Gen Con was amazing this year, but alas, it is over. We’re home and more or less back in the groove of real life, albeit that kind of real life where you mumble incoherently in meetings and hiss at the rays of the accursed fire orb in the sky because you’re still so. damned. tired. Nevertheless, we’re already looking forward to Gen Con 2016, when we shall conquer the city of Indianapolis once more and rule it like the unforgiving and tyrannical despots we’ve always been in our hearts. It was amazing while it lasted, sad that it’s done, and now we slowly deflate, like so many slightly punctured balloons.
I arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday night, very late, technically Wednesday morning. The lovely and talented Elizabeth Bauman — our own D20Blonde — was coming in on a different flight, so I hung around the airport for what ended up being approximately 1 million hours thanks to a variety of United Airlines delays. At some point around 2am, we finally crashed, leading us directly to…
The first real day of the Con, which is actually the day BEFORE the con. The city quivers with anticipation and restaurant menus abound with poorly understood Forgotten Realms references.
I ran a 4 hour session of Sons of Liberty (you might heave heard of it) for a variety of gaming luminaries including but not limited to Elsa S. Henry (of Dead Scare), Brian F. Patterson (of d20monkey.com, Karthun, etc.), and Kevin Kulp (of TimeWatch) in which they narrowly defeated a cabal of evil supervillains including famed murdering pistol-duelist and former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and a plant-controlling hippy from the future who called himself Johnny Appleseed.
A quick dinner and a shower later, and we’re at the Diana Jones Awards. I rubbed elbows with the elite of the gaming industry, finagled free drinks from industry professionals with Pelgrane Press darling (and our own Arkham Archivist) Ruth Tillman and New England glitterati Fred Hurley, met kick-ass author Chuck Wendig, traded small-talk with conspiratorial spirit brother Kenneth Hite, dimly perceived Robin Laws accepting the DJA for Glorantha, and toasted a few kid-free days with the aforementioned Elizabeth Bauman. We expressed concerns for the souls of the gaming industry.
The mechanical bull was broken, proving that we live in the darkest timeline.
The con actually, officially, for real, begins on Thursday. In what I’m sure was a completely-unrelated-to-Wednesday-night’s- activities turn of events, I was not feeling well on Thursday morning. I ordered and ate a cheeseburger from a food truck at 10:30 am. I did not throw up. Not even once.
I spent 11 minutes in the dealer hall (which seemed especially huge after a year away from the con), had lunch at the luxurious Circle Center Mall food court, and then dashed off to run an official game of Night’s Black Agents (“The Slayer Elite”) for Pelgrane. Given the adventure’s premise, I think I failed in that all of the PCs survived to the end, but the players had fun. Or at least they refused to tell me that they didn’t have fun, which is just as good.
We met that night for a delicious meal at Harry and Izzy’s right next to our hotel and then retired to the Omni Lobby for an evening of Dread. We were stuck on It’s a Small World at Disney World during some kind of mysterious apocalypse, and I guess we met (and were killed by, and then killed?) the Satanic Ghost of Walt Disney. It’s a Small World After All played on repeat for the entire 4 hour game. Because Randall (!) forgot to shut the music off, which he apparently could have done at any time. Notes for the future: yes, those are our babies, and yes, there is *always* cell signal in It’s a Small World.
It was glorious.
We opened the day with a delicious brunch at Le Peep, just outside the official Gen Con restaurant DANGER ZONE, and heard an insanely cool True Ghost Story from Amanda Costello. We went back to the dealer hall, got about half way through, and then I bolted to the only panel I (mostly) attended: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Live. I’m a big fan of the podcast (wave of the future), but as much as I was enjoying myself I had to duck out early to run another game: this time, “Hatchet and Axe” for TimeWatch, halfway across the con. The group stopped the Cuban Missile Crisis twice (after letting it happen three times) and reinstated prohibition. Also there was something about giant mutant cockroaches from the future.
Right after, I bolted back to the room, showered, and with a beautiful lady on my arm (once more, the lovely Elizabeth “D20Blonde” Bauman) attended the ENnies to collect the Illuminerdy’s expected award for Best Website.
