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RPG Cons in North Texas

2014 February 18
by Stan Shinn

waconBelow are a list of cons with a notable tabletop RPG presence within 5 hours drive of the Dallas/Forth Worth area. There are 11 conventions within 5 hours drive of DFW, plus I added GenCon (the mother-of-all-rpg-cons). 6 of these cons are actually in the DFW area, and of those six, three — Gamer Nation Con, G33G3 (Geeky) Con and T.A.B.L.E. — are new cons. ReaperCon has also expanded their RPG presence and includes six tables of concurrent Pathfinder games as well as other RPGs. Let me know if I had any notable misses, or if you have any edits to my descriptions (especially if you know approximate numbers of people who attend, how many RPG games are at a given Con, etc.).

Owlcon (Houston)
Feb. 21-24, 2014
Long running con on the Rice University campus. Usually has something like 600 attendees, with a mix of RPGs, miniatures wargaming and other sundry activities. (Plano)
Mar. 14-16, 2014
New con debuting in 2014. Mostly RPGs with some board games.
TwisterCon (Oklahoma City, OK)
Mar. 21-23, 2014
Con in OKC with a mix of RPGs, miniatures wargaming and other sundry activities.
T.A.B.L.E. (Irving)
March 28-30, 2014

New con; mostly board or card games with some RPGs (only GURPs as of this writing).

G33K3 – THE CON (McKinney)
April 4-6, 2014
New con; should have some RPGs but games have not yet been listed.
ChimaeraCon (San Antonio)
April 4-6, 2014
Mid-sized (150-200) person con.

AggieCon (College Station, TX)
April 4-6, 2014
Long running con near the A&M campus.

ReaperCon (Lewisville, TX)
April 24-27
In addition to showcasing miniatures and miniatures painting, this year this is a large slate of RPG games including 6 concurrent Pathfinder games running all weekend.
North Texas RPG Con (Fort Worth)
Jun. 5-8, 2014
Premier old-school con focused mostly on RPGs and with a large number of OSR celebrity guests from the TSR days.
Texicon (Fort Worth)
June 27-29, 2014
Usually has something like 150-200 attendees, with a mix of RPGs, miniatures wargaming and other sundry activities.

Gen Con (Indianapolis, IN)
Aug. 14-17, 2014
Not local, but this is the biggest con in the country with over 40,000 attendees each year.
WaCon (Waco)
Oct. 24-26, 2014
2014 will be the second year of this con. A mix of RPGs, card games, miniatures wargaming and other sundry activities.


Creating Cool Sci-Fi Props for RPG Games

2012 July 23
by Stan Shinn

This weekend I ran a game called ‘The Starship Rescue’ at Texicon in Fort Worth using the ENnie award Nominated Savage Worlds rules. Gamer and freelance writer Mark Chance did a  review of the game on his Spes Magna blog.

The game was well received with some players asking for a continuation of this game and setting at the next Texicon. I’m making plans to do just that. :-)

Several folks have asked me how I created the visual props for the game.

I used both figure flats, starship schematic handouts and a nice starship map that were visually impressive and really helped set the tone of the game. Below is a list of resources to create your own ‘Starship Rescue’ type game — but really, any system set in a Sci Fi universe where you would like nice maps and inexpensive paper miniatures would benefit from these resources.

Figure Flats

Figure Flats:

Figure Flat Stands:

Starship Map Artwork

You can get the Spaceship Artwork here:

Or here

With a nice preview here:

Map Printing

I printed the Spaceship map using this service:

You can also print normal 24×36” posters at Office Depot for about $20. Alternatively, you can also order prints online here:

Creating Stories for Sci Fi Games

Lastly, though I didn’t actually use this for my ‘The Starship Rescue’ game, a recent Firefly sandbox toolkit PDF has appeared which would be a very valuable resource in coming up with story ideas for a space western type setting:

That’s it. What do you think — are these resources helpful? Any other resources to create this sort of game that you would recommend?

Owlcon 2012 Coverage

2012 February 1
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by Stan Shinn

DFW Roleplayers will be covering the Owlcon convention Feb. 3-5 in Houston. Featured RPG luminaries will include Steve Jackson (GURPS, Munchkin, Ogre) and Matt Finch (Swords & Wizardry and OSRIC).

For full coverage, including photos and perhaps some videos of the events, join our Facebook group.

We’ll also be distributing our flyer while at Owlcon to raise awareness of our group.


Much of Older D&D Material To Be Re-Released

2012 January 29
by Stan Shinn

Enworld posted transcripts of a recent Mike Mearls (D&D Next designer) interview which revealed these upcoming D&D product plans.

