Coming to Big Bad Con: Jared Sorensen

Jared SorensenThe Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Jared Sorensen, of Memento Mori Theatricks.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

I’m a writer and game designer, one of the old-guard indie guys from the turn of the century; the creator of Lacuna Part I, InSpectres, Action Castle, and the co-creator of FreeMarket. I wrote for D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online and a buncha other computerish things and I’m known for wearing lots of black.

Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Jared Sorensen”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Hakan Seyalioglu

Hakan SeyaliogluThe Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Hakan Seyalioglu.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

Hi there! I’m Hakan, one half of Thorny Games along with Kathryn Hymes and we’re on a mission to spread play through quirky and thoughtful games. People are hungry to tell stories in new and exciting ways, and whether that be at a table, moving around, inside or outside, we want to make that happen. With our game Dialect, A Game about Language and How It Dies, players tell a story about a language, and how the birth and death of that language mirrors the story of a community in Isolation. With Sign, A Game about Being Understood, players reflect on what having barriers to communication mean to us, through the true story of Nicaraguan Sign Language.

Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Hakan Seyalioglu”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Jason Morningstar

Jason MorningstarThe Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Jason Morningstar.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

I’m Jason Morningstar, and I’m a game designer who lives and works in Durham, North Carolina, USA. I make tabletop and live action roleplaying games through my company, Bully Pulpit Games, and I also consult on using games for teaching and learning. I would like the Big Bad Con attendees to know that I love meeting people and playing games, and that my surname is not a pseudonym or nom de plume.  Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Jason Morningstar”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Misha Bushyager

The Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Misha Bushyager, who writes for Unruly Designs.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

I’m Misha, data analyst by day and gamer whenever I can. I’ve got two great kids I’m slowly introducing to gaming and a husband who tags along for the ride when he can. I’ve been a player for over half my life now, and recently plunged into the producing side.

Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Misha Bushyager”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Tracy Barnett

The Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Tracy Barnett of Exploding Rogue Studios.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

Hey, I’m Tracy Barnett. I’ve been writing and designing RPGs for the last five years or so. I’ve done most of my work via Kickstarter and have published three of my own games (School Daze, One Shot, and Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone), as well as a novel (Sveidsdottir), someone else’s game (Dead Scare, by Elsa S. Henry), and a setting book with my creative partner, Brian Patterson (Karthun: Lands of Conflict), which is published by Evil Hat Productions. I thought I was going to be a publisher for a long time, but I feel much better with the idea of moving to writing things for other people to publish. Publishing hard and my hat’s off to anyone who does it successfully.  Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Tracy Barnett”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Dev Purkayastha

Dev PurkayasthaThe Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Dev Purkayastha.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

My name is Dev Purkayastha, and I’m a creator of small-press story games, working with Laura Simpson as Sweet Potato Press. I’ve published The Dance and the Dawn, and will be publishing Love Commander soon. I’m also a fan of digital games and board games — I just love the power of what all kinds of games can bring to people. It’s really important to me find games and communities that are inclusive and welcoming, and this is what drew me to Big Bad Con. Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Dev Purkayastha”

Coming to Big Bad Con: Alex Roberts

The Kickstarter funding campaign is in full swing for Big Bad Con, the sweetest tabletop gaming convention on the West Coast. We quickly funded our basic goals on Day 1, and have been blowing past many stretch goals since. Several of these stretch goals allow us to bring great guests to the convention, to host games, speak on panels, etc. Today’s guest interview is with Alex Roberts.

Could you introduce yourself? What would you like the Big Bad Con attendees to know about you?

I’m Alex, from the computer! I do this show on the ONE SHOT Podcast Network called Backstory, where I interview all kinds of people about their contributions to the gaming community – designers, organizers, scholars, and more! Behind the scenes, I do administrative and project management type stuff for Pelgrane Press and Bully Pulpit Games. I also write for games sometimes–you’ll see contributions from me in Dialect, Sig, Threadbare, the next edition of Misspent Youth, to name a few. I’m also trying my hand at design these days… I have a piece in the #Feminism supplement that Pelgrane is putting out, and Tension, my 2-player Jenga-based RPG about forbidden love, is currently in open playtesting!

Continue reading “Coming to Big Bad Con: Alex Roberts”

KublaCon and the Stately Pleasure Dome

We just spent a nice weekend at KublaCon. Yes, I managed to go to a game convention without any medical emergencies! In fact, I felt very good.

Since KublaCon takes place at a nearby hotel we can drive to in about ten minutes, it is affordable for us — we don’t have to rent a hotel room, we get to sleep in our own bed, no worries about feeding the cats… In many ways, that is the best feature of the convention for us.

Pluses about the organization and amenities: the senior staff seems to take problems reported very seriously, including safety and harassment; all volunteers and staff I talked to were cheerful, helpful, and friendly; there is open wifi service everywhere in the hotel; and the atrium area is pleasant to hang out in for open gaming.

Minuses: the hotel and events are not very accessible, I saw several people with canes, wheelchairs or scooters labouring to get around the maze of tables, stairways, and corridors; parking is discounted but still $10 a day, and difficult to get on Saturday and Sunday; and game registration uses the hated shuffler system (a post topic for another day.)

The game listings are not very oriented toward my type of play, but there is enormous choice for people who like the D&D Adventurers’ League, Pathfinder Society, or board games. Still, we managed to have four days of fun and see lots of friends.

