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Monday, June 7, 2010

2010 North Texas RPG Con Report [Long]-

I am back from Dallas/Ft. Worth (Irving), Texas, and the 2010 North Texas RPG convention, where I had the great pleasure to meet, speak with, and even game repeatedly with TSR and Classic-gaming notables:

  • Rob Kuntz
  • Tim Kask
  • Dennis Sustare
  • Paul Jaquays
  • Steve Winter
I was also fortunate enough to have met many of the active resurgence players, such as Matt Finch, Alan Grohe, and I am embarrassed to say, others whose names and faces have become dissociated in my fatigued mind.


Steve Winter (formerly with TSR, currently with WotC) ran a 1st Edition Gamma World adventure for us, and I think we all had a very enjoyable time, with plenty of smiles and a few laughs amid the exploration and combat with the Wasp-Men. Several of us have camera-pix of a battle scene, and I will try to post that soon.


I was asked to consider running a one-off/pick-up game and had a reader (also a Robert, I believe [if not, please forgive me]) of this blog as the first Player to arrive. The concept i was running with was that he, possibly solo, would trek out from Kelzsyn's Bluff through the wetlands in search of an Ancient Scout cache of significant importance and believed entirely undisturbed. A second player, a young man, a first-time RPG player who was more familiar with popular SciFi franchises than fantasy clichés and tropes, but quickly extrapolated based on my references to Star Wars (his preferred franchise universe), Star Trek, and Stargate. This fellow proved to be an excellent Player in that he was articulate and succinct in his declared intent and quickly realised that anything he though his character could do was likely 'allowable' as governed by a 2d12 + Primary Modifier roll result. Sharp kid. This then led to the deal between the seller and the Scout, which was interrupted by the original customer and her two cohort (a half-Durnsman, and a Western Isles Vrun). Things were getting nasty (the young fighter-type had beheaded the WI Vrun and picked up his Aelbaan blade when my friend Rob Kuntz showed up to join the game by dropping a terracotta potted-plant upon the crown of the much displeased and snarling woman. When she awoke, she and the Durnsman sparingly explained that the three of them had assembled to work the problem together and that they were willing to co-operate. Rob would have none of it and soon the woman and man were discarded to the Thrashers in Mirror Lake.

I'll skip the rest of that and then say that my Friday Night game was a continuation and that the first group was successful in large part due to Rob's insistence that the party was entirely capable of solving all of the riddles, overcoming all obstacles, or finding alternate methods/routes. He demonstrated great caution at times and charged in when he saw an opening and usually was very successful in intent even if his dice were tired and cranky.
My new players included artists Jason Braun (original cover of Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future), and Amanda Marohl (we are discussing artwork for Urutsk), SirAllen of Dragonsfoot, and 'Doctor Joe' (a young Robert De Niro circa Taxi Driver, channelling a version of Kevin Spacey, and a fine Gentleman, Player and Gamer, too!).
In that session, three field agents of the Marnharnnan Defence Agency (created by international blogger and author of such fine MICRO-Scale games such as SAMURAI CYBORG ARE GO!, and Jung Guns, Sean Wills), researching the possibility that a rumoured tech cache had recently been successfully looted. They were to be on the lookout for items in the open and black markets.
We started at the Cat Lake City (courier depot/brothel/inn/bar and grille/saloon, contained in three interconnected buildings on the shore of a large pond, and complete with a Tiki-type hut, a barbecue, and a dock surrounded by reeds and rushes) where everyone met and then followed the hook to the tunnels of the Bluff in search of foreign sappers that later turn out to be Guild Council mercs, likely hired by the VCA to access something or perhaps demolish the site.
Highlights included SirAllen's antics and his character's chosen accent; Joe's very clever and funny comments; and the group's launching of a frictionless lock careening down an underground passageway like a pinball.


The crew gathered again, minus Jason Braun, who had to man his table. Later, as Rob was away at his game or panel, Steve Winter and his friend (David, was it?) rolled up characters while two other new players also joined the party exploring Ancient stuff deep in the earth, fighting plague-zombies, and unravelling more of the mystery of the setting. Rob checked-in on us a couple or three times as he was running his group.


