Tuesday, July 19, 2016

G.R.O.S.S. - Gamer Resolves Ossification from Saturday and Sunday

Last week, I said I was planning on writing weekly. That appears to be more of a goal than a plan, at this time, but hopefully writing more will mean being able to write more frequently, in time.

This past week, I read the AD&D Monster Manual, taking notes in an old notebook that I had unearthed on one of my gaming shelves. I was pleased to find inside my old brainstorming notes and clarifications from my time writing on the Yggsburgh Rivergate district project. (That project being what was supposed be one of several districts fleshed out for The Free Town of Yggsburgh book from Troll Lord Games, leading up to the eventual release of “Castle Zagyg,” which is E. Gary Gygax’s Castle Greyhawk in everything but name.)
Anyway, on Friday night, I became drowsy after making it about halfway through my article, so I hit the hay in mid-stream. I told myself I would finish the article on Saturday before our planned family day-trip out to Lancaster County, PA. That did not happen, as I found myself stuck. So, I told myself I would plug away at it when we got home Saturday night. Instead, I found myself in the same spot as Saturday morning. Sunday became my new target date to finish, either before or after my brother-in-law and his wife came over for some tabletop gaming. More mental paralysis visited instead. Perhaps reeling off a Monster Manual glossary explaining statistics and characteristics was a mistake? So, I set it aside and decided to start afresh today.
Saturday was our first summer Saturday where we had nothing planned for several weeks in advance, so we decided at the end of June that July 16th would be “the day” we take a trip somewhere. The destination would depend upon where the weather was nice. Our first choice was Lancaster County and it worked out nicely. Not only have I enjoyed visiting many sites in the area over my 40+ years, there is an awesome gaming store nearby in New Holland, PA. More on that soon….
My wife and I picked The Amish House and Farm to visit, as it would be both educational and fun for all of us. Our daughter, 1, is too young to fully appreciate the tour, but we knew she would like seeing the animals and hearing the sounds they make. Our younger son, 3, is right in the wheelhouse of enjoying the farm portion as well as the playground. Our older son, 13, would get an educational presentation in the Amish House as well as the fun of sharing in his siblings’ fun outside. My wife, a history teacher by trade, and I have long enjoyed visiting places like this together. Our 11:45 AM tour of the house featured a lesson on the daily life of the Amish people, their history, their adapting to America, their own tradition keeping, and their future in the US, Canada, and portions of South America. The farm followed and we did what we could to beat the 95ยบ heat. We kept the youngsters well-watered, coated with sunblock, and in the shade as often as possible. They enjoyed seeing the horse-drawn carriage, the plastic cow you could “milk” for picture opportunities, and the turkeys, pea fowl, sheep, donkeys, alpacas, and (especially) goats with their youngster bounding around energetically.
We left the farm just before 2 and headed to the car for a late lunch trek. We settled on Kitchen Kettle Village and dined at the Cafe there. The air conditioning felt so delightful as the heat had been quite palpable once again as we exited the car. After eating lunch, the two youngest were ready for naps, so we decided not to shop further but instead head to the aforementioned gaming store in New Holland.
Six Feet Under Games has a vast selection for tabletop games, whether role-playing, card, board, dice, or anything else. The games were fairly priced in most cases -- but I was pleasantly surprised at the price of the older RPG works in stock. I mean, I found games and accessories for games that I had never seen except in Dragon advertisements growing up: GURPS, Runequest, Mayfair Role Aids for AD&D, Paranoia, and more that escape me 24+ hours later. I found a copy of Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG, TSR’s AD&D adventure module OP1: Tales of the Outer Planes, and Palladium’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (Revised Edition)” -- all for less than what I had seen when I had priced each of them online(!).
The grognard in me was happy with these findings and purchased them. The dad in me was pleased when my older son picked out a set of Runic dice he wanted from Q Workshop. My wife and I were able to purchase a cool kids’ game, “My First Orchard” from Haba Games, for our younger son to play -- and our daughter could play it, in time. With the knowledge that my recently-received copy of “Hero Kids RPG” sat at home awaiting my younger son to get a little older, I saw in the future “The Plan” to get our younger two into RPGs like our oldest son already is. This would hopefully be followed by “The Other and Best Plan” where my wife caves and decides to try role-playing games with the rest of us, at long last.
Anyway, the staff at the store were friendly and helpful, as they had been the two prior times I visited -- especially (this time) to those who were running Magic: The Gathering and other games at the tables. I would guess there were about 40 players inside, most playing Magic, but I was surprised to see a GURPS game going on. I say surprised only because I do not have much experience with it and have never seen it played. I wanted to watch it, but I am actually quite shy when first meeting folks and I had my daughter in my arms so as to prevent her from causing havoc or getting hurt because of her halfling-like size. She was excited to see the foam dice like what we have at home and was pleasantly noisy pointing them out. Each time we visit Lancaster County, I now make it a point to stop at Six Feet Under Games.
When we arrived home, my wife played some “My First Orchard” with our son before he went to bed while our older son and I went over the rules to the new but not-yet-played card game, The Red Dragon Inn. I bought the original set and set 5: The Character Trove because I loved the idea of one set being a storage case as well as an add-on. We also needed more than the 4 original characters to play because we would have 5 players on Sunday. After the youngest two were in bed, the three of us remaining played one hilarious and fun game of The Red Dragon Inn. This just might be my new favorite game (aside from role-playing games, of course). My older son won the game. It was so delightful to play and see him win.
On Sunday, my brother-in-law and his wife came over for some gaming. We started off with a 5-player game of Red Dragon Inn (I won -- through sheer luck!). Our guests concurred that the game is awesome. Next, we all played a game of Castle Panic (with two add-ons, apparently). This game, *we* had never played before, so our guests showed us how to play. It was a cooperative loss as the monsters defeated us despite our wise counsel and resolute cooperation against the evil tide. Heh. The gaming day wrapped up with my sister-in-law playing “My First Orchard” with our younger son upon his waking from his nap while the rest of us played “Alien Dice.” This was a neat game where the object is to collect cows, humans, and chickens for points, avoiding tanks from the defending human race. It was easy to learn and quite enjoyable. My brother-in-law won that one while my younger son and sister-in-law were successful in beating the raven to the fruit to win the game of "My First Orchard.”
So, my weekly blog changed course, but I think that the Lancaster County visit will help inspire my RPGs in future with different examples of interaction and culture that I can use in my own DM writing. The gaming material I purchased will prove a fun read (as RPG books always do for me). Finally, an FLGS (“Friendly Local Gaming Store”) that is just too far away for us to be considered regular customers or to dive into games there shows it is still the wonderful and friendly store it was during my two earlier stops in. Lastly, I scored some great gaming reads that I plan on consuming soon!

Happy gaming,

P.S. For those interested, here I am providing links to the places we visited, should you have opportunity to visit yourselves:
  1. Six Feet Under Games: http://www.sixfeetundergames.com/
  2. Kitchen Kettle Village: http://www.kitchenkettle.com/index.asp
  3. The Amish Farm and House: http://www.amishfarmandhouse.com

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