Lawyers, Buns & Honey

…a much sweeter song than the one Warren Zevon wrote


Ok, here are the final two posts for After The Change Came: Series 3.  On or about Tuesday, I’ll start the Audience Participation Story.


After The Change Came

Series 3

A Morning For Girding One’s Loins

I have just finished eating a tasty breakfast and now I’m writing this as I drink my tea. In less that half an hour, I’ll commence my busiest day of the con. How busy, you ask? Well…

I’ll be doing the following seminars, in order: “What’s New At ManDog Game Design”, “…And That’s When It All Went South On Us”, “Mining Pre-Change Adventures For QuestWorld”, and “QuestWorld Year In Review”.

Smack in the middle of those 4 seminars, I’ll be taking 3 hours to participate in the “Great Quest Design Challenge”, during which a total of 15 teams of two designers will attempt to pound out a quick and dirty Quest in an 2 hours. The third hour is when we’ll be judged by actual players running through our Quests. The theme for the contest is “Roswell, New Mexico”.

After the seminars and the challenge, I’m going to go on a run through a new Quest called “Goblins On Broadway!”. I have no clue what it will be like.

When that’s done, it will be time for the obligatory drinking and chatting. After that, I’ll sleep, oh yes I will.

I’ll point out that both Roscoe & Spike have similarly busy days planned. In many places, our schedules overlap.

And now, I must be off to face the day! More bloggage later.

A Day For Heading Home

So yesterday was fun and very tiring. Seminars all went well and the “…And That’s When It All Went South On Us” one was at times hilariously funny. Sometimes when Questers screw the pooch, it just goes all slapsticky.

The “What’s New At ManDog Game Design” seminar was very well attended and Roscoe & I got asked a whole bunch of questions while also getting some great feedback.

We came in fifth in the “Great Quest Design Challenge”, which was a whole lot harder than you’d think. Not sure if I want to try that again.

The “Goblins On Broadway!” Quest was funny, deadly and chock full of singing and dancing, sometimes by the goblins. Grace & Mary joined Spike & I for it, along with Avis, Gigi and our friends Dan & Dave. A fun time was had by all, even those of us who got shot multiple times.

The drinking and chatting were fun and possibly quite lucrative. More on that another day.

So we are all heading out in about half an hour. Roscoe and I will take the train home and Spike will Wizard Portal back to Baltimore. It will be good to get home.

And speaking of home, it’s where I’ll be staying put for at least the next 60 days. I’ve got a very full plate of Quest Designing, Daddying, Gentleman Farmering, Husbanding, Grandfathering and Convention Planning. Because of all that, I won’t be blogging for awhile.

I will get back to this, possibly before heading off to Origins in mid-July. Of course, that’s assuming that I don’t get hijacked by Wizards or the United Nations for some crazy crap like helping stop a war or trying to make the Little Folk stay in Ireland.

Anyway, thanks for reading and I’ll see y’all here again soon. Doc Cross over and out.

Pork Tower

…NOT a new comic strip from John Kovalic

After The Change Came

Series 3

A Day & Night For Getting One’s Game On

If this post stops abruptly, it’s because I’ve fallen asleep after a day on the go. Here’s the fast recap of what went down for me at QuestCon today.

Breakfast with friends at Magic Waffles.

Listened to Roscoe’s keynote speech. He did great.

Moderated the “Pulp Era Quest Design” seminar. It went very well.

Had an hour in the Dealer’s Room, meeting friends and buying stuff. Fave purchase: A full on replica of the Fire Warrior armor from the original QuestWorld series. It cost more than the first 4 cars I ever owned.

Went to the big “QuestWorld Upgrade 3 Update” event. Biggest news of the very little they had is that there will now be single world Quest clusters and the first ones will all be direct ports of the oldest D&D modules! I think many of us oldsters came near to fainting. Still no taking weapons from one world to another, which I think is a good move.

Took part in the “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence” session, with Roscoe and several other folks. Packed house for it and after we covered all of the possible rumors, we started making up really strange ones. The speculation about “Naked Questing” was pretty funny.

Ate lunch with Spike, then checked in with Grace and the sprouts. They were just back from a picnic with Gigi & the pups and my mom & dad.

Playtested one of the surreal Quests from Hot Moon Studios out of Nigeria. All I can say is that Salvatore Dali would have wept with joy. Well, that and if you play this Quest, you never need use hallucinogens.

More time in the Dealer’s Room yakking. Interestingly, found out that my friend Jodi has decided to emigrate to Mars as soon as they allow it. We’ll all miss seeing her at cons.

Dinner with Roscoe & Spike at a little Italian place a couple miles from the con. We swapped stories from our day and discussed what might lay ahead at the Speed Challenge tonight.

