Ziggurat Con - The World's First War Zone Game Convention?


Which Con are you going to this year? GenCon? Origins? Dundracon? How about Ziggurat Con? The latter is brand new this year, and is being held at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase on June 9. In Iraq.

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When President Bush ordered troops to Iraq, he probably never imagined that he would be ultimately be responsible for what very well could be the very first D&D convention/game day ever held in a war zone. Ziggurat Con, being held June 9 from 1200 to 2100 hours at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase, is open to all allied military personnel and civilian contractors in Iraq.

"Here in Iraq, we do many things on the different Forward Operating Bases to help keep our spirits up," said SPC David Amberson, the Con's organizer. "Here at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase, we have lots of sports activities -- baseball, football, dodgeball, kickball -- and we work with many marathons across the US like the Boston Marathon. This is a great way to improve morale among the troops, but what about those who prefer Role-Playing Games?"

The Con's historical landmark "mascot" -- the Ziggurat that gives the Con its name -- can be found on the post, and hails from the ancient city of Ur. Nearby is the house where it is believed that Abraham (a large figure in the Bible, the Koran and the Torah) was born. Cool digs for a Con -- if not for the fact that there's a war going on. Amberson, however, emphasized the need for soldiers to relax and kick back with enjoyable activities from time to time.

"There is a deeper sense of camaraderie in a war zone than you see back home," said Amberson, who is a supply soldier with Alpha Company, 86th Signal Battalion. "You eat with these people, work with them on a daily basis, and can even share a tent with the same people. When work is over for the day, we can sit back, relax, drink our favorite sodas, eat our favorite snacks, and play a bit of D&D. This helps us relax in a very stressful environment. We found a place where we can go somewhere far away from the IED's, mortar attacks, and gunfire, without ever leaving the safety of our camp. The next step was only logical."

Miss Joy Brown, an employee with KBR who works with MWR (the army's Morale Welfare & Recreation Department) has graciously allowed service members to use part of the Community Activity Center to hold the Game Day. The Ping Pong room will be set up for RPGs (Role-Playing Games, not to be confused with the rocket propelled grenades which share the same acronym), and the DVD Movie room will be playing Anime Movies all day in support of the event.

"Miss Brown has expressed her support of the soldiers who are planning this event, and who keep her in the loop," said Amberson. "In many events, MWR does the running around, trying to get supplies and support; however, in this case, it is the service members themselves who are contacting the publishers and manufacturers. This makes it a real event for the service members, by the service members."

The largest problem with running a Con in Iraq, of course, is that there are no local stores or game publishers, and few game books on the post. Even dice are in short supply, with many soldiers breaking the unwritten taboo held by many gamers and (gasp!) sharing dice. Thankfully, many game publishers have also lent their support, and have agreed to supply game products to help the Con along. aethereal FORGE, Sovereign Press, Final Redoubt Press, Goodman Games, Paizo Publishing and Steve Jackson Games are among those that have thrown in their support for the convention. But Amberson indicated that the soldiers could definitely use more.

"This convention is currently in drastic need of prizes and giveaways for the troops," he said. "Everything donated will go directly to the troops, or to MWR to use as loaner books for the soldiers."

For more information, contact SPC David Amberson at the following address: david.amberson (at) iraq.centcom.mil

Donations can also be sent to SPC Amberson directly at the following address:

SPC David Amberson
A Co 86th Sig Bn
APO, AE 09331

"We thank you all back home for supporting us, and we promise that we will try to come back home safe and sound," said Amberson.

Con organizers pictured above:

Standing: SPC Jerrel Barber, Mr. Jeff (JB) Brown, SPC Christopher Watkins, PFC Samuel Dennison, SGT Gary Decker, SPC Kathleen Hirsche
Seated: SPC David Dennison, SPC Konrad Schlarbaum, DPC David Amberson
Others not pictured: SPC Matthew Joslyn, PFC John Gilbert, Mr. Raymond Knapp, CPT Andrew Heymann, Miss Joy Brown


Outstanding new here. Thanks for making this known. Kudos to the contributors too.

Spreading the word everywhere, getting a great response. Thanks for putting this up.

