John’s GenCon Schedule

GenCon is one of my favorite times of year, because it’s when I get to see the majority of my friends in one place for a few days, usually on or near my birthday. This year, however, my birthday already passed (it was yesterday), GenCon isn’t for another week, and many of my friends aren’t attending.

But this is all okay. I’ve got plenty to do, and plenty of opportunities to make some awesome things happen.

The Industry Insider program is one of those things I’ve pursued for years, and had always found it outside my grasp, leading me to make up a variety of reasons for my missing out – ranging from “they wouldn’t know what to do with my awesomeness” to “I wonder if they think I have cooties.” I’m very happy to announce that this year I have been selected as an Industry Insider and am fortunate enough to speak about two of my favorite topics: editing and motivation.

So let’s see what’s going on:


So You’re Making Your First Game 10:00 AM- 12:00PM
Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn A 

This is one of my all-time favorite panels to do, because it arms new designers with the same toolbox I used to produce Noir World. This panel makes me super happy.  Ideally, this panel is done with Mark Richardson, who I will absolutely delight in tormenting while we discuss game development.

So You Want to Get Into the Industry 3:00 PM-4:00PM 1 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Conrail Stn 

This is the companion panel to the one above (at one point I wanted to do these back-to-back in the same room over the course of like 4 hours and make a crash course of it), and this shifts the focus out of specific game development and into being a freelancer available for any kind of industry work.  This panel works best when there are a lot of questions asked by an eager audience, and I’m hopeful that trend continues this year.

Breaking Into Game Design ICC 244 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Want to watch me hustle from one hotel to the next? Here’s your chance because this panel (my first Industry Insider panel) is going condense a lot of the stuff in the previous panels to a much larger audience, turning Thursday into a mini-Metatopia for interested attendees.

Creating A Bulletproof Rulebook ICC 244 6:00-7:00PM

Thursday wraps up with what I hope is the crunchiest panel of the day, because I really do want to get specific about things like construction and language.  Bonus points if you ask if I’ve had dinner yet.


Mental Health and Gaming 2017 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM 1 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Pennsylvania Stn B 

This panel is dear to me, because it’s a chance to speak truth to stigma, and as tough as this panel can be for me emotionally, it’s worth it.

Writing Scenarios, Settings, & Campaigns That Kick @$$ 1:00 PM – 2:00PM 1 hrs Location: Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn C/D 

The first thing I noticed when they approved this panel was that they let me get away with the pseudo-curse @$$, because I didn’t think “Writing Not-Shitty Scenarios, Settings, and Fucking Campaigns” would fly. The second thing I noticed is that they gave me two rooms for it. Historically this panel has had about 4 – 9 attendees, so I’m hoping we break double digits this year.

Don’t You Dare Give Up, How To Set Reasonable Goals ICC 244 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Back to the Industry Insider panels I go for my final one of the weekend. This is also probably the most abstract and non-game-specific panel, because this hour will cover time management, goal setting, and organizing whatever it is you’re doing. I’m really eager to see this panel come together and I hope people respond well.

And yes, later that evening, I’ll be at the ENnies.


RPG17105385 Death of a Good Thing Sat @ 10:00 AM 3 hrs Location: JW :: 310 :: 1 RPG17105386 Then Someone Died Sat @ 2:00 PM 3 hrs Location: JW :: 310 :: 2

I’m spending Saturday playing Noir World. Both games are sold out, and no, this year I’m not taking on stragglers.


RPG17105387 Look, A Crime! Sun @ 10:00 AM 3 hrs

My weekend concludes with one more sold out Noir World game, and that makes me really happy.

In all, I’m really excited for this convention, and I hope to see a lot of you there.

Happy creating, and be good to one another.

Posted by johnadamus in convention schedule, gencon, gencon...ladies, I WON AN AWARD, noir world, panels and seminars

My GenCon schedule

GenCon this year is August 4th to the 7th. I’ve got some really exciting days planned, but I’m always free to say hello, answer questions, rant about people and things, and hang out.

