Sunday, July 29, 2007
Having gotten a good glimpse of several games while there (including Dragon War, which just about told me everything not to do, when writing a game), I found myself somewhat dissatisfied. There wasn't really a niche for the "dungeon crawling, backstabbing, cutthroat-competitive" sort of game that would make for a ton of fun.
I mean, I love Arkham Horror. The mechanics of it are particularly well-balanced (well, aside from the accidental loophole we stumbled on last night, which gave Kev every spell in the deck), and the encounters are unique, varied, and a ton of fun. However, there's no competition in the game, as you're all working together to stop the Mythos monster. Plus, there's a metric-buttload of playing pieces. The card decks alone are massive.
I really enjoyed playing Ebbs' Runebound, as well, but the mechanics are incredibly generic. All the characters feel the same, which makes for a very similar play experience every time. While the exploring is there, I can't stand the movement dice mechanic, and you rarely interact with the other people at the table. While the rules to combat each other are there, they feel shunted to the side, rather than featured.
I liked Order of the Stick quite a bit, but the game takes bloody For-Ev-ER to play, due to the massive stacks of boosted monsters you can end up with. One game, I recall, we had a room that held 18 monsters in it--Absurdity! While solid PvP rules were there, they only slowed down the game-play even more, as it was amazingly hard to actually Kill anyone. Plus, most of the room areas felt really generic, as the most found room was "Just Another Dungeon Corridor." Plus, the character balance is practically non-existent.
So, I decided to change that. And, since I doubt that any of the above games' creators would very much like some random yokel heckling their games, I decided to just go ahead and start putting together my own....the project I'm calling, at least for the time being...
Dungeon Slam! A Decidedly Non-Cooperative Fantasy Board Game for 3-8 Players
The premise of the game is simple. The mad archmage has finally died, so you (and several other adventurers) have decided to pick through his underground dungeon. Find enough wealth, and you'll be living on easy street for life. However, you also have to make it out of the dungeon with your gains....and your fellow players are probably more dangerous than the monsters!
Basically, I'm shooting for something that marries the beautiful mechanics of Arkham Horror (minus half of the playing pieces), the cut-throat nature of Munchkin, the explorer-fantasy feel of Runebound, and the claustrophobic dungeon-feel that Order of the Stick shoots for.
Thusfar, I've already developed all 12 character classes, including their skills, as well as the skeleton-outline for the weapons. Armor, Spells, Potions, and the other items come next...followed by the Room Tiles, then Encounter Cards.
If this sounds like something you might like....let me know! I'm accepting all input!
Edit: Oh, and by the way....I might just have a preview of one of the classes for you readers....all two of you. We'll see if I can pump that out this week.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
With both of the big figs on the table, we set aside tonight to have the battle royale: Devourer of Worlds vs. Devourer of Souls.
Now, for those of you that haven't seen these minis yet, let me put this out there: they're Not Mini. They're huge. Massive. Cthulhu is nearly a foot tall, with an equal wingspan. Galactus is even taller, probably closer to 18", all told. They are big. I must say, though, I wasn't really impressed with the level of detail on the Galactus mini. For $60, he doesn't even come close to the level of detail that Great Cthulhu has.
That said, he totally pwns Cthulhu on the battlefield. You see, in a typical 1800 point battle, Galactus starts at his full strength and only grows weaker as the combat goes on and he takes damage. Cthulhu, on the alternate side, starts out in his slumber (i.e. weak) and grows stronger as he approaches death. My side, running Galactus, routed Ebbs' Cthulhu before I was even through my second dial of clix.
That said, the 1800 point warband was a ton of fun. After the short rout of R'yleh, the three of us decided to give Cthulhu another fighting chance against 1800 points worth of cyberpunk zombies, government agents, and Predators. This time, though, the Great Old One put up a much tougher fight. While our warband emerged victorious, driving Cthulhu back to R'yleh, the field of battle showed the casualties....I lost my three most powerful figures, Ebbs lost all but 3 predators, and Lionel's field of Scrubbers were all but scrubbed from the field.
