Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Going to Gen Con? Read This!

Gen Con will soon be upon us, a scant few weeks away. This will be an interesting Gen Con Indy in a lot of ways. For one, it will be interesting to see how both attendance and vendor participation do in an economy markedly worse for most folks than it was a year ago.

This is also the first Gen Con after Dave Arneson’s passing. Will he be honored in the same vein as Gary Gygax was last year? Can any product being released capture the starter market or take a chunk out of 4e's market share?

To quote Tennyson, “Tho' much is taken, much abides”. That is, it seems like every year there are a few faces no longer with us at Gen Con—though there are always plenty of new friends as well. But there is still so much history, personality, and legacy that persists at Gen Con. Even as it evolves, you can still touch history. And that becomes a tremendous thing, I think, as we gamers get older and gain a greater sense of what a legacy can bring.

Just a few things I’m looking forward to, from the “G” section (otherwise in no semblance of alphabetical order):

Gen Con Scavenger Hunt (Zack’s): I do a scavenger hunt for my group, one that gets them around the hall, interacting with and visiting booths they may otherwise have overlooked. This year, if you’re looking for something to do, I will be offering the scavenger hunt as a free download on this site! Once it's ready, download it, take it with you, and see if you can find me first to turn it in! I think I’ll be doing some prizes for the top (and bottom) finishers. If you’re interested having your company on there or have a suggestion for an item, let me know at mail.rpgblog(at)

Gygax, Return to the Tower of: Yep, it’s back this year. Starting every two hours and running around the clock at the convention, this is perfect for getting a taste of classic gaming with friends. If you find yourself strapped for time, you should still be able to make one of these events. You won't want to miss it!

GM’s Jam 2009: If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for this one. Game Masters from such sites as this one (that'd be me), Chgowiz’s Old Guy RPG Blog, Stupid Ranger, and RPG Centric are hosting what should be a free, friendly, informal give-and-take for novice and expert Game Masters alike.

GOLD: I just found out some of the guys from the excellent RPG Web Series GOLD will be making the trip to Gen Con this year. GOLD is one of the few shows about gaming to be filled with genuinely funny parts, well-written dialogue, and some nice acting. I'm excited to meet some of the people behind the show--if you haven't seen GOLD yet, do yourself a favor and check it out beforehand.

GameScience: The only dice endorsed by yours truly. If you’re going, look for Lou Zocchi—supposedly, last year was his last Gen Con, but this year he is an industry guest of honor! Find Colonel Lou. Have him give you the Dice Talk. It is a rite of passage, and part of all that is wonderful about Gen Con.

Gaming Paper: It might seem silly to be excited over what seems to be a pretty straightforward product, but I love my Flip Mats, my hex mats, my Tac-Tiles, and so it should come as no surprise I’m looking forward to a roll of nicely graphed gaming paper on a roll. At $4, I can afford to pick up a roll to try it out.

And, of course:

Gaming: Man, oh man, do we have some games to try out. I’m really looking forward to trying out Hackmaster 5e for the first time, I hope to get a good look at Eclipse Phase, and of course, there is the Pathfinder release, which if I’m reading things right, should be an absolute frenzy.

I’m not sure if me and the lads will be able to rock the Castles & Crusades tourney, but I sure hope so. I’m running one Microlite 74 game that’s on the schedule, and if your group needs an emergency short dungeon crawl fix, I may be able to oblige as well. And I know there will be a few new games this year that will just totally surprise me.

This will be my 5th consecutive year of coverage at Gen Con, and I will be liveblogging both here and at theRPGsite (as well as sporadic Twitter and Facebook updates). If you have a booth, product, or event you’d like covered, drop me a line (mail.rpgblog(at)

Likewise, if you’re a reader that can’t make it and want something covered, let me know—my team and I even try to get and post pics, so you can feel like you’re right there as well (minus the gamer stench). Our coverage between my personal sites and theRPGsite usually ends up past 10,000 hits (I’m still not sure how), so you can guarantee some eyeballs will land on it. I work hard at our coverage—it’s my hope that every single one of you can make it to Gen Con one day, but until then, I’ll be here, sharing as much as I can with you. And if you’re on the fence and trying to make it affordable, well, I might be able to help with that too, cagey Indianapolis native that I am.

If you are going, one word of advice: PocketMod. I use one for booth numbers, and one for my calendar and contacts. It’s tons better than flipping through your program, and you can recycle it when you’re through.

However you get there, whatever it means to you, I hope to see you at Gen Con this year!


ChattyDM said...

I'M glad you can make it this year. I'll try to show up for the GM Jam. Looking forward to seeing you for the 1st time!

Chgowiz said...

We will have fun at the GM Jam! :) And you are invited to the non-scheduled, underground playtest of the Ultima S&W game. Perinia awaits you... :D

ATOM said...

Thank's for the post.
I have to wait until next year to attend, but I will be soaking up the GenCon ambiance from afar, to get me in the mood for 2010.It will indeed be interesting to see the attendance this year owing to the recession & economic downturn.Commuting from the U.K is obviously expensive, so I will be saving for a few months at least.

Dave The Game said...

No love for the RPG Bloggers Network panels?

Zachary The First said...

Of course! They just weren't filed under "G". :)

I can't wait for the RPG Bloggers meetups--I've been telling a lot of folks about them.

Tony Law said...

So exactly how drunk can we be during the GM Jam? On a scale of 1 to 10.

Dyson Logos said...

Unfortunately, last year is probably my last GenCon for some time. My work has me busy this year, and I've taken an active dislike of the new border-crossing policies put in place by the US Government to restrict access.

Chgowiz said...

@Tony - my vote is YES! :D

Tony Law said...

@Chgowiz - So on a scale of 1 to 10, the answer is "yes"? I can live with that. ;)

Chgowiz said...

@Tony - one never scales the amount of drunkness that is acceptable. Especially to a bunch of gaming guys!

Word verify - "lazzat" - clearly that is the way to say "LIGHTNING BOLT" when at 10 on the drunken scale...

Zachary The First said...

@Dyson: Well, that stinks! I hope this Gen Con is extra-special for you, then!

@Tony, Chgowiz: Do we need to have a designated sober panelist? 1 2 3 not it! ;)

I can see the headline now:

“Drunken Game Mastering Advice Dispensed Freely; 7 Arrested In Dowtown Hotel Brawl”

Tony Law said...

@Zach - More like "Drunk Virgins Involved in Slap Fight at Star Trek Convention."

Chgowiz said...

@Tony - imagine the Youtube videos...

Tony Law said...

@Chgowiz - We'll make millions!

Zachary The First said...

You know, remind me to tell you the full story at Gen Con—for the past 3 years, I have either stumbled into or interrupted a LARP after drinking. Considering I am remarkably sober for most—most--of Gen Con, this seems an even greater streak.

Last year, I was playing Oregon Trail on my phone in a hotel lobby with the sound on while 2 Vampire clans plotted each other’s demise all around me. It wasn’t until afterwards I thought my slovenly presence may have been somewhat of a detractor.

The year before that, it was some Victorian murder mystery thing. They were taking up the whole hallway, so I didn’t have a choice. I got glared at by a guy with a monocle.

Gaming news said...

Great review!