20 September 2018

5e cultures





What if, instead of just selecting a race, you selected both a race and a culture?

For example, I've decided that I want to play a  Dwarf who survived half-feral amongst the trees. Her parents were caravan guards traveling across the plains when they were slain by a band of orcs when she was only a couple of years old. She hid from them, terrified to even breathe. Her entire life was uprooted. The only thing that remained, the only thing the orcs did not steal, was her father's ancestral axe. She got lost in the woods but, surprisingly, she managed to survive. She lived off morning dew and nuts and berries, which were plentiful in the deep forest she now found herself in. She grew strong, and healthy... and wild. In her wanderings, an old druid took her in. Though she had no particular aptitude for druidry, and though she regarded him as no authority, they had a cordial, familial relationship wherein the druid taught her knowledge, lore, and tricks, and she brought him the joy of companionship and, always, news of the comings and goings of travelers, flocks of birds, and the ever-present orc scouts.

Mechanically, we can say that she is a Dwarf, but letting her have Stonecunning and weapons training simply doesn't make sense. Rather, imagining her living a life much as a Forest Gnome makes more sense. Imagine her race / background block looking something like this:

We can say that she still has +2 Constitution, as her Dwarvishness probably makes her pretty tough. She is stout and hardy, no matter where she was raised. Darkvision is probably innate, too, as is resilience. She's probably nearly immune to poisons as a result of her oversized Dwarven liver, for example, and stout lungs, and powerful heart. But she's never been underground and nobody taught her to fight, so those are straight out. And she's more of a hands-on worker. Other than her father's axe, she probably made all of her own tools, and she's almost certainly never tasted a brewer's craft.

On the other hand, it makes sense that she could have learned the minor illusion cantrip and that she can speak to animals. So we graft together a couple of features of the Dwarf and a couple of the Forest Gnome and get something that looks like this:

Forest Dwarf
Con +2, Dex +1
Darkvision
Dwarven Resilience: advantage on saves against poison, resistance to poison
Speak with Animals: Can speak to (and be understood by) normal, non-magical animals. They are not any more cooperative than normal, they just can understand you.
Cantrip: You know the minor illusion cantrip.

Not bad, right?

As it turns out, most races are built along the same guidelines- there's an attribute bonus, then (usually) about two bonus features that come along with it.  Some features don't really count, like the Halfling's size of Small [1], and most of the Elf's benefits are super marginal so an Elf gets a lot of them. But still!

Check out my full list:

Half-Orc:
STR +2
Darkvision
Relentless Endurance: When you would hit 0 hp, instead go to 1.
I imagine that the tough-to-kill aspect of half-orciness is probably innate, but relatively little else in the class writeup was. I especially have a hard time imagining that the stuff about melee combat being ingrained, somehow, into an entire race of being.

Goliath:
+2 strength
Stone's Endurance: reaction to roll 1d12+con, reduce incoming damage by that amount. 1/rest
Powerful Build: count as large for carrying/weight
Goliaths are big and strong, and can absorb a surprising amount of punishment, but not all of them were born on mountains or whatever.

Elf:
Dex +2
Trance: 4 hours sleep
Darkvision
Keen Senses: proficiency on perception
Fey Ancestry: advantage on saves vs charm, can't be put to sleep
Elves are willowy, don't need to sleep, and can see in the dark. Since they don't sleep, they are immune to magic sleep. They're also immune to charm spells, because they have weird-ass alien minds.

Halfling:
Dex +2
Lucky: can reroll 1s on attacks, ability checks, saving throws
Size: small
Nimbleness: can move through larger allies
Halflings are lucky, and you can dart between the legs of larger allies. So you can do the Frodo thing where you stab Ringwraiths by charging from between Aragorn's legs, and also sometimes you don't get totally boned when you do things.

Dwarf:
Con +2
Darkvision
Dwarven Resilience: advantage on saves against poison, resistance to poison
Dwarves are badass and hard to kill. My favorite tidbit is that alcohol is technically a poison, and so you have a good explanation why Dwarves can drink everybody else under the table without being explicit about it. In a more kid-friendly game, this just means that they don't die from giant scorpions like other people sometimes do.


Gnome:
Int +2
Darkvision
Cunning: Advantage on Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma on saves vs magic
Gnomes are really good against magic, which is good because magic is everywhere in 5e and so gnomes are good. Nobody tell the Elf that gnomes are all smarter than them.

