Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eight months later....still pimpin'

Anyone who has published a RPG product in the last year;

The 2nd Annual Three Castles Award is still accepting submissions through the end of the year (December 31st) for next year's award, to be given out at the 4th annual North Texas RPG Con. If you published a RPG adventure, setting, rulebook or sourcebook between October 1st 2010 and October 1st 2011 you are eligible. The focus of the award is on design, and last year's nominees (LoTFP Boxed Set, Stonehell Dungeon, Dungeon Alphabet, Majestic Wilderlands and B/X Companion) and initial winner (Michael Curtis' Dungeon Alphabet) exemplifies the type of excellence in small press products we want to publicize with the award. The NTRPG Con makes nothing off the award; on the contrary, we will NEVER break even considering the amount Doug paid for the absolutely beautiful statuette award given to the winner!

This is a designer award, not a publisher award, although the publisher is welcome to submit anything they wish for one of their authors. The only way this award will one day be able to boast an impressive run of quality winners is if the VERY BEST items are submitted every year, and that is up to the writers/designers themselves. So please, if you have neglected submitting your item so far, take the time to visit the site (, go to the 3CastlesAward tab, fill out the required paperwork and send in three copies of your product for the initial selection process. Every year the judges are shuffled, and this year they are going to be Dennis Sustare, Rob Kuntz, Sandy Peterson, Dave "Zeb" Cook, and Steve Marsh....a group with an impressive list of skins on the wall in terms of products and ideas in the industry.

Share this with as many RPG designers as you can, and if you know of someone with an impressive RPG product release in the last year, encourage them to send in a submission for the award. Besides obviously promoting our convention, we really want to promote the industry and some of the great products out there that may be overlooked by gamers who only pay attention to the biggest companies releases each year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jim Roslof Commission

By now, those in the old school gaming community know of the unfortunate passing of one of the early TSR artists, Jim Roslof. Jim's unique style helped form the "look" of TSR just as much as Trampier, Sutherland and Otus. James at Grognardia and many other bloggers have spoken of Jim and his influence on the hobby, but mine is a more personal note.

Several years ago I realized some of the old guard TSR artist from the early days of TSR were still active (due to the DCC covers by Jeff Dee and Erol Otus). I began thinking about whether or not it would be possible to get a commission done by one of these guys, a personalized scene that I could share with my original gaming group. Back in the day (late 70s/early 80s), I was not one for writing up my own adventures. We ran through every module published by TSR, from the letter modules to the contest winners in Dragon magazine. So, my original group did the great GDQ crawl with their first characters, finally escaping the Demonweb Pits sometime in 1984 or so after a good five years of off and on gaming.

While looking for something to memorialize these times, I thought about the classic covers of the modules (all by David Sutherland) except for Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Dave Sutherland was sadly already gone, so I thought about asking Jim if he would do a "reinterpretation" of the classic Q1 cover, only with my group's favorite characters as the subjects. Through various online sites, I acquired his contact info, presented the idea to him, and he was very enthusiastic about the project. He told me that he had no problem going back to one of his classic pieces, and as a matter of fact it would be a lot faster and easier for him (as he could work with the original cover for reference instead of creating it from whole cloth). Jim was super easy to work with, and I remember him being very particular about what each character was wearing, what weapons they used, spells they liked to cast, etc. He wanted to make the art as "authentic" as he could so it wouldn't be just a generic fight scene.

I was simply blown away at the art Jim did for me (only taking 30 days from start to finish). Each character (From the left: Krago the Dwarf, Gandolin the elvish mage, U-gor the half orc fighter, and St. Michael the cleric) is clearly recognizable to everyone in my old group (U-Gor using his flaming sword, Gandolin casting one of his ever present fire spells, etc) as their personal characters. It is something that I will treasure forever, now even more so that Jim is no longer among us.

It is very obvious that Jim's skills were far from declining, and very sad he couldn't get more work in the gaming field in his later years (except for a few DCC covers and some incredible spreads in The Dungeon Alphabet). Jim still "had it", and in my opinion, his recent work was better than some of his originals (while still being recognizable as a Roslof piece).

