Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Story Thus Far...

At this point, I've blogged for an audience of about 12 folks for roughly a month. This weekend 3 of the 12 advised me that they, in fact, were not reading the blog. That leaves me with 9 of you hanging on my every word...

So where are we at this point in the story?

Not too far along, I fear.

To bring you up to speed:

Somewhere around the turn of the century, I set my sights on self-publishing a sword-n-sorcery game I created called WEGS - the Wickedly Errant Game System. It is an adventure game wherein the players create heroic characters and sally forth into a world chock full of magic and mayhem. Like other games of its ilk, it is a pencil, paper and dice based game. Basic math is required, as is a willing imagination. All these components tag it as a geek game, which is perfectly all right with me.

That was seven years ago...

Somewhere around 2005, I had finally gotten the game to a point I was ready to release it to the unsuspecting hoards of gamers who were yearning for something new to sink their teeth into. The game was now being called WEGS Copper. Copper being the first level of play. The introduction to the game system. The point of entry. I began playtesting this game at several local game conventions. At the same time, I was lining up artists to illustrate the book and doing initial research on the steps to self-publishing. Sights were set to publish by August 2006.

That was two years ago...

Sometime during the middle part of 2006, I came to realize that WEGS Copper would not be released during that summer as planned. A fall release was the next target - but that too became problematical.

And here we are...

It's now the middle part of 2007. My plans for June blogging is to fill in some of the gaps that got me to the point I am today.


A Wee Hiatus...

Been on holiday the last couple of days, with the initial draft of WEGS 101 being proofed and edited. We've got some holes here and there that will be filled with art and additional text, if need be.

About this time last year, I was at the same point with WEGS Copper - and then things ended up not going as planned.

But the band played on...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


In all her glory...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Garbage Chair...

About this time last year, I was feverishly editing WEGS Copper which (as all 13 of you who read this blog know...) was going to be released at GenCon 2006. It had been slimmed down to 200 pages by this point.

I pretty much did all my editing in my backyard, sitting in an old stuffed chair that my wife and I had taken out of a neighbor's garbage. One man's trash, another's treasure, right? We thought the chair had character and had the best of intentions to have it refurbished - honestly. Until then, we kept it in the garage. Occasionally, we'd use it for stage dressing for a local theatre we were involved with. The chair was once prominently featured in The Mousetrap, it's ragged arms hidden under some fabric pieces... Ah, stage magic!

Anyhow, I found myself drawn to editing in the AM (before work) and then in the PM (after work). I would pull garbage chair out of the garage, plunk it in the sun somewhere on my driveway, edit for an hour or two, and then squirrel it away in the garage between sessions.

A few weeks into this routine, I had realized that the chair was never really cleaned. We took it right from someone's garbage and threw it into our garage. It was clean enough (if you looked past the brownish discolorations), but there was no denying that it kinda let off a smell when the weather was right...

Since the chair was becoming a part of my daily ritual, I thought it was high time to give the chair a thorough cleaning/beating and got out my wet/dry vac. No ordinary vaccuum would do. I jammed that hose in every possible nook and cranny. The stuff I found below the seat cushion was repulsive - cigarette butts, balls of hair, a spoon, coupons that expired back during the Nixon presidency and around 63 cents.

Someday that chair is gonna be put mounted on a dais in the WEGS museum (located at the back of my garage...).

Or maybe we'll just refinish it as per the original plan...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A 101 Page Delight!

Well, the initial layout/design for WEGS 101 (the first release this summer) is complete.

And, by the gods, it just so happens to be exactly 101 pages!

Must be a sign of some kind...

We're hoping in the second round edit/design phase we don't have to add a page. It would be very cool if 101 is 101 pages when it goes to print.

And all 13 of you heard it here first!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A 250 Page Problem, Part II...

So there it was - WEGS Copper.

An introductory game book with "I'm Way Too Big" written all over it.

There was only one thing to do: get out the word-weed wacker and have at it. I figured I still had time to go through the book and trim out all the extras that I had added. As I recall, it was just January 2006. If I spent a month editing, I was certain I could get it ready for a May 2006 publishing deadline.