Speed Challenge Time! First off, I’ve gotta say that Atlas Games outdid themselves on this Quest. The setting was, of course, The Edge on Al Amarja and it was full blown old school OTE, folks. We were looking to find the Bowl of Truth, but so was every conspiracy on the island. Our characters were a Mover Cell, but we had ties to the Cut-Ups. Yes, at one point we did meet the Cut-Up version of me. That was strange, since he looked like the pre-Change me. Anyway, we completed the Quest in 7 hours, 34 minutes, 26 seconds. This got us (Team Bandana Split) fourth place. Third Place went to the former champs, Team Deadly Sweetness and Second Place went to the folks from Cork, Ireland, Team Salty Dogs. The winning team? Why, that was the team Lily and Marty were on, Team Hella Kitty. Their time of 6 hours 49 minutes, 12 seconds beat the Salty Dogs by 3 minutes, 4 seconds. Well done, kids!

After that, there came a couple hours of drinking and recapping and now will come the sleeping. Doc out.

Doc Tempest Versus The Army Of The Cursed

…from the May, 1958 issue


After The Change Came

Series 3


An Evening For Chow And Chatting


Back in the suite after a busy day of con stuff and then an evening of eating, drinking and yakking with friends. This may be a short post, since I’m way tired and about to collapse. Spike is already asleep in his room and Roscoe is snoring in his bed. It’s like, 3:00 in the morning.


So, we got to the con, got our badges and swag bags and were almost immediately drafted into playtesting a Quest, by our friends Merrylyn and Doug. Can’t say a lot about it except that it’s set in ancient Greece and involves an assload of political intrigue. It’ll come online in a couple of months from Hot Octopus Games.


After that we had a quick lunch at House of Pizza, then went back to the suite to look through the con book. Lots of cool stuff going on, including the big release of the latest “Over The Edge” Quest from Atlas Games and this year’s Speed Challenge in the “Dungeons & Dinosaurs & Droids” setting. The developers of the setting have rated it “Insanely Suicidal”, so it ought to be fun. Two time Speed Challenge champions, Team Deadly Sweetness, from Egypt, has a big target on them this year. With any luck, my team, Team Bandana Split, will win. Well, ok, with a truckload of luck, we’ll win.


And now, to bed. More blogging tomorrow.


The Mystery Of The Five Golden Frogs

… featuring that inscrutable detective, Chanley Charles

After The Change Came

Series 3

A Day For Geeking Out

As I post this, Roscoe, Ben and I are on the train to San Francisco for QuestCon. Once we hit the City, we’ll meet up with our friend Spike, with whom we’ll be sharing a suite. Gigi, Lily & Grace will drop into the virtual con later today and many of my East Coast & Midwest friends are at the live con in Chicago. Many more friends are at live QuestCons around the world. Many more will be at the virtual con.

As with previous years, both Roscoe and I will be on live panels that will be carried on the net as they happen. In addition, Roscoe will be giving the keynote speech at the Quest Designer’s Conference. That’s my son right there!

Spike, who is relatively new to the design side of QuestWorld, will be on a couple of panels, too.

Our panels, speeches, etc are as follows…

Roscoe: Keynote speech, “Tips & Tricks for WorldMaker 5”, “My Favorite Quest”, “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence”, “Quests For Non-Humanoids”, “What’s New At ManDog Game Design” and the ever popular “QuestWorld Year In Review”

Me: “Pulp Era Quest Design”, “…And That’s When It All Went South On Us”, “QuestWorld 3: Let The Rumor Mill Commence”, “What’s New At ManDog Game Design”, “Mining Pre-Change Adventures For QuestWorld”, and “QuestWorld Year In Review”.

Spike: “Print Editors Turn QuestWorld Troubleshooters”, “Mining Pre-Change Adventures For QuestWorld”, and “QuestWorld Year In Review”.

Speaking of the just barely announced third upgrade of QuestWorld, it’s due in about 6 months. Roscoe has been asked to be on the design team, but beyond that, it’s non-disclosure city. The hot rumor about QW3 (as of a day ago) is that it will allow for longer and more complex quests in larger areas. That seems pretty logical. The rumor of single world quest clusters is more of a maybe.

I’ll post more from the con later.

Handsome Joe Goes To The Supermarket

…with his human mom & dad


After The Change Came

Series 3

A Day For Hammering Out A Goddamn Peace Accord

How to attain an end to a war…

First, get a grumpy old Mutant to talk the Chinese Wizards into getting involved.

Second, destroy a very small and delicate ecosystem or five, so as to get the Green Ladies…all 10,000 of them…on your case.

Third, have a young Chinese Mutant and his friends make a bold and successful attack on the Dragon President.

