Finally starting to get back to normal after attending Origins 2013 in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. I had a really good time this year and consider it another successful year for Origins. I am going to hit a few of the highlights for me and also note a couple of things I think Origins could improve upon.
Online G+ Group Reunion
I have been running a Dungeon Crawl Classics game online since late summer of last year. We’ve had a very stable group and the group continues to meet every week even now. From this same group I spent about two months plays in a Dungeonslayers game before my scheduling became a little more complicated.
Months ago we decided we would meetup at Origins in person. We actually pulled this off and I was able to meet several folks I had only known virtually and game with them pretty much the whole weekend. That really added to the experience of the con this year for me. I had a great time playing games and running games for them as well as just general socializing and hanging out. We had folks from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana by the time the whole weekend was done!
I actually did not play in any official events this year. Instead it was all gaming in the open gaming areas or at the Geek Chic tables by the Big Bar on 2 when we could get them. I ran two Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG sessions (The Waystation and The Tower Out of Time). Both sessions went very well. I had seven players for the Saturday afternoon session!
I also played in a DCC RPG game one of my friends ran, the 13th Skull. That one nearly ended in a TPK only two hours or so in, but a well rolled Invoke Patron by the elf fixed that for us! We ended up successfully completing the module in amazing success!
One person from our “reunion” ran Gamma World 4e. That was a late night game and was a good time. I am not sure I fully get Gamma World or that it is the game for me, but I still had a very fun time at the session! And another person ran Basic Fantasy RPG. Had a lot of fun with that. We generated our characters at the start of the session with 3d6 in order which can lead to some interesting characters to play. Quite enjoyable!
The Dealer Hall
There were of course many trips through the dealer hall. I was pretty conservative, but did pick up a few things.
- 8 DCC RPG 3.x modules from the Buy 1, Get 3 Free booth
- Chessex Factory 2nd Battlemat (smaller than my megamat)
- A 12-sided hit location die to determine scarring in DCC RPG
- 30-sided die that doesn’t roll all the way across a con table from Lou Zocchi
- A 7-sided die from the same
- a d20 to replace one I apparently lost during the con
Picked up some souvenirs for the kids on Sunday when I toured the dealer hall with them.
The Origins Experience
While I had a great time at the con and the Origins staff always seems to pull it off and run a smooth event, I do have a few suggestions to help put some folks minds at ease.
First, communication! The Facebook group is pretty active, use it to help get information out there. People get nervous when things are handed out at the last minute or when registration opens after Gen Con’s does. If you can’t get things opened sooner, at least communicate with folks on these types of things. It just helps people feel more confident in the preparedness of the con.
This year the lines were short, I picked up my badge with no issue and friends running events had no issues. But prior to the con folks were wondering how prepared the Origins staff was. The end result is things went smooth – you have the hard part done, now just communicate to people so they aren’t left wondering or doubting!
My group was planning on relying heavily on the open gaming area this year for a lot of our games. We wanted to play with each other and trying to get big groups through the registration process all at the same table can be problematic. We all purchased full con badges, so we paid our money – we just wanted to have a more flexible schedule and easier time playing games together.
The open gaming area this year was small – thirteen tables I believe. A friend posted a pic of the area on Wednesday before I got there and was pretty worried about how our plan was going to work with so few tables. There were certainly plenty of areas to have more tables throughout the con.
Now in the end, it did not work out too bad. We found a table when we needed one, though one was a little cramped, but it work out. I think the Geek Chic table area in the Big Bar on 2 helped with some of this, but we could only get those tables for 3 hours at a time. Regardless, put out some more tables so finding a spot to game with friends at the last minute is not something to be too worried about finding space for.
Costume Contest versus Open Gaming
On Saturday I was running a game in the open gaming area, along with a lot of other folks. And then the costume contest rolled in. The costume contest was held in the open gaming area. Not in one of the vacant ballrooms right next to the open gaming area, but in the open gaming area. Folks crowded around our table, it was too loud to hear what was happening even when leaning in to the table. This was not a well thought out idea!!
We ended up moving our game into one of the empty ballrooms. Luckily that was much, much quieter and things worked out for us. No idea what happened to all the other open gaming folks that were there at the time.
But don’t set aside an area for open gaming and then schedule other events (loud events) to happen right there in the area.
There was a fair amount of controversy on this one. For several years the con has offered day passes or family passes that allowed access to the dealer hall for a low price of $10 or $15. That was available this year, but only on Saturday.
Please, please reconsider this. Let it be available on all days or at least on Saturday and Sunday. I like to bring my wife and kids for a walk through the hall. We always spend money there, souvenirs for the kids, jewelry for my wife, etc.But Saturday is often booked with gaming for me, making Sunday the better day to bring them up for a walk through the con.
This year my wife could not make it and luckily I could do actual con badges for the kids who were 9 and younger who were free. But this won’t always be the case. This will generate lost sales in the dealer hall as far as my family is concerned. If I need to spend $20 on a badge just to let them tour the dealer hall it isn’t happening.
Positive Origins Experience
Despite some of my complaints above, the con was a great time. The staff I interacted with was friendly and waiting in lines was minimal. So for me it was another successful Origins convention for me. I do hope the convention staff will take a look at some of the comments above though as I think they have the hard part done and simply improving communication and listening to some of the feedback would help Origins thrive.
Looking forward to next year already!