Ode to My Friendly Local Game Store

Last Thursday due to the increasing numbers of cases of the COVID-19 virus in the United States, the state of Pennsylvania placed further restrictions on shops and eating establishments, placing the maximum number of occupants at 25% normal capacity until further notice. The new guidelines made if no longer feasible to operate a local cafe and game shop I like to frequent called The Game Chateau, so owners Chris and Elle made the hard decision to permanently close the store. I’m heartbroken.

The Game Chateau was a unique place, an all inclusive establishment that offered good food, fun games, and a safe place to be yourself. It was their Saturday Night 2nd Edition AD&D games presided by my friend Bernie Kovacs that got me back into playing after a long hiatus. I’ll miss the long conversations, the holiday parties, and most of all the love. Chris, Elle didn’t treat you like customers, they treated you like family. A big happy family exploring fantastic realms over coffee and cheese covered tater tots.

I just wanted to recognize Chris, Elle, and their partners Katy and Ian for all the good things they have done and will continue to do for the community they created four years ago. I wish everyone good fortune in all of your future adventures. Thank you for rekindling my interest in gaming, thank you for creating the Game Chateau, and most of all thank you for being my friend.

Postcards from Ragora

The big finale from Caverns of the Cannibal Crone. Art by Krim Glue

On July 3rd, my friends and I are continuing our Postcards from Ragora campaign after a three month hiatus. We have been playing this campaign intermittently at my favorite gaming cafe The Game Chateau located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for about three years now. It will good to be in the company of good friends again.

Ragora! The weird, foul little place that started from a total party kill in Jobe Bittman’s sinister adventure The One Who Watches from Below. All my friends wanted to keep their characters, so I reincarnated them: into half-demons. I pitted these newborn cambions against a giant, four-armed cannibal crone. That adventure was what turned into my submission for the 2019 Gongfarmer’s Almanac. Working on Caverns of the Cannibal Crone with Clayton Williams and company was an excellent experience. I had zero experience in the whole writing and publishing process, Clayton was extremely patient and kind. If anyone has any desire to write adventures and have them published, I would start with the Gongfarmer’s Almanac.

Since fighting the Cannibal Crone, Ragora has continued to get…weirder. The entire setting is inside a dying god’s skull. It’s ruled by the Demon King of Rock and Roll who commands a nation of devil girls obsessed with roller skating and an affinity for Eighties cable television. Robots, crashed spaceships, elephant sized man-eating amoebas, a purple gigantopithecus and whale sized worms that excrete Cadillacs are just a few of the things a person can run into in Ragora. I’m pretty sure my friends are masochists, because they keep coming back to play no matter how weird things get.

The original map of Ragora. Things have gotten more complicated since then.

For me, Ragora is the big project. I’ve been trying to decide how I want to present this strange, gory setting to the world. A big world book, a zine, little modules here and there? No idea, and quite frankly it seems a little overwhelming. So for now, I’ll blog about it. If you’re lucky, maybe you will see some of the stories about Ragora from my friend Marcie Herman Riebe, a accomplished writer and award winning actor in Scranton theatre. We shall see, I’ll let you know how Friday’s game goes.