GenCon Indy 2022

Whooo! First time at GenCon Indy, my friends! August is a big event month for me, and this was just the start.

My favorite event we did was a bank heist escape room. We “got caught in the act” by not making it out in time. I always end up a handful of minutes away from escaping, but we get bogged down in the final room thinking we found all the hidden clues and only need to open one more box when there are about seven things left to locate. Despite that, I love escape rooms. I think they rank right behind ziplining for me. 

Ebony Bay is one of two True Dungeon events we participated in. This is the only one we survived. Despite a valiant effort in the other, we failed to defeat the boss.

My husband enjoyed the True Dungeon the most. These are half role-playing games, half escape room stories you do with a group. There were seven rooms in each of the two dungeons we were able to sign up for with shuffleboard combats and creative puzzles to solve. The item pucks do matter, so I appreciated that the experienced TDers did not push for hardcore mode with all of us noobs tagging along with only a handful of pucks on our cards. 

We also tried out the Artemis Bridge Simulator. This is a game where each person plays a role on a starship bridge on a separate computer screen. We only did the training version, so it was mostly us flying around, engaging poorly in battle, and running into docking stations. There were also two D&D games in which we participated. One was more role-play-focused, where you tried to play to your backstory. The other was a first edition game in which we did not do too poorly, avoiding horrific deaths at the hands of monsters and dangerous items. 

The dangerous Tower of Gaxx! My fighter/magic-user came away with a magic shield, while my husband’s paladin found an Ioun Stone! Not bad for first time AD&D players.

Early this year, my husband and I decided to volunteer as GMs for a company running some D&D games at GenCon. I think the games went pretty well. We each ran four separate 4.5-hour one-shots, deciding to do one a day and pack in other fun around them.

If I had to pick a couple of favorite parts from the games I ran, they would be: 

  1. My groups usually barred the doors the second time the ceremony was interrupted, thereby trapping themselves and the parishioners inside with the next monster to emerge. 
  2. One of my groups made an elaborate plan to distract the monsters while one party member snuck forward to rescue the high priest. The approach was very clever and unique, as most of my groups ignored him lying on the ground. 

Would I volunteer again? Maybe, but probably not for four games. We had little time to attend the convention center and had to scramble to get from one event to another. We volunteered to ensure we would not have large chunks of time without anything to do, but that would not have been a problem. There would also need to be some changes to the coordination up front for me to feel comfortable volunteering again. I had too much to carry around with me all day because of how much I needed to bring. I enjoyed running the games, and I hope my players had fun. 

For anyone concerned: Gen Con had fairly strict COVID restrictions (I fully support). My husband and I also double-masked the entire time and brought our hand sanitizer with us for liberal use throughout. We will monitor for symptoms and test before we head to the Renaissance Faire this coming weekend for more crowds of awesome nerds.

Stay safe, stay cool, and stay awesome everyone!

T-Minus 10 Days!

Hidden Memory Status Update!

As of today, December 4th, there are less than ten days until the official release of my first book. Also on today’s agenda is sending out a reminder to my ARC readers that they should be downloading their copy so they read it in time to get a review posted in that first week of release (hopefully).

For the last week, I have been looking into creating some social media images to post in advance and on the day of release. Right now, I am playing around with Canva’s free version. You can see some of the preliminary results as the cover image for this post as well as here:

Posted on Instagram with hashtags. One like from a random person? I call that a win!

I’m enjoying the program so far. It is easy to use and does a great job of providing a color palette that coordinates with any images I upload rather than making minor adjustments constantly until it is what I think looks good enough.

Paperback Version?

Yes, I am now also looking at the paperback version process, and it is just as complicated as I imagined it would be. As I don’t think I’m going wide distribution at this stage, I’m probably going to use the KDP cover creator to use my ebook cover and use a solid color for the spine and back. I might get fancy with a future release, but I have already spent a fair bit of money on this whole endeavor.

The other piece I waffled on was trim size. I usually bought mass-market paperbacks, so all of the books on my shelf were pretty small. If I went with that size, it would mean more pages and, therefore, more expensive to print while simultaneously appearing cheaper. Online guidelines are somewhat helpful, but this morning we went to the local bookstore (B&N) to see what fantasy authors are publishing trade paperbacks at these days for both trim size and price.

Based on my quick assessment, this is either 5”x8” or 5.5”x8.5” with a price range between $11.99-$21.99. The higher end of that range was for well-known or currently trending authors and series. I have decided to try 5.5”x8.5” and $12.99. We will see what the author test copy looks like once I put it all in the system and order one. I think I also need to purchase a barcode for this ISBN to put it on the cover, but that will be part of my final paperback research.

