Friday, August 24, 2012

Gen Con 2012 - Day 4

Day 4 - Con of the Living Dead

By Sunday of Gen Con, the previous days have taken their toll on most attendees and exhibitors. Long days, little sleep, lots of walking, sensory overload, maybe a few pints at the Ram or another watering hole, it all adds up. Day 4 isn't a costume day for me. But after a breakfast accompanied by caffeine and Advil, I was ready for the last day of Gen Con 2012.

The only event I had planned was a two hour seminar from WotC about designing themes for D&DNext - which by Sunday had changed as themes had been replaced by specialties in the latest playtest document. It was interesting despite the one person in the crowd that kept going off on tangents and talking and talking... some mean-spirited tweets came to mind, but I resisted.

The seminar itself was interesting, if a little short, but not ground-breaking. I guess I was hoping for a little more crunch under the hood.

After the seminar it was back to the X hall for a final pass and to say good-bye to folks. I didn't really have an agenda to buy anything, I just like to be immersed in the con until the last minute and don't leave until the closing announcement.

Afterwards I made my way to Scotty's for dinner while watching Return of the King, collecting a couple of their dice for the current year, then finally admitting Gen Con was over a heading home to sleep 11 hours.

Only 355 days until Gen Con 2013!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gen Con 2012 - Day 3

Gen Con Saturday is the biggest day. I opted for a hotel room again this year, as then I didn't have to worry if the festivities went on late or if I had a few beers. Plus it made a mid-day costume change so much easier.

The plan for the first part of the day was to meet up with Nicole, her friend Amy, her daughter and nephew to go around in Star Wars costumes. Nicole's daughter had chosen a Star Wars theme, so I had hastily assembled a Obi-Wanish costume.
(this pic was snapped before Amy joined us in her X-Wing pilot costume)

We learned the more cosplayers you put together in a similar theme, the more picture requests. When I was by myself, I was asked maybe twice for a picture... Jedi are a dime a dozen. Later on Amy and I were in the X Hall and we had our pictures taken a few times. When I found Nicole and the kids, they were already posing. When you put the bunch of us together, we'd get a request every couple of minutes and once we stopped and posed, more people would pop up with cameras. The kids loved it and everyone polite.

That afternoon, we had our True Dungeon run. For Nicole, Weasel and I, it was our first time. As such, we were unprepared for the hurried nature of mustering our party of ten, nor of the fact that clues were salted in the mustering area.

We proceeded through the dungeon with mixed results. Like a tabletop game, you had people whining for healing right away, which was risky to our resources since every time we failed a puzzle we took damage. There was a lot of noise which made audio clues hard to discern. There was a GM in each room and they ranged from really good to bad.

Given the price of $38 a head (plus more if you bought tokens - I didn't), I was underwhelmed.

After a late lunch/early dinner, I checked into my hotel and changed costumes for our Brass & Steel Steampunk LARP. Jason and I had coordinated on choosing our characters, making things easier. He also brought a sword cane walking stick that fit in with my character quite nicely. Plus half the fun of Steampunk is the costuming.

(actual pic fro @knharter - it turned out much better than mine)

The LARP was a real good time, we all plan to play it again next year. I'm looking forward to the pictures from it (they had a photographer going around taking pictures as well as taking us out to pose for individual pictures). Not only was the game well organized but the players were great and the game masters were sincerely interested in feedback.

After the LARP we went over to Union Station to check out the Masquerade and have a couple of drinks before going in search of watering holes. The lines were horrible. Even at the House bar downstairs (more and more folks are discovering it). Plus the bar upstairs took cash only. Someone tell them that it's the 21st century.

With the MotoGP in town and downtown Indy clogged with bikers (a big fail on whoever in Indy thought that was a good idea), I was pretty dubious as to whether we'd have any luck at clubs we had hit previous years. We happened across enough seats at bar in the Ram and ended finishing the night there.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gen Con 2012 - Day 2

Costume for the day - my ren faire outfit.

I got my first picture request shortly after entering the hall. I don't get a lot of them in this outfit, but a few, and it fuels my ego. The only planned event on the agenda is a Pathfinder game later that night.

I returned to the X Hall and visited Randy Milholland of Something Positive a dark humor nerd-centric comic. He gave me a free sketch and I purchased a couple of pieces of his original artwork from the comic. I mentioned how a couple of terms from his comic had made their way into my gaming group's parlance and asked about his dismembering Wil Wheaton in his comic.

As a side note, it looks like Randy had a good time at Gen Con.

I met up with Nicole and as we walked the hall we swung by the autograph area. Nicole is not only a fan of Wil Wheaton, but also his wife. The line looked short, so I suggested we jump in line to get autographs. I'm not a big fan of the whole pay for an autograph thing, but Wil stays involved in the geek community so I thought of it as a way to show appreciation and encourage him and his fellow geek-celebs to come to Gen Con.

There were tables for Wheaton, Nichelle Nichols and Wes Bentley ( the ringmaster with the funny beard in Hunger Games). The line was only 15-20 people long, so I figured divided among three tables it would be super quick. Then an employee came along the line.

"Are you here for Nichelle or Wes?" "Are you here for Nichelle or Wes?" "Anyone here for Nichelle or Wes?"

