Friday, July 17, 2015

Tabletop Games - As a Camp Activity

Last summer the site I participate in, International Geek Girl Pen Pals, ran their first online Summer Camp! They had site members running seminars, posting How-To Blogs, divided people up into troops who then had their own little cabins and counselors, and there were just a lot of awesome things to participate in.

Due do it's amazing popularity, it has returned and I, once again, have thrown myself into the fire, like a tasty marshmallow, and offered to run some camp events. I'll be listing my events below, but make sure you check out the whole list of amazing activities that will be going on. It's not just for girls, but boys, too.

Tabletop Online Game Tournament - Starts Thursday, August 13
Gamers will play online games through BoardGameArena in an elimination style tournament. Participants will be paired, hopefully in a way that makes time zones work out for them, and then standings will be listed. Last year was my first time doing it. This year, there's a bit more strategy. Sure, the contest is limited to the games that are available online (and free), so it changes things a little bit. I would love to have games like SmallWorld and Galaxy Trucker, but I can't make people buy the apps for those. Ceste la Vie.

Fiasco - Camp Death - Sunday, August 16
Fiasco is an on-the-spot RPG, where you roll dice in the moment and, as a group, create your characters and the story. No planning ahead. No GM. Just dice rolling, character creation, and storytelling. I will be facilitating and playing the Fiasco Playset Camp Death, developed by James Gabrielsen.

“Camp Clearwater has been abandoned since some grisly, ‘unsolved’ murders 20 years ago. The new owner probably made that up as some creepy story to tell campers and scare up business. What I know, though, is that we’ve got a couple weeks to get this place setup before any campers arrive, and most of the hardwork is already done. We’ve got lots of time to have some good ol’ fun before the campers take over. What could go wrong?"

Prepare yourself by watching some classic 80’s horror flicks! We'll be on Google+Hangout.

Tabletop Photo Scavenger Hunt - Monday, August 17
Use your knowledge and love of Tabletop Games to complete a Photo Scavenger Hunt. A list of 10 camp related items will be posted and you will use Tabletop Games fulfill the hunt photo requirements. The rules are fast and loose, as long as you are happy with the outcome of the items you selected to complete the hunt. For example, if the clue was “Fireside Snacks,” you might take a picture of the game board to Candy Land or some of the components from Scoville. Celebrate the great way Tabletop Games fit into camping!

So make sure that you check out these great Tabletop activities, as well as some of the other great activities, like daily craft and fitness activities.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Join Me at GenCon 2015

Apparently I'm out and about at GenCon this year! It didn't dawn on me until, well. . . right now, just how much I am going to be seriously out and about. I've usually been a wallflower, but something has pushed me into a more interactive role this year.

Not that I want to support people stalking me, but I figured I'd post some of my events so if you wanted to come play some games or whatever, you could find me. I know I have like, 2 or 3 fans, but maybe there are more of you. Is fans even the right term for my following based on hodge-podgeness?

First, I'm running some board games for ConTessa. They're a site that focuses primarily on RPG for women. They posted a while back that they were looking for people to run events (even board games), so that made me happy. I don't feel completely comfortable yet with RPG, but I'm growing in confidence every day, so being able to run a game or two for them was pretty great.

I tried to pick two games that would be kind of fun to add on RPG personas to; one Sci-Fi and one Medieval. I really love playing them, so we'll see how it goes! The room locations and registering can be found through the links! Hope to see you at the events!

Here are the events I'm running for ConTessa:

The Captain is Dead - Thursday, July 30 at 6PM
A cooperative game published by Game Crafter (it's seriously awesome) and was a Kickstarter designed by Joe Pierce and JT Smith. It's Sci-Fi, duh! Essentially, the captain is dead and you and the crew, that are left, have to try to get the Jump Core back online! Work together to keep the other systems up and running, while fighting aliens, blasting attacking ships, and collecting the resources to get the core going. Will you make it!

Sheriff of Nottingham - Thursday, July 30 at 8PM
I love this game. I thought it would be a great tabletop game for an RPG group, because you can really become your character. To learn more about this game, check out my review through International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club.

The opening ceremony for ConTessa is also going to be awesome, with guest speaker Margaret Weis (um... Dragonlace books... SQUEA!). So make sure you check that out if you haven't already signed up.

So those are the events I'm running. I've already made known that I will be participating in some Cosplay again this year. Last year I tried my hand at a Steampunk Nun. I loved it. This year I went with something a little different and went for a game character. I intend to be Felicia Day from Dead of Winter. Not only because, well. . . it's Felicia Day, Dead of Winter, and zombies, but I'm trying to become comfortable with Cosplay and while I am probably like 3 Felicia Days, it shouldn't really matter in the end. Why my body looks the way it does is seriously none of your concern and I am merely expressing my love of a game and a geek icon.