The unfortunate registration desk layout

Friday afternoon: The Lost Age

On Friday afternoon, we had hoped to get into a game of Monster of the Week, but it was full. However, in the same room was a game of the soon-to-be-officially-released The Lost Age, and none of the players who had signed up showed up (Friday afternoons can be difficult to schedule for people who have to work or are traveling.) We heard GM and author Keith Leiker pitch his game to wandering players, so decided to jump in and make the game happen. I’m not going to describe it because I wrote a comprehensive review of it yesterday, but I liked it.

[Edit: We also managed to get our Sixth Gun RPG books signed by author Scott A. Woodard!]

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Friday night: Headspace

On Friday we managed to get into a game with GM Kasi Jammeh, who was running a game Powered by the Apocalypse, Headspace. You can think of Headspace as allowing you to play something like Sense8, a group of telepathically linked characters who can share skills.

I was very interested in this game. However, half the group of players were in the mood for wacky hijinks, while Edmund and I, at least, were looking for dark adventure and intense emotional turmoil. Don’t get me wrong, it was a congenial evening, but I didn’t really get the experience I was looking for.

Saturday: Hanging out

Yep, I’m old. Gaming until midnight got me really tired. I woke up at 11am, and only because Edmund brought me coffee. We moseyed on over to the convention and met with friends, hanging out in the atrium. Our friend A. brought her six-year-old daughter H. and I ran a freeform game of runaway fairies and bridge trolls. It was H.’s first RPG and she apparently really liked it.

We went home around dinner time, since we didn’t have any games lined up for the evening.

Sunday: Gateway to Hell!

On Sunday there was more hanging out with friends, then we played a Fudge/Fate hack in a setting inspired by Call of Cthulhu. GM Dennison Milenkaya did an excellent job of leading us through character creation, setting development, then through the investigation of a haunted house in New England.

We had a grand old time and the game only ended because most of us needed to go to bed. (We did get to a satisfying stopping point first.)

Monday: Live the Revolution!

Finally, today — my birthday — we played in GM Brian Williams’ DramaSystem game, where the group created an entire setting and cast from the sole premise that we were associated with a revolution that had just succeeded.

From this we spun a group of mismatched aliens working along a space elevator, and the push and pull of alliances as they struggled to secure their factions’ future.

After the game we left the convention for the last time and went to have some delicious Mediterranean food with friends for a late lunch.

Swag

As a coda, Edmund and I got each other birthday presents. We got some fantastic-looking games from local designers.

I got Edmund Relicblade, a miniatures game from Metal King Studio, along with The Seeker’s Handbook, a scenario book for the game.

He got me the board game Leaving Earth from Lumenaris, along with expansions.

When we finally got home we napped, then we called for pizza and watched a little television. I call it a weekend well spent.

Game Review: The Lost Age

On Friday afternoon at KublaCon, Edmund and I ended up playing in The Lost Age, run by author Keith Leiker. Although people had signed up for the game, they did not show up — not an uncommon occurrence on Fridays afternoon games at conventions — but we were looking to get into a game. Along with another player, Kim, we took the opportunity to try a new game.

The Lost Age (Leiker Games) is a combat-oriented fantasy game, which I would label as moderate-to-heavy crunch. [Update: And the funding campaign is now live on Kickstarter!]

Those who know me well will realize that that this is not my forte, I’m more of a rules-light, story-heavy gamer. However, I had heard the pitch (to other potential players) before I decided to jump in, so I knew what I was getting into and I was in a mood to try something different from my usual fare, to broaden my gaming horizons if you will. Continue reading “Game Review: The Lost Age”

Listen to the Return of Castle Falkenstein!

I’ve been a fan of Castle Falkenstein since 1994 when I grabbed a copy of the newly released role-playing game. I have run it straight at the table and online, I’ve adapted it for alternate systems such as Theatrix, PDQ, and Fate Core (though I’m still unenthusiastic about the spellcasting rules in the latter, need to think more about them). For many old gamers like me, R. Talsorian Games‘ Castle Falkenstein represented a sea change at the time, no longer concentrating on dice rolling and stat values as much as the fiction created around the player characters.

Although the original Castle Falkenstein books are long out of print, they were eventually scanned and released as PDF versions on DriveThruRPG. But until recently, the latest supplement released by RTG had been, if memory serves, The Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie in 1998; and a GURPS Castle Falkenstein supplement, The Ottoman Empire, had been released by Steve Jackson Games under license circa 2000.

This changed last year, when RTG allowed up-and-coming Fat Goblin Games to create and publish additional materials. Since last October, writer J Gray — long-time Falkenstein fan — has authored four supplements: Curious Creatures, a bestiary; The Tarot Variation, an alternate rule system for sorcery that uses a tarot deck instead of a regular playing cards; The Second Tarot Variation, which extends the use of tarot cards to all action; and Firearms and Margarine, an adventure.

J Gray is also a great person — and a great GM. Along with my husband, I’ve had the chance to play in J’s current online game. We’re alpha-playtesting a series of new alternate mechanic options that will allow customization of the Castle Falkenstein system for GMs who like to tinker. J has been recording the the episodes so far and releasing them as a podcast. You can see the campaign site on Obsidian Portal, and listen to the episodes on Fat Goblin GamesPresents. That will give you a preview of some of the rules we’re testing so you can try them too!