Monday, December 15, 2014

The Wendig Yeary Wrap Up

Chuck Wendig over at posted a little questionnaire about how 2014 has shaped up. I decided to steal it from him, as I do not fear him or his warmongering googe, and thought I'd share it over here.

Here that, Chuck? I fear neither you nor your goose. Consider you both cooked!

1) Favorite novel of the year?
2) Favorite non-fiction book of the year?
3) Favorite short story of the year?
4) Favorite movie of the year?
5) Favorite TV show of the year?
6) Favorite song of the year?
7) Favorite album?
8) Favorite video game?
9) Favorite app?
10) Favorite [something else] of the year?

1. My favorite novel of the year, besides The Last Ringbearer, would have to be rereading the Song of Ice and Fire series with my Mom. She really got into the series after watching the TV show and it was awesome to read through it again and see her insights into the series. Even though I prefer House Mormont, we'd both make great Starks.
2. My favorite non-fiction book  was the Guns of August, which was a look into World War I. I now know where the Guns of August Society get their name from in KODT!
3. The story about the Cygnarans in the Warmachine book Vengeance. It was really well done, and I enjoyed reading te stries in there.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy, hands down! It was amazing on so many levels and I laugh when thinking about my favorite scenes. It was well worth the wait, though I'm sad we have to wait until 2017 for the sequel.
5. I didn't get to watch a ton of TV this year but I'd have to say it's a toss up between House of Cards and Agents of Shield. House of Cards brought the drama, and Agents of Shield finally picked up steam and delivered what I was hoping for in the show.
6. My favorite song of the year has to be Capital Cities - Safe and Sound. It always makes me feel more optimistic when I hear it.
7. I didn't buy that many albums this year, but the Guardians of the Galaxy - Awesome Mix 1 has to be my favorite.
8. I don't buy that many video games, and while it had a ton of problems that I talked about in another post, I really love Destiny. I loved the co-op game play and I have had many great times doing the weekly missions with Bryan, Dereke, John, and Rico.
9. My favorite app has been the Google Drive app as it lets me work from the hookah cafe and access the files I need. I also get to work cooperatively with others on projects thanks to it.
10. Starting up my own company and putting serious groundwork into a game that I hope to have ready for Kickstarter next year. It is so amazing and fun to work on and I hope that translates into the game itself.

How about you guys?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

"We don't focus on genre fiction here, we focus on real fiction."

I was told that in a creative writing class in 2005 while I was attending Purdue University. I was enrolled in their Liberal Arts program getting a double major in History and Writing. Writing had been a hobby of mine while growing up, as whenever I was grounded from watching TV my Mom insisted I find something else to do and writing stories about such thrilling, three dimensional characters as Dragonfire the weredragon who breathes fire and Manta Man, an underwater batman.

....yes, those are the actual names. I assure you, the Lava Lord, Silver Dragon, and Laserman weren't that much better.

When I was in high school and I fell in love with Werewolf: the Apocalypse I started writing down the adventures I wrote for my players and short stories about my LARP characters. I loved writing, but when it came time to graduate from High School I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It took taking a fiction course at Marian College before I became convinced I wanted to write for a living. I knew what writing I liked doing, I knew what types of genres I loved to write stories for, so now I just had to take the next step and commit to it.

The problem was, it was very hard to find any professors that would take anything but literary fiction. Literary fiction, at least as far as I understand it, is telling stories set in the modern world. There are no fantastic elements to them, and they do not evoke themes of horror, science fiction, or fantasy. It wasn't just that the professors wanted to focus on literary fiction during the course but in many cases they were very hostile to the very mention of it.

The reactions I received ran along the lines of...

  • "Genre fiction is the lowest form of fiction."
  • "Genre fiction is not real fiction."
  • "With a few exceptions, the majority of genre work is crap."
  • "You will never improve if you write stories like that."

Of the many courses I attended at Purdue, only one allowed for even the slightest bits of fantastical elements to them. The others had us write about emotions and themes, but we had to structure the stories around very generic locations. We had to rewrite stories and give them a modern twist. We had to write about conversations between people, such as about the loss of a loved one or going through a break up.  All helpful exercises, but when it came time to write longer stories there were several professors who would refuse any story that contained elements that did not conform to their narrow view of literary fiction.

That's why this video hit a cord with me.

I understand that professors need to set strict guidelines for a course. I mean, you have to have guidelines for which to grade people, right? But to just reject it out of hand because it does not conform with your views of what real writing is doesn't help someone grow as a writer.

While it is true that a lot of genre fiction is full of narratives such as Lord Stoutheart, the Purest Paladin Who Is A Hit With All The Ladies and Duke Bumpuncher, Scifi Scoundrel of Saturn, you will find other characters who are not only as memorable as Huck Finn but are just as deep. Juan Rico from the novel Starship Troopers is one such figure. Every time I reread that book I take away something new, and seeing the brutal, authoritarian world that he lives in through his eyes changes each time.

Now before I go, I have a few friends to share with you guys. The first are my friends over at Nerd's Domain, who review RPGs and other gaming items and record podcasts of their Cthulhu campaigns. Go check out the adventures of the Quietts and Scott Troiano as they explore through the Mask of Nyarlothotep!

My friend Sarah Roarke has a kickstarter up for her webcomic! She's so close to her goal and her comic is pretty awesome. You can find it over at

And finally, check out our new Facebook page! I waffled on creating one for a while because I didn't want to overwhelm people with updates from Smug Pug Games but it seemed like a great way to reach the wider masses that are Facebook.

Now if you excuse me, I shall go fall over dead now from this stupid cold. I cannot wait for someone to reveal that I'm secretly a Skrull and I can move beyond these stupid illnesses.

