Monday, August 26, 2013

Gen Con Day 4

Editor's Note: So this is late, huh? There are a couple reasons for this: I was tired on the last day, and thought "oh, I'll just post it tomorrow morning." Then, I realized that I probably wouldn't have the Internet on my last day, after all why would I pay for an Internet connection that I'll only use for an hour. Turns out they extended my Internet to the last day. Anyway, work and re-acclimatization to life on the West Coast got in the way of this long-awaited update.

On my last day here at the con I got up early to wait in line at the D&D area in the hopes of getting in on one last RPG. What luck! The line-up was a grand total of twelve people ahead of me. Unfortunately, they want my DCI/WPN/RPGA number. It's been years (pre-4th edition) since I've taken part in an RPGA event and I've, understandably, forgotten my RPGA number. The organizer tells me not to worry, they have a computer on which to look this stuff up. The problem is that the only Carotenuto in the system is some dude from Florida, or something. The lady looked down at me from the podium and shrugged. "You'll just have to sign up for a new number."

A new number? With a new card without the Red Wizard of Thay on it? A new number with a million digits instead of the handsome seven? Oh no, this won't do. Back to the line I went. I sat in that line wracking my brain as to what my number could be. I used to use it twice a month for years when I ran Living Greyhawk events for Strategies. Right before I was called in to go sit at my table (A1), I remembered!

Incorrectly, it turns out.

I was off by 2 digits. My last number should've been 2 not 0. Oh well... I didn't need any points, or perks, or whatever from the event anyway. It was fun without rewards.

So, D&D Next. It's good. Lately I've been drifting further and further towards simpler systems for RPGs. It began with the drift to Pathfinder from D&D4 (which I heartily enjoyed), and continues with my desire to simplify my game more and more.

I played a halfling rogue (Zanzibar), and it was our task to defend Candlekeep (in the Forgotten Realms) from cultists and a dragon. Rad! It was very well run. Each table had six players, and there were four tables that were grouped near each other. The actions of one table would have effects on the other tables as well.

What I liked about D&D Next (I really hope they change that name) was the lack of feats, and the overall power-level of the game. PCs in D&D4 were very survivable. Something I enjoy from Dungeon Crawl Classics is the overhanging mortality that permeates the game. It keeps things interesting and risky, and does get mitigated somewhat in the higher levels.

After D&D, I strolled over to my next event which was a Bolt Action game, which began early and without me. I shook my head and began to leave to find some other game to occupy my last four hours of the con with. I was okay with this, however. The game didn't look that interesting and I've hardly indulged the board game side of the hobby yet.

I meandered over to the  Fantasy Flight Games gaming area and managed to get a game in of Legends of Andor. The game was awesome, the demo person not so much. The guy literally (and yes, I'm using that right) fell asleep at the table. My natural shop clerk instincts took over and I finished us through the demo, which was a smooth and exciting co-operative game (it won the Kennerspiel des Jahres for this year). Man! I should volunteer to run demos for FFG next year, I've been demoing games for almost a decade on no sleep.

So with my last two hours I walked through the dealer's hall looking to see if I'd missed anything previously. I talked with some mid-west retailers about out-of-print gaming supplies, and now I have more lines floating out there in the never-ending quest to build my expansive gaming library.

So that's it! That's my Gen Con experience. I loved it. I couldn't believe how much fun it was to just be around people energized about the same things I was. I'd been to PAX Prime, and smaller conventions, but my passions had always lay in tabletop gaming, rather than video gaming, comics, or fan culture, and for me this was it. I'm definitely going next year (I already put some money aside), and I'm sure I'll manage to get even more games in, now that I understand the whole flow of the convention better. Who knows, I may even decide to run something...


P.S. Here's a link to the gaming-related photos.
P.P.S. Here's a link to the non-gaming-related photos.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gen Con Day 3

Whelp, the best four days in gaming are almost over, and boy could I do with a few more days. At least I found out what all the noise outside at night is about... Motorcycle convention.

