Because I am too busy for a proper post, I offer a very brief trip report:
I went to Seattle at the end of last week, where I not only got to spend three days with my friends from Penny Arcade, I finally got to take a tour of the Wizards of the Coast offices after years of being invited to check them out.
While the offices weren't quite as Wonka-like as my inner 12 year-old (and outer 37 year-old) hoped they would be, it was still pretty awesome to see lots of dragons, several suits of armor, more dice than even I own (which is a lot of dice, guys), and three framed uncut sheets of original black bordered Magic cards.
I also got to visit and talk with the people who make D&D and Magic (they have all the same xkcd, PvP, and Penny Arcade comics hanging on their office walls that we all have, which was kind of neat), but I have an NDA with WotC so that's all I can say about that.
During my trip, I got to drop into my friend Mike's D&D game. His DM is this incredibly creative guy Rob, and Rob came up with a brilliant way to let me play a character who was more than just a hireling. He actually let me play a NPC who they'd interacted with the previous session, gave me a rich backstory, let me add some details of my own, and set up the evening's session so that it was mostly a massive (and incredibly fun) battle. He also let me make some choices and reveal some information that could have an impact on the rest of their campaign.
The session was incredibly fun, and I thought I'd refer to it in a column I'm working on about how you can keep the R in RPG, even when you're playing a session (or sessions) that are mostly combat, so I e-mailed Mike and asked him what Rob's last name was, so I could spell it correctly and everything.
"It's Rob Heinsoo," he wrote back.
Now, I'm guessing that a nonzero number of you are now picking yourselves up off the floor like I was when I got that e-mail this morning. For those of you who are wondering why the other kids in class are dazed for one round, allow me to explain why: Rob Heinsoo was the lead designer of D&D 4e, and wrote the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
In other words, it was kind of like getting to play Dragon Age RPG with Chris Pramas, or Magic with Richard Garfield, only you have no idea who you're playing with. In hindsight, I understand how Rob was able to effortlessly weave me into and out of the campaign, and how he was able to come up with some truly awesome combat effects and deal with unexpected situations entirely on the fly. All those times while playing that I thought to myself, Man, this guy really knows how to use this system suddenly make sense.
Okay, real quick, before I sign off and get back to work: y=2m+x.