Thursday, August 11, 2016

GenCon 2016: There Isn't Really a Theme

First thing's first.

What Gamer Most Affected the Way You Play? Ooh, good question. There are a lot of possible answers here. I think I've gotta say Harvey. Harv was a guy I met in Toledo, and I would up playing in his weird-ass World of Darkness homebrew thing. My buddy Mike played a werewolf, I played an elder vampire (I mentioned Nehemiah a couple of posts ago), another guy played a reformed Progenitor clone, there were a couple of mages, a dragon, a Gaki was wild.

But the takeaway here was the value of patience as a GM. Harv was willing to let the world unfold as it would, to let players' plans work (this is huge, guys), and to play his NPCs appropriate, but with an eye toward how the PCs' arcs worked. Also, he shut up and listened while the players were talking in-character.

Right. And now, GenCon.


We left on Tuesday. I don't have any pictures. We drove separately this year; I drove the big honkin' Uhaul truck and +Michelle drove the car with her boys. Driving, nothing much to report. 


Now we're talking! Wednesday was "set up the freaking booth" day. 

But first, Patachou.
Setting up the booth was easer with help, and we had a bunch of IGDN-ers and their respective spouses, partners, and so on to help us unload the truck, get the gridwall up and lashed together, and so forth. 

Here's one "larval-stage booth" shot.
So that took a few hours, and then once that was done, we had to skeddadle over to Loughmiller's for the annual IGDN social. Fun fact: This is the first time I've actually attended. The first year I was hanging out with +Renee Ritchie instead and the second year I was running a Chill game. This year I was there from the get-go...only to have POTS flare up and render me largely unable to talk for a lot of it due to brain fog. Fuuuuuuu

So anyway. 

I just like this picture of She-Hulk.


I spent a lot of time in the booth this con. Ordinarily I work a few booth-hours at GenCon, but I keep my schedule a little freer to restock stuff as it sells and otherwise put out fires. Due to a couple of last-minute drop-outs from booth staff, however, I wound up in the booth more than I planned, which is actually fine. I like working the booth, I know a lot of the games IGDN sells (because I run 'em to review 'em), and it means that folks who want to find me have an easier time of it. 

All to say I have some booth-working-pictures? I do not. Here are some gnomes. 

This game is called Oh Gnome You Didn't. I'm not making that up.
I did get to play in my one-and-only game (as a player) on Thursday, too! My homie +Jonathan Lavallee was running Critical! Go Westerly. I've had a copy of Critical! for a while; I think I even read it, but to really get a sense of a game you need to play it. It's a fantasy game that lampoons a bunch of standard fantasy RPG tropes (we found our quest from an old wizard in a tavern, f'rex). I played a dwarf named Ulrist Axebeard, who's tall for a dwarf (and thus his family armor doesn't quite fit). Our hearty trio (me, a wizard, and a thief) went off in search of ingredients to make the young duke's birthday cake. In the process we set fire to a rich person's mansion and I wrote WANKERS on the lawn in burning peat. Good times. My grade: A

Our hearty, blurry, band of brothers.
Then I had to zip off and run Chill. I ran Black Diamond, which I'll write up for the site one of these days. I had a full table, mostly full of people who'd played older versions of Chill, which was fine, except for one little issue. 

I bring pre-gens for Chill (chargen takes too long to do at the table at a con), and normally I shoot for gender parity; three men, three women (I do have a nonbinary pre-gen character who shows up in SAVE, incidentally, but they weren't a good fit for this scenario). Anyway, I was playing with the lineup for this game and I screwed up the parity and wound up with four women and two men. This by itself isn't a huge problem, I wouldn't think, except that my table of mostly men would make comments about how many "chicks" there were on this mission. I finally had to tap the X-card on the table and say "look, there's a word for female humans, and it's not 'chick.'" I think I probably took a couple of the dudes aback.

But the game itself went pretty well; this particular scenario lends itself to a little intra-party tension and infighting, and they picked up on that. In the end, no one died, they escaped with their lives, and everyone said they had fun, so I'll call it a win. 

Chill Third Edition: On sale now!
And then I went and hung out with Michelle and Nicole, and immediately started to feel sick because I'd been sitting for eight hours and POTS can go fuck itself. Fortunately, that would be the last time during the con that it hit me. 


Friday morning I was supposed to go play in a game of TimeWatch, but I was still feeling off from the night before and I had a bunch of booth-things to take care of, so I skipped it. If you're the GM, sorry about that, I really did want to play. 

That left me with a little free time, though, so I could do booth-stuff at leisure, buy a pack of wet-erase markers (since I forgot mine), and get ready for my afternoon game of curse the darkness. Before that, however, I saw a woman cosplaying not just as Leela from Futurama, but as two-eyed Leela from "The Cyber House Rules." 

By the end of today, one of us is gonna have one eye.

Anyway, I don't run curse the darkness often anymore; pretty much just once a year at GenCon. But a couple of the folks playing were fans, which made me very happy. The setup this year was interesting; the characters were in Alaska and were trying to find out what happened to the community there; they'd all up and disappeared. More of a horror setup than I usually run, but it fell together nicely. 

I also gave away the last of the t-shirts. 
And then we headed back to the hotel to catch a shuttle over to a tapas restaurant. While waiting we saw some fun Peter Pan cosplay:

Please clap.
But then tapas, conversation, ranting about shit with Danielle and various other awesome folks. And then back to the hotel for sleep. 


Now, this was weird. Saturday I was free. Like, I had a panel in the morning but otherwise no commitments, so Saturday was shopping day. I got up early and went to the Bee for coffee...

Which, like most business in Indy, knows exactly what side the bread is buttered on.
The panel was "What is Dark Eras?," referring, of course, to the massive book just released from Onyx Path. I was the project coordinator, so I basically herded the cats on the book. The panel was fun; we got to talk about research and the new anthology of fiction based on the book and +Rose Bailey announced the Dark Eras 2 project, coming sometime this year in Kickstarter! I didn't get a picture, however. 

So then Michelle and I went shopping, and I caught a couple of superheroes...

Great power, etc.
And Space Ghost!

We bought a bunch of stuff that you can see in pictures below. Past that, it was time for the IGDN dinner, which is a bunch of us eating and talking about games and books and whatever the hell else. And after that, Michelle went back to the room, but I went on to the JW for the annual "let's gather together and drink until we're not allowed to anymore" hootnanny for OPP folks. 

I saw this unicorn on the way.
That was a lot of fun. I did not stay until the bar closed down (I am far too old for that kind of nonsense, and I didn't want to risk POTS kicking in while I was out without Michelle), but I got to hang out with friends that I don't see often, got to meet some awesome new people, and got to kiss Neall, so that's fun. 

And a very fetching hat!


I was in the booth from the time it opened to tear-down, so that was pretty much my frickin' day on Sunday. 

It ends as it began: A sweaty mess. 
We don't try to drive back on Sunday because that way lies madness, so instead we got dinner at Mikado and then went back to the room and watched soccer, awash in the fading memories and surrounded by books. 


We got breakfast at Patachou (it's worth doing twice) and then headed home. Indy was desolate and empty, a mere shell of the madness from the day before. 

Ghost town.
But: Swag pic!