All said, this was a really interesting intro to HeroClix for me. It hasn't been something I've been interested in so far, but that may change, if this trend continues. None too bad at all...
Friday, July 13, 2007
I have it down to three choices:
1) Masques of Extraordinary Gentlemen--Basic premise of this game would be a riff on Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." The players would play a literary or stylized historical figure and figure their way through the mysteries of 1890s Victorian-Gothic Europe. Character creation and combat would be done using a modified True20 system, coupled with the Call of Cthulhu sanity system. Emphasis would also be put on literature and little-known historical events of the time period, including the emergence of the First World War.
2) Pirates of the Underdark--I had come up with this concept after seeing the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but wanted somewhat of a darker twist. Basically, the PCs would be wanna-be pirates on a massive Underdark sea, exploring the ruins of the caverns after Lolth's fall and the ruin of many drow citadels. The D&D alignment system would be somewhat thrown out the window for this one, with the focus being on cinematic combat and tactics, as well as magical ship-battles. Emphasis would also be put heavily on treasure maps and skulduggery, as well as pirate legends....like that of The One Living Man, or the Black Redeemer.
3) Depths of the Warehouse--After reading through GURPS Warehouse 23 (and now Pagan Publishing's fantastic Delta Green d20), I find myself itching to run something a little more conspiratorial. In this game, the PCs will have been taken from their homes by the mysterious Men In Black, only to find out that they've been commissioned to work in the most secret storehouse of all--Warehouse 23. The players will have to find out who commissioned them into such a drastic career, why they were chosen, and what their own dark pasts may mean within a grander scope of conspiracy, paranoia, and global fear.
So, basically, I'm just looking for some input. Would you play one of these games? If so, which would you be interested in? What do you like and what don't you like?
Please vote in the poll, and let me know!
Monday, July 09, 2007
When we arrived on Wednesday, I was expecting utter chaos. However, things were surprisingly organized. We made it through badge-pick up incredibly quickly and started checking out some of the events going on around that night. The Miniatures room, taking up nearly all of Exhibit Hall D, had some absolutely fantastic displays. My favorite may have been the massive, volcanic pirate-isle, complete with immense rickety suspension bridges leading to the island proper. The Mos Eisley spaceport, on the other end of the hall, was also particularly good.
The dealer hall, when I first entered it on Thursday, made my eyes buggy. Quite literally, I didn't even think about buying anything. The Reaper Minis room--courtesy of Miniatures-Giant--made my head spin, but in one of those good ways. Thousands upon thousands of green-labeled minis, over all four surrounding walls. I was a happy gamer.
When Lionel and Ebbs registered, they picked up a ton of generic tokens with it. Pre-registration comes with a deal for 10 generics for $10. Aside from giving some to Adam, so he could register for events for free....these were almost entirely worthless. However, they were hickory and, at least according to Ebbs, taste like good barbeque. Go figure.
The Columbus Convention Center is a giant line. This makes walking painful. I think I may have gotten more exercise at Origins than I have all summer. Yes, I realize the irony of this statement.
By the way, the next things out for SJ Games in the Munchkin line will be 1) Munchkin Cthulhu 2, Munchkin Quest (a board game!), Muchkin Cthulhu 3, and Munchkin Booty (Pirates!).
Things learned for next year:
1. Don't register for so many events at 8 or 9 am. This makes for a long day, and no drinking at the bar afterwards.
2. Be more discerning about D&D games. The two games I played were both sanctioned games, which meant a lot of paperwork, which distracted from the games themselves. Plus, they were all low level games, which limits options.
3. Play a higher level game! Use all those cool books I have!
4. Play more Rogue Cthulhu games. The group is absolutely 8 ways of cool, with quality GMs and great storylines. I have nothing but good to say about those people. Quality people and quality games.
