Monday, June 6, 2011

North Texas RPG Confidential

Here's the straight dope on the NTRPG conflab as witnessed and experienced by this humble reporter. Names have been altered to protect the identities and fragile egos of the guilty.

17:52 Friday, New Braunfels, Texas
I count off the checklist of our essentials of our expedition as we transfer the contents from Skullcrusher's Mega-Giganto truck (he reassured us on the drive back that his ownership of said truck had nothing to do with the relative size of his John Thomas) to the tidy and tight confines of Mr Brown's (aka the the “Special” Guest) Ford Focus.

Half case of rotgut bourbon. Check. Full case of funny-shaped dice. Check. Multiple bottles of gas station pinot (who would have thunk that a vintage styled after cheap plastic sandals would be so mind numbingly horrendous). Check. Stack of overly-complicated and bland 70s wargames if I have to leave a session in a huff. Check. Fire extinguisher. Check.

Loaded up we are now ready to be the neo-nerd equivalent of a cast of characters from a film about Vegas, hopefully Fear and Loathing as opposed to say Leaving Las Vegas.
Mr. Brown modeling Kyrin's Urutsk game
20:33 Friday, Irving, Texas
Many stories of bonfires being doused by local fire departments, snarky gossip about the sexual peccadilloes of former TSR staff, and wild plans to market gamer-oriented fetish porn later we manage to arrive at the con hotel.

Manage being the operative word here as between the steadfast refusal of Mr. Brown to follow simple directions and Skullcrusher's refusal to interrupt his bourbon-fueled ranting to navigate, it was touch and go about whether we would actually make it there. I help by falling back on my time-honored tactic of mentally checking out and smiling and nodding a lot. Fortunately the distinctive architecture and straightforward highway access-road layout of suburban Dallas helped to minimize our confusion. (Is it near the strip mall with the Walmart or the one with the Chick-fil-a?)

We quickly check in and more leisurely check in with the conference organizers. Malicious Mike, one of the founding gurus, stands behind a wall of vintage who-ha at the registration fending off conversations from lurkers left and right.

Now see both Mike and his compatriot Doug of the Famed BBQ are notorious for the sheer generosity—and deep pockets—with this convention that seems to build exponentially each year (the sheer packed attendance of this year is leading them to seek a much bigger venue next year). Not only do they fund the impressive compliment of “special” guests (Erol Otus for chrissakes. Erol Otus.) and put in the countless hours of sweat equity with the logistics work, but they seem hellbent on modeling the dynamics of a Native American potlatch with their giveaway of freebies.

Nevertheless, I am amazed when I compliment Malicious Mike on his shirt and he takes it straight off his back and offers it to me. “You like it, here take it,” he says to your author. (I am only minorly disturbed when later the Famed BBQ guy offers to give me his shirt. Backrub optional). True story—more or less.

[Editor's Note: Forgot to add that here we encountered both Good Finch, owner of an unnamed game company possibly located in East Texas, who confided in us his plan to take over the industry by way of a nefarious plan to spread viral links and a Game Designer Named After an Obnoxiously-Loud Motorcycle who confirmed by way of his John Deere gimme hat that he was as much as a redneck as we were.]

Friday 21:15
Although I get a short high from the self-validation of wearing a name tag with my name printed in bold sans-serif font on it, the buzz quickly wears off and the Skullcrusher and I are off to hunt for a game to join at this late hour. The small mountains of discarded pizza boxes cluttering door entry ways and the rhythmic click-clack of dice are the first clues.

Miraculously we manage to be recruited for a late-night go at the Myth of Sisyphus game--or was that the Tower of Mythrus?, it was hard for me to note as somehow I managed to quaff ¾ of a bottle of Flip-Flop in the half hour of our arrival--a persistent and popular Con world where players keep their surviving characters between sessions. The game ringleader is Bill the Frog God Necromancer who manages to knock our socks off with his sheer apparently meth-driven (the constant sniffling gave him away) late-night gamemastering.

Rolling a character up on the spot, I wow my fellow mythmakers with a first roll of “3” in our straight 3d6 chargen. I doodle out my sheet (pictured below and above the portrait of the Skullcrusher's fighting man who was apparently pictured as a Ssu'u drawn by an Expressionist-trained kindergartner by my wine-addled mind) and promptly name him “Mongomero the Burn”. Off we go.

Five minutes in and our party of savvy, tough adventurers is nearly TPKed as we fail to put two feet in front of us properly as we walk across a log over a very narrow body of water. Fortunately later sessions will reveal me and my veteran gamer brethern to be even less competent as players then this one.

