I return to GenCon!
I got up obscenely early to meet the car taking me to the airport — even more obscenely early than I planned, as I woke up 30 minutes early and couldn’t get back to sleep. Thankfully, the flight was right on time.
Unfortunately, my room wasn’t ready for me when I got to Le Meridien. I was told it wasn’t going to be ready until sometime mid- to late afternoon, which made my planned nap problematic.
Thank God it only took an hour of me wandering around the convention center for them to get it ready. I snoozed pretty hard for a bit, then checked out the Gen Con Trade Days. Not finding much of interest there, I decided to go ahead and hang out at Scotty’s Brewhouse
while I waited for my friends to show up at the planned 4:00 time. Jeff Mechlinski (Age Past
), Mike Myler (Veranthea Codex
, Hypercorps 2099
) and Adam and Jonathan Thompson (Battlefield Press
) all made it, and we had some good food and drinks.
Mike Myler, Dan Davenport, Jeff Mechlinski, Jonathan Thompson, and Adam Thompson at Scotty’s Brewhouse.
At 6:00, we headed over to the IGDN social, where I got to visit with Eloy Lasanta (Third Eye Games
), Dustin DePenning (Synthicide
), John Kennedy (Smug Pug Games
), and Ryan Schoon (Edara
). I was gratified to have people tell me how much they appreciated my Q&As.
Eloy Lasanta holds forth at the IGDN Awards.
I stopped by the food trucks for a shawarma and a 20-Sided Rye beer — the official beer of Gen Con 2016 — then headed back to the room for an early snooze.
The official brew of Gen Con 2016.
I got up early to get my early access pass, then it was on to the exhibit hall!
Waiting in the early access queue.
There, I met up with a whole slew of industry buddies, including Laura Hoff (Polaris)
, Jason Vey (Troll Lord Games)
, Andrew Peregrine
, Jonny Hodgson, Ken Spencer
, Dominic McDowall (all with Cubicle 7)
, T Julian Bell (Kromore)
, Jeff Combos (Exile Games Studios)
, AJ Schmidt (Universalis)
, Mikaela Barree (End Transmission Games)
, John Borgese, Matthew Tarulli (both of ODAM Publishing)
, and many others.
The Pork-Chop Express pays a visit to the Gen Con exhibit hall.
At noon, I decided to try my luck with generic tickets for the first time to see if I could get into the sold-out TORG: Eternity game. I was a huge fan of the original edition of this game of multi-dimensional invaders back in the early 90s.
As it turns out, there were at least six other people with the same idea. Fortunately for us, only three people showed up with actual tickets for the game, so we were all able to play. I ran a bad-ass monster hunter from Orrorsh with a seriously huge rifle that came in handy against the inhabitants of the prehistoric Living Land. The revised rules are slick. For one thing, the infamous Glass Ninja is no more!
Amusingly, our GM looked and sounded remarkably like Shaggy.
The TORG GM consults the rules.
) was running an Earthdawn game at the next table and stopped by to say hello, which was nice, as we never managed to meet up last year.
I met Shadowrun
author Rusty Zimmerman
at Mikaela Barree
‘s booth to go to lunch at the Ram
. While there, I was delighted to meet both Yo! Master from the RPGnet forums and Benjamin Rogers (formerly of Harsh Realities)
, who I didn’t think was going to be here this year at all. (Actually, neither did he until a job opportunity made it possible the day prior.)
Lunch at the Ram with Rusty Zimmerman.
After a nice lunch, it was time for Polaris
— an undersea post-apocalypse RPG. At first, it looked like it was going to be a bust because no other players showed up. However, as luck would have it, while I was walking down the hall to the restroom, I passed a man consoling a lady about a canceled game. I invited them to join Polaris. They didn’t end up doing so, but two other people in their group did. The game was great fun, and the system is quick and intuitive.
I met Alan Bahr (Gallant Knight Games)
, his lovely wife, and two of his friends for drinks and snacks, then went to Jeff Mechlinski
‘s SuperAge game, in which I played a superhero quite similar to the Martian Manhunter. It’s a very slick system, if a bit abstract for my taste. Jeff did a great job as always, of course.
Jeff Mechlinski makes an observation about a player’s character sheet in SuperAge.
Then I caught up with Alan Bahr
and his crew again at the JW Marriot for an open game of the apply-named Fiasco
, which was absolutely hilarious. We had the added bonus of watching the fireworks right across the street at Victory Field.
Fireworks from Victory Field during a game of Fiasco.
Alan and his wife were nice enough to keep me company while I had a late dinner downstairs, then it was off to bed.
I played Jason Vey
‘s pulp-tastic Amazing Adventures
game in the morning. Only two other people showed up, but I just ran two characters — the Indiana Jones/Rick O’Connell character I ran last year, and a loutish-but-lovable Irish brawler — and everything worked great. Jason was definitely on fire. A highlight of the trip!
I played the bizarre virtual reality blood sport game called Splinter
in the evening and was surprised to find that my fellow players were those to people who joined me for Polaris and the rest of their group. What are the odds of that
? The game itself I found to be a little slow. Part of the problem was that I was playing a low-initiative character in a large group, so I didn’t really get the chance to do much. The system worked well, though.
A Splinter player stands to move his mini.
I played a rousing game of the Victorian steampunk RPG Clockwork: Dominion in the morning. Definitely one of the highlights of the convention.
When the group was gathering, a genuine Brit joined us.
I said that I’d been considering putting on a British accent but now thought better of it.
He said, “No, it’s fine. I’ll just make fun of you.”
I told him that if he did, I, as a genuine Texan, would get even by getting him into a session of the weird western Deadlands
A player carefully considers the words of the GM in Clockwork: Dominion.
Then I did some last-minute cruising of the dealer hall, and finally managed to meet Shane Hensley (Pinnacle Entertainment Group), Kenneth Hite (Pelgrane Press), Andy Hopp (Mutha Oith Creations), and John Wick (John Wick Presents).
Finally, I made the rounds picking review copies. I had to literally wait until just before closing time at 4:00 to pick up a couple of them, but I think it will be worth it. While I was at the Troll Lord Games booth, Joseph Wolz of the 2 GMs 1 Mic podcast came up to me and told me that I inspired him to do what he does. What a great note on which to wrap up the convention.
In a vast improvement over last year, I had no issues whatsoever getting through the airport. (Well, the strap on my backpack did get caught in the security machine briefly, but no big deal.)
I had an amazing time, but I was definitely tired and ready to go home. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to Gen Con 2017?
Is it next August yet?