ars ludi

if you asked Ben's brain about gaming, this is what it would say

Terraforming VikingCon

May 3rd I’m heading up to Bellingham to attend VikingCon. I’ve never been. Will there be actual Vikings? Horned helmets, longships and kenning skalds? I’m kind of hoping.

In between hunting down authentic recitations of the Prose Edda, I’ll also be doing a panel:

Terraforming the Tabletop: World-Building in Tabletop RPGs (Sat 3-4 pm)
Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons rely heavily upon their rich worlds and interesting lore to generate interest among players. However, the process for building a world for a pen-and-paper game is not the same as building one for a novel or television series. This panel will explore those differences with the help of some of the industry’s world-building greats. Panelists: Bruce R. Cordell, Ben Robbins, jim pinto, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Andrew

I happen to know that a few other cool cats from the Seattle area are going to be there as well. I’m looking at you, Abducted by Sharks.

My Emerald City Comic Con Schedule

Emerald City Comic Con approaches. I happen to know there is a whirlwind of behind-the-scenes activity as enthusiastic gamers get ready to man the battle stations of the Indie Games on Demand area in the Sheraton Hotel. Morgan and his team of ninjas are going to be using the same model they used at PAX (facilitator game menus, sign up sheets). I liked that system a lot, so I give it a big thumbs up. We’ve had alarmingly good gaming the last two years at ECCC and all signs are pointing towards a trifecta.

I’ll also be taking a break from the gaming to do a panel:

Designing Tabletop Games (Sat 4-5 pm, Sheraton Issaquah Room)
Five creators of board games, card games, and RPGs discuss designing games and answer your questions. Drew Nolosco (Design Manager at Wizards of the Coast), Chris Pramas (Green Ronin Games), Joshua Balvin (Salem, Oktoberfest), Ben Robbins (Microscope, Kingdom), Jeremy Holcomb (Rorschach, the ink-blot game, Mad Scientist: Lab Rats), David Fooden (Continuum, Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination).

There are rumors I may also be on a “crowdfunding your game” panel at 2 pm on Saturday, but that might just be misinformation to confuse any cyborgs returning from the future to assassinate me before I lead the rebellion that crushes SkyNet.

Emerald City Comic Con 2014: The Time Is Now

Emerald City Comic Con is coming. Real soon, in fact.

In case you missed it, the last two years have included some epic gaming. We showed up with a flag and a dream and carved a glittering city of gaming out of the untamed wilderness:

2012: Dance the Victory Dance

2013: Snatched from the jaws of defeat

But now it is time to game again and we need brave souls to volunteer to spread the love of the crazy indie story games we adore.

Want to help out? Morgan is heading up the indie gaming area this year. Hit him up.

Aaron Allston

A long, long time ago, Aaron Allston sent me my very first rejection letter. He did me a huge favor.

Rest In Peace.

A Battle of Men Against Men

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace…

The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien

Pretty much what you’d expect, right? Now look at the lines right before that:

Then suddenly straight over the rim of the sheltering back, a man fell, crashing through the slender trees, nearly on top of them. He came to rest in the fern a few feet away, face downward, green arrow-feathers sticking from his neck below a golden collar. His scarlet robes were tattered, his corset of overlapping brazen plates was rent and hewn, his black plaits of hair braided with gold were drenched with blood. His brown hand still clutched the hilt of a broken sword.

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men…

That’s the first appearance of a black person in Lord of the Rings. Does Sam say “holy shit, look at that guy’s skin?!?” No. He doesn’t even bat an eye. He thinks of him as just another person caught in this war and wonders if he would have been happier at home.

LUG Con Microscope Interview

Great interview with Tre’ and Pete for LUG Con (“Let Us Game”), an online gaming convention. We pre-recorded it back in August, but it just went online.

We were supposed to talk for 30 minutes but we got on a roll and time slipped by and then the sun came up.

Tre’ also hosted a Cthulu-themed horror Microscope game that just got posted.