of the book and ran a 24 hour game. Without all of them, I couldn’t have set things up for 35 players to run through the game and collect donations for the charity.

All the Players

Some of these people raised truly staggering amounts of money for the charity. Each and every one of them made the games memorable and worth completing. Most have chosen to set this up to happen in the future, with other players tagging in where other players were not able to complete the adventure.


One of our players donated dice sets to be given out as prizes. This was back when we were three tables instead of five, so I did a series of roll offs for sets of dice at some time past midnight. I believe for each table I gave away 2-3 sets for high dice rolls and one set to whomever rolled the worst. (“You clearly need new dice.”)

The Vets

The game started on Veteran’s Day. It ended on Sunday, but we started on the 11th. So we asked each of our vets in our AL community to stand up and tell us their branch of service. All four of them at our event were sitting at our marathon tables. There is no better way to spend Veteran’s Day than playing 24 hours of D&D with one of those fine folks.

“We thank you for your service” didn’t seem quite enough, so we provided each of them with a tangible (and AL related) gift to commemorate the day and thank them for playing with us.

The Fallout

My condo is still not back in order from the chaos. My puppy gave me some epic side eye for not coming home that night (she had to sleep on my recliner, but my wife was prepared for that one). And most of the players are planning the finale for the event (completing the module). But most of all, I was hearing, “Count me in for next year!”

Check out below for a short video of the event. (This was nearing the 12 hour mark.) Given a year to plan, next year we may offer a stream of at least one table.

Can you help a Dungeon Master out?

So this Marathon Event has grown into a beast all it’s own. A true dragon in every sense of the word. We have maxed out at 5 tables. That is 40 people, assuming I include the DMs in that mix. And we are tapped out (to steal a Magic the Gathering term). I don’t have any more DMs or any more tables to expand it further.

If you take a look back, I was starting out with two Dungeon Masters for the event. And while this expansion means my team will do well (in true Amway fashion), I am now looking for some direct support of my efforts. Specifically at my table.

The Rewards

Please help my group reach its Extra Life goals; for fundraising, Zombie Joe has set the following donation rewards. Just mention what reward you’re choosing in the comments when you donate.Limited rewards will be stricken from the list if/when they are first chosen.

  • $20: DM Reroll. The DM gains a reroll to use during the game.
  • $20: DM Inspiration. A monster or NPC gains one use of inspiration (advantage on a saving throw, a check, or an attack roll).
  • $20: Blessing of the Loa. A monster or NPC of my choice gains the instaneous effect of one potion of healing.
  • $20: Curse of the Sky Ponies. DM can force a reroll of any roll on the Pega-Minion.
  • $50: That’s how it starts… DM adds one surprise encounter with a dinosaur/group of dinosaurs.
  • $50: Tag! You’re it! DM marks the Pega-Minion as “it” in an encounter of their choosing. (limit 3)
  • $75: Magic Item. DM can add a pop-up market from Meepo into the campaign. He will have standard items for sale as well as up to two magic items. (limit 2)
  • $100: Extra Life. During the course of the game the DM can choose a PC or an NPC to be brought to 1 hit point when they would have normally died. (limit 2)
  • $200: Get my gear! If anyone donates this amount, I will send them my dice used during the game, my sheets/notes, and even the copy of Tomb of Annihilation I use at the table. And maybe a couple extra goodies…

That last one puts me in the situation where I will need another book, but I am fine with that. (I do still have to run tables at our events after this one, after all.) But should someone bid for my gear, I will have the players at my table sign the inside cover. Well the survivors anyhow – if a player doesn’t make it to the end, maybe I will have them sign the back cover.

To donate is easy, just go to MY PAGE over on Extra Life. You will notice there are a couple of options in there to mess with the store employee at my table. Just sayin’

NOTE: There is a player table at the bottom of my page. Please ignore that – I placed it there for the players to cut and paste the template to their own pages.

Extra Life Fundraising is OPEN!

