Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)

DunDraCon XXXVII Seminar Report

February 22, 2013 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Product Reviews, Site Recommendations

DunDraCon LogoThis year I got to attend DunDraCon for the entire weekend. Thanks go to my beautiful bride for allowing me to recharge my gaming battery. Here is my report of the seminars that I attended this year. The ratings are of course in my humble opinion. 😉

Kids and Gaming – Tools, Tips, Tricks, and Resources

Saturday, 9:00 AM for 1 hour
Presenters: Louis Contreras, Michelle Contreras, Alicia Contreras, Snev Ar
Description: Insight into gaming for fun and educational values from the family that plays together. Special Guest member from the Kids Room.

My Take

My only gripe with this seminar was that in my opinion the seminar had only a little to do with the Title. The Title led me to believe that the topic would be on tools, tips, and tricks to use when playing games with kids. Instead the focus was almost entirely on an organization that the presenters were pushing that puts games into schools and after-school events called SAGE (Society for Altruistic Gaming Enthusiasts). Various panel members spoke about the benefits of gaming with kids and the power of the organization. All great stuff but it felt like the topic was “preaching to the choir”. Saying all that SAGE is an organization that I do plan on contacting. I think Evan’s school could try out some of their services with me as a representative. The only real tips I got were to restrict player-versus-player conflict, overcome instead of kill, and to link adventures to lesson plans. I admire the passion of the presenters and I completely agree with everything they said…it was just not enough of what was promised in my opinion.
5 out of 10 paws.

What’s New With Hero Games

Saturday, 10:00 AM for 1 hour
Presenters: Jason Walters
Description: Hero Games general manager Jason Walters talks about Hero Games plans for 2013.

My Take

Jason divided his talk into three sections. He first talked about products that Hero has a commitment to release. These included the following:

  • Champions Complete – He mentioned that Hero has sold roughly 1100 copies. Jason says a good goal would be to try and sell 3000 copies by the end of 2013.
  • Monster Hunter International – MHI is done and in layout. The cover is also finished. Jason mentioned that he should be posting the cover online when he returns home.
  • Hero Dice – They will be ordering 2000 sets of 6 dice. The dice will be blue with gold numbering. This new set of Hero Dice will be just like the black and green dice but blue and gold.
  • MHI Dice – Hero will be producing a set of dice with a MHI logo of some type on one face.

Jason’s list of things that Hero MAY do included the following:

  • Fantasy Hero Complete – Essentially Fantasy Hero with the complete Hero rules in one book. Jason mentioned that he has contact several distributers about the idea and they like it. Steve Long would be doing the writing.
  • Adventure Context – Jason has seen other companies do adventure contests and he thinks Hero could do something similar.
  • Champions Complete Free Mini-Campaign Settings – Hero GMs can submit short Champions Complete Mini-Campaign settings that Hero would post for others to download.
  • Looking At Licenses – The success of MHI has inspired Jason to look for other licenses that Hero could pursue. Although finding lots of “red tape” Jason is still contacting writers.

Finally Jason went over some people who have asked for Hero licenses in the last year. This list included the following:

  • David Pulver got a license. David has a lot of games under his belt including BESM, Game Of Thrones, and many others.
  • Charlie McElvy who does Watchguard got a license. This is a natural fit.
  • I think Jason said a guy named “Tanon” got a license to work on a Hero System Combat Manager. This would allow for tracking speed, stun, body, etc. He has met with Dan Simon who is cool with the project.
  • Dale Robbins has asked for a license. He is the author of the intriguing Meriquai Falls Champions setting that was presented in several issues of Digital Hero.
  • Legendsmiths have asked for a license for Narosia. The last Jason heard Narosia was written. They will be working on divine intervention cards soon.
  • Dean Shomshak got a license for “The Silvestri Family Reunion”. Sounds like something from his Arcane Adversaries book.
  • Blackwyrm got a license as well. Jason said to go to the their seminar for details. My faithful readers can just scroll down in this very article. 😉

Jason finished talking about kickstarters, Bits & Mortar, and a survey about iPad or Android applications. Overall the seminar came through with flying colors.
9 out of 10 paws.

