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Frivolous Profundity

Friv-o-lous: trivial, unworthy of serious attention … Pro-fun-di-ty: wisdom that is profound, difficult to uncover

Part two of my ramblings, review, and summary of the recent Gateway 2011 gaming convention (part one is here).

Got a solid 6 hours of sleep, quick shower, bananas and an apple for breakfast, boogied on down to my first game of the day.

Note: there may be spoilers below for some of the games I played in! Be careful if you are a regular Strategicon attendee and might play them in the future.


Slot: Sunday, 9am – 1pm
Game (System): “Deadliest Catch” (Trail of Cthulhu)
My Character: Tom Hawkins (professor of Anthropology)
GM: Steve
Players: 6/6
Dice mechanic: a single d6

I was looking forward to this game, having played in some of Steve’s games before and being a fan of the fine folks at the Dead Gamer’s Society – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Based loosely on the reality show “Deadliest Catch,” our characters quickly found themselves at the center of a Cthulhu-esque mystery in Dutch Harbor. There were fish men, family secrets, betrayals, suicide, patricide, pacts with evil – in short, it was a Cthulhu game. Had a really great time, and was once again pumped up for running my Jem game.

Perhaps the highlight of the game for me was one of the characters, already teetering on the edge of sanity, realizing that his father was part of the secret pact with evil that led to his sister’s suicide … and pushing his father to his death off the same cliff his sister jumped from (right in front of the town sheriff no less!). Brilliant.

continue reading…

Can’t believe it’s already been 3 months since the last game convention!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Strategicon Gateway 2011 convention here in LA. Just like Gamex in June, I had an awesome time – probably even better than before, because I knew more people and faces, and this time I ran a couple of game slots too instead of only playing.

I got there Friday at noon and came home Monday evening. In those 3.5 days I played 8 different games and ran 2 sessions of my “Jem: License to Kill” one-shot, 4 hours for each slot, for a grand total of 40 hours of gaming. Yes, I basically put in a full-time work week in a weekend of gaming – and it was glorious.

Again my suitcase was crammed with food aplenty: 18 cans of Fresca, apples, bananas, bread, salami, bologna, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, mayo, and wheat thins. Oh, and clothes. Annoyingly the Sheraton charged me $20 for the mini-fridge (it was free last time), but I guess it could be worse.

The layout was the same: RPGs on the 2nd floor in the conference rooms, board and card games in the 1st floor ballroom. I literally only set foot in the ballroom one time, and really that was only because I had to in order to reach the dealer’s room. It’s not that I dislike board and card games – I don’t, in fact I go to a weekly meetup (Friday Night Dice) to get my fix. But when I’m at a convention, it’s all about the RPGs!

Check in time wasn’t until 3pm, but thankfully my room was ready when I got there at noon. I grabbed my con badge (Yay! It says, “Volunteer: RPG GM”!), unpacked, and relaxed in the room for a bit.



Note: there may be spoilers below for some of the games I played in! Be careful if you are a regular Strategicon attendee and might play them in the future.

continue reading…

My writing project has finally been completed (and on deadline!), so I have time to write up an overview of the recent Gamex game convention.

As a warning – it’s long.

I haven’t been to a gaming convention in probably 15+ years, and Gamex didn’t disappoint. I had a great time! The people were fun and friendly, the games were varied and well-run, and the hotel room was quiet and comfy. It was an awesome little vacation.

I got there Friday evening and came home really, really late on Sunday. In those 2.5 days I played 7 different games, each 4 hours long, for a grand total of 28 hours of gaming.

The hotel had more than enough room, and seemed happy to have us – they certainly treated me well. I had preregistered for the convention online, so all I needed to do was pick up my guest badge. The only difference I noticed between this and the conventions I went to in New England was pricing structure – in New England there was an admission fee (usually about $25-$30), then an additional fee per game slot (usually $2); Strategicon has just one cost for general admission (depending on how many days you register for), then you can play in as many game slots as you can cram in without further cost.

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Nearly 2 years ago, I emailed a query to my favorite game publisher about a possible PDF book. I was 90% sure I would get back a polite form letter thanking me for my interest and sending me on my way.

Instead, they asked for more information; then an outline of what the book would look like; then a 5,000 word writing sample.

A few months after that, I signed a contract promising to deliver a 54,000 word book for PDF sale. I submitted a first draft, received a ton of great editorial advice, then submitted a revised second draft. That was submitted to open playtest and review by a small group of their established writers, resulting in even more advice for improvements.

