Hamsterprophecy: Prevision

It\’s All About Pen, Paper and People.

Gen Con 06

Posted by Nathan P. on August 14, 2006

I was going to try to write stuff during the con and then post it sequentially…that didn’t really work out. But here is what I did get down on paper, as it were.


11.01 AM

I am sitting in the Baltimore Airport, waiting for my plane to Indianapolis to board. I am surrounded by gamers. The three guys behind me are hoping that they can get into the exhibitor hall to look around tonite; I can see one fellow leafing through a players handbook; a teenager is hauling a backpack and a Games Workshop emblazoned army case. There are more subtle tells as well – the guy to my right is reading an R. A. Salvatore novel. Two other guys with beards are totally engrossed in PSP and Gameboy Advance play, respectively. Laptops abound, even for an airport. We also have a number of wrestling and ultimate fighting shirts – I’m willing to bet good money that they are among us.

The guys behind me say that someone should stand up in the front of the plane and get a show of hands for who’s going to Gen Con. That would be pretty funny.

Me? I slept like crap, but the burrito and airport coffee is giving me hope for the rest of the day. I bought a new book (The Dante Club) to read on the plane, but I have no idea if that’s going to happen.

A guy wearing a shirt with the Nintendo controller buttons across the chest just sat down. Rocking.

It’s simultaneously frightening and awesome that I am so obviously among my own, and that we’re all going to the same place for the same reason.

Say what you will about subculture mentality, but it’s awful comforting to feel like you’re part of something, y’know? I’m quietly reveling in that comfort, as it’s helping me not be so damn nervous about the days to come.

Schedule for the rest of the day: get into Indy, get to the hotel somehow (shuttle? I cross my fingers), try to hook up with Brennan, head over to the dealers hall to set up Forge-y things, and then at 6 we have our demo madness at the Embassy spearheaded by Clinton.

Boarding begins in 10 minutes. Until next time.


3.56 pm

Well, I meant to actually do a log over the course of the Con. But it just didn’t happen.

Every day I woke up, got breakfast, went over to the dealers hall at about 9 or 9.30, and then was solid busy all day until I went to bed (between 1.45 and 3.30 am). I just had no time – well, that’s a lie. I had no time that I decided I would rather type up stuff than play, talk about or recover from games.

So I’m in the middle of my layover on my way to Albuquerque (I’m taking a week of vacation there. Whoo-hoo!). There is no possible way to construct any kind of narrative about the last four days, so I’m just going to set down isolated chunks as they occur to me. And I’m definitely not going to be touching on even a sizable portion of the awesome that was my first Gen Con.

So, in no particular order: Gen Con 06!

Kevin Allen JUNIOR. That guys an award-winning game designer.

There is going to be awesomeness at next years DexCon. I’m very excited about the next 10 months. Y’all just wait….

The Yu-Gi-Oh Master. This guy had a throne, and he took on all comers all day long. They would play on a pedestal behind a pane of glass, and it was awesome. Apparently he gets custom cards from the company, and so all of the challengers are forced to enter their names into the annals of the defeated.

I realized on Saturday that I hadn’t seen anything on one side of the convention hall yet. There’s so much stuff there that you need to schedule time to actually go and look, and you have to keep track of all the places that you haven’t been yet, because it’s going to take multiple trips.

Thor stepping on Sen(k)owski’s head to make him let go of the totem.

Oh man! I was so going to get Thor or Dro or Tony and go to the Asmodee Editions booth and take on the dude who was running Jungle Speed demos. That would have been awesome.

Meeting cool people. Oh man. I feel awesome because I met so many great people at the booth, and I feel lame that there’s literally too many people to spend quality time with all of them. There were some people at the Forge booth that I literally didn’t talk to, not because I didn’t want too, but because I was too freaking busy. That is lame, and will be rectified next year. To anyone who thought I was being a dick – many apologies. It wasn’t you, it was me!

