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The Lady Gamer

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All contents © 2011
by Lori Ann Curley
unless otherwise specified

Articles written for The Lady Gamer
2006 2005

December 2005: Gaming Gifts for the Non Gamers on Your List
November 2005: Through a Character's eyes:  He Said My Name
October 2005: Storage Ideas for Gaming Supplies

September 2005: Gen Con 2005 Report
July 2005: Army of Dorkness Events at Gen Con Indy
June 2005: Thoughts on Episode III
May 2005: What is Dorkstock?
April 2005: Plattecon Sigma
March 2005: You Know You're a Lady Gamer When...
February 2005: I Want Pecs!
January 2005: What? An Index? (reprinted from Games Quarterly Magazine issue #3)

Gaming Gifts for the Non Gamers on Your List
    You're a gamer; when someone wants to give you a gift, you're as easy to shop for as finding your Friendly Local Games Store. However, what do you do to let those on your holiday shopping list know that your hobby isn't as scary as some in the media would lead them to believe?
    My favorite company to shop from is Out of the Box Games (OTB), not just because a dear friend of mine is one of the founders and owners, but because OTB has a lot of wonderful award-winning games that are truly "fun for the whole family."
    My favorite game ever is Blink [discontinued by OTB]. In this extremely busy world, I love a game that you can both teach and play in less than a minute. I won two free copies of this game at the first Dorkstock, then bought copies for four lucky nieces and nephews for the holidays. The box says the minimum age is seven, but I've taught this game to an intelligent four-year-old with good results. ($9.99)
    Also [originally] by OTB is Apples to Apples. As an English major, I love a game that teaches you about nouns and adjectives and how one relates to the other. Again, this is an easy game to learn: pick the noun (green card) that is best described by the adjective (red card). One daring gamer even proposed to his lady utilizing a specially made card. ($29.99 for Party Box)
    I gave Snorta [discontinued by OTB] to my godson for his ninth birthday, and he and his family reported back about how much fun the game is because the players make animal sounds to win the game. Definitely a great game for kids of all ages, although the box says for 8 and up. ($19.99)
    Switching to Mayfair Games (MG) because I ran games for them at Gen Con for several years. I loved running Alibi because to me it's Clue without the timewasting board and a lot more options on the whodunnit side. ($15.00)
    The first time I played Settlers of Catan (MG), I was delighted with the board that changes every time the game is played, as well as learning the importance of trade routes and resources. This is way better than Mayfair's train games because you don't need any crayons! ($38.00)
    Because I am a fan of the Myth Adventures series of books, and Robert Aspirin [now RIP] is finally writing in this series again, I hope people will be interested in the Myth Fortunes (MG) game again. The board is dizzying lovely with artwork by Phil Foglio. I ran two boards at a time and allowed players to jump boards through the drop zones. ($25.00)
    If you're sure that the non-gamer is ready for a big taste of gamer fun, teach them the Dork Tower Board Game (DTBG - Steve Jackson Games). Based on the characters from the John Kovalic comic book, the DTBG is a board game designed with some role-playing game mechanics such as character levels and experience points. Trying to quest enough to build a character tough enough to defeat the evil wizard should be an easy concept for even the novice gamer to grasp, except that everyone else at the table is trying to achieve the same thing and prevent you from succeeding! You can buy miniatures of the characters to enhance the board game. ($19.95)

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.       

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Through a Character's eyes: He Said My Name
    In the early morning light as the sun tried to creep above the hills, I saw a smoldering campfire. Suddenly, the coals in the firepit grew into high flames. I cast a spell to detect any magic around me and was blinded by bright light coming from everywhere. An Elfin woman with long black hair in a tight braid and wearing a gray-green cloak was stoking the fire. She was armed with a saber and a cutlass, and her bedroll lay next to the fire.  
    Darkness fell shortly thereafter, adding to the mystical aspects of this world which was unfamiliar to me, for the stars were not the same constellations I studied as a child. I noticed a tent made of hides nearby, and the banner before it was from some kingdom whose name I could not recall. 
    "Who is in the tent?" I asked the Elf.  
    Cryptically she replied, "Only you can answer that." 
    As I turned to enter the tent, I smelled food. Looking back, I noticed a spit over the fire that wasn't there earlier. The scent of rabbit cooking reminded me that I was hungry; I hadn't eaten in some time. My curiosity was famished even more, however, so I entered the tent. 
    Someone was resting on a cot against the far wall. Seated next to the cot was a big man with a fiery mane of red hair. He looked oddly familiar to me, but again my memory failed [as did my dice]. Then my memory finally succeeded when I recognized the figure on the cot as my Lord Juran. The burly red-head stood between me and my God in what seemed an effort to protect Him. "I am Baran, and you will not molest a man at rest." 
    "I am Jahna, cleric in the service of my Lord God Juran." I announced.  
    Baran looked back at the cot. "He isn't dead yet." 
    "Is that my Lord Juran?"  
    "One who claims to be in his service should recognize him." 
    "May I approach Him?" 
    "Did the Elf let you in?" 
    "She did not prohibit my entry." 
    "Fine." Baran conceded with a wave of his hand. He stood next to me as I examined my God.
    Juran was terribly wounded, and one eye was covered with a patch. Though I shouldn't have been, I was surprised to see a mortal human before me. I've always known Juran to be immortal, yet the realization that he, too, had to die never came to me before. I also realized that if Juran was alive–albeit seemingly barely–I must be in the distant past. "Have you been to the sea?" I asked Baran. 
    "That's where we were heading, though I'm not sure if he'll make it." Oh no. If He hadn't been to the sea, then the city of Juran had yet to be established. Both the establishment of the city and of Juran as leader–then deity–must occur.  
    "He'll make it if I can do anything about it." I cast a spell to cure His wounds and felt an incredible power flowing through me. He opened His eyes, and I could see in the one that was not covered that His eyes were brown, rather than blue, which is depicted in every portrait of Juran that I have seen.
    He woke and looked about the tent. Upon seeing me he said, "Jahna." 
    Then I woke up in the back of our wagon, housed in the warehouse we were using as a base in Brindenford. 
    After the crises in Brindenford were over, and I had time to ponder my death experience, I realized that I must have traveled back more than 500 years, preceding the founding of Juran the city. I did not recognize the stars because I'm used to orienting the constellations around Juran's Star, which obviously was not in the heavens before his death.  
    The most exciting revelation was that Juran knew me and said my name.    
Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.       

