Tuesday, August 4, 2015

GenCon 2015: The Sweatening

When people asked me how I was or how my con was going this year at GenCon, my go-to response was "sweaty." For the first several days, it was hot as balls and I was running around crazy-like getting and keeping the IGDN booth going.

But this was the best GenCon I've had in years. It's the first time in quite a while that, when Saturday night rolled around, I found myself thinking "aw, I'm not done yet!" rather than "OMG I WANT HOME."

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. I didn't take a lot of pictures this year, but I took a few.


+Michelle and I got into Indy on Wednesday afternoon after a thoroughly uneventful drive. No traffic to speak of, no construction, it was glorious. We were driving a cargo van, stuffed to the gills with material for the booth and several boxes of Chill

Wait, do vans have gills?

First order of business: Set up the IGDN booth. We had help from lots of lovely people including +Joel Sparks+Andreas Walters+Jesse Butler, and others I'm forgetting, I'm sure. We only managed to get it about 70% done, though, because folks had to scatter for the evening (including me - I had a Chill game for backers that night!). 

But before that, a quick look at Cardhalla, under construction: 

And then a quick stop at an awesome little food truck called Karma Kitchen. 

And then the game! The game went really well (this was the "Regional Coordinator: Indianapolis" backer level; folks make characters, the incomparable +Timm Henson illustrated them, the equally incomparable [see what I did there?] +Thomas Deeny laid them out, and I ran the game). I whipped up a game set in Milwaukee (their HQ of choice) involving a Spectral Remnant shoving drunk college students into the river so it could "rescue" them, and then failing miserably. They managed to get it to actually save someone, and it passed on peacefully. 

Speaking of "passing on peacefully," by that point it was late and time to sleep. 


Thursday, we hit the booth, got the books set up, and got it lookin' pretty. 

And then I had a game to play in: World of Dew. Now, I'd run this game once, in order to review it, so I was looking forward to playing it and seeing how it worked with the creator. For the most part, it worked very much like it did when I ran it. 

The game was fun, and it was cool watching +Benjamin Woerner run it. I played a police inspector investigating a murder, but the particulars of the murder unfolded as we played (with player input). The group was...just OK. One of the players was playing a smuggler, and named him Han Solo (but, like, with different vowels so it was vaguely Asian or something). I get the feeling like the group didn't quite grok the tone that we were going for, but they came around as we played. My grade: A. 

Stabbin', shootin', noirin'. 

So then I had some time in the booth, selling books. It was pretty busy, which was nice. And then later on in the evening, I ran a game of Beast: The Primordial for some folks. It went pretty well; it was the same scenario I ran here. Some investigation followed by a short fight. No one played the vampire this time, but all five Beasts were represented. 

And then sleep. 


Friday morning, after a booth check-in, I had a Chill game to run. I ran Cold, Dark Earth again (one of my goals for this week is to get that up on the website for you, but if it doesn't happen this week it'll happen soon). We only had three players this time, so I was a little worried about them getting killed, but the players were smart, asked the right questions, did some strong research, and won the day. 

So then, I had a panel for the new World of Darkness, and some time to sign things at the Onyx Path booth, and then a game of Bluebeard's Bride

Now, I'd been looking forward to this game for while. It's an Apocalypse World hack created by +Sarah Richardson+Marissa Kelly, and +Whitney Beltr├ín. In it, you play aspects of the titular Bride's psyche, and wander Bluebeard's castle on the wedding night, opening doors and experiencing the horrors therein until you reach the final room and meet your fate. This game got under my skin like very little else has in a long time; I actually wound up playing it again Saturday night. 

Anyway, in our game, I played the Fatale, and got to revel in sensuality, which is kinda what I do anyway, so that was cool. We wound up escaping, but being rejected by our family and thrown back to Bluebeard. (I love tragic games, have I mentioned?) My grade: A

Sarah, trying to make us shudder in fear.
And then sleep!


Holy cats, Saturday already? I got up early to play in a game called Clockwork Dominion. This is a steampunk game, but with a strong existential, Matrix-if-it-understood-subtle thing behind it. The game uses cards instead of dice, but uses a custom deck with numbers from -5 to 5 on it, so you just draw and add your relevant stats. Our characters were teenagers in a gang called the Penny Reds, and there was a West Side Story plus human traffic thing going on. It was a lot of fun, the game was really nice looking and seemed to flow well. The group was nicely cohesive and the GM played well off of us. If I have a complaint, it's that she read from a script, but she had really good delivery so it wasn't as snooze-inducing as I usually find that particular practice. I went and bought a copy of the game afterwards. My Grade: A-

Game set up when we got there? Check.
Rescuing St. James from Mr. Dandy!
After that, I had a game of curse the darkness to run. I realized as I set up that it had been a solid year since I'd run the game, and I was worried that I'd forgotten how it went, but muscle memory kicked in just fine. The characters were in Vegas and searching for water, and wound up moving their whole community to a lake out in Minnesota after a disastrous run-in with some anti-Between folks looking to trade water. +Chris Shaffer died twice!

And then dinner with the IGDN folks at Mikado, where much sushi was consumed. And then back over to the convention center for the second game of Bluebeard's Bride (with +Cheyenne Wall-Grimes+Michelle Lyons-McFarland, and Christina, whom I don't have on G+). We wound up getting killed outright this time. It was just as awesome. 


So, for the first time in I don't know how many years, I was not ready for the con to be over. But c'est la vie. I ran my annual game of Clay-o-Rama on Sunday morning, for a table full of kids (unlike Origins, which was mostly adults). 

The construction phase. 
The victor, the mighty Pretzel!
After that, a couple of hours in the booth, and then a scant hour wandering the dealer's room, and then tear-down, and then dinner at Weber's followed by some really awesome discussions with +Mark Diaz Truman+Jason Pitre+Marissa Kelly+Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Mark Richardson+Jacob Wood+John Kennedy+Eloy Lasanta and probably some other folks I'm forgetting. 

And then, then next day, Michelle and I loaded the stuff from the booth into the van and then headed home again. The dealer's room looks creepy without any dealers. 

But here is the swag pile!

 Greatly looking forward to next year!