Here is the equipment list for searching for the Ogopogo my daughter brainstormed the other night.

  • -Arrows
    -Guns (BB guns), (these 2 for protection, not to injure but to scare away bad guys)
    -Vitamins (the tasty, chewy kind)
    -Drinking cup + water bottle
    -Notebook (for writing, journaling what we find)
    -Night light – ‘cause can’t sleep without it
    -Flashlights (several, for some reason or other)
    -Brushes and shovels for digging up bones
    -Cooper (her older brother, but agreed to take him only after some prompting)
    -Life Jackets
    -First Aid Kit
    -leopard skin backpack because, well, yeah
  • Intrepid Explorer's Pack

    Intrepid Explorer’s Pack – hopefully Ogopogo won’t be jealous that Nessie is the favored travel companion

    My 6 year old daughter is on a monster kick (not sure where she *gets* this stuff from). She’s collected dragons for years but has now stepped up to werewolves and trolls and sasquatches and such. More than anything right now she wants to travel to Scotland so we can search for Nessie, who happens to be her current favorite mythological creature.

    Local Monsters support Local Produce

    Local Monsters support Local Produce

    Anyhoo, Scotland is not really in the family budget. Nor is it really a top travel priority for us. Its actually at the very bottom of our current travel priority list, well under such exotic locations as Portland, and Vancouver and that small strawberry festival a few blocks Down the Street from our house. Despite all of her “research” on Nessie (more on that later – did you know they teach research methods in kindergarten these days?) we aren’t funding her current exploration overseas.

    However, there are local myths here in the NorthWest. While perusing her summer reading list (a fairly tall stack of well-illustrated children’s books on monsters collected from our local library) we discovered the stories of Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan, a lake which happens to be fairly close to her Grandfather’s current place of residence.

    Actual apparent photo of the Ogopogo

    Actual apparent photo of the Ogopogo

    Long story short, we aren’t travelling to Scotland this year. But we are planning an expedition, an adventure really, to Lake Okanagan, on a quest to find Ogopogo himself. My 6 year old daughter, her dubious older brother, myself, and my somewhat reluctant wife.

    Anyone ever been?

    I’m always churning on a handful of side projects but I went to Gencon with the goal of pitching a couple of my designs to publishers. I succeeded, got some great feedback, and outdid my own expectations. I’ll be recapping that experience over the next several days but before I get into that I want to put out my Gencon highlights.



    Really, wow – it was about as big as I expected, but there was such variety in what you could do and see and experience. I was overwhelmed from the moment I walked in the door, and disheartened when I realized there was no way to do all of it, especially with my busy schedule. There was just way too much to see.

    Indianapolis is an amazing city – the current leadership has really gone out of their way to make this a place for those who visit, from the new airport to the way the area around the convention is clean and well planned. They rolled out fireworks (not for us but for the motocross people) and had a strong police presence wherever there was a crowd, so you felt safe. Really a great place to visit and they know how to handle large crowds.

    I spent half my time at the con volunteering for Paizo. They make this little game called Pathfinder and released their Pathfinder Adventure Card Game at the convention. I demoed the game in the exhibition hall and in return they helped offset the cost for going. In retrospect, the free time to wander may have been worth not volunteering, but if you are short of funds this is a great way to get to a con. I also got some nifty swag out of the deal, met some great people, and had a lot of fun demoing what may have been one of the most popular demos at the convention (the game sold out the first day and we had a consistent line the entire time).

    The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

    The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

    I only made it to a couple of non-work / non-volunteer events. Two of these were stellar. The Fantasy improv Roguish Skullduggery (by the Damsels of Dorkington) was hilarious but not for the sexually conservative or easily offended. The True Dungeons event (haunted house meets LARPing) was also a highlight. It helped that other players shared their Tokens with me but I would have loved the experience regardless.


    Radisson Flood

    Radisson Flood

    I didn’t stay near the convention center. You really need to book a hotel 6-8 months (maybe earlier) to get anywhere near the convention center and my plans hadn’t firmed up at that point. I stayed at the Airport Radisson, thinking I could just do the airport shuttle as transport. Unfortunately theAairport Radisson isn’t anywhere near the airport. The city tore down and rebuilt the airport recently leaving the Radisson (and one another hotel that I understand is facing bankruptcy) alone in the middle of nowhere. The hotel must be suffering because of this and they had some hurdles. For instance a pipe broke and flooded their downstairs rooms, and then they were without water. They also had old advertisements that didn’t really apply to their current reality. Transportation by Taxi is really expensive, too (25-30$) each way to the convention center.

    Advertised breakfast buffet versus actual breakfast buffet

    Advertised breakfast buffet versus actual breakfast buffet

    Luckily I found a great shuttle service called Personal Touch who had great rates and was staffed by very friendly, helpful folks. They saved me about 150$ in traveling costs over the con and made sure I got to all my events on time.

    Convention food is worse at Gencon than any other con I’ve ever been to. The worse. Bar none. Pack snacks. Pack Healthy snacks.

    Coffee is also terrible at the con but there are Starbucks waiting across just about every sky-bridge (each hotel adjoining the convention center seems to have them).

    Always carry snacks and coffee with you

    Always carry snacks and coffee with you

    Wil Wheaton never called me once

    For next time

    Don’t expect to be able to buy all the new releases you are hearing about unless you line up outside the exhibition hall early to beat the rush to the booth you want on the first day. Most of the exhibitors explained that you could have pre-ordered stuff online for con pick-up, which is what I’ll be doing next year.

    Bring cough drops. If your voice is wavering after long days of demo-ing  cough drops/throat lozenges work wonders.

