Dark Legacy: The Rising at Gen Con This Week

Bryan Tillman standing before a vinyl hanging at Comic-Con in San Diego promoting Dark Legacy

Bryan “Kaiser” Tillman at SDCC 2012

One of the products that will be available at Gen Con this week in Indianapolis is the card game Dark Legacy: The Rising from Kaiser Studio Productions. A smaller production that has been in the works for a few years now, Dark Legacy combines RPG elements with more traditional CCG/TCG ones to create a fusion game. Fusion also describes the game’s setting as it blends swords and sorcery, ninjas, technology, guns, and the elements. Spell cards have a fixed cost and are cast using spell points which are randomly determined by rolling a d20. Each turn a player may choose to roll the d20 and cast spells OR whether to attack with the player’s character and any summoned allies.

The mind behind Dark Legacy and Kaiser Studios is Bryan “Kaiser” Tillman. We spoke at Comic-Con back in July and recorded an interview with some of his thoughts on the game. We also played through the game for about 10 minutes and I got a feeling for how complex Dark Legacy can be. At such a small level, Tillman does all of the sorting of the random packs of cards himself, which are divided up into Commons, Uncommons, Rares, and Uber-Rares.

Privateer Press at SDCC 2012: Will Shick Talks Level 7, Gen Con, and More

28mm Warmachine Retribution figures in a glass case at Comic-Con 2012

Retribution of Scyrah Warmachine Miniatures at Comic-Con 2012

Privateer Press has become something of a mainstay at Comic-Con. Games Workshop has not been seen since 2004 at the latest, though Will Wheaton notably noticed GW’s presence back in 2000 or 2001 when they were promoting their Lord of the Rings miniatures game. This year at Comic-Con I couldn’t even find a WizKids booth promoting HeroClix, so Privateer Press was it in terms of any kind of miniatures company.

Human-sized statue of Ironclad Warjack from Privateer Press at Comic-Con 2012

“Big Blue” the Ironclad Defends the PP Booth

With them they brought their Cygnar Ironclad statue, which is not quite life-size, but which they refer to as “Big Blue”. Big Blue debuted in 2011, but still gets some gearheads quite steamy, but Privateer Press also delivered the goods for fans of Huge bases, showing off the company’s newish Colossal figures in the glass display cases lining the booth. Inside games of Heap and Warmachine were being demoed. One of the big advantages of visiting Privateer Press at Comic-Con is access to prerelease miniatures before the general gaming public can get them. Another is the opportunity to actually meet most of the creative forces within the Bellevue, WA-based company. Company owner and Chief Creative Officer Matt Wilson can oftentimes be found in the booth along with a handful of creative underlings, as well as another handful of Pressgangers recruited to demo games. You also don’t have to feel rushed: 99% of the Comic-Con population isn’t there for Warmachine, Hordes, or Monsterpocalypse. I imagine at Gen Con that it’s a different story.

Modular playing tiles for Privateer Press's Level 7 Escape Board Game in a glass display case at Comic-Con 2012

Survival-Horror Board Game Level 7 Escape on Display at the Privateer Press Booth

Level 7 Escape, Privateer Press’s new board game and part of its new Level 7 intellectual property, will be available at Gen Con in Indianapolis as a pre-release. The science fiction game was also on display in the glass case though I don’t think it was being demoed. The game uses cardboard standees to represent the players as they flee a facility. theco-operatives.com has a lot of great information on Level 7 from an interview they did with Will Shick, Director of Business and Brands for Privateer Press.

I also recorded an interview with Will Shick myself. He highlighted the upcoming Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy RPG, which uses a 2d6 mechanic just as Hordes and Warmachine do. He also said that at Gen Con, Privateer Press will “have plenty to see, plenty to do, and a lot of surprises.” He answers questions in the video below about his background with Privateer Press, the statues of the Ironclad and the Iron Lich, his own armies, and how Warmachine compares to Hordes in terms of popularity, as well as explaining how the armies and forces for the Warmachine Two Player Starter set were chosen.

