Twenty Sided Store

A retail store and premier event organizer in Williamsburg Brooklyn that focuses on high quality Board Games, Role Playing Games, and Magic: The Gathering.

Christian Niedan of Nomadic Press

This weekend Twenty Sided Store will host its second Nomadic Press Event organized by Christain Niedan. After reading so many of his amazing interviews (especially the one about me), I decided it was time I interview him.

[Lauren] Nomadic Press began in California, is that right? What brought you to New York?

[Christian] It was started by my former roommate here in Brooklyn, J.K. Fowler, who moved out to Oakland, and founded Nomadic Press out of a space in the Fruitvale section of town. From the start. he planned it as a two coast organization, binding together the creative writing communities in the Bay Area and Brooklyn. Since I already lived here in NYC, I joined the board, and began writing reviews and interviews for Nomadic's website.

[LB] Have you always wanted to be a writer? What was it like getting into it?

[CN] No, I only wrote for English class assignments until college. Then I decided to write professionally in my last year at University of Pittsburgh, when I wrote for the school paper. When I graduated, I continued the news track by writing for The Jersey Journal newspaper in Jersey City, but then I decided I didn't want to pursue a low-paying career in print journalism. More recently, I've been working as a marketing writer for eBay, which pays better and keeps me plugged into evolving products on the market -- because I have to learn about the latest smartphones, virtual reality gaming headsets, and Stars Wars collectibles, so I can write about them in an engaging way.

[LB] You host so many events - all over the city, in bookstores and coffee shops - with so many talented people, what is it like putting these events together?

[CN] I'm grateful that J.K. has let me and my co-organizer Dallas Athent experiment with different styles of events, and NYC provides plenty of unique creative groups and venues to work with. Again, it's about encouraging creative communities -- especially if they have a writing or performance focus -- like GAMBAZine, Brooklyn Wildlife, and Greenpoint Writer's Group. The one obstacle is that the Brooklyn side of Nomadic Press doesn't have a dedicated space like Oakland does, so we've put extra emphasis on forging good relationships with venues like Pine Box Rock Shop, Hell Phone, and Christopher Stout Gallery in Bushwick, and Brooklyn Art Library and Twenty Sided Store in Williamsburg. When it comes to curating an event's line-up, Dallas or I will start with a concept, and a couple of performers who would fit, and then add a few more and usually a musician.

[LB] Your Talking Paper Interview series has expanded beyond writers and poets, tell us a little bit about what it was like interviewing Mark Rosewater and Nathan Holt.

[CN] I like interviewing writers who have a unique approach to their work, whether they write they poetry, prose, biographies or games. Fantasy game writers have always interested me, because to do it well, you have to be creative without slipping into cliche.

My first Talking Paper interview on the subject was with English game designer Steve Jackson in February of 2015. Steve played a huge roll in making Dungeons & Dragons popular and available to England's gamers in the mid-'70s through a shop he ran, and he then went on to pen game books in the '80s and '90s, including his four-part Sorcery! series, which was turned into a really cool mobile game by an English outfit called inkle. So naturally, that led me to interview inkle's co-founder Jon Ingold about Jackson and Sorcery!, and another super successful fantasy mobile game of theirs called 80 Days, which is a very steampunk take on the book Around The World in 80 Days.

With regard to Magic: The Gathering, it satisfies both the writing and paper aspects of the interview series theme, and I happened to be friends with Nathan. When the Vice episode about the Magic Pro Tour came out last year, I reached out to Nathan about an interview on the Tour, since he produces videos about it for Wizards of the Coast, and to get his thoughts on the creative and business aspects of the game. Nathan comes from an acting background, as well as loving the game, so his Planeswalker character interested me. Their work on the Walking the Planes video series made Enter the Battlefield all the better, since they got to refine their filmmaking style beforehand.

With Mark Rosewater, I figured I might as well start at the top for an insider's interview about the game's creative process and literary influences, and I'm glad he said yes. A big surprise with his interview was that it turns out he was way more of a science fiction, Philip K. Dick fan as a youth than a fantasy Tolkien fan, and continues to read a lot of non-fantasy stuff when he's off the clock.

Enter the Battlefield with us this SATURDAY at 7pm.

A documentary by Nathan Holt & Shawn Kornhauser about life on the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour.

