A good friend of mine from college is in town this week visiting. I don’t think I’ve seen Pat in at least five years, maybe longer. You always know you’re with a good friend when you haven’t seen each other for years and you drop right into good conversation. Time doesn’t seem to matter, that connection is still there.
I took Pat and his friend Brittany (who also lives in Seattle) out to my favorite Greek place, Panos Kleftiko. I’ve probably raved about this place before but it really is one of the best Greek restaurants in America. Everything is homemade, fresh, and delicious. Pat and Brittany were an appreciative audience, which was great. Over plates of loukaniko, skordalia, keftedes, ohtopodi, and their amazing smoked rega (herring), I caught up with Pat and got to know Brittany. It was a tremendously fun evening. They may join us for dim sum in the Int’l District tomorrow and I’m planning to take Pat to the new scifi museum at some point this week. I haven’t been yet and this is as good an excuse as any to see Daleks and Cylons.
After dim sum, I need to high tail it home and get back to writing. I’ve been on a roll this week, having just completed three very productive days, and I want to press on while I’m hot. I wrote the ritual magic system today, which I’m quite please with. Tomorrow it’ll more spells and magic stuff. In a few days I should be ready to send out the next iteration of the playtest rules. As the New Bomb Turks would say, I’m runnin’ on go!
I tell ya, there’s just nothing like GenCon. You go to other cons and you’re happy if they exceed your lowered expectations. Then you go to GenCon and have your expectations exceeded and then some. For example, we had our best Origins ever in June and I ended up feeling pretty good about that show. On the first day of GenCon alone, we did about 70% of our take for all four days of Origins. People come to GenCon primed and ready to game and to spend. For a manufacturer it’s like having people throw money at you for four days. We sold out of the Red Star and Foes of Freedom (our new books for the show), as well as Mutants & Masterminds rulebooks, Thieves’ Quarter, and a bunch of other stuff. My sales goal (based on last year’s sales) was exceeded by 40%. Nothing to complain about there!
We announced the Thieves’ World license to much excitement. We had some cool color preview fliers for Black Company and Blue Rose that grabbed a lot of attention as well. Then Friday night we attended the ENnie Awards. In the three previous ENnies, Green Ronin had outright won two categories each time. My goal for this year: three gold ENnies. Needless to say, when we received seven gold and four silver ENnies, I was stunned but delighted. I was especially pleased that we won the Best Publisher Award. In fact, if we had won that alone, I would have been satisfied. However, it was also nice that two books I did design work on (Nocturnals and Book of Fiends) got nods. Our publishing partners, the Game Mechanics, Human Head, and Dog House Rules, also did well. This all made Friday a happy, happy night.
Personally, it was also a good show. Many of my good friends were in attendance and I made time to catch up and hang out. Wednesday night, I was foolish enough to stay up until 5 am talking politics with old college friends. I operated on two hours of sleep the whole first day of GenCon, then stayed up until 3 am again the next night. My friend Bill ran a WFRP game for our old game group (plus special guest Dr. Evil) using the new rules. It was a blast to play with the guys again, as we haven’t roleplayed together in two years at least. We also got a chance to go out with friends from Canada and do a big end of show GR dinner. That latter is a tradition of the past few years, including the attendance of AEG’s Jim Pinto (which makes no sense I know, except Jim is a great guy and it’s usually our only chance to hang out).
I did not get much time out of the booth, so I’m not the best guy to report on what was new and exciting. I did trade for a bunch of stuff, including the new Blackmoor, dungeon tiles and a Battle of the Bulge wargame from Fiery Dragon, the latest Shadowfist expansion, and some other d20 books from Necromancer and Paradigm. My only actual purchases were for the Flames of War miniatures game. I picked up the new Stalingrad book, which is excellent, and a bunch of miniatures for my emerging DAK force based on the historic Ramcke Brigade of paratroops. Plus of course tanks, because, well, I like tanks. I haven’t even assembled these yet and I’m already eying the Stalingrad book and thinking of doing a Red Army force as well. Stop me before I spend again.
Well, it’s time for big convention #3 this summer. We’re leaving for GenCon in just a few hours. I had too much to get done today, so I’ve been going for a good 14 hours now. Our flight is at 7 am, which means leaving here about 5 am. Wohoo. At least we’re getting in early. Last year we ended up with a redeye that didn’t get us in until Thursday morning around 9 am. In other words, one hour before the show opened. We arrived, dumped our stuff at the hotel, and ran over to the exhibit hall. An hour later I had to dash off to run a Freeport game on maybe three hours sleep. That was frickin’ delightful.
Our plans seem to have all worked out (knock on wood). There should be advanced copies of the Red Star (which is absolutely gorgeous) and Foes of Freedom waiting for us there. That should be a nice double whammy. We should also have some cool fliers for Black Company and Blue Rose and we are announcing a new licensing deal as well. Friday night is the ENnies (these are RPG awards for you non-gamers), which ought to be interesting. In short, lots going on.