And today, finally, I emailed in my completed final draft, weighing in at 55, 222 words, along with suggestions for artwork and marketing blurbs.

It was  a lot of work, but I really enjoyed doing it. The hard part now will be waiting – and waiting, and waiting – until it is finally done and ready for sale!

Huh – so I was poking around the Internet Archive, and the oldest snapshot they have for my site has a visitor counter at the bottom (yep, we did that then!) that says “There have been XX visitors here since 9/29/98” …

… which means TheMook.Net has been around for at least 13 years, since 1998.

Nice. 🙂



Been back for a couple days now. The convention was a ton of fun! I’d like to put together a decent “After Con Report” in the next few weeks, but this week I’m scrambling to meet a June 6th deadline so it will have to wait.

Quick version: I loved it, played a whole bunch of great games, and am enthusiastically looking forward to running some GURPS games at the next one (which is in September).

This weekend I’m taking a mini-vacation to hug my inner geek at Gamex 2011, a gaming convention here in LA. Oddly enough, while the economy Travelodge down the street offers free Wi-Fi, the Sheraton where the convention actually is does not (though they’re happy to sell you ‘net access from your room for $12/day).

I’ll try to post some occasional updates on how the con is going from my phone – you can follow along through my Twitter page.

A lot of folks have been curious about my new room here in L.A. so I’m posting some pics. It is perfectly cozy and sufficient for my needs, especially since I’m only in it while sleeping or on the computer. A bed and my PC are pretty much all I need, the rest of the time I’m in the house with the rest of the family.

Here’s a shot from the doorway looking in – computer and bed, with the closet on the left and a bookshelf to the right:

From Doorway

And here’s a shot taken from the bed, showing the bookshelf – chess books and computer chess game, theology books, and of course the GURPS 4th Edition line (including Low-Tech, which just arrived yesterday, woo!):

From Bed

This is the closet/cupboard and other bookshelf – a few books on writing, my shelf of “Books To Read”, and the games I brought with me for amusement (Talisman, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Once Upon a Time, Knightmare Chess, Zombie Dice, and many others):


Finally, here’s my closet – yep, those are all the clothes I own in the world, excepting a few pieces of cold weather gear I left in Tucson for when I return to New England:

Closet Open

Modest but extremely comfortable! I affectionately refer to it as my Cave, Nest, or sometimes Cell (in the “monk’s room” sense, not the “incarcerated” sense). A perfect little niche for me in the world.

Last night J and I went to a kind of “geek social gathering” at a nearby comics shop. These are my people, they are of my herd. We played a little Apples to Apples and chatted with a few folks, there were games of Magic: the Gathering and Rock Band going on too, mostly it was just an excuse to get out of the house for a while.

During one of the ‘whole group’ games the host of the evening, a pleasant fellow introduced to me as Dino went around the room reading off the answers that people wrote down as part of the game. At one point someone wrote down/made him say “Good news everyone!” I commented to the guy next to me, “That’s a really good Professor Putricide impression,” the good Professor being one of the end bosses from World of Warcraft’s Icecrown Citadel. The guy laughed and said, “It should be, that’s his voice in the game.” Most entertaining. 🙂

I also won one of the (many) raffle drawings, which allowed me to choose my prize from a shelf of assorted merchandise. As I made my way to the prizes I noticed the word “Buffy” in big letters on a book so I grabbed that without even looking at the other stuff. When I got back to my seat I actually looked at it, and Hooray! It’s the behind-the-scenes and script book for the Buffy episode “Once More With Feeling.” Nice.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a church that I actually feel comfortable in since leaving Massachusetts. I’m very used to a certain style of architecture and a certain way of celebrating mass (that is, the liturgically correct way lol), imprinted on me as they were in my youth, and the places I’ve been to in my travels have been less than inspiring.

Which is why I was so happy to go to mass this morning and see my new church! First off, it is literally a 5-minute walk from the  house. I left here at 6:50 am and got there well before 7:00 for the 7:15 mass, and that’s walking at “Mook speed” (which is somewhere between “glacial speed” and “no speed”).

The outside of the building looks like a church to me – like there could be a disfigured hunchback living in the belfry.

Inside it is majestic, very “old school” and beautiful, just the kind of style I find peaceful and inviting.

I couldn’t be happier! This time coming home really felt like coming home. This morning’s liturgy was wonderful as well, orthodox and faith-filled. The celebrating priest was young and enthusiastic, his homily was insightful, and the community doesn’t do any of the many nit-picky things that drive me crazy (remember, I’m a curmudgeon!). I’m really looking forward to worshiping here over the next few months.

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