People who come into the booth want to know about our games. Once you realize this, selling becomes fun. I had an awesome time just talking about games to people – pitching them, yes, and trying to get them to buy it, yes, but these are AWESOME games that I like, and I love talking about how cool they are!

Buying jewel-y dice for Meg for Thousand and One Nights. Oh yah. I love that game.

Bad stakes-setting gets people arguing about stakes. Good stakes-setting gets people reaching for the dice. You’ll be seeing more about this later.

Oh! My buy list. With commentary:

– 500-count 5-color poker chip set, with two decks of cards and 5 dice in an aluminum, locking case: 25 freaking bucks, man. Now I have no excuse not to play Mortal Coil and Mountain Witch.

– Speaking of which. Mountain Witch! And Kwaidon, the japanese ghost story companion to it. I ended up playing in a really fun game of MW over two night at the Embassy Suites (run by Tim, which was neat), and it totally sold me on the game. I’m really looking forward to absorbing Kwaidon and getting a rocking game of TMW together.

– Thousand and One Nights. I couldn’t buy Mortal Coil again because I already own it, so this one takes my “favorite game of the con” spot. I just love the game. And now I own it. Reading the text makes me smile.

– Mechaton! I have my own Mechs (more pics to come), but now I have the rules as well. Victory.

– Primitive. Kevin Allen Jr’s awesome DIY game of cavemen. The really cool thing about it is that you can’t talk in-character, cuz the characters are pre-verbal. So over the course of play, you create your own language of grunts and gestures, and thats powerful. Though, we played this at Embassy as well (me, Jason Morningstar, Danielle Czege, Kevin….Gregor? I know there was at least one more person, but my brain is dumb), and we ended up turning on each other with clubs in the first ten minutes. After my character was beaten down for disrespecting the totem, Kevin just said: ‘And that’s how Primitive never goes.’ We rock. And the book is freakin’ hand stitched. That’s awesome.

– Push, the progressive roleplaying journal that Jon Walton edited. I just read it on my first leg, and it’s very, very interesting. I need to digest it before I say more than that, but the format is awesome, and it has some neat, neat stuff in there. I will be talking more about this one in the days to come as well.

– Agon, John Harper’s game of heroic greek combat. I know it’s fighty and greek and has cool tactile mechanics, and it looks like a lot of fun, and I want to play it. And the book is gorgeous.

– Best Friends. Gregor Hutton’s Ronnie’s entry, it’s basically Mean Girls the RPG. Character creation is so streamlined and elegant and powerful that it blows me away. I’m stealing it for something. And I think it would be a blast for one-shots.

– Don’t Rest Your Head. Fred’s game was on the rack, and I was all “who am I kidding, I want this game” One of my players will be really into it, and I’m sure I’ll be able to get some play in. I’m excited.

And that’s it! I actually wanted to pick up Faery’s Tale (not at the Forge booth, and I forget the publisher, but it looks mad neat) as well, but I was just crunched for time this morning. Maybe later.

My demo for carry is blistering. I had so much fun running it, and it sold games, and that was good. And Jeff and Judd recorded a demo that they’re going to put on Sons of Kryos! And that is so awesome. I’ll def have a link when that goes up. Oh, speaking of, they did interviews with the different strata of Forge boothers – I was in the “newbie” interview, which was all the designers who were there for the first time. You’ll hear it when they get it up, but the interview was awesome!

I also interviewed with Mike Sugarbaker of the Ogre Cave podcast, and that was really fun. I was knee-deep in a gin-and-tonic at the time, so I hope I don’t sound like an idiot on it, but it was cool meeting him and talking shop about the future of the indie community.

Also met Paul Tevis, and yelled at him for calling me Thomas. Anyway, he’s a cool guy, and I’m sure he’ll have awesome Gen Con material for his podcast as well.

Podcasting is capital-I Important for our community. I just want to make sure you all understand this.

I was unable to attend any seminars, which was kind of lame, but there was after-hours design talk in various ways, and I honestly was just having a blast running demos and selling games at the booth. So no harm, no foul.