Tiefling:
Cha +2
Darkvision
Hellish Resistance: resistance to fire damage
Tieflings are resistant to fire damage because they're part demon and their skin is rubbery and weird. Tieflings look weirder than Aasimar, despite being basically the same thing, with their tails and horns, but that's not something you can really have mechanics for. They have a lot of charisma, which, according to 5e, means they're all confident, natural leaders.


Firbolg:
Wis +2
Powerful Build: Counts as one size larger for carrying / lifting / pushing
Hidden Step: Can turn invisible for a little bit 1/rest
Firbolgs are really big and can turn invisible sometimes, because they're big fey. I actually really like Firbolg, but I always forget they exist until I sit down to make a list like this. I feel like they have a fairly fleshed-out culture, despite their writeup being like a page.



I didn't do Dragonborn because they have the weird coloration thing, and I couldn't figure out where any of the benefits they got were cultural. It's all pretty basic, really- if you're playing a Dragonborn, you don't really have a culture, you were spawned out of an egg and since you're probably only like six years old, you don't know enough to really have a culture imprinted on you like that. Sorry.

I think there are a couple more races that I could have included, but I didn't really feel like it. Some races, like Kenku, are already good as they are. Use the 'cursed race of thieves' thing and run with it in your game, that's good stuff. Same with Tabaxi and Lizardmen.

Anyways, I'm still working on creating coherent cultures from the other halfs of the subrace/racial benefit divide. Watch this space!

[1] As discussed in the weapon chart article, Small seems to have been designed specifically to make Halflings mechanically smaller but without actually making the difference meaningful other than that you can run between the legs of bigger allies. So that's something, I guess.

06 September 2018

5e Weapon List


Ever taken a good look at the weapon list in 5e D&D? You should. It's a great example of negative design- that is, it's a great example of what you should not do.

Consider the handaxe versus the mace. The handaxe costs 5gp, does 1d6 damage, is light, and can be thrown. It's useful for two-weapon fighters, it does decent damage, and is a ranged weapon in a pinch. You can dual wield a battle-axe and a hand-axe, throw the hand-axe, and then two hand grip the battleaxe for extra damage afterwards. How cool is that?

The mace, on the other hand. It costs 5gp and does 1d6 damage. That's it. Can't throw it, by the rules, and it's of no use to a two-weapon fighter. Hmm.

Another, quicker example: Is there any reason a trident costs 5x as much as a spear despite having identical stats?

Even quicker: why does a scimitar cost 25gp when the literally identical (and on the next space down) shortsword cost the same?

Faster still: Why would anybody ever buy a flail?

I gotta fix this.


04 September 2018

Dragoncon 2018

My, how many things have changed.



It's hard to write a blog post almost a year after my last without feeling a little bit wistful. It struck me the other day- literally everything in my life is changing. My friend Alex that I mentioned in my last post- we're dating now, and living together. We're quite happy with this arrangement. And we have a couple of shared secrets, too. ;) More on that later. Right now, I'd like to talk about DragonCon, and labor day weekend.

This year, again, we went to DragonCon together. We had a wonderful time. Neither of us are big parties, so we never experienced the much-vaunted DragonCon nightlife. But we did enjoy the vendor's hall and the artists' gallery and went to a couple of panels.

My advice- if you find yourself at DragonCon and dislike crowds, show up in the morning to early afternoon. The revelers are still asleep. For a lot of people, that's the main draw of the event. Your mileage may vary. For us, it could be a bit much. She's very petite and so can get lost inside of crowds, and I'm on the tallish end of average so our crowd techniques don't always work together. Plus, the main draw of DragonCon (that it's full of nerds, dorks, and geeks) is also its main issue- nerds, dorks, and geeks tend to have poor self-awareness and will often stop in the middle of crowded sidewalks to gawk, ponder, or stare at their phones. Or they'll decide to swing their backpack on in the middle of a packed room, or they'll barge and elbow into people because they have a laser-focus on a space about five inches behind you. Stuff like that. Individually, it's not much, but over the course of five-six-seven hours, it grates. No wonder people drink so much at cons.

