Author D&D Game


Just got back from the aptly named Epic Con­fu­sion SF/F con­ven­tion in Michigan. It was easily one of the best cons I’ve ever been to, in no small part because of the efforts of Sub­ter­ranean Press (a local pub­lisher which has become deeply involved in the convention’s plan­ning and oper­a­tions). I’m not going to go into details about what made the con­ven­tion so awe­some (the amazing panels, the all-star lineup of guests, the moving party where Sal­adin Ahmed was for­mally inducted into the ranks of pub­lished nov­el­ists, the awe­some trip to the gun range where fan­tasy author Brent Weeks shot a smile into the face of his target). If you’re wanting a recap of the con, sev­eral have been posted, with Yeti Stomper’s prob­ably being the most visu­ally action packed.

If you don’t rec­og­nize this, you need to spend some time on Google

There’s too much to talk about in a single post, and it all pales in com­par­ison to the single standout/highlight event of the whole con­ven­tion, the author D&D game.

If you don’t know what D&D is, google it. That’s not a judge­ment, but this post is for people who have the same sense of heart-wrenching nos­talgia for that game. This post is for the people who grew up with D&D, were shaped by, maybe even cre­ated by it.

I’m one of those people.

It is not an exag­ger­a­tion to say that D&D is one of the sem­inal influ­ences in my life. I am the man I am today in part because of that game, and it forms the basis of the “nerd cred” I am so incred­ibly proud of. In a recent salon​.com article, fan­tasy author Peter V. Brett and myself were inter­viewed about how the game had shaped our lives. Not sur­pris­ingly, we both gave it heavy credit.

A joking string of tweets turned into a very real sug­ges­tion that the pan­elists at Con­fu­sion meet up to play a game of D&D, and Peter V. Brett ran with it, enlisting me to

Chances are, one of your favorite fan­tasy authors is in this picture.

assist him in orga­nizing the event. We were both sur­prised by the level of enthu­siasm of the par­tic­i­pants (and knowl­edge, fashion-forward Joe Aber­crombie even brought his own dice) and by the time the dust cleared we had the author new­bies (myself and Sal­adin Ahmed) DM’ing, with a party con­sisting of Peter V. Brett, Pat Roth­fuss, Joe Aber­crombie, Brent Weeks, Scott Lynch, Eliz­a­beth Bear and Jim Hines. Jay Lake and Sub­ter­ranean Press’ Yanni Kuznia were kind enough to step up and play when Lynch and Bear were delayed. Book reviewer Justin Landin filmed the whole thing, and I hope to be able to post video clips shortly.

Also sur­prising (or maybe not) was the near unan­i­mous agree­ment on striking for the nos­talgia that shaped us all. We played FIRST edi­tion rules, and the classic module written by the James Hal­l­iday of our lives, Gary Gyax:

B-2. Keep on the Borderlands.

Muthaf$#kin’ Keep on the muthaf$#kin’ Borderlands!

It’s tough to describe it. The pres­sure to do a great job, to tell an AMAZING story in the pres­ence of so many amazing sto­ry­tellers was intense. I felt a little better with Sal­adin at my side, but I was still con­cerned. But I needn’t have wor­ried. The nos­talgia and joy we all felt at a return to the cradle of our cre­ativity trumped all, and within moments I felt like I’d been shifted back into my 12 year old self, rolling dice with the other mis­fits in my mom’s base­ment long after my par­ents had gone to bed.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow, but suf­fice to say that a great time was had by all. Some high­lights include:

- To quote Joe Aber­crombie: “I acci­den­tally shot Brent Weeks with an arrow.  Then he tried to kill me with a sword.  Then I tried to kill him with a dagger.  Then we kissed.  And the whole thing was never men­tioned again.”

- Yanni Kuznia (playing Eliz­a­beth Bear’s char­acter) fum­bled a hit roll and acci­den­tally shot Jay Lake (playing Scott Lynch’s char­acter) squarely in the back, almost killing him.

- Jay Lake’s timely use of a hyp­no­tism spell to save Jim Hines’ life resulted in him being drenched in Ogre puke.