Ooh, Skrull-Space Knight-Green Lantern.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Your Destiny Is You Should Be Writing

Hello again, puggerinos. This week's blog talks about, in such a SHOCKING twist, Destiny.

I know. You have more than likely seen lots of posts about this game in your feed. Considered already one of the most successful new IPs to launch this year, it has thousands of players and has been all the rage around gaming sites for the past three weeks.

For those of you who don't know what it's about, Destiny is a first person shooter where you take on the role of a Guardian trying to save the Last City from the Darkness and its minions who are trying to steal away the Light from the mysterious Traveler.

....yes, that's the story. But all of that aside, it's a surprising amount of fun, despite how frustrating its been for me. This is in spite of all the proper nouns it throws at you while you play.

I do love the game, and despite getting irritated with it constantly I always dream of playing it. I always want to do just one more Strike  (a leveled mission you can do with friends) or I want to play a few more rounds in the Crucible (their PvP arena.) I am addicted to buying ships, and I routinely take bounties that are as stimulating as SHOOT 200 FALLEN IN THEIR HEADZ BECAUSE SCIENCE.

Random gripe: Why can I only access the lore of the game by killing hundreds of thousands of dudes? Are my bullets really tiny anthropologists who report back to me "Hey! In this guy's spleen we found out why the Fallen breathe Ether Drops!"

Here's the thing; Destiny is not a friendly game towards the casual gamer. It can still be a lot of fun, but I've encountered a wall in the game that can only be overcome if I can devote massive amounts of time to it and that's something I just cannot do.

In Destiny, you needed to constantly get cooler and more powerful gear not just to kill bad guys in the game but to increase your level. Your level maxes out at 20, and only by getting more powerful pieces of gear could you improve your rating up to level 30. You could try to buy cooler gear in game, but to do so you had to get your reputation with a faction up to an insanely high amount so you could buy cooler gear or you had to hope you were lucky enough that legendary and exotic gear dropped for you on a whim.

Here's where the problem comes in for me. To quote Chuck Wendig, author and giver of amazing writing advice over at, if a writer ever finds himself with free time all to himself he really should be writing. Books are not going to write themself and if you have a deadline you have to meet, the deadline needs to come first. I can't convince my boss that I'll have my redlines in "After we kill Xyor the Unwed once and for all!" I can't tell my freelancers I'll edit their work "Just as soon as I get 23 Strange Coins." I'm starting up a whole new business venture but that will go nowhere if instead of filing paperwork and writing out the game I'm on Mars  looking for Relic Iron.

I like to consider myself pretty successful, with many shipped titles under my belt and with a really cool new project coming up soon that I hope to share with you. The thing is, I wouldn't be that successful if I gave in to my inner video gamer and never wrote a thing. Sometimes, my most boring nights have been spent editing with a Netflix on in the background instead of playing.

That is the other thing about why I should be writing. You see, I am in a business where I can get paid for my writing. Sure, if I write up "The Adventures of Karlyle Dracofist", my old Gemstone 3 character from the days of MUDs and MUCKs, I probably wouldn't make any money. But if I accept a contract from someone under the auspices of "If you write well, we will not only publish this but give you money for it," I am losing money to not be writing. I like eating. I like to travel. I like to not worry about not having enough money.

With Destiny, you have to devote yourself to grinding. And don't fool yourself by saying "You can wear all Rare gear and still do well in Crucible." I used to do really well in PvP in the game until each opponent I had to deal  with was armed with Exotic weapons capable of firing multiple  rounds a second, extremely accurate  shotguns, or fusion rifles whose charge time was almost zero. Soon I'm forced to rely upon all of my skill to hope to survive and even then, I watched my ratings slowly slip in the game.

The way I had around this wall was to participate in the legendary Loot Cave exploit that players had discovered in the first week of the game. It consisted of Guardians standing in a firing line firing shot after shot into a cave in the Cosmodrome where Hive soldiers were spawning every 6 seconds. The reward for this was that there was a 10% chance they would drop an Ingram, which would turn into a random piece of equipment that you could either dissasemble for parts and money or equip your character with.

The whole  thing reached almost ludicrous proportions. I once took part in a 30 man firing line into the cave, only taking breaks when a Daily Event took place. Since ammo and Ingram drops only appear in your version of the game there was no competition between players to scoop up all the Ingrams before someone else could. In no time at all you were swimming in money and Ingrams which you needed to improve other pieces of equipment.

It was stupid, but for the casual gamer, it was a godsend.

It allowed people like me to have a decent chance of getting the Legendary and Exotic pieces of equipment we needed in order to compete with others. Right now, I have two pieces of Legendary armor,  a piece of Exotic armor, and everything else is Blue. I don't have the time to run around and hope I get lucky and get one of those pieces of equipment, nor can I hope to get lucky and get my faction ranks up high enough to hope I have the ultra rare currency to buy cooler equipment.

Seriously. To go up in rank I need 3000 points in this faction just to reach Rank 2 and I get maybe 200 if I can sit down and play it for 40 minutes.

Bungie, I love your game. But I'm looking at Battlefield 4 as a way to scratch my itch until the next Battlefield comes out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Conundrum with Cosplayers

Please note that I have no problem with cosplayers, I just wanted to reference this post in some way like one of my favorite series of books, Dealing with Dragons.

I've seen this post going around my feed. It's an editorial by Denise Dorman, wife of illustrator Dave Dorman, and she is pretty critical of cosplayers and attendees of comic book conventions. I'll let you read her wordsd first before I chime in.

Damn it Cokie, you blocked my route! How will I ever link up Denver to-OH HEY YOU'RE BACK! I most certainly wasn't killing time by playing Ticket to Ride with Cokie.

