Friday, September 13, 2019

Fear and Loathing in Indianapolis: GenCon 2019

"I looked pretty bad: wearing old Levis and white Chuck Taylor All-Star basketball sneakers… and my ten-peso Acapulco shirt had long since come apart at the shoulder seams from all that road-wind. My beard was about three days old, bordering on standard wino trim, and my eyes were totally hidden by Sandy Bull's Saigon-mirror shades.

"But my voice had the tone of a man who knows he has a reservation. I was gambling on my attorney's foresight but I couldn't pass a chance to put the horn into a cop: and I was right. The reservation was in my attorney's name. The desk-clerk hit his bell to summon the bag-boy. 'This is all I have with me, right now,' I said, 'The rest is out there in that white Cadillac convertible.' I pointed to the car that we could all see parked just outside the front door. 'Can you have somebody drive it around to the room?' The desk-clerk was friendly. 'Don't worry about a thing, sir. Just enjoy your stay here – and if there's anything you need, just call the desk.' I nodded and smiled, half-watching the stunned reaction of the cop-crowd right next to me. They were stupid with shock. Here they were arguing with every piece of leverage they could command, for a room they'd already paid for – and suddenly their whole act gets side-swiped by some crusty drifter who looks like something out of an upper-Michigan hobo jungle. And he checks in with a handful of credit cards! Jesus! What's happening in this world?"

— HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


My scribbled notes, shattered checkbook, and dangerously-stacked shelves imply Nicole and I attended Gen Con 52 (August 1-4, 2019).

(If you want previous after-action reports, you can read about Gen Con 49 and Gen Con 50. They haven't aged particularly well, but such are the vagaries of life on this wretched internet of ours. What's that old Lynn White quote about the Dark Ages? "If it was dark, it was the darkness of the womb?")

I'll keep this one comparatively short.

Wednesday

The drive to and Indianapolis was accompanied by The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories. (We have minimal exposure to the Forgotten Realms, so it was an amusing diversion. And totally worth it to hear Ice-T say, "Menzoberranzan," over and over again.) When we ran out of audiobook on the return journey, we transitioned to Queen, as one does.

Dispatches from liminal spaces.
We eventually traversed the wastelands and arrived in Indianapolis. We had to rush to pick up materials for a game I was running Friday morning, but I did get an unexpected Exhibitor badge and a bunch of swag from Atlas Games, so that was pretty sweet.

Seriously, folks: run for Special Ops. It's clear they're still working out some of logistics, but they take great care of you.

Ol' Johnny Two-Badges
We were originally going to go to the Gong Farmer's Almanac stapling party, but it wrapped early, so we went back to the room.

Thursday

Here's the most important part of the weekend: there was a cat who clearly lives around our hotel. She was incredibly sweet, and we took to visiting with her each day and calling her Gen.

Oh, to be a little Gen Con cat.
We headed to the Exhibition Hall, and I finally encountered No Rest for the Wicked in the flesh.

The baby comes home!
We also met Kalin Kadiev in person. A longtime Unknown Armies Fan Club member and an illustrator for Chaosium, it's been a long time coming. We continued around the Exhibition Hall and grabbed the standard array of stuff before we had to hustle to a No Small Crimes in Lankhmar game at 2 PM. It was fun! (Protip: if you're going to rob a house, make sure it's not a wizard's house. Things get dicey.)
We also had an opportunity to meet Mike and Shoe in real life (after playing in Ben L.'s Dreamlands game with them for a number of weeks), and she ran Six-String for us (which she talks a bit about here). We sadly didn't get far into the playtest, but we await the finished product with baited breath.

Friday

I was running Maria in Three Parts for Unknown Armies at 8 AM, so we had to turn around and head back to the convention.

I will freely admit: it wasn't my best work. The adventure has a lot of moving parts, and in the shuffle, I skipped one which would have enhanced the runtime. But as it was, they managed to reunite the Marias and save the day, so it all worked out.

There was food and more Exhibition Hall. At some point, we encountered cosplay of Sweet from MCDM's The Chain stream.

Who is this under my knife?
Then, we returned to the hotel to change before the ENnie Awards.

Those are some ENnies.
Somewhere when I was getting drinks, Nicole met Janet Forbes of World Anvil and Michael Kesavan of DeadAussieGamer. Doubly exciting because World Anvil won an ENnie this year!

As you have no doubt heard, Chaosium swept the ENnie awards, although there were some notable others, with Mothership having an excellent showing. The winners are listed here.

Saturday

I was running Over the Edge at noon, so I dressed in my Al Amarjan best.

Thank you for your consent.
Under Broken Wings went more smoothly than Maria in Three Parts, I think. We had a rockstar woodwind player, his tiny fireplug of a bodyguard, a monster-hunting monsterfucker, and a thief who always lies. After becoming trapped in the Stately Arms, running into vein-creatures and rubbery hair monsters and a manic dentist named Dr. Benway, they managed to solve the strange occurrences and leave.

After that, we hustled to PST Productions' Once in a Lifetime LARP. (Amusingly, Once in a Lifetime was the very first PST game I played over a decade earlier.) If you want to see pictures of the event, they're over on Facebook.

Sunday

We headed to The Goodies and annual Goodman Games raffle. We also had the chance to meet with Max and Kate, both known to us from the Unknown Armies Fan Club. (And Kate's been playing in an online Unknown Armies game with us for a couple of months now.) Then it was back to the hotel room to prepare for the long journey home the following day.

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