Phoenix, Twogether and PAX!

EPSON MFP imageAugust has been a busy month, but expect to see more content here next week. When I get back from PAX I’ll be posting the first in a series of Imperial Dispatches: articles expanding the world and setting of Phoenix: Dawn Command. I’ll also have news about general plans for expansion and support of Phoenix. 

In the meantime, you can find Phoenix at PAX: West! We’ll be exhibiting with Blackbox in the ACT Theater. This is attached to the convention center, but you don’t need a PAX badge to get in! Phoenix will be available for sale in the ACT theater throughout PAX, and co-designer Dan Garrison will be demoing the game from 10 AM – 2 PM each day. If you have questions or just want to pick up the game, this is your opportunity!

In addition, Twogether Studios will be demoing our next game in the same space. It’s a traditional card game that takes about 20 minutes to play, and we’ll be revealing more information about it over the next few days!

If you’re attending PAX Dev or PAX West, I’m participating in the following events:

PAX Dev: Thursday 2:15 – 3:15, Grand III

HEROIC SACRIFICE AND UNEXPECTED TRAGEDY

Heroic sacrifice and unexpected tragedy create some of the most memorable moments in fiction. But how can you work these into a game if death means the end of the story? When designing a game, how do you balance risk and consequence with the format of an RPG, CRPG or MMORPG? Join Keith Baker (Eberron, Gloom), Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment, Divinity: OS 2), and Dan Garrison (Phoenix: DC) for a discussion about how death, defeat, and sacrifice can be part of a compelling game experience.

PAX West: Friday 6:30 – 7:30, Sasquatch Theatre

PHOENIX: DAWN COMMAND

You’re the last hope of a world besieged by nightmares. You may not survive the battle… but you’re a Phoenix, and death makes you stronger. Phoenix: Dawn Command is a roleplaying game from the creator of Gloom and Eberron, combining card-driven mechanics with collaborative storytelling and a unique approach to sacrifice and character growth. Join creators Keith Baker, Daniel Garrison and Jennifer Ellis for a discussion of the setting, system, and the three-year journey to create this game.

That’s it! I hope to see you at PAX!

 

Phoenix and GenCon 2016!

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First of all, PHOENIX IS IN THE WILD! If you’re on Twitter, let me know (@Hellcowkeith) when you get your copy! For those of you who didn’t back the Kickstarter, we’ll be bringing Phoenix to Gen Con 2016! If you want to find Phoenix at Gen Con, here’s a few opportunities.

  • Blackbox will be selling Phoenix in the Kickstarter Room (Room 143, near the Exhibit Hall). Supplies are limited!
  • You can play a two-hour demo of Phoenix. This is a short scenario using pregenerated characters, but it’s a chance to dive in and give it a try.
  • You can create a character. This is a one-hour event that takes you through the process of developing a character and a wing. Character creation is one of my favorite parts of the system, and you get a Phoenix notebook as a takeaway!
  • We’re holding a seminar about Phoenix on Friday. We’ll be talking about the system, the setting, and the three-year journey to get it out!
  • And finally, I’ll be talking about Phoenix at the Q&A with Keith! This is a casual conversation, so I’ll also be talking about Eberron, Gloom, and what’s in development!

I hope to see you there!

My GenCon Schedule

 

EPSON MFP imageWe’re closing in on the finish line for Phoenix: Dawn Command development, and artists Rich Ellis and Grace Allison surprised me with a portrait of my own for my birthday… which seems like an appropriate image as I prepared to set out for GenCon.

As Phoenix is still half a year away from release, we’re not doing extensive Phoenix demos at GenCon… Ace marshal Jeremiah Shepersky is running six sessions of Phoenix at GenCon, but they filled up very quickly. However, if you have questions about Phoenix or would like to see the prototype, come to my hangout on Saturday!

So, without further ado, here’s all the places you can find me at GenCon!

THURSDAY, JULY 30th

8 PM – 9 PM: THIS DORKINGTON LIFE

Hosted by the Damsels of Dorkington, “The Damsels & Friends tell their most epic, hilarious, & butt warming tales from their nerdy lives.” I will be telling a story and hanging out.

