GaryCon 2022

The chief Unicorn (me) went to snowy Lake Geneva last weekend to play games with friends old and new.

The big project was DOUBLE SIZED DIVINE RIGHT, a larger version of the rare fantasy board game of yore. I love playing the game, but the original version is too small for my aging eyes and trembling fingers at this point. So I decided to make a larger copy both for home use and for traveling with. One of the fans on the forums suggested printing it on vinyl, and in spite of my aversion to plastics I did so. My local print shop did an awesome job scanning the board and printing a vibrant, durable, and portable copy.

For the chits and cards I used the .pdf files on the CD-ROM that came with the 25th anniversary edition. The same local print shop printed them on cardstock, which I glued down to matte boards with archival glue. Once they were dry I started to cut them out with scissors and art knives, but only got about halfway through when I ran out of time and hand strength. That matte board is tough stuff, but playing with the bigger chits was worth the work. Back to the local print shop which did a decent job cutting the remaining chits out.

Playing with the larger version on Thursday was great fun. I had two other players in the game, which threw off my plans. I had hoped to have 4 to 6 players, and I was going to play the Black Hand and mostly stay out of it. But with only three players that didn’t make as much sense to me. So we drew kingdoms at random and I got Pon. Ethan got the Trolls, and John got the elves of Neuth. I ended up getting good rolls and activating Suchhasum, then Mivior, then the Goblins, then the Black Hand. The others did not do as well on their diplomacy rolls. Once my armies were organized, I sacked the blue city in the south, then the Black Knights Keep, and then headed north to face the elven, troll, and dwarf forces attacking my cities. Upon the banks of the Loudwater River my combined army defeated the elves and their king was slain. Meanwhile the goblins had sacked Immer’s capital and captured their monarch. At the end of the day I had a tremendous number of victory points. But a couple lucky diplomacy rolls is all it really takes to give a player a big edge. Everyone showed great fortitude by playing all 20 rounds over the course of 11 hours (with breaks for meals and to see the wedding).

Now that I have all the chits organized, I’d like this to be a convention game that I run frequently.

Sending The Black Hand to break the siege of The Pits.

Besieging the dwarven capital.

In the aftermath of the battle, the Black Hand constructed The Colossus. None would dare approach The Pits again. Pon and the eastern powers had crushed their enemies.

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The Unicorns have been hard at work on a special project for this year’s Gary Con, and now it can be revealed!


Everyone loves to play Divine Right, but the original printings are rare, expensive, and have tiny pieces that are hard to play with or keep track of.

So we made a bigger version! We had the game board printed on vinyl for easy viewing, transportation, and cleaning, and have printed up larger cards and game pieces for easier play!

Come see it at 2PM on Thursday March 24th at GaryCon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

original size

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North Texas RPG Con 2021

Marking our return to in-person gaming, NTRPGCON was a delight. Braving airports, airplanes, and hotels Unicorn Rampant founder Adam A. Thompson visited the lovely Westin in Irving, Texas, where a lightly-attended but extremely friendly old-school Dungeons & Dragons convention awaited. Immediately ran into some friends from HawaiiCon and GaryCon. And they had a great goodie bag!

The old-school feel started right away, when the very helpful convention staff directed me to the physical pen-and-paper post-it board where the game schedule was posted.

It was great to see my friends Ethan and Jeremy from Hawaii’s RPGs On The Beach, and set up at their booth.

I pinned up a piece of paper with Vampyre Women of Venus on it and set up in the main common gaming area.

I also signed up to play in a twelve- player D&D game entitled Return to the Isle of Dread, being run by Dave “Zeb” Cook himself, author of the famous adventure in question. Playing in that game was a highlight of my entire life’s experience with RPGs.

Friday afternoon was spent learning and enjoying Artemis, a multiperson spaceship crew simulator, with some great folks.

Saturday was a round playing Freegrazers in the morning, and an afternoon working Slow Your Roll and Unicorn Rampant’s table in the exihibition hall.

This marked the release of the limited-edition ten-copy first printing of Unicorn Rampant’s new OSRIC / D&D adventure Siege of Black Mountain. Coming soon to

Followed by the Return to the Isle of Dread game. I played an 8th level human fighter with 8 Str, 7 Dex, 14 Con, and a 15 Wis who was returning to the Isle. I rationalized that he had survived mainly through his wits and toughness, and was scarred about the head from dinosaur bites. When we finished chasing down and confronted the magic-users who led the slavers, my character charged, swung his sword and missed, and was counterattacked with a feeblemind spell. I needed a 13 on my Saving Throw vs Spells but rolled an 11. Glorious! It was an honor.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to put this great convention together, and to all the attendees! Look forward to seeing you next year!

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GaryCon X

This last weekend I went to GaryCon up in beautiful, chilly Lake Geneva Wisconsin, and I had a great time! I met up with old friends and made some new ones, and we all played a bunch of games and enjoyed the great company. Here are some highlights from the con for me.