If you see someone looking kind of like that character, I will gladly stop for a picture with you. My husband has a funny addition to my costume that I can't wait to unveil. OMG LOVING IT! Sparky the Stunt Dog might also be making an appearance.

Besides all that, I do also have my educational seminars on creating a Middle School Tabletop Club and how to develop a game creation unit using Lucy Calkins. If you don't know. . . um. . . they charge a LOT of money for you just to have a plug, Wi-Fi, or even any kind of electricity. . . so I'm going old school with this. Probably a handout with some posters or something. I really am at a loss for how to approach it now that I have NO resources without dropping a couple hundred dollars. Broke teacher over here. . . lucky I have enough to even get to GenCon. Hopefully I can "borrow" a projector through my district, as there is a working plug in the room (thank goodness).

If you're a Trade Day badge holder, feel free to hunt me down. I've already gotten several e-mails from people wanting my stuff or attending another seminar and just wanting to know more about my stuff. I'll be honest. . . it's a bit conflicting for me. I mean. . . you told me you were more interested in other panels over mine, so please just send me your stuff. I would love to help, but at the same time, would kind of prefer to share what I'm doing in person.

I'm learning and growing, so whatever. Here are my events and eventually I'll get back to the people e-mailing me about my stuff. As of right now. . . I'm still creating the presentations.

Here are my Trade Day Educational Seminars:

How to Start a Tabletop Gaming Club for Middle Schoolers - Wednesday, July 29 at 10AM
OMG my baby project. Talk about something near and dear to my heart that I am excited to share. A serious success for me outside of curriculum and I'm going to have some good information to share, including how to really take your club beyond just a group that meets to play games, because in reality, that's what a district wants. . . a club that does something!

Developing a Tabletop Gaming Unit Using Calkins - Wednesday, July 29 at 1PM
 I referenced Calkins in the title, because I can't hand out materials from her unit and I didn't want people to come and expect to get tons of rubrics and things. BUT I do have original materials that accompanies Calkins and I have some really great tips and strategies for implementing a game unit using the framework of Calkins.

There it is! If you're wanting to touch base with me for any reason during GenCon. . . to talk about things or just meet, please let me know and hopefully we'll be able to bump into each other. I'm really looking forward to this year!

Confession: My anxiety this year purely stems from the way the buses are running. We chose a hotel we loved, which we knew was on the bus route. We really loved the bus last year, but this year there have been some very major and upsetting changes to the way things work.

Hopefully we'll actually be able to make it to GenCon, but you'll know if I did if you check out the above events!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Karma Strikes - Dead of Winter

I love Dead of Winter. If you have a chance to get a hold of this game and play with friends (or family), it is so much fun. We finally got to play it with Friend Jim over our trip to visit this past June.

One of the reasons I was so excited to play this particular time, was that it was the first time I would get to play since getting the Tabletop Day 2015 promotional Felicia Day card. Sure, we pick random, dole out the cards, blah blah blah. . . breaking the rules here. . . I demand to have Felicia in my crew. I don't usually do things like that, but, um. . . it's Felicia Day.

So we're playing and things are going well. Very interesting activities and strategies, etc. Then it's my turn. My husband draws my Crossroads card and I'm starting my search.


Awe crap. . . what happened?  *SPOILER - CARD TEXT BELOW!* Um. . . this whole bit is a spoiler to this particular card. Please forgive me.

Ok. . . so. . . um. . . right. Kill the horse. Keep the horse. First and foremost, I did the honorable thing and said, "What would Felicia do?" DUH! KEEP THE HORSE! When I announced I wanted to keep the horse, knowing we would lose an additional food each turn (our goal was to have X-amount of food at the end), but also knowing that I couldn't kill a horse. . . I received contradictory opinions from my companions.

Now. . . we'd get 3 food for killing the horse. We really needed that food. We'd lose 1 additional food each turn if we kept the horse, but I wouldn't have to roll for exposure. I battled this. . . I know it's just a game, but these moral choices are played in the game for a reason. What does it really say about you when you make that choice?

I was really battling with this decision. Finally, I said. . . kill the horse. . . add three food. . . it will help us all. I apologized to the horse.

As we were tying up the Crossroads card, I said this game is all about Karma! It is so going to come back to hurt me. . .

I still had to roll for exposure. . . and as I rolled. . . having made that clandestine statement. . . I died.