Saturday 2:47
Despite our near-fatal encounter with the stationary log we actually make it some way into the wilderness fending off a poppy field, wall of logs, and an enticing siren fond of crocodiles before realizing that grown men shouldn't be playing roleplaying games after 3 am.

Skullcrusher almost makes good on his apparent Convention goal of dying in each and every session due to senseless choices, but I am disappointed that I do not make good on my own of turning each and every conversation into an opportunity to talk about myself, my blog, and my own projects--apparently a time-honored oral tradition in older grognard circles.

Saturday 3:33
Back to the room we are drinking with free and stupid reign now. We rouse Bad Finch from the room next to us to put an end to his oh-so silly need to sleep (also coopting him from taking action against his rambunctious neighbors). Mr. Brown begs us to allow him to sleep on our couch, a decision I will regret (amongst many) later when having the housekeepers cleaning the tear stains off the couch pillows.

My own inability to pass wisdom check after wisdom check ensures that I drink enough Flip-Flop to make Saturday a day filled with People Who Talk too Loud.

Stand by for that next installment...


  1. Sounds like a right good con then. Pity I love a couple of thousand miles away.

    Talk about taking the shirt off someones back though

  2. Sounds like fun. Nice write-up. :)

  3. Oh no, the Good Finch / Bad Finch meme has caught on. At least I'm Good Finch. Bill ran some great sessions in the Mythrus Tower wilderness.

    For the Sunday morning Mythrus Tower game, I discovered myself DMing Erol Otus and Dennis "Chariot of Sustarre" Sustare. My middle school self would have been proud. And also would have drunk lots less beer.

    There's a picture and capsule account of that Sunday morning game on my blog at

    Unfortunately, no one actually has one of their Swords & Wizardry books out on the table, or it would have been some nuclear advertising. :)

    Erol already said he'd be back to play more Mythrus Tower next year, so register early for the con!

  4. Grown men aren't supposed to play RPGs after 3AM?

    My life went horribly wrong somewhere then. Ah, well. I'm happy with my lot.

  5. Pretty darn good write up. I enjoyed it a lot. Excellent first paragraph. Good stuff. Good stuff.

  6. I want to hear about the ether binge. And the bats ...

  7. In every bit of exaggerated satire, there is a little bit of truth. Sadly, in this case, everything written down is 100% true, the only exaggeration being Chris didn't delve deeply enough into our twisted get together. Some things mortal man was not meant to know....

    Sleeping with Mr. Brown on a couch is akin to sticking your....err, a tree's knothole and hoping something uncomfortable won't happen.

    Great to finally meet you, Chris!

  8. I can't believe I sat ten feet from a couple of hours and didn't know who you were. Geez. We definitely need to hang out more!

    - Ark

  9. Okay, so you got the boozing down just fine; what about the wenching, roistering, and getting into fights with the City Guard, eh? Fine bunch of Player-Characters you are! :)

    yours, Chirine

  10. Bwahahaaaaahahaaa! Extremely funny writeup. Thanks for that :D

  11. Thanks all, I was afraid that my painstakingly-accurate approach to this reportage may have made this reportback a little dull and lifeless. All the news that fits here at the HC.

    @Good Finch
    No one gets to name their own nickname, so I think you are stuck with it. At least it's not something like Mr. Poofyhead.

    The Tower game was my first time actually playing S&W (or for that matter OD&D) to which I can sing it's "Only D&D and I Like It."

    I enjoyed our (too brief) conversation about the backstory around the retro-clone "movement".

    @Desert Scribe
    Shhhhh... about the ether binge and bats. As Bad Mike points out there are things best left unsaid. What happens in Irving, blah blah blah.

    @Bad Mike
    Man, I tried to shield your reputation from further tarnishing.

    Look forward to the interview. The Con in all seriousness was one of those rare beasts were it not only lives up to the hype, but exceeds it on several levels. The whole quality over quantity, DIY hobbyist vibe of the event is hard to adequately convey in any report.

    I had the same feeling with Cyclopeditron. I was like "ohhhhhhh you're the guy." Next year we should organize some kind of breakout session for the bloggers, that way we can plan our groupthink in an orderly manner.

    Our LARPing efforts in Papers and Paychecks game was about as successful as our efforts in the other games.

  12. Mr. Brown knocked on my door at 3am & I answered. Mr. Brown knocked on my door at 3am & I answered.
    Mr. Brown knocked on my door at 3am & I answered.
    Mr. Brown knocked on my door at 3am & I answered.


  13. Why, you ask, Bad Finch (aka The Cimmerisan)?

    Well as Dr. Seuss once opined, "Oh the wonderful sounds Mr. Brown can do..."

  14. After reading some nice stuff in your article I really feel speechlesschild care rouse hill