Not much more to add, except that I wish I had gotten Jim to do some other commissions. As always, we don't know what we have until it's reason for the North Texas RPG Con is for the old school gamer and fan to mingle with these guys while they are still with one is getting any younger. If you are putting off sending an email to or attending a convention with one of the old guard, DO IT.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three Castles Award 2011 Nominees

Last year I posted about the Three Castles Design Award and how the NTRPG Con was proud to present this beautiful hunk of statuette each year to the RPG game rules, adventure, supplement or settings that was a high point of achievement in the hobby for the past year. In the last few years there has been an explosion of releases, mostly by solo writers or designers, that are a testament to the intelligence, imagination and resourcefulness of gamers playing and writing RPGs. What better way to put a small regional con like ours on the map than by sponsoring an award like this, and recognizing a field that often gets short shrift in other yearly awards (the RPG field, specifically the OSR).

After due consideration the Steering Committee was able to choose five nominees of the many submitted to move onto the final round of judging. Some seminal names in the history of the hobby...Dennis Sustare, Paul Jaquays, Steve Winter, Tim Kask, and Rob Kuntz....have been asked to choose among these five for the first ever winner of this annual honor. The standards are very high, yet I feel that these five items are the creme of the crop of last year's releases, and one should walk away with the award. As you can see all four finalists (one had two nominations) are solo game designers often operating at small profit or even a loss, and it is our hope that by winning this award (or even by being nominated) they can all see a small boost in exposure and profits. I won't pretend this award will make or break anyone, but hey I can dream!

We plan on changing members of both the Steering Committee (who are different than the judges and are kept secret so as not to bias the proceedings in any way) and the group of five judges every year to keep things from becoming predictable or stale, and will choose members from the fields of game design, art, writing, and production, as well as the occasional respected fan or blogger to make things interesting. We are also looking at possibly working each years previous winner in the mix somehow as either a judge or special guest at the NTRPG Con.

This is the first year of the award, and I hope the standard it sets will cause it to grow in stature year after year, someday becoming as respected an achievement as winning, say, and Ennie is at Gencon every year. Anyway, we hope that if you are reading this and don't have all five of these products in your library you use this chance to purchase these and see why they were selected as this year's nominees.

Three Castles Design Award 2011 Nominees:

B/X Companion (Jonathan Becker)
LOTFP Weird Fantasy Roleplaying (James Raggi)
Stonehell Dungeon(Michael Curtis)
The Dungeon Alphabet (Michael Curtis)
The Majestic Wilderlands (Rob Conley)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

NTRPG Con 2011

The fact I haven't posted in months, with not so gentle reminders from friends, coupled with this wake up call by Cyclopeatron, here is the latest info on the North Texas RPG con...

First, before the prepared promo text below, I totally agree with Cyclo on the subject of minicons. These are a perfect, if not preferred, way to grow the OSR. Cheap and efficient, the rewards are huge, the outlay is small, and the enjoyment is worth any aggravation. When Doug and I started NTRPG Con, one of the things we discussed was being able to promote small, local mini-cons across the US where our preferred types of games would be played. Well, entirely without our promotion (we had a small hand in giving the Central Texas mini-con space on our website for registering attendees) this things are popping up all over.

All you need is a place for a couple dozen or more gamers to meet (if you are going budget, a local civic center, library, KOC hall, church, school or pizza place may let you meet for free), some volunteers to run games, and at least one masochistic soul to put it all together. Advertise in local game and comic stores, online at local websites, blogs, or larger sites that cater to old school gamers. Have a contact point (preferable a web site, but a blogspot or message board forum would work as well) so you can get word out of changes or updates to interested gamers. Schedule at least 2-3 games, with space for pickup games that could develop, and make sure food is available either nearby or at the gaming location itself. It really is that easy!

NTRPG Con 2011:

Less than 5 months away, the 3rd annual NTRPG Con will take place June 2-5 in Irving, TX (same location as last time, the Staybridge Suites). NTRPG Con is the south's premier old school con, focusing on pre-2000 RPGs of all types, particularly D&D in it's many forms. No card games, no board games, no 4e, etc. Only OOP or old school oriented games need apply!

