Countdown to GenCon 2012

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In it for the Long Haul: Some Observations on D&D Campaigns

It's very interesting to me how the game that is Dungeons & Dragons has changed and progressed over the years.  Edition wars aside, techniques for doing things have changed with the times and evolved.  I think this is most visible in what I'm seeing of campaign settings in current games.

When I played in high school, I always had to be the DM.  No one else wanted to do it.  I learned what I could from other DMs wherever I met them and from Dragon Magazine, but there was no internet and I didn't get to any cons.  My experience among all the DMs I met, and all the articles I read was that a campaign was about a consistent world.  You placed your adventures in that framework, and the story that evolved was mostly episodic in nature.  You started at the base of designing the world and worked out from there. The map came first, and that allowed you to place adventures and cities in between them so you could link everything.  Once you had the map, the rest took care of itself.

What I'm seeing a lot of now is a very different approach to designing a campaign.  A predetermined story or theme is the central element.  The DMs out there are starting with ideas, and designing adventures around them to allow that players to discover the plot or wrestle with the theme.  The map comes last, if it comes at all.  It's all about ideas now.  Personally, I think this is great.

I always wondered why I couldn't really get my campaigns to feel like a fantasy novel for more than a few adventures at a time, but now it's obvious.  If you don't start with a story with villains and a predetermined plot progression, you don't get a fantasy novel experience out of your game.  Being a few years older helps make this way more clear too :).

I'm glad I'm taking this perspective with me as I ramp up my gaming.  I still want to stick with playing for a while, especially if I can find a group to play with on a regular basis, but I'm starting to lay the framework for a campaign I'd like to run.  Yes, I have a story I'd like to tell, and I'm going to tell it at some point.  Hopefully whoever plays it out will be as interested in it as I am.

For those making your own campaigns, I'd like to submit the following list of resources to really help you out. These individuals and the material they produce have had a profound impact on my thinking, and provided a wealth of ideas and materials.  Agree or disagree with them, they'll get you thinking and that's always a good thing.

Twitter:

Web Resources
Blogs....There are really too many to list.  Many of those I've mentioned on twitter have their own blog.  Read them (just do it! :) ).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting in the Groove for D&D Encounters

Oh blog, how I've neglected thee...

Actually it's just been really busy around here.  That's not a bad thing.  I'm going to do a much longer post soon concerning some observations I've made about how far DMing has come since I last played seriously, but until I can finish that, I'm going to talk a little here about getting in the swing of playing D&D 4E.

Role playing is old hat for me.  I can RP as little, or as much as the group I'm in wants.  Personally, I prefer a little at least, if just because it adds opportunities for fun and humor.  Role playing hasn't changed much.

The game, however, really has.  AD&D was always a mini game to a degree, but they were there to allow for better visualization and some minor positioning.  Now, where you are on the grid is everything.  That took some getting used to.  I'm happy to say that I've gotten used to it.

I am playing a knight (fighter/defender).  My character is all about keeping the enemy away from the more delicate characters that hit harder than I do, but can't take the damage.  This last session, I finally got myself in a position where just about everything that tried to get around me got punished for the attempt.  Of course having some good rolls helped too, but I wouldn't have gotten to even try to roll the dice if my position was wrong.

Yes, my discovery for the day is that in 4E combat position is a high percentage of the battle.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Construction Updates

This will be a short post.  I've been meaning to get to it for a while, but it's amazing how these things slip through the cracks.
Construction continues on the convention center.

The Indianapolis Convention Center construction seems to be proceeding on schedule.  It's been very hot in Indy these past few months, and some construction projects were delayed a bit due to the heat.  It looks like they're fairly close to moving to completely indoor construction on the convention center though, so it's certainly on track for being complete for Gen Con next year.

The new J. W. Marriott hotel
The J. W. Marriott is moving along nicely as well.  I can't wait to see what this hotel is like when it's done.  They recently put the letters on the hotel, so it's no longer just a curved sheet of glass.  Peeking through the windows it looks like construction on the interior is moving at a good clip too.  I can't see much that could hold this hotel back from being completed on time.

