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Posts from August 2008

GenCon is difficult to recount in full.

In some respects, this year's was disappointing. In others, not at all. Now, the positive outweighs the negative. Certainly my primary complaint about GenCon (and this is universal) is that I cannot do all that I want to do. Every year I try to mix it up: game a little, meet with people I don't get to see any other time of the year, network, see the showroom floor in its entirety, and attend cool seminars. If you do this, you don't see half of what you really intended to.

As a rule, I try not to put up any pictures on this website of people without their permission. I'm big on that. So if you see someone's face on here, it's because I either asked them first (like my wife) or I just know that they're okay with it (like my brother). That said, here's a few images from this year's GenCon.

Rather than try to chronicle the whole event, here's just a few highlights:

  • Goodman Games wins a Silver ENnie for Best Cartography for the product Castle Whiterock. Woo-hoo! Go Jeremy and Joseph!

  • Twice I got to sit with Keith Baker (and some other authors, only half of whom I knew) for a book signing. Which really just means I got to sit and talk with him a bit. Regardless of the slowness of that event, I had fun. It was just cool to be there.

  • Marisa, as always, likes to help promote. She'd be an awesome agent. If she had her way, she'd have tried to dress up as Charoth himself (mask, robe, and all) and hand out copies of my book to people, to get them interested.

  • We (my brother and Marisa) were invited to join in an Eberron game along with Ari Marmell, his wife, and Keith Baker. CA Suleiman was our DM. It's a little daunting roleplaying in Stormreach with two of the guys who wrote the book on the subject. Marisa actually made coconut brownies and brought Mountain Dew to round out the archtypical gaming session. We had fun hunting down the right miniatures to use for the game. We actually managed to locate a female dwarf mini (rare).

The intrepid heroes enter a cave where some sort of undead ogre hacks limbs from corpses. Yeah, some of those corpses rose up to fight.

Soon after, we encounter a massive shadow dragon, parley with her for a bit, then battle her drow "servants" to provide her with entertainment (and so she wouldn't kill us).

It rained only on one day, and was all-around lovely outside for August. It was still too hot for me. Indianapolis at night is actually quite picturesque.

Marisa in the Garden of GenConsemane.

There are always Storm Troopers about. But John managed to encounter these two.

I got to briefly meet a few people, including Paul Kemp (second time), Erik Scott de Bie, Jaleigh Johnson, and my usual friends Ed Gentry, Harley Stroh, Ken Hart, and Adrian Pommier. And of course, it was good seeing Keith Baker, CA Suleiman, and Ari Marmell again. But all of this is never enough. And I certainly would have liked Mike Furgeson and Marcy Rockwell to have attended. Next year, guys? I know it's hard. For me, too.

posted on 08.20.2008

Five days off from work is the longest vacation block I've taken in a long time. Generally any day missed requires a ton of catch up work. Vacation means plenty of preparation work. But it's worth it. Starting tonight, I won't be checking my blackberry emails until....next Tuesday, perhaps.

First is the drive from New York to Indiana, a 12-hour roadtrip made fun by my wife and my brother. Oh, and plenty of gaming talk. See, I have to teach them the basics of 4th Edition D&D en route because all three of us are going to be players in an Eberron game. I'll be playing an elf ranger, my wife a dwarf paladin, and my brother a human cleric. Yeah, let the geekery begin!

Then 3.x days of GenCon madness. I stumbled on the Author's Avenue schedule for the first time yesterday. I know I'm the no-name of the bunch, but it sure does feel good to be put onto a spreadsheet with the likes of R.A. Salvatore. At age 16, I went to a book signing he did at a Walden Books for The Legacy, the first hardcover Drizzt book. This GenCon is Drizzt's 20 year anniversary.

If I never write another book (oh, I sure will try), at least I've done this much. One big dream checked off my remarkably short list, and I guess I'm thinking of GenCon as my celebration of that fact. It's been a pretty crappy summer for me so far, but I know I'm still quite fortunate. I don't forget that for a second.

Then the trip home, which involves driving through Amish country in Ohio and Pennsylvania and maybe a tourist attraction or two.

I brake for kobolds.

posted on 08.12.2008

When I started writing The Darkwood Mask, I started to wonder if I would be as free to give my impressions of other Eberron novels. Should one author criticize or comment on another author's? It seemed like bad form to say anything at all, or even just an unwise career move. And so I learned that if I have nothing good to say, then I'll just keep my mouth shut. But if I have something good to say...damn it, I'm going to say it.

Now, it's a bit of a heartache seeing new Eberron novels coming out and knowing that I won't likely be contributing any more myself in the foreseeable future. But....when a good book warrants it, I have to plug it. And so the latest Eberron novel (after a spell of no releases) is Don Bassingthwaite's The Doom of Kings, part 1 in the new trilogy Legacy of Dhakaan.

Don's first Eberron novels, the Dragon Below trilogy, really helped to kick off the Eberron line and more than many of them really helped to invigorate the setting. This trilogy continues with some of the same characters—and I personally recommend reading that trilogy first. That said, The Doom of Kings offers some very good reading and some very cool elements: Hobgoblins as a civilized race, struggling to maintain their own nation. What's not to like? More adventures of the the shifter Geth, the barbarian-turned-Deneith-heir Ashi, and the hobgoblin "dirge singer" (i.e. bard) Ekhaas. All very compelling characters.

Tired of reading about goblins as mere fodder for powerful heroes? There's a scene I really enjoyed (and I'm only up to chapter 7) where an impoverished street goblin and his two sons offer Ekhaas, the female hobgoblin bard, a gift of a meal after overhearing her recount the legends of her people, of glories of the long-faded Goblin empire (Dhakaan). She tries to decline the offer, saying she needs no payment for telling a story. But they insist she accept it, even though it is their only food, because her stories filled them.

This book shows off what I've like about Eberron the most: It's a D&D world all grown up. You've still got your dungeons and your monsters, but some of the monsters are people, too. I love that. And I tried to do some of that in The Darkwood Mask, too, with the kobold Verdax and even the bugbear, Rhazaan.

Some items of note:

posted on 08.07.2008

If you're willing, head on over to the ENnie Awards voting booths and vote for Castle Whiterock, which has been nominated for Best Adventure and Best Cartography! The ENnies are a pretty big deal in the RPG industry. I worked on Castle Whiterock, but not for the particular aspects that have gotten it nominated.

However, authors Adrian Pommier and Chris Doyle and cartographer Jeremy Simmons might certainly deserve the kudos for this one!

And hey, you can also vote Goodman Games as Fan Choice Best Publisher. If you're so inclined...

posted on 08.03.2008