There is only one convention Dilly Green Bean Games attends: TotalConfuzion in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Mostly because they know how to treat my wife and I and it’s the one place where I can see all my close friends in the industry.
This year we headed down on Thursday, after I finished teaching. Road trips with my wife are fun. We always have good music lined up and this time was no different.
Our arrival at the convention was seamless. We checked in, got unpacked and then chilled with friends. But the peacefulness changed pretty quickly.
Mike Pondsmith’s flight was running late and he had a Cyberpunk 2020 game scheduled for 7pm. My friend Mary was supposed to play in the game, but with Mike not there she went to another event. I was curious to see how many people were still at the table and found it FULL of waiting gamers. So I did something a little crazy: I volunteered to run Mike’s game for them. Now I have worked at R. Tal in some capacity for well over a decade, but I have NEVER played Cyberpunk 2020. I didn’t even know the rules.
I was lucky that Matthew Fournier, one of the players had a rule book for me to use. He also ran character generation so I could throw together an adventure. This whole time my wife was out front waiting for Mike. The scenario I created was simple with some plot twists: Vince, a black market broker wanted to trade some military chips for a mystery package, which he was going to in turn sell to European terrorists. The players would be Vince’s bodyguards. So I started the game going full on improve. Acting out the characters and the players did the same with the same energy. The mysterious package was a super virus that Roul Ripcord possessed, but he was actually there to kill Vince for a previous deal that left Roul’s sister dead. So we are in the middle of a standoff when Mike comes walking in with Cody Pondsmith. It was a big relief because shit was going south fast in game. Mike watched me run for a few more seconds and told me to keep going! So here I am, a guy who has NEVER played or run Cyberpunk 2020, nervous as hell already because I am representing the guy who MADE the game and then he is sitting there watching me run the game. When we got to a place where Mike could take over, I explained the scenario and the twists, which in turn landed me in the Cyberpunk division of R. Tal (so I’m told). As I went to leave, Mike made me sit down and finish running Vince….all while my wife was waiting out front for over an hour. After I left I heard that the game kept going full force and the players had an awesome time across the board.
Friday morning I started out hard with Mekton Zero. So this year’s DGBG Cocktail Hour theme was ’50 Shades of Swine’. So my Mekton scenario had Kargan troops working at a preservation bunker whose mission was to gather Giga-Fauna and store them in pens deep below the planet’s surface. So the game started out fine, the team went out into the ice storm to blow back ice shelves and gather fauna. That quickly got complicated when a Uri Killer ambushed one of the players. Another player used live ammo to try and subdue the creature and ended up blinding the thing. Then another one attacked and they blew an arm off of it. Now each player had taser rounds and no one was authorized to use live ammo. It got messy, but the team captured the two Uri Killers. After getting back to base, an alarm forced two players to go back into the snow where they were ambushed by Windscythes (Giga-Fauna Pigs with bio cannons and a super snout wind attack). The other players arrived to help and one pig got split in half and one was captured. But it wasn’t an easy battle. The engineer’s Crusher got messed up pretty good. To wrap up the session I launched a Windscythe swarm attack. The engineer’s Crusher got blown up by a massive wind blade attack as it shattered the bunker doors. And the PSI character got vaporized as he tried to use his Psychokinesisto blast back against a mega bio-energy wave (caused by several Windscythes going critical after their bio-cannons were shot). Everyone was left buried alive and had to start digging out.
Game two Friday was my G-Core powered Stairs of the Immortal. The table was PACKED full. I ended up giving two players NPCs for the adventure. Summed up Duke Crestfaul (a cursed knight) and Sir Chapin (a skeleton knight and the Duke’s best friend) arrived at Gwain’s Keep and took hostages. The players had to rescue everyone and defend the keep as a horde of skeletons attacked. The highlight was when a squire challenged Duke Crestfaul to a duel…and then called the Duke a coward. The squire player was one of my convention regulars (Duncan). The kid had balls. Sadly, the Duke, unarmed, beat the crap out of the squire and had to break the squire’s arm so the duel would stop. The game totally went away form that standard hack and slash. Stairs of the Immortal is supposed to be like that anyways. Another fun highlight was Sir Chapin actually treating the squires like squires, cleaning them off and fixing their uniforms. Even wiping soot off of one squire’s head.
