As previously noted, GenCon 49 (August 4-7, 2016) was the first for me and Nicole. Pretty early on, I determined you can only talk about those things at GenCon which happen to cross your field of vision. Before I begin, though, a general statement:
I managed to meet (briefly, of course) a bunch of industry people over the past few days. With no exceptions, everybody was particularly gracious and enthusiastic. (The most enthusiastic person I met is probably Sandy Petersen — it's hard to gush about your game in a way that makes it really intriguing without sounding pretentious or self-aggrandizing, and Sandy does both those things extremely well. He's pumped about it, and now I'm pumped about it.) I mention this, because I had the following anecdote from Monte Cook in mind before I went.
It was the summer of 1991, at the GenCon game convention. I was still fairly new to the industry and my friend, Rob Bell, the Champions line editor, was "showing me the ropes" at GenCon. He asked me if there was anything I'd seen at the convention that interested me. I said that there was a really interesting-looking game with a rose on the cover where you played vampires. I had been interested in vampires since I was very young. I had written a research paper on the topic in high school, and in so doing practically memorized the encyclopedia entry for "vampire." (There weren't a lot of source options back then.) While this was before the vampire and goth subcultures really existed, among some of my friends, I was known as the "vampire guy."
Anyway, Rob took me over to a little table with one guy behind it. On the table were arrayed a number of freshly printed Vampire books. Rob chatted with the guy behind the table and introduced me to Mark Rein*Hagen. I told him that I thought his new game looked amazing and gushed about it a little. He silently listened to me with an expression that spoke volumes: I wasn't telling him something he didn't already know. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rob give Mark a knowing look and motion with his head toward me. Mark sighed, and then said as condescendingly as I’ve even been spoken to, "Here you go, kid." He didn’t need to add, "Now get away from me, son. You bother me," because it was already clear.
That was both my first and my last interaction with Mark. I did (and still do) love and appreciate the book.
— Monte Cook, Monte Cook's World of Darkness, page 10
Nothing like that happened during this convention — everybody was uniformly rad, even if they were somewhat busy. (Incidentally, Mark Rein*Hagen was over at the Chaosium/Petersen Games booth, promoting I Am Zombie. I likely would've spoken to him, but there's a surprising amount to do crammed into four days, and I tried super-hard not to be an annoying fan. Maybe next time.)
Anyway, since it makes the most sense, I'll try to tackle the majority of this chronologically. Photographs by either Nicole or me.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
The trip to Indianapolis was spent taking turns driving and listening to most of The Disaster Artist. (It's just as good as you've heard.) It takes roughly ten hours to get to Indianapolis.
|This billboard is yuuuuge.|
|Trump and vasectomy.com? Truly this is God's country.|
|USA! USA! USA!|
|Pictured here hiding from the Trump billboard.|
|I've been in apartments smaller than this. My hat included to scale.|
Thursday, August 4, 2016
|Nicole by the welcome sign. Featuring someone's random legs.|
|If we didn't eat Cheesy Poofs, we'd be lame.|
|We also uncovered this infinite bathroom. Spoooooooky.|
|The first and only time you'll probably see my dumb face on this blog.|
|I don't even know what's happening.|
We also had the opportunity to talk to Robin Laws about Worldbreaker, a globe-spanning, apocalyptic campaign for Esoterrorists wherein the unthinkable happens and the esoterrorists come incredibly close to penetrating the Membrane. (Or possibly succeed, if your players fail.) We also learned about Fear Itself, 2nd Edition, at the Pelgrane booth. (I just learned that there's apparently a second edition for Esoterrorists, too.) I'll have to grab all these things at some near-future point, but I was largely budgeted for DCC at the convention.
Also also, we had the chance to talk to Sandy Petersen (and his wife, who was somehow even more gracious and excited than he was, if that's even possible) about his miniature games, Cthulhu Wars and Glorantha: The Gods War. He also teased an upcoming project that is a board game or miniatures game similar to his work on Doom, so that's exciting. We also managed to score some autographs from him. (And if I'd thought about it, I would have brought a bunch of Lovecraftiana to shove at him and get him to sign. Long-time listener, first-time caller.) Another situation in which I'll need to pick up more Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition stuff at some near-future point.
Also also also, this marked the fortieth anniversary of Judges Guild and Metamorphosis Alpha. As such, Goodman Games had birthday cards to sign!
The rest of the day was subsumed in wandering. We returned to the hotel to rest for the night's event: Glitter Guild Burlesque. It was very good, although Nicole really summarized it well — there were so many acts that the whole thing was a little rushed. The acts were all pretty good, although the people doing DC Comics acts (particularly the people from Plan 9 Burlesque) really stood out. Despite all that, the hands-down best act had to be Bazkua Joe's Speed Racer. The guy got a standing ovation for reasons I'm sure the following video cannot fully convey.
Of course, in our show, he didn't end with the checkered flag, but with only the helmet.