5. Don't buy any generics. Event registration lines are relatively short, and generic players generally get booted.
6. Play with your friends. Whether you meet old friends or new ones, just have a good time. It's all just a game, anyway!
7. Use a point buy system for pre-gens. That way, people won't throw fits when you bring your own to the table.
Ah, yes. Speaking of the dealer room, I must say that I was impressed. I've heard some complaints already that the dealer room was "more of a flea market than an exhibition of the industry." With that, I can wholeheartedly agree. However, if I want to hear from "industry professionals," I'll go to one of their seminars and talk to them. When I want swag, I want the flea market. As such, the dealer room was fine by me!
And now for the Swag!
- GURPS Warehouse 23. Now, I'm not a GURPS fan by any stretch--I'd rather run d20, just for the fact that I'll have more interested, involved players. However, when this was on the "3 for $10" table at SJ Games' booth, I couldn't pass it up. Conspiratorial goodness, and a detailed rundown of how the Warehouse would work in several different genres, as well as lots of neat items to put in there. Along with this, I picked up a box of skeleton minis (everybody loves skellies!) and Silicon Valley Tarot for Jules.
- The Critonomicon. A softcover book from Technomancer Press, this book doesn't look like much. I can't believe I missed it, though, with its Day-Glo Orange cover and its hundreds of tables. This book is chock-full of unique critical hits, critical misses, wild magic effects, and rules for other crazy happenings. With the way my players and I roll, I'm going to get a ton of milage out of this...
- Faiths of Eberron. The PlatinumChick picked this up in anticipation of her upcoming Eberron game. Flipping through it earlier, it looks to be pretty quality, with tons of information about the various religions and cults that pop up all across Eberron. There didn't seem to be much crunch to the book--only a handful of feats and divine spells, and a few magic items--however the fluff more than makes up for it. Very nice job, all in all.
- A Shoggoth on the Roof (Libretto). Finally, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has released the libretto to the Musical That Cannot Be Produce. I already own the Cast Recording, but having the full script/libretto makes this all the sweeter. If you're a Cthulhu fan in any sense of the word, check this out.
- Dungeons and Dragons Icons: Gargantuan Blue Dragon. For a mere $28, the PlatinumChick couldn't pass this one up. Personally, I like the Gargantuan Black better, myself, but the mini is still a very sweet example of how well Wizards of the Coast produces their project. Love and care were involved in making this, and it shows. High quality, indeeed.
- Nightmares of Lovecraft: Cthulhu and Dagon. Lionel picked these up on the cheap, and man....they did not disappoint. While they're a little on the small side, they're still amazing sculpts, which are...well, disturbing to look at. Just what they need to be, for the subject material. Lovecraft would be proud.
- Aliens vs. Predator HorrorClix. Ebbs picked up these on the cheap, as well, getting most of the line. While we haven't played yet, the sculpts were nice. Only problem was mainly the fact that many of the clix were slightly broken, particularly around their feet. The Alien queen looked particularly impressive.
- Cults Across America. Again, a Lionel purchase. We haven't played yet, but this one looks to be good! I'll review it, as we get into the box.
- Unspeakable Words. We played this during some downtime before going to bed. Wow, was it a blast. Incredibly simple game play, the idea is to make words from your 7 card hand. You get points based on how many angles are in each letter, but must make a Sanity check against your word's score to avoid going nuts. Lose 4 Sanity, and you are insane--if you're nuts, you can use ANYTHING as a word. Lose 5, and you're out of the game. First to 100 points (or the last one sane!) wins. This game is simple, yet amazingly fun. Highest recommendation I can give.
- Kellen, Nobleman Adventurer. I've been looking for a mini to use during Jules' imminent Eberron game, and this one fit the bill. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one with twin axes, so I settled on one with a sword and a long fighting-dagger. A sweet little mini, it looks just as well as I can ask. If nothing else, Reaper's Dark Heaven Legends Line are of a truly high quality across the board.
Links for the Swag--If you're looking to buy any of the above, follow the Little Blue Links!
