On Saturday the Rients family adventured in the City-State of the Invincible Daley, also known as Chicago, Illinois. After our visit to the awesomely cool Shedd Aquarium, we made our way across town to Games Plus in nearby Mount Prospect. This was my first time at Games Plus, but I had heard through the grapevine that it's one of the best nerd shops in the state. It did not disappoint. The only comparable shop I've seen is the Source in St. Paul, Minnesota. Just to give two examples of the righteous selection they have in stock: if you ever wanted to get in to Star Fleet Battles, they had pretty much the whole line including all the figures (more fleet boxes than I realized were in production!) or if Palladium is your bag they seemed to have nearly every book they ever published. I kinda wanted to pick up Rifts Japan after reading this article but I couldn't find it hidden in the huge pile o' Rifts!
Next to several shelves packed with Dungeon Crawl Classics was a HackMaster display that also had some stuff for OSRIC (the 1st edition AD&D retro-clone) on the shelf. This was the first time I had seen OSRIC material for sale at a brick-and-mortar store, so that was pretty cool. I ended up getting the first module in the Advanced Adventures line, Matt Finch's The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom and the OSRIC monster book, Malevolent and Benign. Games Plus also stocks Gamescience dice, so I got a purple set of polyhedrals.
Pod Caverns came out back in 2006, before the old school renaissance went to hell in a hand-basket (or so the critics say). After a quick read-through I really like it and would definitely use it in my own campaign, whether I was using OSRIC/AD&D1 or not. The maps aren't marked as thoroughly as I would like, but there's nothing stopping me from correcting that myself. Malevolent and Benign I haven't had a chance to look at yet, but that Pete Mullen cover is wicked awesome!
While the store was great, the best part of my visit was the people. I had a great little chitchat with Michael "Chgowiz" Shorten and Marv, a.k.a. Finarvyn, the dude behind the OD&D Discussion boards. It was extremely cool of both these guys to take some time out of their days just to shoot the breeze with me for a while. We talked about getting together again under circumstances where we would have time to play a game, maybe at GaryCon. In fulfillment of a previous agreement, I swapped Michael a copy of the Miscellaneum of Cinder for a copy of the latest version of his Ultima-themed Swords & Wizardry rules. He also threw in a copy of the Swords & Wizardry Quick Start and I gave him one of my homemade Encounter Critical booklets. He said he could find a home for a few more copies, so I gave him the three extras I had with me. I managed to get one of the EC books into Marv's hands as well, so if he changes his board's name to EC Discussion you'll know who to blame.
I had met Michael once before when he came down to Winter War. At that event he struck me then as a fun, enthusiastic guy with a big heart and this get-together only confirmed my earlier impression. And I really liked Marv as well. The easy-going, level-headed way he runs the ODD board is a reflection of how he is in person. I'd definitely sling dice with either of these guys, or just kick back and have a beer with them. And I don't even really drink beer.
Jim Holloway, RIP
4 hours ago