Reflecting on Dreamation 2016

I dipped my toe back in the convention waters with Metatopia last year and knew I’d be going back to Dreamation this year. It was nice to be back.  I attend cons like a grown-up now. When I yawn after midnight, I go to sleep. I wake up and hit up the morning gaming slots. I eat every meal and come home tired but not exhausted. It only took me until 40 years old to begin to get this right.

Walking into the con and being surprised at faces I didn’t expect to see, putting names to G+ avatar pics and turning online acquaintances into friends is a wonderful process. Rooming with Rob and talking about our day’s gaming while we dealt with the hotel’s dry air but moisturizing our legs is one of those wonderful and awkward game con moments that I missed.

Game-wise, I have to figure out how I want to interact with game conventions because it isn’t clear to me. I love games and love gaming but I’m not sure 4 hour one-shots are where its at for me.

My favorite games are fun in cons but not as fun as they are after a dozen or more sessions. I don’t have any interest in Burning Wheel blood opera, with lots of Beliefs arming and pointing the characters at one another like that scene from Resevoir Dogs.


This weekend I ran Sorcerer in a science fiction setting that I wrote down years ago and never did much with. My problem with Sorcerer is that the first session is always good but the second session is always an order of magnitude better. I GMed 3 solid sessions of Sorcerer this weekend but left the table wishing I could play a second session.


Thanks to Rachel tipping me off via IM last week, I played in the Thousand Arrows Long Con/Kristacon, a 3 session game about Samurai invading Korea in the midst of an attack of the Dragon King’s sea monsters. The game had its moments and its problems. I’ll dissect and critique later. It feels wrong to start in with a scalpel while the organizers and GM’s are still recovering from sleep deprivation after their hard work. The game was on the morning slot of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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For now, Brennan should be happy that he has a Powered by the Apocalypse Hack that is coming along well. James should be happy that his passionate work exposed me to a period of history I knew nothing about and has instilled in me a powerful passion for learning more about it. Brand should be happy that I could listen to him talk about any historical period for as long as he cares to talk about it. Krista should be happy that I am not sure I have ever disliked a PC/NPC as much as I disliked her General Gwon.

I am wondering if some kind of 3 session long-connish format is where my sweet spot might be. I’d enjoy running one table of 3 or 4 for 3 sessions over a weekend. However, it is a gamble for all of the players involved.

It would be neat to play a full season of Primetime Adventures

or a long-con of Shock: (maybe the building of a generation trip, the journey and then the arrival)

or even Burning Wheel (in which there is an uprising against the human dukes, dwarven princes and elven etharchs by the crafts-folk and peasants)

or Torchbearer (in which there are 9 dungeons are taken down by 3 tables of adventurers over 3 sessions, divvying up the adventurers based on the intel by the delving guild’s leadership).

It was that kind of con – a come home and write about game ideas kind of con. It was a smile thinking of friends kind of con. It was a write notes about game moments to write about later kind of con. It was a make new friends kind of con.

Which is to say it was the best kind of con.

Thinking about Dreamation ’09

I am figuring out my blurbs, figuring out what to play.

This is where I will break my 1st Quest block and run two settings that I don’t yet have fleshed out.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1st Quest: Honored Guests of the Sleeping Emperor

You are an Honored Guest of the Sleeping Emperor, kept hostage to make sure that your family remains true to the throne. Young, talented and on your own for the first time in your life with the amazing capital city of the Empire all around you. At night the noble kids put on masks fashioned like oni, traversing the rooftops, having adventures in Edo’s shadows. During the day, you take lessons with your tutors and text your friends.

The emperor’s nightmares are threatening to rip the empire apart. What is a young Samurai to do…

Inspirations: One part Legends of the Five Rings, one part Avatar the Last Airbender and one part High School Drama.