GURPS Warehouse 23: http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=SJG6523
Skeleton Minis: http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=SJG13-0200
Silicon Valley Tarot: http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=SJG1324
A Shoggoth on the Roof (Libretto): http://www.cthulhulives.org/store/store.lasso
Nightmares of Lovecraft: Dagon and Cthulhu: http://www.sotatoys.com/store.php?brands_id=21
Alien vs. Predator HorrorClix: http://www.gameoutfitter.com/items/miniature-games/horrorclix/horrorclix-alien-vs-predator/list.htm
Cults Across America: http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=AG1210
Unspeakable Words: http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=PLE26100
Kellen, Nobleman Adventurer: http://www.reapermini.com/store/customer/product.php?productid=4320&cat=0&page=1
Our happy quartet (Lionel, Ebbs, Jules and myself) finally arrived at the Hyatt around 3pm on Wednesday. We only had slight difficulties in finding the hotel, so I can't complain about that too much. Only thing that might have helped more is....well, road signs that lined up with our Mapquest directions. That's life, though. After a quick and efficient sign-in, we unpacked our room and got some grub...just in time for:
Stargate--By the Pricking of My Thumbs
Put bluntly, this was not the way I wanted to start off my Origins experience. I love Stargate (the show and the rpg), so I had high hopes. Ebbs joined me for this one, chipping his way in on generics. The only problem with this was the fact that he wasn't the only one. The game was completely overbooked, with no less than three characters being played by 2 people. I was lucky enough to play a fairly interesting character...who just happened to be an NID operative.
The game started off somewhat unimpressively, with the GM amused with his ability to run 7 adventures concurrently in the same SG complex...at the same game-time period. Shrugging it off, we continued on with a scenario in which we may-or-may-not be clones. In order to find out, we sought out some Goa'uld mind-scan devices.
This is where the metagaming stepped in. When the mind-scan device was used on me, the Tok'ra PC who used it critically fumbled. I was shown to be completely clean, unique, and with no signs of mind-alteration. When 2 others went under, though, they used someone with a higher Intimidate score...and were shown to be altered. Suffice to say, arguments ensued, and my character (refusing to take orders from a commanding officer whose mind was shown to be altered), ended up K-Oed, and then executed by the Tok'ra.
End Opinion? A solid D. The DM was too wrapped up in his self-wanking fandom to deal with the elements in-game that were going on. I had negative fun, if that's possible.
With the PlatinumChick already at work, I woke up early for a delve into...
Undermountain Adventures: The Crypt of Yeldoon
I love D&D. Not like this, though. When we joined, there were no pre-gens ready, despite the fact that this was an RPGA-sanctioned event. When I suggested my pre-gen, I was shot down. Instead, myself and several others decided to pick up characters from the D&D Dungeon Delve and take them down a level.
The DM who ran for us looked openly exhausted, and had run the adventure twice during the previous night....and was set to run it 7 more times throughout the con. It showed. Very little description, and very little interest in what was going on. This was made even more frustrating by Mr. Hyperactive. Mr. Hyperactive was a "supreme power-gamer", bringing to the table a Mountain Orc Fighter/Barbarian/Rogue with a 22 Strength. Mind you, we were running on 28 point buy. He and one of his fans ran roughshod over the entirety of the adventure, while I and three others sat back wondering if we could get our credits back.
End Opinion? C-. It wasn't the DM's fault that the RPGA can't give their DMs a variety. If it weren't for Mr. Hyperactive, I might have actually had fun with this...mainly because I would have been useful in any sense of the word.
After Undermountain, I scoped out the dealer room, with my eyes going just about buggy. More on that in the "Swag" chapter. But, after a nap with Jules, we reassembled the Mafia and headed off for...
WEGS--Pigskab's Skewl 4 Wizzards
By this point, I was getting just a touch frustrated with the selections I'd made. If it's one thing that I could depend on, though, it's a great game from the WEGSHogz. El Willy and his crew sure know how to throw down.
