Gary Con VI

gary-con2Gary Con VI is right around the corner! On Thursday morning I will be getting up, having breakfast with the family and then headed out. I hope to get into a pick-up game of something on Thursday night and I have scheduled games on Friday and Saturday, with a short seminar on Sunday morning before I hit the road and head back home.

For those also headed out and fans of the DCC RPG Actual Play podcast I have the continuing saga of the adventurers’ assault on the Wizard’s Tower scheduled to post earlier than normal on Wednesday morning. So be sure to fire up your favorite podcast client before heading out.

Beyond that the blog will be pretty quiet through early next week. I was going to try to chronicle my trip, but I have switched thoughts and plan on relaxing and just enjoying gaming for those four days. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work this past couple of months and also hard at work on Iron Tavern Press as well. I think I will use the con as a chance to recharge my batteries!

With that said, I am sure I will take some pics and such – so keep an eye on my Twitter feed and G+ feed for some occasional fun that will inevitably find its way into my social streams.

And if you are going to be at Gary Con this year – feel free to stop me and say hey! Whether you are fan of the blog, Iron Tavern Press, want to ask when the next Spellburn episode is, or if we just frequent some of the same circles – say hi!

My Worst Convention Game

convention_crowdThe Gaming Convention season is almost over.  There are going to be some smaller and regional conventions that happen throughout the year but the big season is the summer with Origins and Gen Con.  I wanted to talk about the best convention games, but there have been so many great ones that it is hard to think of the best.  But when it comes to the worst gaming experience at a convention for me it is not even close.  At Origins a few years ago I played in a game of Colonial Gothic that failed in so many ways, all because of the GM.

Colonial Gothic was entered in the ENnies and I was a judge that year.  I had played it with some local friends and it did not go well.  The rules as we understood them made success very difficult even if we min-maxed a character.  The concept of the game is supernatural elements in the time of the American Revolution and that was awesome sounding.  I really wanted to like the game but it was not working for us.  When I signed up for Origins I saw there was an official game being run Wednesday, the first game of the convention, in the late afternoon.  I signed up and had my copy of the book, dice, and was ready to play.  Unfortunately the GM was not.

The table had six players and two of us had books.  I did not know anyone at the table, but while we waiting for the GM we chatted and it seemed like a good table.  No one else knew the game; I was the only person who had played before.  I did not mention I had before with the game.  Our GM showed up.  She fell into the chair exhausted and looked and smelled as if she had just run a marathon.  She is a large lady and obviously had health issues.  Since then I’ve seen that she now goes around conventions on a scooter.  She tossed character sheets at us, told us to make characters, and then she left to get food.  We were stunned.  Usually GMs provide characters and if we are to make characters they have some condensed rules for us to use and stay there to help the players.   With the few copies of the book we had I helped guide the other players to create characters.  She came back 15 minutes later with her food.  She helped out some and answered questions.

I had signed up for the game to see how the rules work, and to see if when I had ran it earlier that year we had been doing something wrong.  The GM told us as we were finishing up characters that even though this was an official event by the publishing company she didn’t know the rules and was not going to be using them as written.  Right from the gate the primary reason for my signing up for the game was negated.

The set up for the scenario was that our group has been tasked by colonists in Atlanta, Georgia to find a messenger boy who had gone missing.  We created backgrounds for our character so we all knew each other and two of the players created links between their characters and the missing boy to create a better link for why we were going on the adventure.  It was a good group of players who worked together and understood what was needed to help a GM along to make the scenario better.

The adventure was supposed to last four hours and it painfully did.  We found some clues in Atlanta and made our way on the trail.  On the road we ran into a fellow group of travelers.  Each of them had a different accent the GM made sure to use and they were not well done.  She wanted us to talk to each of the five or six NPCs even though they had no information on the boy or anything useful.  The players kept trying to move on but she would bring up another NPC. So we talked to that one hoping someone had useful information but none did.