I ran a session of Vampyre Women of Venus, the board game that we put out a couple of years ago. We had two ticketholders show up and one player drop in, thanks to the great table flag system. We played though to the co-operative victory and then played some homebrew rules that Jayden came up with for the post-rocketship-part-collection escape from the suddenly moving Vampyre Queen.

All told I got some great new ideas for the game, including a new version of the rules where undefeated Venus cards remain in the space where they were drawn for other players to try to challenge. This builds the map as it is explored and creates more opportunity for strategy.

I also ran a session of what’s becoming my favorite scenario: my D&D convention version of Into The Unknown (B1), which I update every time a group runs through it. This time, very impressively, the group actually managed to complete the scenario, both finding their way to the final encounter and defeating all portions of it for a flawless victory! Well done, all. Prizes are on the way.

Table Flags

One of the best things about the convention, and something I hadn’t ever seen at one, was the table flags. These flags served two purposes. First, there were red and green cards so that a table could indicate if they had any openings for new players to join.

But even more exciting was the yellow flag, which we raised when we wanted to order from the tableside menu. The food was really good, and the beer was cold and cheap with the GaryCon cup I got as a GM. It was truly excellent. I ran an eight hour session and ate healthily and felt great.


The role-playing game history museum they had set up was AMAZING! In the wargame room, next to the TSR Joust tournament, was a mini-museum display with great information about the early days of Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax’s gaming days. Seeing Arneson’s original dice and clay dragon figurine really touched me.

Socially, I got to hang out with Stephan Porkny and the HawaiiCon crew, meet a whole bunch of nice new people, and see some live-streaming celebrity D&D from behind the curtain, instead of in front of the cameras for once. It was great seeing everyone and hanging out. As it always is for me at a con, I learned a lot from playing in and watching other people’s games.

I’m honored to have been invited and have already booked accommodations for it again next year.

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2019 Spring Convention Schedule

Adam A. Thompson will be running games this spring at OwlCon in Houston, TX and at GaryCon in Lake Geneva, WI.

If you’d like to play some games with Adam, schedules are as follows:

OwlCon 2019 – Rice University Campus (Houston, TX) – Feburary 22 – 24

Classic Dungeons & Dragons (5e) – Saturday at 10:00 AM, 8 hours, Student Center: Sammy’s:4

Many heroes have traveled into the hills above Verbonbc in search of the rumored lost treasure of Rufulo and Zanzabar. But a new terror inhabited the black craig a month ago – a dragon and evil cultists devoted to it. Now two of the village’s children have been kidnapped, slated to be sacrificed in just eight hours! Dare you adventurers venture thither to rescue the children?

Traveller: First Run – Sunday 10 AM, 4 hours, Herring Hall:224:1

Try your hand at one of the original science-fiction role-playing games: Traveller. No previous experience required. In a far-flung future where anything is possible, the players will first create their own characters, earning skills, contacts, and enemies as they journey through the depths of space. Then, events that no one could have predicted will hurl the characters into crisis that could threaten their very lives!


GaryCon 2019 – Grand Geneva Resort & Spa (Lake Geneva, WI) – March 7 – 10

Vampyre Women of Venus Open Play – Friday at 6:00 PM, 4 hours, at Forum C FORC-363
An adventure board game set on a pulp sci-fi planet Venus where the players’ rocket ship has crash landed. New players may try their luck every hour with this quick game. Rotating rounds of play should be the norm. Three different ways to win—solo or co-operative. Stop by at the top of any hour to play.

Classic Dungeons & Dragons (5e) – Saturday at 1:00 PM, 8 hours 1777, Westgate A WGA-394
Many heroes have traveled into the hills above Verbonbc in search of the rumored lost treasure of Rufulo and Zanzabar. But lately, a new threat has inhabited the bleak peak: A night-soaring dragon and its reptilian worshipers. Now the cultists have kidnapped some of the village children to be sacrificed to the dragon at midnight! Dare ye adventurers venture thither?

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My Teenage Wasteland

Greetings true believers! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking on a panel at #RTX this year, at 3:30 Saturday August 4th in the Hilton Grand Ballroom!

Come ask me all of the questions about writing #ClassOf198x !

Come see Brett and the boys (presumably)!

Hell, Geoff might even show up? I honestly have no idea!

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GenCon 2015 – Costumes, Miniatures and Custom Terrain

Now that I’ve covered the phenomenon of crowdfunding and the changes to the tabletop game marketplace evidenced at GenCon 2015, I’d like to move on to the eye candy.

There were a tremendous number of great costumes this year. There were also quite a lot of impressive miniatures and pieces of terrain. I snapped some pictures of everyone’s wonderful hand-made art over the weekend as I wandered the convention. Here are a couple of my favorites.


There were lots of jaw-dropping paint jobs. The painting contest cabinet, in particular, was breathtaking.