Friday night was Blixapollooza (sp). This is when Blix from Mythwits and his trusty side-kick Mike Kafes host a night of game shows and talk shows. This year I dressed as Santa for part of it. I had a smoking jacket and a Hawaiian shirt. So as Santa I gave Blix crap for his Anti-Santa sentiment and even had to fend off Cosplay Pikachu with a chair. After that I changed out and came back to play Cube of Death with my buddy Don Higgins and Cody Pondsmith, while James Carpio threatened to take my phone (which I was using to take pictures over his shoulder so I could cheat)..LOL.
Later that night I sat with Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Cody and Mike Pondsmith and we all talked about all sorts of different topics. Frank pulled me aside and talked to me about something big he was brewing and then I took some time to try and learn more about Cody, who I had never met, but had talked to a few times on the phone.
Saturday morning I ran G-Core’s Marvel Files: X-Men 1950s. Another GM had swiped my table, but Tim Kask of Dragon Magazine fame let me use his tables. We had two tables PACKED FULL. There were so many players I had to split the tables so one played the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the other played the X-Men, with another player as Tony Stark. Magneto was foiled when Quicksilver (played by my buddy Michael Thompson) lost his cool and accidently damaged a device Magneto was trying to steal. This was made even more complicated by Tony Stark who messed up the device even more. We had a family of four at the table too with little kids who totally rocked it with Angel and Beast. I want to thank the adults (my G-Core regulars) who really made the game fun for the new players.
The rest of the day I just chilled with my wife and had lunch with Mike and Cody. I attended The Witcher panel with Cody Pondsmith, who talked about his new RPG. Cody did a great job for his first time out on his own at a convention as an actual designer.
Saturday night I ran Swineship Troopers with Duncan and the adults from the Marvel game earlier. They even drafted another player. Each player had a Pig Marine and their mission was to survive 15 map sections. Well I made the players talk like pigs, so we had lots of squealing up on the stage. Duncan, who everyone swore to kill in game before the weekend ended, did himself in with his Lt. Dan style pig as he blew himself out an airlock while trying to stop a swarm of space mites. He also killed another player in the process. And I’ll add that the cannibal pig medic, who was dumping BBQ sauce on the point men, murdered the heavy weapons specialist…to be cooked for later. And no one stopped him…LOL.
Every TotalCon we end the convention with the DGBG Cocktail Hour. This is when Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Mike Pondsmith, Blix, Mike Kafes, James Carpio, Mary Lindholm, Michael Curtis, Jeff Talanian, Steve Wollet, Don Higgins, Ben and Jenn Gerber, Angelia (TotalCon liaison) and Brenden Hill, Dave Brewer, myself and my wife all gather for a few hours of catching up. This year we even had someone else from Goodwin Games join us (his name escapes me as I write this, but he fit right in). I handed out the 50 Shades of Swine art prints and toy pigs to each guest. After that I got to dance with Frank, who was powered up! We also gathered for our annual class picture.
Sunday morning we said our goodbyes and headed back to Maine (with a stop at Toys R Us).
I’m looking forward to next year’s TotalCon. Thank you to all their staff and all the players!
The Cyberpunk vs. The Cyberpunk
Some people have asked about Chronicle 00: Book 1 and how close is it to actual ‘cyberpunk’. I like to call R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk and all the other ‘cyberpunk’ games: Cyberpunk Fantastic. These are games that take you past the realm of realistic and into a world that would exist if there were no restraints on technology. While Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk is visionary and practically dead on when it comes to loads of current innovations, he also takes it to the next level, offering technology that ‘should’ be that isn’t.
So what do I mean by no technological restraints?