Also, there’s the not-so-small matter of my birthday on August 7th.

Here’s the schedule:


SEM1686117 Building A Better Freelancer Thu @ 10AM – 11:30AM
(Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Ballroom B)

Hear me talk for 90 minutes about it takes to be a working freelancer. I’ll explain good versus poor techniques, strategies to get started, and red flags to avoid.

SEM1686113 So You’re Making Your First Game Thu @ 1PM – 3PM
(Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Ballroom C)

For two hours I’m going to talk about the ins and outs of game development, while Mark Richardson will be telling me I should be writing, so that he can talk about what it’s like getting Headspace into the hands of consumers. Also, I will mock him for being Canadian. And there will be profanity.

SEM1686108 Gaming and Your Mental Health 2015 Thu @ 3PM – 5PM
(Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Ballroom A)

One of my favorite but also toughest panels to give, here’s my yearly two hours on living with mental illness and disability with all the struggles and victories therein. This panel is incredibly personal to me, and I would appreciate your attendance.


SEM1686114 Writing Effective Scenarios, Settings, and Campaigns Fri @ 10AM – 12PM
(Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn C/D)

In two hours, I’m going to talk about the blueprints of a “good” module, no matter if it’s just for your friends at the table or you want to get it out for sale. This panel gets into craft as well as game development, while remaining system neutral.

SEM1686110 Getting Into the Industry Fri @ 11 AM – 12PM
(Crowne Plaza :: Pennsylvania Stn B)

Mark Richardson is back with me to talk about starting in the gaming industry. We’ll talk about what works and what doesn’t, when you want to talk about working in the industry and getting games into people’s hands.

RPG1699936 Noir World: Tragedy In The Heartland Fri @ 1PM – 3PM
(Marriott :: Santa Fe :: 5)

Hey look! It’s Noir World at GenCon.


SEM1686118 Working & Playing Nice with Others Professionally Sat @ 10:00 AM – 12PM
(Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Ballroom C)

You might not believe this, but at times I can kind of be tough to work with. Shocking, right? Spend 2 hours with me and learn how not to do what I do. Learn how to work with others, learn what to avoid doing, find out the communication skills/tips/strategies to make it slightly easier to work with your friends.

RPG1699935 Noir World: Murder on Main Street Sat @ 1PM – 3PM
(Marriott :: Santa Fe :: 2)

More Noir World.

My birthday is Sunday August 7th. I don’t have any panels or games, but I will be around. You should come say hello.

Posted by johnadamus in gencon, gencon...ladies, living the dream

My 2015 GenCon schedule (updated!)

Today’s a good day. The air is warm and humid, I took a nap, I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Seems like the perfect time to write up my GenCon schedule.

It’s worth pointing out that Gencon is a little earlier this year, from July 30 to August 2. I’m totally okay with the change, since it gives me a chance to stay in town a little longer and doubles up my conventions in July, which is a nice bonus.

So here’s what I’m doing. It just the right amount of busy and relaxed and very very full of awesome things.


SEM1569497     Making Your First Game: From Idea to In Print     Thu @ 10:00 AM
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Pennsylvania Station C

Mark Richardson and I are going to talk at you for an hour about what it’s been like to take our games from some abstract ideas that we make jokes about to things we’ve playtested and have actual spent money on. We’ll cover the scary stuff and the fun stuff and lay out a lot of the problems we faced along the way. Also, I’ll give him grief for being Canadian.

RPG1569129     Noir World: A Crime To Kill     Thu @ 3:00 PM
Location: Marriott :: Marriott Ballroom 8  SOLD OUT!!

Noir World is back at GenCon, and this time, I actually know what I’m doing! This is really exciting for me, because the game in some ways doesn’t resemble what people last year got to see. The game has grown and matured and it’s in excellent shape. I’m really proud to show it off.