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Storage Ideas for Gaming Supplies

    Okay, maybe you didn't just move into a 3000+ square foot home like I and my husband did. We still have to deal with storing all our gaming supplies, which is why I had no problem giving the husband the finished attic – all 404 square feet of it with closets galore – for his home computer and gaming gear. Here are some ideas that we've learned over the years:

More ideas will come in future articles!

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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Gen Con 2005 Report

Gen Con Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2:53 pm

    I sit here in room 108 of the Indiana Convention Center (ICC), awaiting the end of my husband's last game three tables away. I'm tired; My feet hurt; I just went to Starbucks for a tall White Mocha Latte because even though the temperature outside is bordering on hot, the ICC is air conditioned to the point of being refrigerated. I just gave two blister Band-Aids to a woman wearing boots she bought yesterday. After the World's Greatest Husband (WGH) is done with his game, we'll bid our gaming group Infinite Imaginations, Inc. (I3) farewell, then we will drive the 5.5 hours home. Another Gen Con come and gone, and it was very, very good.

    I've been attending Gen Con since 1990 (and that year is a sad story for another time), with the exception of 2003. The WGH and I live in Wisconsin, and Milwaukee was very convenient for us. Not only did Gen Con move to Indianapolis in 2003, but the WGH was battling heart disease and my mother was battling cancer. Mercifully both have won their medical battles, and we returned to Gen Con in 2004, realizing, as many did in 2003, that the move was good.

    This year we reunited with I3. During the Milwaukee years, the WGH ran Drive-In Hero for I3, and I was best described as an I3 groupie, running smaller events on my own. We both decided to run games for I3 for the free badge and low-cost hotel room. Because I3 runs so many hours of events, Gen Con picked up the tab for all our badges and most of our hotel rooms. I3 divided up the cost for the uncovered rooms amongst the 30+ GMs in our group. The downside was we didn't receive our badges until Gen Con, and if we wanted to pre-register for anything, we had to buy a player's badge for which we would be reimbursed. Most of us, the WGH and I included, decided not to pre-register for anything.

    The only other major bad of the weekend involved the two full-sized beds in our hotel room. The WGH and I are gamer-sized, i.e. he's a 2X and I'm a 3X. We own a king-sized bed at home for a reason. We also had an issue with snoring, but that's an even longer story than the sad story of my first Gen Con.

    Other than these minor negatives, the weekend went quite well. I'd have to say that this was probably the best run, the best organized Gen Con I ever attended. Peter Adkison believes in customer service and delivering a quality product, as is evidenced by the fact that he personally attends the feedback session at the end of every Gen Con.

    Wednesday evening when we checked into the Crowne Plaza, I saw Monte Cook, and called him "one of my two favorite people at Gen Con." He didn't understand, but accepted my offer to buy him a drink sometime during the convention.

    Dinner at the Rathskeller has become our Wednesday night tradition. I'm of Irish-German heritage and the German food at the Rathskeller reminds me of my grandmother's cooking. The Rathskeller has so many beers to choose from that I always ask the waitress what she recommends. She asked me, "Do you like light or dark beer?"

    When I answered, "Yes", the waitress recommended the Seasonal Six Sampler, ranging from Guinness to a light apple cider.

    We received our badges and marching orders at the I3 meeting later that night. Then off to try sleeping on the full-sized bed.

    My first event on Thursday morning, the Dork Tower Board Game, ran in the Board Game Headquarters (BG HQ). Lee and the other hall captains color-coded the tables and provided me and my players with ample space for my gameboards. Although I made arrangements to have prizes for all my games, my MIB (Men in Black, convention volunteers for Steve Jackson Games) contact did not deliver the needed prizes until Friday. That's okay; my winners on Thursday were just there for a good time, which the Dork Tower Board Game provided, and weren't too concerned about the prizes. I was able to connect with one winner and give him his prize on Friday. The other winner's prize will be mailed to him next weekend.

