Going to Grand Con (and Other Places)!

Thanks to everyone who came out and joined me at Gen Con. We formed the largest tabletop gaming convention in history, with over 60,000 unique (counted once all weekend) attendees and more than 200,000 turnstile (counted each day). It was an absolute, exhausting blast.

I’m almost recovered from that and a trip I took to Sweden last week, so now I’m ready to head out this weekend to Grand Con! This is a wonderful, smaller convention held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was a guest there a few years ago, and they finally managed to pull me back in. I’m showing up on Friday and staying through Sunday, so show up and drag me into a game! I’ll be there with other luminaries including Paul Peterson, Chris Leder, Kevin Wilson, Shane Harsch, Tom Vasel, Adam and Brady Sadler, Keith Matejka, Richard Launius, and Albin Johnson, among many others.

In October, I’m going to be a guest at a couple of nifty events. The first, on October 27, is M+DEV, the first video game developers conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The keynote speaker is none other than the legendary Warren Spector, so expect lots of great stuff from that.

The day after that, I’m a guest at the Menomonee Falls Library Comic Fest. Admission is free, and every attendee gets a free comic and a swag bag, while supplies last. Come out and join us for a bunch of four-color fun!

Then, to close out my con season, I’ll be a guest once again at Gamehole Con in Madison, Wisconsin. This is one of the best shows in the Midwest, and I love attending it every year. They have a stunning array of guests, plus they have True Dungeon!

After that, I’m hunkering down in my den until sometime in the spring. After all, those books and games don’t make themselves!

Anyhow, if you’re nearby any of these events, I hope to see you at one/all of them. Every one of them is guaranteed fun.

Gen Con 50!

Gen Con starts tomorrow! This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I get to see old friends, make new ones, talk books, play games, and stay out all night — and these days, I even get to enjoy it with my wife and kids.

This is the 50th year for the show — as well as my 36th time attending in a row (I started young!) — and the folks at Gen Con are going all out to celebrate. As part of the coolness, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World) is curating an amazing Gen Con museum that’s going to be built in the center of the Indianapolis Colts’ football field at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’ll be inside a replica of the location of the first Gen Con, which was held in Lake Geneva back in 1968: Horticultural Hall.

I’m thrilled to say they’re going to have three of my things on display in the museum, which you can see in the photo below. They include:

  1. A copy of my Brave New World RPG, which debuted at Gen Con 1999,
  2. The mask that was worn by David Ross when he played Patriot (the main narrator of the game books) at that Gen Con Debut.
  3. A copy of an award certificate I won for being part of the winning team in the first Gangbusters tournament, run by designer Mark Acres, held at Gen Con XV back in 1982.

So, go see that!

Ooh! Also, check out a new game I worked on that’s debuting at the show: Apocrypha. The creator of the setting, Rian Sands, hired me to help him write the background for it many years ago, and it’s finally real! (If you squint, you can see my name on the front of the box, right next to that of kick-ass author and Worldbuilders founder Pat Rothfuss). Mike Selinker and the fantastic team he assembled at Lone Shark Games designed, produced, and published the game, and I can’t wait to actually play it.

Amazingly, Gen Con has sold out this year, for the first time in its history. If you’re lucky enough to have a badge and can make it into the show, you have a lot of fun ahead of you. While I’m there, I’m taking part in the Writer’s Symposium, the Industry Insiders program (I’m on the advisory panel that selects the panelists), and the Gen Con 50 Retrospective program — as well as doing business meetings, catching up with friends, and playing games with my kids.

Here’s what’s on my public slate.

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19

By the way, some of my friends have been posting things about how to deal with them at Gen Con. It’s a high-stress, chaotic, germ-strewn environment, especially for us folks who usually spend all day alone in front of a computer, and hey, you deserve to know what you’re getting into when you approach them. For me, I have two suggestions, which you can take advantage of as you like:

  1. Buy my books (available at the bookseller in the back of the convention hall) and games (like Apocrypha).
  2. Buy me a beer.

Hey, I try to keep it simple. Hope to see you there!