Basic premise? As students at Pigskab's, we came up on clean-up duty for the marsh. Survive for one night in the marsh and clean out some of the pests, and the free tutition continues. I ran a Humz Trickster, who was surprisingly good at his Ruggedness tests, despite having only a 22% in it.
With our whole WEGS lovin' crew in the mix, the game was a ton of fun. Unfortuneatly, the PlatinumChick's perennial dice-pox affected her again, and we all got a chuckle at her lack of successes. In the end, the group defeated ToeGash, the chef, and made it back to the Skewl.
End opinion? A. I love playing with El Willy and his crew, and this was exactly what I needed after two really disappointing games earlier in the con. The only reason that this wasn't an A+ was the fact that the WEGS 101 book got delayed for release. If this book had been for sale there, I would have bought one on the spot.
Later, that night, though...we had enough time to catch a movie:
The Call of Cthulhu--Silent Film Screening
I hadn't prepared myself for a real silent film in this. It was a unique (and pretty accurate) way for Lovecraft's story to be presented. The film was of particular quality, and set the mood very well. It was a worthwhile trip, though the midnight showing (while atmospheric!) left me incredibly tired.
End opinion? B+. Great film. See it, if you can!
Again, waking up early, I headed down to the Rogue Cthulhu room for a healthy dose of...
Call of Cthulhu--No Blood for Oil
I was somewhat disappointed on Thursday because I had actually tried to get in on an earlier CoC game run by the Rogue Cthulhu dudes, called Ex Silentio. Lionel and Ebbs had gotten in on it earlier, but I was shunted out as the last person with a ticket arrived just as the Keeper was handing out characters.
This game made up for it. As an Army Rangers Echo group in 2003 Iraq, we were set to take out an Iraqi oil rig that had supposedly been harboring WMDs. We ventured through an oil-creature infested rig, only to find our Alpha group had already been compromised. Though suffering several casualties, my comm officer managed to use a radio transmission to keep the oil-creatures at bay long enough for us to call in the napalm. Tons of fun, no questions about it.
End Opinion? A-. Some of the guys were a little hesitant, but the group worked really fantastically. Unfortunately, the tactical maps got lost, but we didn't need them too much. Th game was evocative and a lot of fun to play in, especially with the Cthulhu room's decorations. Apparently, the guys liked the way I played, because I picked up some Rogue Cthulhu chips, garnering some free swag from them later in the con--a set of dice, and a set of glass counters.
Strangely enough, the group that I was in had two other Daytonians--one over from Wright State, the other from Wright-Patterson. As we left, we exchanged some info and set off for...
The Paizo Dungeon Delve--Crown of the Kobold King
A fun little game of killing kobolds and saving children, we picked up an unlikely 4th to join us--Adam, back from Cincy! I hadn't expected Adam to join the Springfield Mafia's expedition to Origins, but here he was...ready for Friday and Saturday gaming. I helped him get registered quickly, just in time for us to kill some kobolds.
Since the episode was only 15 minutes long, I'll keep this short.
End opinion? B. The adventure looks good, and is somewhat lethal, apparently. The DM added a lot of description, which left our time being somewhat eaten, but we each got a key to the Paizo chest for playing. In fact, the Wright-State dude ended up opening the chest, winning a free copy of Stonehenge, a new board-game anthology.
Because of Adam's arrival, he still needed to be added to some events and gotten to the room. As such, I ended up missing The Novelists' Workout--Basic Plotting. Eh. I wasn't too concerned. It was free, and I had gaming to take care of!
After a great dinner at a nearby Japanese steakhouse, we arrived just in time to catch our showing of:
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
The Dead Gentlemens' sequel to their prior indie-hit, this movie was ball-bustingly funny. Apparently, we were only the second audience to see a screening of the finished film, which made us fairly privledged.
