Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gen Con 2011: Day 4 or Damn My Feet Hurt!

My game of Primeval wasn't scheduled to run until 12:00 today. So I decided to hit the dealer hall one more time. I found a place selling Confrontation miniatures, including the old metal ones, at 50% off. But the same dealer was also doing insane deals on a horde of books and I was pressed for time and I wasn't going to fight that crowd outside of a few bits I managed to snag that were on the end.

The gamers there though, were very fussy. Working the overworked staff even more with esoteric requests and wanting bigger discounts and some were just stupid. For example, if you keep your backpack on your back while people are walking in and out of an aisle, are you going to get hit each and every time? Why yes Mr. Jackass, you are. It's not complicated people. You want to make yourself as small of a target as possible and keeping your backpack on your back while hunched over... probably ain't the way to go about it.

In this instance I myself accidentally cut into the line as one person was asking someone else for help while assembling his pile and expecting to stay in the line as the next person to check out even as he pulled more stuff. I didn't realize that's what he was doing and told the lady at the register I was ready to go so she took care of me. Man, I hope they get paid well or tipped or something because that booth was a disaster.

There were some other good deals on the floor, but the time limit thing kicked my ass. One booth was selling a product I'd bought the other day for like $5 cheaper so I'm going to buy the other company about that. Worst they can do is say no right? But at the War Store, another one of those 3rd party sellers I was talking about there being a lot of, they had a ton of Micro Art Studio bases on sale so I picked up quite a few of them.

The Archai booth was still running theri special where it was buy two graphic novels and get three free. As I read the two Okko novels they had, and they were both solid, and I've read some of their other material, including Mouse Guard, I figured I've get Secret History and got the Killer and Revolution in Silver.

My game at the hotel of Primeval went quick. Probably too quick. These guys are paying $4 for what's supposed to be a four hour game, but I'm not the type of Game Master whose going to provide the scenario and if they players short cut it, throw more stuff in there on the fly. I suppose I could to try and insure maximum value if you will, but at the same time, the further you deviate from the 'script' or pregenerated adventure, the more unfomcortable I'd feel. This was my first time running adventurers here though and I thought that there were some elements of the pregenerated material that could have been handled a little better.

In the postive aspect though, the players weren't short cutting the adventures through bad maneuvers. Rather, every group I had, the players got along well. There was no fighting to see who was going to be in charge or be the boss. They didn't seperate the group. They didn't back stab each other. They listened to me and I didn't have to repeate myself save for when outside conditions prevented them from hearing me.

They listened to each other. They made logical and well thought out moves that well, the modules don't take into account.  For example, in the Laundry adventure, there's a hidden element that can cause some issues in relation to a haunted house. The hidden element is outside the house. I ran this adventure twice, and each time, the characters made a full and complete circle around the house and noticed the well and investigated it. Why wouldn't they when looking into a haunted house? Primeval had a few similiar situations where it was like... why would they do X when Y is right there?

Overall though, it appeared that the players had fun. One of the other guys running Primeval, John, made some buttons, so I handed those out, as well as the rule sections I was referring during game play to try and make up some of the potential loss.

It was certainly a learning experience for me though and I'll be making a LOT more notes and customizations and reprints prior to any running. It's not that the material was heavily flawed or anything, but when running material off of PDF, the more that I can put directly onto the character sheets and have the players reference themselves, the better.

After that, I went and grabbed some lunch and some high end chocolates for the girlfriend and it was on the way home.

In terms of the convention, running the adventurers can take a lot out of you. On the first day, I ran three and on the second, two. My voice was hoarse and hurting a bit but I had a good time so it didn't bother me. More painful though, were the blisters. Mucho blisters. Still have them. Using antibacterial bandages and some wraps. Can't pop the bastards as that skin provides a layer of protection.

I stayed at the Hilton. It was a nice set up with two rooms. One room was a fold out couch. I took that because it had a hook up for a laptop. The other room had two bedrooms and immediate access to the bathroom. the bathroom had a poor design. The door didn't lock and there was a seperate door for the toilet itself.

The shower though was great. The shower I have at home sucks. Being a tall bastard at 6'6", I have to constantly bend over to wash out the old hair. Not so here! It was great. Water pressure was solid as well.

There was also a microwave and a mini-fridge. I used the fridge to freeze some kit-kat bars that I picked up during one of my many trips to the CVS drugstore... oops... lost the water bottle... oops, didn't bring hair gel or a comb.... ooopps.. feet are killing me and need bandages... etc...

