So fans of our actual play podcast Stormwood & Associates
know that we use a role playing game system called Super Awesome Action Heroes
which I created about fourteen years ago. I've always teased a print edition of that manual would come out, and once we started seriously running it with Stormwood (and I started to update issues the rules had I hadn't noticed), I started talking about a second edition.
Well, that second edition is finally here.
I'm happy to announce the release of Super Awesome Action Heroes Second Edition
(how many times can I say second edition?). The rulebook is just as slim as the first edition, which is why it only costs $6.99 to buy. Characters created with the first edition rules should be 100% compatible with the new version, but some rules have been tweaked (and some Archetypes completely rewritten, removed, or added). An electronic version will eventually become available, but I haven't decided how I'll be putting that out yet.
I should also note that this is just the core rules, and does not include the Fantasy archetypes or the Supernatural add on. Those are still available on the official website
for free, and will remain so even if they end up in a print expansion down the road too.
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So the mascot for No Brand Con is "Duct Tape Boy," a member of the No Brand Heroes. Years ago we set up a Facebook page for him. We only post to it occasionally, and you would expect the responses to be innocent.
They are not.
Posts made to the page fall into two categories: Promotional links for the con and "in character" musings. It's supposed to be super obvious that the page is the mascot for a convention. We try to be very, very clear with that.
We are apparently not clear enough.
Every once and a while, the page gets sent messages. It's only happened a couple of times in the last few months, but these... well... are really really strange.
Here are the best examples:
(And yes, I sent that guy a photo of a Playdia)
It's just super, super weird. Like please -- horny fetishists of Facebook -- stop sending messages to innocent convention mascot Facebook pages? The only people who end up reading them is me and the other page manager Calvsie. Spare us from your kinks, okay?
Duct Tape Boy is supposed to evoke a childlike wonder, not whatever gives you your weird boner. What consenting adults do at home is their own business -- so please stop trying to make it mine, okay?
And if you're a pedophile, you can fuck right off.
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So today saw the final update to the ten year run of UnCONVentional
, and with it comes the announcement of my next project -- Peregrine Lake
. Now that's just a title and a splash image, and since the actual comic won't premiere until April I thought I might fill you in on a few of the (non-spoiler) details.
First and foremost, yes -- Lynn and Megan will continue as main characters in the new comic. It will be in continuity with UnCONventional, but I'm writing it as though the reader has never read that first comic. Sort of like how Lynn first canonically appeared in Full Circle (which has been deleted from the internet).
Secondly, Peregrine Lake will be set roughly ten years after UnCONventional ended -- or five years after the last bit of the epilogue. UnCONventional took place in real time, which often forced me to cut stories short. This comic will take its time to tell the story...
...so let's just hope I don't get the technology too wrong.
The comic will start updating in April 2020, but I haven't come up with an exact date yet. If you want to know when it's happening though, there are a few ways you can keep informed. First off, there's always the website
which has an RSS feed
you can follow. Also I will (obviously) be posting updates to my Twitter
accounts. Finally, the UnCONventional Facebook Page
will become the Peregrine Lake Facebook page over the next few months, so make sure you've liked and followed it. And, y'know, obviously this blog
I'm really excited for what's coming next, and I can't wait to share it with you.
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I posted these numbers to social media last night when we got home, but I'm doing it again:
Thanksgiving weekend just happened, and honestly I am still dead tired even after a full night's sleep. Crysta and I... well... we did a lot for just a couple of days.
- 4 days
- 4 nights
- 4 states
- 1300+ miles
- 26+ hours of driving
- 2 snow storms
- 10+ cars witnessed off the road
- 1 exhausted Trae
Like most years we drove down to my parent's house in the Milwaukee suburbs on Wednesday. We literally had a blizzard on Wednesday morning though, so roads on the way out of town weren't super terrific. We got there late, and on Thursday had Thanksgiving with a good chunk of my family. I think it was a total of twelve people crammed into my parent's not-super-large house? You cram that many people into that small a space it's always going to feel hectic.
On Friday we drove down to Ohio to see Crysta's sister and her dad. We hadn't seen them for a while, and we decided to make the trip just a couple of weeks ago. That drive wasn't too bad, but I think we were still wiped from Thursday, so we just sort of crashed when we got to our hotel. We spent Saturday visiting Crysta's dad and going out to dinner with her sister and (teenage) kids. It was all pretty great. Like overall it was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see people we rarely get to spend time with.
But then there was the drive home.
So Sunday we had to get from Franklin, OH back to Eau Claire, WI. If you look on a map... these places are not close to each other. We got up at 6:00am EST and hit the road around seven. Driving through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois the roads were all fine. It was actually a nice drive for a lot of it.
But then we got to Wisconsin.