FRIDAY, JULY 31st

NOON – 1 PM: BUILDING GAMES IN THE GARAGE

“You’ve got a great idea for a game but how do you put together a prototype to find out if it works? First-hand advice on ways to make a game a reality.” Other panelists include James Ernest, Paul Peterson, Matt Forbeck and JT Smith. They know stuff.

1 PM – 2 PM: CREATIVE CHARACTER DESIGN

“Every game has a story. Every story has characters. Heroes are defined by their villains. How do you create compelling, thought provoking characters? Learn how with this panel of experts.” I’ll be discussing this topic with Andrew Peregrin, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and Bryan Tillman.

3 PM – 4 PM: TITANSGRAVE Q&A WITH WIL!

“Join a lively discussion with Wil Wheaton, Ryan Wheaton, Chris Pramas, & others, discussing the creation of Titansgrave RPG for the RPG Show!” This year I had the opportunity to help create Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. I’ll be talking about it with Wil Wheaton, who’s just this guy.

4 PM – 5 PM: THE DOWN LOW ON THE DOWNLOAD

The creator of Fluxx & the creator of Gloom discuss the ins & outs of hosting their new podcast, The Download.” Andy and I will actually be recording an episode live, and talking with one another and with anyone who shows up about whatever topics arise!

5 PM – 6 PM: THE VERY GLOOMIEST AFTERNOON TEA PARTY

“Join the anti-festivities as we mix Gloom, Cthulhu Gloom, Fairytale Gloom, and Munchkin Gloom for maximum despair. Depressing promos for all. BYOT to compete for the coveted Gloomiest Teacup Trophy.” The event starts at 4 PM, but due to the Download I won’t show up until five.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 1ST

3 PM – 4 PM: ATLAS GAMES TELLS YOU HOW TO MAKE AWESOME RPGS

We like roleplaying games. Join us & fellow travelers including Keith Baker, Cam Banks, Robin D. Laws, John Nephew, & Jeff Tidball to talk about making great RPGs.”

4:30 PM – 6:30 PM: HANG OUT IN THE HYATT!

This one isn’t a GenCon Event – it’s an entirely informal thing I like to do. From 4:30 to 6:30 I’ll be hanging out in the lobby of the Hyatt. I plan to talk about Phoenix: Dawn Command, Eberron, Gloom and anything else people want to discuss. It’s completely informal – stop by any time and stay as long as you want!

SUNDAY, AUGUST 2ND

11 AM – NOON: WORLD DESIGN

“What’s the first step in creating a new world for fiction or gaming? We’ll look at the questions you need to answer & the different approaches you can take.” I’ll be tackling this topic with Brannon Boren, Lynne Hardy and Elsa Sjunneson Henry.

 

Phoenix & Gloom at Emerald City Comicon

I’m going to be at Emerald City Comicon this weekend demoing Gloom and Phoenix: Dawn Command. If you’d like to be in a Phoenix playtest, follow this link to find the available times! Otherwise, you can find me at the following times and places.

SATURDAY, March 28th

11 AM – 2 PM: Gloom, More Gloom and Phoenix. I’ll be in the Board Game demo area in the level 2 corral. Come try the prototypes of Fairy Tale Gloom or Munchkin Gloom, or see what Phoenix is all about.

7 PM – 9 PM: Q&A With Keith Baker. Join me for an informal discussion of Gloom, Eberron and Phoenix: Dawn Command. Bring questions! Or cookies! This is a casual Q&A – you can show up at any point and stay for as long as you want. This event will take place in the Level 3 A/B Lobby (near the back escalators on the third floor).

SUNDAY, March 29

2 PM: Prototyping Tabletop Games. Do you have an idea for a card or board game, but you don’t know how to make it? This workshop will discuss prototyping tools and techniques.

I hope I’ll see you there!

Upcoming Appearances: Gamestorm & ECCC

Here’s a quick head’s-up as to where I’ll be in the next few weeks and what I’ll be doing there.

