Dilly Green Bean Games Almanac


Art of Game Design Panel

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the March 25th, 2011

Cosmic! I want your Soul Gem, heck I want the whole damn Infinity Gauntlet!

Posted in Design by Administrator on the March 23rd, 2011

The very first comic book I had as a kid was a Marvel collection that featured Silver Surfer vs. Spider-Man and the Death of Adam Warlock story. Of course as a little kid I didn’t know Thanos was a villain. You figure, here is Thanos helping save the universe from the Magus. So of course I think he’s a hero. So what if in one frame he is standing on a mountain of dead aliens. So before I even got exposed to Captain Marvel, I was a devote Thanos fan.

Speed ahead to the Rebirth of Thanos (featured in Silver Surfer vol.2). Now I find out Thanos is a bad-guy of the worst kind. I quickly go out and buy EVERYTHING Thanos I can find. As a teenager it’s hard to buy old comics, luckily my parents owned an antique shop so I ended up with older titles easily. I started with the Adam Warlock comics, starting with Strange Tales and working my way up. Then one day while I was at a flea market in Freedom, NH I found a box of Captain Marvel comics….with Thanos on the cover! Needless to say I had to mow a lot of lawns that Summer to pay back my Grammy Pat, who bought them all for me. After that I had my parents keep hunting for more Thanos related titles, while I immersed myself in the Silver Surfer/Thanos material. The Infinity Quest brought Thanos up against the likes of the Elders of the Universe. Classic scenes included the Grandmaster’s VR battle with Thanos and The Champion destroying a whole planet trying to beat Thanos and getting towed to a world where Thanos ‘drops him’ from orbit. The more Thanos I got the heavier it got. Then Adam Warlock returned. Here is a hero who just has dumb luck. No matter how hard he tries, he knows that if he isn’t careful, the Magus will return. And of course his dark side does, but not before we get the Infinity Gauntlet min-series. Nebula getting burned alive and kept alive by Thanos, brutal stuff. And of course Adam Warlock gets the Infinity Gauntlet. But we aren’t done yet, because in the Infinity War the Magus comes back and raises hell. I always liked the old Magus. The purple Afro and classic Warlock costume. Good stuff. And then to make it worse, the Infinity Crusade with Her, Adam’s female essence.

What I liked about those stories were the epic tales, the dire consequences and the loss, no matter what any hero did. Thanos always seemed to be at the center and Adam Warlock was forever damned to face off with him.

So how do I translate that into game? Well when I did Black Galaxy War for GU2, I introduced Prime, my Adam Warlock character. I toyed with him for a bit but didn’t like the direction. As I reinvisioned him for G-Core, I took him closer to Warlock in many ways, yet made him even more persecuted and emotional. With Prime, he was designed to fight Omega, but never got the chance. He wakes up and ends up accidentally killing Galactic Legionnaires instead. This makes him a wanted man. But Prime isn’t evil. He feels guilt over what he did and even surrenders. Of course we can’t have Prime going to jail, so I give him an escape and a chance to redeem himself. His conflict with Mondo and his confrontation with Fatalle prove that Prime is not a killer. Of course he surrounds himself with the worst kind of people. Marvel referred to this as the Adam Warlock Jesus Christ comparison. Adam Warlock had Pip and Gamora. Pip was a thief and Gamora the deadliest woman in the galaxy. Later he would pick up the mindless Drax the Destroyer and even Thanos himself. I wanted the same feel, but not as blatantly obvious. We have Imp, the Pip character. Not into alcohol, but loves gold. Fatalle is the Gamora, but she sticks with Prime for different reasons. Instead of a vengeful Drax character, I took a DEAD Demi-God whom I never statted but have referred to in different GU products and made him real, hence Mondo, Son of Thor. But instead of being brought back to life by Chronos, Mondo gets his life from the Death Godstone that Prime wears. So in a sense I have created my own Infinity Watch in some ways. Of course the Infinity Watch is based on Monster Island with Mole Man while Over Watch is mobile across the universe. Their true purpose is unknown, although Prime works to do good for the universe, he is wanted by both good and evil. Eventually I will bring out some villains that will cause Prime a lot of grief. But for now I’m keeping it simple.