Look at all the laws in just the United States alone that hamper innovation. Politicians like to say they are supporting it, but they aren’t. President Obama preaches this every time he steps in front of a teleprompter, but he is the same man who instructed NASA to start reaching out to Muslim nations and scrapped the shuttle replacement program and future moon missions. Before that was President Bush, who did nothing to get us back on the moon and before that President Clinton….you get the idea. And when you throw in tons of regulations for business and so on, Mike Pondsmith’s brilliant vision gets delayed. So when you look at CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077, you see Cyberpunk ‘Fantastic’ (possibly). The timeline has been moved from 203X to about 40 years past the last version of Cyberpunk. So in theory, if the technology doesn’t exist by 2077, the game will become Cyberpunk ‘Fantastic’ and if it exists Cyberpunk 2077 will be ‘cyberpunk’.
So where does Chronicle 00: Book 1 fit into the ‘cyberpunk’ genre?
Instead of going Cyberpunk ‘Fantastic’, I took the game into the ‘realistic’ Cyberpunk. I took into account the ridiculous progress of technology today, government failure, and corporate bailouts. I then applied that to the setting. So in C00B1′s history, governments demonized corporations, taxed their citizens and eventually the world governments went bankrupt from too much social spending and not enough GDP. And right as the world is on the brink of riots and chaos, those same demonized corporations swoop in and safe the day. The game setting in itself is a lesson about overreach of government. As for the corporations in the game, they aren’t really the enemy, although each have their own bad apples just like with any company. And players represent the people ‘living’ in their world. They all have lives, friends, jobs and personal demons. It’s one of the reasons why C00B1 has been called ‘immersive’. Although, C00B1 has its own share of ‘fantastic’ with things like the Hyperions and MASKs.
So what do I want you to get from this?
Cyberpunk Fantastic: Flying cars, particle weapons, wars in the streets
Cyberpunk: Cyber-implants, hackers, media manipulation, covert intrigue
Dilly Green Bean Games at TotalCon
So this was our 4th year at TotalCon and once again we had a blast. Angelia was fantastic!
So what did we do?
Friday night I (Jay Libby) participated in Blixapaloza with Ben Gerber (Troll in the Corner), Monique Bouchard (from SnowCon) and the Gygax Magazine crew (James Carpio, Mary Lindholm and Mike Curtis). Of course my team Michael Thompson and the other Mike) easily beat out the SnowCon team at Cube of Death, but alas, we were killed by the Gygax team….which was a good thing since the year before we beat Tim Kask’s team on a fluke.
After that Blix convinced us to read his piece of fiction (both parts). That was pretty long and drawn out. But it’s Blix….so ya know!
Saturday I ran two games of G-Core. One session was Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and the other was Fantastic 4. A big thank you to our players who had a blast!
Other fun bits included talking with Jeff Talanian (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea) and of course buying his awesome game, which I cannot recommend enough!! And talking with Jayson Eliot from Gygax Magazine was great fun too. I have a video interview, but I need to screen it before posting because he and I were both wiped out. I can’t recommend enough for people to go get Gygax Magazine!
After dinner I ran Chronicle 00: Book 1, the new DGBG sci-fi bio/cyber punkish game. For one of my notorious ‘Adults Only’ games, it went along much more productively than past years. A shout out to Drew Bouchard, Monique Bouchard, James Carpio, Mary Lindholm and my wife, Ray, who managed to stop a nuke from going off in Hong Kong.
And we finished up the night with the Dilly Green Bean Cocktail hour. I can’t talk about the details of that event because under rule we agree not to discuss conversations outside of the event. We hosted a bunch of people (and if I forgot their names I’m really sorry):
Ben Gerber and his wife (Troll in the Corner)
The two D&D Legends:
Frank Mentzer (Eldritch Entertainment)
Tim Kask (Gygax Magazine and Eldritch Entertainment)
Don Higgins and his girlfriend (Eldritch Entertainment)
Blix, Mike Kaffes and Brian Lacey (Studio 187 and ConMen)
Drew and Monique Bouchard (SnowCon)
James Carpio and Mary Lindholm (Chapter 13 Press and Gygax Magazine)
Brenden Hill (Crossroad Games )
and our AMAZING hostess Angelia (TotalCon)
I will say that this year’s cocktail will go down in history as one of the greatest. There is even a class picture we took. A heartfelt thank you to everyone that went.