Man, this is a great idea. People do not realize how many gamers are in the military. It is a cheap, easy, and time consuming passtime to while away the low spots between bouts of abject terror!

I will be sending a few goodies myself! Got a big bucket of dice gathering dust I am sure they can find willing hands to fill with them. A great many date from catalog orders during Desert Storm.... ;)

Hey, It is nice to learn that there are more of us over here. I'm stationed down on the southeast of Baghdad, Camp Rustamiyah, and our group tries to get together once or twice a week to play a lil D&D. We have a couple of new guys, and are playing with the books that came out with the original 2nd Ed was published.
It's tough to find time to get together with all the missions, but such a relaxing and enjoyable time.
Once again I am glad that you publicized it.

~ CPL Barker
You guys even made it to Penny-Arcade fame!

Buckshot -

If you'd like us to send some stuff to you guys too, email me with your land mail address and what you need, and we'll see if we can ship you guys some stuff too.

Jae Walker

My birthday is June 9! I have to say, even though I'll be thousands of miles away, this will be the coolest thing to happen on my birthday, ever. If there's any way I can help from way down in Texas, just holler.


It's nice to see so many new faces. For anyone new to the website, please look around before you go, and check out our writers' guidelines.


Ok, I'm ready to go back to Iraq now......

Wish I could be there guys. But we'll be there in spirit.

Kenzer and Company has sent you a box of product of comics (Knights of the Dinner table) to hand out.

If anyone cares to do a write up of the con and provide photos after it's over we'd LOVE to run it in our magazine. You can contact me at jollybgood at kenzer co dot com.

Stay safe!!

Got wind of this through Global Heroics, an online group of MMORPG for the game City of Heros and City of Villians. SPC Amberson, as a former Thunderbird, I appreciate what you are doing for the guys over there.

I have some dice that I am no longer using along with an older D&D Players Handbook (version 3, I think) that I will be dropping in the mail next week.

I will also be talking to a few of my fellow recrutiters and see what other donations I can come up with.

If anyone happens to bump into SSG Euzebe, let him know I said "hi".

SGT Robert Mazur
Former 11th Signal Brigade IMO now stuck on detail recruiting in Minneapolis.

Hooah! This board has now been officially invaded by former Thunderbirds! (What's shakin', Mazur? RECRUITING?) It's just like Iraq in '03, except I (thankfully) don't see CSM Forbes anywhere.

Somebody should take this story to my replacement in the PAO (to promote the event and raise awareness of Soldier-initiated morale activities) to be sent out throughout the Army. Get more contributions and participants this way.

If the current 11th Sig Bde PAO is unwilling, I'd be glad to pull out my DCUs and do a news release. Anything for my Thunderbirds and my Army.

(former SGT) Mike "Pete" Petersen
11th Sig Bde '03-'05

WOW wish i could be there. Im an ARMY Veteran and now i own a small game store in Pueblo CO, Called Alternae Universe Games. It won't be much but ill send what i can to help out. Any of you that are going to be there send me an e-mail to let me know how every thing went masterofmaster11@yahoo.com.

In addition to dice and books, anything else you guys need, like snacks?

Gamers always need snacks.

MREs: Meals Rejected by Elves?

I created some art for 'Operation Dice Drop' and anyone organizing gaming supplies to Ziggurat Con on a nonprofit basis may use that art free of charge. See http://kiloseven.blogspot.com for the art, and also for a schedule of deadlines for timely arrival.

Well, we just sent a box of books to you guys, and I'll be making an announcement in our newsletter to continue to spread the word. My dad just retired from active duty last year after serving 20+, so I'd get yelled at if I didn't do something! Make sure we get pictures of the convention!

Kilo, I love the logo you came up with ;)


Well guys I just sent you a box with books, dice and ahem, other essentials (foot powder anyone)

I also spread the word to the Industry Body, so don't be too surprised if you get more support still...