Join Me at Gen Con for Worldbuilders

Gen Con is just around the corner, coming up on August 17–21, and I can’t wait! This is the 50th Gen Con, and they’re pulling out the stops for the big celebration. Four-day badges have already sold out, along with Saturday and Sunday badges. They’re predicting a complete sell-out, which will be the first time in the convention’s history.

I’m taking part in lots of different events at the show, as part of the Industry Insiders, the Writer’s Symposium, and the Gen Con 50 Retrospective slates. You can see my public schedule on my Appearances page.

As part of that, I’ll be at the Worldbuilders Party to help loads of famous novelists and game designers raise money for Worldbuilders, a wonderful charity set up by Pat Rothfuss. Tickets for this event are $130 each, and there are still lots of open slots.

I was originally slated to play Exploding Kittens with people at the party, but <ahem> no one seemed all that interested in that. So, as of today, we’re changing tactics. I’m going to run a session of my upcoming Shotguns & Sorcery RPG, coming out next year from Ragnarok Publications. I’ve only run this a few times, so this should be a rare treat for everyone who joins up.

To sweeten the pot, I’m going to toss in hardcover copies of the Kickstarter-exclusive Shotguns & Sorcery Omnibus, which includes the two short stories and three novels that provide the setting for the game. When I ran the Kickstarter in 2012, these cost $100 each, and they haven’t been available since. If you join me at the game, I’ll bring a copy of the Omnibus for you, and I’ll autograph it to whoever you like.

So, join me at Gen Con for a fantastic party, play Shotguns & Sorcery with me, and get yourself a rare, autographed, hardcover book to go with it.

If you can’t make it, I totally understand. It’s pricey, and it’s Friday afternoon at Gen Con. Please help spread the word, though, and tell your friends. Let’s play some games for good!

Summer Games Sale

My son Marty is heading off to college at the University of Wisconsin—Madison this fall, but this summer, to raise some cash, he’s cleaning out my attic and selling off a slew of my old games on eBay. You can see a bunch of them listed below.

At the moment, there’s a bunch of books for Deadlands, Dungeons & Dragons, and Middle-earth Roleplaying up. This includes a rare copy of The Lonely Mountain board game published by ICE back in 1984. Marty should have much more up there soon, so keep checking back for new deals.

If you win an auction for an item I helped create and would like it autographed or personalized, just let me know. I’d be happy to scribble something on it for you before Marty ships it out. Either way, if you can spread the word to our fellow gamers, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!

Crafting Intangibles Starts Tonight

Today, my friend Christy Dena — who I met at last year’s Forward/Story conference, which she co-founded with Lance Weiler — is launching a new, online/Australian conference for narrative designers called Crafting Intangibles. I’m the lead-off speaker, starting at 7 PM Central Time tonight/10 AM tomorrow in Sydney.

Christy’s lined up a slew of other incredible speakers, including luminaries like Chris Avellone and Toiya K. Finley. Best of all, you don’t even need to leave home to attend. You can watch the videos as they debut live, according to the schedule, or you can catch them at your convenience later.

As a sample, here’s Chris Avellone speaking about when to stop creating:

Tickets are only $15, and the proceeds go toward supporting the conference so they can have more of them in the future. It all goes online free on August 10, so if you’re strapped you can wait for it instead, but you’ll miss out on the immediate fun. Hope to see you online tonight!

Gen Con 2017 Schedule Update

My schedule for Gen Con is filling up fast. Since I posted about it last, I’ve added a slew of new events.

This is the show I never miss. It’s Gen Con 50—and my 36th time going in a row—so it’s sure to be even bigger than ever.

If you’re a gamer, there’s no better place to be, but Gen Con’s also a haven for readers and writers. The Writer’s Symposium features dozens of amazing writers chatting about their books and their craft, and I always appear on three or four panels with them. On top of that, there’s the Industry Insiders program, which stars dozens of the top game industry professionals talking about their craft. I’m on the advisory panel that selects these pros from a slew of applicants every year, and this year’s packed full of amazing talent.

Anyhow, here’s what’s on my public slate. (The rest of the time, I’m hanging out with friends, having business meetings, and playing games with my kids. Not necessarily in that order.)