And that’s it. Sunday we headed back to Maine in a nasty storm!
A big thank you to the staff at TotalCon for another fun year!! This is one convention that EVERYONE should be attending!
So the time has come to start talking about Chronicle 00: Book 1. It all started like anything does: with an idea. I had written the Xenomorph Invasion novel and of course it was a piece of fan-style crap. I hadn’t been to grad-school yet and I wasn’t even done with college.
I got a lucky break in the industry and met Mike Pondsmith. I started producing Fuzion games and before I knew it, Xenomorph Invasion was its own game. But I wanted to tie it in somewhere to Cyberpunk. In the timeline I just listed it as: Age of the Cyberpunk. And so it stayed…dead.
But was it?
Since meeting Mike Pondsmith, I have been very blessed with a good friend. I had gone from that art guy for Cyberpunk v3 to something more. It was a cool feeling. I didn’t know much about Mike (unlike all the fans) and I had no expectations. He was just the guy I worked for and talked to every now and then about teaching. While Mike was away at DigiPen, I was trying to hold the Fuzion ship afloat with yearly releases….and then came G-Core. Most people know this story (if you don’t there is something about it in an earlier blog post). But With Mike gone from the industry, I REALLY wanted to go back and do ALL the prequels to Xenomorph Invasion, including the Cyberpunk stuff. It seemed like a cool idea. I began to do extensive research on the genre. I spent a full year in college libraries and online digging. I immersed myself in cyberpunk anime and took lots of notes. I read about bio-punk, something Mike had touched base on with Cyberpunk v3 (which wasn’t received well). I wanted to know what made CPv3 so hated by the grogs. And as I researched I started to get the idea as to why (besides the fact it’s hard to accept change from someone as awesome as Cyberpunk). I decided to take different approaches, because Mike was right, bio-punk was next up in human technology. So as the text started to form and the setting cemented, I gave the project the title: Chronicle 00: Book 1 (inspired by Gundam 00′s title). And as the game swung into full production…….
“Hey Jay, I just wanted to let you know I’m back, man.”
I had a heart attack. Mike was a great friend and with him back it also meant the last year of research was about to get fragged. After the call I hung up and sat on my couch. With Mike back I didn’t want to even go back to Chronicle 00. That genre was his baby. I was crushed. I spent the following 24 hours thinking and I decided to call him and let him know what I was up to. After I stumbled over my words, Mike told me it was ok and said to avoid the following or I’d be in trouble: rock rebels, netrunners, (and some other bits I can’t remember off the top of my head). And that was the end of the conversation…so I thought. The months that followed were phone calls back and forth, bouncing ideas off of one another. It was crazy. I would have handed the entire project’s rights over to RTG in a second if Mike asked. I was that gitty over the brainstorms. When I got ready to lock down the final story, I felt as if Chronicle 00 was getting TOO much into the Cyberpunk 2020 range. So how did I deal with it? In the original Xenomorph Invasion there were a race of robots that had assisted in human technology against the alien threat. That had to go. Chronicle 00 went from being a prequel to a whole new universe, as I tore away dumb ideas and integrated better ones into the epic storyline. The H-Bots, now Hyperions, crash landed on Earth and their tech was gathered by different corporations. While it didn’t change anything from the bio/cyber-punk genre, it helped pave the way for even bigger stories. The rock rebel, would now be a rogue mannequin called N-Gage, who would fight for the weak in Europe while searching for her ship. Other characters would include a renegade Navy Admiral and his fleet now turned pirates. My chick heroes would be decked out cyber-gals with hardsuits, wrecking havoc on the Japanese mega-corporation. Each one a solo operative. I took the lethal and made it manageable. Why use live ammo for everything? It’s 2075. Now the cops use EMP and taser rounds as their primary. And as for upgrades? Bio-Punk and Cyber-Punk are all in style, but each compete for the #1 spot. Using bio-punk was great. It was going to help medically explain things in later books. I’ll go into more detail in later blog posts.