Chicago Wrap Up and How to Make a ‘Wow’ Origin for a character!

Posted in Design by Administrator on the March 18th, 2011

So the art and layout are done for Chicago: City of Fear.  Now to do the cover art.

I’m at a junction with G-Core. I have a sci-fi piece I want to do for G-Core GRIT, but I know there is the demand for superhero material. Especially if I am going to keep G-Core afloat. It died off a little when I ended up in the hospital. The flu didn’t help much either. But at least I am getting back into it.

I think next I will release the Cosmic Powers freebie and start working on the Guardian’s PDF. After that I can take it in two directions. I can release STRIKERs and OMEGA. From there I might do an Evolutionary PDF to go along with the last bits of the Guardian Universe III setting. Hopefully the the 3rd party crowd will release some more material so I can take a breather and work on other non-G-Core material. Right now I am using my weekends to get Xandoria Galaxies finished.

So how about some design notes?

While working on Chicago, I read through Danny Ketch Classics (Ghost Rider v. 2). Some great stories. I talked about them a little in previous blog posts. But I also read Moon Knight: God and Country. While I never cared for Moon Knight, I liked the basic concept. But after reading G&C I really took to not liking MK at all. They took the American Werewolf in London premise and applied it to MK. But instead of a friend, it’s Bushmaster, who MK killed in some previous story. It was weird all around. But the last story in the TPB was cool. Werewolf Fightclub. It was nice to get some classic Marvel story after that mess from the beginning. It made me want to play the G-Core scenario Monsters’ Twilight. I chose MK because I wanted a non-powered title to help break open locked sections of my brain. Sadly MK didn’t do the trick. Next up I started reading The Very Best of Spider-Man. It includes classics like the origin of Spidey and some Todd McFarlane material, which rocked. I remember reading Todd’s Marvel stuff as a teen. The art was great. Of course I wish it had inspired me on inside art more. But it worked for what I wanted it for. But what I really got from the Spidey TPB was the intensity of story. Peter with a hurt leg, pinned beneath a metal support beam, water rushing in, the canister with material that will save Aunt May’s life feet in front of him, teasing, taunting. And in his darkest moment, Peter lifts the beam and limps to the canister. And then the ceiling gives way, water rushes in and he is swept away. Right when Peter thinks he has escaped, Doc Ock’s goons show up. Peter has to fight his way out, injured, tired. He lets the thugs pummel him until his energy comes back. The kid lashes out and doesn’t even realize that he took them all out. But Peter gets the canister to Dr. Conners who makes a cure for Aunt May. Peter delivers it as Spideyto the hospital and Aunt May lives! The whole time you see the human side of Peter. His drive to save his Aunt because he didn’t save his Uncle. It’s there. It’s beautiful. It reminds me that in my origin stories for heroes and villains alike, that I MUST have realism. I MUST have emotion! They can’t be cookie cutter. I want you to just say ‘wow’ when you finish reading. But I’m not perfect. I have written some pretty bland backgrounds. But with Chicago, I worked to ‘wow’ the reader. Betrayal is an important step in the birth of a hero. Sometimes it’s the driving force or sometimes it’s unknown, leaving the player to never know WHY it happened, but only to know that crud just keeps happening. It’s not right, but that’s life. So as you design, you really need to hit the deep spot. Saying “He was a weakling as a kid, but his powers in adulthood made him great” is NOT deep. Saying “Bob was constantly tormented by the bigger kids in school. In second grade Flash used to pin Bob down and slap his face until it was as a red as a cherry. This bullying continued into high school, with daily beatings. But once Bob got his powers, he didn’t let anyone push him around anymore. And when Bob found himself pinned to the ground by anyone, he would lash out violently, reliving his childhood. On one such occasion, Bob broke the ribs of a would-be robber after the crook accidently fell on Bob, pinning him beneath. The police had to pull the hero off of the robber as Bob delivered blow after blow into the sides of his target. Bob’s eyes were bloodshot and teared up. No one had seen him like that before. No one except Flash.” While short, this example shows you that Bob has issues and WHY he has issues. It’s not as simple as it may seem.

