New Year, New Me. Also: Swamped update, Ninja update and Total Confusion 30 Update!


Ninja - coming soon!
Ninja – coming soon!

Here we are in 2016! This is looking to be a good year for me games-wise and will be starting off with a bang! First though, I have to comment on the lack of activity here on Troll. You see, I’m a new man. Literally.

About a week before Christmas I had surgery to repair my right shoulder. Since then I’ve been confined to a giant, sling-contraption that severely limits the mobility of my right arm. I eat with this thing on, sleep with this thing on and do everything with this thing on – I’ve come to thoroughly loathe it. The good news is that as of this week I’ve been cleared by my surgeon to do computer stuff (i.e. typing).

Another reason why the content from me has slowed considerably on this site and why the Indie Talks podcast has vanished is simply time. With a full time job, a lengthy commute, a wife and two children, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to devote to everything I really want to do. One of the things I really, really, REALLY want to do is design games. I’ve chosen to give that priority over blogging and podcasting. That doesn’t mean I’m gone from this site completely – though I wouldn’t expect Indie Talks to return any time soon. I’ll be here periodically updated, reviewing other games and whatnot. Now on to the cool things coming in 2016!


As of yesterday, Bellwether Games have confirmed that Swamped is shipping to Kickstarter backers and off to retail distribution as well. Dennis from Bellwether produced a wonderful How To Play video for the game and it should be available for order from their site in the very near future for those who didn’t Kickstart the game. Also check out your friendly local game stores for copies!


You just lost!
You just lost!

Ninja – Silent but Deadly

I’m very happy to say that Button Shy Games have picked up my game Ninja and will be bringing it to Kickstarter this year. There are no firm dates or details available yet other than the image at the top of this post but I can tell you that I had several offers on this game. I went with Button Shy because I’m really interested in what they’re doing in the small games space and they wanted to do Ninja the way I had done Ninja.

Button Shy are experts at producing small games that play well, are super portable and most importantly fun! Please do check them out.

Total Confusion 30


My local gaming convention – and my favorite convention to attend, Total Confusion is going off again this year from tc30February 18-21 in Mansfield, MA. This is their 30th year running and it’s going to be fantastic! I’ll be there as an industry guest, with a few copies of Swamped on me and running a few other events as well. If you’re planning on attending for a day or for the weekend, please don’t hesitate to let me know and stop me to say hello! I’ve included my schedule at the end of this post. Last year TC hosted a flea market on Thursday evening which was a huge success. This year I’ll be helping to organize and run it so that’s your best chance to bump into me in a psuedo-random fashion. My Saturday is also fairly free as I’ve left some time for me to get some games in.

The Rest of 2016

So that takes us through February. Hopefully I’ll have more exciting table top related things to talk about for the rest of the year! Regardless, 2016 is starting off strong!

Total Confusion Schedule

This doesn’t include scheduled games that I’ll be signing up for to participate in as pre-registration hasn’t opened yet.


Arriving in the late afternoon/early evening.

7pm – Private game.


1pm – 3pm: Seasons 

Seasons is the beautifully illustrated, wonderfully designed game of magicians battling to score the most points, as magicians are wont to do. If you enjoy a bit of card drafting mixed in with a ton of card combos, a few ‘take that’ moments and lots of interesting decisions, come play a game of Seasons! If we have a novice player, we’ll use the basic set. If we have experienced players, we’ll use some of the expansions.

6:00pm – 10:30pm Flea Market at the Auditorium 


10:00am – 12:00pm:  Clubs, Villas and Rhinos – The Friday Morning Ugg-Tect, Dexterity Game Spectacular!

Have you ever wanted to construct a fabulous monument that will stand the test of time, while being directed by a slobbering, pre-literate, club wielding task-master with zero language skills? This is the event for you! In this Friday morning event, you can begin your day with a bash! Also build your own Villa – but do it carefully or it’ll all fall down! Then assist a ½ ton rhino to climb a less-than-stable apartment building!

1:00pm – 3:00pmSmall Board and Card Games: Big Fun!

I love small box games. Cards and board that can almost fit into your pockets make for a great experience in quick games. Many people call these filler games but sometimes what you really want is to get 3-4 games into a two hour period. If you’re curious to check out some smaller games, from Love Letter to Diamonds, Eight Minute Empire Legends to My Happy Farm and more – this event is for you! I’ll be bringing a bunch of my favorites, maybe even my own game, Swamped!


7:00pm – 11:00pm: Talisman with the Dungeon, Highlands and a few house rules

Talisman is the classic roll and move quest game that brings players together so they can all kill each other. In this version, we’ll include an expansion or three and have one house rule – The +1 rule! Every character gets one extra Strength and Craft, turning this 5 hour game into a 3-4 hour game. Also in force – the rule of 5. It takes 5 points to upgrade your Craft or Strength, not 7.

12:00am -> Private event.


10:00am – Noon: Prototype Pitch Workshop – Board and Card Games

Bring in your card and board game prototype and give us a 15 minute pitch! We’ll give you a 15 minute review in turn! First come, first serve! Last year’s event was a big hit so stop by and say hello. Please limit one prototype per person.

