• Castles & Chemo Nonprofit Drive: Update #5

  • Castles & Chemo III Talk & IndieGoGo Stuff

    For those of you who don’t know, I’ve gotten a bit of a headstart on my Castles & Chemo planning this year.  I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign (Castles & Chemo Nonprofit Drive) to help turn Castles & Chemo into a standalone organization.  With requests coming in from across the country — as well as international requests coming from places like the United Kingdom & South Africa — for support in running events, I felt it was necessary that I was acting independently of other organizations.


    Those of you who are worrying, no, this does not mean that I will no longer support the American Cancer Society; much of the work I will do will still go to benefit their efforts.  Becoming a separate nonprofit entity, however, has two direct advantages.  First, it keeps the ACS from having to deal with issues arising from organizations & events abroad — the liability will fall solely on Castles & Chemo.  Second, and probably the most exciting (to me, at least), it allows me to expand the scope of Castles & Chemo to include other organizations (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Breast Cancer Fund), as well as other events (like “Castles & Chemo Save Christmas,” where I help local hospitals buy gifts for children stuck there for the holidays; the title still in the works >_>).


    But enough of the nitty gritty.  Let’s get to the meat of the post.  It’s time for…


    That’s right!  Now is the time of development where I request personal stories to turn into characters for this year’s event.  What better way to honor a loved one’s (or your own!) struggle than in the nerdiest way possible?  And this year, I have a handy dandy form to help with that process.  You’ll find that form at the bottom of this post.


    In addition, I’m also creating an art guide to be handed out to the various artists for this year’s adventure.  It’s almost as if I know what I’m doing!


    Talks with AdventureAWeek.com have hit a bit of a roadblock; they’ve been busy, I’ve been busy, it’s a whole big mess.  As soon as progress gets made, I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated.


    Thank you for your support so far!  Here’s to the +4 bonus you’re helping to grant!




    Castles & Chemo Character Form

    If this is the same as above, write "Same As Above"
    If you are uncomfortable giving this information, do not feel obligated to list it. If the honoree is a caregiver, enter "Caregiver" in that field.
    This will help determine certain characteristics of the player character, such as skill selection, and possible class selection.
    This will help determine the appearance of the player character, as represented by one of the artists volunteering to do the artwork for the adventure.
    Please give as much or as little information as you feel comfortable, but do try to put something. Often, the human element is often lost during discussions about cancer.
    So I may contact you during the development process. Your email will be used for this purpose only, and will not be retained after development is complete.

  • Announcement: Castles & Chemo – Retrovirus

    With tomorrow being my birthday, it almost seems clandestine how some things just fall into my lap. As the American Cancer Society has started their “Official Sponsor of Birthdays” campaign, I feel obligated to do something significant. And wouldn’t you know it, the opportunity for something significant just happens to come my way.

    As some of you may know, a project on Kickstarter was funded recently that I’m very excited about; Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. I backed the project early on, since, as you might suspect, D&D means quite a bit to me. When I made my pledge, I actually received a personal note from Anthony, James, & Andrew, thanking me for supporting the project. I responded, “I’m glad to help. Anything to support the game that I say, without irony, saved my life.” This led to a back-and-forth between me and the filmmakers, ultimately leading them to quote me in their, “Funded!” update, as well as promoting Castles & Chemo on their Facebook page.


    What resulted from their generous support was 20 or so new likes on C&C’s page, a distraught husband looking for advice, and the guys from AdventureAWeek.com contacting me, wanting to run Castles & Chemo on their site.


    So that brings us to now. I’m very happy to announce…


    Castles & Chemo: Retrovirus


    A 3.5/Pathfinder conversion of CC1: A Killer in You and CC2: Assault on Merrow Keep! But it won’t be just a simple conversion; this will be expanded with information I wanted to include for a while, but couldn’t make it fit in the condensed format I use for the live events. With such a gracious opportunity presented, I figured their audience deserves a fully-fleshed adventure. And since this is also a Castles & Chemo endeavor, any money that I receive from this will go straight to the American Cancer Society.


    So once everything is squared away, I’ll be sure to let you know where you can pick it up. Stay tuned!


    Granting a +4 to Saves vs. Cancer!


  • I Left My Heart in Indianapolis

    It’s Saturday. Gen Con is behind us. I’m still sore from the combined 27 hours I spent in the car. And I wouldn’t change any of it if I could.

    The Ale of Destiny


    Starting on Wednesday, the con quickly ramped up, leading off with the touted “Ale of Destiny Tapping Party,” (a good, not great, dark ale), though I heard rumors that the party was far too crowded for the amount of turnout they ended up having, and only had the fancy-schmancy beer on one tap. Regardless, sitting there with Marissa, one of my favorite people in the world, sipping a decent drink was a pretty good way to end the 13 hour trek getting there.