1st Quest: Warlock Corner

Your best friend was shot last week and no one on the street is sure if it was a cop, a warlock or something summoned from hell. Next week is the school’s first formal dance and you don’t yet have a date. There is a bad-ass troll under the bridge leading to your borough, zombies lurk in abandoned buildings and the streets are rife with magic.

It is just another winter on Warlock Corner.

Inspirations: One part Harry Potter, one part The Wire season four, one part Brick and a touch of Ars Magica

Post Post Dreamation Post

One of the really great things about Dreamation this year for me was how many of my dear friends attend. Even taking away people who have become dear friends through gaming, I often looked up and saw Jay or Rob or Bret or Bob or Jeff or Julie sitting with people I think are cool, who I have met through gaming and laughing or sharing gaming stories or swapping non-gaming stories.

Jay and Rob have known me since junior high.

Jeff and Julie are recently joining the Decade Club, a decade of Ithaca Gaming and geekery and

And that is the shit. The fact that I’ve gotten to go on this wonderful journey and meet these wonderful people is beyond fantastic. The fact that I get to see friends while undertaking the journey makes it all even better.

Dreamation Links

I will continue to edit this post as LJ and AP posts roll on in. If there are any I miss, please feel free to either e-mail me or post them in the comments.

Past Dreamation link pages:

2007, 2006, 2005,

And so it begins:

The above youtube video has a thread on Story Games by Jason Morningstar.

Threads, Blogs and LJ Posts:

Vinny says, “Thank you,” on the Forge.

Bret talks Grey Ranks, Food Holes, Beowulf, Misspent Youth, 1001 Nights, Contract Work and Under My Skin AP on his LJ and X-posts on the roleplayers LJ community. and X-posted on because Bret likes to make my life difficult.

Lisa talking about some Polaris AP with Matt Weber

Jeff Himmelman talks about how Kingdom of Nothing playtesting went over at Master Mines.

Jeff posts general thoughts on the con about Giants, Kingdom of Nothing and a rough game of Baron Munchausen.

Jason Morningstar posts up another youtube video, this time on Grey Ranks AP.

I post about our Shock: games.

Matt talks about Dreamation experiences over at and lots of NerdNYCers chime in about their own experiences at the con.

David Berg talks about playing PTA (and Nar games) for the first time.

Chad talks about his Thursday on his way and at Dreamation.

Chad goes over his Friday games with some hot…I mean cold Ganakagok action.

Chad discusses his Sabaday, including the frightening hotel bar nestled in a northern Jersey industrial park.

Chad delves into Sumday, bloody Sumday

Michael Miller gives an overview of his con experiences and tills fertile soil for what will become at least two AP threads to come.

Nathan gives a con overview about meeting up with his tribe.

ENnie Award Winning Podcaster, Paul Tevis, discusses the value of Dreamation playtesting on Master Mines.

Robert Bohl discusses revelations about his game, Misspent Youth, uncovered at Dreamation on Master Mines. and X-posted on his livejournal.

Chris asks people what they played at Dreamation on Story Games because Chris couldn’t make it; next year, Chris!.

Jason Morningstar talks about the Jeepform LARP, The Upgrade and here’s the link to their post-game response on youtube.

Brennan Taylor talks general con overview and How We Came To Live Here playtesting.

Michael “Criminal fucking Element” Sullivan chimes on in his con overview, having played Dirty Secrets, Omega Point, Kingdom of Nothing, Don’t Rest Your Head, Shock:, Misspent Youth and Criminal fucking Element.

Michael Sullivan chimes in about the people he met.

A short and puzzling lj post in which we learn that Ryan Macklin can breath better in New Jersey?!

A short but sweet lj post in which we learn that Paul Tevis had a long haul home.

Mel White ran Agon and posted about it on the Forge; Clinton chimed in with some solid critique of the game.

Mel White talks about the positives and negatives of his BW scenario, The Holy Grail, over at the BW boards.

Russell discusses some post-Dreamation thoughts on his game, Contract Work.