Anyways, we both picked up some Chessex dice and saw three panels:

1) Warehouse 13 panel- I don't make it a habit to write ill of people, but one of the male panelist was obnoxious and spent the entire time making weiner jokes and sharing inane anecdotes that were only tangentially related to whatever it is anybody was talking about. The more sedate male panelist and both of the women were wonderful, actually. I've never watched Warhouse 13 but they had some interesting insights into the nature of acting, of civic duty, and a couple other things, besides.

2) Best Dungeon Ever- with Monte Cook and Jason Bulmahn, who apparently is the guy behind Pathfinder. I don't much care for Pathfinder, but he had some interesting ideas about making dungeons, the appeal of dungeons, and game mastery in general. I don't follow anything to do with Pathfinder (got my fill of 3.5e when it was the current hotness, thanks), but both panelists were in point and intelligent. One interesting thing I noticed was the absolute respect both panelists had to everybody- one person had a fairly common new GM issue (and, to their credit, mentioned that they'd only GM'd twice before) and they both gave honestly insightful answers. [1]

3) Some panel with Keith Baker and Eloy Lasanta. I'd never heard of Eloy Lasanta before heading to this panel (and in fact, he wasn't even credited on the DragonCon app for some reason), but I found his thoughts on game design and breadth of knowledge of indie games to be on point. Keith Baker seems to only own one hat and spends most of his time talking about how whatever idea you're talking about relates to one of his games. In this case, it was mostly Pheonix Command, which Mr. Baker seems to have greatly impressed himself with. I believe the subject of the panel was game mastery, and they fielded questions from the audience. Fun stuff. There were brief discussions on Lady Blackbird and Hillfolk and Over the Edge and something else, I can't remember what. Sparked off a couple interesting ideas in my head.

The Chessex dice are very nice. She bought a couple cubes of small d6s, and I bought three sets of dice- some surprisingly affordable full size bronze dice [2], and some black/gold opaque and deep navy blue transparent dice. The navy blue dice look almost black on the table, but in the light they are very clearly blue, and it's a beautiful effect and I had to have a set. Now that I have dice, I'm most of the way towards getting together a group and playing d&d in real life with strangers, something I haven't had much experience with. I'm both rusty at running games in real life and rusty at gathering a group of actual people, so we'll see how it goes. Both Alex and I are introverts but we're interested in meeting people in the area so we'll see how it goes.

I'm working on setting snippets, too. I'll probably post some of them here for posterity's sake, and to try and get into the habit of writing blog posts again. I haven't had that particular habit in a couple of years, but, since my life has been sort of on track again, I've found quite a bit of inspiration to write again. Life advice: If you ever meet somebody that inspires you to resdiscover the things in life you used to love again, keep them around. Keep them close.

[1] The person in question had imprisoned his players but had designed a cave dungeon with a demon final boss at the end and wanted to know how to get his players to go there and do the thing he designed. I turned to Alex and said 'have the demon emerge and wreck the town' and Monte Cook said 'have the demon show up and trap them inside of its mind, which is the dungeon,' which just goes to show you that a) nothing is new under the sun, and b) there are about a hundred thousand variations on any way you choose to run a game.

[2] The quality honestly is a little uneven- the dice are clearly pitted and on my d6, the sealant is too thick on one side, so it's probably going to be a little unbalanced. You can see what I mean in the picture. But they feel great to roll and it was the same cost as those little bitty metal ones you get from like, Norse Foundry or whoever, so I'm pleased with them overall.

21 October 2017

Fantastic Maps: How To Design A Town

Absolutely love this style of design, and love how concise the steps are. Always remember that pre-Industrial Revolution people are living on the land and along the land's contours. Moving earth is hard and slow and won't happen without a great need, and that means that people will mostly just deal with what's there.

Again, love it.

http://www.fantasticmaps.com/2013/03/how-to-design-a-town/

14 October 2017

Mundane Zen

So one of the habits I've picked up in the last couple of years is reading Zen literature. Specifically Zen literature, mind you- I'm not a religious man and I don't really intend on becoming one, so I don't particularly enjoy Buddhist literature.

The main difference between Buddhism and Zen, as far as I can see it, is that Buddhism is a religion and Zen is not. Buddhism very firmly tells you what you should and should not be doing, and what rituals you should perform to receive enlightenment. There are priests and temples and scriptures, and if you don't follow all of those things you're not really a Buddhist. There are all sorts of magical powers that Buddhists apparently can do- according to Namkhai Norbu, it is possible for a follower of Dzogchen Buddhism to shed their mortal form and turn directly into light. He even claims to have seen this! Daehang Kun Sunim claims to have been able to cure diseases with her mind.

