OK.... so this is a massively loooong and suuuuuper indulgent post buuuuuut I really wanted to get down every single memory before I forget them. And if I met you and didn't mention you below please let me know, I hate I'm already forgetting stuff. OK. HERE GOES:
SUNDAY, 33 YEARS AGO:
|Nude dudes on frogs. There are probably better covers out there.|
Afternoon: My parents bring back a copy of Dragon Magazine #73. Down the back of it is this:
Morning: 6.30am. Travel to SYD airport with Benjamin from Syrinscape/Dicestormers. Leave 10.15am. Race each other on seperate planes to LAX. Arrive same day, 7.15am.
Lunch: Flight from LAX to IND. Headbangsleep all the way over. Fly over Grand Canyon but covered in cloud.
Arvo: Land. Uber with Ben to hotel Marriott Downtown. SHOWER. So good. Phone not on global roaming. Not so good.
Evening: Go for big walk cross downtown to get Con snacks. Got a bit lost. See squirrel. Shagged and jetlagged (me, not squirrel). Pick up GenCon: the RPG book/guide. Dinner was buffalo wings in hotel bar with beer and gridiron. Wings tasted so effing horrid I had to wash it down with a burger and fries in room. Fell asleep in food coma watching Watchmen.
Morning: woke 4am. wrote some Feral. freaking out about phone issues. walked all over downtown trying to solve. back to wandering pre Con halls. bumped into Frank Metzner. thanked him for game, told him story of cousins bringing back red box from American friends at International School in Djakarta, and my first D&D character: nameless fighter, decapitated by pendulum blade trap. wander past GenCon pass pickup line. hundreds of meters of people.
Lunch: meet James and Maria Raggi and Zak Smith for first time outside the Convention; ate at Yard House. Mike Evans, Omar and Dan Domme joined us a bit later. Was really screwed by jetlag, felt like a total space cadet/mull muppet all afternoon. Many stories told/business plans discussed/ideas pitched. First Telling of the Yes Please/No Thank You Epic.
- Mike Evans. Mike was amazing all through the Con, and I had such a cool time hanging with him and cheering for him at the ENnies. Took me into his circle of friends. Love and Respect, brother.
- Dan Domme. Just a big old lumbering sweetheart and always up for anything.
- Omar. Real fun guy and great to game with.
Arvo: lunch turns into long lunch. Important handshakes were made. I have gone full david bowie.
Evening: slept early evening, finally. late dinner with Dan, Omar, and Mike at Yard House. wander past GenCon pass pickup line. no one there. pass nabbed.
Morning: woke 5am. wrote Feral stuff. breakfast with Mike Evans, Patrick Stuart, Zzarchov Kowolski, Chris H. Marriott Downtown breakfast is shit. Company kept was just lovely:
|Mike Evans, Patrick's head (even the back of it frowns with unease),|
a book full of great art, and some shitty Downtown Marriott food.
Ate at the JW for rest of Con.
- Zzarchov Kowolski. So cool to finally meet Zzarchov, we've done lots of work over the years and he was such a sweet guy. Every conversation with him was wonderful.
- Chris H. Unsung champion of the Con. he offered to put me up in his room early on, totally cool when I passed on the offer later on, was there looking out for everyone at every event, gave me a cool Flailsnail patch, and as always great to game with.
Shitty breakfast done, we all head over to the start of GenCon.
Head to LotFP stall to say hi to Raggi, get drafted into handing out 1000 catalogs. Get through 500 in 2 hours. Meet a fuckton of people inc Jacob Hurst who's working booth, sign some books. I keep running into Jacob all through the Con, so happy for him that Swordfish Islands is as successful as it totally deserves to be. Also Jurgen Mayer at one point, cool to finally meet him too.
|Zak, James, Jacob and Mike at the LotFP Booth.|
Lunch: Zak and Stokes arrive. I escape with Stokes, hit the floor of the Exhibition Hall together. SO MUCH STUFF SO MUCH CROWD. Overwhelmed tbh. But have map of hall with all the booths marked out so I'll be cool. Lose map within 10 minutes. Met with Kevin Siembaida at the Palladium stand, lovely chat with him. Wants to see my work. Cool. Discovered Chuck Walton, artist for Rifts. Amazing. His pencils and designs are astonishing. Wander aimlessly full of wonder.
Arvo: Back to hotel room. Sleep off anxiety attack. Wake up better but still jetlag glaze.
Evening: Head to Patrick Stuart's exec suite at JW Marriott for D&D night. Patrick has gone full Bilbo. We are all the dwarves. Zak, Stokes, Zak's friend Adam, Mike E, Omar, Dan, Chris, Zzarchov, Jacob. PvP dungeon action. Zzarchov takes out three, I land the final kill on Omar for the team win. Zak's Second Telling of the Yes Please/No Thank You Epic.