This hotel will be a two gerbil tube hop from the convention center just like the Hyatt is, but on the opposite end.  There's a whole "Marriott Compound" sitting behind it, and it looks like they'll all be joined.

The west side of this hotel looks down on White River State Park.  This would be a great location to have w00tstock come during Gen Con.  As we get closer, it would be great if everyone hopped over to the w00tstock page, and followed the links to "demand" an Indianapolis w00tstock.  I think this link will get you there.  Sure, the orchestral video game music concert was nice this past year, but w00tstock during Gen Con would be epic.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Charlie and Barney's: A Great Place to Grab a Burger at Gen Con

Finally, as promised, I'm going to start posting some things that I hope will be useful for Gen Con attendees in 2011. The first here is a review of Charley & Barney's.  This is a great, local, semi-fast food restaurant that happens to be conveniently located right in the lobby of the Hyatt.

The Atrium of the Indianapolis Hyatt
The Hyatt is one of the more attractive downtown hotels once you get inside, with a large interior atrium.  There are a significant number of Gen Con events held in their facilities.  The hotel is also one of the few joined to the convention center by a crosswalk (OK...it actually joins to a parking garage, but it's just 2 gerbil tubes to the con center).  There's a Starbucks here, a Subway, and Charley & Barney's.

The highlighted fare at this little sit-down or take-away restaurant is the chilli and the burgers.  Both are very tasty.  I stopped by last week to have lunch, and got the bacon burger and fries.  The burger is good sized (not huge), and there's a toppings bar where you can add whatever you want.  The toppings bar also has a lot of items for adding to the chilli so you can end up with chilli just the way you like it.  From ordering time to being at my table ready to bite into the burger was about 4 minutes.  That's faster than most of the fast food places around here.  I honestly wouldn't expect that speed when it gets crowded, but I suspect you can still expect to be in and out of there fairly quickly during Gen Con.

Charley & Barney's sits on the ground floor of the
Hyatt on the East side of the atrium.
I've been to other Charley & Barney's locations before, so I knew what to expect:  A great tasting burger.  I was not disappointed at all on this count.  Way better than Steak & Shake in my opinion.  I'm not a big Steak & Shake fan because I think their burgers are way to thin and usually end up like hockey pucks.  The C & B burger was thicker and juicier, which is much more to my taste.

One of the disappointments at this location was the fries.  C & B fries are normally one of the best things about the meal.  Usually the fries are large, waffle-cut fries covered in a spicy salt.  They're to die for if you're a fry lover.  For some reason, at this location they were serving the regular style fries with minimal spicy goodness.  I would highly recommend asking what kind of fries you will be getting with your burger, and asking for the waffle fries if they won't be giving those to you.  Even if you have to pay extra, it will be totally worth the money.

Anyhow, if you need a quick place to stop for lunch while you're between games at Gen Con and you want fare that's a bit more than a fast food meal, I recommend checking Charley and Barney's out.  My meal cost about $8 (bacon burger w/fries and a soda).  That's just a little bit more than a fast food meal will run you, and it's so much tastier.  Probably healthier too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons Encounters: My First Game in...Many Years

Dug this guy out of my old minis...
I think I'll use him.
One of the more interesting ideas that Wizards of the Coast has had to promote D&D is the weekly D&D Encounters game.  The idea is simple:  local game stores run a weekly D&D game from a set package that covers one encounter per week.  This results in a game of about 2 hours or less.  The games are designed such that a player can come when they have time, but missing sessions is no big deal.  This sort of schedule is very convenient for those who would like to play, but just don't have the time to be involved with a regular 4 hour game group.  It's also a great way to get into the game if you're a new player who doesn't have a group yet and hasn't met any local gamers.  The Encounters sessions run in seasons which seem to last about 2 months.

Doing a very minimal amount of research (namely going to the D&D Encounters page and putting in my zip code to find the games available in the area), I discovered that not only was there a weekly game at the Arsenal Game Room, which is about 5 minutes from my workplace in downtown Indy, but a new season was about to start.  The new season was an introduction to D&D Essentials running a rewritten version of The Keep on the Borderlands (re-imagined by Chris Sims, @chrisssims who I follow in twitter).  How perfect is this?  First, I wanted to get back into playing with 4E style rules, but I had no idea who the local gamers near me are.  Second, I just won the red box essentials starter set.  Finally, Keep on the Borderlands is the adventure module that came with my original box set, and the very first adventure I ever played.  This was too good to be true, yet there is was.  I signed up to play.