And that's what I did. I managed to trim the book down to a slim 200 pages. Instead of being half of 500 pages, it was now only a third of 600 - right?

So what happened to all the cut content? That got shelved away as content for WEGS Silver, naturally! There was no lost time really, I was simply taking one book and making it two. One of the bits to go were the Two-Handed Weapon rules. Really cool stuff - but not critical for initial WEGS play.

At this same time, I continued demo-ing WEGS as much as possible. On St. Patrick's Day, I was fortunate to be invited to Wittenberg University's gaming con, WittCon. It was a guest lecturer / game designer gig where I spoke a little about game design and then played session of WEGS non-stop until midnite. A nice and relaxed non-commercial college con. Good folk.

WittCon 2006 was my first "get there via plane" con. This meant that I needed to be smart about what I packed. I couldn't bring all my game stuff with me (unlike home cons where I could load everything into my car). I needed to travel light. This necessity brought another realization to my design process.

Inadvertantly, WEGS Copper was about to learn a little lesson from airline luggage restrictions.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A 250 Page Problem...

Back in 2006, WEGS Copper had a problem.

It was weighing in at 250+ pages, pre art.

I discussed this with my wife who summed up the issue thusly:

"No one wants to read a 200 page book in order to play a game!"

Well, she was wrong...

There are folks who love this stuff. They're called gamers!

But she was 100% correct that those folks weren't the kind I had designed this game for. WEGS was about getting people together on short notice and whipping up a quick adventure game. It wasn't about cracking open a massive rule book. Folks should be able to walk up to a game table, grab some dice and play - especially folks who wouldn't normally play this type of game.

The problem with Copper was that I had gone overboard with the details. I had included extra rules and special skills that weren't really needed in an intro book.

Essentially, I had written Part 2 and forgot to pen Part 1, the introduction.

And so, the cracks began to form on my GenCon 2006 release plan...

Continued tomorrow...

Monday, May 14, 2007


In Craps, the player's cash is the game's currency. The fluctuation of this amount adds a great deal of stress and pleasure to the enjoyment of the game.

In WEGS, spoints are the game's currency. Each player starts with a certain number based on their scores. Spoints, which stands for spell points, are represented via poker chips in the game. Spoints are spent by the players whenever they want to do a special action (kinda like paying a fee). Spoints are also used to maximize a player's chance for success.

During the game, spoints are thrown into a central pot where they amass until the end of an encounter. You can tell how much an encounter meant to the players by the amount of chips at the end.

Spoints are one of the coolest mechanics in WEGS. They truly bring a Las Vegas game of chance feeling to the adventure. Plus these set a limit to how much a player can do - it prevents folks from doing everything all the time. It causes players to maintain the cautious edge in their heroic actions.

Unlike craps, once a players is out of spoints, they still continue to play. From that point forward, the player will be limited as to what they can do and/or how well they can do it.

So once they bust the spoint bank, the player's fate pretty much relies on the whim of the dice...

Saturday, May 12, 2007


As all thirteen of you who read this blog know, WEGS stands for the Wickedly Errant Game System. A quick google revealed the following (and I included some quotes of what the folks on the other side of the wegs are up to...).

Work Experience (for) Graduate Students
"Students taking full course loads, for example, are likely not obtaining full-time work experience - and may not be obtaining any work experience, if they are not conducting research or assisting in the teaching of design courses while they are completing their graduate course requirements. They are, however, obtaining significant Professional Development credits. Because of the complexity of the nature of the work experience obtained by graduate students, it is recommended that all graduate students submit progress reports, preferably in consultation with their supervisors, every six calendar months. In any event, reports must be submitted within two months of the completion of six months'acceptable work experience in order to receive full credit for that experience."

Welsh Ewe Genotyping Scheme
"The scheme entailed the genotyping of 25,000 animals, mostly ewes, but also some rams where these had not been tested under the NSP, all of which were fitted with electronic identification (boli) for individual identification and recorded. This activity was limited to animals at the top end of the breeding pyramid in order to maximise the future genetic benefit by identifying the supply of resistant rams and ewes and thereby enabling future breeding to be concentrated on animals with a higher level of resistance."

