Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gen Con 2012

Gen Con.  The Best Four Days in Gaming.  They ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.  J

So here is my perfunctory Gen Con post. 

Day 0 (Wednesday):
Woke up entirely too early to catch my flight.  Slept on the plane.  Arrived in Indy and took a limo to the hotel.  (They really aren’t that much more than a cab from the airport).  Ate some lunch.  Unpacked.  Gave a small tour of the area to my friend who had never been to Gen Con before.  Got my badge and tickets.  Helped my other friends set up their booth.  Waited a long time to get seated for dinner at Weber Grill, but the yummy food was yummy and we had a big group.  Went to sleep.

Day 1 (Thursday): 
Got up early to line up for early VIG access to the Dealer Hall.  Went straight to Three Geeks and aNeedle, where I bought a Tardis bag similar to the one shown below.  My most expensive purchase of the trip, and I love every fiber.  Walked around for about 20 minutes before leaving to go to my 10am game of Cthulhutech.  Still love that system, and I will run a game in it someday.  Went to an okay seminar on “Better Adventures” which mostly was stuff I knew already.  Sat down for a bit in the VIG lounge.  Went to my 4pm Game of Thrones game, which was a short adventure to familiarize one with the system.  I had never played GoT before, and I did like the system.  But really I think it was more my (and the other players’ and GM’s) enthusiasm for the series of books and shows that made me want to play.  I could see setting a campaign in that world without necessarily using that system.  Got some dinner.

It's not actually bigger on the inside.

Then enter Fiasco game #1, using the Gangster London playset at Games on Demand.  First of all, our organizer/pseudo-GM Travis was most excellent.  Second of all, we had a complete blast.  I laughed more in that 2 -2.5 hours than at any other point I’ve ever gamed, period.  Third, all of the players were first-timers who really put their all into it.  Fourth, the creator Jason Morningstar was running a game at the next table, and I still felt like our table was the best place to be – that’s saying something!  It was a blast – and as you will see I played it a bit more over the weekend. 

Afterward, I tried out some Sentinels of the Multiverse card game, which is basically comic book heroes brought to life.  It was fun, but I was tired and left about halfway through the game.

Day 2 (Friday):
Woke up and took my turn working the ENnies booth.  I think most of the traffic that came by stopped because there were two non-intimidating women at the booth who seemed friendly, but there were a couple of people genuinely interested in the nominees.  Then I played some Eclipse Phase, another system I adore.  I will run that someday too.  Afterward I went to a seminar about novel writing, which had valuable information about setting up your novel, but wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be.  Still good though.  And then it was getting ready and going to the ENnies.  It was a lot more fun after the judges’ announced their spotlight awards, because up to that point I was nervous.  Afterward, I went and played some Cards Against Humanity with a friend & his friends, then off to sleep.  Also, this was the day the Star Wars RPG was announced, and one of my friends snagged me a copy (yay!).

Day 3 (Saturday):
Woke up and spent an hour in the dealer hall before playing Giant Seafarers of Catan, during which I may have stood in line to meet Wil Wheaton.  I hadn’t ever played seafarers, and I did a bad job of selecting locations appropriately.  However, I love Catan even when I’m losing badly, so it was fun.  And the details of the Giant Tiles was great.  Then I had some lunch, talked to some friends, and went to the ENnies judges panel, which had essentially no attendees.  It was the first year to try it, and I don’t anticipate that it will ever be held again.  However, it was a nice time to chat with the other judges and gain a sense of closure on judging.  Afterward, I took a nap and then woke up to eat some dinner and then go to True Dungeon, which was awesome.  The draco-lich at the end looked like the cover of the Neverwinter Nights campaign book come to life – and the new location inside the ICC was really atmospheric.  Then played game #2 of Fiasco with friends, using the Vegas playset.  It was a late night!

Day 4 (Sunday):
Slept in.  Packed up, checked out of hotel.  Went to Games on Demand.  Thought about playing Hollowpoint, but ended up playing game #3 of Fiasco, using “At Regina’s Wedding” playset.  The first game was still the best, but I had fun all three times.  Afterward, spent a bit more time in the dealer hall, made a couple of purchases (fate dice, Dragon Age Set 1, an Eclipse Phase dice bag, and some normal dice – nothing too crazy or spendy).  Then it was lunch/dinner at the Ram – yum – and then off to catch the plane home.

I spent most of Monday asleep, which was lovely. And now back to reality.  :(

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ennies judge, part 4 (finale)

My responsibilities for the 2012 ENnies have concluded.  The ceremony happened on Friday, 8/17.  Congratulations to ALL the winners – you can find the complete list here:  2012 ENnie award winners

Being a part of this process was very rewarding, to say the least.  Attending the ceremony as a judge felt great.  I was genuinely thrilled for all the winners, and not knowing which products won before-hand made for a very exciting evening.

Among the winners, I was probably *most* excited for Gaming As Women,Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game, and Stealing Cthulhu.  Gaming as Women is a blog written by a collection of women about their experiences, good and bad, in the gamer community.  Though I can’t relate to everything they post, I am happy in the knowledge that there is a place to discuss any issues openly and honestly.  Masks is a product I will be using for the rest of my gaming career.  It is full of rich NPCs that would add depth to any encounter, session or campaign in any system.  And Stealing Cthulhu provides new ways to incorporate Cthulhu into your campaigns.  They are all worthy of their wins. 

Now, to highlight a few other products.

As a judge, I was given the privilege of awarding a Judge’s Spotlight ENnie award.  My choice is Edge by Outrider Studios: 

[gush/]  I absolutely, positively love the world that was created for Edge.  There are beings with preternatural powers that humans call “angels” and “demons,” though they are not exactly as we think of them here on Earth.  These angels and demons exert power and influence over humans, and they are diametrically opposed to one another – and compelled to destroy their counterparts.  This leads to conflict, and occasionally full-scale war.  There are Edgemasters, who are magically powerful warriors, Dreamweavers, who are able to bring ideas to life, and Chosen, who are soldiers bound to Angels or Demons.  The game uses the Rapidfire system, which encourages quick combat and more roleplaying. 

On another level, as much as I love-love-love this game, I want to point out that it treats women very well.  What do I mean by that?  Looking through the book, there is very little exploitative art (ie, women are fully clothed, and there is little cleavage to be found).  There are two badass characters in the historical timeline, Rowan (a man) and Camille (a woman).  It is a welcome change. 

I can’t wait to get this on the table.  You can purchase Edge here:

And if you prefer Sci-Fi to fantasy, I would recommend taking a look at Remnants, also by Outrider studio.  [/gush]

There are also some products that I would have loved to have seen nominated but didn’t quite make the cut (there was some fierce competition!).

The Faerie Ring:  Red Jack – this is a very clever little supplement for Pathfinder.  It is the second installment of six in Along the Twisting Way, and provides a rich backstory for an adversary that could pop up in any campaign.  I will be searching out the other five installments.

Assassin’s Amulet – another fantastic supplement for Pathfinder.  This is an incredibly rich source of information about assassins that could be incorporated into any campaign.  And there is a free sample available online:  It’s worth your time!

All in all, I was very excited for all the nominees, and happy for the winners as well.  Though I may have my personal preferences, I felt very proud at the ENnies ceremony about the high standard of quality in roleplaying games over the last year.  Can’t wait to see what next year holds!