Special guests this year will include (deeep breath):Returning Guests: Paul Jaquays, Rob Kuntz, Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Dennis Sustare, Steve Winter, Jason Braun; New Guests Steve Marsh and Erol Otus, and a surprise guest (Doug just informed me this week) will be Jim Ward, who has accepted an invitation and we hope will be recovered enough from his illness to travel here in June. As some of you might know Jim was scheduled to appear at last year's con, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a serious illness that has dogged him for the entire year. Jim says he will run a Metamorphosis Alpha game, and something from Eldritch Enterprises.

Some tidbits:

This year we will award the first ever Three Castles Design award for achievement in RPG design. The statuette is stone cold gorgeous! We have had some great submissions this year and we are still going through them.

Doug and I have discussed giving out an annual NTRPG Con award for best release at the con itself. Basically, any adventure released at the con for the first time will be eligible. We need to work on it a bit more but it looks like we'll take votes on all submissions and give out the award sometime at the end of June, to be awarded at the next year's con.

Reminder that registration for events goes live midnight April some of you know events fill up VERY fast, especially premium events.

Speaking of which, this year both Erol Otus and Paul Jaquays will be gamemastering events. I believe Paul has not gamemastered (is this a word?) at a con in many, many years, and I think apart from games with friends Erol has not either. Paul is running a Runequest game and Erol is running D&D. Should fill up fast!

Some of you looking over events may have noticed this year's games seem to have taken a slight turn towards the sci-fi. Besides Jim's Meta Alpha game, we have two other MA games by Tavis Allison, more Urutsk from Kyrinn Eis, a Paranoia game by Ben Burns, another Gamma World scenario by Steve Winters as well as one by Rollin Kearney, and a Spelljammer retro game (using OD&D rules!) from Bob Reed. We didn't plan it this way but it sure looks quite interesting if you like mutants with your swords and sorcery!

This year we will have a special charity game (the first event of the con, Thursday afternoon) DM'd by the esteemed Taco Jon Hershberger, which will contain all the special guests we can round up a the time. Two prime seats in this session will be auctioned off to a pair of lucky gamers, who can then say they sat at the same table as some of the founding fathers of the game! This game will be in the lecture room with seats for sale (for charity) to anyone wanting to watch; I expect this to be quite....interesting. Taco Jon is going to have his hands full with this one.

Like last year we will have a mini-auction on Saturday, with some goodies from the prize closet. Included will be one of the 65 signed copies of the limited edition Erol Otus print done exclusively for The Acaeum last year....63 of these are owned by Acaeum members, which means there is a 99% chance none of these will ever see the light of day. This is the ONLY limited edition print Erol Otus has ever done!

As usual the raffle (get your tickets now!) will have some great items including a Dragon magazine #1, Dungeon Magazine #1, a Castle Zagyg boxed set, and some signed items from past cons. We are tired of Cimmerian and JohnGaunt winning everything the last two years.....

We will again have seminars this year. Friday there will be a 6 hour long (lunch included) adventure design seminar by Rob Kuntz where an adventure will be designed to be run by Rob on Saturday night! There will be an art seminar with Jason Braun, Erol Otus and Paul Jaquays; A "Tips for DMs" seminar with Matt Finch, Harely Stroh and Frank Mentzer; and an adventure writing seminar with Tim Kask and Dennis Sustare.

This year we will again offer tables and shelves for vendors. We have a few tables left at $40 a pop ($50 after May 1st); these are good if you have a volume of material to sell and don't mind sitting there shooting the breeze with buyers during the day. We have several vendor shelves available at $15 each ($20 after May 1st); these are a GREAT deal if you don't want to have to worry about taking time out of your day to sell stuff, or you aren't going to attend the con. We do the work for you, displaying and selling your items, and only ask for 10% of your total sales; the shelves sit by the register and can hold at least 4 modules flat, more if they are overlapping. One vendor last year who bought a few shelves made $900 at NTRPG Con!

Please post at this thread with any questions! Can't wait to see you guys again this year!

NTRPG Con Home Page

List of Events

Buying Raffle tickets ($5 each)

Staybridge Suites Info

Mike B.