Twogether Studios at PAX Unplugged!

This weekend I’ll be at my first convention in almost two years: PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with my company Twogether Studios. We’re involved in a lot of great events at the convention and even some you can watch at home!

As a small business, conventions are a double-edged sword with exhaustion and financial risk balanced against the absolute high of positive energy and meeting people in real life who enjoy our games. Don’t ever be worried about saying hello or telling us you enjoy something we made—it’s those affirmations that keep us going and remind us why we do this. So if you see us at the show, we’re always down for an elbow bump, ghost high fives, and socially distant tips of the hat!

Here’s where you can find me and Twogether Studios at PAX Unplugged…

  • Twogether Studios will be at Booth 3355. You can see our current line-up of games, including Illimat, The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance, and a small supply of TAZ hoodies!
  • Friday 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Exploring Eberron with Keith Baker. Join me for a discussion of Eberron, along with a look at my current projects and what I have planned for the future! This is in Mothman Theatre and should be streamed on one of the PAX Twitch channels.
  • Friday 4:30 PM- 5:30 PM: Sharing The Sandbox—Creating In Established RPG Settings. Join LaTia Jacquise, Jessica Marcrum, Jarrod Taylor, the cast of Eberron: A Chronicle of Echoes and I as we discuss the challenges involved in developing content in shared universes!
  • Friday 7:30 PM-9:30 PM: Instant RPG—Just Add You. I’ll be a player in this event organized by Ninth Level Games—playing a game developing live by the audience!
  • Saturday 1 PM – 2 PM: Eberron Meet-Up. This is slightly mysterious—it’s not listed on the official schedule and the location is simply “the Queue Hall.” But I’ll be in the Queue Hall at 1 PM on Saturday for an informal gathering with anyone who shows up!
  • Sunday 11 AM – 12 PM: Signing at Booth 3355. I’ll be at the Twogether Studios booth off and on throughout the convention, but this is the one time you can be SURE I will be there! If you have something you want signed, this is your chance.
  • Sunday 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Add Drama To Your Game (Screening). Andrew Barth Feldman, Alex Boniello, B. Dave Walters, Jenn Ellis, and I unpack what drama is and how to add more intrigue, tension, and investment to your next D&D session, story telling game, or murder mystery party.

See you at PAXU!

Status Report: Frontiers of Eberron, PAX Unplugged, and More

Approximately one year ago, I began working on a new 5E sourcebook for Eberron: Frontiers of Eberron, a setting-within-the-setting focusing on the region that lies between Breland and Droaam. My plan was that you’d have that very book in your hands RIGHT NOW, but unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. A great deal of work has been done on Frontiers of Eberron. We’ve commissioned maps, art, and the cover. We’ve been playtesting new mechanics, and I’ve run multiple campaigns in the region. Many chapters of the book have been completed. Unfortunately, for the last few months Frontiers has been on hold. Multiple members of my family have been dealing with health and life issues, and I’ve had to set things aside to lend a hand. The work that still needs to be done to finish Frontiers requires a period of intense focus; I haven’t had that focus over the past few months, and it may still be months before I do. I’m just as excited about Frontiers as ever, and I will finish the book—but at this point I am predicting it will come out sometime in Q2 of 2022.

If you don’t want to wait that long, you can get a taste of Threshold in the game I run for my Patreon supporters. Supporters have access to all of the previous sessions (and you can see a bit of one here), and ever Threshold patron has the chance to play in the monthly game! My patrons also select the subjects of the articles I write for this site, the next of which will be on The Mockery. With time as tight as it is, the support of my patrons means a great deal to me, so thanks to all of you who keep this site going!

While Frontiers is temporarily on hold, life continues to move on—and I’m finally going to my first convention in a long while! I’ll be at Pax Unplugged from December 10-12th with my company Twogether Studios. I’m currently confirmed as a speaker on two sessions, and waiting to hear back on a few more; I’ll provide more details a little closer to the day. And speaking of Twogether, we’re unveiling our first non-print KBP product: the tumbler pictured above, bearing the cover of Exploring Eberron. It’s a little random, but we love Tervis tumblers and we love the art from Exploring Eberron, so here we are! This is an experiment and will likely be a very limited edition, so if it’s something you’re interested in, now’s your chance.

