Demo Monkey Rides Again!

I may have mentioned this, but I am once again the Edmonton Demo Monkey for Cheapass Games. I’ve been a huge fan of their games since the company got going a few decades ago, so much so that I was one of their original Demo Monkeys in that program’s first incarnation. The company restructured and their demo program went bye-bye for a while, but it is back and so am I! If you aren’t familiar with the history of Cheapass Games, I highly recommend heading to their site and looking over their history and wares.

In a nutshell, Cheapass Games started as a company which sold you really cool games, minus all the fiddly bits like pawns and dice. The assumption was, as a gamer, you would have pawns, dice, tokens, money, and so on that you could grab from other games you had. So why sell those to you again? Instead, Cheapass Games sold you a clever game and maybe a cardstock board to go with it. You provided the rest and hey presto! You’re playing a sweet little game for a fraction of the cost of other board games.

Flash forward to the last few years, and they’ve re-worked a few things. They still have great games, but they’ve fleshed out and added pieces to a number of their original cheapass offerings (those they haven’t are available for the low, low price of free on their website). Kickstarter has been a boon for their business model, meaning they can often realize clever niche games and deliver them affordably. For example, it is unlikely that Tak, a fictional game from Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle would have seen the light of day if not for the combination of Cheapass Games and Kickstarter.

All of this is to say two things:

  1. I’m running a demo of Kill Doctor Lucky at Apt to Game (5722 104 Street) tonight at 6pm, and I have few little things to give away to all participants, so you should stop by if you want to learn how to play it, or see the 19.5 Anniversary Edition of the game. There is also Oracle of Delphi to learn and play, so plenty to keep your little gaming fingers busy.
  2. I’ll be reaching out when my schedule permits, but if you know or run a game store or cafe and you’d like me to come show off some Cheapass Games for an evening, please contact me. I’m also available to teach the games to groups, so if you’ve got some event going on, or just a bunch of friends who want to learn some new games, drop me a line and we’ll see what we ca work out. I don’t charge for demoing, though I won’t say no if you buy me a cold cola for my time.
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Extra Life 2017

It’s that time of year again, when good gamer boys and girls stay up playing games for 24 hours in support of Extra Life! While the “good” part might be questionable, I am definitely a gamer and I’ll be doing my part on November 4 to raise funds for my local children’s hospital, the Stollery. I’ve provided a handy link in the sidebar to my fundraising page, so if you are so inclined please head over there and donate. Any amount is appreciated and all of it goes to a great cause. If you can’t donate, you can still help out by spreading the word and raising awareness. Share my page link with your circle of generous gamers and encourage them to do the same. The more people who know equals the more people who can donate.

Monday I plan to be back in the saddle for regular updates, and I have a few posts I’ve been working on and tweaking, getting them just right for your eye holes. And honestly, probably a few posts I’m just going to wing, that’ll hit your eye holes like a squirt gun filled with Mountain Dew. Stingingly refreshing!

GLYPHcon, or “Zut Alors, I Meesed One!”

I recently posted about fall cons coming up in Edmonton, and because I didn’t have all the information on it at the time I left one off. So get comfortable, kiddies, and let me talk to you about GLYPHcon (October 6-8)!

Now in its third year, GLYPHcon (or Games and Lore of Yearly Pathfinder Heroics con if you’re being formal) is a weekend long convention dedicated to all things Paizo Organized Play: Pathfinder, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and for the first time, Starfinder. It’s hosted by The Adventurer’s Guild (15211 Stony Plain Road), a great little gaming store in the west end, and is free admission. Whether you’ve been involved with Pathfinder Society Organized Play for a while, or have been interested but haven’t checked it out yet, this is your weekend. There will be multiple tables of Pathfinder, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and Starfinder running all weekend long, and you can see the schedule and sign-up for games on the Warhorn site.

As well, the con this year features not one, but two Pathfinder Society Specials: #8-99: The Solstice Scar and #9-00: Assault on Absalom. Specials are a chance to join several tables of Pathfinders in overcoming a particularly difficult threat or challenge, and what happens at your table can affect the other tables (and they you). You won’t have a chance to play these anywhere else unless you travel to a convention, so these are not to be missed.

