Con Recovery Week

We had a great time at Who’s Yer Con! Looking forward to many more years of attending as vendors, and hopefully playing some games here and there too.

As with most conventions, the week after is usually recovery. Unload, repack, plan for the next thing. Our next thing just happens to be Origins in June, and I feel like that is going to come up quick. We just picked out our booth location, 725. We are somewhere between Goodman Games and Free League Publishing, and yes, we did that on purpose.

After doing some quick math I am going to try to have 500 boxes and towers made for the booth. Don’t ask me how I am going to pack them all lol, that’s more than we’ve had at a single convention ever. Our new project focus is on the DCC

upgraded design, with a limited run Kickstarter that will open about the same time as Origins. As of right now we are looking at having three DCC specific artists featured on those boxes.

On the list of potential projects (if we can make them work in time) include pub signs made out of bourbon barrel lids, and lathe turned mechanical pencils which will match the wood that the boxes are made out of. I’m excited about both projects, but there is already a lot of work to get done for Origins before I get to those.

Also on the list of exciting news, we are going to Gamehole Con in October! Really looking forward to going to a new region, and experiencing a great convention for the first time. We are still considering PopCon again this year, but have not made a decision. Since it’s local it will be hard to say no.

Lastly, I pulled the boxes from the online shop while I go through the inventory to see what is left. I should have more items up next week (ish) along with trying out a “made to order” section of some of our more popular tray and tower designs. Each of those items will have a 2 to 3 week lead time for construction and shipping. Since it’s a new thing, we’ll see how it goes.

I think that’s all for now! Happy gaming!

Mr. DW

Current Events Blog

Disclaimer: I am using this as an outlet to collect my thoughts on the current state of affairs with the OGL and the ttrpg industry in general. Blogish, but also just a stream of thoughts that I don’t want to forget, because that happens to me… a lot.

I watched the full podcast interview of Ryan Dancey done by Roll for Content. Watch it here. Some great history of the industry, original intent of the OGL, business perspectives of ttrpgs, and many questions answered. One of my big epiphany moments was when Mr. Dancey said “The value is not in the product, the value is in the brand and in the network. The product is irrelevant.”

Standardized gaming network idea. This is being done by some 3pp already but being released as “system neutral” content. We need more system neutral content that can be worked into whatever system we play in. In a sense, this is something that can already be done by using a “monster manual” or “creature codex” from whatever game we play, then fill in the game mechanic blanks that exist in the system neutral content I want to play.

I feel like this is how 3pp modules should be written. Apply them to any game, not just one system. I feel like there needs to be recognition on the system publisher side though, but I’m not sure yet what that would look like. Maybe a SRD (system reference document) of open ideas to be used in 3pp modules that crosses over all systems. Or a video/document that explains how to play system neutral content in their setting.

I heard people talk about how a game module without game mechanics is really just a novel. It’s really not though. It’s kind of like an outline to a novel that is fleshed out by the game-play. GMs (DMs) don’t write novels, the whole group does, players and GMs together. Together. Not GM vs players. We all create stories together when we sit around the table to play a ttrpg.

Much like how the OGL allowed a renaissance in the ttrpg industry over the last 23 years, we did it together. Now though, it seems as if WOTC thinks that that this is all by their permission. It’s not. The network, and the brand created it at the behest of the players. I feel like the new era OGL should not be tied to one publisher, it should be a new document that everyone buys into independently. Otherwise we have the current unpleasantness, where WOTC wants to make changes and it fractures the community. That shouldn’t happen.

If we had a list of standardized enemies that could be dropped into any system neutral content, then everyone wins. Much like the D&D SRD omits certain IP that they didn’t want to lose control of, if each system publisher had a list of spells/monsters etc that were included in their own SRD then there is your standardized gaming network buy in.

Right now the ttrpg community continues to be fractured. We need to connect again. I see people saying they are going to make their own system (ie fantasy heartbreaker, as per the interview), or they are going to a new system. Imagine if two players who play different systems came together because they both played X module that was system neutral, and they both really loved it. What a world that would be.

Web Shop is Open!

I was able to get a handful of boxes and towers listed on the new web shop. It’s not everything I have right now, but it will do for now. I have to get back into the shop to crank out some custom requests, DCC boxes, and mini towers. I might list more next week.

Keep in mind I can mix and match bases (of the same wood type) and I will take requests for stuff I don’t have listed. See a graphic you like but want it in a different color? I can do that. Want something in a different wood type? I can do that. I have a lot of stuff planned for the coming months and my squirrel like attention span can only focus for so long lol.

You can click on “The Shop” from the menu or main page. Or the direct link is:

Quick snip of the web store.

Happy Gaming!

New Year, New Adjustments, and a KS.

Some of you may remember this one, it’s the ol’ 3 piece tower box. Popular product, always sold out of them at the conventions. When I got the new CNC I had to change how it was made. I needed to anyway, There were always small issues with the process. Unfortunately it spent way too much time on the back burner, so now it is time for a redesign.

First, I am going to use thicker wood. That will make the tray a little deeper, and the rolling slot able to handle more dice at once. Also, that means I won’t have to do an inset cut on the outside of the tower.

