Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gen Con 2007
More Thanks & Such

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to say a large 'Thank You' to those who were, in many ways, responsible for me going to Gen Con this year.

First up is Dan Repperger from Fear the Boot. He was very inclined to have me come along to help them out in their efforts to promote Skies of Glass. There was a lot of generosity to Dan's offer. More than I'm willing to admit to in a public forum. Suffice to say, the man was generous and I was reluctant to accept.

And that is where the second person I need to thank comes in. My wife, Julie is really the one to blame for all this. She encouraged me to go. Said it would be good for me. Said it would good for me to help out. To enjoy my hobby. She was willing to have me take my vacation days for myself, rather than the whole family. To add to this, I left for Gen Con not long after Julie and the kids returned from a 3-week trip to our hometown. It was a great reminder as to why I married her.

So to both Dan and my wonderfully incredible wife Julie, I send out a 'Thank You.' Without either, I wouldn't have gone this year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gen Con 2007
Some Other Notes

There was so much to the Con this year that it would be hard to recount all the stories. Of the several cool things worth mentioning, one was the fact that the day I was leaving for the Con, I learned that friends of mine from my old hometown were going. These were guys I'd gamed with for years, but haven't stayed in close contact with since moving about a year ago.

I made a vow to try and find them or call them while at the Con, but I didn't have to. They found me.. and by accident.

I was running my first session of Skies of Glass, when I turned to look and saw my good friend Shayne standing right there. It was really good to see him. He was at the Con playing mostly Living Arcanis events, but after a small chat, we agreed to try and meet up for a beer or two. Over the course of the Con, I ran into the other two guys. It was a brief, but wonderful reunion.

Though we played a great game of phone tag, we never did meet up.

Perhaps next year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gen Con 2007
Last Day - Make It Count

This was me on Saturday Morning...

I only had two scheduled players show up for Saturday's session, Eric and Dan. Eric had played before, but Dan was new. We had a third ask to sit in, after his scheduled event never materialized. Like the previous two times, this event went well. I was once again lucky.

After the session was done, it was off with both Eric and Dan to the Catalyst session about Classic BattleTech. Got a good read on what I need to do over the course of the next year. I left that session more determined than ever.

By now though, it was 4pm, and I had only two hours before the Exhibitor's Hall closed. I still needed to shop for my kids. I got that taken care of, then this happened.

What are ya gonna do?

I still had a bit of freetime left, so I watched a bit of this. It was kinda cool.

The hall was closing down not long after this, so I swung by the Catalyst booth to say my goodbye's to both Loren and Randall at the Catalyst booth. Both encouraged me to get something in. I promised I would. Randall then shocked me by pulling an obscure memory from a Gen Con seven years ago. I was both shocked and amused.

Leaving the Hall, I headed back to the hotel, and got all my stuff together. Gen Con goes through Sunday, but I was leaving at 3am Sunday morning, so this was my last day. I grabbed some dinner and headed down for the podcaster Meet & Greet. A chance for podcasters to get together and meet their fans and each other.

It was a good time. I got to meet a lot of fellow FtB forum posters. It was nice to put faces to names. Here's a shot of John, me and Adam.

The Meet & Greet wound down. I still needed to cover one more event.

I left the party early because I wanted to spend a bit more time with the folks that helped make it possible for me to be here this year.

I got back not long after the fan episode of Fear the Boot. From there, it was just hanging out until I had to head back to the bus depot.

I won't bore you with the trip back, except to say that it was long and a struggle for me to find any kind of sleep. The only excitement came when I almost missed my connecting bus in Chicago. Not good excitement, mind you.

I came home to awaiting arms of a happy wife and children. I was thrilled to see them as well.

As I have said, this Gen Con was easily in the Top 3 I've ever been to. I look forward to goign back next year (we hope).
Gen Con 2007
Once More Into the Breach - Friday

Thursday evening was spent well enough. I was pulled along to the "podcasters only" party at the Hard Rock. Though I do not have a podcast and only very peripherally associate with one, I chose to change my name to "Bob Coattails" for the evening.

