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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Havard » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:47 am

Gawain_VIII wrote:I think an epic adventure that leads to a weakened SoP shouldn't be part of Blood Brethren's finale--rather it should be a new set of adventures (cover designed by Havard) in which the PCs are a key element in Eriadna's goals to return Alphatia to the OW. Like WotI, final outcome is directly affected by PC actions. In the end, it will be the PCs who determine Ariadna's degree of success. The more successful, the weaker the SoP--resulting in a "returned" Alphatia (and a very unhappy Zandor).


I see that I am being volunteered here? 8-) :lol:

Actually, a follow-up to the Blood Brethren Trilogy deserves to be a Trilogy of its own. "The Return of the Blood Brethren" or "Return to the Hollow World" could be suitable titles. I would love to see the return of some of the classic characters from the original trilogy as well. And maybe even a tie in with Five Coins for a Kingdom/Vanishing City? 8-)

More on the outcome below:

BlackBat242 wrote:Man... reading all this talk of "epic module series for a specific goal", and multi-part "characters are to do exactly this" adventures, I keep seeing this image (especially with the mention of the 16-part DL series):


I agree that ending up with a railroad adventure is a risk when designing scenarios like this, but I don't think it has to be designed this way.

How do you design an adventure of epic proportions without resorting to railroading? First of all, I think it could be possible to have a single goal for an adventure even if there are many paths to the goal. Secondly, there should be more than one outcome (or two, success and failure) presented. Partial success, or even completely alternate sollutions could be included.

Also, I think that railroad adventures need not be as problematic as they are often seen. It also depends on how the DM uses them. The problem here ofcourse is that the adventures themselves do not discuss the downsides of railroading. If they did, it would make more DM's think about how they would use such material.

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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Hugin » Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:32 pm

Havard wrote:Also, I think that railroad adventures need not be as problematic as they are often seen. It also depends on how the DM uses them. The problem here ofcourse is that the adventures themselves do not discuss the downsides of railroading. If they did, it would make more DM's think about how they would use such material.

Havard

I agree with your post. In my experience as a DM, "Railroading" is generally a misnomer; it suggests that no matter what the decisions the players make they will have no bearing on the direction things are going. Whether using a published module or one of my own design (which was far more often the case), my duty as the DM was to keep the story moving no matter the choices of the players, but that didn't mean their choices had no consequences. It is the DM's art to create the illusion that even when the PCs get 'off-track', their decisions are what bring them back into the story's flow (with the applicable consequences of course).

If the tracks are the main, overarching storyline, then;
"Negative Railroading" means the players cannot deviate from traveling on the tracks.
"Positive Railroading" means the players are traveling along side the tracks and can weave back and forth across them.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:26 pm

Allen Varney wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm inclined to agree that the PCs should be able to somehow end the Spell of Preservation (if they want to), but I would think that it is a fairly important part of the HW concept, so I would think that a single adventure would not be "worthy" of that big a world changing event. If you look at Dragonlance, that put an epic story into 16 adventure modules. I would say that your concept is far too cool to crunch down into a single adventure. I think it would have deserved a trilogy at the very minimum.

I agree. My pitch was to remove the Spell of Preservation as the climax of my HWA1-3 "Blood Brethren" trilogy of lengthy Hollow World adventures, Nightwail, Nightrage, and Nightstorm.


Oops! Spot the person who does not own this adventure...yet. :oops:

Blacky the Blackball wrote:I'm not sure how fans would have reacted to both Wrath of the Immortals radically changing Mystara by sinking Alphatia and a set of Hollow World adventures wiping out the Spell of Preservation.

It would have kind of seemed like nothing in the setting could be trusted not to be changed at TSRs whim - which might have been seen as a good thing by some, but I think a lot of people like "comfortable" settings where they know what to expect from campaign to campaign.


True. Plenty of settings have caused controversy when taking a sudden left turn (or right turn).

Maybe someone should have deliberately designed an epic campaign setting where epic characters could change the entire world over time. If that sort of thing was built in from the start, it would not upset people so much.