SEM1569493     Mental Health 2015: How Are You?     Fri @ 10:00 AM
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Pennsylvania Stn C

I’m back to do another mental health panel, sharing my story (a lot has happened since last year), with a not-entirely finalized guest hanging out with me, and I/we’ll talk about our experiences with mental illness while be in the industry as well as being avid gamers ourselves. It’s a candid discussion of scary things to make them less scary. And it’s a chance to not feel alone.

RPG1569128     Noir World: One Day At A Crime     Fri @ 1:00 PM
Location: Marriott :: Marriott Blrm 9 :: 7 SOLD OUT!!

More Noir World goodness. You’ll want a seat at this table.

SEM1569494     Getting Started In The Industry: How Do I Do This?     Fri @ 3:00 PM
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn C/D

I love helping people get started in this industry, demystifying it, given people good answers to tough questions and helping them figure out how to do what they want. Friday afternoon, me and my dear friend Matt Jackson (who you probably aren’t following on Twitter, but seriously need to be) are going to talk about how to get into this industry and what strategies we use to stay in it and even more than occasionally pay our bills because of it. Also, this is a great chance to get questions answered if you’re just not sure what to do. Bonus points if you come to hear Matt and I laugh for an hour.


SEM1569495     Getting Your Game Out The Door     Sat @ 10:00 AM
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn A/B

I have terrible luck picking co-panelists. We figure out what panel we’re going to do, then they go and get themselves voted GenCon Guest of Honor (really you guys, vote me in for 2016). So, I don’t know who’s on this panel with me, but someone will be. And we’ll be talking about how to make a thing and finish a thing and then make that thing available for other people to play and purchase.

SEM1569496     Publishing Your Fiction: Getting Yourself Out There     Sat @ 11:00 Location: Crowne Plaza :: Victoria Stn A/B

This is the companion panel to “Getting your Game out the door”, only this time I’m/we’re focused on working with fiction, no matter if that’s game fiction, your fiction, anthologies or whatever kind of word-awesome you’re working with. And just like the above panel, I have no idea who my co-panelist is, but it will be awesome all the same.

RPG1569130     Noir World: Crime Is On Your Side     Sat @ 3:00  Location: Marriott :: Marriott Blrm 8 :: 7  SOLD OUT!!

The final installment of Noir World at Gencon 2015 is Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t played yet, and you want to, this is a great chance to do that. (The next time Noir World will see players, it’ll be Metatopia 2015)

Of course, as this schedule gets more clarified (if I find co-panelists or if they change rooms or whatever), this will get updated.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled May evening.

Posted by johnadamus in 2015 schedule, gencon, gencon...ladies, panels and seminars

My GenCon 2014 Schedule

August 14-17 fast approaches, which means that it’s time to put my GenCon schedule for 2014. It’s a great schedule this year, I’m doing a lot of stuff, and thankfully do most of it in the same room, so there’s little risk of me getting totally lost (as I did last year and was late to my own panel). I should point out that this is the first year my panels are listed under “Indie Game Developers Network” (of which I am a member) as part of the over 100 events the Network is running this year. So let’s get into it.


WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR READERS? ( Thursday 3p-4p Crowne Plaza: Hay Market B)

I’m spending 60 minutes explaining what it means to hate your reader (read: make it hard for people to read/understand/like/follow what you’ve written), and how to fix it. Examples will be provided, both good and bad. (Hint: I’m citing myself as a bad example)

UPDATE! I’m also going to be at BOTH Evil Hat Panels (State of the Hat and Look Under The Hat). Maybe I’ll be in the audience, maybe I’ll be at the table, who knows! (No seriously, I don’t know, you should come and find out along with me).


GETTING STARTED AS AN EDITOR (Friday 11a-12p Crowne Plaza: Grand Central C)

Do you want to be an editor? Not just “do you want to be able to edit your own work”, I mean do you want to be an editor for other people and companies? How does someone get started doing this? Is there anything special they need? Is it difficult? And what’s the big deal? I will explain what I do, how I started doing it and why I love it.