Today was chock-full of non-gaming-related gaming activities. I started my day off bright and early with Lisa Stevens' seminar where she reminisces about her gaming career. Now I know that there are few people who are into the history of gaming as much as I am, but I still find it incredible that only 18 people were in that room. Anyway, Lisa Stevens has been a part of, and/or helped found, most of your favorite RPG companies. She helped found Lion Rampant and White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, and Paizo. Needless to say, her stories were really good.

Then I dashed off to see the Onyx Path seminar where they spoke about their upcoming schedule. It wasn't horrendously fascinating but I love White Wolf/Onyx Path (as every soul reading this blog knows) and so it was nice to hear about some new products. Here's a summary:

+ Every setting for nWoD is getting a rules update in the form of a "God-Machine"-style book and campaign.
+ Wraith 20th anniversary is a go!
+ Vampire: Dark Ages (as opposed to Dark Ages: Vampore) is getting a 20th anniversary treatment which will be a stand-alone product.
+ Every goddamn thing is getting at least one supplement. There will even be a book that has nine chapters for all nine nWoD settings (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Promethian, Hunter, Geist, Mummy, and Demon).

That's all I can remember from that. Sorry if there are any Werewolf fans reading this, I tend to glaze over Werewolf.

Next I ran across the hall to go to Green Ronin's Dragon Age seminar. Now I know nothing about the video game, and I just picked the RPG up yesterday, so a lot of the seminar went over my head, but an interesting bit is that Green Ronin is going to debut their revised Age system next Gen con. Now this will exist independently from Dragon Age, but it will also be a revision of the rules. Pretty much, it gives them a "setting-neutral" system to work with. They'll have their own setting attached to it. I hope they still sell it in boxes.

Next I spent more dangerous (to my wallet) time in the dealer's room. There, I ran into Doug Kovacs and Scott Mathis and they invited me to another DCC game. Unfortunately, and embarrassingly, I forgot which hotel lobby it was to take place in. I ran around looking at all of them, but couldn't find anyone. I thought I saw one of the guys who was supposed to be playing in it just walking around so I assumed it didn't materialize. Oh well...

The night wasn't a total loss, though, I managed to catch "Five Year Mission's" set. They're a Star Trek-themed indie band from Indianapolis, and they're pretty rad! I walked away with a shirt and their sophomore album. I'll link to them when I'm in front of a computer.

Now, I'm in bed, ready to do some reading of Dragon Age and then go to bed. I know it's early, and I feel lame for not getting in some late-night gaming, but I figure I should at least attempt to start my day early enough for breakfast at least once this trip, no?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Gen Con Day 2

Huzzah! Another awkwardly-typed post from my Nook!

What happened today? Well, to begin, I over-sleept my alarm by a couple hours on account of the delicious flagons of dwarven ale I quaffed at the D&D party the night before. No matter, however, that was just some wiggle room I had before a BROM seminar I attended.

Now the BROM seminar was pretty technical from an art perspective (and an artist I am not), but it was really cool to hear him talk. BROM is one of my favorite artists of all time, and his clever (and amusing) panel was really a treat to hear. He's a big Norman Rockwell fan.

After that I hit the dealer's room again and did some purchasing of vintage D&D books. I bought a couple Mystara gazeteers and a Dark Sun supplement for AD&D (I guess I was all jazzed-up on BROM!) I also stopped by the Green Ronin booth and picked up the 1st Dragon Age boxed set. Holy shit is this a fantastic product! Not only do I approve of the box and the layout, but I gotta run this game

Whilst I was parting with my hard-earned coin, I received a text from Goodman Games. One of the people writing a supplement for Dungeon Crawl Classics was running a game. It was for his forthcoming product: Transylvanian Adventures. It's a "Hammer Horror"- the ed supplement wherein you adventure in the 19th century. Now I read an article about Gen Con saying that an attendee should never say no to any game offers, and so even though it would conflict with my White Wolf panel on the New World of Darkness, I decided to play. I definitely don't regret it.

The GM (or Judge) was the writer Scott Mathis ( who was a very engaging and flexible GM. I'm glad I'm getting an opportunity to play RPGs with so many different GMs, because it's easy to get stuck in one kind of style, and I'm learning a lot from watching these GMs work and by interacting with them.