From March 20-21st I will be at GAMESTORM in Vancouver, WA. Here’s my schedule of events:

FRIDAY, March 20

11 AM: Fear Of The Unknown. I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on invoking horror in RPGs, along with Jess Hartley, Anthony Pryor, Gwendolyn Kestrel and Scott Woodard.

12 PM: Game Mastering Tips. A panel with me, Rhiannon Louve and Andy Collins. Just what it says on the tin.

SATURDAY, March 21

9 AM: Let Your Players Do The Work. A panel on collaborative gaming, with myself, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Andy Collins and Rhiannon Louve.

11 AM: Phoenix: Dawn Command Q&A. Co-creator Dan Garrison and I will answer any and all questions about our card-based RPG. This is an unofficial event, so I’ll be announcing the location on Twitter (@Hellcowkeith) and Facebook Saturday morning.

12 PM: Building Your Own RPG World. Where do you start? How deep is too deep? What’s the value of drawing on our world vs unique and alien ideas? Andy Collins, Anthony Pryor and I will cover these topics and more in a two hour workshop.

2:30: Phoenix: Dawn Command. I’ll be running a three-hour demo of Phoenix. This is a four-person event and you’ll have to sign up in advance, but people are welcome to come take a look even if the table is full.

In addition to this, Phoenix co-creator Dan Garrison will be running sessions of Phoenix: Dawn Command at 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM. These are also four-person sessions, and you have to sign up in advance.

From March 27th-29th I will be at EMERALD CITY COMIC CON. My schedule there is more fluid, and I will be running Phoenix: Dawn Command demos throughout the weekend. We’ll be setting up advanced signups using the Phoenix: Dawn Command mailing list, so join that if you’d like to be informed about demo slots.

In addition to that, I have a few concrete events:

SATURDAY, March 28th

11 AM – 2 PM: Gloom, More Gloom and Phoenix. I’ll be in the Board Game demo area in the level 2 corral. Come try the prototypes of Fairy Tale Gloom or Munchkin Gloom, or get an overview of Phoenix!

7 PM – 9 PM: Q&A With Keith Baker. Join me for an informal discussion of Gloom, Eberron and my new RPG Phoenix: Dawn Command. Bring questions! Or cookies! Or both! This event will take place in the Level 3 3A/B Lobby (near the escalators on the third floor).

SUNDAY, March 29

2 PM: Prototyping Tabletop Games. Do you have an idea for a card or board game, but you don’t know how to make it? This workshop will discuss prototyping tools and techniques.

That’s it! Post below if you have questions about any of these events.

Games at JCC5: It Takes Two

The wood paneled game room on the JoCo Cruise is luxurious. It’s not just the bottomless cauldron of coffee or the terrible pizza on demand, but the truly luxurious experience of being able to find fellow players to join in on a game at nearly any hour of the day or night. The early risers start conquering kingdoms over breakfast, the afternoon and evening gamers overflow to other floors of the ship, and late night gaming morphs into morning. There’s more people checking to see what the maximum number of players are for a game than struggling to find the minimum. Luxurious, right?

But we don’t live our lives on cruise ships, and it’s often a challenge to find enough people to play your favorite game on the spur of the moment. Over the last few years, Jenn and I have built up a roster of games we enjoy playing with just two players… and when we helped plan the gaming track on JoCo Cruise 5 this year, we put together the “It Takes Two” Event to share some of these games with our fellow Sea Monkeys. A stellar group of Helper Monkeys, volunteers and game designers abducted from vacation made the whole event possible by teaching these games.

We wanted to share the list of games from the event both for those Sea Monkeys who attended but couldn’t remember the name of a new favorite… and for anyone else who’s interested in learning a new two player game.

Do you have a favorite two player game that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

CASTELLAN

Two players work together to build a castle… but each player wants to seize control of the best courtyards. In Castellan each player uses a set of castle walls and a deck of cards that determines what pieces can be played; the challenge is to claim the most territory by the time the castle is complete. A typical game of Castellan lasts 45 minutes.