Late Evening: Zzarchov runs a second game. "Play whoever you want." I cast Summon Man Rider. Zak: Drunk Dwarf. Adam: Fighter who wants to be a Wizard. Has pig. Mike: Cleric. Omar: fighter. Dan... I think had left? Chris: fighter? Stokes: was being awesome tap-in host and doing food and drinks and occassional Barbarian. Patrick: an Arabian gent who's name escapes me. Has pig more intelligent than he. Omar's fighter is Man Rider's mount. Don't tell him Man Rider is 4th level Paladin, can cast Summon Mount at will. Adventure is playtest of Zzarchov's own, exploration of evil monastery. Lots of fun, Man Rider at one point lowered like bait into hellwell full of boneless people. End of adventure, find book of contracts with the Devil. Mike Evans' cleric signs book, trades soul to give Man Rider legs; Zzarchov gives Man Rider four bed legs sticking out of anyplace that anything but useful. Fuck you, Mike. Love Jez.
|Man Rider: Legless no more!|
Morning: woke 5am. wrote Feral stuff. breakfast at JW Marriott with Dan Domme. MUCH better. Mike squeezes me into his game of Hubris. Quiet awe at how goddamn big the book is. Mike runs the intro funnel adventure. Epic fun had. 40 enter, 12 leave. Did the pimp sell on Hubris afterwards for him. ALSO: My d20 rolled 4 nat 20s in a row, and then some more. Embarrassingly lucky.
Lunch: Yard House with Mike Evans. Talk games and publishing for two hours. Speednap.
Arvo: Me, Mike and Omar, plus Ben and Rob (I think?) hit the Swordfish Island game ran by Donnie Garcia, one of the authors. Pick a nihilist ranger called Slink. Fantastic hexcrawl that ended waaaaaay to soon (why I like the 9 hour Con games more than the 3 hour ones). My d20 CONTINUED TO ROLL NAT 20s. More embarrassing. Jacob's there too plus Evan Peterson the third author. Get my copies!
|Omar, Mike, my ridiculous d20, the Swordfish crew: Jacob, Evan and Donnie, |
and dammit I think it was Ben and Rob.
Evening: Hot foot it to the ENnies. Fuck up getting there. Late. Beer. G+ing every award that I had a vested interest in:
• Best Cartography: didn't get it, but super happy just to get a nomination as is.
• Best Electronic Product: Silver to Mike Evans for Hubris. Mike flips the bird to the whole crowd. Think of it as his business card.
• Best Writing/Adversary/Rules/Product of the Year: Silver for Writing and Adversary to Patrick Stuart's Veins of the Earth. Hats off to the winners, but Patrick's writing will always be gold in my heart. Seriously. GO READ THE INTRO TO VEINS AND TELL ME I'M LYING.
• Best Adventure: GOLD!!!! to Kiel Chenier's Blood in the Chocolate. So happy by this stage I'm tearing up for him. Eat shit, haters.
• Judge's Pick: Jeff Rients' Broodmother Skyfortress. I hit the stage for this one, I did the maps so I feel like I can stand up there.
|My favourite photo from the whole Con.|
Me, Mike, Zak, James, and Patrick dying from embarrassment
at this outrageous display of pure joy.
WIERD THING HAPPENS at the end of the ENnies. Up there with the LotfP crew for a group photo, (it's awesome, I love it so much). then all the winners cram on stage. thanks to the chaos of crowd movement, I'm there, FRONT AND CENTER in the middle of everyone, right next to John Wick (hats off to 7th Sea's many wins!).
|Who's that idiot in the middle.|
Imposter much? I privately think I'm getting the award for finally making it after 33 years.
Also met while milling round:
- Chris Helton, who was really lovely and took the time to chat. Lots of talk about Feral. Very kind offer to help support it when it's closer to completion. Thank you Chris.
- Sarah Richardson: Yay! So happy to finally met her. really lovely too (gonna use that phrase alot I think).
- Mark Dias Truman: Didn't get to talk as much as I woulda liked, and didn't get to give him a FUCK YEAH for his acceptance speech. Loved it.
- Marissa Kelly: Man I coulda talked with Marissa all night (and did for a fair chunk of the afterparty at the bar) She's absolutely fantastic. WHEN WILL YOU POST THE ILLOS I DID OF THE MAGPIE TEAM?
Late Evening: Zak's OSR/DIY Afterparty. Oh man. Gonna try list the people I remember talking with...
- Don Stroud from Drink Spin Run. You know when you meet someone and you can tell straight away they're fucking ace? That guy.
- Sean McCoy. Also that guy. Awesome work on the Judges win for 2018.
