Another GenCon has faded away, which means it is time for a series of “wrap-up” posts from yours truly. It was no surprise that GenCon was just as awesome as it was last year, but in a few different ways. There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll be breaking up this report into four posts.
The Events – Today’s Post – Here I discuss the various games, seminars, & panels I attended at the convention.
The Night Life – When the dealer room closes, a whole different GenCon appears. I discuss “GenCon After Dark” here.
The Bounty – Here I discuss my various acquisitions and the generosity of my fellow convention goers.
The Places – Last Week – Here I discussed our accommodations, the GenCon facilities, and the general state of the convention as I found it.
I believe a recent email from the GenCon folks stated that there were over 9,000 events at GenCon this year. Of course, it’s impossible to speak of them all, but I did attend a few activities, and had a great time doing so!
Wizards of the Coast Events – WotC had a whole slew of events based on the Underdark city of Menzoberranzan. The neat thing about these events, is that if you visited (and participated) in each one, you could collect a specific polyhedron die. Attend all six of the special activities, and you could collect a whole set of dice! It was a neat concept, and I managed to collect 4 out of the 6 die made available. A couple of the dice were really easy to get. For the d4, all you had to do was visit the showroom booth. It was a quick line, and pretty easy to get done. For the d6, you had to visit a room and participate in a crafting or puzzle activity. I opted for the crafting, which was using punch-out cardstock to fold up a model of “Lil’ Flame” or “Lolth”. This was also pretty easy (and fun too!).
Getting the d12 and d20 were a little more involved. In order to get those two die, you had to sign up for the DnDNext playtest. First you had to create a character, and second, you had to play in an actual game. While my own experience with this activity was pretty good, there was a great deal of confusion as to why people had to pay for such activities. In addition, I understand that some of the lines to get in to the playtest were rather lengthy, as WotC were only taking official tickets for the event and not generic ones. Despite these issues, I enjoyed the playtest. It was a first for me, as it was really my first official convention game ever. That’s right. I’ve played in pick-up games and such, but never official ones. I’m happy to report that our party managed to succeed! Not a single person died, and we won the day! While I think WotC needs to work hard to avoid the confusion that occurred this year, the idea of collecting a prize for attending different events is a great idea.
I’m usually a completionist, but I didn’t schedule a 4e game or a game of Dungeon Command in order to get the d8 and d10. Say…if you WotC have any of those extras lying around…
Fiasco Game – While not an official event, Liz Bauman’s Fiasco game was an event worth noting. I’ve never played Fiasco, but getting the opportunity to play the game billed as “an RPG set in a Cohen Brother’s film” was a real treat. Liz helped manged a great game, and I got to play a neighborhood curmudgeon by the name of “Greg Grognard”. Greg ran the local home owners organization and was stealing money from it at the same time. Greg also killed an Eastern Orthodox Scientologist Priest and crashed a dump truck. Did I mention it was a really weird game? With great players such Lyndsay Peters, Brian Patterson, Thomas Denagh, and Liz herself, we had an amazing time and I learned a lot about the art of minimally structured role-playing. I really hope to do this again next year!
SPA Classes – SPA or SPousal Activities classes are a big part of the GenCon experience, especially to those folks that don’t game. In fact, one of the major reasons my wife & I can attend GenCon, is because Anna’s FELT THIS classes are so popular. This year she taught SIX classes on the fine art of “stabbing something into existence”, including one class which had a meme war theme (felt a Pirate, Ninja, Robot or Zombie). I believe Anna had 80+ students over the course of the convention, which is awesome.
Between classes, Anna often hung out in the Open Crafting Room and I did that myself one afternoon. It just so happens that Fat Dragon Games had dropped off some sets of their cardstock dice tower. I found a complete set on the table and got to work. In the quiet of the craft room, the bustle of the convention faded away and four hours (yes, FOUR hours) later, I have a workable dice tower. It was a lot of fun! Several people stopped by to chat, and I got more than one incredulous look when folks realized how long I had been working on it. If you’re the crafty sort, I highly recommend a visit to recharge your batteries. It’s awesome!
Brian Patterson Panel – If you don’t know Brian Patterson (@d20Monkey on Twitter) I suggest you fix that. With his webcomic (d20 Monkey) becoming a huge hit, it was an obvious choice for him to have a “meet the creator” session at GenCon this year. Brian is an awesome speaker and the tossed panties (I kid you not) are a clear indication of his growing success. The audience had a great time listening to Brian discuss his art, his influences, and where he wants to take his comic in the future. I am fortunate to count Brian as a good friend, and it was awesome to see him discuss his work with a live audience. This panel was one of the true bright spots of the entire convention.
Tome Show, Behind the DM Screen Panel – I did a panel last year as part of the DM Roundtable, but this year I was excited to be able to participate in a panel where we recorded live, an episode of a podcast I participate in called, Behind the DM Screen. While we didn’t get as large an audience as I’d hoped, we did have several loyal listeners show up and participate in the show! We even gave away some prizes, and I managed to talk about how easy it can be for even an experienced DM to screw up their game! I wasn’t crazy about the venue (see last week’s post where I mention Victoria Station), but we made it work and we had a great time!
I keep my schedule pretty open, because I like to have face time with friends I usually only see on Twitter. One of the things that’s awesome about GenCon, is that the wide variety of events allows you to make your convention experience your own. I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but a quick glance at the events catalog will tell you there is an awesome variety of whatever you might be inclined to do.
Next week, I’ll speak a little about the night live to be had at GenCon.
My name is Randall Walker and This Is My Game.
Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. R.M. Walker, who can be found in numerous places on the internet as “DeadOrcs”, is a long time gamer with some 30 years experience playing RPGs. Despite occasional forays into the bizarre, Randall has always come back to Dungeons & Dragons.