Great custom table mats for demos
Sunday we broke camp at the hotel and packed everything into the truck before heading up to the ICC. We parted company about 9:30 as Sean went to go check into attending mass across the street at the lovely Catholic church, while Dan and I headed to a demo of the new Firefly Board Game in Hall D.
The components looked great and the game was shiny! We assembled crews and took on jobs to accomplish our goals in the 'verse. GF9 has done an awesome job with this one. I'm so happy that I picked up a copy first thing on Thursday morning.
Larry Elmore signing my D&D Red Box
Our demo finished up around noon. Dan took off to go check out some more games while I met up with Jon and headed to the auction house. Jon helped me close out my business there and haul some stuff out. Then I headed into the Exhibition Hall for one last mission.
After I had bought the D&D Red Box at auction on Friday, I had wanted to get it signed by the author and artist. I took the box to the OSR (Old School Renaissance) booth on Saturday to try and catch up with Frank Mentzer, but I didn't have any luck. So I headed back over there on Sunday and was able to catch him.
After a brief consultation with Frank about the value of the item (he is an expert on gaming collectibles), I decided to devalue it some by removing the 30+ year old shrink wrap. Some folks may be thinking I'm crazy for doing this, but for me this was something that is a personal memento. I decided that it was more important to have these signatures than to have a shrink wrapped copy.
I was like a ten year old kid again as I removed the plastic from the box. The contents were in pristine condition - it was something truly great to behold. Frank signed the inside of both books and he signed the back of the box. I thanked him for his time and I headed over to Larry Elmore's booth. Larry very graciously signed the cover of my box and the cover of my two books. He commented that he hadn't seen one of those in a while. He then flipped through the interior and reminisced about some of his interior art with me. It was a great moment, as I'm a huge fan of Elmore's art. I picked up a few 8x10 signed prints while I was at.
After saying my farewells to Larry, I met up with Sean and he took me over to see the large demo of Robotech RPG Tactics. The minis look great and we can't wait to get our copies of the game. Sean even plans on running some demos next year at MAG Con.
We then split up as I went to go make one last pass through the Exhibition Hall looking for any last minute treasure. On my way out, I ran into my buddy Jeremy Southard from Wastex Games. Jeremy is a game designer back here in Houston. He was helping out at the Third Eye Games booth.
I was late for the rendezvous at the truck and the guys let me know with a constant stream of heckling via text message. We headed out of Indy about 2:30 and made the long journey back home - tired but in generally good spirits. We finally made it back to Sean's place in Spring, TX about 8 AM. He was a real champion as he drove at least 12 of the 16 hours back home. We offloaded luggage and loot and parted company with vows of a return voyage next year.
Saturday we expected to see a swell in the attendance for GenCon as those who could not make it on the weekdays finally arrived. We arrived at the ICC just a little before 10 AM and the horde was massing at the gates of the Exhibition Hall. Although we had already seen much of the hall, Sean and I determined we would give another go at grabbing some of the Robotech limited edition minis. Dan wandered off to check out some demos and avoid the swarm.
We positioned ourselves at a side entrance that was fairly uncrowded. Then we studied the map to plot the most efficient course to reach the Palladium booth. As soon as the doors opened, we rushed to the booth. No joy - the line was already monstrously long when we got there and it continued to grow. We admitted defeat and decided to move on. Sean went to check out another seminar and I decided to roam the hall a bit more.
I met up with Dan and we hung out in the auction house for a bit watching the "RPG - Misc." segment. Dan was sorely tempted by some old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition stuff, but it was more than he was willing to pay. Dan really wanted to see the costume parade at 4 PM, so we headed over to the ballroom to get in line. We got there almost hour and half early, because Dan wanted to be towards the front. I wasn't real enthused about waiting around that long, but I had nothing else planned so I stuck around.
The show proved to be worth the wait. There was pre-show entertainment by a belly-dancing troupe. There were tons of great costumes in various categories and many of the contestants had little skits they performed. I had never been to one of these shows and I was impressed. The winners: some characters from StarCraft. Dan and I were rooting for the kaiju monsters - you should have seen Godzilla's tail sweep!
We got with Sean after the show finished up and headed to dinner at the Noodles & Co. about 7 PM. Wisconsin Mac & Cheese with meatballs - 'nuff said. After dinner we roamed back over to the ICC to explore some more. We happened upon the Pathfinder Society hall upstairs. Massive amounts of PFS being played. We saw the award winning minis on display. Then we found an open table and Dan taught how to play the new game Kings of Artifice. We had a good time trying this one out.
After the game, we headed over to Hall D and the D&D play area for a 10 PM game. Jon and one his con roommates, Jeff, met up with us and got in line. They had a pretty good line and were apparently short of DMs. The plan was that we all would get to play some D&D Next together. It got modified a bit when I stepped up and volunteered to run our table. Luckily I was fairly familiar with the Next rules. We had no dice or rule books among us. I got the scenario about 15 minutes before hand and prepped the best I could. We borrowed some dice from one of the other DMs.