I cleared my schedule by taking three hours of after hours work on Monday of that week.  This let me get out of work two hours early on Wednesday so I could go home, take care of my pets, grab some dinner and head back to the city for a night of D&D:  My first in 12 or so years.

The Arsenal Game Room is a decent sized place just outside of downtown.  It's basically a cafe that caters to gamers.  There's a full kitchen, and small section that sells games, dice, and such, and tables or private rooms to game in.  I'm not sure how they stay afloat in this city, but I hope they do.  It's a great idea.  The game selection in the store is small, but it's clearly not their primary business.

For this night, there were seven players, so we decided that we'd form one large party rather than split up and hope others came.  Turns out that was the correct decision.  Five of the players were very similar to me:  They were looking to play 4E, but had not done so yet.  Some had not played since 1E, just like me.  The other two were the dungeon master's children.  Yes, we had a group with ages ranging from 10 to over 40.  This could have ended very badly, but it turned out working very well.  We all got along and worked well together.  The adults made special efforts to make sure the kids got included, and the kids were polite and knew how to have fun with adults.  I was going to play either the cleric or the wizard from the pre-made characters, but we ended up short of fighters, so I played Quinn the fighter.

Things took a few minutes to really get going, as is normal with a totally new group of players.  You need to figure out who the others at the table are and how they play.  We were clearly not a group of hard core RP types, but some very fun role playing occurred anyway.  Right from the start several of us horribly missed a skill check and determined that the keep, controlled by a powerful good paladin, was infested with evil.  This became a running role playing joke as we took every opportunity to question the motives of the inhabitants of the keep and the surroundings.  Some fairly absurd and incorrect conclusions were drawn, always with the excuse of "..because of, you know, the evvvilllll."  Having that inside joke really help cement the group and made us play together far better.

When we got to the actual encounter for the evening, we had a rough time of it.  I joked on twitter later that our dice rolls were worse than Lindsay Lohan trying to make diplomacy checks.  We couldn't roll well no matter how we switched dice and modified our tactics.  In the end though, we made just enough rolls to come out on top without losing any characters.  Sure, we blew through our action points for the day, and some of our daily powers, but we made it.

I had a great time, and it was a wonderful way to get back into the game.  Essentials is a pared down set of rules, so that made relearning easy.  The hardest part of the whole system was trying to remember all the bonuses and negatives that applied to each dice roll.  I think next game I'll be better at that, now that I know what to look for.  Chris's interpretation of The Keep on the Borderlands has so far been both challenging and fun.  It hasn't really triggered any memories of the original yet, but we're only one encounter in.  If it never looks familiar, I won't care...I'm having fun.

Wednesday will now be a regular D&D night for me.  My roommate is fine with my playing one night a week, which I was concerned about.  It's all worked out well, and I look forward to continuing with this season of Dungeons & Dragons Encounters, and playing in future seasons as well.  I'm also keeping on the lookout for local gamers to eventually form a full 4E group with.  By the time Gen Con rolls around next year, I think I will be very comfortable with the 4E and Essentials rules and I'll be ready for the con.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First D&D Game in12 Years

I'm all lined up to play D&D Encounters at my FLGS tomorrow night, and I'm damn excited. It's been about 12 years since my last game, and that was 1E. I'm even more excited because the timing is so good. Tomorrow marks the opening game of season 3 of encounters, which will be Chris Sims' reimagining of The Keep on the Borderlands. KotB was the adventure module included in my very first basic box set, so it feels a bit like coming full circle.
I took my first look at the pregens a few minutes ago, and I'm thinking I'll try for either the human warpriest, or the eldarin wizard.
I'll update this soon with my experiences from the game. As long as I get to play, it'll be a big step in prepping for Gen Con next year.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons "Red Box" Starter Unboxing and Review