Give it a try. Write a ‘Wow’ origin for a hero and post them here. I’ll workshop them with you.

Just a small disclosure: Several of my origin pieces have been used at DigiPen (school for game design) to show future game designers how to write a proper origin. I also teach writing for a local university. So this workshop is well worth your time and it’s free.

Chicago Part 2: How Dark?

Posted in Design by Administrator on the March 16th, 2011

So as I begin layout for Chicago: City of Fear I wanted to come on here and throw some stuff out there.

Chicago is a city of no powers. So the heroes and villains tend to be darker. Think about it, no one is going to take a dude in tights serious. Hell, if someone in tights ran up to me and asked for all my money I’d kick them in the balls and shank them with a pen. I guess that’s why I never got into the whole ‘capes’ style supers. Dress stylish. Be a bad mother. Show some real discipline. So when players go to Chicago, they are going to NOT want to stand out. And when they fight crime they will need a plan. There is no walking up to a villain and asking them to drop their weapon if you are armed with water balloons or a catus. Those bastards will blow your brains out and spit down what’s left of your neck. So yes, it’s darker than Bean Town. But there are reasons for that. Imagine the new Batman movies in game format set in a superhero universe, mixed with Ghost Rider and the Shadow. A place where the line between hero and villain is skewed because of who’s on the take and who’s not. You get some real Punisher style gaming too. For those real Marvel geeks, flash back to What If? Punisher’s Family Wasn’t Killed In Central Park. Frank Castle ended up being the biggest cop killer in history. Why? Because the cops were on the take so he took them out. So as you enter Chicago you will see it, sometimes right in your face. But what lines are your players willing to cross? That goodie codpiece hero is likely to get their head bashed in for even trying to cross the crime organizations. Or maybe they get pounded and snap (Similar to Rad Lad when his lashed out and ended up in Juvie).

So why go darker? In every Guardian Universe product I have done there is always something ultra dark. This is that place. A city where no powers are allowed and you can’t even sneak into the city with powers because they will depower thanks to power dampeners. It really just makes those players think.

I do want to give a shout out to Hard Luck Ink for breaking into the industry using G-Core. I know I heard some gripes about art, but did you guys see MY first art debut in Guardian Universe Core Fuzion? Trust me, I like Hard Luck’s art MUCH better! Not to mention their setting background is really there. And if I actually had an art budget I’d hire Chris to do art for me.

I also want to shout to Gerry ‘The’ Saracco. He’s been working on some G-Core stuff too. The guy has great ideas and has really pushed me to make G-Core what it is.

And there is the Pineappleleader from the G-Core fan club. He’s been doing GREAT support work, creating all sorts of erratas. At this rate he’s going to end up running the fan club.

Last I want to wrap up with a reminder. All G-Core proceeds from PDF sales from March 13-31 will go to Global Giving to help with the relief effort in Japan. Money goes towards supplies that are delivered to the country. I did a check to make sure they were legit. I’m not one to give to the National Red Cross. I will only do that on the local level so I know where the money goes.

G-Core Chicago

Posted in Design by Administrator on the March 10th, 2011

I never realized how big Chicago was until I actually started working on the Chicago PDF for G-Core.

The first thing I did was try and find a royalty free map. That didn’t go too well. Eventually I had to settle on a normal map, which I won’t be able to put in the PDF, but I can use it as a reference. My real hang-up came when I was looking for the location of Graceland Cemetery. It was located OFF the map I found…go figure.

Of course I prefer not to use real names of locations for may different reasons. SO Graceland was turned into The Hollows Cemetery.

But what is going into the Chicago PDF when it comes to gaming material? I am introducing some new dark heroes. Characters like Justice Terror and Revenger should make Ghost Rider fans happy. I spent the last few weeks reading the Danny Ketch TPBs from Marvel. I needed a setting that didn’t go beyond stupid. (Although the Ghost Rider series ended really lame as you can read in the Danny Ketch: Addict TPB. The Ghost Rider series deserved to die after reading issues 93 and 94, which represented the end of the 1990′s Ghost Rider run). Chicago is supposed to be supers free. But no one said I couldn’t do supernatural. And that I did. Of course you need some fun villains, so I threw in Chuckles (famous in my GU2 Chicago Freebie) with a new background and The Surgeon (who had been haunting ALL of my Guardian Universe products). There are some other characters too. Enter Redeemer and Father Joseph, older heroes from the ORIGINAL GU days in 1990 who also got a make-over! No more of the killing child-molester priests. I made it a little more kid friendly.