BOOM goes the sign-ups

There was some serious discussion to whether or not I would get 5-7 people willing to do a 24 hour D&D marathon for charity. I’m now sitting at 4 tables filled to capacity and I am looking at opening a 5th one to allow in a couple of waitlisters and balance out the tables. That is 32 people, counting the DMs running the tables. It is both awesome, and daunting…

Dungeon Master Donation Pages

I have put up the DM donation options (other than just donating what you want to support this awesome children’s charity) on my page. The other DMs will be adding a similar one shortly. If you cannot attend, or are not a D&D player, but still want to support our efforts, throw a little on a DM page. My DMs for this event are: (click on their names to donate to their efforts)

Player Donation Pages

There are 28 players so far, but the ones that have started a donation page are: (click on the names to go to their donation page)

Video Streaming

My hope is to offer a Twitch video stream of the event. We will see how possible that is. Equipment and a video person willing to do it is the key. In the event that it happens, I will post specifics here.

What It All Means

For me, it means there is a children’s charity getting some extra money and a dialog is being opened about the needs of these kids and their families. In my family, growing up as a young gamer in the making, this has always been part of what we do. For my father it was the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethons. Mine is on a much smaller scale…

It also shows there are others willing to take this challenge in an effort to raise money. Which means this is likely going to be an event we continue to do in future years. Assuming this year goes off without a hitch.

Thank You

As a preemptive strike, I want to thank all the players, DMs and donors to the event. You are making a direct difference in the lives of children and families in need in my community.

Marathon Prep – Party Builds

As I sit in Casa de Zombie, enjoying “Daddy-Ginger Date Nightâ„¢” (official title of the night each week my wife is in Milwaukee and the puppy and I have a night of dinner and television together), I am left considering the upcoming Marathon Tables for our Extra Life event. Partially due to scheduling conflicts that I have little ability to mitigate and have to rely on others, and partially because of the posts the players are commenting on in the Meetup.

We are currently sitting at 20 players as of this writing. I have opened up a third table, and have offered a fourth, if more people sign in to the waitlist (event is capped at 21 currently). Some of them are posting their plans on characters, with many of them stating, “I am bringing a bunch of different options.” The first cut will be who will be sitting with who – keeping in mind that I am going to be randomly placing people on tables.

As for the second cut of options (that each party will have time to discuss prior to the event, should they wish), below are a list of my suggestions. In order of importance based solely on my opinions…

Cleric (Healer)

I originally thought about putting Healer as the header, but I amended to Cleric in light of most druids and bards (not to mention paladins and rangers) aren’t really healers. They are mostly front line or air support, and don’t focus on healing. The Death Curse is here and is totally a thing, so don’t discount healing and the spare the dying cantrip. Most people have gotten too comfortable rolling the bones on the death saves.

Tank (Fighter/Paladin/Barbarian)

Every party needs at least one. And it is up to the tank’s player to decide the style. You are either tanking by armor (fighter or paladin in heavy armor with a ton of extra water for the fatigue) or tanking through hit points (bear totem barbarian and their resistance to all but psychic damage). These are your characters that will help to protect the squishy ones that every party needs.

Arcane Support (Wizard/Sorcerer)

Yes, I didn’t include warlock in this mix. I came really close to not including sorcerer too. Typically those two classes get their magic by nature of their bloodline or their mentors. So they aren’t as learned in the arcane arts. Bards almost fit this bill better than sorcerers – even if they are only getting their Jack of All Trades on arcana checks. Detect Magic and Identify are invaluable spells over the course of a “one shot campaign” like this. It will minimize your need to return to town. And my need to hand wave the magic items found during your adventures.

Speed and travel spells are also huge. Though I am a huge supporter of the haste spell, I am talking more along the lines of Fly, Teleport, and Teleportation Circle. Speed is of the essence in this campaign, so anything that aids in that is a plus.

Rogue (Trap-Finder)

Yeah, you may want to be that killer assassin, but keep in mind the group really should have a rogue that is focused on trap-finding. And there’s nothing saying you can’t be both. Your dexterity will already be high, so maybe focus your expertise in things like thieves tools, investigation and perception. Stealth will be fine all on its own with just your dexterity modifier if you have to.

Everything Else

While the Rogue and Arcane Support are the two things you could potentially do without, or take in a back-up capacity (like a monk with a criminal background), as long as you have a Cleric and a Tank, play what you want to play. Just know that the choices you make when you sit down at the table will alter the game I (or the other DMs) will be producing for you over those next 24 hours.