When they received a response, that person was able to go right up because everyone else was there for Wil Wheaton (probably because he is better known in gaming circles). Nicole and I got to the front and went up to pick out the picture for him to autograph. I pointed out that both Nicole and and Wil were homebrewers, which got a conversation going (and led to our first reminder they had to keep the line moving). He struck me as the kind of guy that would be fun to hang out with and drink some good beer while playing a game. He seemed tickled that Nicole was also a big fan of his wife and suggested a website. I think that was when we got our second reminder.

An employee used our phones to snap pictures. Then we started another conversation that got us are final reminder there were other people waiting.

My friend @foxyfolklorist told me that her troupe, Different Drummer Belly Dancers (@ddbd)was performing in the Klingon Opera Ballet. I decided it might be fun (come on, belly dancers with bat'lehs are worth serious geek points). I enjoyed it, especially hearing a Klingon rendition of Bear McCreary's arrangement of Along The Watch Tower. Klingons singing the Ewok song from the end of Return of the Jedi was rather surreal.

The Pathfinder game was Sabrina and the Seven Dwarves. The evil demon behind Starbux had stolen all of the coffee, putting clan matron Grumpy out of business, so we were setting off to reclaim the magic of coffee. In retrospect, we should have started with someone playing the fighter or the barbarian. I began play with Dopey, a dwarven druid pothead. As Peter Jackson has established that dwarves have Scottish brogues, I affected a stoner Scots brogue as I hammed things up, much to the amusement of the GM. Sadly, Dopey died fighting the espresso-machine dragon, so I re-entered play with Bash the barbarian, a dwarf raised by hilljacks. So now I had a redneck Scots brogue.

Bash also finished off the demon, after felling several caffeine fiends then getting stuck by a Hold Person spell.

I went home to rest up for the big day, Saturday.

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Gen Con 2012 - Day 1

Thursday, the official start of Gen Con, is usually dominated by the opening of the Exhibit Hall. After being delayed in an unsuccessful search for my Captain Hammer t-shirt (I settled for my Evil League of Evil t-shirt and found my Captain Hammer shirt on the top of my laundry pile Monday) and stopping to get breakfast, I made my way to the ICC just shortly after the X Hall opened. While there is a certain excitement in the opening moments, I'd rather avoid the huge mob. Even with my delaying tactic there was a large crowd as people sought to get limited supplies of certain games or items being releashed by game companies at the con. A few times I wondered if I was in a traffic jam or a line (one time was a line for something Privateer Press was selling - whatever it was I had better things to do with tow to three hours).

I made sure to stop at the booths of people I knew. One of these was Gorilla Games, who produced World Conquerors (which we played the night before with the designer Jeff Siadek. Another was in the authors' alley, RudderHaven. The X Hall is too much to be taken in during one pass. Even on Sunday I was eeing things I had somehow missed the previous days. There were all of the usual companies, including the traditional trying to unload cheap gaming book companies (one started at $5 a book on Thursday and dropped to $1 by Sunday), as well as a plethora of dice vendors.

I made sure to get a feel for the dice in case @knharter wanted any. Look at all those 20s, how could they not be lucky? I also helped @knharter introduce a co-worker and fellow geek to Gen Con for the first time, plus there was some obligatory costume shopping. Thursday night, I was signed up for the Zombie Carnivale with my friend Weasel. It was billed as a casino-like event, so we were looking forward to few hours of lively mingling and zombie-themed games.

I think it was to shill zombie games by a publisher, but it didn't do a good job of that and the prizes were pretty lackluster (consisting of said games). About halfway through the event we bailed, giving our remaining zombie currency to a random player.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gen Con 2012 - Day 0

Trying to live blog Gen Con would be an exercise in futility, so each year I try to recap my experiences shortly after the con. As is traditional, the focus on Wednesday is the Stink then N-Con. The Stink started as a get together that started as a meet-up for people on the Gen Con Forums and has since ballooned into 400 ticket event that helps kick off the convention.
Once again we were in the Union Station Grand Hall. For some reason Gen Con also stuck a boffer fighting event in the room, but it didn't to turn out to be as much trouble as I feared. I arrived a few hours early to scout things out which gave me an excuse to roam the ICC (Indy Convention Center) and take in the early Gen Con atmosphere. Unfortunately a glitch this year meant our swag solicitation to exhibitors went out way too late, so I didn't have an excuse to get into the Exhibit Hall early. After collecting the swag that Gen Con itself provided, I headed back to Union Station for set-up. I was concerned that we were light on swag, but the gaming groups that had tables at the Stink also brought swag. The Stink went smoothly, with my only concern being the huge line that started at the t-shirt table I manned and went on past the various gamer group tables. Gamers at Gen Con instinctively form lines. We'll have to brainstorm about our room layout for next year to see if there is a practical way to solve it. In years past, Starwind Design had provided bags for the first 100 attendees. This year, they donated t-shirts but we had a different mechanic to give them away. The first 100 people and the winners of various games and prizes received special tokens. Towards the end, we called the token holders up to receive their t-shirts, thus rewarding people that didn't dash in, grab swag and split. After returning the Nordic Distance Dice to the Convention HQ, I headed to N-Con, a night-before-GenCon get together hosted by my friend @knharter. She usually has a few game designers staying with her for the convention, so we get to try and play games with the folks that created them.

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