    The WGH and I ate lunch together, then he went to take a nap (the snoring issue hit him worse; in other words, he's not a snorer). I went to the Exhibit Hall to shmooze and pass out advertising for my editing and indexing business. One game publisher on finding out I like to write indexes, a task he abhors, called me a "crazy (rhymes with rich)" in a joking manner. I also picked up some prize support from Out of the Box, whose games I was running. It was nice to hear, "Just pick any four" as he pointed to the display of all the games the company had to offer.

    After joining the WGH for a nap and then dinner at The Claddagh Irish Pub (more Guinness), we went to the street party, hoping for some free swag. Unfortunately, only food was to be had. The popcorn was good, but neither the WGH nor I were in the mood for fried Snickers bars, so we told the young boy we saw in the hotel lobby on his way to the party that he could have ours.

    Then the WGH and I went to our hotel's hot tub and pool. I took my glasses off, but I could still compliment the lovely blond who joined us whose swimsuit, like mine, had a skirt attached to it. She thanked me for the compliment, and upon hearing her voice, I squinted hard to confirm my suspicions. "Cristi?" I asked.

    "Yes, Lori, right?"

    "Yes!" I said as Cristi's husband, Nodwick and PS238 artist Aaron Williams, joined us. We spent the rest of the evening soaking and talking and having the kind of surreal time one can only experience at Gen Con.

    Friday morning, I found the hall captains at the Trading Game Headquarters (TCG HQ) to be just as helpful as those in the BG HQ. My Chez What? game was in a room all to myself for the first hour, and my players had fun. The MIB delivered the other prize support offered, so I was able to give the winner a prize as well as a fun time.

    Friday afternoon's Apples to Apples game was in the same room that I was now sharing with a few others, but I still had ample space to accommodate the nine players I had. The first winner went home with her own copy of Apples to Apples, then the players decided to play more just for the fun of it. One young man there with his dad was hyper-intelligent and funny. The dad even gave me a tip as he left!

    Friday night was the annual Cthulhu Rally, and Chaosium was celebrating 30 years in the games industry. Charlie Krank always throws a great party, and this year's theme was a beach party. The Duct Tape Girl was having way too much fun with the inflatable banana during the limbo contest.

    Saturday morning saw the Igor Bars contest, and I must admit that the moment I saw the bars with M&Ms on the top making a picture of Igor himself, I knew the contest's winner. The woman who decorated her Igor Bars with steel-grey frosting, Gummy Worms, and a candy dead rat was a very close second.

    I connected with both Monte and Sue Cook, and the latter explained to the former that they’re my "best customers" (read: my only customers so far). This being Saturday, it was far too late to set a time for that drink, so I bought Sue a bottle of soda instead. That works.

    That afternoon I played my absolutely favorite game ever: Blink. I love a game that I can teach and play in less than a minute. Even Cheapass games aren't that fast. I had time to return to the Exhibit Hall to do some shopping. I purchased the Riddle Books that I did not own, as well as earning the "Riddle Master" ribbon for my badge.

    After a short nap in my hotel room, where I was the only person and thus the only snorer, I went to see the Dead Gentlemen host an RPG including some industry celebrities:  Aaron Williams, Monte Cook, and a third whose name I don't recall. I took a picture of Cook and Williams together because apparently they look so similar, some think they are the same person (uh, one's a writer;  the other's an artist).  I also have a couple of funny pictures of me with the Dead Gentlemen.  These guys are a hilarious, fun-loving, group of gamers, just like anyone else at Gen Con.  Cristi Williams also told me that Magnificent Egos, in the booth next to theirs, had only four Nodwick minis left.

    Because the Colts unwisely scheduled a preseason game during Gen Con again, the WGH and I had quite a time finding a restaurant for dinner. Last year I wrote the Commissioner of the NFL advising him to not schedule a game in the RCA Dome during Gen Con. Apparently I need to send the letter to the Colts organization instead. I hope the fact that I'm a shareholder in the Green Bay Packers, and thus know the needs of football fans attending a game, will have a little weight with the team's scheduler.

    Then the WGH and I attended a screening of "The Making of Dorkness Rising" by the Dead Gentlemen.  Too funny.  I can't wait for this film's release sometime next year.  Look for cameos by Monte Cook and other RPG industry personnel.

    The TCG HQ hall captain was not as chipper on Sunday morning as he had been earlier in the weekend, but he was still helpful and provided ample space for my finale game. The one person who came won the last prize I had to offer. Then I rushed to the Exhibit Hall.  The Magnificent Egos booth had two Nodwick minis left, and I purchased both of them (one for me and one for eBay; hey, they're signed by Aaron Williams himself!).  I finally walked through the Art Exhibit and bought the WGH a print of Stewie from "Family Guy" saying, "Obey me or perish!"

    Well, the WGH's game is done, and we're heading out. He gave me a couple of t-shirts for my birthday later in the month. One is the "Clerics" shirt and signed by Aaron, the other is a cute cat wearing reading glasses. We miss our cats terribly, and I'm glad to be going home.

