Gen Con is almost here! I know, it’s usually in the middle of August, but it got bumped up to late July this year, which means that freight train of fun barreling toward us is now CLOSER THAN IT SEEMS.
Gen Con is always my favorite event of the year, and if you have the means, come on out and join me there! I’ll be around for all five days of the Best Four Days in Gaming, and here’s where you can (officially, at least) find me:
Wednesday, July 29:
- The Diana Jones Award Party, which I host. We’re going on fifteen years now, which seems impossible for an award that rose from a trivia trophy composed of the burnt remains of the last copy of the Indiana Jones Roleplaying Game found at TSR UK. It’s an industry-only event, but if you qualify and want details, ping me at [email protected]
Thursday, July 30
- 1 PM: Writer’s Craft: Editing Your Work, with Susan J. Morris, Erin M. Evans, Howard Andrew Jones, and James L. Sutter.
- 3 PM: Kickstarting for Fun and Profit, with James Ernest, JT Smith, Luke Peterschmidt, Richard Thomas, and Rachel Ventura.
Friday, July 31
- 11 AM: Signing in Author’s Alley in the exhibit hall. This is my sole time for signing rather than chatting, so if you have something for me to autograph, be sure to bring it by.
- 12 PM: Building Games in the Garage, with Keith Baker, James Ernest, Paul Peterson, and JT Smith.
Saturday, August 1
- 1 PM: Writer’s Craft: Sustaining the Tension in Novels, with Susan J. Morris, Lauren M. Roy, John Hornor Jacobs, and Chuck Wendig.
- 4 PM: Character Craft: Worthy Opponents, with Elizabeth Vaughan, Christopher Rowe, Terry Brooks, and Geoffrey Girard.
That may not seem like a lot — I ran a publisher’s booth at the show for many years, and in the times before that I’d run about 40 hours of events — but I have a slate of games I’ll be playing with my kids, plus business meetings too. It already feels packed to the rafters.
Still, if you spot me wandering about, be sure to say hi. I hope to see you there!
I’m already here at Comic-Con 2015 with my son/personal assistant Marty in tow. We had a great time last night at Preview Night, and we’re girding ourselves for the full-on Conpocalypse, which includes a brand-new event called Geek Chic XP (more on that below).
First up, I’m signing free Avengers Encyclopedia posters at the Penguin/Mysterious Galaxy booth (#1515) at 11 AM. Then I’ll be at the DK booth (#1028) from 4-6, signing more posters and maybe some copies of Marvel’s Avengers: The Battle Against Ultron too. I’m told we’ll have about 50 posters at each signing, so grab them before they’re gone!
What’s The Avengers Encyclopedia, you ask? It’s a brand-new book I co-wrote along with Daniel Wallace and Matthew Manning, both of whom have tons of pop-culture credits. Matthew wrote most of Batman: A Visual History, to which I contributed, and Daniel was one of the lead writers on the original Marvel Encyclopedia too. It’s a stunning book.
My schedule for the rest of the show includes signings at the DK Pop Culture booth (#1028) at the following times:
- Friday: 10 AM– 12 PM
- Saturday: 1 PM– 3 PM
- Sunday: 10 AM– 11 AM
I’m also slated to be on the IATMW panel and Scribe Awards presentation at 6 PM on Friday in Room 23ABC.
On Saturday evening, from 5–7 PM, I’ll be hosting a slot at the spanking-new Geek Chic XP headquarters at the Horton Grand Hotel. Stop by and say hi, sit and have a meal or drink, and rest your con-weary feet as we play some games and jaw for a bit about all the fun. Bestselling author and fellow Cheesehead Pat Rothfuss is slated to host the slot after mine, so hang out long enough, and you’ll get to chat with him too.
If you’re in town for the show, I hope to see you there!
I’m heading off to Comic-Con next week, and that immediately brought to mind one of my favorite places in San Diego: the Horton Grand Hotel. I stayed there a number of times over the years, and I always loved it. It’s a wonderful old place with some fantastic history behind it, as well as a gorgeous, old-school bar perfect for getting away from the crowds.
