Beauty, Peace, and Game Design: Post-Gen-Con Musings

I've been back from Gen Con for a couple days, now, and anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that despite having a tough time getting pumped for the con beforehand, I had a pretty great experience this year. As always, the con went too fast and I was sad it was over, but I met some awesome fans and had an awesome time at the Troll Lord Games booth. Very excited about the prospects for the future. There are some very exciting developments in the works for Amazing Adventures, but until we have a bit more in the way of concrete development I can't say just what, yet.

Also had a great time at the Eden Studios booth Friday with George Vasilakos and crew - awesome to finally see Band of Zombies in print, and George and I came up with a great idea for my next AFMBE book as well! Again, until there's something more concrete I can't say just what, but I'm really digging the idea.

I'm eternally grateful to Joseph Wolz, Chris and Nicky Helmkamp, and Kevin Deany for hooking me up with a place to sleep. If you're not listening to the 2 GMs, 1 Mic Podcast, you're missing out.

Also, be sure to check out Play Unplugged, who always do awesome post-con coverage.

My troop with Mos Espa base and Bloodfin Garrison was a blast as always. The Indy contingent for the Legion are first class folks. I discovered two things--firstly, it's really hard to get into my Imperial Knight getup without a squire, and secondly, I've lost enough weight that my costume fits loose. I guess that's a good thing, but for the fact that I only finished the costume a couple months ago!

All in all a really fun and productive con.

I scored a set of Deadlands: Noir materials, including the main book, the Companion, GM screen, Action Decks, bennies, and a ton of erasable maps. Been reading this first and it's phenomenal. Looking at their site I see there's several dime novels available, and a soundtrack CD. I'll have to pick these up as well asap. I also got the Gen Con preview edition of the new Firefly RPG by Margaret Weis Productions, a collector's edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep from Chaosium, and a bunch of C&C stuff from the Trolls to get me caught up on that line. 

I get this feeling every year at the con, but this year it was greater than ever. At Gen Con, I feel like I'm where I belong. The attendees are my people, the atmosphere is home. I felt it even moreso this year, working the booth with the guys from Troll Lord Games - I'm really glad to be working with them on Amazing Adventures and in general (for those unaware, I have two other writing credits with them--an adventure module for StarSIEGE and a contributing credit in the Castle Keeper's Guide). I think, like many game designers out there, I'd give just about anything to be able to make a living doing this and get out from under the thumb of a day job that has absolutely no fulfillment for me at all, but is emotionally draining and constantly stressful. If I could make even half my current salary doing game design, and pick up a part time job to make up the difference? I'd be blissfully happy. But that's just not something that happens to most game designers these days, so it is what it is, I guess.

Speaking of blissfully happy, I'd like to talk about something tangential for a few, because the single greatest moment of this weekend did not take place at the convention, but on my way home.

One of the things I was most nervous about was driving to and from Indy alone. Not because I'm afraid to drive alone, or because I thought I'd get lost. No, but you see, I've fallen asleep behind the wheel once before and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, so when I'm on a long drive, I like to have someone in the car with me to talk and make sure my eyes stay open.

I needn't have worried. On the way out I caravaned with some friends, which was fun, but the drive home, alone? It was actually a sublime experience. I mean that in the literal sense, as in "awe-inspiring."

It began about a half-hour outside of Indianapolis, when it started to rain. Not much, just a little, a sprinkle. But the sun was still out, so I knew I was going to get a rainbow. The question was, would I actually get to see it, or would I be gone by the time it appeared?

Well, this situation kept on for most of the day, so before I even hit Ohio, there was a brilliant rainbow in front of me. Once I got out of the city and into the countryside, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty around me. It never really hit me before, because I've never been solitary like that, but ye gods, it was a sight to behold. It felt like Heaven was reaching down to pat me on the shoulder. Like someone or something good was sitting there in the passenger seat with me saying, "I know you feel like you've screwed up a lot, lately, but look around you. Everything will eventually be okay."

Please note, I'm not trying to lambast, attack, belittle, or otherwise make assumptions regarding those of an atheist persuasion who read my blog, nor am I trying to force religion into this. It was just a feeling I had. A very good, very peaceful feeling. Whether or not it WAS any kind of literal thing is not the province of this blog to decide.

I looked around at the fields and the trees, I looked up at the rainbow. I don't even remember what was playing on the mp3 player at the time, but even though the windows were up and the AC was running I could've sworn I smelled the fresh air outside. And everything else just faded away. I took a deep breath, got a lump in my throat, and felt my eyes well up a bit. And I said aloud, "I'm happy right now." I said it aloud because it was really hard to believe, because honestly, I'd forgotten what that felt like. The last time I really felt like that was on my wedding day, standing across from Julie. Before that? I can't remember. 

Everything was right with the world for just a few hours. There was no work. No problems. No sense that I've done everything wrong with my life. No desperate wondering about where I'm going to go next. There was only peace and beauty.

Folks, we live in a really, truly, and incredibly beautiful world. The beauty of this world cannot be understated, nor can words adequately describe it, though many wordsmiths of greater pen than I have undertaken the effort. I'm not a crazed left-wing environmentalist, but we really probably should do a little more to protect what unspoiled land we have left. Because when it's gone, it's gone.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I say an experience is worth one hundred times that. Take some time. Get out there, by yourself, and take a long drive on a lonely highway on a Sunday afternoon. Drive until you feel that feeling of peace, of serenity, until the beauty of what's around you overwhelms you. Then you'll see what I'm talking about. There really is nothing like it.

One moment of real peace and beauty can, just for a little while, fix everything that's wrong with your life.

I hope you all have a wonderful, blessed, or just plain peaceful day, and many more to come.


  1. I am so glad you had this experience, and even more that you shared it. It is in these moments, especially the quiet ones, that I also find peace and feel the presence of the divine so strongly. I love you! :-)


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