Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Con Report: Genghis Con XXXII

February 17-20 was GenghisCon here in the Denver area. I had a blast with Vern and CaLeigh there. I will break it down by day then talk about Con Jr.


I went solo Thursday, and I decided to beat traffic and get to the hotel early--about 3:00, I think. There was nothing going on yet. I saw a guy sitting, looking like a gamer. (I don't know exactly what that means. It's certainly profiling, but I was dead on.) I asked him where everything was, and he told me I couldn't really do anything till 5:00. I then ran into Leif Olson, the con organizer, and he basically said the same thing.

Then I saw a guy who was walking by, and he looked vaguely familiar. It turned out to be Ross Watson, of Fantasy Flight Games, whom I've never met in person, but I'd seen his picture. He's been on TGTT a couple times, so I introduced myself. Then I realized Ross was on his way to meet the gamer guy I asked for directions. It turns out he was Michael Surbrook, Hero Games contributor and author of the excellent Kazei 5, an unabashedly '80s-inspired, Anime Cyberpunk setting for Hero. Michael has never been on the show, but he almost was twice. So we had at least emailed before. Soon, we were joined by Bill Keyes, who's done layout work for Hero and BlackWyrm Publishing. Several local friends came by over the next couple hours--Lee "Gobbo" Langston, Richard Wetmore, and some other folks whose name I unfortunately forget. We ended up having some great, pre-con gaming discussion. Fun was had by at least most.

After we registered, I was invited to grab some grub at the hotel restaurant, along with Ross, Michael, and their friends from here and New Jersey. Conversation was good--food, not so much.

That night I ran Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin, a Savage Setting of "heavy metal oriental action." I think everyone had fun. The table was full, and I did have to turn folks away due to only having six characters (note to self: have extras for Tacticon). I ran the game without minis or any sort of tactical map, and it didn't seem to detract from anyone's fun. That said, I think I'll start running Savage Worlds with the tactical set-up, at least in public.

After my game, I drove home. I'd be staying at the hotel for the rest of the con, but there were Friday school concerns with the little one, which made it easier to be home the first night.


Friday morning, Vern and I headed to the con. Traffic prevented us from making the first block of gaming, so we spent the time chilling out and meeting up with friends. There was a lot of wandering here. The dealers' room wasn't open till 3PM, so really our trip down to the con was kinda wasted. I was very happy to have the time with Vern, though. We get precious little with my current Real Life Job.

Driving back to Broomfield to pick CaLeigh up from school meant we would miss the second RPG block of Friday. When we returned, we were able to check out the dealers' room (pretty well stocked for a local con), and I signed myself up for a Gumshoe homebrew game, based on Esoterrorists. Friday was my "freedom" night, when Vern had CaLeigh come bedtime.

After I had my game setup, my buddy Matt Cutter, from Pinnacle Entertainment said we should get dinner and have a pickup game after the his Deadlands game was done. So I went and turned in my Gumshoe ticket for greener pastures. Shane Hensley ended up joining us for dinner, and we went off-site, to an Italian restaurant called The Bent Noodle. (If you're ever at GenghisCon, look this place up. It was awesome.) Dinner was great, and the conversation was even better. Shane graciously picked up the tab (which made for the best "you're flyin' I'm buyin' ratio ever--thanks Shane!).

When we got back to the hotel, Matt was too beat to game, and Shane went off to check out the minis. We'd missed the final block of RPGs, as well. So it turns out we did zero gaming on Friday. We dropped CaLeigh off at Con Jr., and I did end up going to the auction. Vern hung out (read: fell asleep on my shoulder) till CaLeigh's (and her) bedtime.

The reason I stayed was I noticed two copies of the 1991 revision of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes Basic Set. They looked to be in good condition, so I decided I'd pay up to $30 to get my hands on one. The first set was sold for $31. That's right, I kept to my guns. I noticed the other hands in the room dropped much earlier than mine, so I had a feeling I wasn't going to get too killed on the price of the next one if I was patient. Speaking of patience, it would be two hours before copy number two was offered up, but I won it for $13--a complete steal! All the cards and figure flats (unfolded) were included, along with the dice. The books were in great condition. One corner of the box tore, I think, under the pile of games where it lived for the several hours during the auction. No worries. Tape can fix a box corner. $13!!


Saturday morning, the family and I joined the Rocky Mountain Savages for a breakfast meeting. It turns out we're going to try for a proper Savage Saturday Night at Tacticon. Also, we're going to start organizing Savage Worlds games in game stores. Fun fact: Savage Worlds fielded more games at GenghisCon than D&D 4e!

After breakfast, I reported to the room where I was to run my Smallville game. I had only two pre-regs, but I was hopeful we'd get more. Not only did I not get more, but the pre-regs never showed, either. So no go for Smallville. Sad face ensued.

I reported my game-fail to Linda Weygant, the phenomenal RPG coordinator, and she got me squeezed into Marc "Lord Inar" Gacy's homebrew Savage Worlds game, set in a family-friendly world he called Rocknester. I got to play a female Skunk. Yep... crossplay and a furry. In the first round of the first combat, my character got shot, taking 27 damage to her Toughness 5 frame. Believe it or not (mostly thanks to Marc's pity), my character survived. The session was fun. I will be asking him some questions about Rocknester. I think I'd like to use it with CaLeigh and my nephew, William.