As great as the first one was, this movie shows the development of DG's producers, writers, and direction. It feels like an actual "film", yet keeps all of the in-jokes and funny situations that bring us gamers back. Their enhanced budget, as well, shows, as the special effects here are better than anything you'd see on Sci-Fi Channel. I'll save the plot for you to see for yourself, but suffice to say that it involves an ancient artifact, god-killing power, and....cross-dressing characters.
I can't wait for this to hit DVD, to be perfectly honest. With luck, the Dead Gentlemen will have their distributor by the time they hit Gen Con, and it'll be out just in time for Christmas.
End Opinion? A+ Fantastic film. The house was packed, and it was totally worth it. See it, if at all possible.
At this point, we decided to relax and play some Runebound back in the room, just so we could rest up for our last two days...and the most hectic to come!
Arising early for the third day in a row, Adam, Ebbs, and myself headed down to the board-games HQ for a demo of:
As one of only 4 people at this game, the game itself moved rather quickly. Choosing a character, we started out on a board of 40 cards, each with 3 spaces. The concept is simple--it's a race game. Beat your fellow characters to the end of the board, and roll a 13 on 3d6 to win the game. The game itself can run with a fair amount of cut-throat behavior, as the game encourages beating the Life out of your compatriots using Fate cards to drive them onto negative spaces.
While the game itself cost only $20 (which led me to consider buying it), each expansion cost another $5, and usually only included optional board cards or a single new character. Kind of a rip-off, to say the least.
What's worse, though...the rules seemed somewhat incomplete. When an event occured in-game that led to a slight dispute, the fellow running the demo had no idea what to even suggest. The small rules packet (a two page leaflet) added nothing, and we had to work by general consensus. Disappointing to say the least. The art, as well, was unimpressive, despite being drawn by a "professional graphic artist".
End opinion? C. Not a bad little game, but the expansion price is entirely too high, the rules need to be refined, and the art....not something I want to look at. I'll stick with Munchkin, thank you!
After lunch, Adam, Jules and I set out to join:
D&D--The Blackmoor Wives' Club
A fun little scenario designed as an intro, we all played at 1st level, taking care of the household chores of some famous adventurers. The game itself was a lot of fun, with a laid-back, enjoyable DM and a good, well-balanced party.
That is, except for That Kid. Oi. A 14 year old, That Kid must have been an ADHD/Aspy, as he ran over everyone at the table, the DM included, frustrating us to no end. He was seated next to a young girl who had barely played before, and had never made her own character. He talked incessantly, even to the point where the DM was becoming openly frustrated.
Very rarely do I raise my voice. With him, I had to restrain from yelling at him several times.
Luckily, Adam's half-orc monk knocked him out...accidentally. ;)
End opinion? B+ Aside from That Kid, the game was a lot of fun, and the scenario was really funny. Well worth the time.
From there, we rejoined Lionel and Ebbs, then attempted to hit up BD's Mongolian BBQ. However, it was packed, and we settled for the food court before hitting up:
Lionel had played with the GM we had this with earlier in the week and, when he described the GM's orange asylum jumpsuit, I knew we were into a great game. With all 5 of us involved, as well as a couple from Dublin, we had a blast.
Here, I played the Communications officer, Chuck-R-FAR, as well as his talking hand-puppet Socko. Our job? Deliver devices to a security tower on the outskirts of Alpha Complex. After being sucked into a Vulture Squadron Flyer engine, I knew we were in for some fun. While the game ran down somewhat at the end, it was still an absolute blast. I could have wished for some more inter-party fighting and a little less conspiracy, but that's hardly a problem.
End opinion? B [You are not cleared for this information, citizen!]
We retired back to the room and wished Adam goodbye, then winded down by playing one of Lionel's new games--Unspeakable Words, which I'll describe in the Swag entry--and got ready for our last day's event.
We ended our Origins experience with a familiar classic for our group, but with a new twist:
Arkham Horror--The King in Yellow
We play Arkham Horror quite a bit out here, but with the new KiY expansion, we were all excited. We arrived just on time after checking out and dropping our things at the car. This was much to the chagrin of several players who were trying to get in on generic tokens. Having 4 of us plop down at the table didn't make them too happy....