COSMIC WIMPOUT

Invented nearly 40 years ago, Cosmic Wimpout is a classic press-your-luck game using five custom dice. It’s simple and easy to learn, and can be played in under ten minutes; the design allows even a losing player a last hope for a come-from-behind victory. While the basic game is very simple, there’s an assortment of variant rules that add complexity; some of the more popular rules can be found here.

GUILLOTINE

It’s the French Revolution, and everyone’s trying to get a head… or as many of them as possible. Each day there’s a line of nobles heading for the guillotine; you want to use your tricks to rearrange the line to ensure that you end up with the best nobles in your basket. Will you manage to end up with the head of Marie Antoinette, or will you be stuck with the heads of the lowly piss boy – or worse, the beloved Hero of the People?

HIVE

In this strategy game, players shape a board as they place their insect forces, achieving victory by surrounding an opponent’s Queen Bee. Each piece has its own unique move; for example, soldier ants can scurry to any position on the edge of the hive, grasshoppers leap over opposing forces, and beetles clamber over other pieces and immobilize them. It’s a simple and elegant game, and the pocket version is very portable – but it’s certainly a game that makes you think. A game of Hive generally takes 10-20 minutes.

JAIPUR

In Jaipur you assume the role of a trader seeking to amass wealth through careful trading of goods and camels. On your turn, you can either claim goods from the market in the middle of the table, or sell goods from your hand… but you can only hold onto a certain number of cards at a time. Will you hold out to try to get the most valuable combinations, or buy and sell as quickly as possible? Will you invest in camels or ignore the mangy creatures? Jaipur is a simple, fast game but has enough strategy to make every round unique.

LOONEY PYRAMIDS

Looney Pyramids are a set of versatile tools that can be used to play a vast assortment of games. There’s even a handy searchable community wiki where you can find instructions for over 300 different two player Pyramid games that vary in complexity and length of play. With so many games to choose from, you’re sure to find something you enjoy! At It Takes Two, Kristin Looney taught people to play IceDice, Launchpad23, Treehouse, Pharoah and Pink Hijinks.

LOST CITIES

In Lost Cities two explorers compete to explore the farthest reaches of the unknown. The deck of cards is divided into five suits – one for each of five expeditions – and it’s up to each player to decide which exotic locales to explore. Every card has a value, and once you play a card of a particular expedition – a 5-point arctic exploration card, for example – you can’t play a lower value card. As such, it is a game of strategy and patience as you try to decide which expeditions you want to commit to, and how long you should wait for the right card before committing to a journey.

PAIRS

A “new classic card game,” Pairs is simple, fast and fun. It uses a unique deck, and beyond basic Pairs there are many variants you can try depending on the experience you’re looking for and the number of players you have available. At It Takes Two, designer James Ernest taught the two-player bluffing game Regent; you can find rules for Regent and nineteen other variations here.

SPLENDOR

A huge hit in the JCC5 game room, Splendor place you in the role of a Renaissance gem merchant struggling to gain prestige. Gather chips and invest in valuable mines as you hope to lure nobles to sample your wares. While Splendor supports up to four players, it is an excellent game for two.

STAR REALMS

This science fiction game blends the deckbuilding feel of Ascension with the direct conflict of Magic: The Gathering. Assemble and improve your fleet of ships and bases, and hold off your enemies until you have the power to crush them. It’s fast and simple, and each of the four factions within the game enhance a different style of strategy, allowing you to pursue different paths each time you play.

Back From ChariD20!

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Elisa Teague, Kirk Thatcher, David Nett, Keith Baker, Jason Charles Miller, and Cig Neutron!

This weekend I was in Los Angeles for ChariD20, a charity roleplaying event raising money for Reach Out And Read. This is the fourth time I’ve developed and run an adventure for ChariD20, and it was the best year yet. The participants were fantastic, the games went well, and we raised twice as much for the charity as we did last year.

