Woo hoo! You know what’s just around the corner? GAMEHOLE CON IV! It’s a great convention in Madison, WI, the first weekend in November. You’re going, right? I’ll be there, and I can’t wait. In the past few weeks I’ve been knuckling down on my big “Con Game” that I’m designing to be a real showstopper. As a matter of fact, I thought it would be a good time to write about something I’m referring to as “The Spectacle Game.”
I love conventions. I love gaming at them, I love meeting people at them, I love traveling to them, and I love seeing what vendors have for sale. Now I have transferred from “visiting vendors” to “being a vendor” but I don’t think my modules would move very well. I don’t think adventures sell very well, because there’s a lot of decisions that go into buying one. Is there information you can mine for your game? Are the encounters interesting and engaging? Can the designer convey the flow of the scenario without resorting to a railroad?
Most of these elements are difficult to sell at a booth, and since I plan on selling adventure modules pretty much exclusively (no plans for a big setting book or anything like that at this point), paying money and spending time in a booth just doesn’t seem like the best use of my time. Or the time of a volunteer. No, I want to be out in the trenches running games.
Which leads me to The Spectacle Game. Simple put, it’s a game that draws the eye and grabs the attention of people and just begs to be played. I started this earlier this year at GaryCon VIII by running BF1 Tower of Skulls – with a replica of the Tower of Skulls. It wasn’t to scale, but it was impressive in its own right. It caught peoples’ attention and I hope made some memorable games for people.
That was just the trial, however. I’ve been tinkering with an idea for a module series based around a relic called the Primordial Eye, which was used by Annam, god of the giants, to shape the elemental planes from the Elemental Chaos. He then broke up the Primordial Eye and gave a shard to his four favored children – Thrym, Surtr, Skoraeus, and Stronmaus. Each giant god took their shard and hid it away, some better than others.
Thrym took his and placed it in a hidden vault disguised as an iceberg in the Sea of Ice, which bordered the Frostfell and the Plane of Elemental Water. I wanted to BUILD this vault, which started initially as a pile of packing styrofoam that came with some printers where I worked. This was late spring/summer 2016 that I was planning it out, which eventually became Lost Vault of the Frost Giant God.
Tinkering with some ideas, going back and forth with tools, I planned out my three level vault for miniatures and maps and got busy. After a few trials and error, I finally settled on the process, and set out during a few weekends to create the Vault of Thrym. The result was fantastic! I’ve posted some pictures of the (nearly) completed vault on Twitter that you can take a look at.
I plan on taking the Vault of Thrym to Gamehole Con in November – along with Con of the North in Minneapolis in February – to create the first true Spectacle Game from Cut to the Chase Games. As luck would have it, likely the Kickstarter for the next series is going to be running at the same time, which is a bit of a bummer. If I had planned better, my Spectacle Game would be the Temple of Ibholtheg itself, but so goes the best laid plans of mice and men. Live and learn!
It is nice that the current hardcover release for Dungeons & Dragons is Storm King’s Thunder, a giant (literal and metaphorical) adventure that I feel Lost Vault of the Frost Giant God can serve as a nice follow-up. Likely I’ll get the finished module up on the DM’s Guild once it’s completed, though just for D&D 5th Edition. I use a few too many elements of the core product to comfortably release it under the OGL, but that’s OK.
And you know what’s also pretty awesome? I’m running Vault of Thrym five times at Gamehole Con, in two hour blocks for eight players each, and they’re all sold out! I’ll likely carve out some time for a pickup game or two as well. I hope people enjoy navigating the traps, tricks, and monsters of the iceberg vault of the frost giant god!
I saw the Frost Giant game that you ran at Game Hole Con. It was very impressive to see that kind of table top prop on the table. It is impressive. I love these things but then have ZERO idea what I would do with it after running the adventure say 4 or 5 times. It is unique and awesome. I just don’t GM or play enough to say, Yes I will build this. I do commend your skill in making it though. I looked like everyone was enjoying themselves when they were playing it. Great job.
Thanks! I love the big spectacle games – the kinds of games you can only reasonable get at a convention. Makes it more interesting for me as a GM and a person running a game company. One of these cons I’ll line up the two and put a big setup together for a module I’m actually selling! 🙂 It was great to see you, I’m looking forward to GaryCon in the spring – you going?
I will be there. At least for 1 day. Hopefully more.