City Building – Public Accommodations and Other Subjects

Saturday at 3:00 PM for 2 hours
Presenters: Anders Swenson, Mike Blum, Ken Hite
Description: City Building is the seminar where we explore the urban experience as it is translated for the many times and cultures found in our RPGs. This year, we will address a number of issues, including these possible topics listed below.

  • Criminals and Enforcement: how does the city find criminals and catch them? What escalation happens when criminals (player-characters, heh) become too tough for the lowest level of public order enforcers to handle? What are some criminal groups besides the usual “Thieves’ Guild”?
  • Public Accommodations: probably 75% of RPG encounters happen in places where the public can gather and have a conversation — taverns, bars, and so forth. What sort of places might these have been in various past cultures — how large, what do they offer besides shelter from the weather and a place to talk?
  • Transport: so you’re in a city — how do you get around? Are there buses, sedan chairs, magical carpets? In a future city with routine teleportation or antigravity, will there even be roads that we would recognize?
  • Declining and dead cities. The seeds of many adventures lie in the past, and many cities and even dungeons are built of layers of outdated past construction. Why do neighborhoods and cities decline? What are the effects and consequences?

My Take

Here are some highlights from my notes. These are in a very short form. Each of these was discussed and examples were presented to drive home the topic.

Criminals & Justice

  • Early justice was enforced by religion.
  • Constables appeared in 1850. Vigilance committees. People with power are out on committee.
  • Germans would pull people in front of a committee of nobles who would rule on their own affairs.
  • Similar to Japanese samurai era. May have a form of law but it is not necessarily just.
  • Law and punishment are not the same for each class.
  • Long standing property owners often drives laws in a city. Shopkeepers, etc. If one of these elite gets accused then often can push off their crime to scapegoats. Ken told the story of a tavern owner who had a lot of power.
  • How much leeway do the characters get?
  • How effective are officials at law enforcement?

Criminal Groups

  • Clan based. Larger based on money available. Often family is critical.
  • Gang based. Bigger and tougher than anyone else. Russia mafia is example of gang based.
  • Thieves under the law. Enforce will on lesser criminals. Gangs fracture back into clans. Hire someone to do the dirty work.

Public Accommodations

  • Travel and money in the country drive presence of inns. Idea of a trade fair.


  • Roads and conveyance. Need to maintain roads. Good use for criminals. Turn fallen building into a road. Heavily crowned so refuge will slide into gutters.

Declining & Dead Cities

  • Discussed reasons why cities decline.

Overall I was very happy with this seminar. Ken always knocks this topic out of the park and he did not disappoint. I was not bored during any of this 2 hours seminar. Excellent information for just about any genre.
8 out of 10 paws.

What’s crawling out of the depths of Chaosium

Sunday, 9:00 AM for 1 hour
Presenters: Charlie Krank, Ben Monroe
Description: Chaosium’s mastermind reveals sanity-bending glimpses into the nefarious plots of Those Whom Cthulhu Favors. And Ben Monroe reveals the secrets of BRP: Magic World!

My Take

Charlie and Ben started off by discussing Magic World. Magic World is a rebirth from Worlds Of Wonder which was released in 1982. The new version will be similar to the new Elric material. It is being released as a tribute to Lynn Willis. Magic World is currently at the printer. It will be 272 pages, perfect bound, color cover, with black and white interior. It will also have a fold out map. Follow up releases to Magic World will include a bestiary and an advanced sorcery book. It should be out next month.

Chaosium is also planning move more into fiction. They will broaden the focus to sci-fi. They are hoping to use this to recover from the card game collapse.