That’s all for now. This was more of a little spurt of info I wanted to blab about.

TOTALCON 25 REPORT!

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the March 1st, 2011

TotalCon25

Thursday

To try and beat the storm that was brewing for Friday, my wife and I packed up our stuff and headed down to Mansfield, MA. Of course we first stopped at Newbury Comics and played Musical Roulette. I told my wife she needed to pick 1 CD she was not familiar with and I did the same. Ray picked Girls of the 80s and I picked Cherry Ghost. It made for an interesting drive.

We got to Mansfield, MA just in time to get supper at the hotel restaurant. After that I hooked up the DVD player and my wife and I watched Memoir of a Geisha while cutting out material for Saturday games. 

Friday

Friday was a really rainy day. We braved the weather to hit Target and Panera. It’s one of those goofy traditions my wife and I have. We picked up snacks at Target, but in order to get back to the SUV we had to run across a parking lot in a downpour, with lakes everywhere. Panera’s walk wasn’t much better. But the lunch was awesome! A roast beef sandwich with green tea! Great for a rainy day!

Later that day we were planning on Sushi, but due to lack of directions, we ended up with Pizza (which was good since Blix wasn’t going to get supper due to travel issues, so we saved some for him).

Artist Panel

My first event Friday night was participating in an Artist Panel with James Carpio as the moderator. Blix, Don Higgins and myself were the guests. We had a good time talking about art projects over the past few years. Don took a cheap shot at someone who will go unnamed…lol. I could have run with it, but I’m trying to behave. But I agree with Don 100%.

Game Design Panel

Next was a game design panel with Blix as the moderator. Ben Gerber, Gary Astleford, James Carpio, Jeff Talanian and myself were guests. It was probably good Gary and Jeff were in the middle. Their credentials made me feel like a tiny little pebble…lol. But it was a great discussion on design and everyone had a great attitude with no diva issues. I was so memorable, that one patron called me Jim. And Jeremy, I still remember your name!

TriTack Podcast

This is Blix’s baby. His Fringeworthy fantasy come true. James Carpio, John Sussenberger and myself. A lot of discussion on dimensional gaming.

The Red Death Reading

So Blix had been bragging about a reading he was going to do at TotalCon. Over and over I kept hearing about it. I laughed at first, but as he got ready to do the reading he handed my wife a stack of papers. Then John Sussenberger, James Carpio and then me. The sucka had written a small radio play. So here we were, all tired, beat and thirsty, reading in character The Red Death, a Mythic Steel tale. I was told English accent. So in my best Mr. Toad voice from Wind in the Willows I belted out my lines, made sexual remarks about my wife’s ass (that Blix put in the script for me) and ended with a great line, that if went uninterrupted, no one would have figured out that Blix had misspelled Hell. But it was a really cool event!!

Cube of Death

I stepped out for this one. But Blix ran a cool game show where players had to answer questions about different geeky subjects. Cool stuff.

Saturday

GI Joe

My first event Saturday morning was my fan based GI Joe Fuzion Bloks game. Dr. Mind Bender led an army of BATS to free Big Boa. We had a family playing and Mary, James Carpio’s girlfriend, who has played almost EVERY GI Joe game I have run. Good fun!

[IRON GM] This was a cool event, but with one downside: anyone running a game out in the garden room couldn’t hear themselves talk. It was obscenely loud. They could have turned down the PA system considerably.

Geeks Panel

The Geeks Panel was another thing I had no clue about what I was getting into. It was run by Ethan Gilsdorf who wrote Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. I was totally out classed amongst the other panel members. Maybe because I never allowed myself to be bothered by labels people put on me. I mean come on, I’ve been called a C$%^ by one of the biggest diva names in the industry. Geek isn’t even on my radar. But the rest of those guys, especially Ethan, were hardcore intellectual types. I think that’s why I felt uncomfortable. I’m a simple thinking guy. Those guys could write books on the in and outs of life, science and theory. I do want to thank Ethan for hosting the panel though. Very cool.