As for the art…..If you haven’t been over to House of Jay or the new Chronicle 00 Facebook page, you should. I have posted lots of samples. My objective with this game was to do full production art instead of crappy Poser statics. The book is filled with goodies. Every now and then I’d go online and look for specifics (like a boomer fighting or motorcycle) to help guide me a little. One thing I love to do with art is really catch the moment. The angles, the shades, the effects have to have a special look. I think people will be pleased with the direction.
So that’s it for now. Pardon any typos. I’m writing this on a Saturday and my family calls.
Open Letter to our fans
Due to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we at Dilly Green Bean Games will
be scaling back on our dark games and focusing on more family friendly ‘lesson’ games.
Chronicle 00: Book 1 will not be scaled back, but future G-Core releases will be. This fits
with our company’s Morality Clause. No one should ever murder a child and we will no
longer participate in the production of senselessly violent games that have swamped our
When I first heard about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting my heart was filled with terror. A dear friend lives not far from where the shooting happened and she has a child that goes to elementary school. I came home and quickly checked Facebook and learned that their family was ok, but shaken by the experience. I sat at home and listened to the news…as the number of dead came across the TV. All I could think about was my little girl, who was at her elementary school. I wasted no time picking her up from school early, as many of my industry friends did. It was this shooting that made me start to think.
And think more.
I sat down and drafted a letter to our fans about the direction I would take Dilly Green Bean Games. I did it with tears in my eyes. I made myself look at the faces of those twenty little kids that were senselessly murdered before I began. What if one of them had been my baby? Or my friend’s baby? And when the news went to a commercial, a preview for a movie came on….guns blazing. And President Obama came on and talked about guns and our violent culture. I knew better than to blame guns for this shooting. I have worked the front lines of city hospitals and experienced things that most people never will with those suffering from violent mental illnesses. But I also knew that the violent culture I contributed to as a game designer wasn’t helping.
I used to pride myself off of violent games. How many people could I kill in a story arc? How many guns could take out a superhuman? It was funny. But when you really look at it, it’s not. When you put a name behind every face you kill, it’s not even close to funny. It’s dangerous. In the military they taught us to be strong. That if you have to take a life you do it and move on. That was part of the job. But I am a civilian. And civilians shouldn’t be so callous with violence and death. Because when we do, it makes us lack an appreciation for life itself. It’s cool to wave that gun around or be all bad-ass. But you know what? It’s not.
I thought my change of heart would get some kickback. Right from the start a moderator from RPGnet told me “Fuck you, for your morality”. They then banned me because I was accused at first of self-promoting using a tragedy, which hurt me personally, and then they tried to continue the justification by saying that I had attacked other people in the industry by saying that our industry was swamped with violent games….which it is.
Yet, with every negative comes a positive. Right away fans e-mailed me appreciations for what I was going to be doing and what direction I would take when designing games. Because when you think about it, a hero doesn’t kill anyone. They save people. A cop doesn’t randomly shoot criminals, they arrest them. A game should be about story and lessons, not hack and slash and kill, kill, kill.
So as you finish reading this I want to leave you with my twenty-six reasons for the changes at Dilly Green Bean Games:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
In 1988 I began running a super hero campaign called: Guardian Universe using FASERIP. It was a setting where heroes were heroes, villains were villains, and the uncanny did it’s thing. It was a mesh of horror movie fun and classic comic greatness. My players had many foes. From followers of the Ones Before to Cartel, who later turned out to be God Almighty. Each session’s story would usually depend on what horror movie I had seen that week. If we were doing all weekend games, they would fight Cartel and his crew. If it was a weekday, it tended to be a quick horror session. Amazing characters came out of these adventures. The one that sticks out for me is Sam, the relentless killer with no stats. The heroes would kill him and Sam would keep on coming.
