Favorite Things: September 2013

There are far too many things in the world. Books, movies, Kickstarter projects, snacks… How can anyone expect to keep up with them all? A list of all of my favorite things of all time would take more bandwidth and time than I have, but I figured I could start by talking about a few of the things I’m enjoying RIGHT NOW.

ADORABLE KITTENS. OK, these are a perennial favorite… and let’s face it, if you hate adorable kittens, you probably want to avoid the internet. One year ago today, Jenn and I acquired a pair of kittens from the PDX Animal Rescue & Care Fund. While Haggis has already used up two of his nine lives, they are an endless source of heartwarming youtubeable moments. Given how much joy my own rescued animals have given me, I wanted to share Anne Wheaton’s latest activities. She and her husband Wil are currently raising money for the Pasadena Human Society, and she’s put together a calendar for those who support the society. Here’s Wil’s blog about the project; the link to donate to the cause; and Anne’s video about the calendar. For the same cost as a backing a Kickstarter that might never actually happen, you can help dogs & cats who need good homes. And if you’re a PDX local, I recommend checking out the ARCF link above and the Pixie Project!

COMEDY. I’d heard rumors of Joseph Scrimshaw‘s amazing cheese-eating prowess over Twitter, so I attended a few of his panels at DragonCon. At each of those panels, I literally (and I mean literally) laughed so hard it hurt. I picked up his book Comedy of Doom, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to be emotionally prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse, anyone who wants to understand the deeper subtext of Superhero Mario Bros, or anyone who, like Joseph, wishes that Sid and Marty Krofft had produced an LSD-infused puppet show called H.P. Love’N’Craft.

GAMES I’VE PLAYED RECENTLY. As I’ve been at conventions, I’ve actually been playing a lot of my own games. Cryptozoic produced a great demo set of The Doom That Came To Atlantic City for GenCon, though they haven’t had a chance to create the minis yet. But as much as I love Doom and Gloom, this is really about OTHER peoples’ work that I’ve enjoyed. I had an opportunity to play Fiasco with game creator Jason Morningstar at GenCon, and if you haven’t yet encountered Fiasco, DO IT NOW. It’s a brilliant collaborative storytelling game that requires no preparation or gamemaster; it’s just a fantastic framework for setting a story in motion. I’ve actually used Fiasco as a tool in other worldbuilding projects, not to design worlds, but do develop details for cities and to see where players will go with particular concepts. Seriously, if you’re not familiar with Fiasco, you should be. Unless, you know, you hate stories. And fun.

Another game I’ve been playing quite a lot lately is Timeline. This is an extremely simple game that’s a cross between a historical trivia quiz and Uno. You have a hand of cards you need to get rid of, each of which is a historical event. There’s one or more cards in the center of the table, which form a timeline. One your turn, you have to place one of your cards in that timeline… and then see if you’re right. Which came first, the electric dishwasher or the electric dryer? What about Alice in Wonderland or the Colt revolver? It’s very simple, but that’s its strength; it takes less than a minute to explain and generally less than ten minutes to play, and it’s something that I’ve been able to play with family members who’d never touch something as complicated and exotic as Gloom. Of course, having compared it to Uno (in that it’s a card game in which you win by getting rid of all your cards), I’m now tempted to make a variant that includes skip/reverse/draw and other action cards…

KICKSTARTER, RPGs, AND KICKSTARTED RPGS. I recently backed a Kickstarter project called Tablets & Titans. Developer Steve Radabaugh is pursuing something that I’ve been interested in for some time: developing a tabletop RPG that is native to iOS and android devices. This isn’t about creating a solo rpg or even a virtual tabletop for playing at long distances, but rather to allow players and gamemasters around a table to be linked through the app and to have the app track and handle the mechanical elements of the game. Radabaugh’s goal is to create a modular system that lets the gamemaster slot in the elements that are relevant to a particular campaign – magic? Modern weaponry? activate the systems you want players to have access to. This isn’t supposed to supplant the imaginative and storytelling aspects of the game; the gamemaster still tells the story, and the app handles the mechanics. I haven’t seen much of Radabaugh’s system , and I don’t honestly know how deep he’s planning to go with it. But I’m definitely interested in seeing more products like this out there. These days I get most of my RPG books in PDF form, and I’ve worked on a number of projects myself where we’ve considered the possibilities of making the system tablet-native from the get go. Tablets & Titans isn’t shooting for the moon. Its goals are humble and at the moment you can get on board for $12. It’s not going to be Shadowrun Returns or Torment: Tides of Numenera, but I’m interested in seeing where it goes, and I’m supporting it.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

This is your cat on lilies.

Hello, Internet! After taking a month off to see other forms of media, I have returned. There are many things I want to post about, but I figured I’d start off with a general round up of news from June.


I took a month off from the internet to focus on work and iron out my goals for 2013. One of those projects is the Gloom expansion Unquiet Dead, which I’ll post about in detail later in the week. I’m also hard at work on an entirely new fantasy RPG. I’ll talk more about this later in the month, but my goal is to have it playtest-ready for all the conventions I’m heading to in August and beyond – so if you’ll be at any of those, you might have a chance to give it a try!