7pm Meet Nathan & Shawn, get an oversized Magic card signed.
9pm Screening followed by Q&A


Mad Science Foundation | Cryptozoic Games


This past weekend we had Sharang Biswas and Max Seidman in the store to Spotlight their new game Mad Science Foundation.

We began the event playing games. We played MSF as well as other featured games published by Cryptozoic - Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards and Spyfall.

Cryptozoic sent us some sweet swag to give away. Congratulations to Stephanie for winning the signed copy Mad Science Foundation!

Afterwards Max and Sharang talked a bit about what went into their game design and answered a bunch of questions from the audience.

Here are some of the details that I found most interesting:

  • Sharang & Max created Mad Science Foundation in one month as part of a game design competition, and won!

  • They attended an event for designers and publishers that was a lot like a speed dating. That is where they first connected with Cryptozoic, the publisher of the game.

  • Max and Sharang are proud of the fact that their specific requests regarding the art depictions of diversity in race, class, and gender were actualized.

Check out what the game looked like in it's first iteration:

For those of you who missed the event this weekend, it is not too late to check out Mad Science Foundation - Cryptozoic's New Game by Sharang Biswas and Max Seidman - now available for $24.99 at Twenty Sided Store.

Follow Max & Sharang on Twitter:
@SharangBiswas @MaxGamesSeidman #MSFGame

Swing by the store to get your preorder of the next set

Magic: The Gathering - Eldritch Moon!

Booster Box - $99.99
includes Buy-a-Box Promo, while supplies last

Fat Pack - $34.99

Booster Box & Fat Pack Bundle - $129.99
save $5

Join us for FREE RPG DAY 2016!

We will be giving away Free Swag Bags - early bird gets the worm!

Drop in D&D feat. Dwarven Forge (DM Lauren)


12pm - 2pm

Shadowrun (DM Anastasia)
D&D 5e : Interactive Character Creation (DM Justin)
Cypher : The Wolves of Franklin County (DM Matthew)
A Song of Ice and Fire : The Kingsroad (DM Chris)

2:30pm - 4:30pm

Shadowrun (DM Anastasia)
D&D 5e : The Midsummer Massacre (DM Richard)
Cypher : The Show Must Go On (DM Matthew)
Feng Shui 2 (DM Simon)

5pm - 7pm

World Wide Wrestling : House of Pain (DM Chris)
D&D 5e : The Midsummer Massacre (DM Richard)
Cypher : Rescue Team 51 (DM Matthew)
Feng Shui 2 (DM Simon)

7:30pm - 9:30pm

World Wide Wrestling : House of Pain (DM Chris)
Dread : Test Chamber B-31 (DM Jack)
Cypher : Dread Expectations (DM Leo)
Epyllion : Dragonwing Festival (DM Richard)


A Song of Ice and Fire | The Kingsroad

DM Chris
You are members of House Ember, a minor house in Westeros. Your lord, Harlon Ember, died recently and now the new lord must travel to Kings Landing to swear fealty to King Robert Baratheon. It's the first test of lordship for a boy who isn't ready for the title, and if House Ember is to remain burning bright, it is a test that he must pass.

"A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying" evokes the feel and brutality of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, as well as the "Game of Thrones" TV show. Westeros is low-magic and full of dangerous people and shady intrigue. Those who are not strong and/or smart will find themselves trampled underfoot.

Rules as Written
Tone: Serious
Emphasis : roleplaying, story, combat

Cypher System | Rescue Team 51

Science Fiction
DM Stanton
You are alien mercenaries sent to recover a couple allied greys who crash landed their flying saucer on a hostile planet called "Nevada" and were captured by beings called "Americans." As long as these "humans" aren't heavily armed or overly paranoid, this mission should go easy, right?

Think 1950s B-movie sci-fi where the aliens are "good guys" and humans are "monsters" -- "Day The Earth Stood Still" with more blasters and weird powers.

Rules as Guidelines
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, tactics, combat

Cypher System | The Wolves of Franklin County

DM Stanton
You are wolves out to find and destroy a strange creature that trespasses in the pack's hunting territory. The thing is not of Man; it is... something "else." Something "wrong." Something... "unclean." A Lovecraftian mystery seen through the eyes of animals.