It might also be fun to have a setting based around some sort of time-window, that allows people to pass between the future and past and between different possible futures and have all of the timelines interact. With something like that you wouldn't need a "Spell of Preservation" because old stuff would always be accessible. You could always go back to get to destroyed civilisations.

And if different timelines could somehow co-exist...at least for a time*, it would be possible for someone to make a world changing adventure and someone else to come along and make a world restoring adventure that cancels out the changes of the first "uber adventure".

* = Perhaps NPCs, items, PCs and even gods could be given saving throws to avoid the effects of timewaves that flow into their timeline and deconstruct things that are no longer supposed to exist. If there was always one primary timeline that was always surrounded by a fixed number of secondary timelines and those timelines were surrounded by a fixed number of tertiary timelines, the people in all of the timelines could try to ensure that their timelines moved towards the middle of the system. And if world changing events caused the formation of new secondary timelines, which displaced the existing ones into the tertiary timeline area, and disconnected tertiary timelines and caused them to start to "deconstruct", there could be a lot of multi-timeline organisations pushing to prevent large scale changes from happening. There might also be a few characters who save themselves, by hopping between one timeline and the next on a regular basis.

Gawain_VIII wrote:I think an epic adventure that leads to a weakened SoP shouldn't be part of Blood Brethren's finale--rather it should be a new set of adventures (cover designed by Havard) in which the PCs are a key element in Eriadna's goals to return Alphatia to the OW. Like WotI, final outcome is directly affected by PC actions. In the end, it will be the PCs who determine Ariadna's degree of success. The more successful, the weaker the SoP--resulting in a "returned" Alphatia (and a very unhappy Zandor).


Wow. That actually sounds like a good reason to create the Spell of Preservation. If the Alphatians can cheat death by getting themselves throw into a cosmic stasis machine, but somehow leave behind something that will one day allow a Mystaran to reverse the process, they could actually set up the situation where someone can restore their civilisation.

Of course, if that sort of thing fell into the wrong hands, it might be used to bring back any other preserved civilisation instead. Or it might even be misused to "archive" another Outer World civilisation or someone misused to cancel out some or all of the Spell of Preservation protection without releasing the Alphatians.

BlackBat242 wrote:Man... reading all this talk of "epic module series for a specific goal", and multi-part "characters are to do exactly this" adventures, I keep seeing this image (especially with the mention of the 16-part DL series):


If this was not Allen Varney's thread, I would vote for you to be the winner of the thread. :lol:

...now, where did I leave that Demotivational Poster link! :twisted:

Havard wrote:I see that I am being volunteered here? 8-) :lol:

Actually, a follow-up to the Blood Brethren Trilogy deserves to be a Trilogy of its own. "The Return of the Blood Brethren" or "Return to the Hollow World" could be suitable titles. I would love to see the return of some of the classic characters from the original trilogy as well. And maybe even a tie in with Five Coins for a Kingdom/Vanishing City? 8-)

More on the outcome below:


Actually, I would love to see the fan community come up with a few unofficial sequels to epic TSR adventures. (I don't especially care which setting was covered, but it would seem to make more sense for settings that are less likely to be brought back for 4e to have this sort of treatment.)

But as this is Allen Varney's thread, I'd prefer to only talk about his own personal "loose ends" that could be the basis of follow-up adventures here. Maybe other follow-up adventure ideas should be given their own thread (or threads).

I think that SJA1 Wildspace has plenty of potential for a sequel. The beholder mage is something that has been reused in 3e and it would be interesting to have a story that turns a one-off monster into something more widespread. I also think that destroying a big weapon would not destroy the knowledge of how to create that weapon and that certain groups would want to seek out ways to recreate the Ravager. The Cloakmaster Cycle novels have a beholder called Beth-Abz. Beth-Abz, seems to be a more well-rounded** individual and it would be interesting to see an adventure path with a more benevolent beholder that might have a more long-term relationship with a group of PCs.

** = Pun unintended.

Havard wrote:
BlackBat242 wrote:Man... reading all this talk of "epic module series for a specific goal", and multi-part "characters are to do exactly this" adventures, I keep seeing this image (especially with the mention of the 16-part DL series):


I agree that ending up with a railroad adventure is a risk when designing scenarios like this, but I don't think it has to be designed this way.

