Goodman Games recently sat down with the group from Gaming Honors to discuss all things gaming. From their quirky third party titles like Dwellings & Driveways: Keep on the Cul-de-Sac, to their hit new podcast Honor Among Thieves, to their fond memories of victories secured at Gen Con Team Tournament 2018 and how moving adventures online has changed their gaming, Gaming Honors reveals what keeps their game-fires burning.
Who are you and what makes you a member of the DCC/MCC Community?
ANDREA: Gaming Honors is four friends who decided we wanted to share the stories we’ve been telling each other with the gaming community. I’m Andrea Proulx Buinicki, and I’m the CEO: I handle most of the nuts and bolts of the company so the guys can focus on creating—and gaming!
THAD: My name is Thad Donovan, or Thor Daravan as one piece of junk mail many years ago named me, and I do the design work and some of the writing. I was first introduced to DCC a few years after our gaming group came back from Gen Con. Once they ran me through a funnel and I later saw the other fun stuff like Luck, unpredictable spells, and Mighty Deeds, I was sold.
I’ve met many other DCC/MCC fans in person at conventions and online since then, and I’m excited to meet more!
MARTIN: I’m Martin Buinicki, and I do a lot of the writing and social media. I think it was 2017, and I just walked up the Goodman Booth at Gen Con and asked someone to tell me about the game. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I walked away with a rulebook, a bundle of modules, and 3 sets of funky dice! (Two for my sons). Five years later, I’ve written or co-written 4 modules for DCC and MCC, played several memorable games at Gen Con, and met so many fantastic people. Joseph Goodman has been amazingly supportive in helping us find our way in the community.
LANCE: I’m Lance Hodge, and I do some of the illustrations, brainstorming, and much of the playtesting and gaming outreach online and at the conventions. I am a member of the Goodman Games Road Reaver crew as well. In general, I suppose I’m the Gaming Honors Ombudsman.
You have recently started up a new Twitch show for Goodman Games. Tell us about Honor Among Thieves.
THAD: Honor Among Thieves is a natural extension of what we already do with our gaming group when we get together. We talk about modules, game systems, rules we like and don’t like, the figures that Lance paints and crafts, stories of old campaigns, and on and on.
MARTIN: It’s been a blast to think about how to bring DCC mechanics to life during the show: segments like “Checking in with Randy, the World’s Worst Wizard” and “So You Think You’re a Peasant” let us share how much fun we have with things like the Corruption and Occupations tables.
ANDREA: I’m happy to cheer on the team from the chat room, and to remind the guys to talk about Gaming Honors sometimes, too! I also put the “So You Think You’re a Peasant” roll on Facebook so people can play along at home.
MARTIN: We’ll get you on camera yet!
LANCE: I love doing the show! If only our producer, Alana, had a six-second delay button for censoring I wouldn’t need to think so hard before speaking.
Back in 2018, the Buinicki and Hodge families were a part of the final round of the Gen Con Team Tournament. What are your favorite memories of that day?
THAD: I wasn’t at that convention, but I sure heard the stories of victory and still do to this day! I am so happy for them. And to be clear, they won it all and are on the hunt for another chance at victory!
MARTIN: Yeah, I think we tend to relive those glory days quite a bit… Thad is a patient guy to listen to us! I have a lot of great memories: both of my sons were on our team, and my youngest, Jack, and Lance’s son Hayden were two of the last players standing. Jack was only 13 at the time, and he was confronted with a very difficult puzzle challenge. The stress was incredible: the rest of us were pacing around the table, trying not to distract him or give him hints. Harley Stroh was our judge, and he was amazing, especially with the kids. Jack went down swinging, and a short time later, we found out we were tied with another great team, the Lords of Sarcasm. Jack won a roll-off in a very crowded dealers’ hall, and the Hammertoes were victorious! Lance and Andrea, what do you remember?
ANDREA: It was so much fun. I love the pictures from that last day: your smiles are amazing! I do wish that you hadn’t had to wear the same shirts every day…but we didn’t really expect you to make it to the last round!
MARTIN: Luckily, at Gen Con we blended right in!
LANCE: I remember giving up my last Luck point for another party member only to have them killed before acting. I also remember agonizing after I was knocked out in the final round watching our sons try to finish it out on their own. They grow up so fast.
You’ve put out some great adventures for both DCC RPG and MCC RPG, including the recent Dwellings & Driveways: Keep on the Cul-de-Sac. They run the gamut from serious to comedic. How do you go about creating a module?
