Reflections of a Mute Dungeon Master

In considering telling this story, I was looking into whether to put it on this blog or over on my gaming blog (which I use mostly for campaign notes in our home game). Understanding that many people that would read it on this one will have no connection to me in the gaming world, and likely have no idea about the community and pastime of Dungeons and Dragons. But when have I ever shied away from scaring the normals?

GHC-mapSo this weekend was Gamehole Con. A “new” gaming convention in Wisconsin. (It is in it’s third year of operation.) And for my money, one of the best run events I have been at. Any problems we experienced had nothing to do with the convention. Like when a DM had a car breakdown on his multiple-state drive to get there. Nothing the convention could do about that. So we dealt with it.

If the worst problem you are facing is that your events were sold out (as Adventurers League was all day Saturday and Sunday), then count it a good day.

In an effort for full disclosure, that really wasn’t the worst problem we had. Technically one of the DMs lost his voice as he was still recovering from being sick. I jumped in and ran his next slot for him so that he could drink some tea and rest his voice. So by the end of the night I was losing my voice. It was a vicious circle that hit a good number of us. Even one of the players at my table had lost his voice. Not “con crud™” but definitely not the optimal situation.

final-countdownOf course there were the instances of awesome. Like watching DMs jump in to help cover slots where they could. Not everyone can just wing it. But those that could were backed up by those willing to jump into slots that they could run. The “winging it” didn’t end there either. I watched one DM run a mod as a single player adventure to make sure the one person who showed up with a ticket to his game Friday night had fun. I even ran two players (both playing non-combative characters) through a challenging module to make sure they got their event in and had a good time.

Sunday, as we were all reeling from the lack of sleep, nursing raspy voices, I found evidence of the reason I not only volunteer at events, but often run more than I play (I played one 2 hour slot this past weekend). One of my players from a previous day bought me coffee for all the hours and work I put in to make their games go off. Another bought tea for me (and her husband as he was the previously mentioned player who lost his voice) so that we could make it through the last game of the weekend. And yet another came back for Sunday with the infamous “crit or shit” die from the Studio 6d6 booth even though he saw the horrible luck I was having with mine.

I also watched as a player took his Players Handbook around asking for the DMs that ran a particularly good game for him to sign his book. It was somewhere between the last day of high school and being a celebrity. It was also the first book I’ve signed where my son has signed it as well. In fact I think he was the player when I gave my name and DCI number at the beginning of the session for their logs said, “Oh, are you related to Nick?” (A running gag in my family, and the topic of another blog.

owlbear-gaggleI also picked up a first for the convention in their first plushie. Other than food, it and their first adventure (signed and numbered by Ed Greenwood) were the only purchases I was able to make. In hindsight, I probably would have tried to fit in a demo and probable purchase of Three Pillars the ghost investigating card game from Scare TV. I am a fan of some of the ghost investigation shows, so it would have been a natural fit. Not to mention there was a promo card in our con bag offering Gamehole Con as a location. And after 30 hours of DMing (not to mention several of printing and prepping adventures on the fly), I felt like I was haunting the venue.

There were some interesting highlights from my games as well.

  • A group of 4 players. Two guys and a husband and wife. The wife was playing a male drow and her husband a female drow. The characters were brother and sister as opposed to spouses. The other two guys were drow as well, one female and one male. (I accused them of trying to break my brain at 8 in the morning.)
  • That night, for the final slot, they were back at my table only now the remaining male drow was female. I had my first character in a game that was a transgendered drow rogue.
  • The Carnival. My mod I ran on the fly (read through it in about 15 minutes), was a carnival gone wrong. The table had 3 brand new players, including one kid who was probably around 10 years old – plus or minus. So I couldn’t go full American Horror Story. But it was pretty close. I even had one character trying to protect the villain as she had gained an infatuation with the ringmaster through a developed insanity effect. (Gotta love season 3 mods!)
  • One of the Critter Community players jumped in on the one mod we were running with banshee in it. He was the player at the table to take the “token” which made him the primary target in the final fight. Dropped him and the cleric to 0 hit points with the banshee scream. Had I not been so tired, I might have consoled him with, “At least the door wasn’t locked.” (Inside joke for fans of Critical Role.)
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Extra Life Marathon for Charity

D&D for Charity

This is the only marathon I really am able to do now, isn’t it? Also, this is a way to show the strength of the gaming community. Let’s face it, everyone can use good press once in a while. Not to mention cancer, children and pet related charities are my go-to’s. In the recent future I have gone from losing friends and family to cancer, to losing my dog to it. So this one is important to me.