How do you design an adventure of epic proportions without resorting to railroading? First of all, I think it could be possible to have a single goal for an adventure even if there are many paths to the goal. Secondly, there should be more than one outcome (or two, success and failure) presented. Partial success, or even completely alternate sollutions could be included.

Also, I think that railroad adventures need not be as problematic as they are often seen. It also depends on how the DM uses them. The problem here ofcourse is that the adventures themselves do not discuss the downsides of railroading. If they did, it would make more DM's think about how they would use such material.


You know, I think it would be possible, with a bit of care, to create an epic adventure that sets out several possibility but doesn't actually make one a success and the others failures. If that was done, I think the PCs could learn about the plots going on in the background and then aid or fight those plots at their whim.

I think that there should be a "this is what happens if the PCs do nothing" outcome, that represents the destiny the world would have without the intervention of the PCs. But I also think the GM should be given enough information to be able to infer what will happen if the PCs decide to manipulate the events into other pathways. For example, if someone wants to destroy the Spell of Preservation, and creates the tools to do this, could someone else not use those tools to enhance the Spell of Preservation to the point that Outer World creatures are unable to kill Hollow World creatures?
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Cthulhudrew » Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:09 am

Havard wrote:Actually, a follow-up to the Blood Brethren Trilogy deserves to be a Trilogy of its own. "The Return of the Blood Brethren" or "Return to the Hollow World" could be suitable titles.


There were a few loopholes allowing for the possibility of one or the other Blood Brothers surviving, as I recall- and I even had Thanatos resurrect them to try and regain control of the humanoids in the outer world for my Great Crater gazetteer (with an eye towards turning Koresh Teyd- a far more powerful wizard- into the successor to the Council of Princes after deposing Kol XIV).

That said, I think there were a lot more plot points from the HWA series that I would prefer to see developed for a sequel than the Blood Brothers. Several elements of Shahjapur (the Kirtanta, for one); doing some more with the Schattenalfen (who only get a brief cameo in the first two adventures). Perhaps playing with elements of the shards from the Smoking Mirror that shattered and may be working their Spell of Preservation deadening effects on parts of the HW cultures below?

Not to mention the Feathered Serpents.

Maybe we should plot out a Hollow World Adventure Path?
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Chimpman » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:38 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:Perhaps playing with elements of the shards from the Smoking Mirror that shattered and may be working their Spell of Preservation deadening effects on parts of the HW cultures below?

I like all of the possibilities that you mention (and in fact wouldn't mind seeing one of the Blood Brethren again either), but I think this is my favorite. Throw in Wastour and a mad dash to one of the other sleeping Burrowers (just imagine what would happen if you fed one of them such a shard...), and I think we have a winner.


Cthulhudrew wrote:Maybe we should plot out a Hollow World Adventure Path?

Not only would I love to see this happen, but I'd love to be a part of it too.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Bonetti » Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:43 am

I agree, a solid Adventure Path would make for very interesting reading and development.

On the other hand, I actually like the Spell of Preservation. It gives a nice, unique feeling to the setting, and it demands some ingenuity to figure out how one can influence a culture. As Hugin pointed out, The Azcans changed -- any culture can be changed, it's just a matter of finding an existing cultural component to latch onto. I'm sorry there wasn't more material already developed along those lines.

(In my game, I tend to expand the existing Immortal pantheons to be larger and closer to the real-world culture's pantheons. In the outer world, that gives more cultural depth to cement the nation in the players' minds, and in the hollow world that gives more flexibility in the stasis -- and that probably influences my view.)

Anyway, I felt a pro-Spell of Preservation voice should be heard at least once :-)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:28 pm

Chimpman wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:Maybe we should plot out a Hollow World Adventure Path?

Not only would I love to see this happen, but I'd love to be a part of it too.


I don't know enough to contribute, but I would love to see this happen and you should definitely start a thread on this.

Bonetti wrote:Anyway, I felt a pro-Spell of Preservation voice should be heard at least once :-)


Well said. I think that we have to be honest and admit that some of these "restrictive" parts of D&D are pretty hard for people to work with. But if people can share ideas for how to work with them, I think that a lot more people will want to keep them (rather than toss them out of their game without consideration*).