Unfortunately, the GAMA bullshit just won’t end. There was new shit-stirring today. I expect there’ll be a lot of politics going on behind the scenes at GenCon. I plan to ignore it as much as possible, having made my feelings vividly clear earlier today on an industry mailing list. I’d rather take care of business at GenCon. That’s what’s important.
Mental note, do not read playtest forums right before heading to bed. I made that mistake tonight and have thus utterly failed to get to sleep. It’s still hot here, so that didn’t help either. I read for a half an hour (Jim Dunnigan’s incredibly interesting Dirty Little Secrets of World War II) and then lay there for an hour trying to get to sleep. Instead I just kept thinking about rules I need to add, tweak, throw out, or revise, sections I need to flesh out, examples I needed to write, and questions I needed to answer. Then I had to wonder how much I could get done before GenCon and how much during GenCon (probably not much, but I’m going to bring my laptop anyway). I guess it started earlier, because Tuesday is game night. We are, of course, playtesting WFRP and we had a good session that highlighted a number of areas for me to look at closely. Afterwards, I thought it’d be a good idea to see if any of the playtesters had encountered similar issues. The result: I am thoroughly awake.
The game was pretty funny. Nik decided it’d be cooler to play outside, so she brought out my minis battle board from the garage and laid it on top of a blanket. We sat around it on the lawn, drinks in hand. We had one light run out from the garage, but as it got later that didn’t provide enough illumination. Nik dug out a bunch of small candles and placed them around the battle map. It made the whole thing look like a low grade Satantic ritual, which we found pretty amusing in light of the accusations leveled at roleplaying games over the years. Completing the scene was Evan’s infant daughter Zoey, who was tonight’s special guest. Evil RPG? Check. Ritual candles? Check. Innocent child? Check. Guess we really blew an opportunity to please the Dark Master by being social and having fun instead. We were able to blame all of Zoey’s crying on Chaos though. It’s a new maxim: Chaos makes the baby Zoey cry.
Photo at Nikchick.com
Seattle has been unusually hot this summer, which is too bad because one of my favorite things about the city is the temperate climate. Today it was hot enough that the ceiling fans weren’t doing much good (and most homes here don’t have air conditioning). Nik suggested we catch a movie, so after a good day’s work we took a bus downtown and caught the Bourne Supremacy. Sitting in an air-conditioned box for a couple of hours was the perfect thing to do. By the time the movie was over, the city had cooled off and so had we. The Bourne Supremacy was good too. Made me want to write a spy story, as the running gag goes around here, “in my copious free time.”
It’s 1 am in the Emerald City and I guess it’s time to stop working on WFRP for today. The manuscript is in what I call the Hydra Stage. This means that when I fix one problem, two more grow to take its place. So I’m bouncing from chapter to chapter. “Can’t finish this career until I add this skill. Can’t add this skill until I finish the magic rules. Can’t finish the magic rules until I write the line of sight rules.” Etc etc. Not that any of this is bad, mind you. It needs to get done. It just means that my estimates are always off. “Surely I’ll finish Section X today!” Well, yes, I would have, but I was simultaneously working on Sections X, Y, and Z. All that said I should be sending out the second iteration of the playtest document this week. Huzzah. I shall then celebrate for five minutes and get back to it.
The celebration part at least should be easy. Nik and I were in a Flexcar, having just dropped off a staggering number of mail orders, when she spotted a liquor store. Since this was our day with the Flexcar this week, she immediately opted to take advantage of both liquor store and adjoining supermarket. We picked up, among other things, makings for a drink of her own devising, dubbed the Nikita by our friend Christine a couple of summers ago. If you like frappuccinos but think they’d be better with booze, you’d love a Nikita. We also ponied up for some Bombay Sapphire, an absolute necessity for refreshing summer gin and tonics. When libations are required, we are ready for action.
Just because something can bend, doesn’t mean it should. When you get a package that is clearly a book, please walk the one whole block from the mailbox to my porch and leave it there. Now maybe I just expect too much, but I’d really appreciate it if the next $30 art book I got in the mail wasn’t rolled up and shoved into my tiny mailbox like John Holmes violating a 14 year old virgin.
While I’m at it, I’d also like to make a note to convention goers. Please learn to use the toilet like a goddamned human being. It is not difficult. Do your business, wipe yourself, and flush the friggin’ toilet. That last part is particularly important because I don’t want to see you vile mess when I try to use the john. Also, do your best to confine your foulness to the actual toilet. Refrain from spraying it about the stall, as you are not a wild animal. I’m sure the collectible flumph miniature or the d20 half fiendish drow dragon assassins sourcebook or the convention exclusive Star Wars dildo with your choice of princess or the Galactus taking a dump on the universe statue will all still be there when you’re done, so take the extra few seconds and confine your crap to the crapper.
Thank you for your attention.