- Pat Roth­fuss hired a valet named “Chauncy” whose pri­mary job (apart from car­rying the party strongbox and avoiding combat) seemed to be praising his master for his talent for staying out of the thick of the fighting.

- Peter V. Brett’s deci­sion to sac­ri­fice an ox before starting out on the adven­ture may or may not have earned the blessing of the gods, but it made damn sure everyone was well fed before attempting the caves of chaos.

- Scott Lynch’s pitch-perfect “gnome voice” which chan­nelled the under­pants gnomes from South Park with uncanny accuracy.

And on and on and on. You get the idea. Oh, I almost forgot the char­acter rundown.

Myke Cole/Saladin Ahmed — Co-DMs.

Peter V. Brett — Half-Elf Cleric

Brent Weeks — Half-Elf Assassin

Jim Hines — Half-Orc Fighter

Scott Lynch (Jay Lake) — Gnome Illusionist

Patrick Roth­fuss — Elf Magic-User (with Chauncy, a very sup­portive NPC valet and an absolutely ter­ri­fied black cat familiar)

Eliz­a­beth Bear (Yanni Kuznia) — Elven Ranger

Joe Aber­crombie — Half-Elf Thief (named Darque Shadeaux, incidentally)

There’s more I could say, but this has waxed elo­quently enough. I do want to men­tion that I was struck with the real­iza­tion that I was DMing my child­hood joy for 7 of the greatest authors in my favorite genre.

And it was my JOB. I was on the clock, a working weekend.

There’s that mem­o­rable quote from the film Broad­cast News. “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Answer: “Keep it to yourself.”

Sorry, folks. I’m no good at that. This was one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I am so so so psy­ched to share it with you.

Sue me.

Oh, you think you’re funny? Roll a save vs. DEATH


  • Mazarkis Williams

    So great. I love reading about other people’s campaigns.

  • http://twitter.com/KitEmbleton Kit

    I absolutely love this post. I can’t wait until the clips are posted; it’s prob­ably going to be the most epic thing I’ve seen in a while!

  • http://redwald.blogspot.com/ lee reynoldson

    Ohh man, I’d jump at the chance to play B2 any­time, never mind with all those brill fan­tasy authors. Great post.

  • http://twitter.com/TNiederriter Tim Nieder­riter

    That game sounds absolutely amazing!  Love this post.

  • http://twitter.com/SheckyX Shecky X

    Save vs. DM/author: it’s always 1 higher than your roll.

  • Paul Weimer

    Oh so very very cool. 

  • http://twitter.com/Autumn2May Jennie

    I cannot wait to see video clips of this! 😀

  • Dan Adler

    Jealous. So jealous it hurts :-)

  • http://twitter.com/jdiddyesquire Justin

    Thanks for the men­tion, Myke.

  • http://twitter.com/jramboz Jason Ramboz

    Sal­adin did not play a pal­adin?? Talk about your missed opportunities…

  • http://profiles.google.com/griffin9111025 Griffin Barber

    Damn, what fun. My jeal­ousy rages.

  • Ken Wong

    Sounds like a great game. Can’t wait to see the clips

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  • Adel­heid

    I saw the pre-Epic Con­fu­sion tweets and I would have loved to have been a fly in the wall at that game.  (Well, I would’ve loved to be in the game but I’m not an author… yet)  I still game every now and then with my first DM.  (I started playing in high school). 

  • http://deadened-glow.deviantart.com/ Kat S

    This should happen at all little con­ven­tions. Hmmm…maybe I let some people know at Fargo CoreCon.
    I too am a vet­eran D&D player, though I started off with 3.0 and reg­u­larly play 3.5, D20 modern and some pathfinder.

  • http://swan-tower.livejournal.com/ Marie Brennan

    This is me over here, being Filled With Envy.  Why doesn’t any­body at the cons I go to run random Author D&D?

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  • David Karr

    Dnd is what its all about! try edi­tion 3.5 some­time its my favorite

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000495324737 Rhys Adams

    I played a bit of the latest edi­tion, you making me jealous of the first edi­tion. WHen does the video come out? I’ll hunt around the web­sites for it.

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