* = About a tenth of the time I've spent in the SJ community seems to have involved discussions that start with someone saying: "I really love Spelljammer, but feel that the..." insert one of: phlogiston/Grubbian gravity/air envelopes/crystal spheres/gnomes/animal-headed creatures "...totally ruins the setting and I would like to write that element out of the game.

Anyhoo, do we have any more questions for Allen yet? :P
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Havard » Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:55 pm

Big Mac wrote:I don't know enough to contribute, but I would love to see this happen and you should definitely start a thread on this.


Done! A new thread about the Return to the Hollow World Module/Adventure Path may be found here.

Sorry for cluttering up your thread Allen! :)

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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Havard » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:38 am

Allen,
any news on Aaron Allson's situation?

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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:15 pm

Havard wrote:Any news on Aaron Allson's situation?

I saw Aaron Allston on Christmas Day. He has recovered reasonably well physically from his late March 2009 heart attack and early April quadruple-bypass heart surgery, and mentally he is as acute as ever, with the same sharp, dry sense of humor. Aaron's vision has declined -- I think he said it felt like looking through a thick sheet of translucent glass -- but by increasing the text size on his monitor display, he is still able to write. He just turned in a Star Wars novel that had been delayed by his illness, and he is now moving forward on an original novel of his own. He still has one more Star Wars novel to write on his current contract, and he anticipates no problems in finishing it.

Aaron is making ends meet with help from his longtime roommates and the generous help of contributors to the Aaron Allston Donation Fund they set up for him. The fund is paying for his medications, which cost hundreds of dollars a month. But he still faces six-figure medical bills from his hospitalization and surgery, with no immediate prospect for paying them.

That said, his attitude seemed pretty good, and he expressed great gratitude for the outpouring of support from his friends and fans.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:42 am

Sorry to hear that Aaron Allston has been ill. I found some of the Star Wars novels a bit meh, but enjoyed all of the ones he wrote.

Allen Varney wrote:Aaron is making ends meet with help from his longtime roommates and the generous help of contributors to the Aaron Allston Donation Fund they set up for him. The fund is paying for his medications, which cost hundreds of dollars a month. But he still faces six-figure medical bills from his hospitalization and surgery, with no immediate prospect for paying them.


This sort of thing really does make me feel sad that the US does not have a decent healthcare system (that sets some sort of logical limit on what a person with a serious illness has to pay, rather than eat up their entire income). Having said that, it is really touching that he has some great friends around him to help him with the medical bills.

I hope that his health improves as soon as possible. And that he puts out some cool new novels that give people out here something nice to read and knock down those hospital bills.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:02 pm

Piazzans may be interested in my new article in issue #251 of the online gaming magazine The Escapist, "The Tower of Gygax: Honoring the man who started everything." This is an update on the efforts to build a monument to D&D co-designer Gary Gygax in his home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The two squabbling family groups pursuing this goal have made a truce, and the proposal by Gary's widow, Gail, is expected to move forward in the Lake Geneva town council.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Havard » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:57 pm

Allen Varney wrote:Piazzans may be interested in my new article in issue #251 of the online gaming magazine The Escapist, "The Tower of Gygax: Honoring the man who started everything." This is an update on the efforts to build a monument to D&D co-designer Gary Gygax in his home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The two squabbling family groups pursuing this goal have made a truce, and the proposal by Gary's widow, Gail, is expected to move forward in the Lake Geneva town council.


That's a great article Allen! Thanks for writing it and for sharing it with us here. I am a member of the Facebook group, but I didnt know all the details of the situation with the Gygax statue. I hope the various disputes get settled and that the project will be completed as soon as possible. I like the Python references there by the way; I am guessing they are fairly to the point :)



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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Hugin » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:09 pm

Thanks for letting us know about this, Allen! I sure hope things everything goes well in this endeavor.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby MikeBro » Sat May 29, 2010 6:42 am