....cheating Puggle......

Anyhoo, what did you think of what she had to say? I found myself disagreeing pretty early on, though I think I can see the source of her frustration. She seems to think that the trend of people not spending as much money at cons has to do with Cosplayers, who by themselves are a growing demographic in geekdom. You can't throw a rock these days without it bouncing off at least three Stormtroopers, a Bane, two Harley Quinns, and a severe lawsuit for throwing rocks inside a crowded convention hall.

I think the real issue is that people do not seem to be spending as much money at conventions and that Cosplayers are not to blame. People just are not spending as much money at conventions. Why? I don't have any conclusive proof, just a bunch of theories.

Look, it sucks when you don't even break even at a convention. It's even worse when you go in the red because of it. I've walked out of Gen Con thinking "Well....I could go back to shipping for a living." I've had friends who are dynamite artists pack up their booths and just give away free prints to people as they leave so that they A. don't have so much stuff to ship back home and B. they don't feel bad because they didn't sell much at all.

I think what we are seeing is a byproduct of the recession from a few years ago combined with a phasing out/phasing in of new fans into the convention scene. As the older guard no longer attends conventions, whether due to feeling that cons like Dragon Con have changed too much for their taste or because of health issues they cannot manage a 5 day trip, we see new blood entering the scene. These younger fans do not have the resources that others have. Many of them are still in high school or have just entered college, and do not have much in their budgets to buy a Limited Edition Malcolm Reynolds Light Saber.

At the same time, you cannot just tell people to spend more money at a con. I know I would love to spend the money I once did at Gen con. Hell, I remember having to make two trips out to my car because I had so many bags of swag to carry with me. I remember when if I left the con with any of my Gen Con budget left over I felt like I had lost the True Meaning of Gen Con and would wander around the Titan Games booth looking at books to add to my pile of books. (Which in some cases, I wouldn't even read and would sell to Half Price books later. Ahh. Decadence. Priveledge. Different time, different me.)

I would love to say to you all that you should go out and support artists and buy up as many prints as possible, but we both know that's not going to work. I can't boss people around and tell them to spend money. I will say that many of the artists you see in the artist gallery and many of the writers in the author alley are genuinely talented folks and you may be surprised at what you find waiting for you if you go and look.

Now as for the Cosplayers themselves...

There are more and more of them at conventions every year and that's pretty cool. I remember sitting in my neighbor's backyard and listening to him ask his son why our generation has such an obsession with costume parties because in his age, they stopped wearing costumes when they stopped going to Halloween. 15 years ago I remember when the guy walking around in his Mandalorian Power Armor was seen as kind of an interesting if weird guy who really loved Boba Fett. Now there's an entire Mandalorian Legion dedicated to constructing and displaying those suits of armor.

Maybe the ideals of our generation have shifted. Maybe we are more care free when it comes to how we dress and behave these days. I know several members of the 501st and they range from the Perpetual College Student to the Owns His Own Pool Business, and yet when you see them hanging out at cons showing off their armor they are as happy as can be. Outside of the con they are Bob Normalpants, but at the con they get to be TK1337, member of Vader's personal legion.

It's not just even the fact that there are more costumes either. Cosplaying is getting so advanced! There was a guy at Dragon Con who had a huge ass suit of robotic armor complete with a built in display on his chest and a vocoder so he could amplify his voice. A friend of mine has a huge suit of Juggernaut armor, and another friend just finished stitching together from scratch a Victorian steampunk adventurer's outfit. These aren't costumes you buy off the rack at Halloween Spirit, my friends; these suits are works of love!

(And that's not a dig at those who can't afford to make fancy costumes. Wear what you want, be your own groovy self.)

I know that this rumor has been going around about how Cosplayers are vain and do not like to spend money. I too have felt the scourge of getting stuck in walking traffic at Gen Con because someone in their massive Halo suit had to pose in a vital travel way and traffic got backed up due to people stopping to take pictures. That sucks. But I think some people are choosing the wormiest apple out of the bushel, as it were.

Cosplayers are really hardcore fans. I mean, you have to be if you're going to set out to make a costume that's as accurate as possible. I don't know that many people who sit around and spontaneously say "Today I shall build the Cyclops outfit from the X-Men movie" and not be dedicated to it. Fan is a shortened version of the word fanatic, and the attention to detail Cosplayers put into their work shows.

As for them not spending money at conventions, I think people may be a little confused on something. Sure, I don't see Bane walking from booth to booth shopping alongside everyone else, but that's probably because he only has so much time he wants to spend in his outfit before he wants to take the mask off. The girl in her Mass Effect cosplay is probably not going to wander around the artist alley when she has a hard time walking due to the solid plates she's attached to her suit limiting movement.

When they're out of their costumes? I guarantee you they are visiting the exhibition hall and looking at stuff. Maybe they're not buying as much because their $1000 replica Final Fantasy suit set them back a lot, but consider what you are getting out of it. You get to look at their suit and go "Aww that's cool!" while they trudge about getting hot under the fluorescent lights and the stuffy atmosphere that can happen in conventions.

As for "Comic Con not being about the comics", that will be a topic for another day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Numenera Organization: The Black Tigers

We've been playing Numenera since at least May and we are on our second campaign. It's an amazing game, both in system and in setting. The mechanics are simple yet there are dozens if not hundreds of options for your character based in the book. Set in the mythical Ninth World over a billion years into the future, you play as explorers seeking to understand their world and combat various menaces that seek to place it in jeopardy.