One small problem: we didn’t actually win best website. Next year, dear reader, next year. Still, it was an honor to be nominated, etc. etc. etc. And of course there was more chit-chatting with industry friends and pros (and friends who are industry pros). There was also, as many of you may know, CONTROVERSY at the traditionally inaudible ENnies. You can probably figure out what the controversy was if you try. Note: the controversy was not that the ENnies were inaudible.
Regardless, a good deal of my immediate social circle retired to the quiet and intimate confines of the Cadillac Ranch at intermission, and I joined them once the awards were complete, and D&D 5e once more sat upon its throne of skulls gesturing madly at its fearful subjects. This time, the mechanical bull WAS working, and that thing I said about Cadillac Ranch being quiet and intimate was a damned lie. It was insanely loud (basically making it the anti-ENnies in more ways than one), probably because the DJ was an ISIS sleeper agent. Or a neo-nazi. Or something else really bad because F that guy. Despite the noise, more celebrations occurred. I think I ate some cheese fries at some point in there, and several people left without paying their bills. Those people are dead to me.
Despite the very late night at Cadillac Ranch, we awoke successfully on Saturday morning. With my duties as an official Pelgrane Press GM discharged, I ventured once more to the dealer hall. We saw the whole thing. We demoed Feng Shui 2 and a few other games, and picked up a card game or two. So far the favorite is THREE CHEERS FOR MASTER, also from Atlas Games.
Late that afternoon we attended the hotly anticipated d20Monkey panel with the aforementioned Brian F. Patterson and *almost* won panel bingo. If you don’t read his comic, you should. It’s funny. But quite frankly I was a bit aghast at how poorly he treats his intern.
Then, there was food, and shortly thereafter we played Feng Shui 2 (again!) and continued to love it. We debated the subtle but important differences between the “Hovering Dragon” and “Levitating Dragon” styles of Kung Fu, aggressively miscommunicated with Dave Chalker’s former Baltimore Orioles shortstop (“What did he say??”), and suffered the effects of a mild case of face blindness. At some point in there, an eyeball was scooped out of its socket with a grapefruit spoon.
What I’m saying, in short, is that this was the greatest game of all time.
The con was noticeably starting to wind down, even by Sunday morning, but the dealer hall was still packed. We rushed in shortly after the doors opened to make our final purchases, ogled some game tables (especially the preview table from Carolina Game Tables, owned by the best and brightest of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, kickstarter forthcoming), and walked out of the hall exhausted and noticeably poorer.
We were just in time to play a final game of, of course, D&D 5e, once more in the capable hands of Brian Patterson. We laughed. We cried. We howled in anguish. My rogue began the game as Raylan Givens from Justified and ended it as Christian Bale’s nasally shouting Batman.
A break for goodbye hugs, and tacos, and then we snuck into the secret basement of the JW Marriott to empty the collective liquor cabinets of about 40 of our closest friends, carefully presented a deconstructed cheeseburger to a celebrity chef in a prototype Cutthroat Kitchen boardgame, and I demoed Timewatch one more time for one of the best group of players’ I’ve ever had around a table, including the indefatigable famous Hollywood actor Tom Lommel, the possessed-of-a-suspiciously-accurate-New-Zealand-accent Morgan Ellis, and others who I have mentioned above.
Brian Patterson’s character was a caveman who only knew 12 words of English. The most frequently used were “Oy!” “rhetorical” and “communist.” Did I mention that one of the other characters was a psychic velociraptor? Because aw yeah. Psychic. Velociraptor.
Zzzzzz. At some point on this day I got on a plane. I probably talked to some people? We bought an extra suitcase. Goodbye Indianapolis. See you next year.
So what did we pick up at the con this year?
We picked up a set of foldable terrain from Collapsible Construction. It looks pretty nice.
I grabbed Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients from Flying Frog, which apparently came out last year, but shut up I wasn’t at Gen Con last year.
We ALSO bought boffer swords for the kids (no major injuries just yet) and grabbed them a couple of games from Haba USA, including Brandon The Brave.
Doesn’t sound like so much, but that’s why we had to buy an extra suitcase.
With friendships renewed and our creative fires so stoked, the Illuminerdy are already looking for ways to expand our presence and our meager offerings to you, the reader. We recruited new writers and guest posters (more to come), hatched delicious plans for new offerings, and even speculated upon ways in which we might make this wonderful site less a labor of love and more a labor of love and also small amounts of money.