Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Report from GenCon 2015

Cardhalla, where attendees have built impressive structures from donated cards
             I have been to a lot of conventions and even worked for one, but I have never had a better time than I had this past weekend at GenCon.  GenCon’s motto “The Best Four Days in Gaming” is not hype; it is truth!  I hadn’t attended a convention in several years, and although I had attended Gen Con previously, I really didn’t do everything that I could have to make it the best experience. 
            I would like to start by thanking the entire GenCon staff for running such a great convention.  I know from experience that behind the scenes of any convention is chaos, but the mark of a great convention is that the con-goers never see that chaos.  I can’t say what the GenCon staff did or didn’t do.  All I can say is that I never felt their presence, and everything ran smoothly.  That in itself is an impressive feat for a convention of 60,000 plus attendees. 
A wonderful balloon artist built this over 4 days of the convention
            Next, I would like to personally thank the medical staff in the first aid room in the Indianapolis Convention Center.  My girlfriend had an asthma attack on Saturday afternoon, and they were not only quick to help, but very friendly and experienced.  They treated her quickly and professionally.  I don’t remember your names, but thank you very much for everything you did!
            The city of Indianapolis was amazing, too!  Everyone was friendly and you could really tell how excited the city was to have GenCon.  The hotel staff at the Cambria where I stayed were so nice and outgoing.  They asked about the convention, and although they are further out from the convention than some might prefer, I cannot recommend them more highly!  Everyone restaurant in the city was re-themed for the convention as well.  We ate dinner at the Colts Grille and they had hung banners for various games and given new names to their menu items paying homage to a variety of games, comic book characters, etc.   Not to mention they gave us free, Indiana Colts themed dice. 
            GenCon was not all fun though.  As many of you know, I am a freelance writer, and I spent many hours wandering the Exhibitor’s Hall meeting game developers and handing out as many business cards as I could.  I met other writers as well, including The Gentleman Gamer, with whom I had lunch alongside Neal Price, the developer of Scion.  I attended many panels on freelancing and learned a lot, made some new contacts, and really got a better sense of the path to being a better writer. 
I bought a ton of d8's.  I always need them when I play wizards.
            Of course, I attended the Onyx PathPublishing events!  And in a case of burying the lede, they announced Vampire:  The Masquerade 4th Edition!  Rather than being an homage to earlier editions of VtM like V20, this new version will update the mechanics and world much like Mage 20 updated that game.  Not much else is known about this edition, yet, but I will be keeping up with new information as it is announced.
            On the subject of Onyx Path Publishing, I would like to say that I have never met a nice group of people.  My girlfriend raved about how friendly and open you were.  She’s even talking about running a Werewolf:  The Apocalypse game in the future.  Your excitement for your game lines and the friendliness of your staff is both infectious and inspiring.  I always felt welcome at your booth, and I stopped by every day to meet someone new or just say hi to Eddy Webb or Neal Price.  (Btw, Neal, I’m really sorry I missed you Scion panel!)
Fantasy Age is a new RPG by Green Ronin and Baby Bestiary is an art book. 
            Other than the Onyx Path seminars, I attended several freelance writing seminars including Paizo’s and two lead by third party publishes like John Ling, Jr. from Frog God Games and Wolfgang Baur from Kobold Press among others.  I learned a lot about what it takes to be a freelance writer and especially how important it was to always have a business card on hand. 
            But GenCon wasn’t all work.  I played in the new D&D Adventurer’sLeague season adventure Harried in Hillsfar.  Our DM was great!  He kept the action rolling as we moved through the corridors of a strange temple.  
            I also played a new board game, Compounded, by Dice Hate Me Games.  It was so good that my girlfriend immediately bought the base game and I bought the expansion.  In Compounded, the players randomly draw elements and try to complete a variety of chemicals.  It’s a great game for anyone who enjoys science.  I think it’d be a great game for high school chemistry classes.  I highly recommend this one!
What is a convention without buying some old AD&D 2E books?
             Shopping took up a great deal of our time at GenCon.  My girlfriend bought a lot of art prints.  All of them are gorgeous.  I bought a ton of RPG books and new dice.  I wanted to get a copy of FFG’s new Star Wars RPG Force & Destiny, but the line was just too long.  I did get the new Green Ronin RPG Fantasy Age, and I can’t wait to read through that. 
            Of course, I bought plenty of older stuff, too, including a copy of Blue Rose.  I also found an old VtM module by Atlas Games called Blood Nativity and a copy of New Orleans by Night.  I had to control myself in the Exhibitor’s Hall.  The temptation to buy just everything was too great.  I limited myself to those items I knew that I would use in upcoming campaigns. 
            I also got a chance to meet my favorite podcasters, Kevin, Brady, and Dustin from UnderDiscussion.  They put on a great seminar for people interested in starting a podcast.  My girlfriend and I were able to chat with Brady and Kevin for a while after the panel too.  That was definitely a highlight of the convention for me. 
And of course, my White Wolf swag!
            The biggest surprise of the convention was sharing a bus ride with Richard Lee Byers, author of the Year of the Rogue Dragons Forgotten Realms book series (amongst many, many other fantasy books).  We had a great conversation on the bus ride back to our hotels.  I guess not staying in a downtown hotel closer to the convention really paid off!  I’m sad to say that I haven’t read any of Richard Lee Byer’s books, but I will. 
            That shuttle ride is also how my girlfriend and I made two new friends from California.  You know who you are!  I had a great time playing Compounded with you guys.  I look forward to seeing you at GenCon next year!


  1. Thanks for grabbing a copy of the Baby Bestiary, I hope you and your girlfriend enjoy it :)

    1. We both love it! She loves the art and picked up several prints from you. I can't wait to read it closely and see if I can use it in my upcoming campaign! Thanks for creating such a wonderful book!