Julie talks about her spontaneous decision to attend Dreamation. Yeah, dude, while we slept, she was running stairs. Hard-Core.

Bret talks about non-gamy moments that were great at the con.

nemomeme gives detailed overviews of their games of Giants, Kingdom of Nothing, Criminal Element, Project Bearclaw and Burning Wheel.

The Durham 3 post up some pics.

Rob Donoghue breaks it down, having played Questers of the Middle Realm, Burning Wheel, Young Adult RPG, Swansong, Giants, Witch Hunter, and Project Bearclaw.

Rob Donoghue asks for feedback on the indie roundable at Story Games

Jennifer Rodgers gives her Dreamation report, complete with pictures.

Rob talks about two ideas he ran across at Dreamation that he’d like to see more in gaming.

Ryan Macklin makes an lj post about Dreamation and he played Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies, Kingdom of Nothing, and Misspent Youth with more to come. and here’s the second part in which he plays Beowulf, DRYH, A Penny for My Thoughts, Jeepform – Night of Nights, and Escape or Die!.

Michael Miller starts a thread on the Forge about his con scenario, The Monster Squad.

Julia discusses the saddest Steal Away Jordan game ever. Having seen Joe toss his puppy dog eyes around at our Shock: game, I can only imagine why the game was sad.

Joshua discusses his In a Wicked Age hack, Beowulf’s playtest at Dreamation.

Jason Morningstar talks about his over-booked Grey Ranks game and how he split the gamers into two groups and doubled his rock and doubled his roll.

Steve Harvey discusses playing Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies with Chad over at Thanks, Chad, for the hot scoop.

Clinton R. Nixon goes into his last minute decision to come to Dreamation and he played Questers of the Middle Realms, Swansong, and The Cheap and Cheesy Fantasy Game, 1001 Nights, and the Jeepform joint – The Upgrade. I’m really glad he came to the con. I got to sit with him for a bit and talk about fiddling with Rome burns and got to play across from him as we took the roles of two men of letters, telling stories for our very lives.

It has been too long since I heard Clinton say, “Oh, it is on now!” I don’t think I heard him say that but it was nice to see an old friend.

Michael Miller discusses a problematic game of Baron Munchausen.

Poor dude had his car broken into and his laptop was stolen. If anyone has any info, poass it along with a $2000 reward. Suck.

Kat Miller gives a Dreamation overview.

Kat Miller posts about Serial on the Forge.

Clinton talks about Questers of the Middle Realm and techniques for convention play.

Don posts a pic in honor of Bill’s fantasy FATE hack, reclaiming the word – FATAL.

Jennifer Rodgers posts some card art she was selling while at Dreamation.

Adam Dray talks Dreamation and then some over on his livejournal.

Joshuan Newman blogs his Dreamation overview and in a post inspired by the con, he also makes a post about why you might not wany to publish.


+ Fred draws first blood among the podcasters with an AP/Playtest recording of Escape or Die! on the That’s How We Roll podcast, a show about the Evil Hat Crew’s play.

+ The White Brothers, Mel and Bill, discuss GM Railroading and Scene Framing as related to their Dreamation play on Mel’s podcast, Virtual Play.

+ Mel White posts up some great Dreamation gaming: SoTC – Rex Rich and the Warlord of Mars, BW: Quest for the Grail, FATE – Mystery of the Murdered Monkey and FATE – Fatal Fantasy.

+ Sons of Kryos post up Dreamation interviews with Jeff Himmelman, Paul Tevis, Jeff Lower and Ryan Macklin concerning their Ashcan Front Journey since Gen Con and we talk with Brennan Taylor about I.P.R. and his own Fantasy Heartbreaker.

+ Mel White posts more Dreamation AP, Agon and Giants, up at the Virtual Play podcast.

+ The Voice of the Revolution was recorded at Dreamation and has an interview with Chad Underkofler. And I hope they don’t ask him the same questions that we did.

