Geek Dinner: The Event

Geek Dinner #77: Seattle Game Designers Assemble took place Saturday night (see my previous entry for the set up if you don’t know what I’m talking about). The fact that we were hosting dinner #77 was a good sign to an old punk like me (1977 being the high tide of the 70s punk rock explosion and all). And indeed everything clicked for the party and it seemed like everyone had a great time. I know I did.

The Wine
Stormhoek provided us with two bottles each of four different wines: Shiraz, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Nicole and John loved the Pinotage. Naturally, that was the one I didn’t get to try in all the hubbub. My favorite was the Pinot Grigio, and the Sauvignon Blanc was also tasty. This was no big surprise, as I’ve finally admitted that I prefer white wines to reds.

The Food
As always Nicole went to town with the cooking. As I’ve often said, she loves to cook and I love to eat–and that explains a lot. She’s already provided some recipes on her blog for those interested in things culinary. She served prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with citrus dip, lasagna rolls, mushroom salad with truffle oil, North Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches, salad nicoise with seared tuna, and a summer fruit trifle with triple sec-flavored custard. I contributed a double batch of my hummus and prepared a cheese plate with Sage Derby, Brie, Danish Bleu, Aged Gouda, and an English Coastal Cheddar. I think the pulled pork and the trifle were the clear favorites. She made a lot of each one and it was all gone by the end of the night. My lunch plans for the week were dealt a blow without the pulled pork, but at least our guests left sated.

The Guests
Seattle, as many of you know already, is lousy with game designers. We invited over 40 people and had about twenty attendees. While we missed some friends who were out of the country or otherwise committed, the house was crowded and there enough guests that a couple left before I ever really got a chance to chat them up (good excuse for a next time). Amongst our guests:

Mike and Lisa Pondsmith: They are best known to hobby gamers as R. Talsorian, publisher of the Cyberpunk RPG. Mike also spent some years in the computer game biz at Microsoft and later Monolith.

Wolf and Shelly Baur: I worked with Wolf at WotC and previous that he was at TSR. He has a Joe job at MS but still does RPG work for WotC, Privateer, and Paizo and he’s also doing an interesting patronage project to see if this model can work for RPGs. Shelly has also been writing for Paizo’s Dragon Magazine these last few years. She can also break your neck with her Iron Palm technique.

Phil Boulle: Phil is a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, having left White Wolf after a long stint there to join the computer game world in Vancouver. He’s working at Relic, who do the 40K RTS Dawn of War. I joked that like me he must spend all his day thinking about 40K now. We were delighted he came down from Vancouver for the party. He brought he fiancee Sarah, who we hadn’t met before.

Eric Cagle: Another former WotC co-worker, Eric just recently went to work for Privateer. He’s also been doing freelance work for us lately on the WFRP line and is also starting a 40K project. He also brought his fiancee, Tina. She was nice enough to bring a quiche, but we just chuckled. Clearly she had never been to a Nicole-catered event before.

John and Jenny Tynes: We had thought John and Jenny wouldn’t be able to make it due to an illness but a last minute rally allowed them to attend. John of course is best known for his days at Pagan Publishing and his gold membership in the Cult of Lovecraft. These days he’s working at Flying Lab on the Pirates of the Burning Seas MMO. Jenny is an old school WotCite who now works for Hidden City.

Peter Adkison: Everyone’s favorite “gaming mogul”. He’s of course best known as the former CEO of WotC and the man who saved D&D.; These days he runs GenCon and Hidden City (and is thus Jenny’s boss).

Evan and Rona Sass: Evan is Green Ronin’s beloved webmaster. He was part of Rubicon Games years ago and the original Games & Gizmos retail stores here in Seattle. His lovely wife Rona was looking at the boardgames in the living room and commented that I had a lot of games. I said, “If you think this is a lot of games, you need to come upstairs and see the office.” Once Evan was assured that coming to my office was not a euphemism for anything, I brought them upstairs and showed her the depths of my insanity.

Jon Leitheusser: Until just recently, Jon was the Director of R&D; over at WizKids. He’s edited several Mutants & Masterminds books for GR over the last 18 months or so. Now that he’s got a little more time, we’ve just contracted him to co-write one as well.

Marc “Sparky” Schmalz: Sparky works part time for Green Ronin doing graphic design on top of his day job in the computer field. He’s also one of the Game Mechanics, whose d20 books GR publishes. He’s also a WotC survivor.

Wendy Wallace: Wait, can you guess? That’s right, another ex-WotCite! Wendy was one of the good brand managers at WotC. She was on the Magic: the Gathering team for many, many years. Nowadays she’s at REAL.

Seth Johnson: I first met Seth when he worked for Human Head but these days he’s a designer for WizKids. He’s co-writing that M&M; book with Jon. Sadly, Seth had to leave early because he had too much work to do before ComicCon. Hopefully, the Go-Go impersonators at ComicCon will make it worth his while.

Michelle Lyons: Michelle was an editor at WotC after my time but got to enjoy the same fun layoff experience as many of the folks on this list. I forgive her for being another devotee of the ancient cult of Shadowrun (yeah, like you, Kenson!). She edited our just-released Golden Age book for M&M;, as well as our Red Star book from a couple years back. Michelle’s currently working at MS.

Jess Lebow: Jess used to work in the fiction wing of WotC. We were laid off on the same day and later shot machine guns in Vegas (these two events are unrelated). He was the story guy behind the Guild Wars MMO but after some shabby treatment left there to go work for Mr. Tynes at Flying Lab. Now he’s learning the fun of pirates. Yarrr!

Rick Achberger: Last but certainly not least is Rick, my weekly opponent in wargames and minis games. He’s also one hell of a graphic designer. He worked with me on the Chainmail line at WotC, as well as his beloved Star Wars. For the last several years he’s been working at Pokemon USA, as well as freelancing on GR projects like Torches & Pitchforks and the Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion. Soon his Desert Rats will feel the wrath of my DAK.

The Wrap Up
People showed up promptly at 7 and the last guests rolled out around midnight. No one was shy about digging into the food, which was delicious and plentiful. I had a nice time catching up with some friends I don’t get to see all that often despite living in the same city. Late in the evening someone produced some cigars and a group of us went into the backyard to light up. It was a lovely cool evening with just a light breeze. As I stood there chatting with friends, puffing on a stogie, and enjoying a glass of Savignon Blanc, I was able to put aside the worries of daily life for a brief time. Clearly we should have parties more often.

Big thanks to Stormhoek for sponsoring our Geek Dinner. If you see their wine in your neck of the woods, do try it out. We give it our Geek Seal of Approval.

Nicole has links to pictures and recipes over on

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