The food in Indianapolis varied. There was a pizza place across for the Hilton next to the Downtown Comic store. Their pizza and soda was like $8 for two slices and a drink and it sucked. Mind you, I'm from Chicago so perhaps it's just me. There was a bbq place though, that had decent brisket. The place I went today to pick up the chocalate had a decent chicken maranaria sandwhich, but also, heavily overpriced. Champs wasn't bad as I had another chicken variant there. Another place had pineapple and spicy mustard chicken sandwich variant. My first day there I ate at the place with the train station and had a burger. It was not good.

The food prices weren't outrageous or anything, but I felt that there were generally too high by a few bones each times. If I can beat a few of the amigos over the head and go next year, I think I'll try to take advantage of the fridge and microwave. I've done that before though and it's a balancing act of too little of this, too much of that.

The other viewing pleasure of the area was the homeless. And I'm not busting on the homeless here, but there were two separate groups that I managed to listen to talking about their 'game plan' to try and maximize their 'take' of the convention goers talking about where they were going to set up, what signs they were going to use, etc... I gave out $1 to a guy who was friendly and pointing out the various bits in the town on my second day here because he didn't ask for anything. I also found that when I didn't ware the badge, I didn't get bothered. Strange eh?

The downtown area itself... well, the mayor should be beaten. Construction was the key word here and it was everywhere. Why the hell you'd want so much construction when you've got a convention going on with thousands, if not tens of thousands of people (anyone got any numbers?) is beyond me. Either the guys doing the job lied to him or Gen Con getting bumped up screwed with some time lines or the other conventions coming down the road are more popular. At any rate, that was another contributing factor to the tale of my blister ridden feet.

In terms of "weird", prior to going to the dealer's hall today, I made a pit stop into the auction hall. Gee, it's closed on Sunday. Only pick up. Shakes fist angrily at air. Hopefully if I go again next year I can remember to go there early and look for old miniatures from the old Grenadier line and others.

Traffic on the way home was a breeze outside of oh, the three storms I ran into. One of them had a few lightning strikes and one of those was very close and scared the hell out of me. Sounded like a bomb went off across the way and it all became very bright. Fortunately at that point the whole of traffic was going very slow.

The other problem is that as a dumb ass, I got off at the wrong stop so instead of being home, I was on the old South Side by China Town! The old Thin Lizzy song kept playing in my head even as Sevendust was on the radio.

Overall, I enjoyed it. If my feet weren't so tore up, I would've done more though, especially in terms of checking out the movies, paint and take, and pick up games. There were a few games I wanted to bring along, like the card game Nuts, as well as the build your board, Forbidden Island, but they, along with my dice initially, and other bits, were left at home.

In terms of technology, the laptop stays home next year. I thought I was going to die carrying that and the tablet around as well as all the damn chargers. The tablet proved its utility when on Thursday, having to run a game at 8:00 in the morning, I was able to download a dice app. I'm sure I would've found one for the laptop, but having both of them meant I could reference the adventure on the laptop and just roll the dice on the tablet. That aspect worked but I'll sacrifice that visual ease for the back ease.

I've still got to hook up my camera. I took a bunch of pictures of stupid things, like the old buildings and what not and I'll be talking about the whys of that when I ping them up. Like I mentioned before, dozens of people have done up the troll, drizzt, the privateer press stuff and other goods so I didn't see a need for it.

In terms of Gen Con news... I think the internet has spoiled us. There was a pod cast or something about the new products coming down the line for 4e and I could swear all of those products were known qualities. Sure, more information about them was doled out as well as more releases for the fortune cards for 4e but I didn't find that newsworthy.

Cortex getting the Marvel license was big but... comic licenses are tricky. Take Green Ronin with their DC line up. I don't think they've even got the whole thing done and hey, DC has rebooted the line. It was a similar problem with Mayfair had the license and I'm sure it will continue to be a problem. Is Green Ronin going to have to do a reboot? Are new fans of DC going to pick up the RPG and wonder what the hell it is and why so much basic information is wrong? Some yes and some no I'm sure.

I was personally more excited by the upcoming random dungeon rolling dice by Inkwell. I was also glad to see that Paizo is doing an anniversary edition of Rise of the Runelords converting the whole thing to the Pathfinder system, updating some of the information, and making the whole bit run smoother.

The One Ring sold well. Burning Wheel Gold sold out. Not sure what else was moving or selling though.

So that in a nutshell is my observations of Gen Con. If you don't get a chance to go, you really should at least one year to see what the fuss is about. It's more expensive then ever I admit but it can be a great time.