Star Wars

Yet another fan based Fuzion Bloks game. We had Mark Edwards and his son play along with a friend of theirs. Mark’s son, this little kid, was just brilliant. He got distracted like any other kid, but he kept me smiling the whole time. Probably one of the most rewarding experiences to have.

G-Core

My pride and joy, is of course, G-Core. I ran this game with the whole family I had for GI Joe, Don Higgin’s girlfriend and her daughters, and Jeremy (yes, the guy who called me Jim). In a real shocker, it took about 15 minutes for the adults to create characters and 20 for the kids. Instead of going page for page from the book, I instead approached it by what powers people would like to have and went from there. WAY easier. I picked apart the old Day of the Octopus module from Marvel Superheroes and applied some of the concepts to the adventure. I had all the players be part of a fieldtrip for a school for gifted teens. Great fun! Boys and Girls gaming together and having a lot of fun. And they played off each other too.

GUCST: The First Seal of the Apocalypse

This game was pretty dark. I separated players and gave different briefings. James Carpio and Mary joined us. I actually had designed Blaxploitation characters for them: Bad Mother F^$%er and Foxy Sista, two drug empire jive enforcers. I made all the players really stick to the parts. As I was giving a briefing, an older man walked by and overheard what I was saying. He asked what game we were playing and I invited him to join us. As the game progressed, the Afro-drug enforcers crossed paths with the military players. I left the table to use the bathroom and told them to chat with each other in character to get to know one another. When I came back they were going at it. Needless to say, James Carpio, an academic in Blaxploitation Film, had dropped some really colorful words and it was getting ugly (in a good way). Although I will say I didn’t expect people to go all out with the ‘N’ word. We had to tone it down a bit.

The game overall went well. The baby (who was Pestilence) ended up shot to death by a player. Of course this triggered the breaking of the first seal of the Apocalypse. The after game chat was interesting. The gentleman who had joined our table was a retired Army Colonel. He really enjoyed the game. Another player told me it was the best game he’d played all weekend. And a player who had played my first GI Joe game complimented my story-telling ability and the settings I come up with.

Saturday was a great day of gaming.    

Dilly Green Bean Games Cocktail Hour

Every convention I host a cocktail hour for industry guests that are considered ‘Friendly’s. In the past we have had mega guests like Mike Pondsmith, Jessica Hartley and Aaron Rosenberg. Of course we have other awesome guests too! This year we had Angie (TotalCon), Monique (SnowCon), James Carpio (I-Con, ConnectiCon, Chapter 13 Press), Blix (Studio 187 and TriTack), David DeLuca (convention goer), Christine Crabb (Carnage), Mary (James’s woman), Don Higgins, Tony (Don’s GF) and Brian (a friend of Blix and a total tech guy). Needless to say they wiped out my supply of Gerry’s Ale. Highlight: James having a little too much and almost taking a spill on me. The cocktail hour started at 1130pm and ended Sunday morning at 3am.

Sunday

So Sunday morning I ventured to the vendor’s to pick up something for my kids. Picked up the Buffy RPG for my oldest and Fairy Meat for my youngest two. But it was on the way out when I was stopped in the hallway by an older man, who liked the FUBAR t-shirt. As I thanked him and we started walking away from one another, he stopped me again and called me ‘sir’. When I responded ‘don’t call me sir, I almost work for a living’ he came right up and started telling me all his sea stories from his time in the Navy. I told him I also served. As he is getting all excited and telling me even more stories I look down and read his name tag: Tim Kask, the man who started Dragon Magazine and the D&D legend himself! He talked to me for about 20 minutes before I had to pardon myself so I could go get my wife. But what a funny guy. If I had more time I would have bought him a coffee and sat down for even more stories.

Other Memorable Moments:

Frank Mentzer remembering my name (my wife said he probably just read my nametag, but still). It was also good to see Doug Poirier (RPGbomb). Dude, we really miss seeing you.  

Thank you to the staff of TotalCon for a GREAT TIME!!