Rob met me first, then Steve Winter joined in and we talked about the setting and system and compared it against some of its influences (EPT, MA/GW, The Morrow Project, and Skyrealms of Jorune), and when Amanda, and Joe joined us, we set off on the last instalment before next year's Con with a submersible, and surfer-shaman NPC toward new and much larger adventures.

I signed a few dice bags along with Tim, Dennis, Rob, Paul; went out to lunch with them on Thursday; and learnt all sorts of interesting inside scoop on TSR days.

Doug Rhea and BadMike ran a great con, and did amazing amounts of work to make it flow remarkably well. They deserve great praise for that job. :D

It was a remarkable experience and opportunity afforded me, and I am very thankful and grateful for it.

What did you folks game that weekend? :)


  1. Thanks for coming, Kyrinn, and I'm glad your games went well. Everyone seemed to be having a great time....and you can brag you had both Rob Kuntz and Steve Winter in your games!

    " 'Doctor Joe' (a young Robert De Niro circa Taxi Driver, channelling a version of Kevin Spacey, and a fine Gentleman, Player and Gamer, too!)."

    Oh man I have to let him know about this description, LOL. Joe is one of my oldest friends, and the guy who first introduced me to RPGs (via D&D) back in 1978 when he moved into my sleepy Texas neighborhood from Maryland. So in a very roundabout way Doctor Joe was the reason we were all in Texas for the NTRPG Con this weekend! And yes he's a great guy and good gamer, and his son Joey is following in his footsteps (both as a player and in the medical profession).

    Anyway good luck with the game and I only wish I had any time to sit in and observe for more than five minutes during the con because it looked like everyone was having fun....

  2. Great weekend recap! Sadly, I did no gaming on the weekend, though I did mow the lawn, did some gardening, and baked a cake. How domestic!

    I'm guessing that's you in the purple, sitting beside ... Rob?

  3. Mike, Thanks again. :)
    --I'll have to get Joe's e-mail from you so I can send him a certificate to redeem a free .pdf of the finished product, plus, I want to stay in touch to see what his character would be doing in the intervening time.


    Thanks. :)

    Yes, that's me in purple sitting next to Rob Kuntz.
    --I'll post other photos as they trickle in.

  4. Wow, wish I was there! I'd love to play in one of your games some time. Do you have any other con appearances planned?

  5. Thanks! :D
    --Your Gamma World game looked really cool. :D

    I don't have any immediate plans for other Conventions, but if I am invited as a guest, I'd certainly open up my schedule as best possible.

  6. Wonderful and marvellous! I'm delighted that you and your players had such a good time, and that all went (I hope!) well!

  7. Jeff, thanks so much!

    Apart from a lack of hairspray which made my mane look like a witch's broom, I think everything went well. :D

    I was most struck by how sweet and gentlemanly both Dennis Sustare and Paul Jaquays were.
    --Tim was funny, and Rob was a great Player and listening to his stories at his smoke breaks was fun.

    Good Stuff!(tm)

  8. I had such a great time in your games, and amid the ultra-positive pitch of the con it made the whole experience quite memorable.

    Time for a new slogan: "Do You Urutsk?" I sense buttons in the making for the next meet... :)


  9. Oh no that just reminded me! All that time at the con together, and I forgot to ask you Kyrinn: How do you CORRECTLY pronounce "Urutsk"???

  10. @Rob: That sounds great. I also have a very funny illo I plan on using to announce that the product is on sale. A lot of the art is T-Shirt, Mug, and Prinbt-bound, too. Buttons would be just that much better. :D


    * Ur = German's 'Uhr', similar to, but not the same as, 'OOr' as in Spoor (ˈspu̇r).

    * Utsk = German's 'Gut', similar to Canadian English pronunciation of 'Out & About' = 'OOt & AbOOt' {B[oots + K] minus the B}

    It roughly translates into: 'The most habitable world [in the system]'

  11. Wow, great times. I'd be blown away getting to meet Jaquays. If I lived anywhere near Texas I would have loved to have been part of all this. Congrats on getting the game out there, it sounds like a blast.