My character this time around is a Graceful Jack Who Fights With Panache, where I am a skilled swashbuckler and swordfighter. Caylen Cain, a captain in his country's famous Windrider Core, now lives in exile traveling from court to court and fighting evil while longing to free his homeland from the grip of the Council of Spheres.

Though the book talks about the Tiger Queen and how after her line died out the Council seized control of the country, it does not mention that much more of it. There is a regional option in the Character Options book where you play as a former soldier hoping to show off your skill and flare to the world, but that was about it. Fortunately, creating an organization for Numenera is really easy (3 points of XP and its yours!) So here is my take on the former elite guard of Draolis, the high flying Black Tiger Squadron.

For three hundred years, Draolis was a power to be feared in the region. It's people were fed, it's borders were secure, and it's diplomats welcomed at courts across the world. The Tiger Queens ruled from Qi with a firm yet benevolent hand, and though they came to power during a fierce war with Navarene they kept the country secure and content.

The rule of Amantha, the last Tiger Queen, was a contentious time. The Council of Spheres, refusing to cooperate with the monarchy, applied pressure on her allies and slowly reduced her control of her own nation. When Amantha died of a mysterious illness early on into her reign with no clear heir the Council acted quickly to silence all opposition and declare themselves the new leaders of Draolis.

The Black Tigers were once the premier fighting force of Draolis, and tales of their escapades thrilled children across the country as their Windblades flew gracefully through the air. Considered the protectors of the Tiger Queen, they fearlessly leapt into battle to defend the weak (and further the power of Draolis.) When the monarchy came to an end, the plutocrats of the Council of Spheres disbanded the unit and tried to send them out into the frontier, manning remote watch posts or sent to recover dangerous Numenera that would certainly lead to their deaths. Even the secrets of Windblade construction were banned save for the researchers at Fort Aventure, who are the only ones still allowed to produce the gliders.

The Black Tigers now find themselves soldiers without a country though still determined to show the 9th World their skill and heroism. All of them wear the Tiger banner patch proudly on their clothing and gather in secret to toast their fallen brothers and plot ways to overthrow the Council. They see the Council of Spheres as a corrupt organization that seeks to weaken Draolis by selling off its lands to decadent nobles and instead chooses to give away their borders to their enemies instead of meeting them with honor on the battlefield.

Though they prefer to recruit from their countrymen the Black Tigers look for those with a sense of adventure and the desire to meet challenges head on instead of shirking their duties and refusing to help. They encourage their members to always look their best, and though many of their members can be considered arrogant and decadent for their ways, their heroism and flare cannot be denied.

Membership Bonuses: Members of the Black Tigers seem to always be able to find lodging in Draolis among those who remember the prestige of their corp. They also receive one free Asset to rolls involving the use of a Windblade.

What factions do you guys think should be added in addition to the Black Tigers? I'm debating writing up a faction for Techo-Unionists and a merchant's guild.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gaming Bucket List, Baby Bestiary, and a Grayhaven Comics Submissions


As I went through my book cases and dusted my many volumes of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, I found myself singling out a few games that I have never had a chance to play but I have been in love with for a long, long time. Some of them I have the complete set for, while others I find myself staring at DriveThruRPG and thinking "Ooh, I could own all the books in that bundle! It's just a click away!"

Those thieving bastards, so insidiously offering PDFs at discounted prices. I'm onto their chicanery.

Anyays, I found myself thinking that sometime throughout October I should go back to games that I either haven't played in years or haven't played ever. I either never found a group willing to play them or the game wasn't as popular as I would have liked. Still, before I go up to meet that Dungeon Master In The Sky, I'd like to play each of these games at least once.

  • As you can tell by the first logo I posted, I really want to play Demon: the Fallen. When it came out I remember being very skeptical of it but after following its development on Shadownessence and the old WoD forums, it's a really cool game! I remember making several characters for it (and even won a competition on Shadownessence for it) and I would love to play it. 
  • Mummy: the Resurrection. Still one of my all time favorite games and because of it I have several friends who I have known for more than half my life. A very underrated game, it was nice to see one book in the WoD that took a stand against the dark evil. 
  • Heavy Gear is a game that was my first introduction to mech RPGs and had a lasting influence on me. Hell, because of Heavy Gear I discovered my love of heavy tanks in Mech RPGs and led to me being a member of the Hell's Horses clan from Mechwarrior.
  • A Tragedy In Five Acts is a really cool indie game by the folks at Growling Door Games. Five players work together to tell a story of Shakespearean tragedy. 
  • World of Warcraft d20 may seem like an odd duck on this list, but it was the game I played throughout college and I still look back on it fondly. I really want to get the old gang together and do a "10 years later" story with our old characters.
  • Hunter: the Reckoning was a game I played on the old White Wolf forums. I was Cameraman1345, an Avenger who became Imbued while filming a low budget ripoff of COPS and the criminal they chased turned out to be a Kindred.
  • Dawg: the RPG. I know, I wrote the Player's Guide and the Dawg Master's Guide but I have yet to play a full game of it! Loogie the Pug shall live! 
There are many, many more but that's just a start. What games would be on your bucket list?


Andreas Walters over at Metal Weave Design has a Kickstarter up at the moment. I could tell you about it, but I think I'll show you the artwork first.

That's right, it's an art book and calendar series dedicated to the baby/cub/hatchlings (or in the Chimera's sake, all three!) of famous fantasy monsters. It looks amazing, and Andreas has been pretty excited about this thing for a while.

Course we all know what has to come next Andreas....LOLHATCH! LOLstiary? LOL....funny captioned monsters!


And finally, Grayhaven Comics is opening their last round of submissions for the year! If you are an aspiring artist, colorist, or writer I wholeheartedly suggest checking them out. I have worked with them in the past and they are just great people to work with.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dragon Con 2014 report!