Wickedly Easy Game System
Yes. Yes. My first concept for WEGS was to create an adventure game that was wickedly easy to play. Initially the "E" meant "Easy" not "Errant". The game is still a super easy system to pick up, but we do some things you oughtn't do with dice. Things some folks would categorize errant... It's still a hell of a lot easier than being a grad student or tagging ewes, I'm sure...

ps - "of the 25,000 animals tested" most were ewes... good thing they weren't iguanas for the sake of the acronym...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Old School...

Gamewick Games first publication is going to be WEGS 101, Old Skoolin'. (The story of how we went from WEGS Copper to WEGS 101 is an interesting story which we'll pick up in another post.) As per the title, we're focusing on Old Skool delights - but what exactly is old school anyhow? That title can be applied to anything.

For me, this title pertains to a specific epoch of time in the adventure game industry. It was a time when everything was still a little crude and your imagination was needed to fill in all the blanks. It was a time when things weren't overthought. Everything was raw cause everything was new. And then it all became old.

The old school days were the days of TSR (the guys who published D&D) and Judges Guild (the guys who published the classic module City State of the Invincible Overlord). These were the days when adventures didn't have world-shattering relevance. You went into a tomb and stole things. You stormed the castle of the mountain giants. You explored caves infested with creatures of chaos. You were delighted to reach Level 2 with your characters.

These were the days loooooong before the gloss Wizards of the Coast and Magic The Gathering. These were the days of monochromatic module covers and newspaper quality publications with staples holding them together. It was a time when everything floated and it was hard to tell the garbage from the gold.

There's nothing like the smell and feel of my Keep On The Borderlands.

"Bree-yark", baby!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Borkfu - the name says it all.

Borkfu is one of the lead minions in our Dwarf Walks Into A Bar adventure. He's one mean ass Goblin warrior chieftain with a bad attitude. He's the player's bane. The villain.

When the adventure begins, the players find themselves in the Tongue of Dung tavern in the convict infested village of Ikkspat. What they're doing in this place is anybody's guess...

Borkfu and his family clan, the Goblins of Kraven Klaw, are found occupying a table in the back of the tavern. In front of them on the table is the clan's heirloom sword, on which the Goblins raucously swear oaths as is their custom.

Needless to say, the Goblins are none too happy to see the adventurers on their turf.

The adventure unwinds from there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Verities And Balderdash...

The more types of dice you have in play, the slower the game.

Casino craps rocks with only 2 six side dice. You can't beat the sheer simplicity of it. That game can move as fast as the pit people can pay the players. When that game is the slowest, the players are the happiest (unless you're one of those folks who bet with the dice).

Dungeons & Dragons utilizes many dice types - four sided, six sided, eight sided, ten sided, twelve sided and, of course, twenty sided (which is now the crux of their system). The weird D&D dice were a big part of the game's initial success. It was a very cool game gimmick and a fascinating branding point.

WEGS uses two types - six side and ten sided. Players are armed with a pair of each. That's 2D6 and 2D10 for insiders. The game play is definately brisk. It flies when folks have a comfort level with the rules, too. What we lose in cool, we make up for in speed.

There's rumblings that we might include D4 in a future version...

So much excitement in one short post.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Seven Years In The Making...

Releasing WEGS 101 this summer is going to be a major milestone. It is the culmination of a seven year journey in game design and play testing.

Yes... Seven years!

WEGS officially took serious form in 1999. The players in my gaming group had been complaining about my nameless ad-hoc rule system for some time. Taking this as a challenge I delivered the aptly titled WEGS 99 to them in July 1999. It was a 60 page spiral bound notebook with a clear plastic cover. It was a superb garage gamer publication!