I actually included the Horton in my Leverage novel, The Con Job, which is set at Comic-Con. Just for fun, here’s a sample chapter from the book, in which the Leverage crew cons their way into the hotel, despite the fact it’s sold out for Comic-Con.
Just a word of advice: Don’t try this yourself. In real life, the Horton Grand folks are much too sharp.
Much to my delight, DK Publishing is bringing me out to San Diego for Comic-Con this year. I went to the show several times over the years, but I haven’t been back since 2010 or so. I’m looking forward to catching up with lots of old friends and making new ones too.
My schedule currently includes signings at the following times:
- Thursday: 11am – 12pm (Mysterious Galaxy Booth #1515) and 4pm – 6pm (DK Pop Culture Booth #1028)
- Friday: 10am – 12pm (DK Pop Culture Booth #1028)
- Saturday: 1pm – 3pm (DK Pop Culture Booth #1028)
- Sunday: 10am – 11am (DK Pop Culture Booth #1028)
I’m also slated to be on the IATMW panel and Scribe Awards presentation at 6 PM on Friday in Room 23ABC.
I’m told there will be freebies on hand for me to sign at the DK booth, so get them while they last. While I’m there specifically to sign The Marvel Encyclopedia and Avengers: Battle Against Ultron, I’m happy to sign anything else I’ve worked on too, so don’t be shy. I hope to see you there!
My quadruplets—Pat, Nick, Ken, and Helen—turned 13 last Friday, catapulting us from having one teenager in the house (their older brother, Marty) to five. We’re having a big party for them here in Beloit this weekend, but instead of asking for presents, they decided to ask for donations to Project 16:49, a local nonprofit that serves Rock County’s homeless teens. My wife Ann—who was the homeless student liaison in Janesville for years—helped found the organization, and it remains dear to us. Unaccompanied homeless kids often have few good options, and Project 16:49 helps fill that crucial gap.
To that end, I set up a page for the quads on Crowdrise.org. Thanks to some truly generous family and friends, they already shattered their initial goal of $500 in donations, and they’re hoping to be able to help out even more. If you’re so inclined to help, stop by the page and chip in whatever you can. The homeless teenagers around here would truly appreciate it—as would my kids.
Meanwhile, for your daily dose of cute, check out this video of the quads getting ready for their first day of four-year-old kindergarten. And thanks to you for all you can do!
Earlier this week, StoryBundle launched the Epic Fantasy StoryBundle (2015), the sequel to their bestselling bundle ever. This works like lots of other bundles, you might have seen:
- Pay what you want (from $5 on up), and you get a number of ebooks.
- The money gets split between StoryBundle and the writers.
- You have the option of giving 10% of your money to one of three charities: Mighty Writers, Girls Write Now, and the Challenger Center.
For chipping in the minimum $5, you get the following six great reads:
- The Magic Touch by Jody Lynn Nye
- Gamearth by Kevin J. Anderson
- The Crown and the Dragon by John Payne
- One Horn to Rule Them All edited by Lisa Mangum
- Invisible Moon by James A. Owen
- Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo
If you pay $15 or more, you also get a bonus set of seven more stories. This includes my own Hard Times in Dragon City, as well as:
- A Stranger to Command by Sherwood Smith
- The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi
- The Executioness by Tobias Buckell
- The Ghosts of the Conquered by Matthew Caine
- Glamour of the God-Touched by Ron Collins
Also, if you subscribe to the free StoryBundle newsletter, you get a “The Bookseller’s Tale,” a standalone story that serves as a sneak preview for Clockwork Lives by Kevin J. Anderson (who put this bundle together) and Neil Peart (the drummer for Rush)!
That means you can get a total of 11 novels, two novellas (The Alchemist and The Executioness), and a short story too, all for less than you’d pay for a single hardcover. And you can help support some great causes.
This bundle is available only for 19 more days, and then it’s gone, so get on over there and grab yours fast.
My pals over at Calliope Games (including, especially, my old friend Ray Wehrs) have been running a Kickstarter for nearly two months now, called the Titans Series, and it’s about to come to a thundering close. The project is fully funded (which means IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING!), and it shattered its first stretch goal.