This game, though? Wow. I've never seen an Arkham Horror game run so positively. Normally Arkham Horror fits its name, as you lose Sanity and Stamina hand over fist, picking up Insanities and Injuries like drinking wine. This time, no. Not so much. Instead, it was more along the lines of "Oh, here...have 15 unique items each. How about some skills? Mythos phase--what's mythos phase?"
Seriously. When the cooridinator told us where the first gate would open and I (playing the scientist) told him that "No, that won't be opening there," the look on his face said it all. I had never been in a game where we were actively waiting for Nyaralothotep to appear, just so we could beat the ever-loving-crap out of him. Very cathartic, but even more unusual.
End opinion? B-. It was fun to beat the crap of the game in the way we did, but I wish it would have been slightly more challenging! The game felt like a walk in the park, compared to what we've played in the past!
This is only 1 portion of our Origins experience. Be prepared for at least two more entries--The Warlock's Swag, and The Con Itself.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
I'll have a full run-down of all of the stuff gotten, games played, and other fun events that ran down with our happy little crew.
On that note, I'll leave you with one word.... "Niw!"
Sunday, July 01, 2007
I've gotta say: I'm stoked. Thusfar, the only cons I've ever been to have been WittCon (which I, y'know, helped found) and TopaCon, down at Bookery Fantasy. Both of these events didn't even hit 150 people. Origins will have 100 times that amount in attendence. That many gamers, events, and games....it has to be a great time.
I spent most of yesterday and this morning writing up characters for D&D. I wanted to be prepped for any spur-of-the-moment games that I might drop into, as well as if I run a pick-up game. Having HeroForge helped this process--man, D&D can get really numbers-heavy at high levels--but it still took quite a bit of time.
I suppose the reason that I've been looking forward to Origins so much is the opportunity to play, as opposed to running game. Don't get me wrong; I love to GM/DM/ST/whatever just as much as the next geek. The problem is, I feel like I've been doing it forever. After running Fall of Saltmarsh for 6 months, as well as running games at TopaCon, WittCon, and randomly on weekends when the guys want to play....I feel like I've burnt out.
I mean, I didn't even really get to play at WittCon, even. I ran two sessions of game, then hung out and watched Paranoia. Don't get me wrong--it was all fun--but I'm still not playing the games I love so much.
This is leaving me a touch conflicted, in some ways. I have a fine gaming group right now, running through Demonweb Pits. Everyone has a novel character concept, and they sometimes seem to be having fun. However, just as often, I feel like everyone's falling asleep. I do my best to keep everyone involved, but...only about half the group seems "into it". In this case, Raymond Chandler's advice of "Have two men with guns burst through the door," hasn't worked in the least. And, what's worse, it has me questioning how much fun I'm having with this game. The answer, I'm finding more and more, is "not much." I love Planescape. I love D&D. This game is lacking both of their flavors, and becoming quite bland.
So, I raised this concept to my group. Two seem really receptive to the idea of changing campaigns (one of which is the PlatinumChick, who knows me like a well-read PH). One thinks that I just don't like running game, but is willing to change. Two others, though? No response. None. Not even head nodding.
I asked them whether they were having fun. I got nothing back.
I asked them whether they would want to try a different campaign, as the PlatinumChick has been itching to run Eberron. One sat there playing WoW. The other shrugged and started rolling up a Samurai, which I'm still trying to figure out how it fits into Eberron.
It could be worse, I guess. I think I'm just a little burned-out and seeing things that aren't there, but it's still frustrating to have to deal with on Friday nights, especially when the idea of the game is to have fun.
That said, I'm going to live it up at Origins, and hopefully I'll come home refreshed. True enough, maybe all this Warlock needs is a healthy dose of D&D, Paranoia, WEGS, Call of Cthulhu, all washed down with some Munchkin and a side of Arkham Horror.
Happy gaming, weasels!