WEGS 99 included all the base rules of the system I had been knocking around with for a couple of years. The core mechanics of the system were tight. The character generation was sweet. The combat was diabolically brutal. And, so, using these rules, we officially began a-WEGS-ing. From that point forward there was no other system for us. We played it like mad - and the rules changed. More complaints. I issued the next big update.

WEGS 2K was released in February 2000. This book was given to my players in a three ring binder (in anticipation of rules updates). Page count was 53 pages and an additional 20 pages of Skills and Spells.

The same cycle occurred. We played like mad and ended up with a ton of new rules, cool skills and began using spoints! A year later came the release of the WEGS Millennium Edition (March 2001). It was comparable in size to 2K. It was simply stapled in the upper left corner and had a heavy cover stock. A really classy publication.

The final re-haul of the rules didn't come for another four years. This release was a big one.

I knew this was the one I was going to print with.

The long-awaited WEGS Copper was released to my gaming group in August of 2005. This was the version that was ready to be launched upon the world of sword-n-sorcery gaming. We began demoing the game that fall at local gaming conventions and clubs. From the feedback of the folks who joined us for our games, the game was great fun. Complete strangers were playing WEGS and enjoying it! That is an endless source of satisfaction for me.

Within all this excitement, I set my sights at getting the game ready for self publishing. I was going to be an indie game designer. WEGS would make it's official debut at GenCon 2006!

But, in the end, Copper did not go to print...

To be continued...

Monday, May 7, 2007

And They're Off...

Well, GenCon registration opened at noon today.

This means that all the gamers who are serious about lining up their game schedule are frantically logging in and signing up for their games.

GameWick is running 18 games total at GenCon.

12 are scheduled on Thursday thru Saturday. The remaining 6 games happen on Sunday. You can find the full details on the GameWick site (link on right side of blog). I think Sunday is traditionally a slow gaming day as folks want to dedicate as much time to the exhibit hall before it closes.

I logged on to check the status of the events tonight at 8pm.

25% of the availble seats have been taken.

2 events sold out completely within the first couple of hours!

We've got an incredible selection of game offerings this year. We really tried to craft a diverse assortment of scenarios. We have returning favorites like Dwarf Walks Into A Bar (sold out) and Dingbitt's Dunge O' Doom (both are crowd pleasers). Our new adventure Reservoir Dwoirves is doing amazing well (one sold out session, one half full) - that game is gonna rock!

I have high hopes for Pigskab's Skewl 4 Wizzerds, too. This one is a little warped but should be a blast for us to run. I'm not sure if the title is gonna catch folks interest or not... In this one, the players are wannabe wizards at a bottom of the barrel school for wizards. The catch is that not one of them is allowed to actually play a wizard. They'll be muddling through this adventure!

All in all, it should be interesting to see how these registration numbers fluctuate over the course of the next two months.

These starting registrations are incredibly encouraging!

Can't wait to get the game on!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

1776 Business Plan...

Everyone needs a three year business plan.

Here's the one I cooked up.

I want to introduce WEGS to the original thirteen colonies within the next three years. I'm figurin' that's where the colonization of America started, WEGS colonization can follow that same course. If nothing else, I have a little checklist to tick off to keep me occupied.

So far, we've hit a lot of cons in NJ and one in NY.

That gives me a solid 2 out of 13 start... 15%

We've taken WEGS to the midwest, too (WittCon, GenCon, Origins). So, nationally that gives me 4 out of 50... 4%

I like the colonist numbers better.

Think colonial.

Dream national.

I didn't say it was a good plan.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

To Everything A Season...

Just like fishing, baseball, theatre, cold and flu, there's a season for game geeks, too. It's pretty much from July through mid-August, or (for those who really know the lingo) from Origins to GenCon. These two cons pretty much define the start and end of geek spawn-age.

Origins in Columbus, Ohio is the start of the season. The con generally falls around early July and draws in about 12,000 folks.

GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana is the season's finale. It's the biggest gaming con of its type and draws in twice the geekage as Origins. 2006 saw 26,000 attendees! That's a lot of geek.

