GenCon Update

So, by now, pretty much everyone knows about the next setting for 4E: Dark Sun.

That’s cool. I thought the original Dark Sun setting was pretty interesting, and I’m curious to see what they do with it in 4E. It makes a lot of sense, especially considering how the PHB3 is going to introduce the psionics power source for the game.

I’m not entirely thrilled, though. I mean, they talk in the announcement about how they wanted to do something a little less baseline fantasy, and I respect them for that. And I can understand how they want to tap into an existing fan market for the world, especially in the current economic climate.

But I keep thinking about the other two finalists of their setting search, and wondering about the two 100-page setting bibles locked away in WotC’s vault.

I think about them, and I really wish they had picked one of them to do. Why? Partly because I’m curious, and partly because I wanted a fresh new idea. Dark Sun is a neat setting, but I’ve already seen one iteration of it. I’d prefer something new. That may just be me, though. I expect that the 4E version of the world will be every bit as cool and well-done as Forgotten Realms and Eberron were.

Had another nice dinner with Gwen, Brian, and Julie from Sigh Co. Graphics. This time, we went to Alcatraz Brewing Co. Food was good, and the server, Rayna (Raina? I dunno.) was great. Lots of fun.

Now, I’m back in the room, and I’m going to spend the rest of the evening reading Geist. So, far it’s really pushing a lot of my mythology buttons – people who die, then come back from the dead with something extra from the other side; syncretized religion and ceremony to enable supernatural powers; twisted, half-human archetypes bound to the souls of people who must both control and serve them; a system for players to construct their own mythology for their characters; stuff like that. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

And, speaking of fun, the count for today was 12. That’s down 72% from last year’s record of 43. It’s not the lowest score – that was 3, on the year GenCon first moved to Indianapolis – but it’s the first time since then that the count has decreased. We discussed it, and think that it may be an indicator that casual gamers are not attending in high numbers due to the economy. Certainly, sales this year are down over last year.

And that’s it for tonight. Tomorrow around noon, we hit the road for home, and another GenCon – my tenth – will be behind us.

Mid GenCon Update

Two days down, two to go.

It’s been a fun convention so far. We got into Indy around two on Wednesday, and I caught up with Scott Glancy and Jared Wallace (of Pagan Publishing and Dagon Industries, respectively) to head over to the convention centre to set up the booth.

Now, they don’t put the air conditioning on during set-up, so it’s hot, sweaty, and pretty smelly in there, what with hundreds of vendors setting up their booths while the convention centre staff lays down the carpet. We’re also sharing the booth with Arc Dream and Greg Stolze, which makes for a fun crowd.

After we finished, we went to the Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner. It’s got good food, and isn’t afraid of us geeks.

The con opened yesterday morning, with the Very Important Gamers coming in an hour before the hoi-polloi were admitted. Of course, there’s always a scramble on the first morning, trying to get all the last-minute stuff done.

And then things got busy.

That evening, we went back to Rock Bottom, this time with the folk from Sigh Co. Graphics, which is always a good time.

Today was more of the same, with the exception that I got to go for lunch with Clint, which was nice, because we often don’t see each other much during the show. Tonight, Scott is running a playtest, and I’m taking it easy in the hotel, reading my new purchases. And what are those purchases?

  • Innsmouth Horror. This is the new supplement for Arkham Horror. I haven’t looked too closely at it, yet, because these games always have a ton of components, and I don’t want to risk losing any.
  • The Stars Are Right. This is a new Cthulhu-themed game from Steve Jackson Games. I’ve looked at the rules, and they seem a little complex. I’m going to try and sit on a demo if I have time, because I think that’ll make thing a lot clearer.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters. The new World of Darkness game from White Wolf. I’ve just started reading it, and it looks interesting.
  • Eclipse Phase. A transhuman conspiracy RPG from Catalyst Games. The book is beautiful, and the bit I’ve read looks fun. I haven’t got to any of the system, yet, so I’m still not completely sold. But it looks great!
  • A Couple of Shirts from Sigh Co. I’ve been looking at their great stuff for years, and I finally got a couple. This one and this one, to be precise.

I’ve also picked up a surprise or two for friends back home that I’m not going to talk about.

Not a lot of new stuff at the show, as far as I can tell, but that’s sort of par for the course in this economic climate.

All in all, I’m having fun. And I hope to be in Scott’s playtest tomorrow night, if there’s room.

Home Again

I’m back from GenCon. As always, it was a real blast. I got back around 9:00 last night, and had to be up for work this morning, so my recollection is kind of chaotic, but I want to talk a little bit about it while it’s fresh.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  • Once again, I spent my time with Scott Glancy of Pagan Publishing and Jared Wallace of Dagon Industries, both fine gentleman. We shared the both with Shane Ivey and the Arc Dream Publishing crew, and they were a good bunch of fellows, as well.
  • Greg Stolze spent a lot of time in the both, flogging his games Reign and Dirty World. I got to know Greg back in the days I was writing for Unknown Armies, and it’s always a pleasure to spend some time with him.
  • Ken Hite, one of my favourite connoisseurs of the weird and the real and the intersection of the two, stopped by a few times. He’s got a new book out: Tour de Lovecraft. It’s a collection of his blog entries, and takes you on a tour through all 51 of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories. Good, good stuff. I bought two.
  • I got to touch base with Fred Hicks and Lenny Balsera of Evil Hat. They were both pretty busy, but it was good to shake hands and attach faces to names. Nice folks.
  • At the Pagan booth, we had the printer’s proof of one of their next books, Mysteries of Mesoamerica. My good friend and GenCon traveling partner, sculptor Clint Staples, wrote a big chunk of the book, and it’s been a long time coming out. But it’s more than worth the wait. This book is absolutely beautiful!
  • Had dinner a couple of nights with Gwen and Brian from Sigh Co. Met them last year, and they’re very nice people. Good to see them again.
  • Fantasy Flight Games is rapidly becoming the powerhouse of the show. I bought a new expansion for Arkham Horror from them that I didn’t even know was coming – The Black Goat of the Woods. There were about four other games I would have liked to pick up, but the budget can only be stretched so far.
  • Last year, I passed on the Campaign Coins, and I regretted it. This year, I bought the starter set, and feel much better about myself. They’re very nice.
  • Also picked up Aces & Eights, BRP, and Alpha Omega. Haven’t had much chance to get into them yet, though. Look for thoughts in future posts.
  • Didn’t get to play in Scott Glancy’s playtest this year, but he did talk to me some about the scenario and his thinking behind it. I just want to go on record as saying that there is something broken inside his very soul if he can come up with stuff like that, and I thank him for it.
  • Seemed to be a larger female turnout this year. More, there seemed to be more females buying game product for themselves this year. I like to see this; the hobby has a lot to offer everyone, regardless of gender, and it’s good to see it grow.
  • For those interested, the final tally for the count on Saturday was 43*.

So, it was a good trip, and I had a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone I spent time with down there. You guys are what makes the trip worthwhile.


*Those who know don’t need to ask. Those who ask don’t need to know.