    Next time I vow to spend more time playing games and less time demoing them.

    Pro Tip

    If you wait till Sunday exhibitors who aren’t local can be bartered with for their goods. Truth is, they don’t really want to have to pay to ship all of their boxes back to whatever city they originated from.

    I’ll leave you with this photo of a Dark Elf playing Lords of Waterdeep.  More about my games coming up.

    Dark Elf plays Lords of Waterdeep

    Dark Elf plays Lords of Waterdeep


    Its old news that Evangeline Lilly plays an elf warrior in the second Hobbit (The Desolation of Smaug) movie, but photos of her started renewed discussion between side A (excited about adding some stronger female roles to the story) and side B (Tolkien traditionalists) over on RPG.net

    I’m actually for adding a bit to the story, and I think there’s plenty of room to focus more on the elf characters (when you have three movies). Not sure how I feel about the romance angle to it all, though. evangeline_lilly_as_elf_warrior_tauriel

    Best part – reading up on the argument led to a rather amusing threads on what the heck Bilbo Baggins actually did for a living, and Tolkien inspired rap (Lord of the Rymes).

    While Hollywood continues put out movies with women archers I’ve been putting off writing about DnDNext. Summary is that I’m looking forward to getting my copy of Ghosts of Dragonspear at Gencon in a few months. In the meantime Mike Mearls has been pontificating about dragonborns, the elemental planes and going all Moorcock in the next update. I’m not all that excited about dragonborns but the rest sounds promising. The latest playtest update came out Friday with new adventures, spell updates, and half-elf, the half-orc, and the gnome races.

    Speaking of DnD here is a reminder that you only have about a day to support Jeff Dee’s latest effort recreating classic DnD art (including the cover of Isle of Dread):


    In other Kickstarter news the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter campaign is here. Play cult factions trying to awaken your own elder god in this gorgeous looking strategic board game from the designer of the original Cthulhu RPG which is already gnashing through funding levels like a malevolent entity hibernating within an underwater city in the South Pacific.


    Its pricey, and due to popularity you probably already missed the first come early supporter slots, but it looks amazing.

    Finally, Disney’s slew of acquisitions has opened the door for various franchise mashups and at least one is coming to screen this summer that I (and my kids) can hardly wait for:


    Happy Wanderings!

    Isle of Dread front cover

    Isle of Dread is up on DnD classics with a great read on the history of the module. Always suspected that the Isle had a bit of a Lost World feel (look, that’s a dinosaur on the cover, not a dragon) and it’s neat to hear that confirmed by Cook. This was the first module I picked up that wasn’t a dungeon proper, (the great outdoors being prominent) and I remember feeling some disorientation at this introduction to hex mapping (instead of the typical dungeon square graph paper style maps).


    Also this week Jeff Dee is continuing his quest of recreating his original Dungeons & Dragons artwork that was destroyed (I wrote about this last year) including  the original Isle of Dread module cover. Rewards include a full poster sized print of it (now that would look snazzy in the home office) along with a few other color pieces.


    A short side adventure I wrote found it’s way to Kobold Press. If you like the Midgard setting or viking zombies go check out The Broken Tower.

    The Broken Tower

    The Broken Tower

    Lyric the Lying Gymnast

     “Friendship and coin: oil and water.” – Lyric the Lying Gymnast

    Oil is common staple and rogues commonly carry a bit for lubricating locks. Although this kind isn’t suitable for burning, it’s fine for making a smooth surface slippery, especially when enemies are chasing you down a staircase. Grease or soap can also be used to slick up a stair, although it takes a lot more time to set a stair with soap.

    CR 2: Slippery Stair:

    • Location trigger
    • No reset
    • Search DC 20
    • Reflex save DC 20
    • Multiple Targets
    • Attack +10 melee – 2d4 damage on stairs, and also falls prone.

    “Cunning leads to knavery. ‘Tis a quick step from one to the other, and a slippery one.” – Lyric

    A single piece of string or cord, or even a long shoelace, is all that’s needed for a simple lasso trap. A small loop is good for tripping and delaying a human sized opponent (works even better against animals and beasts), and because of the magic of the slipknot a victim’s own inertia and struggling works to your favor, tightening the knot.

    Slipknot How To

    Using the slip you create a loop as large or as small as you need (from foot sized for those moving quickly through brambles, larger for pursuers crawling through small places). Loop the rope and secure the end to something solid, then pin apart the loop using branches or tacks or some other means to leave it wide open for someone to stumble through.

    CR 2: Tripping Lasso:

    • Location trigger
    • Manual reset
    • Search DC 23
    • Disable Device DC 10
    • Attack +10 melee – 1d4 damage (2d4 if moving quickly) and also falls prone.

    “Men don’t trip on mountains, but they’ll trip on wire stretched across a hallway.” – Lyric

    Lasso From Cloth

    Lasso From Cloth

    A Tripping Net is a small fiber or metal net (usually 1×2 feet or so) lined with tiny hooks designed to snag flesh and cloth. It’s a

    mechanical floor trap that that will catch boots and flay about the legs. Its purpose is to slow movement, and possibly trip someone up, but not severely damage or hold. It can be fashioned by the crafty using wire or small fishhooks and appropriate fibers (DC 20). Its small enough to be folded into something wallet sized and, If prepped correctly with, say, greased paper in between folds to keep the hooks from snagging each other (DC 15) it can be set for a quick release and dropped in front of pursuers.

    CR 3: Tripping Net:

    • Location trigger
    • Manual Reset
    • Search DC 23
    • Disable Device DC 15
    • Attack +15 melee touch – 2d4 and prone. Movement halved until net is removed