I am home! Dragon Con 2014 was an amazing convention, and it has been a while since I've had that level of fun at a convention. Usually I am running about, either checking on booths, running games, attending meetings or trying to run down other freelancers to kill them and claim their power I mean, to talk shop.

This was my first D*C, and it probably will not be the last. It had been a long time since I had been able to relax, and that kind of disturbed me at first. I had time to take naps. I could go where I pleased, when I pleased. I really, really miss that about Gen Con, though for obvious reasons I have to work that one if I am to make money to feed Cokie.

I missed having Eloy with me at the convention. He couldn't make it due to last minute issues and I know he missed every second of it, but there were plenty of people who offered him kind words. Hell, Clint at the "How to Break Into Gaming" panel talked him up! Eloy and Chris Wilde were there in spirit. Mainly because I used Soul Steal on them but the thought counts!

D*C is different from Gen Con in that it is not just a gaming convention. It's a little bit of everything. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Comics, Gaming...these but scratch the surface! If there's something you want to do at the con you can do it. There was a codebreaker panel and a Skeptics tract at the con. The biggest part of the convention, at least to me, was the cosplaying aspect of it.

Cosplaying is where you design costumes of famous characters, pop culture icons, or characters of their own design. Over the weekend I ran into so many characters that I ended up taking the most pictures I ever had at a con. I saw the many common characters I've gotten used to at Gen Con; Deadpool, Spider-Man, Halo Spartans, etc. At this con I saw home made robot suits, intricately sewn fantasy garb, and many random hilarious characters as well.

Thus began a long line of me wearing bowls as hats.

I also learned that my theory of saying out loud the obscure character someone has dressed as will Make. Their. Fucking. Day! I saw a guy from the 76th Independent Batallion break into a big grin when I recognized his suit and the two Shi'ar Guardsmen were overjoyed I knew who they were. (People thought they were Coneheads!)

All hail Imperator Gladiator!

I'm not going to bore people with summaries of each day, but here are the highlights of the con:

  • The Venture Brothers panel! It was amazing to see Doc Hammer, James Urbaniak, and Dana Snyder in person. They talked about the upcoming season and let people ask them questions. I laughed hard during their panel, especially when they gave relationship advice to someone or when Doc Hammer talked about the first time he jerked off. 
  • I saw the Patrick Stewart panel! Granted, I was in the far back, but he was hilarious. He also suffers from allergies, which for some bizarre reason made it really relate able to him. He talked about his upcoming projects and his acting on stage. He also mentioned how he was trying to get Sir Ian McKellen to come to conventions like that. 
  • Meeting several friends of mine who live in the South was really great. It was great running into Michelle Phillips and her fiance Eric, Michelle Flamm, Nik, Bryan Bailey and his Ingress buddies, Bill Bridges, the Brobdingnagian Bards, JP Gagnon, Clint, JP, JP's boss, James Wulfgar, James Dawsey, Cris, and the guy who roomed with us and I forgot his name. :P A lot of you did a lot for helping me get over any social anxiety I had at the con.
  • It was a little weird for me when I recognized Eric from Facebook and had to figure out how to walk up to him without being weird. "Hey, you're Eric! I've seen your pictures on Facebook." 
  • The Everquest panel reminded me of how I enjoyed playing that game briefly many years ago. I may pick it up again.
  • Live messaging the Star Citizen panel for Dereke was fun, though their Racing simulator crashed midpanel. It was cool seeing the new M50 Fighter/Racer on screen. 
  • I ran into Dana Snyder briefly and asked if he could record a message for Dereke. He said he was about to leave but for me to write a message down for him. "Dear Dereke, get a new friend. This one is WORTHLESS!" He said all that in Master Shake's voice. :P He then apologized and thanked Dereke for being a fan.
  • Trivia contest/biggest failures panel for Venture Brothers! At two points I got a decorative Venture Brothers tote and a pin to let me into the Guild of Calamitous Intent. MUAHAHAHA FEAR MY EVIL!
  • Played Warhammer Quest, which I hadn't played in forever! I wish I could buy another copy of it but they all sell for insane amounts on Ebay.
  • Though spread out among other hotels the hotels were easy to go between. I loved how each hotel had their own specialty. The Hilton was gaming. The Westin was horror, urban horror, the Spectrum party, and others. The Hyatt had lots of trivia panels as well.
  • The Spectrum Party, or GLBTI and Ally party, was amazing. I had a blast with friends there.
  • Artax Entertainment panel was a lot of fun as well! 
  • Oddly enough I loved the Dragon Con TV channel they played in the hotel rooms. I know it had some cheesy skits and jokes at times but I liked how they aired panels for people who missed it or provided cartoons and jokes for people who were bored. 

See? I told you so! Serving dish as a crown, for I am KING OF TRADER VICKS!

One goal I had was to try as much different cuisine while I was in Atlanta. Indy gets a bad reputation for having mainly chain restaurants and I wanted to try something different. Restaraunts ended up being where I spent the majority of my money, but they were WELL worth it!