FREELANCING FOR FUN AND PROFIT (Friday 1p-2:30p Crowne Plaza: Grand Central C)

I make my living freelancing. It’s a good life: no cubicle, minimal dress code, high intensity, inconsistent paychecks, high stress, short deadlines. Learn about all the pros and cons about being a pro who goes to cons to talk about making game design and game writing more than something that just happens random on some Sunday afternoon.


SO YOU’RE MAKING YOUR FIRST GAME (Friday 3p to 4p Crowne Plaza : Grand Central C)

I’m getting together with Mark Richardson (and possibly others) to talk about how you produce your first (or fiftieth) game. You can come to this panel and learn how we got off the ground and have a good time doing this, also, this will be a great panel to attend if you want to watch me bait a Canadian into a playful argument and/or watch a man admit he’s really nervous giving a panel. (Hint: that’s not going to be me)


WRITING WORKSHOP Q&A (Saturday 10a-11:30a Crowne Plaza: Grand Central C)

It’s Saturday morning, so let’s talk writing. This panel is driven by your questions, so bring them. Ask questions, get answers. This is one of my favorite panels to do, and I love the questions people offer. I make an effort to answer every question, though I cannot guarantee you’ll like my answers. The questions don’t have to be limited to gaming, we can talk fiction, or screenplays or anything with words in it.

WRITER EDITOR RELATIONSHIP (Saturday 1p-2p Crowne Plaza: Grand Central C)

Join me after lunch for a panel where I hang out with a writer friend of mine (might be Brian Engard, might be someone else, or multiple someones else) where we’ll talk about what it’s like to work together, why it’s important to have a good relationship with your editor and why editors don’t actually want to ruin writers’ lives, just … fix them. Or something. This is a great panel if you’re looking to see what it’s like behind the scenes of a game company.

MENTAL HEALTH AND GAMING 2014 (Saturday 2p-4p Crowne Plaza: Grand Central C)

Here it is, the crown jewel of all my panels. My absolute favorite panel to give ever ever. Come spend 2 hours (!!) with me as I spill my guts out and share my story of anxiety, depression, self-destruction and my rebuilding myself over the last few years. Learn some strategies to help deal with whatever issues you’ve face (NOTE- I’m not a doctor, this is NOT medical advice), and in a safe environment, let’s talk about our lying brains, our feelings and our fears. Also, super bonus points if you ask me to tell the ‘crystal’ story. And triple super bonus points if you ask me to tell the ‘Ericka’ story’.

Just when you thought that was enough John for one convention, here’s more … I am running 2 games ON THE BOOKS this year as well!


A DRINK BEFORE DYING (NOIR WORLD) (Sunday 10a-12p Marriott Blrm 7)

Powered by the Apocalypse (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Headspace, and others), Noir World is my first game I’m actually producing myself, and this 2-hour session on Sunday will be the first public reveal/test of it. The year is 1944, and a wealthy woman gets killed at her own party. Anyone can be a suspect, anyone has a motive, who killed her, and why? Will they get away with it?

THE TROUBLE WITH 1908 (Sunday 1pm – 3pm Marriott Blrm 7)

Timewatch isn’t my game, it’s Kevin Kulp’s game, but it’s amazing, and I want to play it with you. Think Bill and Ted meet Doctor Who meet Quantum Leap meet Night’s Black Agents meet Terminator 2. I’m not sure the pitch needs any more than that sentence.

I love GenCon and look forward to seeing you there.


Come hang out with me, come play games with me, and let’s have a great time together.

Posted by johnadamus in games I run, gencon, gencon...ladies, living the dream, panels and seminars, travel plans

Things I Am Doing At GenCon, UPDATED

So GenCon is August 15-18th. It’s a big deal in the gaming community, a chance for relatively disparate elements and people to convene for a week in the middle of the US and hang out, reconnect, connect for the first time and play great games together.

