Monday 9 August 2010

GenCon Dispatch

GenCon is over. Very behind on sleep but definitely one of the best ever. I had two goals this time: to hook up with the Old School crowd and to pitch my board and card game ideas to AEG.

Imagine that - the first time after going for some 10 years, playing L5R CCG, L5R LARPS and various boardgames, that I have actually played D&D at the nerdfest. This went down Friday night with an early evening romp through Caverns of Thracia as a somewhat demented druid, AD&D right down to the goldenrod sheets and Trampier screen, helmed by the pleasantly efficient "TacoJohn" Jon Hershberger and played by a cast of veterans (including, I believe, blogger Clovis Cithog) and one eager kid. Then back to the Hilton for my own heavily houseruled Basic run - my take on level 1 of the Castle of the Mad Archmage, till the late early morn. Bloggers Oddysey and Trollsmyth showed up with a couple of their friends and the rest of the 8-9 strong party was composed of Legend of the Five Rings CCG players, most of whom are also continuing D&D players of one stripe or another and most of whom had read up on the tenets of the OSR. I'll do a more extensive post on the game - what went on there was not just a huge blast as acknowledged by all, but has important lessons for how to handle different playstyles at the table.

Two hits but also two strikes; I went to an "old school seminar" Friday morning for which the presenter did not show up, chatted for a while with the other attendees about the old ways and days ... and sadly failed to make contact with Maj Dave Wesely for the run of the proto-RPG Braunstein that had been advertised.

And the design pimping goal? I can only give a cautious smile and optimistic thumbs up, but I think definite progress was made on that front too.

The rest of the con was eating, drinking, and socializing with L5R folks, helping some of my AEG colleagues demo boardgames in the boardgame hall, and the party for the 15th anniversary of L5R. In which it is proven that North Americans are indeed miraculously capable of running a competitive drinking event at a public gaming convention.

More later on the game and some thoughts about the publicity or lack thereof for the Old School movement.


  1. Odd about the OS seminar. Who was supposed to be presenting?

  2. According to the Stargazer blog (pre-GC), "Michael Shorten is listed as the event’s organizer and he left TARGA some while ago."

    You know ... the TARGA banner has not impressed me one whit so far.

  3. Ahhh. Chicago Wiz. That explains that.

    As far as I'm concerned, anything old school that happens next year should revolve around publishers, with support from individual bloggers rather than something as amorphous and poorly defined as TARGA. How much involvement I have in next year's Gen Con does remain to be seen.

  4. Yes, agreed. Financial stake trumps egoboo in the reliability department. Perhaps something as simple as an Old school "pilgrimage card" where you try to visit as many games and booths as possible?

  5. That could be cool. Trollsmyth and I also talked about handing out some scheduling info about old school games at whatever booth the publishers get, if they go that route.

  6. Yeah, I doubt the cost would make sense to most old school publishers unless a number of them went together on the costs and manning of a single booth. Probably something akin to Raggi did at Ropecon but with more actual people involved.

  7. That's basically what Expeditious Retreat Press and Black Blade Publishing did this year -- went in together.

    The booth, unfortunately, isn't the big cost for exhibitors. That would be transportation and lodging, multiplied by the number of people needed to man the booth. I suspect there are things that can be done to make that more reasonable, but to a certain degree it's a problem that the people who actually have money in the game need to solve.