The full Enworld article featured a discussion of D&D products for 2012, followed by a Q&A session. This transcript is paraphrased, with some responses shortened.

Much of the 1E and other older material will once again become available:

Any plans to rerelease the other products for 1E and 2E and other editions, either in print or electronically?

We are looking at making a lot of that older material available to you, but we want to make sure we do it right for you guys and for Wizards. We’ll have more news on that. (source)

The new 1E reprints covers will be new but the interior is almost entirely the same:

Are the 1E reprint the exact same as old books?

They’re identical except for the old ads at back. (source)

More boxed sets are coming:

More boxed sets coming?

If it makes sense for the product, yes. Boxes are great, we’re looking at it as far as what the product does/value, etc. Happy with them. (source)

Even publishing Dragon magazine again is being reconsidered:

Any chance of print Dungeon or Dragon mags?

Looking at possibilities. (source)


1st Edition AD&D Books Re-Release; 1e Playstyle Support Coming

2012 January 19
by Stan Shinn

WOTC is releasing new 1st Edition AD&D books:

Wizards of the Coast will reprint limited premium versions of the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks by Gary Gygax to help support the Gygax Memorial Fund.  The new editions will be released in limited quantities exclusively for the hobby channel on April 17, 2012.  They’ll include the original art and content with new cover designs commemorating the re-release.

The three core books being released are:

1st Edition Premium Dungeon Master’s Guide, a 240-page hardcover at $44.95

1st Edition Premium Player’s Handbook, a 112-page hardcover at $34.95

1st Edition Premium Monster Manual, a 128-page hardcover at $34.95 (source)

This comes on the heals of announcing you can play 1st Edition style roleplaying in the upcoming D&D Next (5e) game. Monte Cook talks about the new edition in his latest Legends & Lore column explaining the ambitious goals of the design team:

  • “……this sounds so crazy that you probably won’t believe it right now—we’re designing the game so that not every player has to choose from the same set of options. Again, imagine a game where one player has a simple character sheet that has just a few things noted on it, and the player next to him has all sorts of skills, feats, and special abilities. And yet they can still play the game together and everything remains relatively balanced. Your 1E-loving friend can play in your 3E-style game and not have to deal with all the options he or she doesn’t want or need. Or vice versa. It’s all up to you to decide.” (source
  • “…this isn’t another salvo in the so-called edition wars. This isn’t an attempt to get you to play Dungeons & Dragons in a new way. This is the game you’ve already been playing, no matter what edition or version you prefer. The goal here is to embrace all forms of the D&D experience and to not exclude anyone. Imagine a game where the core essence of D&D has been distilled down to a very simple but entirely playable-in-its-right game. Now imagine that the game offered you modular, optional add-ons that allow you to create the character you want to play while letting the Dungeon Master create the game he or she wants to run. Like simple rules for your story-driven game? You’re good to go. Like tactical combats and complex encounters? You can have that too. Like ultra-customized character creation? It’s all there.”  (source

The blogging community posted some early reactions here:

It will be interesting to see how WOTC’s strategy with regard to old school style roleplaying unfolds.

D&D 5.0 Announced; 0e/1e Style Gameplay Option Hinted

2012 January 9
by Stan Shinn

Today Wizards today finally announced their official work on D&D 5.0 along with a NY Times article on this upcoming release.

What’s interesting for the OSR / Grognard players are some hints that they are working to accomodate early edition play in their future ruleset. They hinted of this at Gencon last year, and again are hinting of this in their announcement today:

We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play….We seek to reach as many people as possible, from the gamer who just started with D&D last week to the gaming group that has been together since the early-1970s. (source)

Rumors based on past Monte Cook blog posts hints 
(he’s the one engineering the 5.0 release) make it sound like the new edition with be a scalable rules toolkit that can be run in a lite 1970s style or in a more crunchy 3.5/4.0 style.

Can they pull this off without just further fragmenting their fan base? Will the bridges WOTC has burned with past fans be mended? It will be interesting to see.

It sounds like we’ll get a preview of how the new rules will work at the ‘D&D Experience convention’ in late January, and an even better look at during open playtesting starting sometime in the spring.

2012 Texas RPG Conventions

2012 January 4
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by Stan Shinn

Here are some featured Texas RPG Cons coming in 2012. Other conventions may have a few RPG games, but the conventions listed below have the largest showing of tabletop roleplaying games:

AnimeFest has been doing informal ‘minicons’ at their clubhouse (they had for example a Black Friday Con on November 25-28, 2011 and a New Years Minicon on Dec. 30, 2011 to Jan. 1 2012). Follow this web site for information on new AnimeFest related gaming opportunities.



