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Asheville Comic Expo (A.C.E.) 2014 Preview

August 19, 2014 Comments off

ace-14-poster-webJust one month until the 3rd Annual Asheville Comic Expo! Once again, the Skyland Games crew is organizing the RPG gaming, and just like the rest of the show, tabletop RPGs will be bigger and more diverse than previous years! We’ve got a warhorn going so you can reserve your spot at the table. This year we’ll have Star Wars Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion, as well as several Dungeon Crawl Classics tables, a 5E starter set table for those eager to try the newest edition of D&D, and of course the ever popular Pathfinder tables.

In addition to the awesome artwork on display in artist alley, a lot of special guests are attending this year. It’s a great opportunity to meet writers and artists from Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, DC, and some really great indie work!

Of course it wouldn’t be ACE without comics and a lot of awesome cosplay. Get some more use out of that awesome get up you made for DragonCon or GenCon and enter the costume contest! It has been a really impressive showing in previous years.

This year the convention will be upstairs in a larger space! Previous years it was held in what can generally be described as the basement of the Civic Center, but no longer! 2014 we are moving out of the basement! Check out the awesome comics, elaborate costumes, gorgeous art, and play some games! Come out and support this awesome endeavor to make ACE 2014 the best yet! See you there!

Free RPG Day

May 19, 2014 Comments off

freelogo2014Free RPG Day is just one month away! If you haven’t ever participated I would suggest finding a store near you and joining in on the fun this year! It also marks the 3rd anniversary of our local FLGS The Wyvern’s Tale opening their doors. If you’re joining me at the ‘Tale, be sure and sign up for a seat at the table on the warhorn. This year I’ll be running the offering from Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box! I was disappointed to see that Fantasy Flight didn’t contribute a Star Wars module for their new Age of Rebellion, but I’ll be running the beginner box anyway.

Despite FF not contributing, the offerings this year look pretty awesome. Pelgrane Press is offering an adventure for their 13th Age system called Make Your Own Luck. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve heard very good things, and the maps and factions in the core rule book are really cool. They have a lot of great games going for them, including Timewatch, a kickstarter for a time-travelling RPG.

There are a ton of great books from Catalyst Game Labs this year. If you missed them last year, Battletech and Shadowrun are sharing a book with quickstart rules for each game, and the Cosmic Patrol quickstart is back! New this year is the Valiant Quickstart which looks like a really cool superhero game for the Valiant comic universe. It looks like they’ll be releasing a lot of free stuff in the coming months in support of this game, so keep an eye out!

It’s a great day to support your local friendly gaming store, try some RPGs, and have an awesome time! If I don’t see you around my table, I hope you participate this year and tell your friends! Game on!

 

Kickstarter and Convention Round Up

November 18, 2013 Comments off

lne1While not strictly gaming related, one of our Skyland Games guys has created his very first Kickstarter: the comic book adventures of Lark & Eagle. The story is about two down on their luck heroes given a second chance to earn redemption after a disastrous mission by a new reality television show called “Hero Overhaul”. The comic is written by Steve Johnson and will be illustrated by Toro Diego and lettered by Tom Orzechowski.

Another friend of mine, Lee Bretschneider has his own Kickstarter currently funding: Role Play, a series of dice portrait tee shirts. Lee is an awesome illustrator and was the creator of one of my favorite tee shirts: Go Gnolls! Being a former Seminole and avid D&D player (plus an afficiando of all things gnollish), it speaks to me. I’ve worn the other one down to where it’s beginning to fade, so it may be time to hit Redbubble and pick out a new one.

dieshirtsLast weekend, I attended MACE in Charlotte, North Carolina. MACE has been held for the last couple years just a few hours away from home, but I’d never attended although the other Skylanders had. Steve and I both attended and I had a blast. All the Pathfinder I could care to play and/or run, plus boardgames, Mecha- Warhamm- Warma- Hordes… or whatever it’s called, and even some LARP, MACE has something for everyone. At least in the Pathfinder Society tables, I found it to be a total “couples con”. Every single game I ran or played had either one or two couples at the table. I’m not saying it’s unheard of, as we have a married couple in our local home game, and we have a few that attend our Pathfinder Society Lodge days at The Wyvern’s Tale, but couples playing (at least that many and that consistently) was a new experience for me. It’s always good when your significant others are involved in your hobbies, and a convention is a good place for a weekend getaway too.