In Other News

We are going to have five weeks between the D&D game this week and our January session, so I’m in the process of setting up a little Jeopardy trivia game to play via Discord between sessions to keep info top of mind for everyone. I have set up the questions and the reward system. It is just for fun, but I’m hoping everyone finds it engaging and informative!

Our little tree is up. I wonder how long before one of the cats swipes the first ornament off.

We are hosting a little potluck for my immediate family in a couple of weeks. It is something we do every year to include my grandparents. We skipped it last year for obvious reasons. Everyone is protected now and being very careful, so we are moving forward with it for 2021. It will be good to have our little group together again.

Next week for the blog, I’m debating talking more about the imminent publication or sharing the next installment of my dream story. Time shall tell! I hope you are all having a great holiday season so far!

Deafened and Blinded

This week continued the trend of super busy weeks, with a Sounders game on Monday evening and D&D on Thursday. While still a lot to handle, both were fun escapes from all the learning and deadlines at work. I was cracking up at the D&D session this week, and I was not alone. 

Mad Mage – Continuing Level 2

Nothics informed the group of a locked door to the west in the prior session, so they planned to address that door first. Well, it turned out that the door in that room was not locked, and it opened just fine into a hallway heading off in multiple directions. They already promised the revenant, tagging along with them to get some healthy revenge, that they would go after his former partner after addressing the door. So, they turned around and headed east instead. 

It ended up being a riskier situation than they previously thought, as they ran smack into a fight with a fiend who could cast cloudkill. That is enough damage from one spell to drop a couple of the party members in one turn. If they had known this upfront, they might have retreated and adjusted their strategy. Unfortunately for them, they found out about the cloudkill after two of their party had already charged forward, and the revenant ran in shouting accusations of betrayal at the human in the room. Backing out? Not an option anymore for some of them. 

Two people went down more than once. They threw a ton of party resources into that victory, but everyone survived. The combat took a long time (real-time), but it did not feel like it dragged because there was so much going on that the dynamics and sense of dread it conveyed kept you invested. I’m happy with my revised combat note page, as it helped me keep track of all the special monster abilities. It all adds to the atmosphere. 

We had time for one more room after the first big battle. They decided to take the remaining hallway to the east in that same section and heard muttering as they moved down a hallway. 

“Does this sound like the same kind of muttering we heard from the first gibbering mouther?” they ask. 

“Why, yes. Yes, it does.”

“I prepared silence,” the cleric noted during their planning. 

So they plan to go in, the cleric casting silence on the mouther when he sees the monster so that its muttering won’t drive them insane. The PCs will be deafened in the radius too, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Plan in place, they charge boldly forward…it turns out there are three mouthers this time. 

Okay. No problem. I allow the cleric to catch two of them in the zone of silence. They can deal with those first. This plan will still work. 

As they are charging in, the mouthers shoot off these phlegm-bombs of flash-spittle that can blind you. Now they are in the room, right next to a blob-like mass of mutely muttering mouths, and they can’t see or hear them. Even better, the ground sucks them in, so they can’t move away. 

I’m rolling really well with this flash-spittle reload and can shoot it off every round, while they are rolling poorly and are continuously blind at this point. The mouthers are not doing much else, honestly, but the fumbling around is pretty hilarious. 

To be fair, rules-as-written for blinded and deafened means that they can attack and move around with the knowledge of their player. A character simply has disadvantage to represent the impact. I think this is dumb and makes no sense with stacked status effects like this, but some of my players get rules-grumpy. It is my game, and I can overrule them, but I did not think it was worth it this time. Instead, I told them to play it how it made sense to them. 

(Two of my players did end up playing the situation more realistically how I would have. Guess who is getting inspiration in the next session!?!)

Once they dealt with the two in the zone of silence, there was one left, and now the muttering madness came into play again. Most people only lost their turn when hit by the insanity, but one of my newer players got hit by it where she would end up attacking a random person. 

“Go ahead and make an attack,” I tell her.

“I’m going to use feinting strike,” she replies.

Everyone else at the table groans while I laugh maniacally. 

“What?”

Ashe is now chuckling as well. “Nothing. Do what you are going to do. This will be entertaining.”

“Does an 18 hit?”

“I don’t know,” I say with another laugh and evil grin. “Ashe, does an 18 hit you?”

It did hit him, and she ended up doing more damage in one strike than all three mouthers had managed the entire combat. We were all in stitches by that point. 

It was a good night. 

Photo by Will Wright on Pexels.com

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found some humor here as well. Until next week!

Brain Clutter

Work is still crazy with learning things AND finalizing budgeting for 2022. That work adds to publication activities. Then I add other hobby activities like Sounders games and D&D. I have to admit that I’m no longer at the top of my game. As a result, I have not been doing much writing in the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to prevent this draft from being filled with holes. 