The other day I was reading a book called Wicked Plants, which mentioned that lilies are highly toxic to cats (causing kidney failure and death within 24 to 48 hours). I’d never heard this before, so I filed it away. The following weekend, we brought some flowers in from the garden, and out cat Haggis started munching on them. “What are those flowers?” I asked Jenn. She didn’t know, so I looked it up online… lilies. Because we got him to the vet right away, there’s no long term damage, but we were lucky. So cat owners, watch out. Any part of the lily is deadly – petals, pollen, stalk. I’m campaigning to completely defoliate Portland, just to be safe.


My convention season doesn’t really start until August, but I’ve got a lot of things lined up. Currently I’m scheduled to appear at the following conventions:

Wizard World Chicago – August 9th – August 11th

Gen Con Indianapolis – August 15th – August 18th

Dragon*Con – August 30th – September 1st

Rose City Comic Con – September 21st

GenreCon – October 4th – October 6th

G.A.M.E. – October 11th – October 13th


Over the last month, a number of friends and colleagues have launched interesting Kickstarters or products that I’m excited about. Here’s a few things you might want to take a look at…

TABLE. Roll2Play is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new kind of convention – an expo to reach out and bring new people into tabletop gaming. They’ve got a lot of interesting ideas and a lineup of guests including Steve Jackson and, well, ME – so if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Coppell, Texas, check it out!

The Zeitgeist Adventure Path. EN Publishing is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the hardcover print release of the first act of Zeitgeist, an adventure path set in “a steam-powered fantasy world beset by conspiracies”… and you know how I feel about conspiracy-laden steampunk fantasy! Zeitgeist is designed for Pathfinder and D&D 4E, and EN Publishing does fantastic work. Check it out!

Boss Monster. This began as a Kickstarter campaign, but now it’s available in stores and online from Brotherwise Games. As a fan of card games, 8-bit sidescrolling adventures, and things that are funny, I give it my seal of approval. If you’re like to know more, read my review from back when it was on Kickstarter!

The Doubleclicks. There’s a new Doubleclicks album coming out on July 9th, and you can preorder it here – and while you’re at the site, check out their tour schedule and lend a hand with their new music video! Or hey, check out their OLD music video, or their answers to my Six Questions!

That’s all for now, but check back soon for a new Eberron Q&A, a post on Unquiet Dead, and a very special Six Questions!

Bossy the Cow, Kittens, and more!

This week I transfered my blog from BossytheCow.com to Keith-Baker.com. I immediately received the following email:

Hello, my name is Freya and I am a WoW addict.

I was once coerced into killing Bossy the Cow by some mean ol’ NPCs. As I’m sure you can understand, I found this to be a horribly traumatic experience. Here is my question: is this the real Bossy, your Bossy, the only Bossy who really matters? If so I shall feel even more like a heel and boycott that quest on any other character I ever run who ventures anywhere near Booty Bay. Ever.

I mean, I once put her image on a cake… Traumatized, I tell you.

Needless to say, this was deeply disturbing to hear. I leapt to the nearest Google search engine and was able to unearth the following image:

COULD IT BE TRUE? Was this the reason we’d changed websites – because Bossy had been pulled into some sort of terrible trap? I ran to my desk, and to my great relief, found that Bossy was still there.

I asked her about it, and she explained.

“I was moo-nlighting on WoW, kid. It’s not the best role I’ve ever had, but that’s show business. It beats waiting on tables.”

“Wait – when did you get a job?” I said.

“No, literally waiting on a table, kid. It’s not like I’ve got a lot to do.”

So Freya, don’t worry about doing the quest. Just remember, when the Academy Awards come around, who deserves the Best Supporting Bovine in a MMORPG Quest award!

In other news, Jenn and I have expanded our household by two, somewhat to the consternation of Mr Pants:

Our two new kittens are named Fey and Haggis. Jenn observes that it’s like we’re living in an adorable YouTube video stuck on permanent loop!

I’ve gotten a lot of good Eberron questions and some interesting general RPG-related questions over the last few days, and I also want to write about my overall experience at PAX. For now, I’m going to answer a few quick questions – check back for those other topics in the week to come!

Tremendously bummed I missed your panels at PAX – can I find them online anywhere?

As far as I know, they weren’t recorded. If anyone knows otherwise, please fill me in!

Did you announce your cool new project at PAX? Will there be a blog post/press release?

I briefly mentioned my cool new project at my Eberron panel. Our goal is to release at GenCon 2013, so I’m not going into too much detail yet. However, expect to see a blog post here sometime in the next few weeks.

That’s all for today. If you’ve asked questions on other topics, check back – I’ll get to them as soon as I can. If you have new questions or ideas for things you’d like to see here on Keith-Baker.com, let us know below!

Oh, and in Kickstarter news, here’s the latest projects that I’m getting in on… Get Bit and Unexploded Cow (don’t worry… it’s Bossy approved!).