Comic-Con 2012 Hasbro Terrain Inspiration

For a number of years Hasbro, the manufacturer of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, and My Little Pony toys, has shown off the latest G.I. Joe and Cobra action figures in its booth at Comic-Con. Hasbro employees or contractors pose the figures in elaborate dioramas and this year I believe they had at least four separate scenarios being enacted behind the glass cases. I contacted Hasbro to find out who built the dioramas and for details about their construction, but never heard back from the huge, global toy company.

The Cobra Installation

Two vignettes really caught my attention. The first is obviously a Cobra installation with Cobra Commander and his lieutenants Storm Shadow and Destro surveying the Cobra troops. Two Decepticons have bolstered the Cobra ranks. During the 80s and 90s, there were occasional crossovers between the two toy franchises in the Marvel comic books. The modeler or modelers have created a very convincing layout with a number of flat surfaces weathered to show a little exhaust and grime. While the red translucent cases and their loading carts come from the Comic-Con exclusive release of the H.I.S.S. Tank/Shockwave, most of the building seems to be scratch-built, using pieces of cardstock or styrene to create texture.

Diorama at the 2012 Hasbro booth at Comic-Con with GI Joe action figures lined up in a huge Cobra facility

I spot Iron Grenadiers, some new B.A.T.s (Battle Android Troopers), Alley Vipers, a regular Viper, a Night Viper, the Shockwave H.I.S.S. and Starscream, I believe. I love the stenciled Cobra logo on the floor.

Red Cobra stencil on floor of detailed diorama in the Hasbro Booth at 2012 Comic-Con showing Cobra Commander and Transformers

I am a little surprised that the modeler(s) didn’t add activity on the monitors for the two Cobra members on duty at the right, simply by printing out a miniaturized scene from a cartoon or comic. They also do not appear to be Tele-Vipers, which would have been extra cool. Their searchlights though probably do swivel. Can you spot the Soundwave in the picture? Who is he ejecting?

Looking down on Starscream and Shockwave as a H.I.S.S. in a GI Joe diorama at Comic-Con

Ninja Bridge Battle

The other diorama that also looked realistic to me (and therefore inspiring for building terrain for wargaming) was this Ninja Bridge Battle which seems to come straight from the second movie, Retaliation. If you have not seen the GI Joe: Retaliation trailer, these ninjas will have an aerial battle, anchored by ropes, on a mountainside in the film, battling against Snake Eyes and his team, including the yellow and black-clad ninja, Jinx. GI Joe: Retaliation‘s release date has been pushed back to March 29, 2013. These enemy ninjas are called Red Ninjas in the comic books appropriately enough.

Red Ninja action figures from GI Joe by a building and bridge at the Hasbro Comic-Con 2012 booth

The one criticism I have of this vignette is the choice of red to fill in some of the grout in the stonework. I gather that it is supposed to be blood, but if it is, the splatter is curiously not sticking to the stone faces, but instead running into the cracks. The building at the end of the bridge appears to be a straightforward construct, but the addition of the black trimming partway up makes it more believable. The clay tiles on the roof look good and 28mm modelers can achieve the same with the Hirst Arts Clay Tile Roof Mold.

Red Ninjas lay dead or falling in a bridge attack action figure vignette from Hasbro with a grey mountain backdrop

It’s scenes like these that had me playing with GI Joes throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, but back then we were limited to catalogue pictures that were nowhere near as imaginative with their environments. Similarly wargaming scenery brimming with castles, cobblestone streets, and lush forests drew me into Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K.

Todd Breitenstein on Zombies!!! and The Current Number of the Beast

Todd A. Breitenstein is the designer of Zombies!!! and one half of Twilight Creations. He and his wife Kerry were manning their booth at Comic-Con 2012 and he took the time to answer some questions about the Zombies!!! line of games and The Current Number of the Beast which Kerry Breitenstein designed.