I’ll be GMing the high tier table for Assault on Absalom, and I can guarantee it will be a rough ride; the high tier (10-11 level) tables are always a challenge. We’ll have to see which stalwart Pathfinders are up to the task, and which will fall in glory! I’ll also be playing some Starfinder, because that is the new hotness and I’ve developed a little crush on that game.

Make sure to check out the PFS Edmonton Facebook page to stay up to date on the event, as well as goings on in the local Pathfinder Society scene. Hopefully we’ll see you at GLYPHcon!

Creating a Library, No Big Deal

On Facebook yesterday I mentioned that I’m going ahead with an idea I’ve had milling about for a while now. I’m creating a roleplaying game library, mandated to collect, preserve, and share tabletop roleplaying games, as well as documents associated with the hobby. I’m not the first person to have this idea. Alexandria RPG and the Play Generated Map and Document Archive are both examples of what I’m trying to achieve, and they aren’t the only two. Which may beg the question, why? If things like this already exist, why start another one? Well I happen to have a few answers to that.

First, I don’t happen to think redundancy is bad when you’re endeavoring to preserve the history of something. Roleplaying games as an industry-supported hobby have been around for over forty years, and I plan to keep enjoying them for at least the next thirty. There is a wealth of knowledge, lore, and folklore tied up in all the time that all the people involved in the hobby and the industry have expended. It would be a little foolish to think one person, or even dozens of persons, could collect and preserve it all. Just by living in a different geographical location from other librarians and conservationists, I have a chance to collect and preserve a different set of materials, obviously with some overlap.

Which brings me to my second answer. I spent a good long while looking, and I don’t think there is anyone else living in Canada doing what I plan to do. If there is, I’d sure love to talk to them, but if so they are keeping a very low profile. And I think having a Canadian library for my hobby could be a good thing. Yes, mostly because I live here and this is where all my stuff is. But it’s unlikely that US-based groups doing this sort of work will make the trip up to many Canadian events, unless they’re just over the border. It’s just not cost-effective. And maybe this is a bit paranoid, but given the political and social climate in the US right now, I don’t think it could hurt to have a collection of this information outside the US.

But lastly, it’s something I’ve been doing for a while anyway, without what I’m now realizing is the very important public engagement portion. I’ve collected roleplaying material for a while, and I have a bunch tucked away on shelves in my game room, with a bit more tucked in boxes awaiting the light of day. And that’s all well and good, but at the end of the day these are games. They are meant to be out where people can read them and play them. I want people, at whatever point they entered the hobby, to have a chance to experience a bit of what the hobby was like before they joined. Or have a chance to see the hobby from someone else’s point of view.

So a few things are going to happen over the next while.

  • I’m setting up a not-for-profit Society, called the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games; as small as this is now it’s going to grow, and I need a framework for that growth. A NFP Society is also the first step to attaining eventual charitable status, which I think will help us in getting larger donations of gaming material down the line. As it stands, a Society can’t issue tax-receipts, so all I can offer folks for donating material to me now is my winning smile.
  • But having a Society means I can officially donate my personal library of material to that Society, which will form the seed of the collection.
  • I’ve started on a website, and I have Twitter and a Facebook page in place ready for the official launch. The website is going to be a key player in all this, since that is where the collection’s database will live. I know some thing about creating a database and I’ll need to learn a whole bunch more, as well as finding like-minded volunteers to help out.
  • And then I want to get the collection out in front of the public, so I need to decide what that will look like and figure out the logistics. Currently I’m one guy with shelves of gaming stuff and no car, so how I get to events and which events I attend are non-trivial issues.

But for me, all of that is the first part of the fun part. I’m excited to get this project started and you’ll definitely be hearing more about it as I move forward. And if by any chance you’re interested in helping out, whether with time or a donation of material, feel free to email me at canlibrpg@gmail.com. Don’t be put off if I don’t know how to use you quite yet, it’s early days and I’m still figuring things out myself.