The scenario was "Confrontation at Candlekeep". It was a delve with a battle interactive component. The first half of the scenario our table explored one particular part of Candlekeep. The last half we teamed up with all the other tables to fight a blue dragon. Most of the guys had never played Next and Jon had never played any rpgs. We had a great time and Jon's elven ranger struck the killing blow by shooting an arrow into the dragon's eye, thus saving Candlekeep!
Things went really well considering I was remembering the rules off the top of my head. We all walked away with a cool set of dice and I got an embroidered D&D dice bag as a DM reward. We all headed off to our respective hotels for some much needed rest.
The line on the right is for Palladium and the line on the left is for Fantasy Flight
Friday morning we headed down to the ICC. Sean and I had a seminar we wanted to attend at 9 AM. Dan was after a copy of the new Firefly Board Game from Gale Force 9, so he went to camp the door to the Exhibition Hall.
Our seminar was terrible. The people doing it were totally unprepared. After 10 minutes of hoping it was going to get better, we decided not to waste anymore time listening to supposed experts babble and we went to join Dan.
The masses were already forming up and anxiously awaiting the 10 AM door opening. When the doors opened Dan made a beeline for the GF9 booth, Sean a beeline for Palladium, and I made a beeline for Paizo. I was hoping to lay hands on a copy of the Pathfinder Card Game. Unfortunately, I was just a few seconds too late. Paizo only had 20 copies left on hand and I was going to be 22nd in line. I decided to head over to Palladium and meet up with Sean. On the way to Palladium, I passed the GF9 booth where a piranha-like frenzy of well over a hundred people was attacking the Firefly display. Luckily, Dan was one of the first to grab a copy before they disappeared.
I arrived at the Palladium booth and was surprised to find a huge line of people. Fortunately, Sean was pretty close to the front of the line and he was able to get the GenCon exclusive Robotech figures he coveted - many others did not.
I continued exploring more of the hall because I still had not seen all of it. Sean and I met up again at 11 for another seminar. This seminar was much better and had some good information. We could tell that theses folks had prepared. After the seminar we headed to lunch. Just outside the ICC were parked a number of food trucks, so we decided to give them a go for lunch. Lots of other folks were doing the same as us.
After a quick lunch while enjoying the great weather, we returned to the ICC. I headed back to explore more of the hall while Sean headed to another seminar. Over the next several hours I explored the myriad booths, took in the sights, and dropped some coin here and there.
While at the Indy Revolution booth I wanted to ask one of the people manning the booth a question. Just as I was about to speak to a lady working there, a figure darted in front of me and started chatting to her about a product. It took me a second to realize it was Wil Wheaton. My first thought was, "wow, it's Wil Wheaton how cool. I need to get a pic." I started firing up the camera, and then my next thought was, "Don't be a dick, ask the guy before you start going paparazzi on him from 2 feet away." So, I waited patiently while he finished, and then he began to dart out of the booth. "Mr. Wheaton," I called. He spun quickly made eye contact for a second and then someone else immediately pulled his attention away with a request for a picture. He responded, politely, that he was not taking any pics because he wanted to enjoy the show. Then he turned and rushed off into the masses with his bowed slightly to help conceal his identity. I then felt like a dick for for even thinking of bothering the guy while he was trying to be "normal." After witnessing how he had to move about so rapidly with his head down, I realized what a pain in the ass it must be to be in the midst of thousands of folks who wanted to pose with you like a tourist attraction. Still....it would have been cool to have a pic :)
After finally exploring all of the hall, except the artists alley, I met up with Dan over at the auction. They had a 2 hour block of nothing but old TSR rpg products. We had a great time reminiscing about these treasures and I grabbed a few of them up in the process. One that I had been wanting for quite some was a D&D "Red Box" and I was able to get one still in the original shrink. Better still, the auctioneer, Frank Mentzer, was the guy who wrote it.
We finished up the night with dinner at a restaurant close to the hotel, and then we returned to the hotel for some much needed sleep.
An early start to the day - we rolled out of the rack at 6:00 AM. After breakfast at the hotel, we drove to the ICC. The weather was great - cool and breezy.
Sean headed off to an 8:00 writing seminar while Dan and I waited outside the Exhibition Hall. My Trade Day badge gave me 9:00 AM access to the Exhibition Hall. Everyone else got access at 10. This is one great reason to get a Trade Day badge if you're a retailer or educator.
Folks were slowly massing in the hallways and soon the Trade Day early access line was huge. I hopped into line in hopes of making it to the Paizo booth before too many others got in their. Unfortunately, there was some confusion when I and a few others got to the entrance about whether we had early access or not. I got pretty upset as I watched the long line of people stream by while I had to wait at the door. This totally nullified the 30 minutes I had waited in line so that I wouldn't have to wait in another line once I was in. Needless to say I was pretty pissed off about that.