Welcome to DFW Roleplayers!

2012 January 2
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by Stan Shinn

Welcome to DFW Roleplayers!

DFW Roleplayers is a group open to all interested in games such as Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Traveller, FATE, GURPS and other tabletop roleplaying systems. We post information about Texas gaming conventions and RPG events in North Texas. Mostly though we provide a place for people to hang out, share photos, chat about the roleplaying hobby and connect with like-minded folks in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

GM Checklist for Pathfinder Convention Games — Part II

2011 November 29
by Stan Shinn

As a follow-up to GM Checklist for Pathfinder Convention Games, here are additional tips.

In your game announcements, consider these rules:

Tell players to show up 15 minutes before the game if they have new (non-pregen) characters so you can review the characters and check the math. If you show up just as the game begins, expect to play a pregen which the GM will provide.

Announce a break schedule before the game begins and in your game announcement — one 10 minute break around the midpoint of the game often works well. 4 hours is a long time to sit at a table, and players will often simply walk off to take a break if you don’t give them one and they don’t know one is coming up.

No cell phones allowed at the table during game play — restrict checking Facebook, texting, or taking calls to the breaks.

Other ideas include:

Initiative cards with blanks for Player name, character name, Character Faction, Init bonus (and 4 rolls), Perception bonus, Sense Motive bonus, and six d20 random rolls from the players. This can speed up play and helps you remember the player/character names.

Alternatively, have tent-style name plates with both character name and player name to pass out.

Create “feat sheets”. Take the feats you’re not familiar with and write them out interspersed throughout the scenario when needed so that I have the information at hand.

Use wet wipes for hand-drawn wet-erase map mats. Also include some paper towels. Alternatively, keep a small spray bottle containing water with you. The perfect one for this application is the small spray bottle for cleaning eye-glasses.

Bring a sheet of new Pathfinder Society player numbers to pass out to any new players.



GM Checklist for Pathfinder Convention Games — Part I

2011 November 28
by Stan Shinn

Following this thread on, I’ve compiled a list (with some of my own additions) of 12 steps to take in preparing to run Pathfinder Society games at a convention.

  1. Read the module. Read it before you get there and again at the con before you run the game. Reading the mod before you get there allows you to do the following.
  2. Prepare the encounters. Highlight the key passages, DC rolls and traps. Set aside monster figs that you know you’re going to use for a particular encounter and keep them ready. One way to organize is to use ziplock bags with post-it notes or note cards noting the encounter.
  3. Prepare the maps. I either draw them out ahead of time and move a book to ‘reveal’ the map to pcs or (recently) shell out $0.75 for a black and white rendition of the map at the local Fed-ex. Drawing the map saves on precious time. You can also get large sheets of 1 inch ruled graph paper and draw your maps before going to the convention. Fold them up with each adventure. Gaming paper is another great option. If you have some flip-mats or map packs that correspond to the adventures, use them, if you have the space. They look great and a blank side can be used when you need to draw an unplanned map (or run a random adventure).
  4. Print out the stats for any monsters named without stats in the adventure. You can usually find them in the PRD. Do this for every adventure. And any animals you may need as a player. The extra pages will be a lot easier to lug around than the Bestiaries.
  5. Prepare the certificates. Sign everything on the bottom. Know your GM number, know the event code, and write your name legibly on the certificate in case a player has questions.
  6. If you have the funds, get a good tablet, laptop or netbook. You can load it with PDFs of the books and adventures or access the online PRD if you have internet access. Don’t settle for a device that takes more than a few seconds to load a PDF or turn a page. You won’t use it (at least for checking books at the table).
  7. Bring a few extra PC minis and dice for new players to borrow or for players who forgot theirs.
  8. Bring a map of the Inner Sea to show players where they will be.
  9. Bring printed copies of the PFS character sheets (found on the last 2 pages of the PFS Guide) and copies of the 4 standard pregen PCs at each tier for the adventures you will run.
  10. Don’t forget pens, markers and pencils (with erasers).
  11. Index cards. Great for tracking initiative, makeshift table tents, large or huge monster tokens, etc.
  12. Bring a copy of the current PFS Guide, Traits doc, PFS FAQ, Additional Resources and maybe an extra copy or two of Chapter 2 from the PFS Guide (character creation).

Get all this together well before the convention (or game day) and keep it up-to-date and well stocked so you don’t have to spend time on this in the last few days before the con when you should be getting plenty of sleep and reviewing your adventures.