    Thursday began with me fighting through the crowd to meet up with Marissa, as we were the only two representatives for Blue Kabuto, makers of Cookie Fu. We had a tiny corner of Troll Lord’s booth, which we occupied as a favor to Grandmaster, so that BK would have some sort of presence at this year’s Gen Con. We did our best with the tools available, though she was more successful than myself (and to be honest, I’m not surprised; I’d rather buy from her than me, as well).

    I caught up with Lar, Sohmer, & Becker sometime around 1100, as well as Jennie Breeden & Alina Pete. They all had this pretty massive two-by-four booth space, which is pretty impressive, given the outright cost of individual spots. I would unfortunately be unable to join them for their fancy Fogo de Chao dinner that weekend, but I was still able to chat & hang out with them otherwise.

    In the afternoon, I had my interview with Eddy Webb & Rich Thomas as to the current goings on at White Wolf these days. Once I get the transcript of that interview, I’ll get that posted.

    The dealer room closes, and I prepare for the first session of Castles & Chemo. It wasn’t until ten after 6 did I realize that the maps I spent a good few hours printing were still in the back of my car, parked in front of Marissa’s house several miles away. I luckily had my battle mat with me, but no markers. And wouldn’t you know it? Downtown Indianapolis was suffering a dry erase shortage. I ended up having to shell out $30 for a board game I’ll likely never play so I’d have a way to get the maps. It ended up working out in the end; the payers had fun, and will hopefully make their way to the Facebook page, and who knows? I might see them in years following. With a night of Rock Band, I cap out the day.


    Friday started off as I once again had fight the crowds to meet up with Marissa. She had the luxury of an Exhibitor badge, allowing her to use the super secret exhibitor entrance, while I felt like a pauper with only my attendee badge. We had a slow day in the booth, which Steve of Troll Lord told us was normal.

    After a quick lunch, it was time for Castles & Chemo II. Almost a full turnout, to include a father-son pair who had no experience with D&D, but were intrigued by the premise of using a tabletop game for charity. It goes off without a hitch (except when we ran long for time), when two strange and awesome things happened.

    First, one of the players of this session approached me. He was from the United Kingdom, and was curious about organizing a similar event up for the UK-equivalent of the American Cancer Society. I was astounded. To think that this concept has not only not been attempted, but was engaging enough for people to want to do their own through me was something I couldn’t have even imagined when I started putting it together last year.

    Second, as I cleaned up, a girl from another table approached me. “Do you accept just donations?” she asked. When I tell her that I do, she reaches into her pocket and hands me a wad of cash. She then proceeds to tell me that the reason she didn’t attend Gen Con last year was because her mother had died of cancer around that time. I was touched (still am; writing this part brings a tear to my eye). With a hug, I thank her for her donation, and offer her my condolences. It was at that point that I knew Castles & Chemo needed to become a nonprofit organization.

    Day begets night, and I find myself with Marissa & our friend, Justin, at a You Don’t Know Jack tournament. I didn’t enter (I was too lazy to go buy generics for the event), but they did, along with several of our friends. At this point, I learn that a bunch of my friends are the ultra-competitive type, making me thankful that I didn’t compete. Several rounds pass, & Marissa is in the finals. As the Jack Attack finished, she is declared the winner, and is awarded a badge for next year’s Gen Con. Jealous, but happy that it was her that won, we get some late night food to close the night out.


    The day runs as the rest, only with the added surprise of volunteering with Wizards of the Coast & getting an interview set up with Erik Boyer for the following day. The night came with a meetup with people from Giant in the Playground, and Justin finding out that the second Jack! tournament was for a badge to a different con.


    This was a special day. On that day, seven years ago, I was given the news that I had acute lymphocytic leukemia. News that would irrevocably shape my adult life. Given that, I dressed for the occasion. It was a point of conversation as I made my rounds of goodbyes to people, including Lar. He had a personal friend who recently dealt with breast cancer, and when a fan of his asked for info about Castles & Chemo, he asked for it as well. Hopefully, I might be able to work with him for a future event.

    The interview with Erik Boyer went well, other than the awkward angle on the first part. I also managed to arrange for a meeting with Shelly & Marcella from WotC about Castles & Chemo.

    Sales-wise, we did pretty well, doubling our total for the con in that one day. As the hall closed up, we had a conversation with Grandmaster about how things went, where to improve, and so on.

    That night, as I prepared to leave, I finally got up the nerve to do something that people have literally been waiting years for me to do. Gathering up my nerve, I told Marissa, my best friend for years, that I love her.

    So, all in all, Gen Con 2012 was a success. Only 360 more days until next year!