In just about an hour, China was at peace with all troublemakers locked into a pre-programmed life of public service by Wizardly Edict. The ecosystem in restored and a goodly portion of it is now a No Trespassing Zone for all sentients. China is now a Capitalist Democracy, much like most of the rest of the world. This effectively means that all government is really local and Beijing is where you send the politically addicted to keep an eye on them.

Mongolia is still just plain old Mongolia, which is as it should be.

Me? I’m stopped off in Hawaii for dinner with Grace and then we’ll head home so I can get ready for QuestCon. I have told the Wizard’s Council, the Speaker’s Union and every friggin’ government on Earth that I am not available for at least the next 6 months, because I’m tired, I’ve got small children to raise and most of all, Summer Con Season is about to start.

Now I’m outta here to eat some fresh fish, drink a nice Big Island wine and make lewd suggestions to a green hottie. More blogging later.

Big Bog Bugs

…you don’t want them crawling on you


After The Change Came

Series 3

A Morning For Popping Off To China

Wow, today seems to be a day for traveling. I’m off to Beijing in a bit, while according to the morning emails, many of my friends will also be hitting the road. Let’s review, shall we?

Avis and Daniel are off to Scotland to visit his family

Dad and Uncle Carl are heading north to Oregon to check out some cattle

Sin is on an airship to Arizona, where he’ll join in some big art project.

My old pal Spike is on a train to Florida for a game con, while his wife, Mary, is on a train bound for New York City for a shopping trip with her mom and daughter.

My cousin Wendy is in Sweden for some sort of witches meetup.

And lastly, my niece Megan is getting ready to head down to Argentina on vacation.

Like I said, whole lotta travelin’ goin’ on. Anyway, shortly after I get Wizard Portaled into Beijing, I’ll be grabbing a gun, whip and chair so as to moderate the latest round of “peace talks”. For this round, we’ll be joined by a couple of Wizards. Not sure which ones, but I’d bet one of them will be Wizard Shining Tiger. She’s pretty well respected throughout most of China and has more of an interest in politics than Wizard Shanghai Shadow or Wizard Bouncing Monkey.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be in China, but I’ll damned sure be back by Wednesday, because Thursday marks the start of QuestCon in San Francisco. I’m on at least 3 panels and Roscoe is on another three, plus we’ll be together for a “Look Out! It’s ManDog Game Design!” chat, wherein we’ll talk about what we have planned for the next year. There might also be a couple of Secret Meetings, which wouldn’t be secret if I told you about them, would they?

Well, it’s time to wrap this up and get ready for a day of no fun, but great food. You may now place bets as to how many new Chinese curse words I invent.

A Night For All Hell Breaking Loose

Well, you’ve all heard the news by now. Seems the goddamn Dragon Republic (a Dragon centric bunch) and the Red Flowers (a goofyass neo-communist/human supremacy group) got together behind the scenes and tried to conquer the Western Federation (a mostly liberal bunch of capitalists), which, had it been successful, would have put them in the driver’s seat, negotiationwise. The kink in their plan is that the attack allowed the Mongolians (who just want to be Mongolians, but also have a pretty ancient dislike of China) to come screaming down onto the Dragon Republic’s now weakened northern border. Naturally, the Southern Alliance (who want a blend of Ancient China and the modern world) did much the same to the Red Flowers. Then, to top it all off, the unaligned Mages (maybe 5,000 of them) from all over China rose up as a new faction who mostly just wanted peace and were willing to kick serious ass to get it.

I am a big fan of those Mages.

So, as I write this, the shit is hitting the fan over most of China. The Wizards are still remaining neutral, although one has to wonder about the fortuitous timing of a 7.5 earthquake in the very area the Dragon Republic was using to store weapons.

The common folks are, as always, caught up in the middle of all this crap. Thankfully, most of them were able to move to less active areas pretty quickly.

I’m off in a few minutes to go lay out a case for the Wizard’s Council to get involved in this. I will, of course, be my usual charming self. If that fails, I’ll go talk to the various Chinese Wizards directly.

Of course, if all this fighting does too much environmental damage, the Green Ladies will step in and shut it all down damned quick.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

The 15 Things You Need To Know Before Taking Over The World

…#1: Don’t have an assistant named Pinky


After The Change Came

Series 3


A Morning For Another Interview

The Times Interview: Grace, Lily & Gigi

I’m off to China in a few minutes. Will write an entry later today. In the meantime, here’s the Times interview with Grace, Lily & Gigi.

Times: Congratulations on your newish babies!

Grace: Thank you.

Gigi: Yes, thank you..

Lily: No babies here, and none anticipated for a decade or two.

(laughter all around)

Times: Actually, Lily, our first reader question is for you. Melanie from Armstrong City wants to know if you had any problems going from cat to catgirl.