Karma. . .

I couldn't help it. . . I actually cried. Tears. . . so many tears. Not big, whiny baby crying. . . just. . . the tears poured out my eyes and I clammed up. Devastated. Karma.

The trauma of the moment is still with me. My husband mocks my tears. Our friend inwardly giggles (I KNOW IT). But seriously. . . Dead of Winter is a karmic game. . . do not choose wrong, for it will come back to bite you. . . literally!

So if you see me at GenCon. . . you'll know the story behind my Felicia Day Dead of Winter Cosplay. In honor of. . . the horse.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cowfish - Where Have You Been All My Life

If you know me, you know I have an absolute addiction to sushi. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be sushi.

No, do NOT try to stick me on a deserted island and say I should eat raw fish the rest of my life. That is so NOT what I mean. I love the diversity of the sushi roll. So when I say I could eat only sushi for the rest of my life, that means hand me the sushi menu to choose from.

Whenever I see the word sushi on a sign, I feel compelled to yell it out. Announcing the option of sushi eating is a requirement. So when I was at Universal Studios Orlando with my husband, 4yo daughter, and my mother, I couldn't not loudly announce sushi and burgers as we walked by this place called The Cowfish. I'm assuming my mom didn't hear the word burger and immediately turned her nose up at the word sushi and we all continued walking out of the park for the day. Not, though, without snapping this adorable little picture.

I had never heard of the place before. Imagine my surprise when we arrived in Raleigh and Friend Jim said we should go there for dinner, since it had sushi and burgers. I was like, "wait a second. . . that's the place my daughter took this picture at!"

As if kismet had just occurred, we waited a good hour in Raleigh to go to this place. Anxiety rush, for me, but I tried to keep things in check. I was also battling some incredible travel pain, so the experience had the potential to go downhill quickly, regardless of sushi being involved.

While we waited, we brought up the menu on our phones. What is... this? Burgushi? Are you just making up words now? Apparently they not only create epic burgers and stupefying sushi, but they have combined and flip-flopped the two. Making sushi out of burger ingredients and burgers out of sushi ingredients.

Please reread that to clarify your befuddlement. Yes. . . sushi burgers and burger sushi!

Finally seated, my husband and I started to go into foodie overload. . . what is this marvelous thing that has been placed in front of us? From some sort of otherworldly place that is beyond comprehension! We must tactfully select our entrees and app. . . "Yes, we'll have the Parmesan Bacon Truffle Fries!" That was Friend Jim ordering the appetizer before it can even be considered! Holy crap! Ok. . . ok. . . just look at the menu.

I ordered a drink and the fries arrived. ::drool::

I. . . I still think that these fries were a figment of my dreams, but I had a picture to prove it. Savory deliciousness.

Feeling way too splurgy, I ordered a sushi roll and then my husband and I order one of each kind of Burgushi; meaning he ordered a sushi burger and I ordered a burger sushi. The lady taking our order seemed a little taken aback by the quantity of food that was just requested, but we were like "nope, bring it. Carpe Diem Bitches!" Ok. . . we didn't actually say Carpe Diem Bitches, but that would have been pretty awesome.

What we received after a medium wait was. . . literally to die for. . .

The 4-S (Sear-iously Sensational Sushi Sandwich)  
Seared Koji marinated tuna and yellowtail, Asian slaw, red peppers, daikon sprouts, cucumber, served on grilled spring roll wrapper “buns” filled with kani and sushi rice.

Doug’s Filet Roll
Avocado, kani, cream cheese inside, topped with thin slices of seared filet mignon, spicy mayo, scallions, masago. 

Dion's OMG! Roll  
Tempura coconut shrimp, kani, English cucumber inside, coated in tempura flakes. Topped with fresh mango, avocado, spicy honey marmalade and coconut flakes

Once it was gone. . . I think tears might have actually been shed. To say the least, if it weren't for the price, we would have gone back there so many times. . . so many, many times. . . Even sadder. . . we do not live in Raleigh, Charlotte, or Orlando. . . I loved this place so much, I actually tried to look into how to get one of these places up here in Wisconsin.

So let me just say this. . . if you are near a Cowfish. . . go there and experience Nirvana in your mouth! I still have sweet dreams of these succulent victuals.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


We were preparing to visit Friend Jim in North Carolina and he posed an exciting opportunity to my husband. It was an escape from a zombie, co-operative adventure (Raleigh Room Escapes). He had some sort of discount or something like that and is one of those people who, like me, enjoys things like that. I mean, heck, I like Murder Mystery Dinners and all that junk. So when it was posed to me, I was like OMG YES! It didn't hurt that I was somewhat familiar with the experience from non-other-than The Big Bang Theory. Here's a clip from the episode.