This is where it was snowing, and the roads weren't awful, but they weren't great. They were the kind of conditions where drivers get overconfident, y'know? Where if you go slowly it's not bad at all... but even going five miles per hour faster will send you spinning off the road. We were on schedule to get home at like 5:30pm Central time initially... but because of the roads we didn't get into our apartment until a little after eight. You know how google maps will turn a route red if there's a massive slowdown? That was pretty much the entirety of I94 between Tomah and Eau Claire. And since the roads were so rough, that meant zero cruise control for hours. My leg literally still hurts right now because of it. It was a lot of fun, but I am just absolutely wiped right now.
So if we do this again, I am definitely taking Monday off. Oof.
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Yesterday I finished the final comic of UnCONventional. It won't go online until next week (I was working ahead), but it's... it's done? It's done.
And it's the weirdest feeling.
I've never finished something like this before. I mean, I've ended projects, I've stopped updating things... but I've never intentionally finished a project of this scope. I planned this ending three years ago, and I actually DID it. I hate to repeat myself this much, but, it just so, so strange.
UnCONventional was ten years of my life. It was a massive undertaking, and I don't think there's anything I've ever done in my life to this scale. It's kind of frightening to finish what's been the most popular story I've ever told -- and there is a temptation to keep it going just because of that -- but I know it's time.
These characters and their lives have been taking up space in my head for so long that I'm really going to miss them. Since these epilogues have been covering the next five to ten years of the character's lives, I'm answering all the questions I'd normally have about what they're doing next. It's really a massive goodbye.
A goodbye to people who only live in our collective imaginations.
On the other hand, it's really freeing not to be locked into the structure of a comic that's taking place in real time. I'm working on a new thing, and the one thing I'm making sure I do is not tie it to the real world's calendar. There are so many stories I rushed through in UnCONventional because I needed to jump to keep up with the actual changes of the year. This time around I'm not going to do that. And... while I said I was saying goodbye to everyone earlier, there may be a couple of characters I'm not done dedicating brainspace to.
(The super-secret project won't start until spring 2020, but I'll announce what it is on December 6th.)
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So this weekend I'm hitting a local convention -- UWEC Geek Con
in Eau Claire, WI. It's held at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Davies Center from 10am-5pm this Saturday, November 23rd.
I have a table there for Nerd & Tie
(and not my comics), and I'll be sitting there all day to hang out, answer questions about our shows, and just all around have fun. Also, if you find me in person, I'll tell you about the super-secret-project comic I'm working on after UnCONventional
ends in December.
The event is free to students, $5 to the public, or free with a donation of a two non-perishables. I honestly love small, college cons more than anything else (heck, that's what No Brand Con started as), and UWEC Geek Con is a great time. If you're in the Eau Claire area you should make sure you come on down.
Because it's going to be awesome.
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So UnCONventional is wrapping up in a month, and a ten year long story is coming to a close. It's such a weird thing, but I thought I'd talk about what comes next.
For those of you who don't recall, I actually announced Chapter 10 would be the final one over three years ago (though I didn't expect to put Crosarth on hiatus back then).
I didn't want to just keep repeating myself over and over again, and there are so many stories I want to tell that don't fit with the premise. I'm not done with comics, but I know that this story is a finished one. A lot of webcomics just sputter off and kind of... stop. UnCONventional has an ending.
But I guess you're asking (assuming you care) what I'm doing next.
First off, The Chronicles of Crosarth will resume mid-2020 and finish out the final volume. I have to do a lot of editing to Volume Three for its print edition first. I honestly just keep finding typos in the online versions of pages -- and the fact that I was rushing them is why the comic went on hiatus in the first place. I want to finish that story right too.
Secondly I'm working on a new comic in the same art style as UnCONventional. Right now I'm developing the main cast and setting, and I hope to launch it in early 2020 as well. It's an idea I had a couple of years ago, and a couple of familiar faces will pop up in it (my Patreon supporters know one already). The full announcement will come at the end of UnCONventional, but the mystery project will 100% be set in the Room 825/Full Circle/UnCONventional universe.
(Like five people might remember those first two entries.)
I know it's risky to end my most popular creation, but let's face it -- if I didn't I'd just be doing something uninspired and meaningless. It will be a completed work that I can be proud of, and it's hard to ask for more.
And if you really want my storytelling in the meantime... check out my rpg actual play podcast I guess?
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So Otaku World Expo is a first year con that looks like a disaster waiting to happen in every single way. Like even if Vic Mignogna wasn't being invited, and the official twitter wasn't tagging in known jackasses to promote it.
First off, let's talk about their website. It is, as the kids say, "terrible."
This isn't 2004 anymore, and when I see a site like this it means one thing: they aren't paying attention to the small details. If a con's not putting effort into their first point of contact, what else are they dropping the ball on? I mean, look, first year cons having terrible websites isn't super uncommon -- but this is at a level that's really only still acceptable if your con is a free con being run at a high school. Or like a free con at a university.