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one and don’t know about it, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19

The 2017 Diana Jones Award Shortlist Is Here

The shortlist for the 2017 Diana Jones Award was announced earlier today. Head on over to the award’s website for all the details. To sum up, the shortlist includes:

Plus, it features a brand-new logo (seen above) designed by my pal Jeff Mackintosh, who died last fall, way too young.

Congrats to all the people behind those things that made the shortlist! The winner will be announced the Wednesday night before Gen Con.

The Hack Is Back!

Sometime last year, Lindsey Priestly of the Black Library informed me that they were going to be publishing some short fiction set in the world of Games Workshop’s Blood Bowl game, and she asked me if I’d like to contribute. At that time, I was the only person who’d ever written any fiction for the game — a fantasy football contest in which the fantasy consists of pitting elves, dwarves, orcs, ogres, vampires, skeletons, and so on against each other on the football field. To that point, my work included four novels and a five comic books that had been collected into a graphic novel, the last of which had appeared in 2009.

I wanted to turn it down. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a lot of time for short fiction these days, but hey, the chance to return to a setting and characters I’d written so much about so long ago was too tempting for me to pass up. So I wrote “The Hack Attack,” in which Jim Johnson and Bob Bifford of Cabalvision fame interview Dirk Hoffnung for a special live edition of their show Where Are They Now? As it says on the tin:

The top-ranked Cabalvision show Where are They Now? is turning its attention to one of the greatest Blood Bowl teams of the past – the Bad Bay Hackers. What are the players up to now – did Dunk and Spinne ever tie the knot, did Edgar ever put down roots, and what possible employment could the ogre M’Grash K’Thragsh find after retiring from the game? As for Dirk, now team captain and co-coach, what are his plans once he retires and how will these impact on Jim and Bob, the eternally cheerful Cabalvision co-presenters?

Catch up with the stars of the Bad Bay Hackers in this wonderful retrospective by Blood Bowl novels author Matt Forbeck.

The story, which debuts today, is on sale now for $4.99. It’s a great way to catch up with the characters from the novels and comics and learn what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. And, as you should know if you love Blood Bowl like I do, it’s full of bad jokes and over-the-top violence as well. I hope you enjoy!



My Gen Con Schedule

If you know me, you know how much I’m looking forward to Gen Con 50. My schedule for it is already filling up. It’s not all been announced yet, but here’s what’s on the slate so far:

Wednesday, August 16

  • The Diana Jones Award party. (This is a private affair I host every year for industry professionals. If you’re one and don’t know about it, ping me for details.)

Thursday, August 17

Friday, August 18

Saturday, August 19

Sunday, August 20

  • Playing games with my kids.
  • Heading home!

Registration starts on Sunday, so get your wish list filled fast. I’ll see you there!

Go See Of Dice and Men!

This week, I’m heading to the Nexus Game Fair, and I hope to see you there. Either way, if you can make it over to Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend or the next, do yourself a grand favor and go see Of Dice and Men at the Bartlett Theatre. I went to see it with my daughter, Helen, on Saturday night, and it was fantastic.

It’s the story of a long-time gaming group hitting a crisis point that’s gong to determine the fate of both its players and their characters. If you’re a gamer, you’ll love all the references and in-jokes, but you don’t need to have ever rolled a d20 to appreciate the great job the cast and crew do with the damn fine script. While gaming makes the framework for the story, it touches on universal themes like love, loyalty, and friendship, making it the kind of play that anyone can appreciate.

And hey, it includes pretty stunning cardboard-box dragon as part of the set too.

Helen and I loved it.

Producer Justin Schober had asked me to do a talkback after the show, and about a third of the audience stuck around to chat while I sat on stage with Justin and the cast. I had a wonderful time cheering on gaming and explaining some of its history, and Justin and the cast were warm, funny, and fun.

The show continues this weekend, May 25 through 28, and then it concludes next weekend, June 1 through 3. 

Tomorrow night, May 25, and my friend Skip Williams of Dungeons & Dragons fame is hosting the talkback. My pal John Kovalic (of Dork Tower, Munchkin, and Apples to Apples renown) steps up to help after the May 26 show. The playwright himself, Cameron McNary, will be there after the performance on May 27.

If you can manage it, find some time to see it. You’ll love it too.