A couple of weeks ago I was checking my twitter account, and noticed a direct message I had missed.  In short, @Dreadgazeebo (author of the excellent Dread Gazebo blog at http://Dreadgazebo.net) had a contest where he would give away a Red Box set to one of his twitter followers chosen at random, and I was the lucky follower.  How cool is that?  I actually won a twitter contest, and I won something cool!  I got my address information to him, and shortly my prize arrived.  I have to say here that he's a really great guy with a very informative and helpful blog going.  I really shouldn't say have to...I just want to because it's true.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I started on the blue/gray boxed set.  The original red box was 2 sets past that, but I remember when it came out.  Since I haven't played D&D in more than 10 years, I thought it would be really neat to be able to unbox a new basic set and compare after so many years and editions.  My initial reaction is best summed up by watching I think:



Like I said in the video, these were my initial impressions.  Some of them were wrong, but I think I was generally on track.

So what's the set like when you dig a little deeper?

The Players Book is the starting point.  The more I think about this book, the more I like it for a truly new player.  First, it's done in the "choose your own adventure" style, where you bounce around numbered paragraphs depending on the actions you decide to take.  The book guides you through the very basics of the game by actually getting you into a very simple encounter and teaching you character creation and basic game mechanics while you're playing.  One of the really nice things about this is that a new player will get a feel for the game right off the bat without having to have other people to play with.  Further, there's not a lot to read and learn, so it's not intimidating.  It stresses play over rules and concepts over details.  I know I would have loved this when I started playing.  The mini-game is simple and not very exciting, but it does develop a good feel for how play works.  The one problem I did see by the time I finished the book was that it does take the how-to-draw-The-Tick method.  In issue #1 of The Tick (the comic), there's a one page guide to drawing The Tick.  The instructions are: 1) Draw an oval, 2) Draw a line through the center of the oval, 3) Now draw The Tick holding the oval with the line through it.  Similarly here, the book introduces one very basic concept at a time until the last part, then it throws the entire combat system at you.  Sure, it's not that hard to learn, but it's kind of a shocking break for a new player who's been absorbing one rule at a time up until that point.

This does bring me to some of the other contents of the box.  First, a full set of good quality polyhedral dice is provided.  I guess this is no big deal now, but I wish I had these when I started.  My basic set had chits:  Cut out squares with numbers that you drew from a cup to simulate a die roll.  Chits sucked...no two ways about it.  I really appreciate that Wizards of the Coast included dice here.  They also included tokens for a variety of characters and monsters and a nice fold out map to play on.  Fourth edition D&D is a very figure oriented game compared to some of the previous editions, and it's nice to have a something to start with.  The tokens are printed on both sides, and the players have a red side to indicate if they are bloodied.  This will help a new player a lot with visualizing the action, and I think will end up selling minis pretty quickly.  The map has several sections for the included adventure, but they can be mixed and matched to generate other dungeons and outdoor areas.  There are also power cards included.  These are super handy for new players, as it gives them the full details of what their characters can do in a simple, easy to organize way.  No more flipping around a book to figure out what you can do and what the mechanics are.  Very smart.  The cards are a little hard to get out of their pages as they are pre-cuts that need to be punched out and the cardstock is not very thick.

The Dungeon Master's Book is where all the meat is of course.  Still, it shortens the game down to a small number of pages.  This makes it clear that the overall thrust of the box is get-out-there-and-play.  I think that's great, and I think the box succeeds for a very modest price.  The Dungeon Master's Book fleshes out the remainder of the needed rules in 19 pages, and then continues the adventure that the Player's Book started.  The idea is that now anyone who bought this box will have found the other people needed to play, and can graduate to having a dungeon master.  The adventure occupies a good portion of the DM's book, and seems aimed at teaching the basics of DMing while staying simple enough that both players and DMs spend more time playing than wrestling with rules.  It's not just hack and slash either....there are puzzles to solve and situations that require a non-combat approach to survive.  Playing through this, you'll get a little taste of a lot of the aspects commonly found in an adventure.  The last portion of the book gives the budding DM a cast of monsters they can use to create their own adventures as well as a small area that is suitable to set a campaign in.  It also provides advice and guidelines on designing stories, adventures, and encounters so the players and DM can move forward on their own.