My first GenCon was last year. And OH WOW was it amazing. All my friends were there, I got to see my friends’ successes, I got to share some of my own successes with others.

Of interest to me were the panels, where loads of people would come hang out and talk about whatever the topic was for an hour or two. I went to some great ones (Phil Menard’s panel on depression was intense, but wonderful), I went to some not-great ones (there was a panel that was so disorganized I can’t even recall what it was about for the whole hour I sat in the room), and I thought to myself “I’m going to run a panel at GenCon some year.”

“Some year” is THIS year.

SEM1345150 Depression, Anxiety, Treatment and the Gamer

Thursday  4pm – 5pm
Crowne Plaza : Victoria Stn C/D

This seminar is more a conversation between people who are struggling with mental illness (and are now in various stages of treatment), yet don’t let their illness(es) define them or stop them from producing the material they love. Come hang out with us and let’s talk openly about how not to let the monsters win while we make awesome games.

SEM1341483 Writing Effective Scenarios & Settings 
Friday 11am – 1pm
Crowne Plaza Grand Ballroom D

Learn what it takes to write the best scenarios and settings you can, regardless of the system used or your experience level.
This seminar will be universal in scope – not focusing on solely one system over others, but looking rather at successful components found in MANY systems that you can take advantage of when writing your own.

SEM1345042 The Writer/Editor Relationship **
Friday 2pm – 3pm
Embassy Suites : Coronation 1

Learn from Brian Engard (writer, Bulldogs! Fate Core) and John Adamus, (editor Evil Hat Productions, Margaret Weis Productions) about the relationship between writer and editor.

** aka John and Brian Talk About Shit 

SEM1341489 Writing Q&A
Saturday 11am – 1pm
UPDATE! Crowne Plaza : Hay Market B
No matter what you’re writing (a game, a novel, a movie, etc) you’ve no doubt got questions. This seminar is the place to get answers to whatever writing-related quandaries you have.
This seminar is driven by your questions, whether they’re questions about writing a good sentence, a good story, getting an agent, getting published, editing your RPG, tweaking your LARP or whatever — if you have questions about something you’re writing, this is the place to get answers and help. If you’re familiar with Dreamation, Metatopia and DexCon, this is a Gen Con-sized version of the Writing Workshop held there.
Wow. Just, wow, this is amazing, and I want to just encourage everyone to drop in, say hi, hang out and have some great discussions.

I am incredibly grateful, humbled and excited to have the chance to present not only a new workshop on scenarios and settings, but also do my more traditional Q&A on a much bigger scale.

See you in Indianapolis.

Posted by johnadamus in gencon, gencon...ladies, HAM, living the dream, panels and seminars

Post-GenCon – The Ups and Downs

I’m writing this after spending 2 hours in traffic (it’s normally about 15-20 minutes in the afternoon), so if this is a little plodding, it’s entirely because I’m tired and am torn between the age-old debate of eating versus sleeping. I’ve decided to eat something (egg whites) while I figure out what else there is to eat (I think I should go grocery shopping).

So, I’m home from GenCon. It was such an amazing and wonderful and overwhelming experience that I’m not sure I can chronologically track it all. I mean, I wanted to, but there was just SO much going on and so much that happened (all of it good, even if at times it was a bit more and a bit new), that I’ll just hit you here with the highlights in a semi-broad sense. The personal details, well, those are just going to be for me and the people involved.

I disclaim right now that I’m going to cover a lot of topics and speak personally here. If that’s too much for you, or you’re not interested, just know that I had a good time and we’ll talk more soon.

1. I benefited from a space to getaway. There’ s a lot of things going on at this convention — tens of thousands of people make a lot of noise and generate a lot of sensory overload. Really critical for me was the ability to get away from that, even for an hour or so and head back to the hotel room, where the environment was more stable and I could unwind.