It’s an ambitious project for which they’ve lined up a baker’s dozen of the top tabletop games designers in the world, including:
- Peggy Brown: Buzzword, Backseat Drawing, Qbitz, and many more!
- Rob Daviau: Betrayal at House on the Hill, Heroscape, Risk Legacy, Axis and Allies: Pacific, and many more!
- Mike Elliott: Dice Masters, Quarriors!, Thunderstone, Battle Spirits, Duel Masters, and many more!
- James Ernest: Kill Doctor Lucky, Lords of Vegas, Lord of the Fries, Pairs, Unexploded Cow, and many more!
- Matt Forbeck: Marvel Heroes Battle Dice, Brave New World, Descent: Journeys in the Dark Quest Compendium, Space Hulk: Genestealer, Monster Rancher, and many more!
- Richard Garfield: Magic:The Gathering, King of Tokyo, Netrunner, RoboRally, The Great Dalmuti, and many more!
- Seth Johnson: HeroClix, Golem Arcana, Double Double Dominoes, and many more!
- Eric Lang: XCOM: The Board Game, Quarriors!, Marvel Dice Masters, Kaosball, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, and many more!
- Mike Mulvihill: BattleTech, Shadowrun, Pirates of the Spanish Main, Golem Arcana, Mage Knight Dungeons, and many more!
- Paul Peterson: Guillotine, Smash Up, Pairs, and many more!
- Mike Selinker: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Axis & Allies, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Lords of Vegas, Maze of Games, and many more!
- Jordan Weisman: BattleTech, MechWarrior, HeroClix, Shadowrun, Golem Arcana, Mage Knight, Tsuro of the Seas, and many more!
- Zach Weisman: Golem Arcana, Got ‘Em!, and more!
I’m honored to have my name on that list, alongside many legends of tabletop game design I’m proud to call friends. If and when the Kickstarter cracks $175,000, I’ve agreed to chip in a brand-new design of my own for the project. I talk about it a bit here:
We recorded that during Gen Con last year, so if you want to know what I sound like a few days into a massive convention, here’s your chance!
The way the drive works is that you can pick any game you like by backing it at $25, and you can choose up to four more games for $25 each. Once you go over five games, though, you can get nine games for $145, which is a much better deal, and you can add extra games for $16 each.
They have ten games to choose from at the moment, and mine would be the eleventh. If the drive hits $200,000, Peggy Brown joins us for the twelfth game, and you could then get the whole set for $193. That’s nearly half off the entire series.
These are all going to be gateway games, the kinds of games hardcore gamers can sit down and enjoy with people who’ve only played Poker or Monopoly to that point. That makes them perfect for players of all kinds and wonderful for families too.
My kids are going to be helping me out with this one, and they could not be more thrilled about it. (That’s a picture of us playing Tsuro of the Seas at the Calliope Games booth at Gen Con last year.) If it sounds like it’s for you too, join the over 1,100 people who’ve already backed the Kickstarter, and brace yourself for a flood of great games.
If you’re into tabletop games, you may have already heard about the Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, which is featured on Kickstarter right now. It’s a new game from my pals at Lone Shark Games, but it’s based on the mechanics found in the bestselling, award-winning Pathfinder Adventure Card Game designed by the same people. It’s set in a dark and horrific modern world which I helped bring to life.
Apocrypha started as a tabletop roleplaying game several years back, and the creator — Rian Sand — asked me to help take the ideas in his home game and in his head and transform them into something we could bring to gaming groups around the world. Around the same time, he also brought in Mike Selinker of Lone Shark to create a card game that played like a roleplaying game, and that eventually became the basis for what we now know as the adventure card game (ACG).
Mike’s now decided to publish Apocrypha himself under the Lone Shark banner, and he’s lined up a fantastic team of creators to help him do it. On the game design side, the Lone Shark team includes Pathfinder ACG developer Chad Brown, puzzle ninja Gaby Weidling, Smash Up designer Paul Peterson, Pathfinder ACG class deck designer Tanis O’Connor, and Incredible Expeditions designer Liz Spain. Mike Vaillancourt serves as the art director, and former Playroom Entertainment director Elisa Teague corrals everyone as the production manager.