Friday, August 5, 2016
After a somewhat late night, we missed Zzarchov Kowolski's book signing at the Lamentations booth, but we did revisit the Goodman Games booth to get the tome signed by the band. We also got Aeron Alfrey and James Raggi to sign stuff. (And we picked up one of Alfrey's Baba Yaga mini-prints.)
|A wild Aeron Alfrey appears!|
|Located in this hotel designed to look like a train station. The creepy statues set the mood.|
|Girders. Again, train station chic.|
|Stained glass on the elevator ceilings.|
Greg Stolze, Cam Banks, Colleen Riley, Jeff Tidball, and John Nephew. If you followed the podcast blitz for UA3, there is nothing new or earth-shattering as Stolze discussed most of the revelations on the podcast circuit. Things include the idea of wiping away the metaplot as per Chronicles of Darkness, and tying the Shock Gauges into skills as per A Dirty World. Stolze's writing a new book (although he again said that the next Unknown Armies book has already been written, and it's Big Machine by Victor LaValle), and it's apparently going to be written in second person. So there's that. The Atlas Games crew also discussed probable release dates. They (unofficially, of course) expect to hit it earlier than April 2017, and they'll probably release ebooks and dice as they're ready. (They have to ship dice separately because adding dice to books throws them out of media mail and so changes the shipping charges.) The first three books are more-or-less in layout, and they're working on Book 4 and 5.
In personal news, they did a giveaway for your best Unknown Armies anecdote, and I won by describing my old Chicago game. ("A group in Chicago hunting ghosts and doppelgangers with their friend's magick-detecting erection.") I got a copy of Break Today on which everybody in the room (including the panelists) scribbled strange things.
Me, after winning that book.
We again wandered and rested, as we had a LARP at midnight.
|The teeming throng of humanity.|
Midnight was "Nundercover" by Kettle of Fish Productions. They cite it as Cthulhu LIVE 4th edition, but it's actually a super rules-lite variant. There aren't any stats (unless you can do something special on your character sheet, like the super-strong nun who can break limbs and knock people out); just take logical actions and they'll probably work. The big rule is that you get tokens, and you can spend them to establish facts. ("Fortunately, I hid a gun in the desk earlier!") If something bad happens, you also spend tokens to not die. Pretty simple.
The setup was everyone is in a convent, and some people there are not nuns. (I was playing Paul Giamatti, preparing for a role. Another player was playing Anne Hathaway with the same rationale. Nicole, on the other hand, was playing Regan MacNeil, who joined the clergy after her ordeal.) The big issue we found was that comedy games are really hard to do (or possibly just hard for strangers to enter; the regulars seemed to have fun with it) — it was wacky and zany and we had no clue what was happening most of the time. It was fun, but not the style of Cthulhu LIVE game to which we are accustomed.
|Return of the son of the teeming throng.|
We left the panel to go meet Zak S. at the Lamentations booth and get stuff signed, and managed to get there before the line got insane.
|Zak and Nicole|
|I'm pretty sure interrupting a D&D game is a sin, but it was cool to say hello.|
They talked some about Lankhmar and Michael Curtis' upcoming DCC supplement for that as well as some potential upcoming releases (like teasing Punjar 50,000), but the big news was the reveal that Goodman Games has the license for Dying Earth by Jack Vance with Jobe Bittman developing. It will be separate from DCC but broadly compatible.
With that, we returned to the hotel to prepare for the last day of Gen Con.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
We had only one mission today: the Goodman Games raffle. (We also got the pictures with James Raggi, seen in the Thursday entry. The camera always tells the truth, but it also always lies. Also, after days of attempts, we finally got our Kirk and Picard miniatures. Score! Also also, Nicole got a print of The Song You Sing by Nen Chang.)
The raffle, of course, began with awards:
|Joseph Goodman presents the Enter the Dagon II championship belt|
|Joseph Goodman presents the Carnival of the Damned trophy|
|Jim Wampler and Bob Brinkman with MCC Reliquary of the Ancient Ones tournament trophies|
|And the winners!|
|The Warlords of the Purple Planet trophy|
|And the winner!|
|It takes a while.|
And Nicole won. We got a rad piece of Stefan Poag art; you can see it on page 23 of DCC #92: Through the Dragonwall.
With that, we were on the road again. We finished The Disaster Artist before proceeding to Wigfield: The Can Do Town That Just May Not. (The audiobook is also as good as you've heard.)
|Also, the parking garage stored their Christmas garlands here. For some reason.|
|The Pathfinder room. Ye gods.|
|Some big, nasty thing from Malifaux, no doubt|
|Here be dragons. And 'looners.|
|This is Jack Burton...|
|...in the Pork Chop Express...|
|...and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.|
|An ogre, courtesy of coolminiornot.com|
|Life-sized, remote controlled Robo Rally.|
|A Klingon band, pictured here with an honorless Starfleet petaQ.|
|Those are some Dark Souls-style clouds in Indiana|
You already saw Cartman; here are some other cosplayers we found at Gen Con.
The Predator was with Jack Burton, which really raises the question of why we have not yet seen Jack Burton vs. Predator.
|Nicole was really excited to meet Robbie Sinclair|
|She made that scale armor.|
|These guys had Cartoon Network corporate backing, so maybe they don't count as cosplay?|
Gen Con was very fun, but I think you have to go once and stumble through it to determine how best to tackle it in the future. Trial by fire. Next year is the fiftieth anniversary of Gen Con (and, perhaps more importantly, Zak's party), so I think we're going to try to go. And do it correctly this time.
(Plus, Unknown Armies will have released by then, so I'm sure there'll be something awesome at Gen Con.)
Also, there is nothing that has gotten me more jazzed about DCC than interacting with the DCC band. I was originally going to run some games (first DCC, then Unknown Armies), then (probably wisely) decided against it. Next time, I'd definitely like to do so. (But I'll probably just stick to DCC.) Playing more games next time would be good. (Admittedly, a lot of that was because I registered late. Ah, well.)
One last thing, to reiterate: everyone we met was uniformly generous, helpful, and enthusiastic. Every industry professional to whom I spoke got me jazzed about some game or other. (Naturally, it helps that I talked to people whose games I already enjoy, but still.)
Be seeing you.