If "The Blair Witch Project" was remade as a Disney feature, that's what this game is like.

Rules as Written
Tone : Dark
Emphasis : story, investigation, exploration

Cypher System | The Show Must Go On

DM Stanton
You work for a TV production company sent to a remote island to film scenes for a daytime soap opera... and then the actual fresh-eating zombies show up. The network studio doesn't care about excuses, it has a schedule to keep and refuses to send any rescue boats until the production is complete and on budget. "Make it work, people."

This adventure is like "The Bold & Beautiful" or "Young & Restless" meets "The Walking Dead".

Rules as Guidelines
Tone : Silly
Emphasis : roleplaying, shared storytelling

Cypher System | Dread Expectations

DM Leo
Doctor Dread, super villain and social media maven has plans for NYC and it’s not just giving a bad Yelp review! Can the New York Sentinels stop her nefarious plans? Play and find out True Believers!

Rules as Written
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, story, shared storytelling

D&D 5e | The Midsommer Massacre

DM Richard
In this 0-level D&D adventure, you've come to the village Corm Orp for their famed, raucous all-night summer celebrations. What could possibly go wrong?
Inspired by Dungeon Crawl Classics

Rules as Guidelines
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, investigation, combat

D&D 5e | Interactive Character Creation

DM Justin
This fun and open-form experience challenges you to decide who you want your character to be and what kind of character you would like to play, not using stats and figures, but by getting to know them and solving problems with friends. Play as a level-0 character and then at the end, let's figure out who they have become.

Players start the game in the dark. They can choose what they see when the lights turn on!

Rules + Hacks
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, investigation, shared storytelling

Dread | Test Chamber B-31

Super Spooky Edition
DM Jack
Your mind is swimming and the past is a blur. You don't know where you are, how you got here, or who these people trapped with you are. Hell, you can't even remember your own name, but this place wreaks of death and you refuse to stay here a second longer than you have to. With every step you take, the fog in your mind clears and another memory falls back into place unlocking the mystery of this dark prison.

Our only hope is to rely on one another for protection, but there is a grim certainty we can see in each other's eyes: Survival is a privilege that not all of us will earn.

This game is a horror-mystery escape adventure.

Rules + Hacks
Tone : Dark
Emphasis : roleplaying, story, shared storytelling

Epyllion | Dragonwing Festival

DM Richard
As the great Dragonwing Festival approaches, dragons gather to test each other's skill as flyers, but the shadows of old battles threaten to disrupt everything. Can a clutch of young, rawscaled drakes prevent disaster?

Rules as Written
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, story, shared storytelling

Feng Shui 2 | Red Packet Rumble

DM Simon
Welcome to the Secret War Dragons! You are the last line of defense against the forces of evil and corruption, who seek to control the world's mystical feng shui sites, and therefore - history itself! Use your fists, guns, magical fu powers, and future tech to battle for the fate of humanity!

Feng Shui 2 replicates the furious, high-intensity, melodramatic action of Hong Kong cinema and the action movie genre.

Rules as Written
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, tactics, combat, shared storytelling

Shadowrun | Ping Time

DM Anastasia
Mr. Johnson has lost her friend, Brent. The odd thing is that she can occasionally connect with him via the Matrix, but neither he nor they can figure out where he is. She hopes the team will Brent without revealing his dark secret.

Rules as Written
Tone : Serious
Emphasis : roleplaying, tactics, investigation, combat

World Wide Wrestling | House of Pain

DM Chris
No match in the Starr Wrestling Alliance carries the weight that the House of Pain does. It's a structure that has the potential to make your career, or end it early. The crowd that comes to this show is looking for blood, violence, and mayhem. So go out there and give them what they want.

"World Wide Wrestling" is a collaborative storytelling game that deals with the in-ring and behind-the-scenes lives of professional wrestlers. Players will join the roster of the Starr Wrestling Alliance and put on a show for the fans. Will you be a company player and put the other guy over, or will you put your own ambitions ahead of the company's plans? Anything can happen in the square circle, and it often does.

Rules as Written
Tone : Light-Hearted
Emphasis : roleplaying, story, shared storytelling

Since the release of Numenera, The Strange, and the Cypher System, I have fallen in love with Monte Cook's Games.