Rule 32 – Enjoy the Little Things

Whatever choice you make, know that this is a game and we are raising money for an awesome charity that helps support the needs to sick children all over the country. So have fun with it.

How to Survive a Marathon D&D Game

I was excited to see the amount of response to the event as planned. As I took questions, and looked towards the future of the event, it occurred to me how many people think something like this isn’t possible. So here I am, taking a break from studying for my exam… to bring you some tips on how to make it to the other side.

Dear Mr. Elminster, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole downtime day in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a wizard… and a warrior… and a warlock… a sorceress… and a rogue. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Heroes of Phlan.

Rest and Sleep

The body is meant to get a varying amount of sleep. But it is meant to get sleep. So definitely go to bed early the night before we start. Get to the event on time, but there is no need to be up earlier than intended to get there on time.

Food and Drink

While you might think it natural to go straight for the caffeine and sugar to help stay awake, there is a case of diminishing returns. The crash from those can be hard. So, while it seems counter-intuitive, don’t load up on coffee all night. You have access to a secret weapon – Water! Your body is made up mostly of the stuff, so don’t underestimate the effect drinking it can have on you. Specifically, it can help clear your head. And it will definitely help to keep you from losing your voice. (Which is more for your DMs than for the players.)

You can also consider Gatorade, or a similar type of drink. Be aware of the amount of sugar in it, but those drinks will have the other things your body needs to avoid dehydration.

Medicine and Health

Know your body. Most people with uncommon health issues know their bodies and the signs of an issue coming on. Don’t forget to listen to those signs. Maybe bring some Advil or the like.

For example, I can tell when I have a migraine coming on. If you ever wondered why I will put my sunglasses on inside during game days, now you know. Well, that and they are my prescription glasses that I need to see distances. I also keep Advil liquigels with me so if I feel a migraine starting (as is prone to during marathon events such as this), I know to take a couple with a cup of coffee. It may go against the tips above, but it also highlights the current one – I know my body, and in that situation that is what I need.


My plan is to run sections in about 4 hour blocks. At each 4 hour interval, the table will take a 15-30 minute break for drinks, restrooms, leveling up, etc. Definitely relax during those times, but get up and stretch out. Movement will keep blood flowing and get oxygen through the body. Maybe a late night dance break will be done.

Some people can nap for 10-15 minutes and pop up refreshed. In this type of a situation, most cannot. If you nod off and cannot be woken, that would be the “Standing Eight Countâ„¢” and could end your run in the marathon.

Keep Active

I have spoken of this at the various cons I attend to play and not DM anything. I personally find it more difficult to play for 10 hours than to DM for 24 hours. If you do not keep your mind engaged in the narrative, you will start to nod off. Don’t talk over people, but remain present and engaged in the event and you will have an easier time staying focused.

Travel Plans

If you have not done an event like this before, I suggest you have someone drop you off at the store. Definitely arrange for a ride home the next day. 24-28 hours awake takes a lot out of you, and we don’t need anyone nodding off on the drive home. This is really the most important advice of the whole post.

More to Come…

In the coming weeks, I will post some more advice on the event for those attending. This will include my advice on how to survive the module (without giving away spoilers) from my read through on it. Party makeup, character development, etc.


We have 14 players signed up and 1 waitlist at the time of this writing. I will let the waitlist go a little deeper before sending out the links to donate and lock in your seat. In the event the waitlist goes really deep, I may look into finding another DM up for the challenge to run a third table. Keep your eyes on the Meetup.

Extra Life at Pegasus Games…

… Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Sleep Deprivation

Pegasus Games opened its doors 37 years ago, and we are still showing up there twice a month to hold Adventurers League events – though back in the late 70’s to early 80’s it was less about organized play, and more about play in our parents basements. Seriously, for people of my generation Stranger Things is more of a documentary. And I bought my first Player’s Handbook from the aforementioned store the first year it was in business down on State Street. (There’s an import store there now.)

And during my 37 years playing Dungeons and Dragons, I have played with a variety of different DMs. While I can honestly say I have never played with one that could do voices the way Matt Mercer can on Critical Role, I have played with those that infuse a crazy amount of history and mythology into their worlds, and I have rolled at a table with DMs that produce a simple, fun, and consistent game. It is all a question of what you’re looking for, and how much everyone at the table buys into it.