  • Yami Yami Sushi and Buffet in the Peachtree Center Food Court: Not bad, but their signs were misleading. I thought it was by the pound but instead it was by the roll. The food was tasty, but I ended up paying $20 and not really enjoying it. Apart from their Yami Spicy Roll, most were made up of wet rice.
  • Haveli Indian Cuisine: Horrible place to eat. The food was watery, the Chicken Tikka Masala had this weird smokey flavor to it, and the staff did not seem to want to be there. She seemed completely disinterested in serving anyone, as seen by the fact I never got refills, I had to ask for cutlerly, and not only did I eventually have to ask for my check but she forgot about processing it. 
  • Meehan's Public House: An Irish pub, this place was just fucking fantastic in every way. Great food, great beer, and very affordable. Bill Bridges recommended it and it was great.
  • Corner Bakery Cafe: I ate here twice. Recommended by JP Gagnon, it was a very affordable and great tasting breakfast. The French Toast and breakfast sandwiches are great.
  • Trader Vicks: I liked it, but it was very expensive. The waitress was amazing though, as was the ahi tuna steak. We also did another round of using plates as crowns for this one. :P
  • Sear at the Marriott Marquis Hotel: I only got breakfast here as the dinner was too pricey. The breakfast was good, but there was a huge price hike between Friday and Saturday. At $27, I don't recommend their buffet for that price.
  • High Velocity at the Marriott Marquis Hotel: This place on the other hand was great! Affordable and their special sandwich was amazing. It was packed cause of the other con goers but the speed of it allowed for the line to move down quickly. 
  • Mandarin House Restaurant: Great food, and amazing service! It was funny watching the many different cosplayers eat there. I ate at a table next to some fairies and X-Men cosplayers. The Mongolian chicken, which I ate because I didn't understand the other meals they had (the titles were in Chinese), was great.
  • As for other meals, I either had no time to eat or got hot dogs and pretzels at various places.  
  • A lot of room parties offered free alcohol, and I know we had plenty in our room. Mmm Maker's Mark.

A grouping of Deadpools is called "Hilarious."

The Cons
  • The MARTA, though convenient, is a hell of a walk when you have all your luggage with you.
  • Not enough time in a day to get enough sleep. Events go 24 hours and it's impossible to do everything.
  • The humidity was a bit unbearable at times. Same with the hills. 
  • There was a gentleman who ruined my dinner Sunday night, and even though the manager apologized and comped my meal I don't really like going to bars in Atlanta when the football teams are there. Long story short: A guy objected to the fact I had a table near the bar and he didn't, and he flipped out and well...flipped the table. His wife dragged him out. Nothing else happened, and I was fine. Not really proud of the fact I was paralyzed by fear, but oh well.
  • I'm not a huge fan of waiting in massive lines for hours for panels. The ones I did manage to attend were pretty cool.
  • The elevators were either constantly broken or taken up by people. Even when I was on the bottom floor and needed to board to go up they would sometimes be crammed full. Lots of people used the phrase "You have to go down to go up" or "You have to go up to go down."
  • Cellular reception was shit!
  • The Star Wars trivia contest was so challenging I saw many people walk up, turn in their tests, and say they couldn't do it. I didn't even place in the rankings for it. It was focused more on the minor minutiae of the Star Wars universe such as what type of blasters Jango Fett wielded or what type of generator powered the X-Wing.
  • I had the world's worst hangover Sunday morning. Though it was due to some amazing partying with friends Saturday night!
  • I was not overly impressed with the dealer's room, and the decentralized nature of it drove me nuts.
  • I had a bit of social anxiety about the crowds there. I know, I'm normally very outgoing, but when you see thousands of people in one room it can be a bit nerve wracking. Texts from Kat and hanging out with other people helped break down the barriers.

I do not know when I'll be back but I guarantee you, some day I will return to Dragon Con!

Some day.

Monday, August 25, 2014


This year will be the first time I attend Dragoncon. Dragoncon, located in Atlanta, is one of the biggest conventions in the United States. It's known for its large Cosplay fandom, for big media stars such as the Walking Dead cast being in attendance, and for its roots in the gaming community.

I admit, I'm a little nervous about going. Yes, even I sometimes feel awkward in public. While I'm sure this will be like other cons I have been too this will be a very large con in a city I do not know. For all I know, Tusken Raiders may lurk in the dunes around the city, marching in single file lines to hide their numbers and using strange blackpowder weapons in what is clearly a blaster rich universe.

....Atlanta's based on Tatooine, right? I'm pretty sure I saw it on a map once.

I have no formal schedule for this trip! My previous schedule was wiped clean, so I'm looking for fun things to do in the city. Things that have been suggested for me to check out are...

  • Golem Arcana. My friend Michelle runs demos for them, and she wants me to check it out while there.
  • The Dragoncon Cosplay Parade! Saturday morning there is a huge march in Atlanta where people show off their amazing costumes. My prediction: 103 Deadpools. 43 Attack on Titan cosplayers. Maybe one Wild West Exodus cosplayers.
  • Walking Dead panel! I have been asked by a friend to hug Daryl but as I do not normally hug people I shall attempt to send him an air hug.
For those who live in Atlanta, what are your favorite restaurants? 

What exclusives are you guys chasing at the con?

I want to try out more demos this year, and hopefully fill the voids in my Rom and Green Lantern collections. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gen Con 2014

Wow. What a con! This has to be one of the best cons I've been to for years. I'm not insulting any of Gen Cons past (save maybe for the one I had hurt my back for, the one I had my back operated just before, or last year's Hurt Hand Debacle) but this year was just fantastic and a lot of fun for me.

But before we start on the convention...


Before the con started I had joined the Independent Game Designer's Network! I had been told about IGDN by Eloy earlier this year but after having some chats with him and other members I decided to apply. It's been pretty awesome so far, as it has put me in touch with some like minded individuals. Even when we are goofing around on Hangouts, it's been pretty fun.

While I was not able to help out with their booth at the con, it was great to talk to Ben Woerner, Joel Sparks, Ryan Schoon, and many others.


Tuesday was spent fixing last minute catastrophes and trying not to freak out over the oncoming convention. I went to the Dogslicer tapping at Scotty's that night, though they seemed like they were still in a frantic rush to get everything together in time.