Pegasus Games will be hosting our games this year. When available, we will be giving out certs for items given out in game. And the DMs will be running events as they have 4-7 players ready to sit down and roll. And if players are interested, we may do some of the long play or casual events through Adventurers League.

Each DM will be running events they are able to (have prepared for), mine will be going along the following list:
DDEX 2-4 Mayhem in the Earthspur Mines (L5-10)
DDEX 2-3 The Drowned Tower (L5-10)
DDEX 2-5 Flames of Kythorn (L1-4)

DDEX 2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster (L1-4)

I could likely do others, and may based on interest. Additionally, if at least 5 people donate to get a seat running Out of the Abyss from the book for the entire day (minus meal breaks), I will do that. It is very sandbox in its design and is AL legal.

Donation Levels

  • a seat at a 4 hour block table: $5
  • a full day seat for Out of the Abyss $15 (we may run a little later than 8pm)
  • reroll an attack roll, skill check or saving throw (must take the new number) $1
  • standard healing (2d4+2): $1
  • make a weapon deal magical damage for the course of a fight: $2

Where to Donate

Donations can be entered on my Extra Life account. You can specify what they are for in your comments, or simply donate a set amount and use that as your “reserve pool” for the weekend. We will take donations on site as well.
You can also donate in support of the DMs that will be running events this weekend for the charity. If you are interested in running something, please let me know.

The Sundering – Coming to Rule 42

companionsWhile I am a gamer for over thirty three years (full on D&D geek), I have a bit of a confession. I don’t really read fantasy books any more. At least not epic fantasy or the sword and sorcery style novels. Part of it has to do with the Game of Thrones style of describing the dish each person at a feast is eating. The rest has to do with the feel for urban fantasy and paranormal stories have for me. Which is not to say that I won’t read fantasy. Clearly, as the first entry into Rule 42 over on Wicked Lil Pixie was a fantasy novel by Kelly McCullough.

At the same time, I still host a weekly game night. Every Sunday Dungeons and Dragons is going on at Casa de Zombie. Most of the time, I am the one running the game. This goes a long way to backing up the joke, “I don’t play D&D – haven’t in years!” So I play the game, and am involved in the genre in other ways.

As with the second entry into Rule 42, this is also one meant to be bent. I do read the occasional book my son suggests in the genre. Like Jim Butchers Codex Alera series. One of these handful of authors I read is Erin M Evans.  I was left without a book during a trip and I picked up one of her first titles. It struck me, and I looked up the others. Eventually that led to meeting her at GenCon to get a book signed. Probably the only person there to get her scribble and then said, “huh, I suppose I should get one signed by Ed Greenwood too.”

I say this as she is one of the authors involved in the launch of The Sundering. Yes, another upheaval in the Forgotten Realms. I know. This series also features the first author I saw at a book signing, and I was working at that one. (That would be Bob Salvatore for the non-D&D people.) I also kept some of Paul Kemp’s paperbacks from back in my days of reading only fantasy fiction. Not to mention that my group has also agreed that they want to play in the setting version of the Sundering, beginning with Murder in Baldur’s Gate.

I a stunning display of cluelessness, I had forgotten about the e-galley service I get my review copies from. A tweet about a book featuring ninjas fighting zombies (right?), I picked up the first two of the novels coming up for review. And while these authors aren’t local, D&D still feels local to me. It was originally located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. And in Seattle, there’s even a friend from one of my local campaigns that works for Wizards of the Coast. In short, I am including them in the Rule 42 heading.

Check out the tab above to see the first three of the entries. But keep an eye out for more along those lines. Both from the game and the novels.