Oh and my husband is a retired USN Chief, (2002) so yes, we do have a clue of what is needed in the field. Let me know if you need anything else. I can send another care package... no problem

Nadin Abbott
President Deist Games

CPL Carter send an adress and will send you some material too, directly from the POD printer... and if you have access to a conputer can also send you guys something as a PDF

Nadin Abbott
President Deist Games

One of my customers (from the local National Guard) pointed the convention out to me so I went through our stock of stuff and put some novels, a few different card games with decks & boosters and a some german-style board games in a box. Should be going out to you guys in the morning. Hope it gets to you in time. I know some packages we have sent to other units have taken a bit of time and others have been there within 10 days.

If there is anything else you can use in the future, drop me a line and we'll do what we can to help.

Rich Kurtin
manager, Games Plus

Nice shop you have there! Lucky Illinois. Nothing like that in my neighborhood. Kudos for the donation.

Hello from South Carolina!
What do y'all need the most?
We're trying to scrounge up some things and get them in the mail in time for you to have them for prizes.

Stay safe and take care.

Way to go guys! Reality Check Games here in Greenville, SC is sending you a few BIG boxes of gaming goodness donated or purchased by the various gamers all over this area!

Chris Williams
owner, Reality Check Games

Gaming supplies are on the way and a NEW Star Wars RPG Core book on it's June 5th release date!

Clocktower Comics/RPG's in Cleveland,TN!!!
Home of the SEBC Tennessee Browncoats!

For those folks who're cash poor and reading this--- write it up in your blogs, tell local game stores about it....write companies like WoC, Nabisco, Kraft Foods etc. Do a Tom Sawyer - talk other folks into stepping up and donating.

WTG Tennessee Browncoats!

-Linda Greenville Browncoats

This sounds very cool! I will create a 'virtual Ziggurat' in AugWorld for people to hang out in and discuss this upcoming event if you'd like... :)


(free online interactive thingie)

Hi, Guys.
Nice to see some gamers out there. I was playing Classic BattleTech in Dhahran while waiting on the plane to take me home from Desert Storm. I am now an AF Reservist who just got an invitation from Uncle Sam to spend six months in "Sunny Camp Anaconda" starting late this fall. I am planning on bringing enough Classic BattleTech materials to play in my spare time if there is anyone up there who would be interesting in playing. I am also bringing a laptop with the Heavy Metal design software to generate custom and standard Mech and Vehicle record sheets. Hopefully, I can find a WiFi hot spot and a printer that I can hook into. Any intel on availablity of these assets at Camp Anaconda would be welcome. Just contact me at tekteam26@aol.com. BTW....I was Army way back when during Desert Storm.


Check out our recap at http://www.gamegrene.com/node/818

I think it's so great about doing something like this in Iraq. Our troops need support and, sometime, to stop and think about something else. What better than a role playing convention, you jump in a different universe and can forget what is going wrong for a minute or two. Pretty good news i hope that is only a first one :)
The free rpg games website

This is one convention I'll definity avoid.

I didn't realize ZigCon was this close. Can anyone help me out with the best (and cheapest) way to send a bunch of RPG books?

I know they won't get there in time, at this point, but I still think they might find use and be enjoyed. I just can't afford to pay for international shipping and have never shipped a donation to a war-zone before.


Edit: The above post was from this year, leading me to believe ZigCon would be happening again this year. Is this the case?

Not that I know of - I've heard no new announcements of a 2008 con.

I only just stumbled upon this today -- I work at a game store that sells role-playing games and supplies; I would gladly ask my boss about making a donation to the gamers abroad. Would various gaming supplies still be welcome? And should they be sent to the same address? Is there any word of a 2008 con in the works? At any rate, I hope the previous con went spectacularly, and that you had a lot of fun.


What would be the best way to just hand off a stack of game books and be assured they made it to our brave lads and lassies?

I'm in small town Kentucky and my options may be limited. I really want to donate, but I can't afford the kind of postage it would cost to ship and wouldn't know how or where to do so anyway. If someone could hook me up with a drop-off point near zip code 42553, I have a 2-foot stack of extras that I will gladly send in the next parcel they send out. If I need to follow other protocol, please inform me of how and what to do.

Hoping beyond hope you wonderful guys and gals can get the hell home soon. We miss you.

If anyone gets this and knows how to contact Chris Watkins can you please ask him to e-mail me at rainylane@ymail.com. I'm an old friend and have been looking for him for some time. I appreciate it, thanks.