Wednesday was spent helping Eloy set up the booth and lugging a suitcase full of snacks around the convention hall. Ran into many friends, and saw Matt McFarland with his bundle of books. We got the booth assembled in record time this year, with all of the 3EG books in a nice row. Watching the Dealer's Room rise up from nothingness is a pretty cool sight to see.

Stopped by the Onyx Path booth and saw Rich and Eddy there. Eddy seemed pretty pumped about the con as well, which we'd all find out about later on in the con. Eddy's new fantasy setting, Pugmire, will be published in the future. I'm not up on all the details but the phrase "apocalyptic fantasy canine RPG" has been used.

That night was the IGDN Social at Loughmiller Pub. I admit, I wasn't happy with the venue for it. I have a thing about being in a cramped pub and being forced to stand so close to people made me a bit irritated. Still, I got to meet lots of cool people, and Ben, Ryan, and I had a chance to chat a bit.

Thursday was blur, but between working the 3EG Booth, fixing a credit card issue with the Hyatt, and running an adventure I was pretty beat.

The Wu Xing adventure was an absolute blast to run thanks to two players who were downright excited to be there. Wu Xing is their favorite game and they signed up for all of the WX adventures at the convention! They picked the same pregen characters and ran them throughout the con as if they were on one continuous adventure. They pushed other players to do cool things and they never shied away from the action.

While at the con I talked with Ivan van Norman, who some of you remember from the TBS show King of the Nerds. Ivan's pretty cool and loves to chat about anything, and he was really excited to show off Operation: Deep Space.

That night I hung out with my roommates Dereke and Rico, and got some points with TJ and company over at the RAM. I didn't care for the Everblight Ale, but the Porter of Deceit was absolutely fantastic. I ended up a little drunk, which had the weird reaction of stuffing up my nose that night.


The breakfast buffet at the Hyatt was really good, and they offered a discount to us. I never figured out why; it couldn't have been because we had a room there because we never told them we had a room there, so I can only assume it was for the convention. The food was magnificent, and it helped me continue to eat healthy.

Salmon, watermelon, melon, bananas, a little bit of scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon. Top that off with OJ, water, and a little bit of soda for the caffeine and this helped get me going for the day.

Friday was incredibly busy! I saw a constant stream of customers going by the booth. I had a little bit of time to wander the hall but I spent the vast majority of the day covering the booth for Eloy (who wasn't feeling well) and running another WX game. I ran into Chris Shaffer as I was on my way to dinner, and we enjoyed great food at the Champs just outside the ICC. We had some laughs and Chris walked with me over to the ENnies at the Union Station.

The ENnies were fun as usual, and I got to meet Daniello in person. He and his friend were hilarious, and I still have their version of that Brazillian song stuck in my head (Though I can't remember the lyrics and don't want to butcher them.) We watched as there was a proposal on stage, and we applauded all of our colleagues and friends who were nominated and/or won.

Kudos to Ryan Macklin for his speech, which you can find on Youtube. He talked about developing a more open and inclusive community, and his Call to Arms speech was very welcome to hear.

Afterwards Eloy, Daniello, and I wandered over to Matt McFarland's birthday party! It was fun hanging out with old friends and making new acquaintances. It was great catching up with the Daves (David Jones and Dave Brookshaw) as well as lounging on the couches in the back with Renee, Eloy, and others.

I received invites to do stuff after the party but was feeling exhausted, which led to me getting tons of sleep that night. This helped, because the busiest days were yet to come!


See that photo? That was only an hour after the hall opened. It got packed quickly!

Saturday was the day I wandered the halls with my girlfriend, and with the new size to the hall it was a daunting task to try to see it at all. With 29 rows going almost to the back of the building it was the largest hall ever for Gen Con. I'm sure I missed many aisles, but that was only due to the lack of time!

The 3EG booth sold more books that day, and Eloy seemed to be on the mend. I checked out a few games I had been interested in but I managed to give my girlfriend her gift of Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition and I gave my sister her birthday gift of Crosshares, a game where you play as members of a military unit made of bunnies.

That evening we hung out at the Beer Garden, where I missed getting any of the Froth of Khan by an hour. :/ Bah! I always miss the Gen Con beers. I enjoyed Sun King's Wee Mac ale while enjoying food from the food trucks. Afterwards I played "My Name Is Inigo Montoya, You Have _____, Prepare To Die" while we waited for midnight. Why did we wait for midnight?

Well, we had an important date to keep. A friend of ours had come up with the best way to propose to his fiancee. I don't think she had any idea of what was going on, though she did wonder why so many of the people who were eliminated from "Are You A Werewolf?" were sticking around to take pictures of them. CONGRATULATIONS TO SARA AND PATRICK!!!

I hung out with Dereke for a while, just sitting on one of the stone benches outside of the hotel and people watching for a while. We ran into Saladin Ahmed as he was trying to get pizza, I got offered wands and amulets by a wizard (I swear to God, that's a true story), and when we both realized our legs were going to explode we watched Attack on Titan before calling it a night.


What's that? You are surprised I would do something so silly? Well then you don't know me very well, do you? ;)

Sunday may have been the busiest day of the convention for me or perhaps it felt that way because I was so tired. I had a few business meetings that day and had planned some podcasts. All of this was between checking in on the booth and getting some last minute buys in.

The Third Eye Games booth did record business that year, with over 120 books sold! AMP, the new superhero game written by Eloy, sold out and everyone seemed to be talking about it. The look on his face was quite memorable, as he's a pretty modest guy but I could tell he was proud.

