Looking Back at GenCon 50 (2017)

30 August, 2017

Well, I am mostly recovered from my experience at GenCon 50 and the trip back, so thought it was time to write things up before it all falls from my head.

Days -2 and -1 were travel towards Indianapolis, early morning arrival and working setup on the AEG booth in the exhibit hall.  Busy but not very exciting but we did get most of the setup done on Tuesday which was a great achievement.

Learning to play

Cat Lady in progress

Day 0, Wednesday, is the real beginning of the convention in many ways these days.  Had a few moments to wonder the halls, found  some of the Goodman Games crew bagging old Appendix N paperbacks for sale and we had a good discussion about Poul Anderson.  Also ran across and talked with author Marion G. Harmon, author of Wearing the Cape, a novel about superheroes (which I am currently reading and enjoying), and the FATE-Based RPG of the same title, which was fun.  We finished up setup and I had a chance to learn many, many AEG games such as Oath of the Brotherhood, Custom Heroes (from the designer himself), the Captain is Dead, 60 Seconds to Save the World and Cat Lady (better than it sounds, I promises).  Howard and I had our traditional Tuesday night meal in the Ram, which was good but not as good as previous years, which I blame on eating in the lounge rather than the restaurant proper but lesson learned.  Daniel Griego of Inner Kingdom Games dropped by my Shadowfist kickstarter rewards which are much appreciated.

Day 1, Thursday, works begins after some Bee Coffee.  Dashed through the exhibitors’ hall to grab a GenCon dice set for one of the other demo team members. then teaching Istanbul (not Constantinople), oddly, even though They Might Be Giants were performing at GenCon, no one made that comment all con.  During my break, off the get lost in the exhibitors’ hall and try to catch up with some people I know who might be there.  Visited Drew Baker‘s booth and checked out his new art, ended up buying a playmat which I cannot find a picture of at his site but L5Rish in theme.  Honestly, all a bit of a blur, but I did hit up the Catalyst booth for a Maria Mercurial Tour (an iconic rocker from the Shadowrun setting) t-shirt.  Then back to work, general helping then session 2 of Istanbul, yes, expect to see that game mentioned a lot over this.

D&D Draft

The Ur Document

After work, caught up with Daniel Griego and actually got in a game of Shadowfist with him and another gentleman whose name I forgot (sorry), which I lost, but nice just to play.  Then grabbed some food, wandered around the con and ended up in the Museum of Gaming over on the field level of the Lucas Oil Stadium, which was pretty amazing just to be there as well, but the museum was even better: filled with memorabilia of GenCon and gaming, including the ur-document of roleplaying, the original typewritten manuscript for Dungeons & Dragons with handwritten notes by Arneson and Gygax, so cool!  The original art for the cover of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Paladin in Hell piece from the Player’s Handbook.  And so much more, it was a love letter to our hobby.  Thanks to everyone who loaned their precious pieces of history so that we could see and enjoy it.

Then some more wandering, including a trip up to Jack’s Donuts, good stuff, even if the frosting melts in summer weather.  This was the only night I managed to get to bed at a reasonable time.

Day 2, Friday, usual morning for GenCon, shower, coffee and Istanbul.  Another good demo then off to the exhibitors’ hall.  So much to see, honestly, it was quite overwhelming.  I thought it was big last year but there was even more space devoted to exhibitors this year from the biggest names to tiny start up, with everything for sale from games to dice to costumes to art.  So many wonderful things but hardly enough time (or money) to truly take best advantage of it all.

Then back to events, where I found I had misread my schedule and was late.  Ended up working the right number of hours just in the wrong order so it was alright in the end, just a little embarrassing.    Then a quick dinner and back for Big Game Night, AEG’s biggest event (I heard we had six hundred attendees this year) which runs from 8pm to Midnight and staffers have to be there early and stay late.  Many games were taught, I worked mostly with Cat Lady, a little with 60 Seconds and general helping out.  Fun but tiring.

GenCon Cosplay

The CosPlay Parade begins!

Day 3, Saturday, usual start to the day and a fairly routine day, lots of people for the games which was good.  Was allowed to take a few minutes to watch the CosPlayers parade, which started through the events hall, and was new to this year I think.  Some fun costumes but CosPlay is still fringe at GenCon, not a major subtheme to the convention as it is at Dragon*Con, but nice to see a bit more support for these hobbyists.

That evening caught up with some of my friends from the online Legend of the Five Rings community for dinner, this is the only chance I have to meet them face to face and we get introduced to each other through our screen avatars, rather funny.  Good conversation, good meal.  We broke up at about 10pm and I had intended to go back and get some rest but was passing by the games on demand booth as the last set of games was starting.   And I hate to visit GenCon without getting at least one roleplaying game in and since I had a generic ticket with me (note to self: add to GenCon advice, always have some generic tickets), I waited in line and . . . all the games were full be the time it got to me.  But a brave young woman stepped up and said that she could run Masks: A New Generation for us.  I leapt at the chance.  Though it took us through to 2am, it was well worth it.  Character and setting creation took up the first half and an adventure the second.  Our GM (Lili I think?) was very patient with four guys who had never played any powered by the apocalypse game before.  Great fun and I highly recommend Masks for anyone who wants a Teen Titans sort of game.  But back way late and did not get to sleep until after 2:30am but entirely worth it!

Day 4, Sunday, slow start but after a shower and coffee, ready to teach more games!  All went well, last demo of GenCon was the new Lovecraft Letters game which was fun.  Spend a last few frantic minutes in the exhibitors’ hall, made a few last minute purchases before having to return to the AEG booth to help with breakdown.  I finally found the Studio Foglio booth just as they were starting to take it down!  Still got to say hello to Phil and grab a few Girl Genius bookmarks.  Breakdown when fairly smoothly and then we had a wrapup dinner at P F Chang’s.  Watched a bit of the new Legends of the Five Rings LCG being played, then packed things up and got to bet around 1am.  Zzzzzz.

Day 4+1, on the road home, left Indy early and ran smack into Eclipse viewing traffic . . . Ended up in a great place to view the eclipse (98% totality) but ended up getting home almost four hours later then we have planned.  Still, all things considered, not a bad day.

And that was my GenCon 50!  I had a great time, met wonderful people, played fun games, looked at ever so many interesting things and -except for being exhausted at the end- had no problems.  Probably will be back next year and maybe I will see you there.

Notes: Some of the links (to Amazon and DriveThruRPG) are affiliate links and will earn me a small amount if you buy through them.
















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