By the time I finally made it into the hall, the Paizo booth was packed. The new Pathfinder card game was Paizo's "hot" item. I decided to start at the Pelgrane Press booth instead. I picked up a copy of their much anticipated 13th Age RPG. 13th Age is a beautiful book and it looks like it is going to be a great system to play.
I then made my way to the Gale Force 9 booth. I needed to pick up a few copies of the D&D Next GenCon exclusive "Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle". This is the first official D&D Next product and it was starting to fly off the shelves. When I got to their booth I also had the pleasant surprise of seeing that the new Firefly Board Game was available. It seemed like everyone was toting around a Firefly game later that morning.
After GF9, I headed over to Palladium Books. Palladium just finished a kickstarter for Robotech RPG Tactics a miniatures game based on the hit anime series. They were offering a few limited edition GenCon exclusive models that I had to pick up. The minis looked great.
Privateer is overrun
I continued roaming around the hall. Then a low roar began that grew into a loud thunder. It was 10 AM and the hordes had descended upon the hall! The situation rapidly changed from one of being fairly crowded to one of almost human gridlock. It was something to behold the river of geeks that flooded the hall.
Frank Mentzer at the OSR booth
I stopped by the OSR booth and visited with Bill Barsh and Frank Mentzer. They had a great assortment of new products for use with AD&D 1st Edition. Bill and I chatted about one of his modules I had recently run at Space City Con, and I let him know how much fun we had. Frank showed off some of his new work with Eldritch Enterprises. I didn't leave their booth empty handed.
Dan, Sean, and I met up about 12:30 and walked several blocks over to Scotty's Brewhouse. Scotty's had a Pathfinder theme going on and they were offering special Dogslicer Ale t-shirts for sale. We had a great lunch and got to watch Galaxy Quest while we ate. The place was packed with geeks.
Troll Lord Games booth
We returned to the ICC and hit up the Exhibition Hall again. One of my first stops was at the Troll Lord Games booth where I had some great conversation with Todd and Steve. They showed me several of their new Castles & Crusades products and we talked about what projects were coming up. I also took the time to thank them for their sponsorship of MAG Con.
I continued exploring more of the hall after that. I met up with Dan after a while and we decided to make our way to a table where we could relax for a bit. We found a table by one of the concession stands in the hall and played a game of Wyrd's new Icons Showdown.
A Night With D&D - Sold Out!
Dan and I met up with Sean around 6:30 and headed to our big finale for the day: A Night with D&D. It was a murder mystery dinner theater set in Baldur's Gate. There were over 600 attendees who converged upon the Indiana Roof Ballroom just north of the ICC. The event was also the official launch of "The Sundering" story line which coincides with the gradual move towards the release of D&D Next.
The event was a lot of fun. Several authors, including Ed Greenwood, R.A. Salvatore, Troy Denning, Richard Lee Byers, and Erin Evans were in attendance and signing autographs. There were door prizes, music, and, of course, a murder mystery to solve. We finished up the night around 11:00 and headed back to the hotel to rest up for another fun day to come.
L to R: Sean, Dan, Dave, Jon
Sean, Dan, Jon, and myself headed out Tuesday evening at 8 PM. We faced a 16 hour long drive to Indianapolis, IN with only a few brief stops. The reward for the grueling journey: GenCon - The Best Four Days in Gaming.
The auction items begin to be amassed.
We arrived about 3 PM EST today. After dropping our stuff at the hotel, we headed down to get checked in at the Indiana Convention Center.
My first stop at the ICC was the Auction House. I had brought several items to place in the live auction and consignment store. A massive amount of items were being compiled for the auction, and the store was already full of treasure.
I had preregistered the items and the folks at the Auction House were on top of their game today. So after only about 15 minutes I had concluded my business there and was ready to go with the guys to pick up event tickets at Will Call.
When we got to Will Call we found the line was very long and rapidly growing. We were concerned that we would be stuck there for hours. However, after about 20 minutes we had our business concluded. They really had things moving along nicely.
TRAINS: a combo of Steam and Dominion
We headed over to the JW Marriott after getting our event tickets. Since I'm a teacher I was able to get a Trade Day badge. This allowed me to attend some special demos and seminars only open to Trade Day attendees. AEG was running demos of their new game TRAINS and I was able to acquire a free copy to add to the MAG CON game library. While explored some of the other companies products the guys amused themselves by trying out TRAINS. They really enjoyed it.
Finally, being thoroughly exhausted, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and crash out. Thursday is an early day and marks the official beginning of the con. The Exhibition Hall awaits us!
Avid gamer, historian, teacher, organizer of the MAG Con gaming convention, and owner of Ettin Games and Hobbies.