    Until next year; Thanks, Peter, for a really good time.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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Army of Dorkness Events at Gen Con Indy

    For Gen Con Indy 2005, I will run events under the Army of Dorkness banner. Although each event will stand alone in its fun, the more events in which one participates, the better one's chances of winning the big prize, to be announced at Gen Con (in other words, even I don't know what it is yet, but it will be nice).

Event 1:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Dork Tower Board Game
Event Description: Army of Dorkness Events: For the fans of John Kovalic and everyone else. Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given on Sunday. Dork Tower Board Game: Collect scrolls and magic items and prepare yourself to do battle atop the central 3-D cardboard tower with the evil wizard Z'Mindrik. But watch out; Z'Mindrik is guarded by dangerous, powerful monsters and the other players are dogging you every step of the way.
Event Type: Board Game
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 3; Maximum: 12
Number of Tables per Session: 2
Game Materials Provided? Yes
Game System: Dork Tower Board Game
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Average
Age Requirement 13+
Experience Requirement: Newcomers (rules will be taught)
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session 4
#Session Run N/A
Preferred Time Slots: Thursday: 0900-1300
If I'm reading the Gen Con online catalog correctly, this event may be sold out. If you cannot register for this or any event at Gen Con, show up anyway with generic tickets equivalent to the cost of the event, and you may still be able to participate if those with event tickets do not show up.

Event 2:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Chez What?
Event Description: Army of Dorkness: Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given on Sunday. Chez What: Beer. Nookie. Roommates. Just another Friday night at Chez Fill in the Blank. Spend money and time to accumulate Slack points. What other game gives you points for sleeping? Just look out for the car alarm. Drink, party, and sleep late as you pursue Slack points to win the game. Most or all Chez games will be available.
Event Type Card Game
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 3; Maximum 12
Number of Tables per Session: 2
Game Materials Provided? Yes
Game System: Chez Geek
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Easy
Age Requirement 13+
Experience Requirement: Newcomers (rules will be taught)
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session: 4
#Session Run: 1
Preferred Time Slots: Friday 0800-1200

Event 3:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Apples to Apples
Event Description: Army of Dorkness: Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given on Sunday. Apples to Apples: Select the card from your hand that you think is best described by a card played by the judge. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. And everyone gets a chance to be the judge!
Event Type Card Game
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 3; Maximum 12
Number of Tables per Session: 2
Game Materials Provided? Yes
Game System: Apples to Apples
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Easy
Age Requirement 13+
Experience Requirement: Newcomers (rules will be taught)
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session: 4
#Session Run: 1
Preferred Time Slots: Friday 1300-1700

Event 4:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Igor Bar Contest
Event Description: Army of Dorkness: Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given on Sunday. Igor Bar Contest: Are your Igor Bars the best at Gen Con? Try the recipe at Competitors must have a ticket. Not a cook? Come to eat and judge! Judges need no ticket.
Event Type: Other
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 1; Maximum 20
Number of Tables per Session: 2
Game Materials Provided? No
Game System: Other
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Easy
Age Requirement: none
Experience Requirement: none
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session: 1
#Session Run: 1
Preferred Time Slots: Saturday 1000-1100

Event 5:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Blink Tournament
Event Description: Army of Dorkness: Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given on Sunday. Blink: lightning fast game where two players race to be the first to play all of their cards. Using sharp eyes and fast hands, players quickly try to match the shape, count, or color on the cards. The first player out of cards wins the hand. Winner of most hands wins tournament.
Event Type Card Game
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 3; Maximum 20
Number of Tables per Session: 2
Game Materials Provided? Yes
Game System: Blink
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Easy
Age Requirement 6+
Experience Requirement: Newcomers (rules will be taught)
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session: 2
#Session Run: 1
Preferred Time Slots: Saturday: 1300-1500

Event 6:
Event Title: Army of Dorkness: Finale
Event Description: Army of Dorkness Events: For the fans of John Kovalic and everyone else. Participate in events, earn points, and win prizes! Ultimate prize given at this session. Participants will choose from the previously played games: Dork Tower Board Game, Chez What, Apples to Apples, and Blink. Those who have the most cumulative points from previous Army of Dorkness events will be given priority to play.
Event Type Board Game
Number of Players per Session Minimum: 3; Maximum: 20
Number of Tables per Session: 3
Game Materials Provided? Yes
Game System: Various
Rules Version: N/A
Rules Complexity Average
Age Requirement 13+
Experience Requirement: Newcomers (rules will be taught)
Event Format Single Round
#Hours/Session 4
#Session Run N/A
Preferred Time Slots: Sunday 0900-1300

Come and enjoy. I look forward to seeing you in August!

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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A Star Wars Geek with Thoughts on the Release of Episode III

    My journey to Star Wars fandom did not begin until 1980 and the release of The Empire Strikes Back. When Star Wars (later subtitled A New Hope) was released in 1977, I was only seven years old, and Star Wars was everywhere: on commercials, on food boxes, in the toy stores, etc. Star Wars was very popular, and I wasn't; thus, I had absolutely no desire to see this movie that everyone was talking about and had seen at least a hundred times. Remember, this is the mentality of a seven year-old. I make no apologies for childish behavior exhibited when one was a child.