Finally, there is the download code for an additional adventure in the same setting to keep things going.  It's interesting that it's a solo adventure in the style of the Player's Book.  This means a player will have something to do if they can't find a group right way.  Doing it as a download means Wizards of the Coast can offer this without having to increase the production cost of the box.

When I think the package over as a whole, I have to say that I think it's really well put together for the purpose it's suppose to serve.  It's not for players who know the game well, it's for brand new roleplayers.  It gives them all the tools to play without overburdening them with the full weight of all the rules that really make up Dungeons & Dragons 4E.  It's a starter, not a tome of all knowledge, and it whets the appetite for more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Off Topic: Daemon by Daniel Suarez, A Really Good Read

I've seen a lot of friends out there looking for recommended books to read, and today this one just happened to pop into my head:  Daemon by Daniel Suarez.

While this book is not about games or gaming or Gen Con, it heavily uses elements of MMORPG gaming in the plot.  If you're a hacker, computer geek, futurist, or electronic gamer I highly recommend picking this up.  The short synopsis:  When a genius game designer dies, the appearance of his obituary in an online publication triggers a program (daemon for those technically minded) that begins to take actions that change the face of humanity.  I don't want to give away any more than that.

The really cool thing about this book is that the author really knows his stuff, and doesn't black-box his computing.  The hacking and programing techniques he employs are very real today...they just haven't been used in this way yet.  When his hackers hack a system, he describes how it occurs using valid, real methods.  When computers interact with the physical world, the systems they use are described (and they exist today).

Towards the end of the book, things do go a little off the deep end, and it starts to get a bit more improbable, but I think that can be forgiven considering how plausible his initial scenarios are.

Anyway, the book is available at major online retailers in hardback, paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats.  The links below are not affiliate links...I'm sharing, not making money.

Amazon.com
Amazon.com (for Kindle)
B&N.com
B&N.com (for nook)
Borders.com
Audible.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

Elf Park Lives!

It's been a month since Gen Con 2010, and the infamous Elf Park is still a feature of downtown Indy. Hopefully they never get around to fixing this. :)
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moar Gamz

I acquired two more small games today.  Cthulhu Dice and Gloom.  Thanks very much to @ChronicGeek for recommending Gloom.

Cthulhu dice is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be:  A fast, take anywhere, get some interaction among gamers going, type of game.  What a fantastic ice breaker.  I'll just be carrying this one around with me I think.

Gloom looks pretty much amazing.  In this card game you try to kill off your family in the most humiliating way, reducing their lives to the pit of despair before finally doing them in.  The person with the lowest score in the end wins.  As a goth, I must say that this game grabs and tugs at my dark sense of humor like my dog on anything I don't want her to have.  The cards themselves are pretty cool as well, being clear mostly so you can play by overlaying points and effects.  My only issue so far is that the material can be a bit clingy (sticky card is sticky!).  I get the impression that this tendency to cling together goes away with time though.  I can't wait to sit down and play this one.  Looks good for a lot of socializing and laughs.  I also like that the writers encourage you to tell stories of woe as things happen to your family members.

That's two more small games for Gen Con next year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Old Dog Learns New Tricks

It's been a long time since I actively gamed.  All the systems I know have gone through serious rules changes and edition changes.  I was just scratching the surface of AD&D 2E when I last played that game.  Obviously 4E is a very different animal.  I hadn't heard of Pathfinder or Munchkin prior to Gen Con this year.  Does R. Talsorian games exist anymore (they made the Cyberpunk RPG..oh look, they exist, but apparently there's bad blood with Gen Con)?  Lots of people talk about Settlers of Catan, but I've never seen it played.  Clearly, I need to come up to speed.