In January, several of us are attending SCARAB in South Carolina. I went last year and had a great time, and this year they are moving the convention to a bigger and better space. I’m still wiped out by my weekend game-fest, but looking forward to this one coming up… and with luck I’ll be wearing my new d12 tee shirt and reading the first issue of Lark & Eagle while I’m there.

Kicking and Screaming

October 21, 2013 Comments off

So as to not bore you all with another set of Pathfinder Pregen Parties, I decided to go with an article about Kickstarter.  As a group, we at Skyland Games all have new ideas gushing out of our heads and no way to produce a decent product without having large sums of cash on hand.  And yes, it can get messy in the man-cave with all those ideas just lying on the floor of the man-cave.

The advantage to Kickstarter is that you do not need a lump sum of cash handy or try to find an investor that will loan you what you need without taking a large chunk of the profits.  I am more inclined to donate a little money for an idea that I think is neat and could go farther than just the Kickstarter campaign.  Crowdfunding works on so many levels, whether the project is big or small, with the possibility of your idea exploding and reaching many more people after the campaign.

I love the idea of crowdfunding.  Well, I love the idea so much that I am starting my own Kickstarter campaign in a couple of weeks.  But I am breaking off from our group for this project and going with a comic book.  Being that I severely lack in drawing skills, I have found an awesome artist and I can concentrate on telling an amazing story with complex interesting characters to entertain millions.  Well… maybe a couple hundred folks. 

What I have figured out from following other Kickstarters is to be prepared for anything and everything.  Make sure you provide examples and samples in your campaign to build excitement and have good, meaningful rewards to show appreciation to your backers.  But the one thing that backers need to understand is that you are not purchasing the product, you are donating funds and receiving a reward.  Also be prepared with a couple stretch goals so that you are not caught without the ability to add a little more to the project, whether it is another item or upgrading the quality of the product.  And be prepared to go through with it.  Don’t be afraid and just do it!

I think this is hitting a high note with me today because I just got the preliminary character sketches back, and… let’s just say – ‘Wow!’

ACE 2013 – Asheville Comic Expo Gaming

September 8, 2013 Comments off

flierround1It is nearly time! Join us at the 2nd Annual Asheville Comic Expo! Skyland Games is in charge of organizing the tabletop RPGs, and we’ve got some great tables this year! Check out the full schedule and guarantee your spot at the table by registering at our warhorn for the event.

Admission is $5 for all day, and kids 12 and under get in free!

The venue will be the same as last year in the expo space at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. The easiest parking is at the civic center parking deck, and the entrance to the Expo will be off Hiawassee St. on the North side of the center.

Sure you’ve read about Star Wars: Edge of the Empire here, well now is your chance to charge up your blaster and hit the hyperdrive! Maybe you’d like a more traditional dungeon delve, with a twist: check out Dungeon Crawl Classics. Like your Worlds nice and Savage? Try Slipstream, a sci-fi adventure world full of jetpacks and rayguns! Pathfinder more your speed? Why not try it from a Goblin perspective in We Be Goblins, or discover who has claimed an ancient siege castle in Master of the Fallen Fortress. New to Pathfinder? Sign up for In Service to Lore, an awesome introductory adventure to Pathfinder Society, the organized play version of the Pathfinder game. Want to get the next generation of gamers off on the right foot? Sign up your younglings for the Pathfinder Kids table, offered in both time slots, and featuring the excellent Pathfinder Beginner Box!