Right now, book 2 is out with my alpha readers, and I have been working on the concept revision of book 3. I mentioned this before, but my drafts usually go in this order: concept, revised, alpha, revised alpha, beta, final draft, edited final. The Hidden Series has four books planned, and I have a pretty good start on all of them, but each stage takes time.

  • Book 1 (Hidden Memory): Edited final set for publication
  • Book 2 (Hidden Sanctuary): Alpha version is with alpha readers
  • Book 3: The concept is complete, and I’m working on the revision
  • Book 4: The concept is complete

I have rough publication timeframes on the “My Books” page for each of the four books, and I plan to post Hidden Sanctuary for preorder in the next couple of weeks. That is so I can include the link at the end of the first book. I need to work on the book description for that to happen. 

Mad Mage Campaign

The brain clutter impacted my D&D game this week. The game still went fine, and everyone had fun, but I forgot so much of the monster abilities and negative stat items for the players that they walked through combat like it was a day at the beach. Now I have a “reminders” section on my notepad to help me keep all of these moving parts in mind. 

My players strolling through level 2 in Halaster’s dungeon.

I’m trying to warn my players that combat will be more difficult going forward. That they should be careful when deciding their course of action. Words are not internalized like experience, though. They will plow into another combat with half health and zero ability resources left, and someone’s character will die. Or my warnings will drive them to rest all the time, and I will have to attack them to break them of that overcorrection. Fun times for me either way!

Bookbub

Next week I will share some of what I have learned about Bookbub from some of the Facebook groups I’m part of and hopefully an acceptance letter for their “New Release” feature (super difficult, so cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath on my account). If I release book 2 for preorder, there will also be more changes to the website! 

Those are all the remotely coherent sentences and complete thoughts I can string together for today, so have a great weekend, everyone!

Electrifying!

Yesterday was a full day of food, friends, and D&D! We usually play on the first Thursday of each month, but if there are five Thursdays in a month, we try to sneak in a Saturday game. Warning: this post includes some RPG violence. If you prefer to avoid reading that part, skip straight to the “Budgeting” heading below.

My players have been leaving rooms unexplored at their backs more regularly in the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and this time it came back to bite them. Xanathar’s Guild members snuck into the main room and set up an ambush. Valorik went down, and Urg had to fall back under a hail of arrows and Javelins as they entered, leaving the party scrambling to react. While they managed to overcome the initial surprise and win that battle, it ended up costing them a healing potion, eight hours for a long rest to recover, and a hit to Urg’s pride. Once they woke up from their early nap, they decided they had enough of level one and headed down the long stairs to the Arcane Chambers. 

The first thing they found was a goblin bazaar. There, the goblin’s leader happened to be holding prisoner one of the betrayers of the revenant they have allowed to tag along with them. My players have decided to help the dead guy take revenge against his three former party members who beat him to death and threw him in a pit. I was a little surprised that “let the revenant beat the prisoner to death” was left on the table as an option, but they decided on a swift execution instead. 

Finally, in the last set of rooms explored yesterday, one room held a copper door that they strongly suspected was electrified. Ghouls popped out of some barrels to attack them, and Valorik had the great idea to shove his attacker into the door. I decided to give my ghouls a chance to dance out of the way of the door-yes, I’m a mean GM-and this blinded ghoul managed to dodge the door twice, Daredevil-style (Marvel’s Daredevil). The ghoul lost his acrobatic superpower when he regained his sight, as the third shove sent him tumbling against the door, electrocuting him with a strong zap. 

How I image the ghoul nimbly avoiding hitting the copper door.

I would have felt a little bad about not letting the shove work the first time. It was a clever and creative idea, and I love it when players use the room to their advantage. I felt less bad about it when I found out Valorik had been using a shield along with two-handedly wielding his weapon. To be clear: no, he does not have three hands. We corrected that, so maybe they will be clearing out monsters with a little less ease from now on. Overall, I thought it was a great session, with some fun tidbits for everyone. 

Budgeting

It is budgeting season at work now, so I have had little time to work on book stuff or other hobbies. I’m still very new to this company, which makes everything take longer than it normally would for me. I have to learn it all as I go, and then there is the rework when I find something I missed the first time. Fortunately, everyone is great about the learning curve and working with me to ensure our budgets are updated and submitted on time. 

I’m also still on schedule for the book release, despite not having much time recently to work on it. It helps that I set the release date out far enough. I’m not stressing myself out with everything yet to complete. I know some people work well under tight deadlines at the last minute, but that is NOT me. I need schedules with reasonable timelines for which I can adequately prepare. If you are looking at taking on a publication project of your own, make sure you know how you work best and plan accordingly. 

Another action-packed weekend in the books! Have a great week everyone!