Registered for Dreamation

After taking a nap early in the evening, walking Zorro through his favorite texture of fresh powdery snow and then linking up the new Sons of Kryos episode, I’m still pretty much awake.

So I pre-registered for my Dreamation games.

Now I cannot wait.

I will get in on Friday night. So I registered for the midnight game:

Friday, 12:00AM – 4:00AM
Escape or Die! Run by Fred Hicks: Want to start a game at midnight but not play until four? Then come join us as we try to Escape or Die! – a fantastically lethal real-time roleplaying game where you can bail as soon as your eyelids start to droop. Work with everyone at the table to create a predicament in the spirit of Aliens, Night of the Living Dead, or The Mummy and try to survive!

Saturday, 9:00AM – 1:00PM
With Great Power… Monster Squad: The police swarmed in and tackled the 9 foot tall, scale-covered thing. Until it was too late, they never realized that he was the hero! Come join The Monster Squad!

Saturday 2-6
1001 Nights. Run by Meguey Baker: In the palace of the Sultan are many rooms. In these rooms are many people, and the people have many stories. Most intriguingly for our tale, these people cannot leave these rooms. The ornately carved walls surrounding the fragrant pools and exotic gardens are high; the lace-like doors are webs of iron; the delicately cool tones and publicly refined manners raise the significance of an arched brow by feverish degrees. This ‘place apart’ holds the Sultan’s peace, for to disturb it would be foolish indeed. But without the ability to laugh or cry or shout, the prisoners of the court have found other means to pursue their heart’s desires. In their stories are found their daily pains, frustrations, hopes, and desires, and through the stories these things might be realized or relieved.

Saturday, 8-Midnight
Shock: run by Joshua A.C. Newman: Create a world and its futuristic challenges in the tradition of Ursula LeGuin, Philip K. Dick, and Bruce Sterling. Span millennia or moments, explore alien worlds and the human soul, and find out what happens to the characters and their world as the shockwave of the future crashes into them. A highly-structured collaborative speculative fiction creation system.

I left the Saturday midnight to four slot open for interviewing, kibbitzing and all-out collapsing.

Sunday I’ll also leave open for interviewing before the Indie Round Table at 1PM but we’ll see. There were some Sunday morning games that looked tasty.

There is too damned much. Criminal Element with Michael, Project Bearclaw with Jason and Kevin, Burning Wheel with Luke, Jeepform, improv with Remi, seeing what Jeff’s done with Kingdom of Nothing since Gen Con’s ashcan, Ryan’s running Penny, Bill White’s Rex Rich and the Warlord of Mars…I didn’t know where to begin. If we doubled the amount of time I had, I might get in half of the games I’d like to play.

I cannot wait.

SoK #34 went up and Dreamation Material

Just before we pulled out of the driveway to make our way to the con, Jeff posted up episode #34.

Here it is.

Jim talks with us about making kick-but characters, Storn talks with us about using questions, and Good Sentences: “Hey, I’ve got a good idea for a campaign.”

We got great material at Dreamation that isn’t anywhere near being up yet but I’m too extied not to talk about it. The Dreamation material is including:

A nice interview with both Brennan and Vincent, not only about what they were playing but about going to a con with their kids. Next time I’d like to get Seb, Crispin and Lilith in front of the mic and see what they think of the games they played.

Two LARPers at a LARP party talked to us about running a game and the sense of community they feel.

John talked with us about how NerdNYC came into being.

Jason talked with us about Grey Ranks and corrected my ignorant ass about the difference between the Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and he did it in such a way that was really great and informed me without making me feel like a schmuck.

And we talked to Thor about gaming in general, which was really satisfying; I’d like to have the Thornado on the show a whole lot more if possible.

We got the Indie Design Roundtable, which was nifty, as always.

And, to wrap it all up we sat down with the Gamer: the Podcasting Quartet and did a kind of post-con wrap-up. I hope we partner with them a whole lot more. They are a cool posse.