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GenCon 2015 – So Many New Games

Kickstarter’s enormous utility has transformed the marketplace for tabletop games, causing an explosion of new games at GenCon

My number one impression from GenCon 2015 was, “Wow, look at all of these games I’ve never heard of!” In all my years of going to GenCon, generally only a handful of publishers were demonstrating wholly new products. This year I saw an unprecedented flood of new games. It seemed like every game I had ever heard of had a new card game, a new board game, and a new miniatures battle game based upon it. And there were dozens of entirely new games. Unsuprisingly, many of the banners said Kickstarter somewhere on them.

Yes, you build your deck of cards and use them to play a game where you build a metaphorical deck.

Yes, this is a game where players play to assemble a deck of cards and then use those cards to play a game where they build an in-game wooden deck. I know I may sound angry about this, but I also admire the courage it takes to spend money and make a game based on a pun. Bonus points for the clear graphic design – I got the joke right away.

To me all the new games demonstrate the transformative power of Kickstarter on the tabletop game market. Tabletop players are a lucrative demographic for crowdfunding solutions like Kickstarter – they have disposable income and are comfortable spending money on the internet. It’s also fun to see corporate juggernauts like Hasbro get cut off at the pass, economically speaking.

With all of that said, I’ll cede the stage to the slideshow. Further thoughts on the show can be read below and in upcoming posts about GenCon 2015. (more…)

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My Best OwlCon Yet

This year’s OwlCon was once again an excellent experience for my friends and I, and judging by the ever-rising attendance numbers, other attendees have had similar experiences. Read of for details and pictures.

The Claw / Claw / Bite crew carpooled from Austin to the beautiful Rice University campus for a long weekend of gaming and catching up with friends. I ran a great game of Divine Right with some first time players, helped Dan run our AD&D adventure Siege of Black Mountain, and played lots of other games, including the not-yet-released reprint of OGRE. To top it off, we not only figured out where to get good food on campus, but we discovered the on-campus bar, Valhalla.

I played a round of OGRE and had a blast. Fast-paced, easy to learn, and fun. I played the conventional forces trying to stop the OGRE from reaching my command post to no avail.

Daniel Smith and I had prepared a two-party AD&D / OSRIC adventure to run. Dan ran the dwarf party as they tried to protect their mountain home from the army of elves on their doorstep.

I had a blast playing the new Star Ward miniatures game. With Rob Wubbenhorst providing cover with his X-wings, I was able to drive my Y-wings straight down the trench and bullseye the Death Star’s exhaust port on my first shot. It was awesome.

For my final event I ran a very fun game of Divine Right with some first-time players, who had never played a map-and-chits game before.

For more pictures check out Unicorn Rampant’s Facebook page.

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Recapping SpaceCityCon 2013

I took a Saturday to make a trip out to SSC 2013 to run a session of The Tomb of Athganazar.

The adventure went well — even had a few folks playing who expressed interest in seeing our other adventures, so I’ve pointed them to this site.  If you, dear reader, are one of them, thanks for the kindly-worded validation.  The adventuring party found a very creative solution to the wizard’s challenge, different than those at the last con, but just as off-the-wall and fun for all.  This seems to be the norm for games I run at cons, which is very encouraging, both in the flexibility of the adventure as well as the creativity of the players at Texas gaming cons.  Excessive hack-n-slash isn’t as fun for me as a storyteller, as it too often turns adventures into glorified calculators.  The question for me has always been whether players enjoy this outside-the-lines style of session, and it seems they do. Again, thank you all players who roll with these adventures.  I am grateful for your participation and positivity.

On the floor, I met a visual artist, Joey Blackard, with an intriguing, yet simple style, and picked up one of his framed originals.  I’d love to use more of his work in our adventures; more on that in time.  Then, after running the session, happened upon Diesel on the vendor’s floor, and though I usually don’t approach such luminaries in the history of role playing, he seemed very approachable, so I decided I’d say hi.  Thirty minutes into our discussion of role playing, scoping projects, the experience of working at TSR, then WoTC, and finally life in Austin, I realized that we had a lot of common ground.  He was so down to earth and genuinely interested that I had to cut myself short or I would have kept talking with him all evening.  I’ll definitely look him up at other Texas cons; he tends to make the rounds each year.  One of my favorite con experiences ever.

As usual, the Houston hospitality was second to none, the organizers, gamers, and other locals taking care of me as they always do.  Special shout out to Leo and Phil for the discussions and good times on Saturday night after we’d packed out of the con.  Always great to hear about your campaigns and story ideas and to meet more of your friends and colleagues in adventurecraft.

More to come as we are already hard at work on an adventure to run atOwlCon in early 2014.  This one will showcase the Dungeonstone Caves and Caverns Set that recently closed on Kickstarter.  Odds are they’ll have some sets available for purchase at the con.  So in six months, come check out the booth; the adventure will be run in multiple sessions at the neighboring table.

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