It was a good party, but sadly in a too small room, and very loud. I was able to chat for a bit with Mike Stackpole, and Tex from Fear the Boot. I was impressed by the number of people and influence that Daniel Perez seems to have amongst the podcasting group. Cool.

Eventually, Adam, John and I left that room, and just grabbed a table to kill time. When Dan finally extracted him self from the party, we all headed back for the hotel. Adam and his friend Paul and I spent about an hour in the hot tub, just chilling out (a bit contradictory, I know).

Weird story of the day comes right about here. In the pool area were two people who apparently worked at the Lego booth at Gen Con (I never found that booth, btw). Anyway, this man and woman apparently were not staying at the hotel we were at. Instead, they were living in a van on top of a nearby parking ramp. I was hoping it would be down by a river. Anyhoo, both had decided to take advantage of the hotel's showers. They were using them to clean up, then they were back off to the parking ramp to sleep or party, or both. Who knows?

Friday found me back up early, and I decided to hit the gym, before breakfast and the Con. I left behind Dan, his brother Tex, and John, all snoozing. After workout and a shower, I ran into Adam and we hit Mickey D's for breakfast.

I like Adam. Many times during the con he and I gelled on a number of topics, most notably getting cheap food.

Anyway, breakfast, then off to the Exhibitor's Hall once again (my favorite place). My next session was at 2pm, so I had some time.

Made the stop by the Catalyst Games booth to get in touch with my old BattleTech contacts to say 'Hi' and to let them know I was really serious about writing. The encounter went well. I was encouraged.

Also took some time to find my event location. That was the big trouble this year. Gaming events were all mixed up it seems. My event on Friday was listed in three different locations.

I eventually did find my location (several blocks away), and people started to show up. The bonus on this event was that three people just showed up to play, having chosen the event at random. These folks were not podcast listeners, nor had they even heard of the podcast. This truly shocked me. They wanted to play, and I was happy to oblige.

The sad part of this is that one of the guys from the day before who was there to play again, willingly backed out of the event as the table became overfilled. Bob was and is still a good man.

The event went very well, and even though it was the same adventure I ran from yesterday, the outcome was completely different than the day before. This was actually a new experience for me as a GM. It taught me a lot about writing adventures and what to think about and plan for. I find it very cool after the 25 years I've played RPGs that I can still learn lessons like this.

It was kind of funny. I noticed that both this time and on Thursday when I ran the event I was very nervous. I think it had a lot to do with the players. You never know what kind of players and player types you are going to get. The GM mood can set the tone for the session, so I did my best to make sure the table stayed motivated and fun. I was not disappointed.

Friday evening found us at the ENnie Awards, where we watched lots of independent game companies win the awards. One game that stood out for me was Qin ("chin"). I'd never heard of it, but it looks gorgeous. Also got to watch Dan give a brief talk about the impact that podcasting is having and will continue to have on the RPG industry. He's a well-spoken man (if not a bit long winded) :) That video to come soon.

A bunch of us cut out of the ENnie awards early, and back to the hotel room to record an episode of Fear the Boot. Eventually, I went to bed... very late, knowing full well I had to get up by 8:00am the next morning.

Here's another walkthrough video.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gen Con 2007
More On Thursday

After running the first Skies of Glass session, it was off to grab some quick lunch than finally to the Exhibitor's Hall.

The Exhibitor's Hall is truly a sight to behold. Huge, filled with people and games, it really is the best part of the Con, because you can not only partake in demos, you can buy all kinds of stuff.

Here's a few walk-throughs

Finally, I have my photo album from the Con. You can view it all below.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gen Con 2007
Thursday Morning

An update and some shots of the early Cardhalla work.