So unfortunately, for the remainder of 2021 my Eberron content will be limited to web articles and my Threshold stream. However, we’ve got lots of things we’d like to do with KB Presents in 2022, including Frontiers of Eberron and much more! So keep up with your adventures and I’ll let you know when there’s news from the frontier.

PAX Unplugged 2019: Booth 3323!

I’ve just arrived in Philadelphia for PAX Unplugged, one of my favorite conventions. I’ll be spending a fair amount of the convention at the booth for my company Twogether Studios. We’re just about to launch the preorder for our latest game, The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance, and we’re going to be demoing and testing the game throughout the weekend; you can also find our other games, including Illimat, Action Cats, and Action Pups!

The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance is a storytelling card game that allows you and your friends to create your own adventures in the wider world of The Adventure Zone. It’s a cooperative game and doesn’t require a gamemaster; working with your friends you seek to reach the bottom of a deadly dungeon and recover a dangerous artifact, all in about an hour. You might have to armwrestle an ogre, cross a vile jelly pit, or endure the withering criticism of a sarcastic specter. No knowledge of The Adventure Zone is required to play the game. Like my previous card game Gloom, it’s a game that encourages you to build a story with your friends—but like Gloom, you’re not penalized if you aren’t comfortable telling elaborate stories.

If you want to talk about Eberron, you can do that too! I will have dedicated signings Friday from 4 PM – 5 PM and Saturday from 5 PM – 6 PM, but if I’m at the booth and not in the middle of something else, I’m always happy to answer questions or sign books. Since people sometimes forget to bring the books they want signed, this year we have special bookplates you can have signed, featuring art from Exploring Eberron.

Speaking of Exploring Eberron, I’m afraid that the release has been delayed. While we’ve already started layout and editing, holidays and a number of personal issues have delayed by work on the final chapter and I’m still getting it wrapped up. I will announce here as soon as I have a date I am confident in, but at this point I feel that it’s probably going to be a January 2020 release. I am as disappointed as anyone about this, but the Traveler had other plans.

Thanks as always to my Patreon backers (Patrons, I’ll be reaching out soon to get some input about future content) and I hope to see some of you at PAX Unplugged!

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 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


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!


PAX Report and future plans!

There’s a lot of things in the oven here at the Bakery. While I was at PAX, I did an interview with the Penny Arcade Report, and it just got posted here, so check that out. Expect to see an Eberron Q&A later in the week, along with an expanded discussion of some of the questions left hanging at the PAX panels… including “Did you announce your next big thing?”

But before it all slips through my mind, I want to take a moment to write about some of the fun things I saw and did at PAX Prime.


Who has it worse… Imperial stormtroopers or redshirted ensigns? There’s books devoted to comparing Star Wars, Star Trek, and the other giants of science fiction, but I decided to approach the question in my own way – by designing a set of sci-fi Gloom and seeing who can survive the worst indignities. Can Wesley escape when he’s Targeted by Terminators? What happens when Han Solo Marries Troi’s Mother? While Matt Forbeck’s book shows that it’s technically possible to get something like this published, it’s just something I put together for fun. So if you want to help Data Hook Up on the Holodeck, you’ll have to catch me at a convention to play a round!


Sunday afternoon I was lucky enough to play a session of Always/Never/Now with creator Will Hindmarch. While I’d heard of Lady Blackbird, I’d never played any game using these mechanics, and I really enjoyed it. For those who don’t know it, this is a simple RPG system which a few key features. Characters have four traits that describe their major abilities; for example, mine were Escapist, Businessman, Burglar, and “Stand-Up Guy.” Each trait has a number of tags – elements that may or may not apply to a particular task associated with that trait. So for “Stand-Up Guy” I had the tags Honest Face, Wit, Guile, Charm, and That Smile. When performing an action with that trait, I’d get an additional die for each tag that applied – so I could be charming in most situations, but I’d have to work to explain how my honest face or That Smile worked over a radio.