Now, we promised not to give up any information about the actual puzzles, so I won't go into detail about that or strategies, but I will talk about some of the other aspects.

So here's what happens. You sign up. The reservations were for no more than 12 people. Much to my socially anxious chagrin, ours filled up with lots of other strangers. We didn't know if it would be couples or small groups or whatever. We only knew that there would be 3 of us and 8 of them!

We showed up at the appointed time and had to turn over all of our electronics (or go quick lock them in our cars). If you left them with the people, they were locked safely away (no worries). Then we signed a wavier and all that junk. Upon entering, though, we met the Scientist who would be leading us through the adventure (and evaluating us). Sadly, I'm terrible with names and I forget all the names of all the people and I only took the generic business card, not the specific business cards. Either way, the guy running it and the zombie woman who was also part of it, were AWESOME and really helped set the mood for the whole experience.

We had to introduce ourselves and meet everyone (yeah, I keep digressing). Turns out the other 8 people all knew each other from work and we had a few REALLY OUTGOING guys in the group. I could feel myself pull away faster and faster and faster; to the point where I was standing back assessing everyone. Not judging, literally assessing. Looking for the strengths, the weakness, and seeing where I might be of the most use.

After learning about the rules of not touching this and making sure to keep moving forward and staying out of corners, we moved into the hallway and prepared to enter the lab! We had already been given the backstory to how the good doctor turned into a zombie and found herself trapped. We were charged with finding the clues to solve the puzzles to get the lock off the door!

The door opened and in we went. I'll stop there and say it was pretty crazy. Everyone seemed to do things that mostly helped, but there was a lot of dead weight. It was also interesting, because I assessed my own value in a group and as someone who has been told they aren't the best in group settings, I was someone who was valuable. I'm just valuable in a way that the loud, outgoing, clear leaders in the group don't realize. I'm in the minority of people willing to listen to others (p.s. Just because I don't do what you recommend, doesn't mean I didn't listen and take it into consideration).

That was the biggest problem, though. The other 8 people showed next to 0 interest in the other three people. I say next to 0, because it wasn't a complete 0. They only had interest when something was shouted or an answer was being stated. I was laughing inside at my own ability to point out how to solve a puzzle, but my own inability to actually solve it. Besides, too many cooks in the kitchen. . . once they swarmed me, I backed away and pulled out. When I was actually confronted by our helpful doctor with solving a puzzle, my anxiety was too high to put solving anything to go use. I couldn't understand his clue to solving it and, to be honest, I'm horrible at those kinds of puzzles.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes what looks like clear leaders or the loudest in the group, aren't always the cornerstones to success. They also have a tendency to forget about others, because their focus is on their, like, one or two friends and their own agenda. I had my fingers in so many pies in there, I was a jack of all sorts of junk. Calling out the attack, moving people, pointing out clues, recalling important info, setting up for the solving of many of the puzzles. I even became a zombie wrangler, when my other roles were finished. Granted, I think the zombie was getting tired of the guy who took over. No offense, dude, but I would never want to work with you. Please stop saying you're from Wisconsin.

At the end of it all. . . we didn't make it out. According to our guide doctor, we literally needed 10 more seconds. Yeah, we were entering codes into the final lock when the buzzer sounded. But hey, we got way farther than I thought we would! A total rush. So much so that when I exited the room and people were gathering for the final meeting, I had a mild post-event-panic-attack. My head was spinning and the adrenaline had faded and I felt like I was about to cry. On the flipside, that's how intense the whole process is! It's so boss!

After we all congregated in the main area, our lead doctor debriefed with us, telling us our roles. He went through everyone. I remember I was credited with finding many of the puzzles, and immediately latching on to.... oop... a very specific puzzle. Our Friend Jim was really good at repeating people. I loved that and I can't seem to let it go. Makes me laugh, because it just doesn't seem like him. He also sacrificed himself for the group. My husband, though, was an Apocrypha solver. He'd come up with these really off-the-wall connections to solve a puzzle that somehow seemed to work. Of course, that totally fits him as a person and the book he's writing. Loved it!

As we left, another group was getting ready to come in and we did say it was awesome! I would do this again in a heartbeat. It's good, though, knowing your role going into something like this. I am one of those people who slips into the most-needed position. If I don't see it, I'll ask, but that's who I am.