I did eventually find my room, and was able to sit down for my first convention event in over 10 years. Yow. Fortunately, I got lucky and had two great players show up. I needed four, but both of these guys (Fear the Boot listeners and forum posters) wanted to play, and I wanted to GM, so we did the time-honored gamer tradition of "winging it." Each player ran two characters. It went very well. We all had a blast. Received some good, positive, feedback about the rules and the scenario. I was happy.

Here's some video of the Event Registration line at 7:10am on Thursday. These guys start early and are hardcore. The video itself may not be exciting, but I do catch one guy cutting in line.

Gen Con 2007

To any gamer, Gen Con is a Destination, but also a Journey. Very few gamers can get to Gen Con easily, without a tale or two to tell.

This was my first time going to Gen Con in several years. Every other year involved a Road Trip with friends, but not this year. This year I took the bus. Yes, a big 'ole greyhound. So, come along...

I'm traveling through eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. It's not the interstate, it's not even a major highway. It's winding roads, through cattle farms, cornfields, and small towns that seem almost forgotten by modern world.

My iPod is my companion.I listen to Superman's Song by the Crash Test Dummies, All the Wild Horses by Ray LaMontagne and I Pray For You by Big & Rich as my shuffle feature seems to know what to play to match the scenery.

My bus is about half full, filled with a good cross section of folks; old & young, mother & kids, poor and almost as poor, and me. Mrs. Doubtfire plays on the in-bus video system. Robin Williams is supposedly a Warhammer player, so I find this strangely appropriate.

Our driver, a woman with a happy disposition looks like Sam Kinnison.

We stop in the middle of Illinois-nowhere for a smoke/bathroom/McDonald's break. I opt for a piece of beef jerky and a Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, because it's cheap, yet the siren smell of fries is tempting. I remind myself of the junk food I'll be eating for the next four days or so, and the temptation goes back to its naughty corner... for now.

We get stuck behind someone who views the speed limit on this single lane road as something optional. Suddenly my looming three hour layover in Chicago seems not so long.

My daughter calls me. It's obvious she misses me (though only gone for a few hours), and I am unnecessarily short with her. I recover, but become worried about the life of my crappy cell phone battery. We still share a pleasant exchange.

I turn back to reading a book about advertising given to me by boss. It is interesting, but the road monotony makes me sleepy.

We stop in Dubuque, Freeport (a real town, not the Green Ronin product, though I find it game-ingly appropriate) and Rockford, IL to pick up more people. By Rockford, the bus is pretty full. My discomfort starts as a guy sits down in front of me and promptly puts his seat back into my knees. I spend the rest of the trip at an angle.

Finally we reach Chi-town. The skies are stormy dark, and the bus depot is a scene of chaos. Hundreds of people talk in a variety of languages, as they wait in queue for their bus. A modern-day Babel. After ordering a double hamburger from the bus station greasy spoon, I join them.

I stand for a welcome two hours, people watching. Mothers with their kids close by (or not), Old folks, businessmen, families. I watch group of Amish waiting in chairs. They eat Doritos and drink from large thermos coolers. I change my perception of them. I am pan handled. Some guy gets into an argument with security. I'm asked more than once to watch someone's place inline or bag. I must have that kind of face.

Finally we board. It is a capacity bus, and Fate places me in an aisle seat, my chances of sleeping become virtually nil. I talk to the guy next to me, and learn he's traveling from Marquette, MI to Gainsville, FL. A 3-day trip. Yow. I also learn about his recent history and how he came back home to Michigan only to find his girlfriend in bed with another man. He tries to sue her, and loses. Through various twists and turns in his saga, he loses 10K. He's going to Florida for a new job and a new life.

We reach Indy and I make my way to the hotel. I am panhandled... twice more. I finally make it to the hotel, meet Daniel Perez for the first time in person. He's just and genial in person as he is in forum posts and e-mails. I settle down on some couch cushions and get 2 hours of sleep before I'm up again and off to the Con.