Second, since I now have a small sized tower, I will be able to make a small tower box. A true travel sized setup.

A couple notes on this. The open tray will be the only option for dice storage here. Adding another layer for a “base section” would make the whole thing very bulky, I have always advised using a separate box and tower for that situation. Also, I may remove the magnets from the tower section since it seems like they are not really needed and the cost adds up. Lastly, I think we’ll to a limited run Kickstarter on this one. Maybe like 200 pieces?

So, where’s the prototype you ask? Good question. You might have heard me talk about Midwest winters with an unheated shop… so January has been rough. Good news though, I’m moving the CNC to a different location for the year. I won’t get into the details, but it’s a mutually beneficial situation. That just means it might be another week or so until I can get things rolling again.

There are some other projects in the works, but life works at it’s own pace sometimes. There will be plenty to see at Origins, PopCon, and InCon this year… and maybe even GenCon… 😉

Happy Gaming!

What’s Next for DW?

Just wanted to drop a note on the next few months. Right now I am working on increasing inventory for the FLGS around Indy, and I am finishing up a project for another vendor I met at Origins (no details yet, don’t want to spoil the surprise). Winter is a bit rough still, no heat in the shop yet.

We are planning on being at IndyStorm in Feb, so what time I get to be in the shop will be focused on inventory for that. I will take a few custom orders for the holiday, just keep in mind that shipping still sucks worldwide, and I have a limited number of days running the machine (it doesn’t like the cold either).

The DM screen project is still rolling around in my head, and I still need to get the tooling I need to bring back the 3 piece tower box. There’s potential for a lot of good things in 2021. We hope yours is looking positive too.

Enjoy those Halloween one shots!

Where’s the Web Shop?

I wanted to address this question because it keeps coming up (for good reason), especially during Origins.

Really I should answer the preface question first before getting into this one. Where can I buy a DW box? Right now we are focused on three areas for sales. Local retail stores (hopefully a couple more before the pending holiday season), a handful of conventions in the Midwest region, and direct contact orders. So if you see a box you like, or have a request for a specific graphic/layout combination, send us a message and we’ll make it. I love working with people to get them the box they really want.

Why so limited right now? I can only do so much. Keeping a good handle on inventory levels is a challenge (a good problem to have) considering the shop is small (2/3 of a 2 car garage) and there are only two of us doing all the work (one of which has a full time job). So, I have to balance work load and life in order to avoid burn out. I want this thing to be long term.

Back to the original question. Where’s the web shop? These days it’s almost seen as a business killer to not have a “click to buy” option. Normally I would agree, if the main goal of the business is paying the bills. Long term, yes, I would like to make a regular living from doing DW full time. Right now it’s about connecting in person, validating the product, and just being a part of the community in general. It may be an unconventional business plan, but I want to run the business, I don’t want the business to run us.

There will likely be a web shop in the future, but not until I can expand the shop to increase my production. The plan for that is moving to a new house with enough space to have a dedicated shop building (instead of renting a space, which would increase overhead). With the state of the housing market right now, moving is on hold. We need a bit more stability to be comfortable with that decision.

For now we will continue with the slow ramp up of DW. Creating a footprint in the table top game industry is the priority, not profit. We’re here for the long haul.

Origins Report

Last I heard, attendance was about 1/3 of what it normally is. Despite that, it was absolutely amazing for us. Day one was overshadowed with imposter syndrome. Do we even belong here? Will we sink in the ocean of seasoned vendors and gamers? Day two was more of a “is this actually happening” moment. Day three we settled into the groove of the convention, and realized that this is who we are, and where we belong.

So much love to the community. Not just the attendees, but the other vendors as well. We played games, talked shop (games, really lol), connected for possible projects in the future, made trades for cool stuff, it was so much fun. Big thanks to everyone who made it a great con!

Considering that DW is just the two of us for the most part, things that happen outside of the work tend to translate into larger disruptions in the business. I haven’t posted updates as much as I like recently due to this, and due to the fact that prepping for Origins was a huge push for us. I almost cancelled our booth honestly. Ultimately we made it work, and I am truly glad we did.

Thanks again, and happy gaming!

The Table

There have been a lot of new players in the D&D world over the past 10 years or so. On the surface, that fills me with joy that so many people are playing the game that got me through a pivotal time in my formative years. The more I think about it, the more I ponder what it is that makes it good in my eyes. As much as I love the game of D&D specifically, it’s not really the game itself, but the group at the table that is most important. Noteworthy in the discussion is where the game came from, who played, and why. How does that all translate into the game we play today? The game has changed over the years, but has “The Table” (I use the term “table” to mean the group of players)?

My perspective may be one of many, but I don’t think it’s too far off the mark.

I was introduced to D&D in 1989 by a fellow 6th grade classmate who was doing a class presentation on it. Up to that point I was very interested in medieval history, and disappointed that our history books only included one page on it. Here was this game that nurtured my romanticized mental image of knights in shining armor. On top of that, the people who played were other kids like me that were outside the popular cliques.