FWIW, I think there's a great place for a statue of Gary in Lake Geneva. Not sure how many of you have been to the town, but I lived there for five years and most days my path to TSR took me past a tiny park that was just off the main boat ramp by the beach and library (where Tom Wham might still be working). In that small park is a bronze statue of Andy Gump, a comic book character from the early 20th Century (1917 - 1959), created by a guy who lived in Lake Geneva. I think that'd be a great place to add a statue of Gary, another Lake Geneva creative, overlooking the lake.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Sat May 29, 2010 2:10 pm

Gygax loved Library Park in his day, and that was the first site proposed for the memorial statue. It appears that won't be allowed -- restrictions from the aldermen and from the donors of the land. So the family is looking for alternative sites now.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby MikeBro » Sun May 30, 2010 11:45 am

Allen Varney wrote:Gygax loved Library Park in his day, and that was the first site proposed for the memorial statue. It appears that won't be allowed -- restrictions from the aldermen and from the donors of the land. So the family is looking for alternative sites now.


I saw that in your article, but I don't think it's library park I'm thinking of. :) Library park is a wonderful little strip of land just to the west of the library (it's called Elm Park in Google maps). The park I'm thinking of is to the east of the library, just off the public boat ramp. Looking in Google maps, I'm pretty sure it's called Flatiron Park. It's a wedge-shaped park that has the Andy Gump statue. The Jaycees used to set up their beer tent there every summer for some festival whose name now escapes me.

We used to love the park by the library. We lived in LG until our son was almost two and our daughter about six mos old. I'd meet my wife and kids there for lunch some workdays (you didn't want to go there in the summer weekends much, with all the Chicago people swarming the beach and park). We still have pics of the kids eating sticks and stuff in that park.

Anyway, while Flatiron Park isn't as gorgeous as Elm Park, and it isn't right on the water, it still has a close view of the water and Gary could be with Andy. :)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Sun May 30, 2010 1:47 pm

MikeBro wrote:
Allen Varney wrote:Gygax loved Library Park in his day, and that was the first site proposed for the memorial statue. It appears that won't be allowed -- restrictions from the aldermen and from the donors of the land. So the family is looking for alternative sites now.


I saw that in your article, but I don't think it's library park I'm thinking of. :) Library park is a wonderful little strip of land just to the west of the library (it's called Elm Park in Google maps). The park I'm thinking of is to the east of the library, just off the public boat ramp. Looking in Google maps, I'm pretty sure it's called Flatiron Park. It's a wedge-shaped park that has the Andy Gump statue. The Jaycees used to set up their beer tent there every summer for some festival whose name now escapes me.

We used to love the park by the library. We lived in LG until our son was almost two and our daughter about six mos old. I'd meet my wife and kids there for lunch some workdays (you didn't want to go there in the summer weekends much, with all the Chicago people swarming the beach and park). We still have pics of the kids eating sticks and stuff in that park.

Anyway, while Flatiron Park isn't as gorgeous as Elm Park, and it isn't right on the water, it still has a close view of the water and Gary could be with Andy. :)


For the benefit of non-residents, here is a view of Google Maps with Elm Park at the top and Flatiron Park to the right. Hopefully that will let the rest of us follow Mike and Allen's comments.

I've got to say I am confused as to how both of these parks might be known as Library Park, but not called that on Google Maps. Is Library Park a nickname?

I guess that something the aldermen might be concerned about is a ton of tourists descending on one place and causing disruption for the local community. Back when Princess Diana died a ton of well-meaning idots filled up one of the tiny parks in London with bunches of flowers and they all started rotting. People thought that "someone" (don't know who that would be) would collect the flowers and take them to local hospitals, but they ended up being a health hazard (and a stink) and the local council had to pay to have them carted away in dustcarts.

I don't think that fans of D&D would be that disruptive, but until a statue goes up, there is no way to know how many people will come and visit it on Gary G's birthday.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Sun May 30, 2010 1:54 pm

You know, if Lake Geneva was in the UK, at least one of the local pubs would have slapped a ton of D&D related pictures up on the wall to attract in tourists. My local Weatherspoons pub has stuck up a ton of old photos. Tourists love to look at that sort of stuff, when they pop into a Weatherspoons pub for a drink.