New Products for Comic-Con and Twilight Creations’ Sales

Clad in a Slayer shirt, game designer Todd Breitenstein holds up The Current Number of the Beast at Comic-Con booth

Breitenstein at Comic-Con

CG: So, Todd Breitenstein, creator of Zombies!!!, what are your new products here?
TB:: New for Comic-Con this year since last year we have Little Dead Riding Hood. That came out last October at Spiel and Zombie Survival 2 came out at the beginning of the year. It’s obviously an expansion for our game Zombie Survival. It adds outside obstacles and that sort of thing to the inside obstacles that go along with the game. Humans 3 just came out about a month ago. It’s very cool because it’s actually set in a gaming convention loosely based on Gen Con. It has elements of all the conventions that we do. It’s a lot of fun and increases the Personality cards so when you run into a Human in the game, you have to draw one of these cards and it tells you what kind of human it is and they’re all based on gamer stereotypes, so it’s rather humorous. Also we have Go Goblin Go! which came out the same time as Humans 3. It’s a goblin racing game, it’s kind of a racing/gambling game.
CG: It’s kind of a lighter tone for you.
TB:: Yeah, a little bit. See, the cool thing about it is, is that it actually won a Design a Game with Twilight Creations contest that we held at a convention called Marcon in Columbus, Ohio a couple years ago. We brought all of the bits and everybody had three hours to come up with a game. Actually this is the game he came up with in three hours and it was just-, we were floored by it. Just said, “Look, we’d happy to publish this. Tweak it a little bit.” So that’s where that came from, so that’s why it’s slightly different than all of our other stuff. Although Little Dead Riding Hood is also a racing game and it’s a little bit lighter as well.
CG: Did I just hear that someone from Mattel possibly-
TB:: Apparently Mattel wanted to come out with a game called “Little Dead Riding Hood” and they can’t because we did it first.
CG: Awesome. Before we go back to your products, there’s been a whole ton of new zombie games either coming out or that have come out recently. I’m not really aware of older ones that are in the board game format other than yours, but how concerned are you or what do you do about that?
TB:: Nothing. You really can’t do anything other than keep on keeping on.
CG: You’re distributed in mass market shops like Hot Topic-
TB:: Are we in Hot Topic still?
CG: I’ve seen your stuff in Hot Topic.
TB:: Well, that’s news to me then. But once we sell to distributors I don’t know where they sell it, but I do know that we are in Barnes & Noble. That’s the biggest mass market [for us].
CG: Does that beat out sales through Alliance?
TB:: Oh, goodness no!
CG: So gaming shops are where you make your sales.
TB:: Oh, absolutely. They’re our bread and butter.
CG: What’s your biggest show in terms of sales? Gen Con?
TB:: Probably Gen Con… definitely Gen Con. But actually Dragon*Con in Atlanta is actually a close second.

Spiel Essen

CG: For a game designer, when should they start looking at going to Spiel Essen? Or someone with their own game?
TB:: Wow. I don’t really have any idea. I really can’t honestly answer that. It is so daunting and expensive to go to Spiel that unless you’re fairly confident you’re going to move some units of something… it’s not an easy thing to do.
CG: How did you come to that decision yourself?
TB:: Oh, see, our situation was a little bit different. I worked at the United States Playing Card company when I designed Zombies!!!. So they actually owned the rights to it for a couple of years even after we started Twilight Creations, because the division that I was working in, they dissolved in order to sell US PC which was privately owned at the time so they were grooming it for sale. Anyway, they laid everybody off from my division and this had just come out [Zombies!!!] and they’d spent a stupid amount of money on promoting it. And so, it’s a great game, they spent a ton of money promoting it, so it actually took off. We actually had a bonafide hit by the time we started Twilight Creations, so then going over to Spiel was kind of a no-brainer at that point.
CG: How many times have you done that show?
TB:: This will be our ninth year, I think.
CG: Oh, you do it every year.
TB:: Oh, yeah. We’ve done it so many times that we actually have tables and chairs in Germany for the booth and everything. We have a whole cadre of friends in Germany who help us out, which is good because my German is very bad!