Each session was only two hours long, and it was an interesting challenge for me to develop a two-hour adventure that still felt like a complete story – especially knowing that many of the players wouldn’t be familiar with the rules. I’m happy with the outcome. Donors: I need to make a few edits to the adventure based on play and then it needs to be approved by Wizards of the Coast before I can pass it on to you. So it’s going to be a little while before you get it, but I hope that it will be in your hands by the end of the month.

John Rogers invokes the power of the Silver Flame!

John Rogers invokes the power of the Silver Flame!

If you’d like to see how it went down, the recording is online at the CCDD website. If you missed out, you can still donate until November 12th; if you donate at least $10 you can watch the sessions and get a copy of the adventure as soon as it’s approved!

Thanks as always to Satine Phoenix and Matt Mangini for organizing the event, to fellow DM Matthew Mercer for taking on my story, and to our awesome players: John Rogers, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Jessie Pridemore, Kyle Vogt, Grant Imahara, Dodger, Mandy Morbid, Zak Smith, Joseph Scrimshaw, Ivan Norman, Cig Neutron, Kirk Thatcher, Elisa Teague, David Nett, Jason Charles Miller, Orion Acaba, Marisha Ray, Jenna Busch and Neal Fischer. And most of all, thanks to everyone who donated to Reach Out And Read!

 

ChariD20 is TODAY!

CCDD TestLast night was the trial run of the 5E Eberron adventure I’ve put together for ChariD20 – a event raising money for child literacy charity Reach Out And Read. The event is TODAY! The first game starts at 10 AM Pacific Time, where I will be running the game for John Rogers (Leverage), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Helix, The Middleman), Kyle Vogt (The Room), and Jessie Pridemore (RuffleButt Cosplay). You can see the full schedule throughout the day at the main website, along with links for donating and watching the games.

Thanks to everyone who’s donated so far – It’s going to be fun!

Extra Life: Double For Doernbecher!

Only one day to go until Extra Life, where I’ll be playing a warforged artificer. You can see what I’m doing for Warforged here, and I’ll write more about my artificer hack after I arrive in Seattle. But I’m still raising money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and as we go into the final hours we have a call to arms. If 10 people donate $20 by noon Pacific time, my wife Jennifer Ellis will match that donation! (To be clear – Jenn will match the donations up to a total of $200 on our end.)

Donate to Extra Life here!

Thanks for your support!

Gaming For Charity

I’ve been busy working on Phoenix, and I’ll have more to say about that soon. But I’m also making time for a few special projects, and I hope that you’ll support either or both of them.

First up: On Saturday, October 25th I am taking part in Extra Life, a Charity program benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. I’m participating as a player with the Dungeons & Dragons team: I’m going to be playing in the first 8 hours of a 24-hour D&D marathon run by gamemaster Greg Bilsland. The entire event will be live-streamed, so you can follow along with our perilous journey. My donation page is here, and I’m personally raising money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. In exchange for your donations, you can help establish details about the character I play – everything from my name and class to my motto or battle-cry… plus, the more money I raise, the more benefits the DM gives to me, just like the Hunger Games! In particular, if you select an Eberron option for my Race or Class, I will develop 5E stats for that element and post them here. For Race, you can choose an Eberron specific race – such as Warforged – or a traditional race with a specific Dragonmark. Note that these will not be official and may not match whatever form official 5E Eberron support takes, and in the case of the Artificer I will only develop the elements of the class as needed for this adventure, NOT a full 20-level class with a full infusion list. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity to help an awesome cause and to get the wheels turning on 5E Eberron development, and I hope you’ll lend a hand! Once again, you can find my donation page here.

A week later – on Sunday, November 2nd – I’ll be on the other side of the screen, gamemastering events for Celebrity ChariD20. This event is raising money for Reach Out And Read, a charity that promotes child literacy. I’m going to be creating a short 5E Eberron adventure with pregenerated characters. If you donate you can watch the livestream of the event, and with a donation of $15 or more you will get a copy of the Eberron adventure. You can donate here!

Both of these are excellent causes, and I hope that you will help to make them both succeed. If you have any questions about either one, please ask. Otherwise, again, please lend a hand and support Extra Life or ChariD20. Thank you!