Last year the costumes and costume contest were fantastic! Dust off you capes, and practice your best hero pose because the cosplayers will be out in force. It also makes for some excellent people watching! All kinds of comic and toy vendors will be on hand, as well as artists, and a Friendly Local Game Store or two!

Show your support of our local comic convention, and maybe play an RPG or two! See you there!

Gygax Magazine Review

February 26, 2013 2 comments

GygaxCover

The King is Dead. Long live the King!

 

If you love roleplaying games (and if you’re reading this, you probably do) do yourself a favor and subscribe to Gygax Magazine. I really enjoyed any issue of Kobold Quarterly I could get my hands on. I even wrote about it here. To my eternal shame, I never actually subscribed and in the meantime, KQ has printed its last issue. While I didn’t personally have a Dragon magazine subscription, I have since perused old issues and developed a real appreciation for what that publication did not only to grow Dungeons and Dragons, but to increase and diversify both the audience and the genres for RPGs as a hobby.

Gygax magazine is pitch perfect in every category as far as I’m concerned. Not only was the staff wise enough to bring on Wolfgang Baur (the kobold-in-chief) and provide a corner for KQ material, they went back to the classic format of Dragon magazine both in layout and design. First and foremost, the classic oil painting cover featuring a fantastic but also humorous situation, using the same font as the old Dragon for the title, as well as similar text in the upper right of the price and few articles within. Inside, the contents page is formatted almost exactly like issues from the mid-80s, and the articles are formatted in triple columns and fairly plain titles. It just feels… right.

One of the most fascinating articles was about the cosmology of RPGs by James Carpio. James has done a great job breaking down the different waves and movements in the RPG hobby into stars in a galaxy. This includes a really cool two-page graphic depicting most of the major RPGs and games that use the same type of mechanics or design ideas. It’s a really cool graphical representation of the games over time and may help you find some cool games you missed.

My favorite thing about the magazine is it’s inclusive feel, taking on all game systems and all types of players. There are articles that would appeal to old-guard gamers about improv DMing, and bridging generations. There are nitty-gritty articles that break down which is mathematically statistically better: +1 damage or +1 to hit? There are cutting edge articles talking about the future of gaming, and online table tops. Essentially there is something for everyone!

Towards the end of course, there are the comics! Classics like Order of the Stick, as well as What’s New with Phil and Dixie, and one that was new to me, Marvin the Mage. All and all, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t let this magazine fail! Subscribe and support an excellent resource for roleplaying games!

Categories: Adventure, Books, Comics, DnD, Retro, Reviews, RPGs

The Strange Case of David A. Trampier

February 18, 2013 Comments off

Grognards and other fans of 1st Edition D&D will remember some of the greatest illustrations in role-playing being drawn by David A. Trampier (aka ‘TRAMP’ or ‘DAT’). The original cover of the 1st Edition Players Handbook, plus plenty of monsters in both the 1st Edition Monster Manual and from the Gamma World Series were his creations. He designed or played a role in design of several games, like Titan and Divine Right, and was the creator of the long running Dragon Magazine comic strip Wormy. I was always a fan of his work, but never connected the dots that this illustration and this comic and this game all were from him, until much later. Trampier was not only in on the ground floor, but was moving to publish his own collected volume of Wormy, when something strange happened in April of 1988…

He disappeared.

Kim Mohan (editor of Dragon Magazine) advised that checks sent to Tramp’s house for work completed were returned uncashed. Phil Foglio (who worked on another strip in the magazine at the time What’s New with Phil & Dixie, and now best known for the excellent web comic Girl Genius) said later, “When an artist’s checks are returned uncashed, he is presumed dead.”

So what happened? Hit by a bus? Suicide? Those paying attention were baffled by Trampier’s disappearance, though Tom Wham (designer of Awful Green Things from Outer Space and Snit’s Revenge) indicated that he believed he was alive. Tom’s sister, Nina Wham, was married to Trampier at the time, indicating he had reason to know Trampier was still drawing breath. Still, Wham indicated that he himself had not been in touch since 1982.