    Of course the economic hard times of the late 1970s (remember gas lines?) hit my working-class family hard, so going to movies was a rare treat indeed. When my sister and her boyfriend came home one evening and announced they were taking me and my brothers to see a movie, I was ecstatic - that is until they answered the question, "Which movie?"

    "The Empire Strikes Back." My heart sunk, but I recall my thoughts exactly: It's a movie; you don't get to see movies that often. Go!

    The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, is the closest thing this small metropolis ever will have to a theatre palace. I love the gilt gold interior, the crystal chandeliers, and the deep red velvet curtains that cover the screen when it's not in use. How many theatres this day and age have curtains? Anywhere? My brothers opted for seats in the balcony while my sister insisted I sit next to her.

    When the introduction scrolled across the screen, I knew what millions of people discovered three years earlier: I was in for something altogether different. I became a Star Wars geek the moment I saw Mark Hamill's tush. Hey, I admit that I like a good looking derriere. Hamill immediately replaced Shaun Cassidy as my biggest school girl crush.

    Of course I had to see Star Wars to catch up on what I missed. I don't recall if I saved my money, or if my mother gave me money just to stop the whining of a persistent ten year-old. Soon I collected as much Star Wars stuff as I could afford. I'm still angry with my parents for throwing out a bunch of my Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back bubble gum cards when they attempted to clean my room while I was away at Girl Scout camp in the summer of 1981. My saved memorabilia includes an issue of Dynamite magazine with Mark Hamill on the Dagobah set on the cover. The magazine originally included a poster that said the third movie would be named Revenge of the Jedi, but I think it went the same way those bubble gum cards did. Too bad, I could make a fortune with it on eBay.

    By the spring of 1983, I knew more about Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back than the nerdiest boys in my class. I owned and read the novelizations so many times that the covers came off the paperbacks. I also felt that I had undeniable proof that Darth Vader was NOT Luke Skywalker's father (because during the conversation between Vader and the Emperor in Empire, the Emperor refers to "the son of Skywalker" rather than saying "your son."). A friend of mine had the storybook version of Jedi and loaned it to me before I saw the movie. I read as far as the scene on Dagobah, then I was too heartbroken to continue.

    (Incidentally, I think Lucas did not originally intend Leia to be Luke's twin sister. I have bubble gum cards from The Empire Strikes Back that give different ages for these two characters. Oops.) [Editor's Note: In Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy included on the original trilogy DVD collection, Lucas states that he did intend Luke and Leia to be twins. I stand corrected.-L.]

    I read every piece of media I could about Star Wars when Return of the Jedi was released. I still have the issue of People magazine with Jabba the Hutt and slave-girl Leia on the cover, in which I learned that Mark Hamill has been married for several years to his high school sweetheart. Another heartbreak. My crush on him ended right then and there, as I always have had a policy of never messing with another woman's man. (Like I ever had a chance.)

    In the late 90s, I saw the Special Editions in the theatre and adored the improvements Lucas made with only two exceptions: I missed "Lapti Nek", the song Oola originally danced to in Jabba's palace, and the final "Ewok Celebration" number during the victory party - both in Jedi. Otherwise I was ecstatic to see Jabba's appearance in docking bay 94 of that "wretched hive of scum and villainy" Mos Eisley spaceport, among the other wonderful editions.

    When Phantom Menace was released, I waited in line for six hours with my friends, again at the Orpheum Theatre. I wrote in my journal, "Okay, so I look like a geek. I'm sitting in front of Jack's Shoes on State Street about half a block from the Orpheum Theatre. It's a little after 6:00 pm. At midnight, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace will be shown. I don't plan on sitting here the entire six hours; friends and I will be taking shifts." While waiting in line, I kicked butt against some fellow Star Wars fans who brought their copy of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. My husband gave me a copy of the game several years before as a birthday present. I admit I'm a geek, but I wasn't as bad as the nerd who showed up wearing a Federation uniform. At least I never cross-contaminate the Sci Fi universes like that.

    Unfortunately, I was disappointed in Phantom Menace. Although I can probably still recite the opening scrolls for episodes 4-6, when the opener scrolled during Phantom Menace, and a "Trade Federation" was disputing "trade routes," I had to ask myself "What's this?"

    Don't get me started on Jar-Jar.

    So when Attack of the Clones was released, I decided to wait a few days rather than fight the crowds. I'm mildly agoraphobic anyway. I didn't think Lucas could do worse than Phantom Menace, but he did. To quote Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries series of books, among others, as well as an experienced screenwriter herself, "George, I love you, but you can’t write dialogue. I’m just saying."

    Don't get me started on Hayden Christian (or Christian Hayden, I can never remember). All I have to say is that my cats can act better than he can.

    In my honest opinion, Lucas tried too hard to move away from the original series in episode 1, and then tried too hard to swing back toward them in episode 2. Where Phantom was almost devoid of references to the original trilogy, Clones made as many references as possible to the original series.