Some Particulars About Zombies and Other Products

Human wielding chainsaw besieged by undead zombies on cover of Zombies!!! box artCG: One of the things that sets Zombies!!! apart from a lot of other products is the low, low cost, its price point.
TB:: That’s actually one of our goals as a company is to keep prices very low.
CG: So you can walk in and just get a complete game, for what? $15? $20.
TB:: Yeah, Zombies!!! is $30 now, but yeah the newest games that are coming out next month, The Current Number of the Beast and Zombies!!! are all priced at $19.99 and I think even the Zombies!!! Card Game, we’re talking about lowering that price even a little bit. We’ll see what the final numbers work out to be. But yeah, games are too expensive. I mean I love Fantasy Flight and I love what they do, but we’re trying to be an alternative to that. They do what they do very well and they get $50, $75, $100 for a game, but especially things like Comic-Con and stuff, they wouldn’t fly here. It’s just too expensive. On the other hand, people will drop $20 on a game. That’s the market we’re trying to hit and quite honestly that’s why I think Zombies!!! has done so well.

CG: I read in Wargame Design by the now-defunct SPI that back in the 60s and 70s people were buying their games and Avalon Hill’s, not as collectors, but as something they wanted to play, but they never got around to actually playing. Are you aware of that happening with Zombies!!!, that you might have more sales just to zombie fans, but they never crack it open.
TB:: Oh yeah. It happens all the time, especially in situations like Comic-Con here where the people who are buying it aren’t neccesarily gamers. They like the artwork and the box and the concept of the game and whatnot. We’ll even have people come back the next year and say “I bought this last year and I haven’t played it yet, but I want to buy this, this, and this.” It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.
CG: So yeah, with me, I’m not a fan of zombies myself, but I got it because it was so cheap. You’re in a situation where you can take advantage of that.
TB:: Right. Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s why we keep coming out with expansions too. Expansions sell phenomenally. There’s a large fanbase for that little box which is kind of humbling in my experience. It’s neat.

Three zombies menace the viewer on the box art for Zombies!!! the Card GameCG: What’s been the most successful in your Bag O’ product line?
TB:: Probably the regular Bag O’ Zombies, simply because people use them to play D&D and they use them for canon fodder for all kinds of RPGs and that sort of thing.
CG: So you’ve seen tons of pictures of your little guys being used for different-
TB:: For everything, yeah! Actually Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the guys that designed Dungeons & Dragons, before they died, we used to see them every Gen Con. They’d come up and buy a bag of zombies from us. It was very cool.
CG: I’m not familiar with Bag O’ Babes.
TB:: Oh, Bag O’ Babes. In the 2nd Edition of Zombies!!!, there’s 50 guy zombies and 50 girl zombies and the Bag O’ Babes is just 100 of the girl zombies.
CG: Now what about the Zombies!!! The Card Game? How did you decide, “I’m going to move away from miniatures to a card game”?
TB:: Because one of the things about Zombies!!! is that it can take a while to play. So we were looking for something that is an alternative to that that still kept the zombie theme and the feel of the Zombies!!! board game, but you could actually play in 20-30 minutes and it didn’t take up three dining room tables’ worth of space. It really came from that. Our goal was to cut down the playtime and cut down the play space, while still keeping the intent of the original board game and I think we did that.

Todd Breitenstein’s Start in Gaming

CG: How did you get started in gaming yourself?
TB:: We always played board games when I was growing up and then after that I started playing D&D when I was like maybe 12, I think. And then just a natural progression from that. Got out of it in college a little bit, then got back into it. We started playing Magic: The Gathering and the X-Files Card Game. When the first wave of CCGs hit we were big fans.
CG: How did you get into game design yourself?
TB:: Actually through the United States Playing Card company. My wife Kerry was a big X-Files CCG fan. That was originally made by the United States Playing Card company and we got to know the guys that were responsible for that, just became friends with them. They were starting a new division to develop newer games, card games that sort of thing and I hated the job that I was in, so I said “Please, please bring me aboard so I can get out of advertising!” So I did. Honestly, I don’t think I ever really-, I never set out to become a game designer. It was just something that I lucked into.
CG: They brought you on board to help with game design?
TB:: To help more with graphics actually. My background is in journalism and advertising. I was Word boy and graphic design boy.
CG: Then how did you make the decision to branch out on your own?
TB:: Well, I didn’t. That was forced on us. They dissolved the division that I was working for. It was called Journeyman Press, which was a division of the United States Playing Card company. The owners of the United States Playing Card company were grooming the company itself to sell it. And so they were cutting out the excess chaff and waste and unfortunately Journeyman Press was one of the more wasteful things. It was very poorly run.
CG: Did you have to buy back your own rights to Zombies?
TB:: Yes, yes. Yes we did. We did that two years after we left.
CG: Because as an employee you had made it under contract with them?
TB:: Yes, exactly. They owned it. They had every right to it, but they were very gracious and sold it to me after a couple of years. But it wasn’t free! Let’s just put it that way. [Laughs]

