Although I would like to go, this year I am unable to make it to the mother of all roleplaying game conventions, Gencon. /_\
Since I live in California I have been multiple times to Orccon, Kublacon, Dundracon and GenCon SoCal. I have also run roleplaying games at Anime Expo, FanimeCon and San Diego Comic-Con. However, I have only been to the “original” Gencon once, in 2007. I went there with my friend Andrew, who is a writer for video game websites. (Luckily he also enjoys tabletop RPGs and played in my Antediluvia D&D campaign. \(^-^)/ ) Andrew took care of plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc. At the time I didn’t know so many people from forums, etc. so it was just us, on our EXPEDITION TO THE GORY HEART OF ROLEPLAYING!!!
The lines were really long and the floor was crowded so it was a pain carrying my backpack around. I brought a bunch of RPGs that I wanted to play or try out with people. The first thing I did was run around the convention floor looking for my favorite game designers such as Jonathan Tweet, Robin Laws, etc. Not all of them were there, but I got to meet a few people I recognized and gave them “demo CDs” of my Antediluvia campaign setting for 3e (the prequel to Neo-Pegana). (I prefer 3e to 3.5, but that’s another post…) The indy publishers and the Forge booth were some of the most fun parts of the con, although as usual I was disappointed by the number of people trying to sell RPGs using big-breasted women in chainmail armor, either in person or on the cover art of the modules (not naming any names -_- ).
Andrew went off to do video game stuff and mostly left me alone. All this time I was also looking for games to be in, of course, and for people who I could DM a game for. I bought a hot dog from a street vendor and he gave me too much change by accident, so I gave it back to him. While he was thanking me I took the opportunity to ask him if he played RPGs and if he would be interested in being in a game later. He said he wasn’t, but we did talk about RPGs and when I found out he was Christian I recommended the game Dragonraid (it has design problems but it is a decent ‘gateway RPG’ to convert people into gamers… it’s too bad there wasn’t a Left Behind RPG when that was big).
There are two problems with playing in games at GenCon. (1) There simply isn’t enough time to play everything. (2) Most of the official tournaments and D&D games fill up QUICKLY and I had neglected to sign up before the convention. /_\ I ended up having to choose between an unofficial demo of “Anima” by some Spanish guy, and a demo of some game called “Reign” by Greg Stolze. How I wish I had chosen the “Reign” demo! The “Anima” game was run by one of the worst DMs I have ever encountered. Some of the players were late so he kept complaining and complaining about how “it’s their loss if they didn’t show up” and “well, I guess we’d better get started, even though we’re missing some people”. It made all the other players (including myself) feel uncomfortable and feel like he didn’t care about US, all he cared about was filling his quota of 6 players for the demo. (There were 4 players including myself.) A good DM is always “in the moment” with his players and never compares them to other players in person, or talks about players who aren’t there, this is just rude. Secondly, I was looking forward to an original adventure, but the game he ran was a heavily modified version of the Invisible Fortress adventure from the “Exalted” supplement “Time of Tumult.” Thirdly, he was just a bad DM and a bad speaker. I enjoyed “Anima” itself but his terrible DMing left a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the convention, and when I look back I wish I had gotten to try out “Reign”, which I now know is an excellent RPG.
More GenCon 2007 memories tomorrow!!!