Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Report from GenCon

Things I did not do at GenCon:
  • True Dungeon ((I must confess this oversubscribed event has little to no appeal for me)
  • Any kind of Wizards seminar (I see little useful information in pronouncements about the next edition 2 years pre-release while the current edition enters a preordained death march)
  • Buy T-shirts with marginally witty, embarrassing slogans
Things I did do at GenCon:
  • Play a lot of prototype and pre-release board and card games thanks to behind-the-scenes invites from colleagues at AEG
  • Get my own game design into the prototype cycle there, with some initial interest ... wait and see ...
  • Party and hang out with my usual people in the L5R community and meet a number of new and cool faces
  • Thursday night, play again with Tavis Allison as DM, another fun game of ACKS involving the investigation of the "old unused" dragon lair *uh huh*. The signal feature of Tavis' DMing, I came to realize, is that the party is not an entirely autonomus unit, but operates within a social structure of favors, errands and obligations to people both more and less powerful. This also comes through in the higher order social structures in ACKS.
  • Friday night, run a game for the L5R people I hang out with. The module used was Mike Monaco's one-page winner, Belly of the Beast. One page does not by any means equal one night! Even using pre-gens the party only got to explore the lungs and some of the artery before fatigue overcame them. Thanks to all who played and took over from exhausted colleagues. Another memorable physical dwarf-minis moment occurred when we established that one dwarf had a 10' long beard from long imprisonment (all the party members were convicts on a Dirty Dozen-style mission) and I used a piece of kleenex to represent this on the board when a wind blew it forward and back, or a giant bat got tangled with it.
  • Went by the old school booth and bought Anomalous Subsurface Environment and ACKS. I haven't really read ACKS extensively yet but like the advanced domain rules, simple economic systems and so on. ASE is great and worthy of a separate review later on. The booth was a little nondescript, with no real banner, and not quite the selection of material I was hoping for. I did see Tavis again and Beedo from Dreams in the Lich House with his two young boys, so the place did fulfill somewhat of the community meetup function. I guess I was more disappointed because of all the old-school bloggers who were at GC but I didn't get to meet. Can we think about just scheduling a meet-n-greet hour next year?
  • The closest to that was Tavis' seminar (by this time I am feeling like a stalker) where he laid down some history and theory of the movement. Saw Trollsmyth, who had played in my 2010 game, and Jon Peterson, author of Playing At The World.
  • Get tired enough that even a day after leaving I don't have the energy to fill in hyperlinks in this post. More reflections later, and picking up the series about chases again ...
  • Bought a factory-second battlemat and about 50 cheapo D&D plastic miniatures to round out the collection. Plus Zatchbell spellbooks and various dice. Still not sure what I will use the blank d20 for.


  1. OK, next year we need to wear nametags with our forum handles on them. I was at Tavis' seminar too, and I've seen a few others say they were, but had no idea who anyone was. I was the tall guy with his young daughter in tow. A few of us were talking afterwards about getting new-school players to try old-school games...

  2. 2014, folks. 2014. We should be planning it now.

  3. 40th anniversary? Why wait?

    Maybe if we just had some event that was titled "Old School Blitz" and instead of having the pretext of a seminar we had a parade of bloggers get up and share some of their best ideas. Kind of like the "data blitz" format of presenting studies within 5 minutes, in my field of psychology.