Experience is gained through keys. Each character has a set of circumstances that provide experience each time they are met. So one character got an experience point every time other people carried out a plan he’d devised – giving him a concrete, in-game reason to try to be a strong leader. For my part, I got experience every time I made people laugh and when I convinced them of something that wasn’t true.

I had a fantastic time with the system. The keys really drew me into wanting to embrace the character concept as fully as possible… how can I turn this scene into something that will get a laugh? Meanwhile, the trait-tag system helped with the common issue of “I just want to roll Diplomacy – I don’t really want to explain how I’m doing it.” With the tags, the more detail I could add, the more tags I could justify… and it was an intriguing challenge to say “OK, how exactly can I be ‘charming’ here?”

Anyhow, if you’ve never tried the system, I suggest you check it out! A/N/N isn’t out at the moment, but will ultimately be available as a free download. Until then, check out John Harper’s Lady Blackbird!


Early in 2011, I had the opportunity to work with Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, doing some early concepting work on what has now become 13th Age. I’ve been a fan of Tweet’s work ever since Over The Edge, and I had a great time brainstorming icons and oddities with Rob and Jonathan; my favorite contribution are the Koru Behemoths, and I swear it’s a coincidence that they share my name. I was only involved in the initial concepting, and lost touch with the project when I moved to Texas, so PAX was my first opportunity to sit down and play a session with Rob.

The game bears the fingerprints of its designers. Rob calls it his “love letter to D&D”, and there’s certainly a lot of elements that will feel familiar both to D&D players in general and 4E players specifically. I played a gnome bard, and I had the familiar six stats, hit points, a form of healing surge & second wind. At the same time, there are a number of elements that are more flexible and story driven than is typical for D&D. The skill system reminded me of Over The Edge. Rather than having a specific set of twenty skills that all characters choose from, players come up with a certain amount of points to invest in backgrounds for their character. So I might say that as a child I was a Calendrian Pickpocket (and invest 3 points in it), turned that into a career as an Inquisitive (for 4 points), and that I’d always had a knack for Getting Out Of Trouble (3 points). Like the tags in A/N/N, if I can explain how my background applies to a situation, I can use the bonus. So “Inquisitive” fills the role of Search/Perception, but could also be used to justify research, knowledge of local laws, contacts in law enforcement, and so on. Obviously it’s up to the DM to approve backgrounds, so I can’t take 10 points in “Alien Supergod”… but it’s a system that helps me define my character beyond the basic combat abilities of my class.

Backgrounds fill the roles of skills, but if 13th Age has one unique thing, it’s well, one unique thing. One of the most important steps of creating a character is to come up with something truly unique that makes your character one of the most remarkable people in the world. The DM works to weave this into the world and the campaign. For example, the drow sorceress decided that her “mother” actually created her from a dragon’s tooth; as there are four very important dragons in the game, the question of which dragon would be an interesting long-term issue… and in the short term, the sorceress had the chance to exert her influence over a group of lizardfolk we encountered (despite having no concrete mechanical ability to do so). I decided my character was a figment of the imagination of a young boy given power by the nefarious Diabolist… essentially a blend of Twilight Zone’s “It’s a Good Life” and Written By A Kid. Part of my idea was that long term, my backgrounds would actually change; this time around, I had three points of “Pirate King”, but by the next adventure the kid would have changed the story and I’d have some entirely different over the top background, with no memory that it had changed.

I’m not trying to cover every single point of 13th Age here. There’s lots of other interesting things. Google it and you can find out more about the Escalation Die, the Icons, and other elements of the game. And if it sounds like your thing, you might want to take a look at the Kickstarter they’ve got running for the first expansion… back it now and you can get a PDF of the basic rules!


I’ve got a big backlog of questions, related both to Eberron and gaming in general. Over the next few days I’ll get to some of those. I’ve got a few more ideas for ongoing features for the site, but I doubt you’ll see any of those until next week. In any case, check back soon… and as always, ask questions below!