On the writing side, Mike lined up a fantastic lineup of creators to help flesh out the world of Apocrypha with snippets of fiction on many of the cards. They include:
- Keith Baker, creator of the card game Gloom and the upcoming RPG Phoenix: Dawn Command (which has 24 hours left on Kickstarter right now!).
- Wolfgang Baur, publisher of Kobold Press, and creator of books like Deep Magic, Courts of the Shadow Fey, and The Free City of Zobeck.
- Bruce Cordell, game designer for D&D and The Strange RPG, and author of ten Forgotten Realms novels.
- Erin M. Evans, author of the novels The God Catcher, Brimstone Angels, and The Adversary.
- Jerry “Tycho” Holkins, writer of the Penny Arcade, Thornwatch, and Automata comics, and co-founder of PAX and the Child’s Play charity.
- Kij Johnson, Hugo- and Nebula-winning author of The Fox Woman, Fudoki, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss,” “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” “Ponies,” and “Spar.”
- Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, Without a Summer, and Valour and Vanity.
- Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, and founder of the charity Worldbuilders.
- Kris Straub, cartoonist responsible for the webcomics Starslip, Chainsaw Suit, and Broodhollow, and co-creator of the game Machine of Death.
At the moment, the game’s raised nearly $200,000 on Kickstarter, and it still has eight days to go. It funded in about a day, and it’s knocked down stretch goals left and right since. If (when, really) it reaches $220k, I’ll write a new short story to go in the rulebook, and at $230k, I’ll pull selections from the Apocrypha story bible to reveal to the public. At $250k, the game becomes even bigger, delivering around 1,300 cards in the box.
At $99, the game is a steal, and the bargain is only getting better as the stretch goals unlock. To put this in perspective, 1,300 cards is something like 24 standard decks of cards, and you can pack a lot of game into that many pieces of cardboard. So if you’re up for an epic adventure in a dark yet heroic version of our modern world, go check out the Apocrypha Kickstarter before time runs out.
I’m trying to cut down on my convention appearances so I can catch up with some deadlines, but this weekend, you can find me at not one but two public places: Odyssey Con in Madison and at the Southern Wisconsin Authors Fair in Milton. I show up late Friday at Odyssey Con for my first panel, and I’ll be there until I scoot out at noon on Sunday. From there, I head straight down to the SWAF, where I’ll be from 1 to 4 PM.
The other guests of honor at Odyssey Con include Heather Brewer and Jonathan Maberry, both excellent, New York Times bestselling writers. (Did I mention that The Marvel Encyclopedia made the list again? That’s four out of the past five months!) I’m looking forward to trading wisdom and swapping stories with them and all the rest of the writers, readers, gamers, and fans.
When I’m not in panels, I may be squirreled away in my hotel room, banging away at those deadlines. Otherwise, you might find me at the Odyssey Con gaming area or chatting in the bar. Either way, be sure to stop either event—or both—and say hi!
Gary Con is a wonderful tabletop gaming convention held here in southern Wisconsin. It got its unofficial start about seven years ago after the death of Gary Gygax, one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons. After his funeral, his family invited everyone over to the American Legion Hall in Lake Geneva, site of some of the early Gen Cons — and my first ever convention too, a Winter Fantasy. We all had a great time playing games and trading stories about Gary, and his wonderful family decided to make an annual event out of it, to honor their patriarch.
I make it back to the show every time I can, and I’ve brought my kids along many years. In fact, my eldest son Marty played in his first Dungeons & Dragons game ever at Gary Con 1. Frank Mentzer (former TSR VP, game-design legend, and all-around great guy) ran us through the first published RPG adventure ever made, Palace of the Vampire Queen, and we had an absolute ball.
This year, I’ve been invited as a VIP guest, but go check out the entire list of us. It’s a stunning collection of some of the greatest game designers from the past forty years, focusing mostly on the early days. It’s bolstered by the fact that former employees of the long-gone TSR (the first publisher of Dungeons & Dragons) hold their annual reunion on the Saturday night at the show.
Due to family commitments, I’ll only be able to make it to the show on Thursday and Friday. If you can manage it, though, come on out for all four days and enjoy every minute of it you can.