I have been preparing all week for Monte Cook's visit to Twenty Sided Store this Saturday, May 14, 2016, and I thought I would share with you a couple questions I'd always wanted to ask him.

LB: Was it a dream of yours to work as an editor for roleplaying games or would you say you were just in the right place at the right time when you landed your first job?

MC: I’d wanted to write roleplaying games from the age of 14, when it first dawned on me that it was actually someone’s job to do so. This happened when I first saw a D&D module called Dwellers of the Forbidden City by David Cook. The fact that his last name was my last name made me realize, even as a young teen, that there were real people behind these cool products.

LB: You were right in the middle of it all when D&D really influenced a mainstream audience. I feel like that time inspired many young gamers and indie RPG designers? What was going on in the roleplaying community, what was it that really ignited the whole thing?

MC: It was sort of a perfect storm. Geek culture was sort of finally taking over society, and D&D had lost the "stigmas" that it had in the past. Those who were part of the D&D craze of the early 80s now had kids of the right age to maybe introduce. And 2nd Edition had really been fallow for a long time, and D&D fans were eager for something new. So when 3rd Edition came out in 2000, it was absolutely huge. Suddenly, characters in sitcoms were playing D&D, and GE was using D&D to help sell appliances. What a change from the late 80s and the 90s!

LB: You were one of the first to publish games in PDF format, what did you learn from that experience and would you say some of your ideas have now come full circle?

MC: That was back in 2001, and basically, back then I didn’t know how to get my own products printed, warehoused, or sold, and doing so myself electronically seemed like an easier way to do it. Of course, no one was doing that back then, so I sort of inadvertently blazed a trail. I had just finished writing The Book of Eldritch Might and I remember sitting in my living room talking to my friend Bruce, wondering, “Will 20 people buy this? 50?” I had no idea if the format would catch on. Of course, we sold 1,000 in the first few hours of releasing it (and remarkably, still sell a few copies each month 15 years later). It is interesting to see that PDF has now become a standard in the industry and there are multiple whole rpg ebook shops online. What I would have given for that back then!

LB: What led you to creating and ultimately deciding to publish Numenera and the Cypher System?

MC: The ideas for the setting and system were actually things I’d been kicking around for literally 20 years. After leaving my contract position at WotC to lead 5th Edition design, I found myself with a clear schedule for the first time in years, and those ideas came bubbling to the surface again. I guess game design and setting creation is an addiction.

LB: Which came first, your interest in sci-fi fantasy or your interest in roleplaying games? What was your first experience that made you fall in love with both?

MC: Science fiction. I already was a fan, reading Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and even Frank Herbert and then when Star Wars came out I was in for life. For me, discovery of D&D came about a year or so after Star Wars. (Personally, I believe the success of D&D owes a fair bit to Star Wars, even though D&D technically came first. As a kid of 10-11 at the time, I can tell you that Star Wars just sort of primed the whole culture to be not just receptive, but eager for anything to do with imaginative action and otherworldly adventure. Plus, you know, sword fights.)

LB: For somebody who has not yet played Numenera, the Strange or the Cypher System, how would you describe the differences between them?

MC: The Cypher System is the game engine for the other two games. The Cypher System Rulebook is most of the game mechanic stuff taken from the other two with all the setting stuff taken out. It also has guidelines for adapting the rules to any genre—fantasy, sci fi, modern, and even superheroes.

The Strange is a science fiction game that postulates that there are otherworldly realms where all the fiction of Earth is real. So you can travel to Sherlock Holmes’ London, then to a place where plucky rebels try to save the galaxy from an evil empire, and then to a place where Lovecraftian horrors lurk at your doorstep. And your characters adapt to each new world each time, which keeps things interesting!

And of course Numenera came first. It’s a science fantasy game set incredibly far in the future, where technology is so advanced that it seems like magic (and thus it’s a science fiction game that feels like a fantasy game). It's really, really weird, in all the right ways, I think.

LB: For the Game Master, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when running a Cypher System game if they really want to bring out the essence of it all?

MC: Story trumps rules. Period. In fact, the way to really think about it is that ACCORDING TO THE RULES you should ignore or change the rules where you need to in order to keep the story going well. That’s what the GM Intrusion mechanic in the game is all about.