Honestly? I don’t think there was any higher proportion of fat, unpleasant, smelly or otherwise undesirable people at Gen Con than at any other public social event I’ve been too. I mean, there’s the costumes, but that’s different. I was pleasantly surprised, is all I’m saying. Of course, I was primarily in the dealers room, so maybe other parts had other stuff, but yeh. I was happy.

None of you can stand to the Mouth Of Ronom!

I’m officially Jungle Speed-ed out for a little while. I’m going to need the break for a little while for the spark to come back. But I put in a lot of Jungle Speed hours in. A lot.

Grey Ranks. That’s Jason Morningstar’s new game that he’s working on, and it is going to be capital-A Awesome, once it works. I played in a playtest session, and the diamond is there, shining in the rough. I really look forward to its development. Not to be pretentious, but I really think that games like carry and Grey Ranks are pioneering a specific way to approach very powerful and painful real-world history in a way that both respects it and allows you to address it, and is an enjoyable experience. I really hope that there will be more of these kinds of games happening, because it’s important for the maturation of our hobby to have that. We need to become adults.

Anyway. I was planning to take a “design break” after Gen Con, but I have so many fucking ideas spinning in my head just from osmosis and from talking to people and from this bet with Kevin (Dex Con, man. it’s gonna be awesome!), that I don’t know if I’ll be able to. We will see.

Whoo. Anyway, if anyone has any questions about Gen Con, ask them! Maybe you’ll be there next year, or I mentioned something interesting, or you have a question that you think I can answer – but this post doesn’t just need to be me spewing my excitement. Or if you want to mention something cool that I forgot, fellow attendees, that would be cool too. Dialogue = awesome.


9 Responses to “Gen Con 06”

  1. Guy Shalev said

    Don’t forget Matthijs Holter’s “We all have Names”, about the Holocaust, which got government support! 🙂

    Did you get people to vote or not?

    I think that those who don’t like the subculture are ashamed of themselves, rather than of the subculture. Harsh, but true.

    Agon should totally call itself a CSI Game, oh well.

    How did carry sell?

  2. Yeh, We All Have Names. I need to keep tabs on that one as well.

    The sales area was awful tight, and Alexander and Brennan and Ron were hard core about not having extraneous stuff around. So no votes. Sorry!

    carry sold fine. I’m waiting to see how Sunday did, but I paid for the print run. Or for the trip to Gen Con. Depending on how I want to look at it.

  3. Guy Shalev said

    Well, guess I know which logo won then, meh anyway.

  4. Mark Nau said

    The Forge booth was very sweet. I kept coming back to get some demo time in every time I had some free time. I’ve got some people at work excited about trying “carry,” so I’ll let you know how that turns out after we play. Like I told you at the show, the mechanics seem really tight and do a good job serving the point of the game. I gotta say that I’m also impressed with the tone you take in the manual. Nicely even handed.

    Good meeting you.

  5. Awesome! I totally wanna hear how the game goes. I thank you very much for the compliments. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a line.

    Very nice to meet you as well!

  6. Linnaeus said

    I’ve been following Jason’s work on Grey Ranks, and I wish so much that I had a game group that would go for it, because I know Jason needs playtest help, it I know, deep in my gut, that it is going to be amazing in a completely new way when it is done.

    Interesting semi-report, Nathan. I’m looking forward to hearing all of this year’s indie RPG/story games podcast interviews.

  7. Meguey said

    Hey, I owe you $2.40! Come to western MA and play games to collect it! I’m serious, here. You are awesome, and you must come play with us.

  8. Me too, Linnaus! I hope to have a bit more to say in the next day or so, as well. Something a little more coherent and, I hope, important.

    Meg, I will come play games with you. As I was saying to Joshua, I just need a little planning – drop an email with an invitation for a specific date, and I’ll do all I can! I look forward to much gaming awesome.

  9. Linnaeus said

    Whoops, sorry Nathan, forgot to sign my real name 🙂

    Looking forward to your comments on GR.

    – Gerald Cameron

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