Both of these cons run from Thursday thru Sunday. 4 days of non-stop gaming of every gaming genre imaginable. Plus there are seminars and workshops for those who are truly interested in this odd little hobby.

The streets of Columbus and Indianapolis swarm with gamers during these cons. Everywhere you look folks are playing games. I love the fact that when I stumble back to my hotel room after a long day of demos that I pass folks playing games on tables in hotel lobbys. Sometimes these folks are still playing the next day when I leave the hotel.

There are tons of lesser cons in between Origins and GenCon, which makes perfect sense as a large population of gamers are school-aged and on summer vacation. These conventions are planned so all you need to do is drop a net in the water and scoop up a bounty of dice wielding gamers. It's what summer is all about.

Sure, geeks play games all year round.

But true geekage is done en masse.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Table Wegs

Back in the early 2000s I discovered an old ping pong table at a garage sale.

It was probably from the 1930s. Unlike the modern tables, this table had oak sideboards and heavy wooden legs. The playing surface was completely covered under a thick coat of green ping pong paint (some kind of wartime rubbery magic coating). It was spacious, sturdy and it was collapsable - how cool! I would have no problem storing it in my garage at all.

And it only cost $25!

Didn't these people know they were sitting on a pot of gold?!?

Upon sight I knew it was the perfect game table for me. I easily envisioned at least 8 players sitting around it - and every one would have plenty of elbow room. Dice could be dramatically thrown down the table just like in craps. I started calculating how I could build some short walls on either end to stop the thrown dice. We could even use if for impromptu craps games - sweet!

I had found the table wegs!

It took me the better part of a summer refinishing this table. First I dismantled the whole thing. I ended up with quite the pile of old wood screws, all of which were custom cut to fit the table. Next I began stripping the oak sideboards and legs. These cleaned up beautifully. The center playing field was a 4x8 sheet of pressed wood of some kind which did not hold up well when I stripped the rubbery magic green coating off it. I ended up having to buy a new insert. Here's where I made my mistake... I opted to go with a really nice sheet of hardwood (1/2 inch thick). I thought it would be better than pressed wood options. Costly little item #1...

Everything re-assembled perfectly, but the folding leg hardware (brass!) had seen better days. I had to replace that with some modern steel ones. Not too happy about that. These weren't too easy to find and were quite expensive. Costly little item #2...

When the table was fully re-assembled, I stained the oak rails. Beautiful. I then stained the center insert - and messed up. I wanted the playing space to be a darker stain to stand-out against the rails. I went too dark though. The effect was unfortunate.

My final mistake was using a heavy polyurethane finish. While it initially looked great, after doing some dice roll tests on the surface I found it was susceptible to chipping. The finish also did not fare well with the flexibility of the table, and cracked at places where the table was joined together with screws.

All said and done, I probably sunk about $250 into the project.

Despite the problems, it's still a cool game table - and in the last 7 years, I've played on it...


But that one game was GREAT!

Confessional: OK. OK. The table is a pain in the butt to move. I can't do it alone. It's also so dang big that I have to bury it against the wall in my garage and lots of stuff gets stacked in front of it. It's anything but accessible. And it doesn't fit in any room of my house - so we can only use it during the summer, if the weather cooperates.

There's a reason why ping pong can only be found at country clubs and rec centers...

And why they have stopped making them out of oak...

Lots of lessons learned - but not one about gaming.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Let Me Explain...

I was at bar in Dover a couple years back.

I was in many bars in Dover a couple of years back actually.

On this particular night I was chatting with a friend of a friend who had heard me talking about "my game". She had no point of reference for the type of game I was working on and politely inquired about it.

I began to explain the name of the game is WEGS. Stands for the Wickedly Errant Game System. I called it "sword-n-sorcery an adventure game"...

(Blank stare)

I'd put forth "role-playing game"...

(Blank stare with strange quizzical upturn of lip.)

I then threw out, "Are you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons type games?"

(Quizzical upturned lip turned to worrisome snarl and a step back.)

She now realized that she was engaged in conversation with one of those devil-worshipper types. "Oh, no. No. I'd never play that type of game."