I mean, "free" or "less than $10" entry is what this site screams. And if that were the case, I'd be more forgiving.
Spoiler: This con costs a lot more money to attend.You read that right -- $40 for a one day pass, and $70 for a two day pass. Those are the preregistration prices. For a first year con. For contrast, prereg for a 4 day badge at Anime Expo is $85. A 3 day badge for Acen, prereg, is $63-$80 depending when you do it.
Those were big cons. Medium sized cons like Daisho Con or Anime Milwaukee charge $50 for a three day badge. But hell, SMALL anime cons, like No Brand Con, charge $30 for a three day badge at prereg. $40 at the door.
And make no mistake -- these guys will be lucky to hit AMKE's numbers.
Cons are plentiful on the west coast. Even if no one else ends up on that weekend, there are other places for attendees to spend their money.
As in, spend less money for more con. Cons that are likely to be run better.
And finally, the one thing that I always find concerning is when a convention doesn't tell you who the hell is running it. There's no owner listed. No parent organization. Nothing.
"Otaku World Expo" is not the name of a corporation or LLC legally operating in California. So either it's owned by a company with a different name (which is fine but it should be listed), or is being run by an individual. If it's the latter, it's just hilarious. Like if a con is run by an individual it should still LIST THAT PERSON'S NAME. The first rule to first year cons is never trust an event that doesn't tell you who is in charge.
But if the con is just being run by some guy, it also means the con owner is personally liable. Like if someone sues. Or, which is way more likely, if the con tanks and can't pay the bills
Even if people show up, first year cons often lose money. And they're relying on people still caring about Vic Mignogna a year from now. Like this is going to make Wine Country Comic Con's numbers look good.
(If you don't know about WCCC, google it -- and they failed with Vic as a guest BEFORE any victims came forward)
The first rule to starting a con is always be prepared to lose every penny you put into it the first year. Some cons get lucky, most don't. And if the prices are this high? Dude is not prepared for how much this might cost them even if people DO show up.
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There is an ongoing problem in the con running community, and it's the instinct to avoid any sort of public turbulence. Reactions to the Vic-pocalypse have driven this home, but it was this instinct that allowed a missing stair like him to stay for so long in the first place.
And I get it. Con staff's are scared to piss off people. Most don't have the money for lawyers and legal fees if someone were to sue, so they don't speak up. But if your primary responsibility is keeping attendees safe, sweeping things under the rug is never helpful.
The first time I heard about Vic Mignogna was at Anime Milwaukee 2010. It wasn't anything remotely close to his worst accusations -- a friend felt uncomfortable with comments Mignogna made, he hugged another friend without her consent -- but combined with the rumors out there, we chose to quietly blacklist him from the con we all worked for (NoBrandCon).
It wasn't much, but it was what we could do.
But it's not just the sexual predators (of which there are a number still floating around the con scene), but other screw ups made by staffs. Sometimes its poor planning, sometimes its money mismanagement, sometimes it's something malicious -- I've seen all of these things happen in the twenty three years I've been staffing cons. And for most of them, things always get hidden away. There are show promoters who would run a failed event, then quietly move towns and start a new one under a different name... attendees none the wiser.
Which is why we started reporting on stuff at Nerd & Tie. We wanted a record of this stuff to be at least semipermanent beyond the ephemeral social media posts that get lost to time. People and cons need to be held accountable. Have we been perfect? No. Have we published some "hot takes" which were kinda terrible? Yes. But we've strived to be accurate, and overall I think our record is pretty good.
(That said, please contribute to our legal fund - http://gofund.me/nerdandtie )
But the reaction from some of the con staffers out there has been... not great? I mean, yeah -- I don't expect people we've written negative pieces about to be big fans of mine. But even some con staffers in the world at large who I've never written about have taken shots at me. One guy who works for Anime Milwaukee, COAF, Naka-kon, and Kumoricon has literally called me a "blight" on the community.
He's the reason I'm skipping AMKE this year.
And it's ridiculous. Like a different guy who runs a bunch of cons has complained that I'm just dragging up "drama" and it's just nonsense. I'm writing down the stuff hardly anyone was willing to do so for years. There are others out there with me (like File770 has been doing this forever), but we're all small operations. This isn't "drama," this the community we're stewards of.
Guys like Mr. "Blight" think that we're being over nitpicky reporting on stuff like Tokyo in Tulsa, but when a con severely mismanages a situation, it should be remembered. People should know that Person A did a bad thing that time. It's important.
Screw ups need to be documented and remembered. And it's not to say people should never forgive cons for their mistakes, but that forgiveness should be an INFORMED forgiveness. It's the only chance we have at getting better.
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