Saturday afternoon, Vern and I were in a couples-based Unknown Armies game. The guy running it, and his significant other (I never determined wife or girlfriend), were doing the game to celebrate their anniversary. Very cool! I own UA, but I've never played it. We had a blast. The story was centered on a couples' retreat. Vern played the creepiest character I'd ever seen her play--she did it well, too.

Saturday night was Vern's "freedom" night. She was in an invitation-only game with Shane Hensley, held for the convention staff. One member of each podcast there (more on that later) got to join in. Vern's gamer-crush on Shane dictated where I stood in that situation.

Since I didn't get to game on my night, we found out Shane's game would be done at a reasonable hour, and Vern turns into a pumpkin at 10:00, my amazing wife offered to let me stay out if I found something to do. so I set up an after-hours game with Shane, Matt, and whomever. When Shane found out about my Marvel Super Heroes find, he suggested I go remind myself how to play and run that. So I spent Vern's game learning Marvel Superheroes. I managed to learn and prep in about two hours!

The game included Shane, his sons Caden and Ronan, Matt, his friend Dave (whom I've heard "war stories" about for years--it was nice to finally meet him), and my friend (and founder of the Rocky Mountain Savages), Chris Fuchs. We had a good time, but the one planned combat dragged the game down a bit. The old Marvel game did a lot of things well, but I ended up house-ruling the damage and the strength of Wolverine's claws so everyone at the table could be effective. The nostalgia alone made it fun, though--Shane kept saying: "I'm freakin' Spider-Man!"


Sunday morning was podcast-o-rama. We recorded two episodes of TGTT and one episode of the excellent (but explicit) WombatCast. The cast included me, Vern, Andy and Justin (from WombatCast), Ross, Michael, Bill, Marc, Leif and Bill (from the Denver Gamers Association), and Linda (RPG coordinator). We had a blast recording, and it turns out I may have gotten myself into some sort of Sumo match with Justin at Tacticon--we'll see what comes of that.

We ate lunch, and I went to the board game area next to host my game of Formula D. We ended up with six players. Two baled with only one replacement. There was one casualty in the game (the long-time leader ended up losing control of his car on turn three of the second lap). Since there was enough room for me, I played. In the end I won, due to some bold moves and one very lucky die roll. I had a good time, but I have to say I don't seem to identify with board gamers the way I do with roleplayers. I probably won't host anymore convention board games.

Con Jr.:

I have to give a shout out to the DGA for having Con Jr. It's a con-long kids event, coordinated by a teacher who either loves kids or is a masochist. CaLeigh spent the entire weekend entertained with games, arts & crafts, and movies... all for the price of a con ticket! This was brilliant, and it will serve as a great introduction for CaLeigh into the convention environment. Con Jr. is run at both GenghisCon (Presidents Day weekend) and Tacticon (Labor Day weekend). Very highly recommended.

In Closing:
Despite a couple hiccups--no gaming on Friday, my Smallville game not coming off Saturday, crappy hotel restaurant--I really had a blast at this convention. I am excited about Tacticon this September. It's smaller, but it's run by the same folks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Genghis Con XXXII

So this weekend, I will be at Genghis Con with my lovely wife. We're excited because our friends Shane Hensley and Matt Cutter, of Pinnacle Entertainment, will be in from out of town. Also, a two-time TGTT guest, Ross Watson, the man at Fantasy Flight Games behind the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs, will be there. I'm very excited about meeting more of the Denver gaming community, overall.

Ignoring my own advice (like I do), I am running three games at the convention:
I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh Index, Where Art Thou?

One of the things the RPG industry is notorious for is bad or missing indexes. I've discovered over the last few years, some publishers don't know how to do them and some don't find them important. Others will drop them, supposedly, due to page count concerns. This last one I often find suspect, especially when there are ads or blank pages in the book (I have multiple publisher friends guilty of this sin).

One thing I can guess is they have to be pretty hard to do. Not necessarily the physical process of making one, so much as the decisions that go into what belongs in one. In most cases, it's not enough. You get your "lip service" indexes--the one-pagers. And sometimes you get behemoth indexes that never seem to have what you're looking for.

In the most recent episode of The Game's the Thing, I took part in a discussion about the index in Iron Dynasty, Way of the Ronin from Reality Blurs. I commented on how excellent the final of version of the book's index was. We had to cut the conversation, but I'd like to still give credit where credit is due. Apparently, the Blur's lead editor, Lyn Harm, is responsible for the index. It's six pages and includes a separate table index.

The size isn't what really hit me, it's the fact I have yet to stump the index when searching for something. According to Sean, Lyn actually kept a running list of what needed to be indexed as she edited the several versions of what became the final book. This process also apparently caught missing items, which needed to get added back in.

I am told the layout person is typically responsible for all matters reference in a RPG book--I have certainly never been asked to help in indexing when I edit--but I think the editor should certainly take part in the way Lyn did. Maybe this has been done before; maybe it's relatively common. I just know my experience, and it has never included anything involving the index.

Anyway... Well done, Lyn. And nice find, Sean.