Anyway, I had to duck out 10 minutes early so I could make it to my Dark Age tournament, but I had a blast, and anyone reading this should check out Transylvanian Adventures on when it's released in autumn.

Afterwards I rushed out to sign in for the Dark Age tournament and played in three of the four rounds (I got a bye on the final round). Though I lost every game, I did come close in two of them, and it was great to play some games against people I've only ever known on the Internet.

The Dark Age tournament wrapped up at midnight and for the last little bit of the evening I retired to my hotel room where I poured over today's acquisitions (and listened to what a Friday night in Indianapolis sounds like. Yeesh! I know this is a big racing town, but I guess the weekend's the time when all the civilians can bring out their loudest and fastest...).

Tomorrow is mostly panels with some Block War boardgaming thrown in. I'm hoping to find some more role-playing to get in on, and I bet just loitering around the D&D area will at least give me one opportunity.

Until tomorrow night...


P. S. If my boss is reading this, I'm already requesting next Gen Con off.

P. P. S. If any interested friends are reading this, I'm definitely not coming alone next year either. Start lookin' at flights.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen Con Day 1

Day 1 of Gen Con under my belt as I lay on my hotel bed and awkwardly type out this post on my Nook.

Today I hit the dealer's hall in full-force, blowing through a lot of my "want list." I walked away with some Dungeon Crawl Classics modules, the new Dark Age rulebook and supplement ("Conflagration"), The God-Machine Chronicle from White Wolf/Onyx Path and, after waiting an hour-and-a-half in Catalyst Game Lab's line-up, Battletech: Alpha Strike.

But Gen Con's not only about putting more stress on my bookshelf; it's about playing games and going to events. Today I had a chance to try out the playtest rules for WW/OP's new World of Darkness game, Demon: the Descent. It was pit on by a demo team called "the Wrecking Crew" and was lots of fun. The system and setting really integrates the new "God-Machine" mythos that's at the center of this revision, and the guy running the demo was definitely a pro.

Afterwards, I had some relaxation time which I used to eat and head back to the dealer's room. This time, I was free of many of the lines that plagued the room before. I found it particularly amusing how short the line-up at Privateer Press' booth was. When the doors opened, it wrapped around other booths and out against the wall. This time I was able to casually walk in and grab the item I came there for.

In the evening I went to this beautiful theater across the street to the highest floor where Wizards of the Coast was putting on a dinner for Dungeons & Dragons. There were guests like Scott Kurtz (from the PvP and Table Titans webcomics), Troy Denning (co-creator of Dark Sun), R. A. Salvatore (of Drizzt fame) and all the D&D games designers.

I was going to troll the floor for some after-hours gaming, but instead I'll leave that for tomorrow. Tonight I have to sleep off some of those drinks from the D&D party.


P. S. Like I said in an earlier post, I can't upload my camera photos and I can only use Instagram when there's wi-fi. As such, my cellphone pictures should be up  (@carminlive on Twitter and 'steelrabbit' on Instagram) but those aren't all of my pictures! I'll maven to wait until I'm back in Vancouver to do my camera photos, unfortunately.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gen Con Preamble

Tomorrow (August 13th) I leave for Indianapolis, for America's largest tabletop gaming convention. Since I'm notoriously bad at updating this thing, I've determined to post at least one thing a day, even if it means just posting a list of things I've done.

Some hitches, however: I won't have a laptop with me, since my laptop is kaputt. I will have a tablet with me, so I can update this blog with words, but I'll have to find an inventive way to get pictures uploaded onto the blog since I'll be using a digital camera and not my phone (which is kinda so-so). At the very least I'll have some pictures to post on the 19th when I get back.

Also check out my Twitter feed (@carminlive). It should have more updates on it.

Do keep in mind though, that unlike many of my generation, pictures and tweets aren't my primary focus. I'm perfectly content to experience something and move on, keeping nothing but the memories imprinted on my grey matter (I don't really know how the brain works, by the way). I have to go out of my way to share my experiences with others, so don't be disappointed if my tweets amount to a total of two on one day.

See you stateside!