Origins 2007 After-Action Report (part 1)
Posted by Nathan P. on July 11, 2007
So I went to Origins for the first time this year. It was rockin’
My roommate and I had thrown a…uh….tiny little soiree the night before, so my flight on the 4th was…less than pleasant. However, as chance would have it, Alexander was taking my connecting flight from NYC to Columbus, so I got to hang out with him and catch up. This continues my streak of running into someone for second leg of a convention flight (last year was meeting Clinton in Baltimore on the way to Gen Con). Somebody fun better step up for Gen Con this year!
Anyway, we got into Columbus in good order, checked into the hotel, then went over to the dealers hall. The rest of our motley assemblage trickled in, including Michael “The Pack Mule of the Revolution” Miller with the shelving, and we got everything checked in, arranged and stocked by the time we got kicked out at 6. I think we were all pleased with how the booth looked, with a semicurved velcro display wall and giant placards that you could see across the room. You can see some of Freds cameraphone pics here.
After getting that all done, we set out on the quest for food. The 4th of July is a bad time for getting a bite to eat in downtown Columbus, apparently. After asking a scarily friendly passerby, we ended up at a bar & grill that did us right with good beer and tasty burgers.
Finally, we retired to the infamous Big Bar on 2, and ended up playing a game of Kat Millers Serial (which I dunno if there’s any info about on the intarwebs). It’s a serial killer game where you play the victims and investigators. I enjoyed our session of the game, but it’s not really my style, in terms of subject matter or mechanical backbone. (Though, Dev, I bet you would dig it) My understanding is that Kat ran a bigger game of it on Saturday night and got some good feedback on it, which is great.
Oh! And, when going to the dealers hall, I was waylaid by a very friendly fellow who was looking to record accounts of peoples RPG characters, This American Life-style. I sat down with him and Mel White (of the Ganakagang) and talked about some of my characters, with diversions into how story-gaming developed and how actual play accounts happen and what they mean. I talked about my character from my Ganakagok game from last Dreamation (the one who ended up stabbing someone in the face with his scrimshaw tools, and then setting him on fire, and ended up frozen in the ice), and my character from Hare and Hound. It was fun, and I’ll post links when/if he gets the audio up somewhere. It may broadcast on a couple of local radio stations, which is totally neat.
Thursday morning, 8.30 am. My mission is to find shopping bags, so we can actually give our wonderful customers something to carry their purchases in. Unfortunately, the area around the convention center is ill-equipped for such things, and I ended up walking around for over an hour, and finally getting a stack of Kinkos/FedEx bags from a friendly employee (oddly appropriate, neh?)
With tired feet but plenty of coffee, I got ready to greet the Thursday crowd. Thursday tends to be a big sales day, and this one was no exception. Alexander had to prod us to step up and draw people into the booth, but once I got my legs under me I felt pretty comfortable. I have some thoughts about sales strategies for another post, but for the most part we were pretty aggressive in terms of getting peoples attention, tho we respected people who weren’t interested once the initial contact was made. I hope.
Anyway, Thursday was long but busy, so it didn’t feel too long, and at the end of the day we had done more business than IPR had done all of last Origins. So that was a good feeling.
Towards the end of the day, the Burning Wheel Crew and Memento-Mori Army showed up (i.e. Luke, Thor, Dro and Jared, respectively). Jake Norwood of The Riddle of Steel fame was also in attendance, and it was cool to meet him. I saw some older friends and acquantances as well (Ralph Mazza, Mike “Papa” Holmes, Clyde Rhoer) and some internet-made-real friends (Jamey). I’m sure I saw, met and hung out with more people, but my brain was in ConMode – it all blends together, yo.
After-Hours it was back to the Big Bar on 2, and we ended up playing a rousing rendition of *jazz hands* Juuuungle Adventuuuure (a parsley game). Even tho Dro effed us out of a save point, we eventually got the treasure, and we only died about 7 times.
Someone proposed playing a real game, and we ended up deciding on InSpectres (cuz we like to have fun). I really wanted to play, cuz I’ve only ever been the GM, and we somehow convinced Dro to run the game. Hell proceeded to freeze over.
In any case, it was Dro running, me, Fred, Bill, Thor and Alexander playing. I was the CEO of the franchise, a division of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and I ended up being inhabited by an Aztec Death Parrot which Alexanders character, an ex-Marine, ended up shooting with an RPG rocket inscribed with my name – because we, in the end, really loved each other. Due to the clever use of Confessionals, we actually ended the 25-dice mission up a couple dice, even tho Dro threw me about a million Stress over the course of the game, and it was, as always, a great time with InSpectres.
If anyone is wondering why we all spent the rest of the convention running around, flapping our arms and going “KA-KAAAAW!”, thats why. I apologize for any annoyance this may have caused, but really, it was that funny at the time.
Friday I had the pleasure – nay, the honor – of walking the 10 blocks back to my hotel from the Convention center because I forgot my freaking badge. So, another day, another solid 45 minutes of walking. I wasn’t in the greatest mood when I finally got the dealers hall, but Friday is quieter anyway, and we really didn’t need 4 people in the booth at all times.
I saw and/or re-met some more people (Paul Tevis, Ken Hite and Phil Reed among them), and generally got a sense of the hall. Origins is a lot quieter than Gen Con (duh), but it also has a pretty chill, family-friendly atmosphere that was pretty cool. I wandered over the Burning Wheel booth fairly often, and it’s always good times hangin out with that crew. We had an ok day sales-wise, which was pretty much expected, tho we did sell out of a number of titles of which we had only brought 5 copies.
At some point during the day, Alexander got in touch about playing Ganakagok that night, to which I was all “hell yes!” Ganakagok is really high on my list of favorite games, and this would mark the second time I’d get to play it. Turns out that this whole deal was happening because Peter Adkison wanted to get some story-gaming in with his dad Gary.
Well, once I stopped geeking out (playing a game with Peter Adkison! and his Dad! and playing a weirdo hippie storygame! whoa!), I got excited, and that excitement was not in vain. Alexander ended up running the game for Peter, Gary, Michael Miller and myself, and it was a total blast.
But more about that later…