RPGaDAY Thirty-One

What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

On a personal note, I’m excited by the prospect of more and regular gaming. The groups I play with and DM for have become much better at scheduling, which means a regular gaming schedule overall, which means more games getting played every week. Currently I DM for two groups and play in two others, which averages out to three games every two weeks. I have two other groups for Pathfinder which I need to get back on track, though I might be switching at least one of those groups to another game system. That would get me up to two games a week with a nice balance between running and playing. That would leave me room to run the occasional one-shot game for systems I like and want to try out.

As for RPGs as a whole, I’m looking forward to seeing how the industry will continue to change in 2018. Live-streaming games continues to be popular, led by Critical Role and Maze Arcana, and that has had a huge impact on the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons, and other games to a lesser extent. I’m curious to see if that popularity continues through another year, and what effect that will have on the industry. Paizo just released Starfinder, and the response has been strong so that seems poised to impact the industry. But sci-fi games have always been a harder sell than fantasy RPGs, so how big that impact will be depends on how well Paizo develops it going forward. And digital tools and supports continue to develop for tabletop gaming, so I look forward to watching how that affects my hobby in 2018.

In the meantime, I have the rest of 2017 to get through. This is the final post for RPG a Day 2017, so we return you to our regularly scheduled 2+ posts a week. So stay tuned!

RPGaDAY Thirty

What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Let me start by saying what genres I’m tired of seeing mashed in RPGs: anything to do with zombies or cthulhu. Zombies are well over in my opinion. They’ve been done well once or twice, but now it’s time to move along. And I love cthulhu (Ia! Ia! Ftagn!) but if we need horror and dread there is plenty in our own world to use without dragging poor Cthulhu out of R’lyeh all the time. If you want cthulhian dread, play Call of Cthulhu or Trail of Cthulhu.

It’s not really a genre as far as I’m aware, but I would love to see more social consciousness and awareness seep into gaming. Science fiction and fantasy, as genres, have always been at the forefront of challenging social norms and pushing boundaries in what we believe is possible. I’d love to see games which, instead of focusing the players on imaginary issues, directed them toward solving real issues we face now. Maybe that’s why I’m burnt out on Cthulhu in games; it’s something unknowable which man cannot possibly stand against in any meaningful way. But there are tonnes of things against which we can make a stand, and making games to demonstrate that may be one of the best ways to show folks that they can do something in their real lives.

Don’t worry, I don’t think that means that we leave off killing goblins, or zapping…space goblins (maybe I need to examine my anti-goblin attitudes). And I’m not advocating some sort of “educational game” like Social Consciousness RPG. But why not some games which deal with issues of race? Or poverty? And hey, maybe they’re out there and I just haven’t seen them yet. That would be amazing to look forward to, so please share any that you know.

RPGaDAY Twenty-Nine

What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

One I’m currently in the throes of, the Reaper Bones 4 Kickstarter. Every time Reaper runs a Kickstarter for their new Bones line of miniatures, it is is like getting a birthday present that keeps getting cool stuff added to it. Okay, and you have to pay for, but still. Every campaign starts with a $30,000 goal which gets blown by in minutes; with a little less than a week to go, they are sitting at $1,820,275.

Their method is simple. To get the core set of miniatures, the buy-in is $100. That sounds like a lot, but wait, there’s more! The base set usually starts with about 25-30 miniatures, ranging in size from the standard character size minis to large minis like giants and such, to huge minis like a 13″ tall dragon. As the campaign goes along, Reaper alternates between adding minis to the base set and releasing add-ons which can be added to your order for the listed price. Currently, at $100 the base set gets you 125 miniatures, plus a package each of 1″ and 2″ round bases. And there is every chance another dozen or so miniatures will be added to the base set before the September 2 deadline, so even with shipping that works out to less than a dollar per miniature. On miniatures which would retail between $3 and $15 in stores. How can I not back this Kickstarter?

Definitely check it out, it’s a very impressive campaign and it draws me in every time they run it.