When I came into the game industry, I really had no clue what I was doing. Luckily, Mike Pondsmith took me under his wing and gave me a lot of guidance. And that’s how Guardian Universe Core Fuzion was born. Later I decided that GU needed a new system and I wrote Guardian Universe II: Power Overwhelming. And still not happy, I did Guardian Universe CST. Then came G-Core and it all changed.
Here’s the continuity of the Guardian Universe:
Guardian Universe (original setting)
Guardian Universe Core Fuzion
Guardian Universe Covert Strike Teams (direct sequel to GU Core Fuzion)
Guardian Universe II: Power Overwhelming
Guardian Universe III
Each Guardian Universe setting touched base on the original, but because of game mechanics they were never direct spin-offs of the original campaign setting. And this is why I am now releasing Guardian Universe REVIVAL products. These are part of the original campaign continuity set in 2005. Each product will include background data for running games in the original setting. The first up is this product: Monsters Twilight 3.
After my Black Summer review I read two very DIFFERENT graphic novels by Warren Ellis. And I was very happy!
The first was NO HERO. This story was about a hippy who accidently created super version of LSD that had special properties: people who take it get powers….usually. So Carrick starts this secret order from where he manipulates the world using his super humans. The concept of hand picking heroes and creating them was pretty well thought out. The story was better. Summed up: the world governments have finally found a way to kill the super humans and are out for revenge. This leaves Carrick and his crew in a spot, as one hero after another dies. Now the term ‘hero’ is pretty loose here. They are far from your Superman happy types, instead they are more like your Authority style mental cases with baggage. But the plot twist comes with a guy who really wants to be a hero and runs around the city playing vigilante. He eventually gets noticed and Carrick offers him a gig. But when you take the ‘super drug’ you turn into whatever you really are inside. It took me a bit, but I didn’t catch on at first when the guy’s skin fell off…LOL.
Anyways, NO HERO was a good choice. If you are looking for something that isn’t DC or Marvel, this is a must read.
Now second up was SUPERGOD and I have to say this was the best read all year. Imagine a world where each country makes their own superhuman. Now we are not talking Wolverine, we are talking GOD scale heroes. And then imagine them being so dangerous that they could destroy the planet. That is what SUPERGOD is about. It’s mostly a series of unfortunate events that cause each superhuman to come together in a nasty battle, compliments of the Krishna (the superhuman from India) who has decided to wipe out all the bad and recreate it in its own image. The whole story is told by a researcher from England who was a handler that country’s superhuman. Every section is epic and SUPERGOD is hard to put down once you start reading. Warren Ellis gives you a GRADE A piece here.
Thank you Warren Ellis for restoring my faith in you.
I normally don’t do an online criticism of an author, let alone one I am a fan of, but this time I will. As a superhero junky and game designer, I like to see what people are doing with the genre. After burning through several graphic novels I moved onto Warren Ellis’s Black Summer. As a fan of Ellis this seemed like a good premise according to the write-up on Amazon. What I got was something far less thought provoking and more of a very poorly presented, drawn out, political rant about George W. Bush and the Iraq War. With past Ellis titles, he has come around with a good ending that provokes thought. With Black Summer, I came away feeling empty and let down.