I've picked a couple of systems to learn that I think will give me a variety of things to do at Gen Con without breaking the bank.  Here's my thoughts...

www.Paizo.com 

I've picked up the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.  I didn't know it until I started reading it, but clearly this is where the AD&D style play that I am most familiar with has gone.  That's convenient.  I'm reading through it right now because I'm so old school that skills and feats are a new idea to me.  Still, everything looks fairly familiar so far, but with good modifications.  It looks like they've really balanced out some of the things that never seemed correct to me in AD&D.  I haven't gotten to the combat section yet, but peeking ahead makes me confident that the round/turn system now makes sense and is way easier to implement.  I look forward to digging into it more.

www.wizards.com

I also picked up the 4E Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook.  This looks more like a radical rewrite.  Still, I see the potential and think it will probably be a lot of fun, if in a different way than Pathfinder.  I also consider D&D to be a need-to-know system for Gen Con since there will be so many opportunities for games.  I look forward to diving into this in the coming months.  I'd like to make it to a few D&D Encounters games prior to Gen Con as well.

www.sjgames.com

Roleplaying games are fine, but what about some lighter fare for quick games and cheesy fun.  Gen Con is a 24 hours-a-day event after all.  Munchkin looks like a great start there.  I got the starter set, and reading the rules made it sound like a fun little social game.  When I actually set up a solo game (where I played all the hands just to get a feel for the rules and the flow of play) it became very obvious that the fun lies almost completely in the interaction.  I can see having a blast with this when there's some downtime.  I may even grab a few expansions so I have those on hand.

I'm hoping to also grab Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice.  These seem to be really quick, play anywhere games that can be over in minutes.  It's good to have a few of those handy.

I'm open to other suggestions as well.  These are just some games I decided to learn since they give me a good arsenal of games I'm ready to play.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My First Gen Con Experience

I suppose that I should really talk about going to Gen Con this year (2010) and what lead me there to frame why I'm eager to get back next year.  This will go long, but you'll know where I stand if you wade though it.

I started gaming in 1980.  I was relocating to Singapore from New York because my dad's job had transferred him.  We made a stop in San Francisco where I picked up the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons coloring book.  I was 10, and beyond coloring books, but I liked the art and the little story that went with it grabbed my attention while I thumbed through it at the store.  In the middle of this was a little board game that took you through a dungeon where you met such things as a beholder, skeletons, etc.  I played that silly little game over and over.  Our next stop was Hawaii (yeah, it was a very nice vacation) where I met a boy my age.  We hung out, and had a lot of fun.  I told him how cool I thought this book was, and he said something like "If you like that, you'd love the real game."  Real game?  There was more?



The next day I forced my parents to stop at a game store at the little mall we were shopping at (for my mom), and I bought the blue box basic set (Seventh Ed. with chits, not dice).  Yes, there was a game store on the island of Kauai.  This was meant to be.  My friend DM'd me through B2 - Keep on the Borderlands, where I almost died on the first encounter until I started to realize that I could attempt anything that I could imagine.  I'm now 40 years old...I still remember all this clearly.  That's the kind of impression it left.  Couldn't tell you much more about that vacation.  Inside the box was also a little TSR glossy catalog...it mentioned this thing called Gen Con.

The following year, I saved my allowance for the entire year so I could buy D&D stuff when we went back to the U.S. over the summer.  My parents were astounded.

For the next <insert fairly large number> years I played D&D, and a host of other RPGs and boardgames.  I have no artistic talent, but I taught myself to paint miniatures (and got good at it).  I played, DM'd, was in game clubs, etc.  It was my dream to go to a con one year, and GenCon was the pinnacle of that.

Time passed, I grew older, I played fewer games (switching mostly to video games), and I forgot....

When Gen Con relocated to Indianapolis, I'd been living there a while.  Oh yeah..Gen Con.  I remembered that.  Not important to me any more though.

In 2009, I thought I'd go see what Gen Con was about because some of the people I played MMO's with were going.  I figured "what the heck."  I preregistered and paid, then I had to switch jobs and could not go after all.

In late July 2010 my coworker mentioned that he was going to be on vacation the week of Gen Con, and a little quick browsing led me to the discovery that Felicia Day, other Guild cast members, and Wil Wheaton were going to be the media guests at the con.  I love The Guild, and didn't want to miss this opportunity.  I figured I could take a few hours off on Friday and I would be sure to be able to hit the signing area and meet some of them.  On Monday I took a walk down to the convention center and saw all the signs welcoming gamers to town.  How big was this thing that Indianapolis would roll out the red carpet for a group of geeks (like me)?.  This is a jock/sports city.  That night, I registered (still had my RUBI account from 2009), and bought a day badge for Friday.