Zombies Smart Phone Game

CG: I’m not aware of this, but do you have any apps for Zombies online?
TB:: Yeah, actually it’s out on the Windows phone right now. There will be some announcements in the very near future as to other platforms that it might be on, but I can’t say any more than that right now.
CG: Do you play it yourself?
TB:: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s on my phone right now.
CG: How well do you do at playing Zombies?
TB:: I die a lot! [Laughs]
CG: Is that part of the game design.
TB:: Oh yeah, it says that in the rules. That’s why you start over again. You don’t just die and that’s it, because that would be very short.

The Current Number of the Beast

Satanic devil playing with dice on cover of Twilight Creations Current Number of the BeastCG: What’s the genesis of The Current Number of the Beast?
TB:: Honestly? We were playing a game in the driveway at home listening to the radio. Actually the hardcore heavy metal station on Sirius satellite radio and they do a countdown and it’s called “The Current Number of the Beast” and we thought that was hilarious. So we wrote it down kind of thing. We went “We should design a game called the Current Number of the Beast”. Long story short, when we sobered up it was still hilarious. And so Kerry actually got to work on it and she came up with a dynamite little game.
CG: So your wife’s the designer?
TB:: Yeah. Actually she’s a better designer than I am by far. I’m a better tweaker. I’m better at taking what she comes up with and making it better, but as far as initial design, she’s way better than I am.
CG: What caught my eye about it is that I can’t imagine this product in the 80s, the controversey it would have caused.
TB:: Oh yeah. That’s kind of what we were going for.
CG: Now it doesn’t seem tame, but it’s-
TB:: It’s almost inane now. The world has definitely changed hasn’t it?
CG: So is this something that you yourself would play now? How much game playing do you actually do now?
TB:: Actually we do more now than we have in the past few years. I’ve been doing this personally with Journeyman Press and on our own and everything for 13 years now. There was like maybe a three or four year stretch a few years ago where it was like, “OK, if I never see another game, it’ll be OK with me.” And then about a year ago or so we started actually playing more stuff again. Actually a lot of Fantasy Flight, Mayfair, and Z-Man Games stuff. Like Wiz-War, I love Wiz-War. And my wife and I we always play a lot of Scrabble. Scrabble’s our favorite game. We can play Scrabble sitting here at the booth. We have DSs, so we play on them.
CG: Who usually wins at that?
TB:: That’s usually about 50/50. She’s a better player, but I have a better vocabulary. Yeah, it’s about 50/50, although I won two out of three games yesterday.
CG: What was your reaction to The Current Number of the Beast? Did you majorly react or did you just say, “Ok, this is a good idea, let’s see what we can do with it.”?
TB:: That was one of the few times where I went “Wow, that is very very cool.” I’ll put it to you this way. Usually when we design a game and get it playtested, playtested, playtested, and get it out to the manufacturer, it becomes “OK, I don’t want to see this again for 6 months or so”. This one we sent to the manufacturer and we continued to play it. We’ve played it a couple of dozen times already this weekend back at the hotel. It’s that much fun. It’s that solid of a game. It’s quick, it’s down, it’s dirty. The cards are fun. It’s just an awesome game. But yeah, that one was one where I went “Wow. I can’t wait to show this to people.”