2. I can’t say it was flawless, but I am really proud of myself. Okay, honesty time – I had some ups and downs. The specifics aren’t really for this blog, but just know that they weren’t anything catastrophic or ruinous, and I still have all my fingers and toes, and my heart and soul are still kicking. Several of the events, being big huge anxiety-triggers (few things make me go all shallow-breathing and fidgety like the idea that I’ll meet ALL the people I admire in rapid succession), did lead me to pop a pill, but that’s what I have them for right?

And sure I pushed quite a few comfort zones for five days straight. But I came out okay. I made great new wonderful beautiful fantastic friends, made great incredible memories (some of which I’m not sharing with anyone who doesn’t already know), and in general had a great experience.

Order and structure prevailed. Those days where I made sure I ate regularly, stayed hydrated, got rested and took charge of my thoughts and moods were days I was this great new me that I am really coming to love. That’s not to say that when my head got the best of me, or when I didn’t eat and got all fidgety and wan I was sub-human…but there was a clear difference between John-in-charge-of-his-shit and John-at-the-mercy-of-rising-mental-floodwaters.

I did it. I fucking did it.

3. In the face of fears, I took the chances. I can cross quite a few things off my bucketlist after this weekend. I won’t give you the whole list (that’s not for you, gentle readers) but I’ll give you some highlights:

a. Ran a game at GenCon (for people I didn’t know) — I don’t know why I waited so long to do this…I should have been doing this sooner. Okay, yeah that would have taken more prep, but seriously, to have absolutely new people get so into a game and enjoy themselves sincerely (it’s hard to doubt people screaming “Hell yeah” and “That was awesome!”) is deeply gratifying.
b. Ran a game (for people I did know) — Yes, I do this all the time, but here it was different. I ran a hack of a game I am deeply in love with. And it was a HUGE HUGE success. Again, I cannot believe I was so afraid to be expressive with my friends.
c. I went out to eat with people. Sure, that’s not a big deal. No, that’s a very big deal. I tend to eat with, at best, one or two other people. Maybe three on weekends or holidays. I tend to prize my meal times since I’m actually a little embarrassed by how fast I eat (well, ate, I’ve slowed down since beginning treatment). There was a group of people, sometimes upwards of 8, and we all ate together. Indian food, grilled meats, whatever. It wasn’t awkward. It wasn’t scary, even though those people do somewhat affect my livelihood and I do answer to some of them on occasion. But this…this was a meal. With friends. Together, and happy. I could seldom ask for better.
d. I saw my name in A LOT of print. There were piles of books that all had my name in them, and it was very humbling (I admit now that after seeing my name in 2 piles of books and watching people buy them like mad, I did walk away crying happy tears)
e. I was recognized. People sought me out. And not in that we’re-going-to-find-you-and-chase-you-away style I was expecting. I had a lot of great people come tell me that the blog is wonderful, that I’m a good person, that they’re happy for me, that they’re following my progress and it’s inspiring them to do things. Better still these people were happy to see me and put a an actual personage to my online presence. I even signed a few autographs and got a shout-out in an acceptance speech.

Speaking of which….

4. I WON AN ENNIE. (There’s a photo of me with said ENnie floating around Facebook). If you go here, then scroll down to “Fans Favorite Publisher” you’ll see that Evil Hat took the silver. Evil Hat is one of the companies I work for. It was also pointed out to me afterward that I was entitled to go up on stage and receive the award, but at the time it didn’t register (much of the work I’ve done hasn’t really come out yet in full force) nor did I feel like I really did anything to deserve it.

And then the scope of the award was explained to me, as was my role. I shall spare you a lot of that summary, suffice to say it was incredibly moving to know just how well I am regarded and how people I respect see me in such positive ways.

So yeah, it was a great first GenCon.

Have a great evening. I’m off to eat something and crash out on the couch.

Posted by johnadamus in amazing experience, gencon...ladies, good times, I WON AN AWARD, living the dream, post GenCon post