I have a hard time taking these claims seriously, which means I have a hard time taking these people seriously. I am as uninterested in the claims of people who have claimed to gain super powers by wandering around in the wilderness as I am in the claims of people who claim to cure blindness by shouting the name of Jesus. I believe that a man can turn into light about as much as I believe that all of our earthly ills are caused by the ghosts of aliens.

I think I'm in good company. The Zen Master Wumen Huikai said:

Arouse your entire body with its three hundred and sixty bones and joints and its eighty-four thousand pores of the skin; summon up a spirit of great doubt and concentrate on this word "Mu."
Carry it continuously day and night. Do not form a nihilistic conception of vacancy, or a relative conception of "has" or "has not."
It will be just as if you swallow a red-hot iron ball, which you cannot spit out even if you try.
All the illusory ideas and delusive thoughts accumulated up to the present will be exterminated, and when the time comes, internal and external will be spontaneously united. You will know this, but for yourself only, like a dumb man who has had a dream.
Then all of a sudden an explosive conversion will occur, and you will astonish the heavens and shake the earth.

That other stuff, that's religion. To quote the Zen Master Killer Mike:
If God really exists, I tell you like this: It resides inside.
And anybody tell you different,
Just selling you religion,
Tryin' to keep your ass in line.
Namkhai and Daehang are, by all accounts, wonderful and beautiful people. They have spent their lives trying to make the world a better place. But look- Mother Theresa spent her life trying to make the world a better place, too, and that doesn't mean I'm going to sign up to join the Catholic Church.

It also means that I'm going to be wary of her when she tries to shift the conversation towards religion. She sure has a lot to say about empathy, but what she believes is based on church teachings. What she believes is based on a religion I don't follow. It's the same with these Buddhists, and that means that I have to be very careful what it is that I'm listening to. Insightful passages about clarity are right next to the passages about how meditation can solve cancer. How am I supposed to know which part is bullshit?

It might be less exciting, but I'll take mundane Zen any day. At least those folks aren't trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Any Zen master worth his shit will tell you there are no super powers, there's no special messages, there's no supernatural insight. All of the stuff they're telling you is shit that you could have figure out on your own. Of course, you didn't, and that's part of the problem. Zen masters tend to look at you like you're an idiot, because they literally don't have a message for you but you seem to be following them around anyways. Why is that? Why do people keep copying down the words of these weirdos with no message, no external goal, no superpowers, no nothing?

Isn't it obvious? Mundane Zen.



08 October 2017

Video Games Are the Worst Take



David Shimomura's article The Game Take is the Worst Take is short and to the point. It is saying "quit shoehorning video games into other kinds of writing."

In this particular article, he was talking about being able to relate to people outside of video games. It's really honestly obnoxious to read half-baked pandering articles about how thing Y is important because video games. I can relate to the real world through normal people ideas, thanks.

This reminded me of a very sad, strange article I'd read earlier but never had the time to discuss. Entitled "A dog has turned my life into an rpg," we discover that the author, Christian Donlan, has discovered that you can't take your dog into stores, and that you can talk to people. Just like in your favorite RPG! Did you know that passersby (what you and I, fellow gamer, might call NPCs,) are fully fledged humans with their own unique life stories? That's right- just like in RPGs. Isn't that interesting? Did you know that you can do repetitive things in real life? You can grind IRL!

Christian: get out more. I know it's a cliche but if you find yourself experiencing life through the filter of video games, you know that's not healthy. Talking to people and walking about town with a dog shouldn't inspire you to write a video games related article where you talk about how real life is just like a JRPG.

At its core, the article is a Facebook post or two worth of information. "Today, I walked my dog and met an old man who told me his life story! Super interesting! Good luck (Man's name)." or "Bringing a dog with you is a good way to meet people who like to pet dogs."

Not every article needs to be video-game related. I promise you. Try writing an article that doesn't mention video games once in a while. Try experiencing some media that isn't video games, even! [1]

I don't really mean to single out Christian, because this exact thing is basically what "writing about video games" is. If it's not just marketing, that is.