Lily: Oh man, did I ever. First off, my whole perspective changed because I was way taller and seeing things from up high. Then there was walking on two legs, which took an hour or so to get used too. Then there were human breasts, no more claws, feet & hands instead of paws, actually speaking out of my mouth instead of telepathically, no more using a litter box…I’m glad the Wizard who helped me had spells to speed the learning.

Times: I asked Roscoe about the going Anthro thing and he said you could give a better answer as to why so many cats do it. So, why is that?

Lily: It’s the whole mental maturity thing, really. You realize that you are going to be stuck at a teenage level for the rest of your life then and you start thinking about your human and other friends drifting away from you when they hit adulthood. I mean, Roscoe graduated high school while I was still in third grade, and he’s only 4 days older than me. Lots of Smart Cats feel that way. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t all want hands and humanoid bodies, too. So I took the plunge and I’m very glad I did.

Times: Grace, how did you and Doc feel about it?

Grace: Well, Lily had discussed it with me and I told her to just be what she wanted to be. She didn’t tell her dad about it because she knew that he’d be ok with it. Even before the Change, Doc was never one to care much about race, sex or species.

Times: Lucky Lily. My parents freaked out when I got my nose pierced at age 22.

(more laughter)

Times: Grace, the next question is for you and comes from Nikolai, who works on the L3 colony. He asks “How much did you change when you became a Green Lady?”

Grace: Physically, I got a bit taller, my skin turned green, my eyes got much greener and there were some internal changes.

Lily: Her poop doesn’t stink!

Gigi: And she smells great all the time! No perfume for her!

Grace: (laughs) Well, yes, those are both true. My body composts my waste after it gets done digesting food. It’s really quite efficient. As for the way I smell, that’s just the various smells of nature. Botanicals, mostly, but Doc has told me that I sometimes smell like a baby bunny or other young animal. I do still menstruate, but there is never any PMS or cramping or such. Considering that I was pre-menopausal before the Change, that’s a real blessing.

Lily: And she has babies crazy fast and easy, too.

Gigi: It took me just over 45 minutes to have my four.

Grace: (chuckles) Yes, my mother and mother in law thought it was darned near criminal that I had such an easy birth process.

Times: No kidding. I have two boys, born in zero gee and each of them took well over an hour.

Grace: Gerry was in labor 22 hours with Doc.

Lily: Oh yeah, it’ll be a celibate life for me!


Grace and Gigi: Too late!

Lily: That was when I was a cat! It doesn’t count.

Times: Anyway, the mental changes were…?

Grace: Well, mostly an awareness of the natural world on a level that was a bit mindblowing at first. Then there was the part about being linked to my 9,999 Sisters around the world. The first time we communed, Doc thought I was stoned. It’s not something I can even explain to you.

Lily: We call her “Dreamy Mom” when that happens. You just have to sort of work around her, because she’s not really there with you anymore.

Times: Fascinating. Gigi, the next two questions are for you from a kindergarten class. First, do you talk to dogs who aren’t Smart? Second, what is your kindergarten class like?

Gigi: Yes, I do talk to normal dogs. It’s kind of like talking to a small child, but they are usually very nice and they are smarter than they were before the Change. My kindergarten class is 24 children, some human, some Smart Animals and many New Races. We do all of the things human classes do, but there are some differences. Nap times vary because some species have different ways of sleeping. We also do lots of day trips so the children can learn about how other people live and work. Last week, we visited Skooskorix, Sacramento’s resident Dragon. She showed us around her home and served everyone cookies and milk. Next week, we’ll be visiting the bus depot to talk to the anibuses.

Times: Here’s one from me, Gigi. How did you and Roscoe meet?

Gigi: Well, our actual first meeting was at the first Smart Animal Convention back in 2001. We were both 2 years old and there were so many other folks there that we barely chatted, even in the Smart Dog group. Of course, we were also both about 7 years old, mentally.

After that, we met every few months at various SA or SD get togethers, if he was able to get there. Doc & Grace were traveling quite a bit then, but they usually made sure he and Lily got to SA meetups. A couple of years later, after they all settled down on the farm, I was seeing him nearly every month at meetups, gaming cons, etc. From there, love & romance just sort of happened. He’s really a Romantic fellow, considering what a big old geek he is.

Lily: Yeah, you could see them making googoo eyes at each other at cons. It was hella funny, but also very sweet.

Gigi: Sort of like the way you and Marty make googoo eyes at each other?

Lily: We do NOT!

Grace: Oh yes you do, sweetheart. He’s a very nice young man and you make a cute couple.

Lily: We…I…He… (silence follows)

Times: One final question for the three of you. Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

Lily: Graduated from college. After that, I’m clueless.

Gigi: I’ll be an Empty Nester at the age of 25, still teaching kindergarten or maybe first grade and doing a bit more traveling with my husband.

Grace: I’ll be much the same as I am now, only with two pre-teens. I might be a great-grandmother.

Times: Well, thank you all for your time.