Horror On The Orient Express will be the Gen Con release. It has a lot of new material.

When asked about Call Of Cthulhu 7th Edition Charlie discussed their various playtest rounds. He talked about a luck mechanic and a potential change to how contested skill rolls would be performed. The contested skill change sounded wonderful to me. In fact I may try it out with my current Call Of Cthulhu campaign.

Charlie finished by talking about third party licenses. Stuff he has heard about include BRP Rome.

I really enjoy listening to Charlie talk about Chaosium. He is so old school and really wants to make great products that people will love. You could tell that Charlie lives and breathes Chaosium.
8 out of 10 paws.

What’s Cool

Sunday 10 AM for 1 hour
Presenters: Bruce Harlick, Ken Hite
Description: Long time Grognards Ken Hite and Bruce Harlick talk about all the cool games on the shelves right now!

My Take

The What’s Cool seminar is almost always my favorite seminar at DunDraCon. I entered the seminar this year with some trepidation as one of the stalwarts, Darren Watts, was not in attendance. The good news is that Bruce is really knowledgeable about all kinds of games and presents with a lot of passion that comes off in a genuine manner that is really great. After a brief intro they started rolling into various products explaining why they felt the product was “cool”. After going over the products they brought they looked in my direction as they know that I always come with my own list of what I think is “cool”. 😉 Here is a list of the products that were discussed.

The letter signifies who brought up the item: k = Ken, b = Bruce, j = John, s = Steve Perrin.
The * signifies that I purchased the product based on the review in the seminar.
The o signifies that I already own the product.

  • Nights Black Agents – k o – Bourne series if Tredstone were vampires. Ken Hite’s latest gem.
  • King Of Tokyo – b – Garfield design. Fast. 6 people. 8 up. *
  • Remnants – k – Mecha combat RPG. Simple.
  • Murder Of Crows – b – Spell out murder. $15 *
  • Cthulhu Fluxx – k – Baker design.
  • Netrunner – b – Rerelease with no CCG aspect. 2 player. Garfield design.
  • Cosmic Patrol – k – Pulp sci-fi. Low buy in…FREE!
  • Atomic Age Cthulhu – k – Stalin and Cthulhu. Salmons is the author.
  • Village – b – Euro style game. Resource management. 12+.
  • Terror Of Skies – k – Cthulhu supplement.
  • Space Cadets – b – Bridge crew. Great for kids. 8+.
  • Artemis – b o – Bridge crew. iPad and PC game.
  • Dungeon World – k o – Old school fantasy. Based on Baker’s Apocalypse World.
  • Bhaloidam – b – Storyteller RPG. Artsy fartsy.
  • Supercrew – k – Superhero RPG in comic form.
  • Operation Fallen Reich – k – Occult Nazi game from Sweden. Boy this one sounds neat…but REAL expensive and hard to get in the states.
  • Iron Kingdoms – k – Warmachine RPG. $60
  • Escape The Curse Of The Temple – b – Kids.
  • Tempest – b – Courtier, Mercante, Dominare, Love Letter (quick).
  • Project Hope – s – Drat…the kickstarter is over. 🙁
  • Durance – j – Jason Morningstar at Bully Pulpit – Prison planet trying to survive.
  • Interface Zero 2.0 – j – Update of the 1.0 material.
  • Better Angels – j – Greg Stolze
  • Deadlands Noir – j – Pulp noir Deadlands.
  • Streets Of Bedlam – j – Sin City using Savage Worlds
  • Mythender – j – Free god killer game from Ryan Macklin

I won’t beat around the bush…again my favorite seminar of DunDraCon XXXVII.
10 out of 10 paws.

What’s New with Pelgrane Press?

Sunday 11 AM for 1 hour
Presenters: Ken Hite
Description: Permanent Pelgrane contractor Ken Hite lays out the projected publications of Pelgrane Press for products like the Dying Earth, Gumshoe, and more.