  12. I have questions! Is there an active forum for discussion, QnA, and play experiences from users yet? I noticed you have a non-traditional philosophy in regards to adventure creation using basic setting descriptions and running through tables as you go, if I understand correctly. Would I need to digest the full setting background before daring to referee a game? I've run games totally free-form down to deciding on an appropriate mechanic check to use in the instant one is needed. This works fine but in regards to adventure creation I find that I provide a better play experience hands down with what amounts to adding in some of the small highlights that only preparation might allow. This is not to be confused with a three page background before play starts! ;) Everyone has their own experience of course, but I still would ask if there is not an example adventure containing the content typical of a UWoM game?

  13. "...but I still would ask if there is not an example adventure containing the content typical of a UWoM game?" (quoth Cimmerian.

    Could this be the missing link or the "cat's meow"? Can't wait for TS's on point answer.

    Hi Chris! :)

  14. Maybe I should have prefaced my post with the possibility (although slim!) that I could run a game out here in SoCal on Aug 14th. UWoM invades Mickey Mouse country! It won't be easy to freak out the locals as daily life here can be a vaudville act but there is the possibility of it fitting like your favorite pair of Levi's.

    I am already envisioning a tower that has asimilated itself with the local flora & fauna. It would have a duality of interaction with those who investigate it, being sometimes mechanical as in an elevator and other times it's natural side reacts with graspng tree vines and the potted plant gone man-flytrap!
    If you go this far with it you might as well put a watchful floating eye at it's peak/penthouse cause this would be a NEW UNHEARD OF PLOT DEVICE! Whom does the tower serve? I need to read the manual all the way through yet!

    Anyways Kyrinn, maybe I am on the wrong track to give someone the 'feel' of UWoM so any direction is welcomed.

    Hey Rob! Who know's how I am going to be able to catch the sense of the illuminati like craziness that you seemed to have experinced. I do wish I had sat in a session. Hoping Kyrinn has a simil-B2 here!

  15. Oh, okay.
    --I get it now.

    Short version:

    1). TSR's GW1 Legion of Gold + B2 Keep on the Borderlands

    2). GDW's Urban Guerilla + Black Blade Publishing's Secret of Smuggler’s Cove

    3). SF3 Sundown on Starmist for Star Frontiers + Project File: Liberation at Riverton for The Morrow Project

    Those would be my recommended mash-ups to achieve an Urutskan feel and tone.

    I do hope you chose to undertake the experiment you've described.
    --You may want to look into combining:

    The Albuquerque Spaceport mini-module found in two editions of the GM's Screen + S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for AD&D, but toning-down all the long-term tech loot they can bring out of there.
    --Steve Winter's 1st-ed GW game felt like two, mashed-up.

    If you have 3.5 stuff available, I recommend the Tome of Horrors' Woodwose as your big veggie boss.

    Please let me know if that helps, and if you do run the game. :D


  16. @ Cimmerian. Chris, It's easy man. Just start the thing with a mysterious hook and as they are pursuing the threads, make it up. :) B2 silmulacra? Heh. No such beasty in off-the-cuff play. I think EGG intended that for folks that didn't know how to wing it, a lost art, lost more and more with the continuing push of pre-made adventures. The best DMs I have ever met (TS is now included on that list) take elements (possibly in notation outline) and string them together. Exactly what designers of mods do but having endless possibilities unlike set-in-stone scenarios.

    TS loves political intrigue in games like I do and in some cases like EGG did. It allows for wild circumstances, far-ranging exploration of twists and turns, and allows the GM to insert material at an unfaltering pace. The more static you become (i't's a tower and its static components) the less chance there will be in maintaining such an unending thrust, unless hooks are purposefully set within said edifice to do so. Imagine, Create. Move it all through hooks and action, Balance the parts as you go but keep making things up, don't just sit and wait for the adventurers to interact. If they don't get it right away, contrive another hook which is related. Keep it moving. As the main designer of TRACTICS--Mike Reese--once said to me, "Speed man! Speed." IOW, in RPG, action is KIng when melded with a great scenario plot, and I don't mean the Hack-en-Slash variety. My two 'counts'.