Twilight Creations and Organized Play

CG: Is the company pretty much you two?
TB:: It is Kerry and I, yes.
CG: Do you have demo guys?
TB:: Oh, yeah. Like at Gen Con and stuff we have a group of people who help us out.
CG: Fans?
TB:: Yeah. They’ve turned into friends over the years. Even at Spiel we have half a dozen guys that live in Essen and Dusseldorf and stuff that help us out.
CG: But it could be you at other shows demoing the games?
TB:: Yeah, if it’s a small show, it’s just her and I. Like Dragon*Con, it’s just her and I, not that Dragon*Con’s a small show.
CG: Have you ever realized something about a game while demoing or do you try to have the game so figured out by that point-
TB:: It happens. That happens every once in a great while. I can’t think of any examples off-hand. Generally it’s seeing uses for things that we didn’t. For example, the promo card for this year, What The Hell? Ten Years, I was reading it earlier today and went, “Wow, this is a lot more powerful than I thought it was.” Because I thought of a new use for it.
CG: Powerful?
TB:: Yeah, exceedingly so.
[Some conversation about the absence of organized play from Twilight Creations.]
CG: Why have you chosen not to do organized play?
TB:: It’s not even a choice. Organizing organized play is, it’s like herding cats. We’ve tried so many things over the years to get people to go out to game stores in their area and demo for us and stuff. Everybody just always wants “Send me every one of the games you make and I’ll be happy to do that” and that’s just giving stuff away at that point.
CG: So it’s not cost effective?
TB:: We haven’t found a cost effective way of doing it, no. If you can figure out how to do it, I’d be happy [to know].
CG: How do you feel about the concept of organized play?
TB:: Oh, I think it’s great, but to actually get people to go out and do it is the problem. We have a couple people throughout the country that’ve actually been with us pretty much from the beginning who still go out and show people the games and demo at game shops and stuff…
CG: So it’s not that you don’t see Zombies!!! as something to play competitvely…?
TB:: It’s more of a beer and pretzels game anyway. It’s not so competitive. People do run it in tournament format, but it’s not something that we actively promote or anything. It’s more of a social sort of game. Toss in a movie, open a beer, and kill some zombies.

CG: Wrapping up, any exciting new stuff coming up? You’ve got the phone announcements forthcoming.
TB:: There’s some big news in the next month or so on the video game front for Zombies!!!. We’re doing a Zombies!!! scenario book this fall, maybe the beginning of next year. We’re going to keep on chugging along.

Badasses and Deadfellas: Ben Thompson and Brian Snoddy at Comic-Con 2012

Book cover for Badass by Ben ThompsonAt Comic-Con I encountered Badass author Ben Thompson at the Maerkle Press booth. The first volume, simply titled Badass, details 40 badasses ranging from the infamous Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, and Blackbeard to the relatively obscure Peter Francisco and Agustina of Aragon. Peter Francisco was a Revolutionary War hero touted by George Washington as “truly a one-man army”. Or as author Thompson describes Francisco, an American who “quickly decided that he would dedicate all of his energy to punching British people in the dick and pulling out their vas deferens.” This is Thompson’s style throughout Badass as he describes various foes of the 40 badasses getting pwned left and right. Female badasses are represented as well. Agustina of Aragon, the Maid of Saragossa was a Spanish heroine of the Napoleonic Peninsular War named Agustina Zaragoza Domènech who lived in Saragossa. When her fellow Spaniards fled their positions “shrieking like grade-school girls just because a couple of French dudes were waving knives in their faces”, she took over their abandoned canon and fired grapeshot into the invaders from point-blank reducing “the bloodthirsty, stab-happy French troops” to a “smoking crater of dead-ass bitches.” Thompson also presents Soviet WWII pilot Irina Sebrova and female pirate Anne Bonny as badasses.

Author Ben Thompson at Comic-Con holding up his book Badass

Badass Author Ben Thompson

When I picked up Badass and the second volume Badass: The Birth of a Legend, I was attracted by the premise of the books as a collection of great warriors, as well as by the black and white illustrations accompanying each badass, in particular Matt Haley’s evocative work. Thompson’s in-your-face hypermodern style has been a pleasant surprise, but it has also left me picking through his prose to figure out what the real story was. While the original Badass focuses on the historical, Badass: The Birth of a Legend provides portraits of 40 gods, mythological heroes, and fictional characters ranging from Thor, Anubis, and Saint Michael the Archangel to Captain James T. Kirk, Darth Vader, Sauron, and Skeletor. A third volume in the Badass series is in the works and Ben Thompson provides a badass of the week at his site badassoftheweek.