- Matt Cramsie, I buy all my RPGs from his store Games Paradise, the best RPG store in Sydney. It's a looong way to go to finally meet socially. IF YOU WANT OSR/DIY/LOTFP IN OZ GO THERE. Also, he will pimp Tim Tams at you all night long.
- Jay Murphy, who was super cool and just an energizer bunny of joy. I'm so glad he broke his leg.
- Adam Obelisk, Zak's friend, who I didn't really get a chance to catch up with at the game the night before, turned out to be a super chill gent and really lovely and I had to stop myself from murdering him to get his shirt. I also kept calling him Ken. Such a dork.
- Kenneth Hite, who I'd nervously mumbled something at while at the Pelgraine booth in hall on Thursday. he kept introducing me as (Ken Voice): "the guy who did my maps in Qelong." Coulda listened to him ramble for hours (and did).
- Jon Petersen, who struck me as a mischievous elf trapped in a man's body. Insisted I drink with him. Insisted I check out one of the Ravenloft modules (I6 I think?) cause the RPL perspective map.
- Satine Phoenix, who swooped in, gave me a big hug then flew away like the queen of the night.
- Ruty Rutenberg, who was a right gentleman. we argued passionately about something.
- Ken Baumann, who appeared out of nowhere like a magical book fairy and gave me a copy of Blue Medusa. THANK YOU. Another champion all through the Con.
- Noah Marshall, who just loves talking genocide and cultural holocaust.
- That drunk guy who was coming down from playing D&D for 24 hours straight.
- Zak's Third Telling of the Yes Please/No Thank You Epic. By now I know all the chorus lines. Witnessed the most lethal of death stares ever blasted into the back of Zak's head. I will say no more. I'm sure there were more lovely people I've missed. Apologies. Was so high on a happy vibe I had only one drink all night. Some nights are like that. Wouldn't let me sleep AT ALL afterwards though...
SATURDAY (it's now the second day of me writing this gilgameshepic):
Morning:... and when I did get to sleep I woke up at 5am, wired for sound. Wrote some Feral. Breakfast with Zzarchov Kowolski, Dan Domme, and a surprise Sean Poppe. Conceptual work discussion with Zzarchov about mapping a location across multiple dimensions. Got Sean's art zine. Realised I should of had art zines. Interrupted Harley Stroh's game to give him a hug then fled before we could talk. Wandered the Exhibition Hall with Mike Evans in his Feral Teesh. Picked up some loot. Finally met Vincent Baker. Struck me as a very gentle soul.
Arvo: 4 hour RPG Workshop with Ron Edwards. Fantastic brainsmash. Far too noisy in the Con Room so we shifted to the bar at the Marriott Downtown and talked game theory over beers n' fries. 4 guys (me, Trey, Jonathan, Garrick) with their incomplete games, just getting question after question from Ron about alllll kinds of different gaming aspects that are worth considering. There will be a seperate blog post for this. Still jetlagged though. Damn. Nuther powernap. Feelin' old.
Evening: had to pass on Zak & Co's D&D game, tonight was time to hang with the DCC Crowd and they did not disappoint. I've loved the DCC Community for a long time, they're the sweetest drunkards and drunkest sweethearts. Played INFERNO ROAD. I've never seen a game quite like it. Mad Max in Hell. Just beautiful chaos. SO. MUCH. FUN. Got to meet so many of the DCC Crew:
|Judge Evie kicking ass.|
- Doug Kovacs, who was my first DM at Inferno Road. Everyone said he was real grumpy. They were wrong. He was even grumpier. Died in a fight over the Pharoah's railgun, got blasted over to...
- Evie, the young DM who was just awesome. She was running a DCC game in Hell, but couldn't say the word and had to say Heck instead. She let my past life railroad worker manifest the Demonic Heck Train which was awesome, but then I rolled bad and died and got blasted over to...
- Wayne Snyder's table. Wayne is a beardwizard and a true gentleman, made me feel like part of the crew within seconds. Didn't die at his table; rolled The Twins and had a blast in the final hour of the game catching the Demon Truck and trying to rescue Satan's Wives. Someone with a past life as a nuclear physicist manifested a nuke; blew everyone up just as Satan rose like the Sun to eat us all. BUT... my guy: past life as a Hindu, realised Inferno Road was just one part of the karmic highway, and in that last second managed to get our table reincarnated as cats living with an old cat lady. WE ESCAPED. Post Wayne game tried to give me an Inferno Road teesh; me: "damn, too small, but working towards it," Wayne: "fuck that, take it. It can be your goal." Turns out I lost weight over night and wore it for three days straight and didn't take it off til I got home.
- Jarrett Crader, who is just insane and beautiful. Really supportive of Feral, got to give him one of the 96 page Feral books I had in my bag. Got a copy of Flammable Hospital. Bonkers.
