Sundry and Geeky Gloom News

Ten years ago I made a game called Gloom. In 2012 Gloom was featured on an episode of Geek & Sundry’s awesome series TableTop, with Wil Wheaton, Meghan Camarena, Amber Benson, and Michelle Boyd. In 2013, Atlas and I teamed up with Geek & Sundry to produce a special TableTop-themed Gloom expansion, which was given away on International TableTop Day.

TableTopGloomCoverWell, it’s 2014, and International TableTop Day is happening again – on April 5th 2014! Last weekend I had the good fortune to be at the announcement party, and it sounds like Geek & Sundry still has some copies of TableTop Gloom on hand. We only did a limited run on it, so no promises that they’ll have it at any particular ITD event… but they might! So if you missed TableTop Gloom last year, look for a ITD event near you.

One of the highlights of the party was playing the game with Meghan Camarena – better known as Strawburry17 – her brother David, and my friend Satine Phoenix. So I got to play TableTop Gloom with one of the people who played Gloom on TableTop, which was a awesomely palindromic way to end a day. On top of which, we killed Wil Wheaton. Twice.

Strawberry GloomOf course, as long as I’m talking about TableTop Gloom, I’d be remiss if I didn’t post a link to the video I made last TableTop Day, with The Doubleclicks and Molly Lewis!

I’m working on a few Gloom-related projects that I’m not quite ready to talk about, but there is one interesting thing happening RIGHT NOW. Artist Len Peralta is producing a new series of Geek Trading cards: Geek-A-Week Year Five Two, and I’m in the roster for the set. Looking at it, my first thought was “I want to play Gloom with these cards!” I talked to Len, and if the Kickstarter hits $20,000 I’m going to put together a set of Geek-A-Week Gloom cards using his artwork. To be clear: This won’t be a fully produced expansion on translucent plastic; plastic cards are expensive to produce, especially in a small run. Instead, this will be a single sheet for you to download and print on cardstock, taking eight of Len’s geeks and translating them in guests and characters for Gloom. Since characters are always on the bottom of the stack, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t transparent. But if you’ve ever wanted to tell a terrifying story in which Patrick Rothfuss traps Neil Gaiman on a train just in time for them both to be murdered by The Doubleclicks and Anne Wheaton, help make this Gloom set a reality! Plus, it means that I’ll get to be on a Gloom card, and I’ve got some ideas for that.

GAW GloomI’ve been meaning to write a Gloom Q&A for a while now, but I’ve never gotten around to it. So… what do you want to know about Gloom?


TableTop Day & My Trip To GloomCon!

Happy TableTop Day! Atlas Games and I produced a special set of promo cards for the day, and if you’d like to see them in action, now’s your chance! I had a chance to play a game with Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks, and the video highlights are here.

One question that may come up is just how to work Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, or Doctor Hannah into your regular Gloom narrative. Perhaps it’s a wacky Gothic episode of the Guild. Perhaps it all takes place on the holodeck. In our game, we took a different approach and set our game at GloomCon, the most miserable convention in the world. When you’re Pestered By Poltergeists, well, it’s probably a Poltergeist marathon; and when you’re Put Into Prison, it’s obviously that Klingon charity prison. Gloom has a generally Victorian flavor, but it’s all about the story you make together; if your group comes up with a different backdrop, it can make for a very different experience.

If you’re in Portland, I’ll be at Rainy Day Games at 2 PM and Things From Another World at 3:30 PM. Wherever you are, I hope you have a fantastic TableTop Day!



My plans for TableTop Day!

We’re just a few days away from International TableTop Day. Games are afoot! Afeet! Whatever! I’ve learned a number of new games this month – Agents of SMERSHUnexploded Cow, Emperor’s New Clothes, Deadwood Studios – and I hope I’ll learn a few new ones this weekend. Of course, I also plan on playing one of MY games…

Atlas Games and I put this set of cards together to say “Thank you” to TableTop for introducing new people to so many games that we love. It’s going to be available at as a free promo at TableTop Day events that are receiving support from Geek & Sundry. If you go to the Event Locator, if the event has a star, then they should have this promo set… though, of course, supplies are very limited and it’s up to the event managers to decide how to distribute the cards.

This TableTop set includes Stories and Guests, two types of cards that aren’t found in the standard Gloom deck. Guests appear in the expansions Unwelcome Guests and Unpleasant Dreams, while stories are found in Cthulhu Gloom. The pack includes rules for using the cards, but I wanted to show you how they work. With that in mind, I invited Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks over to play a game with the TableTop cards. I’ll be posting the video highlights of the game soon, so you can be prepared when you get your hands on your very own Gloomy Wil!

The Doubleclicks are awesome, but the real star of the show is the photobombing Mister Pants.

Meanwhile, if you live in Portland, you’ve got a few chances to play Gloom with me on TableTop Day. I’ll be at Rainy Day Games from 2-3 PM, and then I’ll be at Things From Another World on Broadway at 3:30 PM. I hope I’ll see you there. And if not, have a Gloomy and Awesome TableTop Day!

Check back tomorrow to see the video!

Gloomy News 2/28: TableTop Game Day and BGG!

While I’ve done a lot of posts about Eberron, I’ve made another game you might be familiar with… a thing called Gloom. Over the next few weeks I’m going to write a little about Gloom, so if you have any questions on Gloomy subjects, now is the time (and this is the place) to ask!