I don't know, I'm genuinely not trying to be mean. This sort of thing makes me a little sad. Can you imagine a life where you have conversations so seldom, where you walk so little, that the first thing you think of when you step outside to walk your dog is to think about sitting at home looking at a computer screen?

Wow! This looks just like video games!




[1] Can you imagine a film critic writing about how talking to people is just like dialog scenes in movies? Can you imagine a book reviewer doing something like that?


16 September 2017

An Illustrated Guide to Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle.

An Illustrated Guide to Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle.



Instead of writing tabletop games or kludging together an rpg-making software system into a form that I find usable, I have been reading about philosophy. The best thing I've read today is a summary of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, an incredibly influential and important work written when I was a child, and now summarized for your reading convenience here. I haven't read the actual book, either, but I enjoyed the article.

04 September 2017

Dragoncon 2017!

I've lived in Atlanta for the past couple of years and I always meant to go to Dragoncon but I always manage to talk myself out of it. Not this year, though!

I went with my good friend Alex, and we saw a lot of cool stuff. A couple of her friends were there (including one of the designers of a game called Legion,) and it was neat. My highlights:

1) Keith Baker held a panel, and it was kind of cool. I'm a respectful admirer of Eberron, and it was interesting hearing him speak about the things he'd made, why he made them, and the ideas that were behind them. He intentionally made Eberron kind of different [1], but what was really interesting was hearing him talk about Gloom. One day, so he was saying, he saw a deck of transparent playing cards and he thought to himself "I didn't know you could print on transparent plastic!" So he took a bunch of those overhead projector sheets and set about making a game with them. He basically went around asking a bunch of companies if they could make this into a game, and so they kind of did. That sort of process is enormously inspiring to somebody like me- it's not that he had some grand idea, it was just sort of a process of building successive prototypes of game and then trying to figure out afterwards if it could be made. [2]

2) The panel "Board games! Board games! Board games!" We were actually late to this one (we met some friends and so we had to traverse the streets while the parade was setting up [3]. As a result, I have no idea who the speaker was- we arrived after he introduced himself, plus we left before he was finished (I had to go see Keith Baker, which meant walking a couple of blocks through the super crowded streets), plus the Dragoncon app doesn't actually list anybody as a speaker? But anyways, this was a guy who spoke at length about, basically, how to make board games. He spoke about the process at Fantasy Flight, about how many games there are out there, how many are coming out, and what it takes to be a success. Mostly in business terms- he seemed to assume that everybody there knew how to design a decent game, and honestly, if you don't then nobody will publish your game. He did talk about the elevator pitch idea, and how the board game community is learning different skills- like how deckbuilders have sort of progressed since Dominion came out [4]. I thought that was interesting. Sometimes I fantasize about designing board games instead of just writing roleplaying rules in my head all day and so now that fantasy is a little stronger.

3) Creativity 101 on Sunday was interesting, if vague. The best thing, honestly, was being in a room full of writers, if that makes sense. I had forgotten what that was like! I spend most of my waking hours either by myself or alongside tradespeople, and while I get along quite well with electricians and plumbers and framers, they're a different type of person. This panel actually kind of sucked, but in fairness, it was labelled as a "101" style class. They'd ask questions about their process, and literally every time somebody said something that worked for them, somebody else would say they did the exact opposite. One guy stops in the middle of sentences so he's got something to finish up tomorrow morning and once he's writing, he gets right back where he was. Another lady doesn't stop until she's finished the chapter or paragraph and when she leaves her writing area, she's done. One person starts with the characters and builds a world to challenge them, another thinks of a situation that's interesting and works backwards to figure out who the people involved in it are. And so on, and so on. But it was fun, anyways. This is the panel where Alex and I decided it was time to get serious about writing, and so we both decided to do national novel writing month this year for real, and that we were going to meet up and talk about writing more often because even though we're both busy as shit with our real lives, if you don't make time for the things that are important to you then you'll never do it. And I know that as for me, personally, writing is part of who I am.