Black Summer is about a team of heroes called ‘The Seven Guns’ who have been augmented by the government to help fight injustice. Their leader, John Horus, murders George W. Bush and all his staff (all unnamed) with the justification that GWB’s war in Iraq was illegal and GWB’s election was illegal too, hence why he needed to be murdered. Add to that John Horus wants to give back America to the people. This is all explained in the first 2 pages of the graphic novel. I stopped at that point and asked myself if I wanted to read what was turning into a Liberal rant by a non-American writer. Because it was Warren Ellis, Mr. Authority himself, I pushed on. After all, Ellis had always had a good moral ending to all his tales, no matter how dark or edgy. Sadly Ellis failed. The story continues on as John’s team tries to come up with a strategy to take down their teammate, all while they kill American soldiers mindlessly and trash on America in general. Even with some great plot twists (faked suicides ect) Ellis failed to understand WHY the US military goes to war, instead running off of aggressive Liberal views that lacked teeth. He almost touches bits and pieces in a right way, and at one point it almost seems like Ellis might bring it back around. But again….he fails to do so. As I finished the last page I kept wondering WHY Warren Ellis would write such a bad piece of work. The answer is simple: knee jerk reaction. It seems the only logical answer.
This year’s TotalCon was another fantastic convention. Being it was our forth year, you never know what will happen. My wife and I left Thursday night at 10pm from Maine because the weather reports were calling for lots of snow. Of course they had been saying it on and off for weeks and the storms didn’t come or didn’t give out a lot of free snow. We got into Massachusetts and stayed at Best Western in Haverhill. Funny place really. 24 hour CVS next door. Shady people coming and going. Cops on the hill. But our room was nice and my wife and I enjoyed the quiet time.
Friday afternoon we left Haverhill and went to Mansfield for TotalCon. We got to the hotel before check in, but the front desk manager, Teddy set us up in a nice room early and really took care of us. Which of course was nice after he and I went at it during the first TotalCon I went to because of different issues. He has really come a long way and I highly recommend dealing with him when it comes to customer service. My wife and I got settled we got our passes and headed to the vendor room to visit Brenden Hill from Crossroad Games. I have been a customer of Brenden’s store for quite a few years. While at SnowCon we networked him up with Angie Heroux (who makes stuff happen at TotalCon) which led to him coming to TotalCon as a vendor. He also brought Jeremy Brown from The GUILD (a youth leadership program). After saying hello to him we visited Tricia Pfeffer (another vendor) and Don Higgins (diva artist and friend). I will say that the vendor area this year was really well stocked. I left with a Heroclix Sentinel during that visit. The evening schedule was crazy. Wes (the big guy who runs TotalCon) ran some panels that Blix (Studio 187), Ben Morgan (Chapter 13), James Carpio (Chapter 13), Don Higgins and myself sat in on. The first was a good discussion on art and horror. The other…I can’t remember…LOL. And NO, I was not drinking. When we finished that up it was off to Cube of Death, the true convention game show.
Cube of Death was created by Peter Bryant (Blix). He pitted all the industry guests against one another with a teammate who was a convention patron. I had Mike Thompson on my team (a friend from the old Silven Crossroads). The first round I was in pitted me again legendary Tim Kask and super madman Dr. Nik (IronGM TotalCon finalist). Now understand, Tim and I had been having friendly banter about Cube of Death for a few weeks and he was on the fence about playing because he didn’t want to feel like some young guy was trying to get a notch on their belt. But we got him to play anyways. Tim and Dr. Nik were about to smite my team until we pulled off some stupid miracle win. Ever get that really crappy sinking feeling of just’ yuck’? That’s what I felt like. Next thing I know they have me up against Gary Ashford (a fellow Cyberpunk alumni) who proceeded to school me in a bad way. And while his team would have won anyways, their final blow was an inaccurate question that Blix didn’t understand, Red Dwarf related. I’m not sure who the industry guest was that won. I was playing Phantasy Star 2 on my wife’s iPhone after my loss, but the winning team was pretty awesome. I forgot to mention, my wife was the Cube of Death scorekeeper. That was pretty funny too.
After Cube of Death I went back to my room with my wife and chilled before going to the GM Social. There we bumped into Dregg (James Carpio) and Mary (his GF). We chatted until Tim Kask joined us. I apologized for Cube of Death and Tim had a lot to say about it. My history with Tim actually started at last TotalCon after a nice casual chat about FUBAR on a Sunday morning in the hall. We sat and listened to Tim tell some fun stories (totally un-game related, just what I like) and some other industry stuff too. From there it was off to bed.