  • Castles & Chemo II: Post Mortem

    When I first thought about doing something charitable with my time, I never thought that Castles & Chemo would be the end result. Oh, sure, the thought of using my favorite hobby was certainly a big part of the concept, but until last year, the idea was rather amorphous. Things like a marathon DMing spree, selling adventures for charity, & similar ideas were tossed around (and may be worked into future C&C endeavors), but no matter how I thought of it, it all seemed too complicated.

    Somewhere along the line, I received a package from Meetup.com, through a partnership with Wizards of the Coast. Since I was running a meetup group that was running the D&D Encounter program, they sent me a bunch of merch to be distributed at the meetup. Staring at the stuff, I was puzzled as to what to do with all of it.

    Then it hit me. I’ll hold a fundraiser and give them out as prizes! But for what? Just having a raffle for $30 books didn’t seem like enough.

    Then it hit me again. I’ll write an adventure, and people who pay to be a part of the raffle can play it!

    That was the format that eventually won out. As I worked on it, the raffle part began to give way to the adventure. But I was nervous about the whole thing; no one had done anything similar to this before (according to my contact at the American Cancer Society), so I had no idea how much of a success it’d be.

    Here I am, second year in a row, writing a post mortem of the event.

    When I got home after the event, I sat down to count the donations, and was stunned. Not only did we break last year’s total, we more than doubled it! We ended up raising $1,894, with more than two-thirds of that money coming in from the event alone. And money is still trickling in from the online donations. To think that this crazy idea of mine would go on to raise so much money is almost beyond comprehension. I am overwhelmed with the amount of support the whole endeavor has gotten, from organizational support from Mutual of Omaha, prize support from Meetup.com, operational support from Battlegrounds Gaming and GamingETC, to other support from people I can’t officially name (though I hope she knows how much I appreciate her help ^_-). I am downright humbled to know that so many people wanted to help.

    Once again, I’ll be doing encores at Gen Con on Thursday & Friday. Though they’re close to sold out, you’re more than welcome to stop by and talk shop, hang out, & watch the adventure(s) being run. And who knows? I might be convinced to run unscheduled sessions wherever we can find a table (Circle Center Mall, anyone?).

    I would like to thank everyone who came out to the event. I would also like to thank my volunteers and corporate sponsors for helping make this event as big as it is.

    What a Wonderful World!

  • Pathfinder Review Addendum, & Other News

    Here’s the scene: I bring my Pathfinder Huge Black Dragon miniature to D&D Encounters one night. The others ooh and aah over it, while I lament that, with shipping, it set me back almost as much as one of the Gargantuan dragon “minis” that Wizards of the Coast put out a few years ago. The night’s encounter occurs, I pack my things, and head for the door.

    Ill-prepared was I for this mini to drop. It hit the floor with a clatter, causing the base to completely come loose and shoot under one of the store’s shelves. Luckily, Steve, the store owner, had a bottle of model glue sitting on the counter (Finally! A use for keeping Warhammer players around!), so patching it up was a non-issue. It surprises me, though, that after all the attention to detail the more readily-available minis get, the premium would have such a flimsy base. It wasn’t much of a drop, either; we’re talking something close to two feet, at the highest.

    Oh, well.

    Plans for Castles & Chemo II are proceeding. I met with an individual from Mutual of Omaha, who expressed interest in helping out, and have received word from Shelly Mazzanoble, over at Wizards of the Coast, about lending greater aid for this year’s event. Unfortunately, I am still unsure about taking online donations. But as soon as I figure anything out, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    Lastly, tomorrow, Norwalk’s Battlegrounds Gaming will be finishing up its run through the D&D Encounters adventure, “Beyond the Crystal Cave.” Like the previous season, I will attempt to broadcast this event via my UStream channel. If it’s anything like last time, I expect it to be plagued with bugs and drops. But it could surprise me, and run the entire time.

    Roll the dice to see if I’m getting drunk!

  • Castles & Chemo: Post Mortem

    I just wanted to let you know that Castle & Chemo was a success. It wasn’t quite the turnout I was expecting (probably due to both the nature of the event, and the short prep window), but we ended up raising $700 in total. I’m pleased that there was so much support for me in doing this, if not in attendance, then in encouragement, as so many people were impressed by the simple idea of using tabletop gaming that many people began talking about doing their own, similar fundraising efforts, and plans are already in the works for next year’s Castles & Chemo.

    For those of you that missed the event, I’m running an encore of the adventure at Gen Con, at 6 PM on Thursday & Friday, and the money I receive for the event is also going to be donated to the American Cancer Society.

    I wish to once again thank everyone who showed up, and a special thank you to all of my volunteers. This event could not have happened without your support.

    Here’s hoping that next year’s event is even bigger!