My Take

Boy…Ken talked about a huge list of very cool stuff. Here are the notes that I recorded.

  • Esoterrorists 2.0 – Will include most of the Fact Book plus other new stuff. Probably hardcover. Boy Estoterrorists needed an upgrade…great news.
  • Trail Of Cthulhu – 2nd edition. Use keeper resources version of sanity rules. Rough Magicks added into the core. No ETA.
  • Eternal Lies – Hindmarch & Tidwell – HUGE Trail campaign book.
  • Mythos Expeditions – Nine locations for Trail. Gauntlet. White. Young.
  • Deathless China – Ken will be doing this one. China 1930. Pulp flavor. Early next year.
  • Ashen Stars Expansion – Gear, planets
  • Gaen Reach – RPG based on the Jack Vance books. Gumshoe with Skullduggery.
  • Hillfolk – Drama System engine – Emotional change is the focus. Lots of GREAT plug-ins will be done by many wonderful RPG authors.
  • Drama System and Gumshoe will be open license.
  • Double Tap – Nights Black Agents Expansion book. Big list of guns. Later this spring.
  • Dracula Dossier – Armitage Files for NBA. Based on classic Dracula story. Gareth and Ken.
  • Dying Earth – Ken does not have any news. See Prismatic Spray.
  • 13th Age – I complained about the massive delays in 13th Age. Ken took the message. Gen Con is their goal.
  • 13TH Age Bestiary – 52 monsters. Ken is directing effort.

Overall a great review of Pelgrane stuff in the pipe by Ken. In my mind Pelgrane has put out some stellar products in the last couple of years and 2013 looks to be more of the same.
8 out of 10 paws.

What’s New With Blackwyrm Games

Sunday 2 PM for 1 hour
Presenters: Jason Walters, Dave Mattingly
Description: Blackwyrm Books and Games owners Dave Mattingly and Jason Walters talk about their publishing plans for 2013.

My Take

I went into the Blackwyrm seminar expecting to hear about a lot of fiction but very little gaming. I certainly called that one wrong! Here is a list of the items that I recorded. This does not include TONS of conventions that Blackwyrm will be attending around the country.

  • This week Blackwyrm offered 15 free ebooks for the Kindle.
  • Blackwyrm has a GREAT deal for authors. Authors do not make money until Blackwyrm covers their costs. When that happens they split 50% of the profit with the author.
  • Jason will be releasing Nakba, a novelized form of his story from Posthegemony, in April or May. It is the first of a trilogy.


  • Vinyl maps for various games. The first serious are spaceship maps by the same guy who did the Serenity RPG maps. Large $50. Small $30.
  • Imaginary Friends – 250 to 300 pgs. Imaginary friend appears in the real world. Currently in the editing process. Sean Fanon is doing the cleanup work on it.
  • Fires Of Heaven – Sweeney. Grand political space setting akin to Babylon 5.
  • The Sands Of Time – Phil Masters.
  • Attack Of The 50′ Bride
  • Laser Squid Nemesis – XDM – Underwater fish combat.
  • Folk Hero – Mythic America – Surbrook. Think Paul Bunyon.
  • Folk Hero – Larger Than Life – Modern folk heroes. Thin Elvis.
  • Enemies Unleashed – Ross Watson.
  • Kazei 5 Upgrade – Surbrook.
  • Fearsome Critters – Fantasy folklore monster book. Surbrook.
  • Ghost Ghouls Goblins – Fantasy movie monster book. Surbrook.
  • Martial Madness – Surbrook. Lots of MA characters.
  • Gold Rush Games – This one was funny, “Oh yeah, we are also going to be printing all of the Gold Rush Games material.” This one surprised even Jason! So awesome to get this material back in print. San Angelo will soon be available again! 🙂

A Hero feast!!! 😀
9 out of 10 paws.

