Dungeons and Dragons Product Creation RPG

Troupers – New Fantasy Short Story Amazon

My latest short story “Troupers: The Smiling Wizard” is available on Amazon as a digital download.

Troupers: The Smiling Wizard

It’s a fantasy story (you know, with elves and stuff) and you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read it — there are Kindle apps/programs for just about everything, so there’s nothing to stop you! 😉

Dungeons and Dragons Gaming Miscellaneous RPG

Embracing My Inner Nerd (Come Along With Me)

Last week I finished 13 weeks of D&D Encounters, a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game that’s designed to get new players into the game (or old players back into it). Instead of marathon sessions that are hours long, the encounters take a couple hours and are designed for people who maybe can’t make it every time.

Probably because of my interest in sci-fi and fantasy literature, along with my penchant for performing, I’ve been interested in D&D since it came out when I was a teenage, but we never lived anywhere with a large enough population of geeks for me to get into it.

So when I found out about “D&D Encounters” I decided to make the once a week commute into Anchorage to participate — and I’ve had a ball.

I’ve had so much fun that when the new Encounters session starts next Thursday — even though the last one ended last Thursday — I’ll be driving in again, carrying my little pouch of funny-shaped dice and my papers that detail my new character, a Drow thief named Zahn. He carries a hand crossbow and his strategy involves hanging back in the shadows and picking off the monsters one by one.

D&D Is For _________ (Fill In The Blank)

I know D&D is a geeky thing, but I don’t think most people give it a fair shake. A lot of the people I know (including relatives) stick D&D into the same category as Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and seances — things good Christian people shouldn’t play with.

But it actually belongs in the same category as playing cowboys and indians, chess, and storytelling. It’s a strategy game for creative people. I’ll admit it can be a little complicated and intimidating to get started, but that’s what’s so great about the Encounters sessions. You can show up with nothing and they’ll let you pick from a selection of “pre-rolled” characters so you can just jump in and start playing.

About halfway through the last campaign (group of encounters, or fights) the entire party of adventurers I was in got killed (called a TPK, or Total Party Kill) and I had the option to “bring back” the guy I’d been playing or pick someone else. I took that opportunity to build my own character and switched from being a defender to being a striker — someone whose job is to jump in and do massive amounts of damage on the Big Evil Dude.


In the upcoming campaign I’m going to remain a striker, but switching from a guy who jumps in and fights up close with swords, to a guy who hangs back and takes out the enemy with a crossbow. I’ve already created the character and had the chance to play him in a couple fights last Saturday. I’m already seeing some potential problem areas with a character like that, but part of the fun is figuring out your weaknesses and compensating — at the same time you’re figuring out the weaknesses of the bad guys and capitalizing on them.

An Example Of Why I Like D&D

If you’re not going to jump up and go to your Friendly Neighborhood Game Store and sign up for Encounters (it’s free!), then do me a favor and watch at least the first video down below. It’ll take you 10 minutes and will give you a taste of what we do every week.

Okay, we might not be as “entertaining” as these guys, but it’s the same feeling — on a more local level.

Warning: The videos are not rated G, or even PG, because of language. In our local sessions the DMs (guys who run the games) smack people who swear, but in the videos they don’t have that restriction, so if you can’t handle that kind of stuff, skip the videos. But really, you should watch at least the first one! 🙂

PAX Celebrity Game

* Part 1:
* Part 2:
* Part 3:
* Part 4:
* Part 5:
* Part 6:
* Part 7:
* Part 8:
* Part 9:
* Part 10:

PS – Yes, it’s that Wil Wheaton in the videos, from Stand By Me, Star Trek, The Next Generation, etc.

PPS – They don’t really get into the swing of the game until the second video and don’t start battle until even later than that, but don’t skip ahead. Just watch ’em. 🙂

Dungeons and Dragons Gaming RPG

DnD Isn’t Just for Geeks (Okay, Yes it Is)

Here’s a secret not everyone knows (although people who know me won’t be surprised) — every Thursday evening I make a 90-mile round trip into Anchorage to play Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of people at Bosco’s Comics. 🙂 This week was the seventh week in a row and there are six more weeks before the “campaign” is over.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to play DnD and my sister Mariella remembers me “forcing” her and our brother Ray to play when we were all teens, although I don’t remember that (probably since I wasn’t the forcee).

I almost got to play with John Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall, and the other original members of Id Software about 20 years ago — I recall eating pizza and drinking Mt Dew all night long but I don’t remember actually playing. I think I was probably a spectator and not a participant.

I’ve been interested most of my life but haven’t ever been in a place where it was handy/easy to find a way to play. And while I’d read books about playing DnD and other RPGs, I was kind of intimidated about the idea of joining a group that had already played together, etc.

But a couple months ago I stumbled upon mention of a thing called Dungeons and Dragons Encounters — it was a 2-hour per week game lasting 13 weeks where everyone started from ground zero. And yes, they welcomed complete newbies to the game — no experience necessary!


They let me pick from a stack of pre-generated characters and not knowing what I was doing I just picked the one on top — Jeskan, a Dragonborn Cavalier. As a defensive character my job was to lead the way into a fight and get the monsters to pound on me while the other members of the party picked them off.

Okay, I was also trying to kill the monsters, but a defender often takes a lot more damage than the other characters.

Last night my character was killed in battle.

(Pause for a moment of silence…)

In fact, the entire party was killed! Part of it was due to the roll of the dice, part of it was a battle strategy that was flawed.

To keep the game going everybody in the party has two choices — either come back next week with the same character, but with some penalties added, or come back with a brand new character.

While I liked Jeskan, I had grown a little bored with playing a defender. It seemed like everyone else had many different cool attacks while I could only slash someone with my sword or breath dragon breath on them. And the dragon breath could only happen once per fight (I guess I had to recharge between blasts).

So I’m taking this opportunity to switch characters and roles. Instead of a defender I’m going to be playing a striker, which mostly deals in offensive strikes to single targets at a time. A striker will use magic or trickery to move around the combat field and strike at those who need stricken.

The character I’ll be playing is named Zibit and is a good male Drow (dark elf). His usual weapons are a scimitar in his main hand and a short sword in his off hand. He also has a hand axe he can use as a throwing weapon if needed.

While it’s not cheap to make the round trip to Anchorage every week, I don’t have a lot of other hobbies and I don’t buy booze or heroin, so I kind of think it’s okay. It’s a fun escape for a couple hours a week and it also gives me lots of ideas I can use in stories and games, so I think it will show a business benefit, too.

Hmmm…maybe I can say it’s “research” and take the trip off my taxes as an expense? Gotta check with the accountant on that one…