First, the big news: March 30th is International TableTop Day. Geek & Sundry is encouraging gamers around the world to get out and play some games. To help with the festivities, Atlas Games and I put together a nine-card expansion… TableTop Gloom! Now you can share Anne’s agony when she Bumped The Board! TableTop Gloom includes two Stories and two Guests. Stories are one of my favorite elements of Cthulhu Gloom, and I’m glad to have a few to use with standard Gloom. So while you heap misfortune on your family, you’ll also have the chance to see who can claim the TableTop Trophy of Awesome and who will end up on The Loser’s Couch! TableTop Gloom won’t be for sale; it’s a promotional item that will be sent with other support to stores hosting TableTop Day events. So if you want a copy, find a place where you can play some games!

In other news, when I passed through Chicago a few weeks ago, I played a little Gloom at an excellent game store called Cat and Mouse Games. While I was there, I had an opportunity to talk to Beth Heile of Board Game Geek, and the interview has just been posted at BGG!


Six Questions: Anne Wheaton

You may know Anne from her appearance on TableTop. But you SHOULD know Anne from her work with #VandalEyes, which she created along with Bonnie Burton. VandalEyes is a crusade to bring googly eyes to things that need googly eyes. It’s been an inspiration to Jenn and I; here’s one of Jenn’s creations.

But let me let Anne speak for herself…

What’s your story?

At 23 years old, I had already been married, divorced and was living on my own as a single parent with two little boys. I put myself through cosmetology school at night while working as a waitress during the day. It was the hardest time of my life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It made me a motivated, hard working, independent person. When I was 26, I met a 23 year old named Wil at a New Year’s Eve party a mutual friend of ours was having. We started dating, eventually got married and spent several years working our asses off to keep our family above water while my ex-husband tried his hardest to pull us all under. It is unfortunate that he spent the boys’ childhood doing that but Wil and I raised two fantastic young men out of that situation.

What was the inspiration for #VandalEyes?

As a kid, I would put googly eyes on crafts. I loved how it seemed to bring things to life. I hadn’t done anything with googly eyes in years and was re-introduced to them by Bonnie Burton when she stayed with us while filming an episode of Table Top in December 2011. I was instantly reminded how much I loved them when she put them on a few things around my house so I got my own supply. I came up with #VandalEyes on Twitter before attending a convention in Anaheim in January 2012 because I thought it was a funny way to tag vandalizing things with googly eyes. People always tell me they didn’t get what it meant for a long time until actually saying it out loud. Did I mention I like puns?

What are a few of your favorite #VandalEyes achievements?

The one that made me laugh so hard I had tears down my face was putting quarter sized googly eyes on Levar Burton at San Diego Comicon in 2012. He was so funny about putting these ridiculous eyes on but having a very serious face. On a different note, I am really proud of creating (with the help of my husband because I am the opposite of technology savvy) along with Bonnie Burton. We were posting so many pictures of our own that it seemed to inspire others to do the same. Pictures were constantly being sent to us on Twitter so we decided having a website where all of these pictures could be shared needed to happen. I love clicking on the archive link on the site and seeing page after page of all the pictures posted from all over the world all together. It is hilarious!

If you could vandaleyes anything in the world, what would it be?

The Statue of Liberty with appropriate sized eyes. Now THAT would be a tourist attraction for sure.

You star in an episode of Tabletop, playing Ticket to Ride with Wil, Colin Ferguson, and Amy Dallen. What’s your favorite game?

I love Scrabble. I don’t care about the score, I just love word games. I always play Scrabble when I get together with my girlfriends. It’s our time to visit with each other, have some good food and wine and play a game at our own pace. I’m not a very competitive person. It’s more about spending the time together doing something we all enjoy. I was playing Words with Friends but I had too many games going at once and the pressure to play my turn was too much so I stopped. I’d rather wait and play face to face. Bananagrams and Boggle are fun ones too.

As a Scrabble aficionado, is Words With Friends: The Boardgame a logical way to bring the online audience to the boardgaming world, or a money-grabbing abomination?

It does seem weird to me to make a board game version of Words With Friends but it kind of makes sense. When I first started playing Words With Friends it was really hard to get used to the board because I was so used to the Scrabble board. The generation of people introduced to Scrabble because of playing Words With Friends first must feel the same way about the Scrabble board. I suspect the board game was created to appeal to them which is fine. Scrabble really helped me learn words and learn how to spell when I was a kid. If anything, this is just helping a new generation do the same!

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

In December 2012, I retired from my 17 year career as a hairdresser. Tendinitis in my shoulder and both wrists made it painful and not enjoyable anymore. Plus, I was feeling like I wanted to do something else with my life. We do a lot of fundraising for charities so we decided to start our own charity foundation to fund various projects we have wanted to do for a few years. Within a week of retiring as a hairdresser, I was already working on our first project. It is so fun and so fulfilling to be doing this. We’re keeping each project a secret until it’s completed so this first project will be ready to reveal this upcoming August.

Since our kids are grown and out of the house, this also gives me the opportunity to travel with Wil more. We kind of did things in reverse of most couples. We started out raising kids so we feel like we’re in that honeymoon stage people have when they first get married.Still being relatively young and having the time to spend with our friends and family and have vacations just the two of us has been unbelievably awesome. I always tell people to make your marriage a priority while you’re raising kids because someday those kids will be out of the house. The relationship with your spouse lasts a lifetime so put in the effort!