Wednesday, I headed to the Convention Center to pick up my badge.  WOW!  I felt like I was strangely home.  There was an odd sort of kinship with the multitude of gamers walking around the convention center.  I chatted with the people in front of and behind me while waiting to get my badge from Will Call.  It was like I'd never left the gaming culture.  I couldn't place my finger on it, but I was happy and I felt like I'd come home.  I spent that lunch hour in line, then touring the convention center.  I couldn't believe what the Con guide book and my eyes were telling me...this thing had taken over the nearest hotels completely, as well as the Convention Center.  I was eager to return as soon as possible.


Thursday I spent my lunch hour exploring Gen Con without being able to get into anything.  I decided I'd spend most of my precious Friday time on the exhibitor's hall floor since the signing area was there, and I could browse the incredible number of game vendors.

I pulled some overtime and after hours work that was available that week, and had 3 hours saved up for Friday.  Plan was to skip lunch and leave at 1 pm.  That gave me 4 hours until I had to leave...plenty of time.  I should mention here that my roommate is not a geek like me.  She has strong feelings about gaming that come from her religious views, and I was sneaking around to do this without having problems at home.  Thursday night, she announced that since I had hours, she would like to go look at all the cosplay costumes (she does enjoy those) since I would be getting off early.  This meant no time for me, since I could not be seen with a badge without getting into a big money and morals argument.  I thought my day was sunk.  In the end, I pulled out an hour of time to walk the hall floor before I had to head back home to pick her up.

Walking into the exhibitor's hall I was flooded with happiness.  Wil Wheaton was signing, but I knew I no longer had time to get through the line if I wanted to see anything.  I didn't know why I was so happy until it hit me half way into the area:  This was the realization of a childhood dream I'd completely forgotten I had.  We are very lucky if we get one real dream that comes true in our lifetime, and here it was...unexpected but very real.  Looking at all the vendors, demos, and games I realized that had I been here when I was in high school I probably would have passed out due to joy overload :).  I wandered the floor for an hour, then headed home and picked up my roommate.  We journeyed back, and hung out downtown for a few hours walking around and taking in the cosplayers.  We were there for the zombie walk.  She really enjoyed it, but I knew from comments that I was still not free to participate in the gaming.

So, that's where I am now.  I plan to go back, and at some point I will have to have a big confrontation about going to Gen Con in 2011 to game.  I'm hoping I can set the correct circumstances and pick the right time so that it will be a productive discussion and not a fight.  

I do plan to be there though....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Plan to Cover Here

I'm hoping to make this more than just my musings on getting to Gen Con 2011.  Hopefully this will be a useful resource to those planning on attending next year as well.

I'd like to do some posts covering the rooms and services offered by the major hotels downtown and have these all done prior to pre-registration time.  This might provide some additional info and help everyone chose where they want to stay.  I know I'll give the reasons for my pick.  I'd also like to take every opportunity I have to get some pics of the convention center as the new construction progresses, and of the new J.W. Marriott hotel as they complete it.  If I get the opportunity, I'll also try to cover some of the nearby eateries and bars.

Since I've been out of gaming for so long I'm going to be picking up a few games and getting to know the rules.  At minimum I'm going to have to learn the newest editions of those games I might have known at one time, but now have to relearn due to changes.  I'll talk about these, and what I think of them.

....And as with any blog, I'll have random musings that are at least minimally related to Gen Con as well.

Hope I can make it an interesting ride for everyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Journey Begins with the First Steps

For me, the first step was simple...attend a day at Gen Con for the first time.  I've been a gamer for 30 years, lived in Indianapolis longer than Gen Con has been here, yet I never involved myself at all.  This year that changed, and now I'm on a quest to prep myself to have the time of my life next year.  I've been out of tabletop gaming for 10 years, and even threw a lot of my stuff out.  I've had problems with being overly obsessed with MMO's I've had to overcome.  I've got a roommate that doesn't approve of my geeky ways at all.  Still, I plan on being at Gen Con 2011 for the full event, and I'm going to take this year to slowly plan my time and learn/relearn enough games to have a lot of fun.

That journey will be chronicled here :).