So it was that I was introduced to my first TTRPG. We played periodically at recess with what few minutes we had. I would flip back through my history book before each break, then head out to roll dice in an effort to do heroic deeds. Not surprisingly, my first character was a human fighter. It was later that I realized that my first character was really a personification of who I wanted to be. Big, strong, valiant, and good natured. It was important for my character to do right even if it meant going against laws of the land (yes, chaotic good). This was it, I found my thing, and I found my people. It was as if I had found myself, really.

Unbeknownst to me there was an old D&D box set buried in the top of our game closet, it had been given to my parents years earlier but they never played because it wasn’t the typical board game of the time. The box was given to me not long after telling them about my experience at school. It was the old blue beginners box from 1978 with the B1 module in it (Into the Unknown), with the original Holmes dice. It had a list of pre-made character stats, which I used to make a new version of my original human fighter, and I studied those books whenever I had time. I even played solo now and again (which may or may not have been legit, seeing as how it was difficult for 12-year-old me to not fudge rolls).

Going from elementary school to middle school made it a bit difficult to play at first. Some of the original group didn’t end up at the same school. It didn’t take long however, to find a solid bunch of unpopular kids to form a new adventuring group. Really, it was too big of a group for one table, so we played with various people and random times. Getting in dice rolling when we could. None of us were popular, all of us were trying to figure out hormones, and who we were, but none of that was really that important because we had each other, and we had D&D.

Then came high school, this is where we get to the critical part (for me anyway).

For four years people came and went. The friends circle, and the table was a mix of all the classes freshman to senior. We were drama geeks, band nerds, chess players, bone heads, advanced placement overachievers, book nerds, hicks, and yes, even football players. There was such a mix of backgrounds it was amazing. While I missed the era of basement playing outcasts that was seen in Stranger Things (though that stereo type still persists today) it grew into something greater for us in the 90s. Everyone was welcome at “The Table.”

Regardless of what was going on in life at the time, it was usually fairly easy to meet up with a few people and play. Not everyone was available all the time, but there were always enough. Because of this play style there weren’t many long-standing campaigns, or regular meeting times, just random one shots and short story-lines, revolving DMs and stacks of new character ideas. It was a relief from the stresses of teenage life, an escape from problems, a way to have fun and connect without being required to compete on some popularity field. No judgement, just imagination and excitement. These days I see a lot of this still exists. Tons of tables filled with nerds (I use nerd as a term of endearment, also a word I use to describe who I am).

This is not to say that everyone at the table will always get along all the time. Sometimes personalities just conflict and don’t work well at the table. That’s ok. There are enough people playing, especially these days, for everyone to find a group that they vibe with. Out of all the people I played with over the years, there are three of us that stayed in contact consistently for 25+ years. The real point here is that no one should be forced to play, or pushed away from a table because of a sensitive plot line or subject matter. Part of why session zero exists now is to address these things. Steer the game away from subjects people don’t want to face for various reasons (be it general awkwardness, personal trauma, or anything). The DM (or GM) may write the game, but the whole table is responsible for how the story plays out.

“The Table” is there for a reason. In many cases it is the very foundation for mental stability, social acceptance, friendship, tribe, personal expression, self-discovery, love, laughter, memories… and the list goes on. There is no story line that is worth sacrificing any one of these. None. Period. Full stop.

There is no game mechanic rule.

There is no genre.

There is no specific game.

There is nothing, nothing, worth sacrificing on that inexhaustible list.

Of all of the things that make up who a person is (background, skin pigmentation, medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, career, family, another inexhaustible list) none of it is worth overlooking or trivializing for story-line or game-play. “The Table” should vibe and play like it is its own living entity.

Today I feel like we need to be reminded of where TTRPGs came from. It frustrates me to no end when I hear about people (new players, and old) who join a table where these things are not taken into consideration. Tables where some players don’t feel welcome, or where the story line is seen as more important than the players and who they are. With so many people playing now, more and more of these tables exist. Fortunately, that means there are more tables out there to jump to, until you find “The Table” and the vibe that goes with it.

With that in mind, I want to say this loud and clear:

It’s ok to leave a table you aren’t comfortable with.


Full stop.

Don’t stay at that table because they need your tank, or heals, or damage.

Don’t stay at that table because you have a friend there you don’t want to disappoint.

Don’t stay at that table.

There are other tables. This community is huge now. I know it may be hard, I am an introvert too, I have anxiety problems too. It may be hard, but it will be worth it.

To emphasize, as previously stated, mental stability, social acceptance, friendship, tribe, personal expression, self-discovery, love, laughter, memories, background, skin pigmentation, medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, career, family, and the continued inexhaustible list, none of it is worth overlooking or trivializing for story-line or game-play.


Full stop.

On the other side of all this, if you are at a table that people keep leaving for various reasons, maybe ask yourself why. Maybe ask the other players why. Then take a long hard read again, and consider why you are still at that table. What is it about that table that pushes people away? I’m not one to tell people how they should run their tables, or what tables they should be at, but there should at least be a little personal reflection here. What is important to you about the table you are at?

The DM (or GM) may write the game, but the whole table is responsible for how the story plays out.


Full stop.