Please attend these (especially the Raleigh one. . . I think they said there's one in DC, too). It was awesome. It was fun! It totally tests your skillZ! I saw a 007 one in Milwaukee that I'm debating over checking out. It was really a worthwhile time, fun, memorable, and a great way to push yourself to interact with people in a positive and productive way.

A great time was had by all! Thanks Raleigh Room Escapes!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Liebster Award

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by GirlSpeaksGeek!

What is the Liebster Award:

I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by GirlSpeaksGeek. I have some questions she's posted that I need to answer and then I get to nominate some of the blogs that I love to pass along the award.

Liebster is a great way to discover new blogs. You find out who is nominating you, who nominated them, as well as getting to know these bloggers a little bit from the Q&A. When I was reading about it, I thought it was funny that it was compared to a chain letter. I totally remember chain letters as a kid! Except this one doesn't really have many negatives. I'm not going to lose millions of dollars or all of my friends. Win win! So let's get down to the rules and the questions and then I'll nominate my people and post my questions for them.

The rules:
1. Link back to who nominated you
2. Answer their fun questions
3. Nominate 5-11 other bloggers that have less than 200 followers
4. Create 11 questions to ask them
5. Notify your nominees

Questions from GirlSpeaksGeek:

1. Favorite nerd movie(s) of all time?
I really love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  But I used to be heavily involved in the film community for many, many years. . . academically, critically, and other. So it's hard to narrow things down to favorites, when I love so many movies.

2. The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones?
The Walking Dead, hands down! Love it! Plus, I mean. . . for all intents and purposes, the bad people get punished to some extent. Game of Thrones, while more like the real world where the bad are not always punished, just makes me angry that good or honorable people are killed left and right, while the despicable, horrible, black-souled people continue to run the show. Granted, by season 4, things have changed a bit more. BUT I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Walking Dead. Totally geeked this summer over visiting some of the filming locations. EEEEE!!!!

3. Anime, yes or no?
Sure? I'm not, like, hardcore into Anime, but I like my fair share of it. Cowboy Bebop!

4. Favorite candy and/or junk food?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate pretzels, cheetos. Mmmmm..... cheetos....

5. Shooters or rpgs?
RPGS. Just not super into shooters.

6. What super hero do you relate to most? why?
The Hulk. You always want to do the best for people, but you get trapped by what's inside.

7. Whats your favorite fandom?
Tabletop Games is my totes Fandom!

8. Favorite band?
Another hard one, specially since it says band. Hmmmm.....I have to say Hootie and the Blowfish. Still listen to the albums. Still love them when I hear them. I love lots of bands I love, though, but yeah. . . still love Hootie and geek out all the time about it!

9. What is the last show you binge watched? and would you recommend it?
Well, we started over on Game of Thrones now that we have all the seasons, so Game of Thrones. Yes, but not to watch with your parents. ::shivers::

10. What’s the one food you could eat all the time and never get sick of?
Uh, totally sushi. I LOVE sushi so very much. Now I want some sushi.

11. And the million dollar question: Batman or Superman? why?
Batman. The morality and the finality of his existence. He exists more in the realm of men.

My nominees:
Katherine Koba - Kokoba
Tricia Ennis
SarrTrek by Keely
AJ-Archer - The Idle Archer
The Costume Wrangler
How to Fangirl for Adults

Nominee Questions:
1. What is your favorite geek thing?

2. What kinds of games do you play?

3. What is our favorite Tabletop Game?

4. Who is your Geeky Idol?

5. What is your spirit animal and why?

6. If you could go anywhere, real or imaginary, where would you go?

7. What do you like to do when life becomes too stressful?

8, Socks or Sockless?

9. Which original Ghostbuster do you relate to the most?

10. What is your scariest supernatural encounter?

11. What time of year do you prefer and why?

So please make sure you check out these awesome blogs and what I'm sure will be their amazing answers! Thanks for making blogging so much fun and helping to make the community strong!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Been on Vacation

Sorry my dearest blog. I fell off the blog-wagon when I left for an epic road trip. A family trip to Universal Orlando for a week and then a week with my husband's family in North Carolina. Then upon arriving home there are the standard get-back-to-normal behaviors and I challenged myself to host a "mom-come-up-and-visit" 4th of July.

AND on top of all of that, I've been preparing for my daughter entering Kindergarten and preparing for my seminar at GenCon 2015 and working on some Professional Development. Wait wait wait. . . I've only been home for 4 days, how is all this happening? Well. . . I shockingly have a very frantic mind.

As my daily schedules start to iron themselves out, I'll be back to posting. So much to do!

So for now. . . enjoy some pictures from a quick The Walking Dead stop while driving "through" Atlanta!