Rogues – Underworld

Sunday 3 PM for 1 hour
Presenters: Bruce Harlick, Randy Angle
Description: Explore the dark side of role-playing with seedy locations, nefarious factions, intrigue and corruption. Many scenarios involve crossing the law, but few player characters are prepared for what they find when they go there. Third in the series of multi-media roguish seminars by Randy Angle. This one covers the streetwise skills, gangs, guilds and secret societies of rogues and how player characters and game masters can interact with them during adventures.

My Take

This seminar is actually the third in the series. The first session was at DunDraCon XXXVI. (See my post from last year for a review.) The second session was on Friday during my Champions Complete game so I missed that one. This session of Rogues focuses on the Underworld and groups of baddies. Randy always does a wonderful presentation with funny graphics and such. This year was no exception. The pair covered gangs, cults, and criminal organizations from a bunch of angles. They finished it up with some video clips of famous criminal organizations. Overall the material was fine but I would have liked to have 10 minutes or so at the end to ask questions and maybe some statistics or a deeper discussion of a historical gang.
7 out of 10 paws.

What’s New With Indie Gaming?

Sunday 4 PM for 1 hour
Presenters: Ken Hite, Carl Rigney, Jason Walters
Description: Ken Hite, Carl Rigney, and Jason Walters discuss what is new in the world of micro-published and self-published tabletop games.

My Take

This is another of the panels that is a favorite of mine. I love to hear the panel talk about products that they feel excel. Several of the entries appeared in the earlier What’s Cool seminar.

The letter signifies who brought up the item: k = Ken, c = Carl, j = Jason.
The * signifies that I purchased the product based on the review in the seminar.
The o signifies that I already own the product.

  • Daughters Of Verona – j – GMless. Actors in play.
  • Nights Black Agents – c o – Ken’s latest masterpiece.
  • Cosmic Patrol – k
  • Solar Circuit Racing – j – Car Wars in space.
  • Champions Complete – c o – Glad Carl brought up Champions Complete. 🙂
  • Dog Eat Dog – k – Liam Burke. Colonialism in Pacific Islands.
  • Steal Away Jordan – k
  • Bhaloidam – j – Storytelling game.
  • Durance – c o – Jason Morningstar’s latest gem.
  • Mythender – k o
  • LOTFP – j – Old school fantasy goodness. The God That Crawls and The Magnificent Joop Van Ooms -k – Two adventures that Ken says are really great. Joop Van Ooms sounds so neat it might be worth picking up for another setting.
  • Hillfolk – c – Focus is on the tension between characters.
  • Hellas 2nd Edition and a new Hellas Supplement – j – The Supplement has gear and a cookbook! Honestly! Real recipes for your own Greek space feast. Fantastic production values on these books.
  • Dungeon World – c o – Old school fantasy. Again…nice pull Carl.
  • Hoodo Blues – k – PC are immortals. Similar to Deadlands feel.
  • Spookybeans – j – Gothic girls. Based on a webcomic.
  • Tenra Bansho Zero – c o – JRPG of crazy action. [John bows to Carl’s greatness at this point.]
  • Alas Vegas – k – PC wake up naked in Vegas desert with no memories.
  • Colonial Gothic 2nd Edition – j
  • Monsterhearts – c – Essentially a Twilight RPG. Carl’s pick for best game last year. High praise!!!
  • Spooky – j – Book on horror in RPGs. This one looked interesting to me.
  • Chronicles Of Skin – c – Draw banner.
  • Sweet Agatha – k – Highly recommended.
  • Our Last Best Hope – c – Mark Diaz Truman At Magpie Games – Classic disaster movie.

I was blown away by this seminar. So many GREAT things on this list! I was particularly impressed by the entries from Carl. He hit some really wonderful stuff that I would have brought up if he had not already done so. The bookend to What’s Cool does not disappoint.
10 out of 10 paws.

Some real winners again this year! The seminar track at DunDraCon XXXVII never disappoints. 😀

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