I’ll also be around for the rest of the day Sunday to close out the convention – so if you’re hanging about, let’s game!

Indie Talks Episode 38 – Dan Yarrington of Game Salute


This podcast was unfortunately delayed a bit from before the holidays as I struggled mightily with some Youtube issues. I’ve finally gotten those straightened out, and what we’re left with is an excellent podcast!

Dan Yarrington joins me from Game Salute as we talk about everything under the sun that has to do with the board game industry. Dan takes us through getting a game ready to publish, the manufacturing, kickstarting and then publication and distribution of modern hobby games.

We would love to get your feedback about our show! Contact me with comments:, follow me on twitter @trollitc, and also check us out on iTunes! Hell, you can even catch us on Stitcher.  While you’re at it, there’s the Indie Talks Facebook page and the Indie Talks Google+ page. MySpace…well, I won’t go there if you wont. Please do rate this podcast on iTunes, and leave feedback through any of these links!


A Colonel of Truth in There Somewhere…

I'm pretty sure I don't look anything like this...Name, rank, and service number, eh? Col. Paul Blake, reporting for duty, service number India-Papa-Lima-Alfa-Yankee-Golf-Alfa-Mike-Echo-Sierra. No, I’m not going to be filling the post of “resident Grognard” or anything like that. It’s just that, when one is given an honorary title, one might as well use it – even if it was given as the result of an outdated personnel list.

So, what kind of person is this Colonel Blake fellow, anyway? Why should we care what he has to say?

I’m glad you asked that, hypothetical asker of rhetorical questions. I’ve been a lot of things in my time: Professional clown, juggler, conjurer, origami aficionado, toy designer, game developer, and yes, I was even fortunate enough to hold that lofty title of “Used Video Game Store Sales Associate.” I’ve traveled abroad, seen exotic locations, and helped liquidate the contents of a South Pacific toy store. My life has been everything I could possibly want, and so much more. One time, I even got to ride a moose.

Okay, a little more down-to-earth: I’ve been actively designing, playtesting – and on a few occasions, even publishing – tabletop games for the past fifteen years or so. I don’t really consider myself any particular kind of gamer: I’m equally comfortable sitting down to a 3-hour session of an epic civilization-style game as I am trying out a twenty-minute beer-and-pretzels filler. I like games. Video games, tabletop games, or even abstract conceptual games which only exist in the minds of those who play them.

So, yeah. I’ll be writing about games, game design, game publication, and occasionally Doctor Who. No, it’s not relevant, I just like Doctor Who.

The Mindripper, or, You Want Me to do What With my Adventure?

In the time that I have been writing for TC, I have tried to push myself as a gamer. I enjoy many different facets of the hobby so if I have had a good opportunity to make myself a better GM or a better player, I have tried to take it. One part of the hobby that has gotten my attention recently has been the writing side of things, namely, adventures.

A few weeks back, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: Since I’m already planning to run a bunch of sessions at KantCon and other cons this summer, why don’t I just take some extra time and write up the adventures formally. Who knows? Maybe I could get them published and make a few bucks to help subsidize my convention-going habit. The idea felt good, so I contacted a few companies, got some approval for the idea and sat down to write.

Then I realized that writing an adventure is fucking hard.

My brilliant idea failed to take into account the fact that, when writing adventures in the past, I have never, ever just sat down and written things out in their entirety, especially not with enough attention to detail to allow someone else to run the adventure based on what I have written. Adventures have always been 1 part pre-planning, 3 parts on-the-fly idea creation and 7 parts oh-crap-I-need-an-idea-and-the-game-is-in-three-hours. Working to get all of the setting bits and all of the character bits and all of the story bits lined up before I have even rolled die one is an intimidating thought. In fact, it’s downright paralyzing.

Enter: The Mindripper.

The hardest part about writing an adventure is bringing out the ideas and laying them down on paper before you think you’re ready to do so. It’s like they’re waiting there in their safe, warm places, incubating, waiting for their shells to harden before they get passed down the neural pathways that see them spilling onto the printed page. The Mindripper takes them and wrenches them out of their soft places and lets you gaze in awe at their half-formed glory right in the seconds before you being poking and prodding them into their final shape.

Now, if the Mindripper were really a physical object, this entire process might be a hell of a lot easier. But it’s not. The Mindripper is no more and no less than the willingness to suck for a while before you make it all good again. I know that I can craft fun adventures; I have done so numerous times in the past. I have to be disciplined enough to send my mind down the pathways that are usually reserved for game sessions and find the inspiration that makes it homes there naturally. What comes out of those initial jags of inspiration might be crap warmed over, but it’s a place to start. And if you’re lucky, what you end up digging out looks more like a mucky diamond that just needs to be cut and polished.

That’s my challenge to myself, and to anyone else that thinks they would like to write an adventure, or anyone else, really: develop the discipline to just do it. Find a way to pull those little knots of idea gristle out of your brain and put them down somewhere. Sometimes, it will be easy. Other times will feel like you’re trying to pull your gonads up through your cerebral cortex. But do it.

My hope is to someday see something that I wrote be published for consumption by other gamers. To do that, I need to work. So I’ma get to it.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, books, writing, publishing, adventures[/tags

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