It is kind of weird to not see the local government touting Lake Geneva as the "birthplace of D&D".
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Dave L » Sun May 30, 2010 2:17 pm

Big Mac wrote:You know, if Lake Geneva was in the UK, at least one of the local pubs would have slapped a ton of D&D related pictures up on the wall to attract in tourists.

Someone would have renamed their pub too. The Red/Green/Black Dragon (pick your favourite colour!) or The Dragon's Lair, or even The Dragon's Dungeon.

Something like that. :)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Ashtagon » Sun May 30, 2010 2:36 pm

Big Mac wrote:You know, if Lake Geneva was in the UK, at least one of the local pubs would have slapped a ton of D&D related pictures up on the wall to attract in tourists. My local Weatherspoons pub has stuck up a ton of old photos. Tourists love to look at that sort of stuff, when they pop into a Weatherspoons pub for a drink.

It is kind of weird to not see the local government touting Lake Geneva as the "birthplace of D&D".


Not only that - I'm mildly surprised the local shakers and movers haven't seen the potential for boosting the tourism industry without being prompted by the likes of us.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby BlackBat242 » Mon May 31, 2010 12:42 am

>stuffy starched-shirt councilman voice on<

We have a nice, quiet, little town here, and we want to keep it that way.

Those crowds of rowdy, strange, different outsiders would change everything... and we won't put up with that!

>stuffy starched-shirt councilman voice off<
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby MikeBro » Mon May 31, 2010 11:58 am

Heh. Replies to several folks above:

* I suspect "library park" is just local usage. I don't recall ever hearing the park by the library referred to as "Elm Park." Our family always called it "the library park" not as in an official name but just as the "park by the library." I'd guess the Gygaxes did as well. I did hear Flatiron Park referred to by name, however.

* LG caters to the summer tourist trade (mostly from Chicago). Lots of gift shops, restaurants, and the other detritus of such places. In the summer, the town is overrun with tourists (since we left, there have been dog racing parks, resorts, and lots of other stuff built up, so I suspect it's even worse now). I always felt LG was a lively town, but there was very little to do in the winter and during the other months everything you might want to do was smothered in tourists. I remember one summer day when the local radio said that 4,000 people had been at the public beach that day. My recollection might be faulty, but if there were 400 feet of lakeshore at the beach, then it's bigger than my vision of it; it was a small beach anyway and 4,000 Chicagoans trampling each other on it was an appalling thought. :)

I don't know that they feel the need for another attraction. Especially since the non-gaming rep of the people attracted to AD&D/D&D would have been gained from hearing of gamers sleeping in their cars for four days during GenCons. :)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Azaghal » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:14 am

MikeBro wrote:I don't know that they feel the need for another attraction. Especially since the non-gaming rep of the people attracted to AD&D/D&D would have been gained from hearing of gamers sleeping in their cars for four days during GenCons. :)


Maybe that's the reason Gencon was moved to Milwaukee. I spent a day in Lake Geneva in 94 and it was a very small town. I'm sure with TSR being taken over by Wotc, it's lost even more local population and need the tourism trade even more.
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Heading out for a month or so...

Postby Allen Varney » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:57 pm

Starting early next week I'll be travelling for four to six weeks in Canada, a coast-to-coast overland trip starting in St. John's, Newfoundland, and ending at the Pacific Ocean outside Vancouver, British Columbia. Along the way I hope to hit nearly every major Canadian city, or what passes for major cities in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

I understand many parts of Canada now have modern horseless carriages, electricity, iceboxes, and even rudimentary internet access -- powered, I am told, by generators burning whale oil -- but I can't be sure how often I'll get to look in on this forum. If anyone has questions or comments for me, I'll be happy to respond when I return in July to my longtime home in Austin, Texas.

This isn't my first extended trip. I took a seven-month solo backpacking trip around the world in 1992-93, visiting a dozen countries, and in 1998-99 I travelled with my Significant Other, Beth Fischi, on a seven-month overland trip across sub-Saharan Africa. My "African Dispatches" letters are posted on my home page; here is the first, my letter from Kenya. In 2007 I lived the expatriate life for seven months in downtown Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. I mentioned my past travels in a 2009 article in The Escapist, "Postcards From the Road."
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