THAD: Martin has done the heavy lifting with module development, having authored all but one of our modules. The module I wrote, Exodus of Wolfbane, started from a kernel of an idea. That idea was to explore a situation where the party had to escort someone or something from Place A to Place B. It was that simple. Because all the campaigns that I run are almost entirely custom, I’m constantly trying to think up new ideas, new challenges, new goals, and the escort plot was one of them.
Another component that is very important in developing modules is to remember that they are stories, and stories are always more effective when they have an emotional component. Exodus of Wolfbane’s primary NPC (an odd and mysterious spellcaster named Shadowforde) has a deep and sad history that unravels during six weeks of adventure over six or more gaming sessions.
MARTIN: Thad really hit on the key for me, which is the story. I think it starts with the hook, the reason the party is going on an adventure. We like to think about “meaningful motivations.” So, in The Peasants’ Fell Bargain, the PCs have two things driving them: rescuing a child and earning the reward for doing so. But then I tried to upset the players’ expectations by putting those goals into opposition with each other at the end of the module. The same thing is true with The Bane of the Ancients. Even though I incorporated a lot of office-place humor into the setting, the reason for the adventure is deadly serious: the PCs are on a quest to find a relic to stop a zombie-like horde. Of course, I like twist endings, so the solution has its drawbacks, as well.
Dwellings & Driveways: Keep on the Cul-de-Sac is unlike our other adventures. I wrote it in the early days of the pandemic, when we were all isolated at home. Having our whole family working and studying in the house 24/7 was tough, and I was trying to find some humor in the situation by looking at it like a dungeon crawl. What I am most proud of in that module, though, is Appendix A (for Aid), a compilation of non-profit organizations that I located for people who might need assistance. It felt good to try to help out in some way.
LANCE: I love running playtesting and looking for bugs, short circuits, etc. Also, I really enjoy translating the written word into illustrations.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect your personal gaming and professional publishing?
THAD: When Covid-19 first hit, we tried to keep our in-person games intact, but we quickly conceded that Covid was winning and we would have to resort to online gaming. In our case, we used roll20.net. I had started a custom campaign using the existing setting of Blackmoor, the original D&D setting that started it all. Knowing that our gaming group likes to switch out Judges/campaigns periodically, the Blackmoor campaign was only meant to be a 3-4 month adventure that we would revisit every year or so. What ended up happening is that Covid kept us all indoors with nothing to do. So for 65 straight weeks, we gamed online every Friday, resulting in by far the longest and most enriching campaign I’ve ever been a part of. Our players were absolutely amazing and fully invested in their characters. It was a once-in-a-lifetime campaign for me personally. We’ll definitely be heading back to Blackmoor in the future!
On the publishing end, Covid definitely made it harder. We like to meet in person to brainstorm and strategize, as well as to produce our promotional videos. All of that became compromised, but we’ve toughed it out just like everyone else has had to do.
MARTIN: I remember how hard it was to film the video for Hero Pins™, our Health Indicator Pins. We had all the windows open, and the space was freezing!
ANDREA: The pandemic definitely affected our timeline for products, particularly with the Hero Pins™, which come from overseas: our marketing plans for the holidays were shot. We did get to have a booth at Gen Con for the first time, before this latest wave, and that was a lot of fun and a great learning experience for us.
LANCE: It pushed me into gaming online which I hadn’t done before. As a result, I gained the confidence to run games frequently with other members of the DCC, MCC community that I had never met. I now have dozens of people from all over the world that I can call on to participate.
What’s in the future for Gaming Honors?
MARTIN: In the immediate future, we’ve got a Kickstarter coming for a new seafaring adventure called Chaos Before the Mast. [Which has already been run very successfully -editor] I’ve really pulled out all the stops to try to bring sailing life to the gaming table. And, of course, we want to keep building the audience for Honor Among Thieves. We are looking forward to premiering its new theme song!
THAD: We also have recently expanded our line of Hero Pins™. The set now includes a set of core classes for fantasy gamers including a rogue, spellcaster, cleric, and warrior. All the art was done by legendary artist Ron Spencer.
We also have some secret products in the works that we can’t divulge quite yet, so stay tuned!
ANDREA: And all of our modules, and the Hero Pins, can be found on our website, www.gaminghonors.com. Drop by and learn more!
LANCE: We are looking forward to running more games again this year at Gen Con, and I have been scoping out Gamehole Con and Gary Con as natural next venues to spread the good news of Gaming Honors! Also, I am learning about Instagram, Discord, Twitch, and other social media platforms we are using that I had never explored in the past.
Thanks for taking some time out and speaking with us. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Thanks for the opportunity!