4) The best panel by far was the panel "Historical Influences in High Fantasy," which features Micheal Livingston, Van Allen Plexico, and Constance G. J. Wagner. The highlight for me was Micheal Livingston who I don't actually think I've ever mentioned on this blog but who is a person I highly admire and respect and he always had some extremely interesting things to say about whatever the topic was. Not to diminish the other panelists, of course- Constance is clearly a knowledgeable scholar in her own right, and Van (?) seemed like a pretty cool dude. I think Constance is a philosophical idealist, but I think that's common for Tolkien scholars and especially students of folklore and mythology- she seemed to think that the Game of Thrones TV show somehow spawned a movement towards grimdark, death, intrigue as a step away from Tolkien, whereas I'd argue that the fans of that show existed before the show came out, and that there's a pessimistic and cynical thread in storytelling in general that's very in vogue right now and has been popular for a while. [5]

Anyways, it was a very good panel and now I know a little more about what I need to do.

5) I missed out on seeing Alton Brown live (the line wrapped around the hotel for probably a mile, but I should have expected that) and so instead I went to hang out with Alex to talk to a write for the show Warehouse 13, which I'd never heard of but seemed pretty cool. She explained it to me over dinner, although we also both had some fairly strong drinks so my memory is a little fuzzy. But it's basically "what if a magical warehouse full of artifacts?" and I'm into that.

6) I love seeing artists and I bought some beautiful prints at the show from people that I thought were very cool. I'll probably write more about this later (I know I will,) but long story short, I have a bunch of beautiful art for my walls and I desperately need to get some frames. And one art book, by the very interesting Naomi Vandoren, who I am very jealous of. I tried not to seem to jealous in person when I was looking at her beautiful art and listening to how she painted all of this stuff while cruising across central Europe and Ireland and all of these other places but it was also inspiring. It made me feel like could, and should, be a better person. And that's what art is about! The things she paints and the landscapes she creates are so inviting. I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who said that art is a conversation across time, and it's honestly wonderful. I did my best not to take up too much of her time at the convention but there is something genuinely inspiring about talking to certain people. I didn't mean for this to turn into a short essay about why I love art, but there you go. Best part of Dragoncon was seeing the artists. [6]

7) The guy who makes the Legion game is actually very nice and even though a military science fiction wargame based on the d20 system is literally the last thing I'd ever design, I do have a soft spot for that kind of system. I don't know if I'd go as far as trying to find out a way to get a place at his table, but it's certainly something I'll try and keep flexible on. In the meantime, if you do like that sort of thing, please check out Legion and see if you care for it, because it seems reasonably well made and I can assure you on a personal level that its creators are decent people.


[1] I don't really like things that are different for the sake of being different, but the thing about Keith Baker is that even if I don't necessarily agree with the things he says / thinks, he's a fairly intelligent man and an accomplished creative and I strongly respect his creative vision.

[2] It was like looking at how the sausage was made- he basically said that he had no idea if what he was trying to do was possible but he wanted to do it anyways, and also that he sort of made up the game based off what works when you're stacking transparent cards, which I thought was great.

[3] The streets were absolutely packed and it turns out the people of Atlanta walk a lot like they drive- distracted as shit and not paying attention to hardly anybody but themselves. There were multiple occasions where somebody would be walking through a narrow path about as wide as their shoulders and then just sort of stop where they were standing, which boggled my mind. At one point, there was about enough space for a single person to pass but people were trying to go in both directions, so I rubbed bellies / asses with quite a few of my fellow con-goers as we all crammed our bodies sideways and tried to make the best of it.

[4] He didn't like Dominion, which is almost heresy in my eyes. Not that he's wrong- some sets of kingdom cards are kind of boring (especially the base set, with duds like the Chancellor, a card which is both weak and boring... although to the designer's credit, he did end up removing quite a few of the most boring cards in the second edition.)

[5] Breaking Bad, for example, is a show about a sociopath and it was huge before Game of Thrones came out, and not to mention that GRRM's books have been out at least a decade before the TV show came out and they have been fairly popular throughout their entire run... Leaving aside the fact that Warhammer Fantasy has been a mainstay of the "grimdark" style of fantasy since the late 90s (where it began transitioning from goofy parody fantasy to over the top violent fantasy).

[6] I have mixed feelings about it sometimes because some artists have built up this big cage and it's just like, their face poking through so they can talk to people through this cage. One artist who I was very impressed by, Sam Guay (and who I bought art from, and will buy art from again), had almost a wall that she stood behind and I remember she looked at me with the strangest look in her eyes. I have learned over my lifetime that I am extremely good at reading people but a convention is not the place for me to try and spark a conversation with an artist at a convention booth when she probably just wants me to buy her art and go. But still. I hope she is ok.