- Tim Deschane, as cool as he is hot. Really lovely gentle soul. Not near enough time talking with him.
- Terry Olson, nuther lovely guy. WHERE WAS YOUR MAN RIDER T-SHIRT TERRY???
- Jim Yoder, amish barfly.
- Jen Brinkmann. Me: "Hey howsit going?" Jen: "Better for meeting you!" Yep, that'll do it. AND CONGRATS ON THE ENNIE FOR SPELLBURN.
- Harley Stroh, FINALLY got to talk with Harley for a good hour. Words fall short of the love and respect I've got this man. Champion. Woulda talked for hours but...
Late Evening: Post-Inferno Road, bullshitting with the DCC crew, when suddenly we were playing Jez Just Wants To Go Home. Me vs everyone else who are DMs trying to fuck me over from getting back to Oz. Words can't do this game justice. Insane? Bonkers? Beautiful? Insane? Ask Noah Marshall or Jarrett Crader or Doug Kovacs.
|You will never be drunk enough to understand this game.|
Morning: Woke up 6am. Wrote some Feral. Breakfast at JW Marriott. Last day of the Con, went and blew a fuck ton on all the games I'd been eyeing off for days. Raggi is an enabler. Spent the morning with Zak, did the GenCon Museum and then the Exhibitor's Hall. He was an absolute gentleman to me all Con and especially that morning, introducing me to every single soul he knew on the Con floor and pimping my wares to every one of them (including Mark Rein*Hagen of Vampire fame) and helping with loot for my boys. Also, Fourth Telling of the Yes Please/No Thank You Epic.
Lunch: More Exhibition Hall. More loot. Too short hello with Cam Banks, meet Paul Baldowski from All Rolled Up, great chat, wants to do some products with Feral. Managed to meet up Wayne Snyder and Bryan Mullins, and with some more of my art heroes from the DCC crew: Peter Mullen and Stefan Poag. Both are capital fellows. When your respected art heroes praise for your own work... just the loveliest feeling for the soul.
|Wayne, me, my possessed demonhand, an Inferno Road teesh, Peter Mullen, and mini-Mullens.|
Afternoon: Last hours at the LotFP booth spruiking and signing. 4pm YAY ALL DONE, helped Maria and James pack.
Evening: Powernap to reruns of Game of Thrones. Dreamt of Game of Thrones. Was meant to be playing Pathfinder with Benjamin from Syrinscape but their booth got delayed packing and the game fell through. Would have been way cool, but not to be. Ended up late night drinking with Zak, Stokes, Patrick and Jacob playing drinking games, plus educating Stokes on the sex lives of gastropods and glauci.
Late Evening: Got home in time to watch Game of Thrones at 3am. Which was basically D&D TV, and just perfect for where I was.
Morning: Thought GenCon was over. BUT NO. Bumped into Ron Edwards, got a solid hour in, picking up with where the conversation ended at the workshop, plus getting his story and yeah. That guy has quite the brain. ALSO I think I sweet talked him into coming to EttinCon in Sydney next year, TBC.
|Zak, a cooler full of alcohol Zak kept trying to offload,|
Maria, James "Yes Please!" Raggi IV, Ron
Then met up with Zak, James and Maria, Jim Wallis for more game shenannigans, Ron and Zak talking things out, Fifth Telling of the Yes Please/No Thank You Epic, us posing as giants for Zak's game.
|They might be giants. No really.|
Lunch: Adios, cab to the airport as the eclipse is starting. Thought GenCon was over BUT NO. Bumped into Harley Stroh at the airport bar. Total eclipse of the heart. Perfect end to a perfect Con. See Benjamin, Zak, James, Maria, and Stokes right before boarding the flight to LA.
Afternoon: Fly over Grand Canyon. No Clouds, mostly. YESSS.
Evening: Vacant seat next to me on LAX to SYD flight. YAAHHHAHAHAHAAAAAA. cryingofmanlymantearsallthewayhome.
Special huuuuuuuuge thank you to Benjamin from Syrinscape for getting me digs across the road from the Con, it made such a massive difference being able to retreat at will at ditch bagage (mental and physical) whenever I wanted.
Special huuuuuuuuge thank you to James Raggi for taking me on six years ago and having infinite patience, and for bailing me out when I got a bit stuck at the Con. Four times. WITNESS ME.
Special huuuuuuuuge thank you to Zak for all the things, plus reccing me to James in the first place.
Special huuuuuuuuge thank you to Mike Evans for being a champ over the last six years through think and thin. Let's do awesome things together.
Huge thank you to everyone else for every minute of an awesome seven days.
BIGGEST THANK YOU OF ALL to Vanessa for saying yes Jem, go be with your people, and for holding down the fort while I was gone. LOVE YOU.
BLAAAARGH. Done. You can stop reading now.