    Again, I will not fight the crowds because of the agoraphobia, not to mention that I just moved (selling one house, and buying a bigger one), and I just finished writing another index for Malhavoc Press. Quite frankly, I'm tired. Yet as I type this at around 1 AM on Thursday, May 19, 2005, I know that hundreds of people at this very moment are at the Orpheum Theatre watching Revenge of the Sith. I hope they enjoy it. I probably will in a week or two. For now, I'm going to bed.

Follow-Up [Here there be SPOILERS!]

    I just saw Revenge of the Sith, and I am in shock. I am so stunned by how unbelievably bad this film was.

    Meg Cabot is right: Lucas cannot write dialogue. As Padme said, "You're breaking my heart," I was thinking "You're hurting my head."

    I know that Lucas had to wrap things up so they fit in with the original trilogy, but quite frankly my skills wrapping gifts are better; just ask my nieces and nephews who can guess what they're receiving just by looking through the rips I tried to tape shut.

    While Sith did have the feel of the Special Editions of the original films - enough of the same "look" of the ships and the soldiers, and the music (scored by John Williams, of course) - special visual and sound effects cannot make up for a weak script. Lucas should have had someone else write the script. Even Bobcat Goldthwait's Shakes the Clown was better written than all three movies in this latest travesty, I mean trilogy.

    My husband said it best when he said this is why you need someone different writing the script and someone else directing the movie. You need a person who will disagree with you and say, "This is crap. The dialogue is canned, and the pacing is pedantic." In fact, my husband wrote a scathing review on his blog that deals with far more specific details.

    The character of Padme has gone from being a strong self-assured leader to a whimpering damsel in distress. While Hayden Christiansen (I think I have the name right) gives good evil looks, he still can't deliver a line with any kind of believability. When he hears he's going to be a father, Christiansen doesn't seem to know whether his character should be happy, surprised, angry, confused or what, so he winds up delivering his lines with the same stupid expression on his face that Kathy Ireland overused in Alien From L.A., which I saw when it was featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian was less cardboard than Christiansen's Skywalker.

    Lucas once said, "If you can tune into the fantasy life of an 11-year-old girl, you can make a fortune in this business." Well I recall the 11-year-old girl I was when I fantasized about Mark Hamill and his tush. Lucas abandoned the fantasy with the terrible writing of the death scenes of Count Dooku and Mace Windu.

    Where one could shed a tear over the death of an anonymous Ewok during the Battle of Endor (Jedi), one could only scratch one's head as Padme died just after her twins were born and named. Wasn't Leia supposed to remember her mother? Sending Luke to live on Tatooine, the same planet Anakin grew up on, was a terrible idea. Wouldn't looking up his step-brother be one of the first things Skywalker/Vader would do? And what was that reference to Qui-Gon all about? Please tell me this agony is over, not that more is coming.