Wrapping up the con was kind of somber, as I was sad it was all over. I said goodbye to my new friends and we went our separate ways, though I have never been so grateful to have the Internet to keep in touch with them.

To everyone that wanted to meet up but we didn't, I apologize. I was so busy that I barely took time to eat, which led to some health issues Friday evening and Sunday evening. I'm better, but my body hates it when it goes 12 hours without food or caffeine. I had to choose sleep some nights over socializing with others, though I do feel like I missed out on fun things.

To Kristen Bushman, Kitty Scheetz, Brian Sherrill, and the many other booth volunteers whose names I'm forgetting but who are so awesome and great for what they did, thank you for all you've done.

To Eloy, who continues to help me out just as much as I help him, thank you for another great year.

To Gen Con and the city of Indianapolis, thank you for another great year!

To this little bugger, I was so glad to see you when I got home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On The Nova Corps

Also known as, “Space Cops and a bunch of A-Holes.”
I’m John Kennedy, and I love sci fi and superheroes equally, and when you combine the two, I can’t help but tie my money to bricks and then hurl these bricks at studio executives in the hopes that I can receive more of these. I am a life long Green Lantern fan, I already have my tickets to the early preview of Guardians of the Galaxy, and my pull list at my local comic shop usually includes all of the cosmic arcs and cosmic storylines that are in comics.

Obviously, I’m extremely excited to see Guardians when it comes out, though for more reasons than just hearing Blue Swede again. I love the cosmic arcs because I have always loved seeing heroes roam the space ways. Heroes fighting alien hordes or pompous supervillains threatening to devour suns always strikes a chord within me; sure, it’s a cheesy one, but part of me sits enthralled when I read about the power struggle between the Skrulls or the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on the pirate ships of Thanos.

 After picking up the score to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie last night, I read the titles of some of the tracts and it got me excited to find out how the Novas will be portrayed in this movie. The Novas look different, wearing greenish blue fatigues and armored vests as well as blasters on their right hands. It’s actually not a bad look; I love the original look to the Novas, but these guys appear as a more realistic kind of space cops. How do I know so much about the Novas?

 Well, once upon a time, when I was in elementary school, my favorite thing in the world was to trace the outlines of comic book covers. I even had a book that had a bunch of different covers in it, and I would sit there and trace them all day long. I couldn’t draw for shit, but I still enjoyed tracing them and occasionally trying to add things to them. One cover in the comic was about Nova, a superhero who I learned had some pretty cool powers such as flying at the speed of light, shooting laser blasts, and serving as part of a galactic force of peacekeepers. He wasn’t as versatile as Green Lantern, but I loved how he could fly through space and could shoot energy blasts. I found a couple of comics in my school’s latchkey program and read through them; I was kind of disappointed, as they all seemed to feature around him fighting a villain called Diamondhead whose power was he had a diamond…head. (Deep writing there.)

 For many years I did my best to ignore Nova, assuming he was nothing more than a rip off of Green Lantern. Nova’s series did not last long and he would only return in New warriors before fading to the side lines, only appearing as a guest star in other comics. For a hero whose gimmick being known as the “Human Rocket” he may have never seen the light of day again save for his resurgence in the pages of Annihilation, where we found the hero as the last survivor of the Nova Corps and fighting to save the galaxy from the forces of Annihilus. Dan Abnett and other writers really revived the hero. Though still humorous, they gave the hero much needed depth. He was not just a space cop patrolling space but rather he was the LAST space cop.

In one of the first issues of his 2006 line he had to deal with the stress of working overtime and trying to fix a broken universe, where whole worlds were still suffering from the Annihilation Wave and many of these worlds still could not be saved despite his best efforts. Nova became more than just Richard Rider in fancy space duds or as one comic book reviewer described him, “Iron Man in space.” He dealt with fading humanity in Annihilation Conquest, he saw his power stripped from him in the War of Kings, he barely survived the Canceruniverse and he found himself having to sacrifice himself to defeat Thanos once and for all. (Or so he thought.) He was the hero who fought terrors on a galactic scale, and though he was still only human, he did what he thought was right.

 In 2012, we saw the line get rebooted with a new hero. This time it’s Sam Alexander, a young kid who learns that his father’s drunken bedtime stories were actually real. Here we see a new Nova who not only has to learn to handle his powers but has inherited old enemies, forced to juggle his home life and finishing school with saving the universe from Thanos and trying to find out who has killed the Watcher, one of the few beings Sam considers his friend. Ok, that’s enough of a recap of these heroes. Why do I like them so much? The Novas, since 2006, have represented lone guardians fighting against impossible odds. Similar in concept and design to Green Lantern, they differ in the fact of how few they are.

Just as Kyle Rayner was the only Green Lantern for the 90s, Richard Rider and later Sam Alexander were heroes who sought to maintain law and order in a rapidly changing cosmos. They fought Cthonic entities trying to break into our world, and they hunted down galactic slavers so they could bring freedom to a cruel cosmos. Richard not only had to fight against the Annihilation Wave, but he went from a rowdy comic relief sort of hero to the hardened general needed to win. Sam is a kid who went from being picked on by bullies at school to being picked on by villains, his childhood friends being replaced slowly by allies in the Avengers. Both heroes represent heroes who when given great power take on the universe as their responsibility. When you read the comics you see problems that affect our planet right now being told on exotic landscapes and far flung moons.

Although at times it is extremely campy and we all know that the real villains of our world aren’t as identifiable by jagged spikes jutting out of their skin we still see heroes who try to protect others at the risk of their own. In a way, their police badge is the helmet they wear, and they patrol not the streets but the stars. Or maybe I have a thing for John C. Reilly, aka Rhomann Day. Could be that.
I'm jealous of him.