Why do I mention this? Well, thank you for asking, hypothetical player in Adventurers League that is wondering about our upcoming charity event. One thing I know I am capable of is providing a marathon game. A true test of fortitude. 24 hours of gaming with only short breaks for food, drink, and restroom breaks. And no, I cannot do this every weekend, or even every month. The last time I attempted this was Extra Life 2014. But we are doing it again, only this time bigger.

November 4th is the Extra Life 24 hour game event. The problem for the Madison folks is that this is also the weekend of Gamehole Con. Which, ironically, is where the Wizards of the Coast Extra Life games are going on. (At least two of them anyhow.) So we are holding our on our normal game day for November on the 11th, the Saturday after the con.

Pegasus Games Extra Life

Our events that day will be putting all the proceeds towards the charity of the day. We will have four to five tables running standard 4 hour sessions of Adventurers League content. You only need an AL legal character to play. There are two simple changes planned to the format for the charity event…

  1. Donations Accepted for Play: Your DM will be volunteering their time and the content to play. We are suggesting an optional $5 donation to the table’s “fishbowl” to sit down and play. (We won’t turn away anyone who cannot afford to donate for their seat.)
  2. Inspiration Donations: The “fishbowl” will remain with the DM, who will allow players to donate a minimum of a dollar any time they wish to inspire their character, or that of another player. (Limits on these are up to the DM at the table.)

We may have other offerings at the table, but if there are any, they will be included in the morning announcements.

Note: We are beginning seating at 10am that morning, so show up early. Feel free to group up into parties of 7 players before we even open the doors. Seriously, it will help me out.

The Marathon Game

The specifics at the core are we will be playing Tomb of Annihilation from the beginning, attempting to complete it within 24 hours. Characters will be starting at level 1. Death Curse is still in effect, and we will have surrogates available in the event of character death. We will seat people at 10am and we will play until somewhere between 10am and 11am Sunday morning when the playground opens up again for the Sunday games.

Please note we are intending to stream the event, so you may be on video while we play. Additionally, we are reserving one seat for Pegasus Games – meaning one of the two DMs are going to have the chance to torture a PegaMinion in game for 24 hours. (PegaMinion to be announced when confirmed, and yes… I said two DMs, so two tables are being run.)

Procedures for signing up for the marathon event are as follows:

  • I will have a meetup set up for the Marathon Tables specifically. This will be in addition to our normal November 11th meetup. It will be set to accept 14 people to it. This will allow for 13 players to sign up, with my RSVP as the organizer to account for the PegaMinion Seat. Waitlist will be allowed for alternate players (in the event of a no-show, emergency, etc.).
  • After the waitlist has hit somewhere between 4-7 players, I will close the RSVP and then send out a link to the DM donation pages through email from meetup (which will go to all who RSVP’d including the waitlist).
  • There will be a deadline for each player signed up to go to the page and donate $10 to Extra Life under the DM’s name. This will secure your spot. At the end of the deadline, I will check donations, and finalize the list of players.
  • Once set, all players (and alternates, if they so choose), will be sent a template of a donation list similar to the ones seen in use by the WotC players in Extra Life. This will include things like donation levels to give a potion, a re-roll, etc. Securing donations for PC benefits is optional, so if you don’t wish to do so, it is not required.
  • Show up on the 11th and play…

We will have a number of special offerings for the marathon table. My intention is to make them available as the event progresses, rewarding those that can last the longest. There may even be a special reward for those able to complete the 24 hours of gaming.

The RSVP will open at noon, Sunday October 15th. (It will likely be up there, but will open for RSVPs slightly sooner.

DMs for the Event

Zombie Joe: The last time I organized this (though my home group), we made it to around 22 hours before I had a player fall asleep and could not be woken up. Not only did I still have the juice to keep going, but I didn’t go to sleep for about 4 or so hours after that. So I know I will make it to the end. Can you join me?

Nick “Moonbeam” Alfano: My son, and a player in my original running of this. While he was definitely tired by the end of the event, he wasn’t running it. We are both of the opinion it is more tiring to play for long periods than run for it. Also, he is a devout night owl – one of the things he inherited from me. So we know he will make it through the night. Especially if mocha is provided.