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

Playing Games at PAX

If you’re going to PAX and you want to play some Microscope or Kingdom, you are a lucky, lucky duck.

Unless the Games on Demand schedule is lying to me, there is Kingdom on the menu for about half the slots. Not only that, but there are talented volunteers offering to facilitate some flavor of Microscope during every single slot on the schedule.

Every. Single. One.

Are there other games too? Yes! All the games! We have all the games.

First come, first served. Seating is limited. Do not stand up until the ride comes to a complete halt.

Rooms 305-306. That’s where I’ll be. Gaming.

Love for LUG Con

Not everybody can find folks to game with. Gamers can be rare and precious, like nuggets of sideros, the star-metal. Luckily for all of us, scientists have been working on this problem day and night and have finally invented a solution. They call it: THE INTERNET.

Enter LUG Con, the Let Us Game convention.

Free Online Gaming Con! Let’s Game all day and night for a week!

It’s always been tricky to schedule gamers with busy lives. Especially when we get older, have kids, cats, dogs, lizards, even husbands and wives. Maybe you don’t have any problems getting into gaming groups with lots of your gaming friends. Maybe you already have a daily/weekly/monthly gaming group. Maybe your local group is not willing to try something new, or different. Dang it! You want to kill some zombies or play a supers game for a session.

It’s September 1-7. Check it.

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.

My Norwescon Schedule: Talk a lot, don’t you?

I’m going to be on a stack of panels at Norwescon. To wit:

System Matters: The Right RPG for the Job (Fri 1-2 pm)
Like the invisible hand of fate, the rules you use weigh on every aspect of your game sometimes in ways you aren’t even aware of. Are you using the right tool for the job, or do you always use the same hammer for every task? You may be sabotaging your game before you even sit down at the table.
John Harper, Ben Robbins, Chris Pramas, Aveloc Twiceborn, Ryan Macklin

GM-less Role Playing Games (Sat 1-2 pm)
Or “Oh my god who’s running this game?!?” Good GMs are awesome but you don’t need a GM to play an awesome game. Explore games designed to play with no GM, like Fiasco, Shock and Microscope. Whether you’ve never played a GM-less game before or you’re already an expert, come examine what makes them tick and stretch your gaming muscles. Microscope creator Ben Robbins gives an introduction to GM-less Role-Playing games.

D&D vs Story Games (Sat 2-3 pm)
D&D and Pathfinder may be the most well-known role-playing games, but indie games like Fiasco and Polaris are becoming more popular. Can these two genres co-exist in the same room together? What do they have in common, and what are the benefits and limitations of each style of play? Is it possible to like both? Industry experts and indie creators discuss the differences between traditional tabletop role-playing games, GM-less story games, and everything in between.
Ashley Cook, Ben Robbins, Erik Mona, John Harper, Jonathan Tweet, Ryan Macklin

Women in Gaming Communities (Sat 6-7 pm)
Gender inequality among gamers continues to be a frequent topic. Women and girl gamers often feel unwelcome in the boys club, and gamers can be clueless or dismissive of gender inequality. What are some successful ways to get women into gaming? What are some things to avoid? How can event organizers and game designers make women that show up more comfortable?
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Ashley Cook, Ben Robbins, Gwen Yeh, Mickey Schulz

Apocalypse World: The New Rosetta Stone of GMing? (Sat 7-8 pm)
Hidden in between the crowbars, shotguns and radioactive mutants, Vincent Baker (Dogs in the Vineyard, In A Wicked Age) snuck in a doctoral thesis dissecting the fundamental nature of what GMs have been doing since the dawn of RPGs. Forget vague gaming advice: this is step-by-step method. Learn how you can take the lessons of Apocalypse World and calmly whoop ass and bring fun in any game you run.
Ben Robbins, John Harper, Ogre Whiteside

Running a Sandbox RPG (Sat 8-9 pm)
Sandbox RPGs put the players in the driver’s seat. Hop off the railroad and go where you want, do what you want. But GMing a good sandbox requires iron discipline and a solemn oath to follow a very different set of rules than most RPGs. Learn the dark secrets of running a successful sandbox game and not falling back into dangerously “normal” GMing habits.
Erik Scott de Bie, Ben Robbins, Clinton J. Boomer, Erik Mona, John Harper

And no, your eyes do not deceive you: there’s a lot more indie gaming content in the role-playing games track this year. Will it be awesome? Come and find out.

For bonus points guess which of these panel descriptions I wrote. Difficulty level: T1 Village of Hommlet.