Saturday was my crazy day. At 10am I had a young audience G-Core game using Marvel characters. Dreg and Mary joined us along with a father and son and three others. G-Core is always one o those games that works GREAT at conventions. At SnowCon we had some issues with people who had more attacks than others. This time I made sure to keep everyone engaged. I ran a Days of Future Past game that included the Fantastic 4 reserve team of Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Hulk and Spider-Man. I even had Mary playing Dr. Doom and Dreg as the Hulk. The other players had She-Hulk, Iron Lad and one other (my brain is still fried). But the general story was that Doom and Iron Lad showed up looking for a time disruption which ended up with Sentinels pouring through a portal. Highlights gave us Ghost Rider turning a Sentinel into his very own Hellfire Sentinel and Wolverine learning that Dr. Doom’s armor is NOT a good thing to grab.
Our afternoon session was just as fun. Ben Gerber joined us as the heroes went through the portal. The roster consisted of Dr. Doom, Death’s Head 2 (Marvel UK), Spider-Man and Wolverine. I think by this game my brain was baked from Sentinel warfare. The game went smoothly.
My later afternoon consisted of showing Mike Thompson the new Chronicle 00:Book 1. I also did another panel which went well. Wow. I don’t remember much about that one either…. I do recall discussion about how to get started in the industry, which I think was probably the most valuable bit from the whole thing.
Saturday night was reserved for my ‘ADULTS ONLY’ Fuzion Bloks 2 game: Seals of the Apocalypse. We had a GREAT group of players including Dreg, Mary, Blix, Mike Kaffes, John Sussenberger, Tricia Pfeffer and Brenden Hill. At first we thought the game wouldn’t run because someone had taken our table… But luckily Angie let us use the GREEN ROOM for the game. Yeah, that’s right. Probably the only real quiet room at the whole convention. We had a blast. I had multi-media stuff that wouldn’t work due to internet issues, but I made up for it. The game was the second part to the Seals of the Apocalypse campaign pitting players against the Four Horsemen in a world much like our own and without any cool stuff per say. I handed out a Mystery Inc (Scoobie Doo) parody team and an A-Team parody team. Highlights included lots of pot smoking and throwing Suzie-Q’s at a monster called a ‘Bloater’. Now I don’t promote drug use. For the purposes of the game we had people stoned. And instead of a real person as the Horseman Famine, I created a new breed of tapeworm….and I supplied gummy worms for that special feel.
But it was the Dilly Green Bean Games’ cocktail hour that topped it all. We had Dreg, Ben Gerber and his wife, Ben Morgan, Blix, Mike Kafes, Don Higgins and his girlfriend, Tricia, Brenden Hill and Jerermy Brown, Angie Heroux and my wife all packed into a hotel room drinking Woodchuck (except myself who doesn’t drink) and chilling. And then came that knock. Mr. Tim Kask joined us! After Tim put Blix in his place, he proceeded to entertain us into the wee hours. We were laughing so hard at his stories that the lady next door came knocking to complain about the noise. I can’t discuss Tim’s stories in any detail. We all were sworn to secrecy. …LOL! And after Tim and the last people left it was off to bed (around 330am).
Oh and that lady next door. About 4am her and her man were going at it. Talk about a screamer.
Sunday my wife and I packed up and headed home.
So my overall rating of TotalCon this year? I give it an ‘A’.
The panels were well run (great job Wes!!)
Cub of Death was exciting!
Game sessions were a BLAST!
The DGBG Cocktail hour was a success!
Staff were amazing! Especially Angie Heroux!
So a BIG THANK YOU to EVERYONE that made TotalCon an AWESOME TIME!
Here is another killer G-Core review. You will need to right click and save (it’s a podcast). Thank you to Walt for giving G-Core a great review!