Barbara Manui & Chris Adams, known for their work with another Dragon Magazine comic “Yamara” started information gathering and discovered the possible reason for the disappearance, which they posted from a verified source (name withheld) on their site here.

To summarize, it states that Tramp appeared to be upset, and perhaps delusional or paranoid in regard to events occurring at Dragon Magazine at the time. It goes on to state that he was an uncompromising and perhaps antagonistic artist that made life difficult for himself at the magazine.

While interesting, it still leaves us the mystery of his disappearance. As I began to research the issue, there still were no leads.

Then, in 2005, a reporter named Arin Thompson with the Daily Egyptian wrote a story titled, ‘Coffee, cigarettes and speed bumps: A night with a Carbondale cabby.’ It showed a picture of a bearded man, arm draped over the door of his cab. It was Dave Trampier, back from the dead.

trampier

This was groundbreaking. This not only proved that Trampier was alive, but that he was living or at least working in Carbondale, Illinois.

Within a short period of time, Trampier’s home address was accessible through the Jackson County, Illinois public records.

It appears that with this reemergence, a number of individuals attempted to contact Trampier. An individual identifying himself under the handle of “Baj” on the message board of Paizo.com indicated that they had contacted Trampier to discuss the purchase of original artwork. This initial contact began friendly, with Trampier expressing an eagerness for others to view his work, but became more withdrawn and negative over time.

Jolly Blackburn of Knights of the Dinner Table fame indicated that he contacted Trampier to make an offer for publishing his original Wormy strips.

“David was very polite but made it very clear he wanted nothing to do such a project and more importantly nothing to do with gaming and asked that I not contact him again. I got the impression his phone number had been passed around in the industry and I hadn’t been the first to call.”

Wizards of the Coast stated in their 30 year retrospective, “Thirty Years of Adventure” that Trampier was alive and well, but no longer worked in the gaming industry.

And that is where it appears it will stay for the foreseeable future. Luke Gygax posted:

“Tramp was a great old school artist and I wish he still contributed his artwork to the genre. Unfortunately he has no interest in gaming or art at all. I do not know what his reasons are, but I know two folks that have tracked him down and offered him work- one is his brother-in-law. He flatly refused both of them and asked them not to contact him again on the subject.” For reasons entirely his own, Trampier does not plan on submitting his work for publication or self-publishing in the foreseeable future.”

Despite this, his devoted fans remain surprisingly active. The Dave Trampier Fan Club Facebook page counts among its members Luke Gygax, Ernest Gary Gygax Jr., Jolly Blackburn and David Kenzer of Kenzer & Co., and Troll Lord Games. It’s a lot of fandom for an artist who hasn’t published a new piece of art in 25 years.

Others pay tribute through homage and imitation, such as Dungeon Crawl Classics featuring of numerous references or parodies of Trampier’s previous work, recalling classic Trampier art to evoke images core to fantasy role playing.

Whatever Trampier’s reasons for leaving, it is clear that his work is loved and appreciated throughout the gaming world, and should he choose to return, he will be welcome with open arms.

EDIT: We are sad to report that Dave Trampier died March 24, 2014 in Carbondale, IL at Helia Healthcare.  He was 59 years old.  Tragically, it appears that immediately prior to his death, he made plans to exhibit some of his artwork at a Carbondale Con called Egypt Wars 2014.  He advised the organizers that he was suffering from cancer, but that he was overcoming it and would need transportation to the convention.  A sample of the art he planned to exhibit is shown below.

The fact that just too late he started to return to the people and fans that loved his work so much absolutely breaks my heart.  But with his passing, we see many in the gaming community that loved him, and with it the promise that Dave Trampier will not be forgotten.

Tramp Art