Two weekends ago (yes, I’m slacking), My husband and I, along with others of Kenzer and Company had the distinct honor of being invited to the Chicago-based convention Anime Central because they wanted to expand and offer gaming at their convention, along with their other events. They offered two nice rooms at the hotel for those who wanted to come and run Hackmaster games at the convention.

We had three really great volunteers come to help and take advantage of the free rooms and the gaming fun.

To be honest, we at Kenzer were not sure what to make of this convention. None of us are really into anime and we reasoned that those into anime were not likely to be interested in gaming the old fashioned way, around a table with a character sheet and some dice. Boy, were we wrong!

We had all of the tables in the room filled up with gamers almost constantly. These attendees ATE HACKMASTER UP! Part of the success of the gaming that weekend was the terrific volunteers — George Fields, Steve Lawrence and his friend Rebecca (whose last name I sadly do not know). Steve had brought with him a fantastic LED TV converted to a tabletop map/play surface that wowed everyone who saw it (and inspired my husband to make one.)

Rebecca had a winning personality, a wonderful grasp of the system and a love of the game that was infectious. George is a champion of GMing, as well, with a really fun adventure based on tons of kobolds who were quite fun to wade through, as I can personally attest to.

The real star of the show was the game itself and the openness of these wonderful anime conference attendees to trying something new. It was a glorious thing to behold – to watch people (lots of them) fully and enthusiastically embracing the game and seeing for themselves how fun it really is. It refreshed all of us at Kenzer, who had become, admittedly, weary, beaten down and a bit frazzled by the hard work put into creating the new Player’s Handbook, and by general life events.

The conventioneers saw that even character creation in Hackmaster is a blast. Every single one of them reveled in the process, some coming back day after day to tweak their characters and then to play. I heard nothing but laughter coming from the tables where characters were being rolled up, “My character is superstitious and thinks black is an unlucky color! Oh man, that’s gonna be funny!” “I want another quirk! Oh, cool! I got foul-mouthed! Perfect!” I heard expressions such as this all weekend.

During one game, the one I played at George’s table, I played with a table full of people who I had helped roll up characters. We had a big, he-man fighter, his wife playing a magic user who hadn’t really gamed before, and a guy playing a halfling thief with a strength of 5 who was greedy and fully embraced that quirk. πŸ˜‰

So, our fighter falls into a pit as we are surrounded by kobolds. He climbs out easily, but on the way up grabs a kobold by the leg and pulls him into the pit with him, falling on purpose and cleaving the dude into two pieces at one point. The rest of us are shoving kobolds into the pit with the guy, who is wading through them in a beautiful, bloody fashion. It was awesome to behold.

His wife proceeded to cast Scorch upon the monsters, burning up several, until her spell points ran out and she wondered what she could do to be useful and to have fun. Remembering that she too had the greedy quirk, she decided to perform coup de grace maneuvers on the downed creatures and loot their bodies.

Meanwhile, having defeated several kobolds on our trek through the dungeon, we come to a large room where there were a multitude of the fiends, along with their females and pups. Trying to light the room ablaze we pretty much failed to do anything on that score.

So, the little greedy halfling volunteers a crazy idea. “Why doesn’t the big, strong halfling throw me into the room, and I’ll do this…” he says while demonstrating his perfect swan dive. πŸ˜‰ So, the fighter obliges him and he gets quickly mobbed and restrained, and carried toward the back of the room.

The rest of us fight our way inside, and even though the halfling fails to break free of his captors (though the character was female), he eventually is dropped when another mage casts a spell that blinded the monsters. After that, the fighter and the rest of us proceeded to finish off the room.

Similar crazy antics were performed by tables full of new, creative Hackmaster players throughout the weekend. I heard at least one person say that our game was the most fun she had at the convention. By the looks of those returning to play day after day I expect that was true for many of them.

So, coming from a boost of confidence like that, I’m sure the next HM project will be awesome as well.

AND, speaking of conventions — well, it’s summer con season and we will all be at Origins and Gen Con with our Kenzer booth, HM demos and scheduled events. Come by and see us if you’re attending. We always love meeting our fans. πŸ™‚

Dogs of Winter


The Dogs of Summer are quite famous,

those long, hot, never-ending days,

as they mosey across our lawns,

and wilt our lettuce.

But, the Dogs of Winter are not so well-known.

They are the ones that are dark,

lurking in the gloom,

gnawing at our necks,

growling at the sun.

They hold us captive in our pain,

drag us through old memories,

and make us drink the languishing tears

of our past.

It is only the flutter of robin’s wings

that save us from our deathly sorrow

and drag us out into a blossoming world

Once again.