My sales pitch was quickly dying. I hate resorting to D&D comparisons as it instantly shuts doors in the minds of the unitiated. And the term "role-playing" always conjures up images of swinging married couples in costumes. Yet, WEGS is at its heart a big and bold sword-n-sorcery role-playing game (sans the costumed married couples).

Before my friend's friend turned away I quickly followed with, "Have you ever played Clue?"

"Well, of course! We played it in college a bunch."

"In Clue you play a character, right?"

"Yes - usually Mrs. Peacock."

"I'm a Professor Plum guy myself. So, say you and I were playing that game. We'd move about the board, exploring rooms, picking up clues, finding items like the lead pipe or the rope."

"Or the gun! I loved those little metal props."

"Well, that's very close to what WEGS is - except in a fantasy setting, like Lord Of The Rings. We would create characters and then move about the board together exploring the rooms of a castle. Unlike Clue, we're kinda like a team confronting castle guards or breaking into the treasure vaults."

"So, we're not playing against one another?"

"Well, not initially. (I hesitated to start discussing player vs. player options.) But if Peacock the Enchantress found an item that Plum The Warrior wanted, we might fight eachother for it."

"That sounds like fun."

"It's great when you play with six or more friends. The interaction of the characters is great! You just don't get that with Clue."

"Huh! That sounds fun."

Here enthusiasm was somewhat polite. I've seen it before and since.

I had done my best to enlighten a stranger to the hobby.

So I politely asked her what she did...

"Horse insurance broker."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What Happened In Vegas...

One of the aforementioned points of origin for WEGS was in Las Vegas.

It was the fall of 1999. Such a long time ago...

Maybe it was the spring.

It was definately around 3a.m.

I was just coming off a three hour stand on a craps table that was smoking. I mean smoking. Now, this doesn't mean that I walked off with scads of cash. A great craps game for me is one where the action lasts for more than an hour and a half and my initial dinero stays afloat the entire time. Sometimes craps ain't about making money. It's a game of thrills, intense drama and suspense. Just like baseball. Just like character driven adventure games.

In craps, I don't need to make a killing. I need to play and I need the play to be action-packed. I need to be surrounded by cool tourists, vibrant casino vets, dice fools. I need the folks running the game to carefully hedge the excitement and casually guide the action. There needs to be moments of disappointed silence to counter the reckless shouts for petty victories. And I need to hit "boxcars" at least twice sometime in that hour and half go.

This particular game had all those elements. I walked away with a buzz knowing that on that particualr night the planets had aligned over that one craps table just for me.

As I walked back to my room, I suddenly realized that the buzz I was feeling was the same as the one I get after an amazing session of a role-playing game (Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, etc). It is a feeling of utter satisfaction knowing that you were a part of something out of the ordinary. You transcended something.

One thing that defines this feeling the strongest was that I NEEDED TO TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THE GAME.

But at 3a.m. in Vegas I doubt any one would listen. Besides, a few folks were walking around in the same state. Like the couple that was just married by Elvis. They transcended something I'm sure...

It was at this moment that I realized many things about the nature of gaming, and I knew that I had to marry the elements of casino games of chance and adventure games.

If I didn't do it - who would?

Big Elvis?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

And So It Began...

Years ago... many, a many.

There are several points of origin. Layer upon layer of accumulated history that all blended into the perfect storm and caused this old knight to pick up his pencil and dice, and stride off into the lands of sword-n-sorcery adventure gaming.

Here it is that I shall lay down the tale that led me to creating the game called WEGS - the Wickedly Errant Game System. It was a path filled with trials and tribulations, doubt and dementia. This blog is gonna detail my journey as a game creator and all the wacky things I did along the way.

It's a perilous land out there in the realms of sword-n-sorcery gaming. Hopefully this blog will reveal the giants who are parading around in the world as windmills, too... Or maybe some budding game designer will peruse these pages and get a better understanding of what encompasses building a game. Maybe not.

Life is too short not to play games.

My armour!

My sword!

Marvellous adventure, dear friends!