    Lucas has said that he will not make the third and final trilogy in this saga, and I agree he shouldn't unless he wishes to apologize to his fans. The only apology I would accept is if Lucas would write the final trilogy stories, then leave screenwriting and directing to someone else: Kasdan, Kershner [ETA: RIP], or even Goldthwait.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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What is Dorkstock?
    Dorkstock started in 2002 as a mini-convention within Rock Con dedicated to the offerings of John Kovalic, cartoonist extraordinaire and writer of the award-winning (2001 - Best Short Fiction; 2002 - Best Professional Gaming Periodical; 2003 - Best Professional Gaming Periodical, Best Graphic Short Fiction ) comic book Dork Tower.
    John Kovalic credits Scott Jensen with the idea for Dorkstock, but he can't remember the details. What I found in my search for the history of Dorkstock was that in February of 2002 a member of the Army of Dorkness (AoD), a.k.a. the John Kovalic Fan Club, posted a message about Kubla Con in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA, during which Kovalic would be a guest of honor. The poster, one Kris Herzog (a.k.a. antiwesley), suggested a "Dork Meet," and several AoD members liked the idea. We'd been meeting at various gaming conventions such as Gen Con and Origins for years, usually at the Dork Storm Press Breakfast gatherings (because it's easier to meet for breakfast than any other meal). In an early February 2002 edition of his newsletter "Muskrat Ramblings," Kovalic suggested a "Dorky get-together, either in Beloit or Rockford." In early March, Kovalic posted, "How do people feel about holding Dorkstock 2002 in conjunction with Rock Con this year?" Kovalic talked of the "dorky" offerings at Rock Con: Chez Geek, Chez Dork, Warhamster Rally, Apples to Apples, etc. Rock Con, being near Chicago, Illinois, would be a relatively central USA and easy-to-get-to place. A large contingent of AoD members live in the area. Plus, a Beef-A-Roo is right down the road. How about it? Kovalic even offered to make t-shirts. Needless to say, the AoD jumped at the idea.
    I volunteered to coordinate the first Dorkstock, and I surprised myself by being completely ready by Wednesday evening for a convention that didn't start until Saturday morning. I am a very good procrastinator, and my husband feared that I still would be awake at 4:00 Saturday morning preparing for Dorkstock. The first Dorkstock went very well, and pictures and details can be found at the new website.
    Dorkstock events are very broad and can be just loosely connected to the work of John Kovalic or any Dork Storm Press artist. Because Kovalic is Art Director for Out of the Box Games (OTB), any OTB game is eligible for Dorkstock, not just the games that Kovalic personally worked on such as Whad'Ya Know? (based on the NPR radio program by Michael Feldman) or 10 Days in Africa. Kovalic also has done artwork for many Steve Jackson Games, such as the popular Chez "fill in the blank" series of games, the Munchkin series of games, and especially the Dork Tower Board Game based on Kovalic's popular comic book Dork Tower (DT). Because Aaron Williams' comics Nodwick, PS 238, and Full Frontal Nerdity were published by Dork Storm Press, Nodwick: The Card Game is included, among other Williams works. Greg Hyland, talented cartoonist of Lethargic Lad fame is frequently included in issues of Dork Tower, especially issue #16 which featured Lethargic Lad on the cover; so games such as Ninja Burger are eligible, too.
    No Dorkstock is complete without Igor Bars, which were introduced in DT #19: The Junk Food Issue. I transcribed the recipe for the AoD because I didn't want to take my comic book to the grocery store. Eventually, I became the "Igor Bar Goddess" of the AoD, maintaining the Igor Bars website along with the original Dorkstock website.
    The second Dorkstock at Rock Con 2003 was coordinated by The Lady Gamer's own Frances Moritz, who went far above and beyond the call of duty by creating a banner utilizing the Dorkstock II logo. Everyone present signed the banner, and of course, John drew a sketch of Igor.
    2004 saw the first Dorkstock West at Kubla Con in California, USA. I jumped at the chance to go to California because I have relatives out there, but I do hate to fly. The Dorkstock room was next to the "Junior Gamers Room" a.k.a. the kids' room, and when the kids needed more room, we shared our space. They were so much fun. I envy the energy of children.
    Since 2002, Dorkstocks continue to be held at Rock Con in Loves Park, Illinois, USA; at Dragonmeet in London, England, UK; and at Kubla Con in Burlingame, California, USA. Dorkstock IV is scheduled for November 4-6, 2005, at Rock Con. Negotiations are ongoing for a second Dorkstock West to take place in 2006.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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Plattecon Sigma
    Plattecon was started in the Spring of 1988 by the Platteville Gaming Association (PGA), the student gaming group of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UW-P), at the time headed by a young advisor from the Engineering Department named Dr. Rex Joyner. The World's Greatest Husband (WGH) and I met while we were both students at UW-P. The fall semester of 1987 was his last and my first.
    For the WGH and I, attending Plattecon is more than just going to a gaming convention; it's a stroll down memory lane with friends we haven't seen sometimes in years. This year the PGA moved Plattecon to the new Student Center on campus, which had seriously upgraded facilities that the computer gamers most certainly could appreciate. Although the convention seemed desperate for events, according to the plea on the website a few weeks prior, the 70 or so events listed in the program offered choices for all kinds: RPGs, board games, anime, CCGs, etc.
    This year, the WGH and I went mainly to relax from the stress of buying a new house. While he reminisced with friends from college, I checked out the dealer's room. The selection of multicolored dice bags next to the selection of multicolored pleather whips and studded collars intrigued me. The tables full of the standard fare of games didn't help me until I picked up a slightly damaged copy of Chez Goth to make my Chez collection complete. I also bought better and color-coordinated boxes to hold my copies of Chez Goth (black, of course), Chez Grunt (drab olive), and Chez Greek (bright orange because the yellow was so bright it hurt my photosensitive eyes).
    I wanted to play a board game called Haunting House because the description read, "Fun and easy board game," just the way I like it; but the GM didn't show up after I waited 15 minutes, so I went to the nice and quiet Alumni Lounge to catch up on my writing. Well, it was quiet except on the hour when a large bell rang (a bell is one of the symbols of UW-P). I didn't realize the WGH was looking for me until I later walked the RPG room and saw him playing Capes, a strange-looking superhero game involving quotes.
    After dinner at the China Buffet (and can you have a more generic name than that?), I decided to try my hand, er feet, in the Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) tournament while the WGH and our friends played a card game called Cthulhu 500.
    Although I had heard of DDR and even suggested it to Dork Losers, the weight loss group for gamers that I started on Yahoo! Groups, I never watched anyone play it before. When the Anime room at Plattecon Sigma offered a DDR tournament, I felt my golden opportunity.
    The setup is simple: instead of a handheld controller, the gamer uses a pad a little larger than a yard square divided into nine squares with "buttons" at the top for 'select' and 'start' that are perfect for tapping with the toes. Although the eight ordinal points are represented with the central square seeming neutral, in all the games I watched only the top, bottom, left and right squares were used. The music seemed varied and represented IMHO, the best and worst of bubble gum pop. The graphics seemed to be an updated version of 70s disco lighted floors.
    One does not normally think of coordinated choreographed dance moves when one thinks of gamers, but seeing hard core console gamers dancing side by side to the moves directed on DDR made me think of quality jazz, ballet, or at least synchronized swimming. Fleece jackets and flannel shirts were peeled away from jeans-clad gamers as they progressed through the levels.
    The funniest part was watching two gamers synchronized in their moves as if they had been practicing together for ages for a Broadway show. These gamers could have put the late Gregory Hines to shame with some of their moves, but I doubt any of them could do the moves in tap shoes; socks are required for DDR.
    Needless to say, I didn't win the tournament. I was one of two people there playing on the "beginner" level.
    Of course, no gaming convention is complete without the diversity discussion. No I'm not talking about cultural diversity in gaming; I'm talking about gamer diversity: RPG gamers vs. CCG gamers, board gamers vs. LARPers, anime fans vs. Furries. Once we get to the furries, though, most of my friends from college agree that we just don't understand the attraction and leave it at that. [No offense to furries intended.]