While Thompson’s Badass series are in no way gaming products, they’re helpful compendiums to GMs who like to populate their worlds with badass villains for the PCs to fight or even for PCs to take inspiration from on that new character concept. The AD&D 2nd Edition handbook referenced historical, literary, and mythological badasses in each classes’ description, drawing upon Charlegmagne and Roland just as much as Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Gandalf and Strider, if I recall correctly. These examples spurred me to try the Lord of the Rings saga, as well as Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar books, and to dig deeper into actual medieval history to learn more about D&D. With the Badass series Thompson has taken care of some of the drudgery of picking your way through history or literature to find the moments of true epicness that we all want to emulate in our own characters’ adventures. As it stands, Thompson could improve Badass though by tossing in a little Drizzt Do’Urden. Love him or hate him, R.A. Salvatore’s drow hero is inarguably one of the greatest badasses in the history of fiction. Thompson is no stranger to D&D and references the game in the chapter on the Greek hero Diomedes, likening Diomedes’ attack on the God of War himself, Ares, in the Iliad to “playing a game of D&D, deciding to have your character attack the Dungeon Master, and winning.”


Zombie Mafia Mooks on cover of Deadfellas box artAlso in the Maerkle Press booth promoting Badass was one of its illustrators, Brian Snoddy. He is inexplicably absent from the credits in the original Badass, but illustrated Voytek the Soldier Bear who carried ammo for the Poles in WWII. In Badass: The Birth of a Legend he has many more illustrations including Moby Dick and a chupacabra. With him Snoddy had Deadfellas the Zombie Monster Card Game, which he designed along with Jesper Myrfors and James Ernest. Available since April from Exile Game Studio, the game contains 110 playing cards featuring undead Mafia mooks with the object of the game being to whack your opponent’s mooks before he can whack yours. Deadfellas is designed for two to six players and features Snoddy’s artwork on all of the zombie mobster cards.

Brian Snoddy explains Deadfellas’ mechanics and a little of his involvement in Badass in the video we recorded on July 15:

Jeffrey Moy and Video Game Gals

Comic graphic novel cover with two drawn attractive women dressed as an elf and a wizard for Video Game GalsI have followed the progress of artist Jeffrey Moy on Video Game Gals for the last few years at Comic-Con. An artist within the video game industry, Moy has worked on Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and X-Men Legends as well as comics properties like DC’s Legionaires and usually has a table in Artists’ Alley at Comic-Con. Currently he is working on a Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes crossover for IDW and DC as well as VGG. My interest in Moy’s work though was always based on the introspection he shows in his Sketch Games sketchbooks and his process of creation, based more on my interest in comic book creation than anything to do with gaming. However at Comic Con 2012 Moy had the sequential art with him for the first Video Game Gals graphic novel and I sensed some gamer roots in his panels. The project is rapidly nearing fruition and Moy has taken it to Kickstarter to get the book made.

The heroines of Video Game Gals are just that, video game gals, women who play video games, but in Moy’s setting games are closer to a virtual reality, slightly reminiscent of Star Trek’s holodeck mixed with the world of Tron. As he explains in the original Sketch Games, “As each character enters a realm, they download a “skin”, which contains information on their mission as well as how they will appear in the game.” What caught my eye this year was that they are playing in a fantasy setting reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons or Gauntlet. While Moy has played Dungeons & Dragons, he describes himself as more of a board gamer and plays such modern classics as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and the Battle Star Galactica board game. The D&D influences in VGG can be seen in a beholder-like creature and a gelatinous cube or slime engulfing a hapless male adventurer.

Pencil sketches for Jeffrey Moy's Video Game Gals showing attractive female protagonists

Uninked Penciled Layout from Page 21 of Video Game Gals

Moy’s Kickstarter campaign ends August 19 with a goal of $25,000. We recorded a video interview on July 13 at Comic-Con about his Kickstarter campaign, Video Game Gals, and Moy’s gaming background amidst a lot of background noise.

Kickstarter Ashcan cover and Video Game Girls page art copyright Jeffrey Moy, used with permission.