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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You Know You're a Lady Gamer When...

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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I Want Pecs!
"I want games that have more to offer than breasts. I have my own, thanks." -Hilary Doda from her "The Head of Vecna" columns on Hilarious and definitely not directed at those with Y-chromosomes.
    In the Exhibit Hall at Gen Con last summer, I was perusing a new card game from a Nameless Game Company. The game had a mob theme, and molls were a-plenty, especially their cleavage. Men, as usual, were presented fully clothed. Granted, when I complained to the staff of the Nameless Game Company about their lack of beefcake, they pointed to the one male in the booth who would be skinny enough to be model material (the staff of the Nameless Game Company did all the modeling for the card game), and he was about as attractive as Francis Ottoman from PVP. I'm not asking for Fabio; well, okay, I'm asking for Fabio, but I don't expect him in the next edition of D&D. He would, however, be a major step in the right direction.
    I truly believe that if the RPG industry really wants to tap a vast potential market, attention must be paid to Lady Gamers. Yes, the "typical" gamer is male; so is the typical football fan, but even the National Football League (NFL) has started marketing to women. Consider last year's NFL ad during the Superbowl: various coaches, players, and even an owner sang a rousing (if off-key) version of "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie.  However, my husband will tell you that all of these men sang better than I ever have.
    Notice I am not asking for a ban on breasts in RPG materials. I'm not going to take the eye candy away from the boys. I just want some eye candy, too. Ms. Doda did a semi- scientific study of the images of women vs. the images of men in RPG books, and discovered that while the imagery of women in the RPG industry is improving, it still has a way to go. As Doda said, "If I...pick up a new game, the first thing I see is the cover. If I see a massively-breasted woman with impossible proportions... I'm going to put it back without ever reading it." I have to wonder how a man would feel if the cover of the next RPG looked like the cover of a romance novel?
    Let's "remember the ladies" and install more beefcake into RPGs.
Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.

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What? An Index?
    Want to increase sales of your products? Want to garner better reviews of your products? Want to increase customer satisfaction of your products? Include a usable index.
    The reviews on frequently say the same thing:

As always, an index would have been nice, but there isn't one. A book without an index is almost a crime against nature.  Mark L. Chance reviewing "Mutants & Masterminds Annual #1" by Green Ronin Publishing

What? An index? Don't make me laugh.  Wood Ingham reviewing The Bygone Bestiary by White Wolf Games

    Imagine the all-too-frequent occurrence: a player is sitting around the table, playing a favorite game. The GM presents the monster. The player's character knows of an action that can counter the monster and tries to find the pertinent information in the book. The player looks in the back of the publication, only to find the book isn't indexed. The game comes to a complete halt while the player finds the information. How long will this game remain the player's favorite?
    "Can't a computer program create an index?" you ask. No, a computer program can create a concordance-a list of words that appear in the publication, and the computer can even list where these words appear in the publication. A concordance, however, is not an index. Only a trained professional can create a usable index; a computer cannot think like a trained professional. The computer cannot take the word 'rogue' and think to make a cross-reference: thief, see rogue. The word thief may not even show up in the book, but that's where a player character might look for it.
    I know the arguments against a professional indexer: it's too expensive; we don't have time in the production schedule; it's the author's responsibility. Go back to the beginning of this article and read the quotes from real reviews of real products, then read this quote from Sue Cook, editor for Malhavoc Press:

I think my own recent experience might be typical of how the industry looks at indexing: people think they can do it -- they sure don't want to pay someone else do it -- until they try. Then either they discover (like I did) that it would have been well worth the money to have a pro do it, or they come up with a half-assed index they made using some dumb program, and they're perfectly happy with it (but the fans tear it apart).

    The best solution to the indexing problem is to hire an editor who will also index the book. If you cannot find a trained or experienced indexer, then look to the excellent indexing guidelines offered by Steve Jackson Games [no longer online].
    The benefits of a good index are best described by another review:

Structurally, it's also solid. It's well organized, with a complete index, and with explanatory sidebars and tables at the right places; and with a good main index in the back, and a great character traits index at the end of the character creation rules. All around, this is a clean, solid, useful book, which reads well for a first-timer trying to learn the rules, and also reads well as a reference for an experienced player. It's a very, very solid effort, and SJG deserves to be very proud of it.  Mark Chu-Carroll reviewing GURPS Fourth Edition by Steve Jackson Games

    Which review would you prefer to receive? Which review will garner more sales?

"What? An index?" was first published in Games Quarterly Magazine #3, October 2004.

Copyright 2004-2005 The Lady Gamer. All rights reserved.
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