We found a small town and stayed at an Inn there.  Again, there were more NPCs that knew nothing of what we were investigating.  By this point the players were getting frustrated.  We were not sure what to do so we just wanted to move on to something in the adventure.  The characters spent the night in the town and the next morning found an NPC who said he had seen the boy and he went north.  That is all we got, but we felt invigorated as we had a clue and a direction!

The group traveled north into some dark woods.  There was the sound of a wolf howling.  And then we reached the climax of the adventure where we shot a wolf.  That was the end of the adventure.  A Wolf howled, came out of the woods on the trail, and one of the PCs said I aim my musket at it and shoot.  He rolled some dice and the GM said the wolf was dead and that was the adventure.  No hint on what happened to the boy.  There were no supernatural elements like the game described and it just failed on many levels.  It was a bad game, a boring game, but what really made it the worst game ever for me was the GM and her habits.

con_tableAs I said earlier the game was on the first day of the convention.  One cliché about gamers at conventions is the smelly gamer.  There are gamers that don’t make any attempt to stay clean and fresh at conventions.  But it is a rare person that shows up to the convention smelling horrible.  Her eating habits were disgusting.  As she ate she made a mess on the table we were gaming at.  Crumbs were everywhere.  She then licked her hand, placed it on the table to gather up the crumbs, and then ate the crumbs.  I had never seen anything like it.  I have no idea why I did not just get up and abandoned the game.   I saw some of the players at Gen Con a couple of months later and we talked about this.  They said the same thing; they did not know why they did not leave.  I have never left a con game early so I might just be too polite.

I e-mailed the company and told them they do not want this woman representing them or their games.  I politely listed many ways she failed to showcase their game.  I got an answer from them but don’t know if they did anything or allowed her to continue to run games for them.  I did the following year play in another one of her games.  I was signing up for a Dresden Files game and did not know she was running it.  I was playing it with a friend so once again I stayed for the whole event.  That game was better.  It was light on action and plot but at least the GM didn’t eat in front of us.   I also did not sit anywhere near her so I don’t know if her stench was active then.

I play a lot of convention games and it is odd how the bad ones stand out in my mind.  I’ve had so few bad experiences.  The other bad one involved Rotted Capes, but I can save that story for another day.  As for the good ones I could talk about many awesome Dread games, Fiasco, Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, Nights Black Agents, Serenity, Spycraft, Mutants and Masterminds, Paranoia, Dresden Files, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.  I know that the list is incomplete and I am leaving out many other awesome games I’ve played at conventions.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

DragonCon DCC RPG Road Crew Report

A cautionary tale of pushing your limits…

Brandon Goeringer’s Dragon Con report where he ran 7 sessions of DCC RPG.

Let me first start by letting you know that I have never run a game at a convention. I’m a “home role player”. That is probably pretty common with a majority of people. Well I just ran some sessions at Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia – 7 sessions to be exact – all in 3 days. This is my tale of pushing yourself to the edge for the hobby you love, and almost tumbling over the cliff for the entertainment of strangers and yourself.

I’ve been to Dragon Con a few times before and I mainly go for the RPGs, which many people will tell you are sadly under showcased for a convention of such large size. The first year was simply a scouting mission. I didn’t sign up for any games, I only watched people play various role playing games and attended some panels. My goal was this, “let me see how other GMs are at running games to see if I have the chops to jump in”. My conclusion was these 3 words, “I got this”.

I know that many DMs, GMs, and Judges think they are the best at what they do, and I also have a high opinion of myself in this regard. I would like to explain that I put my all into a game I am running. From speaking loudly with conviction, expressions, voices, energy, and excitement. I am a theater troupe, storyteller, and mime all in one. All of this effort to stand out, to please, to build excitement, champion the system, hobby and product were probably the things, in the end, that took the most toll on me. While exhausted in the “mustering room” before a session began on the final day, I stated to those that saw me slumped in my chair, “I just put so much into it.”

I had seen Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG at my FLGS and was instantly amazed by its old school vibe and artwork. It brought me back to when I first got into this hobby. After purchasing the tome I decided I would look into the games community and while on the Goodman Games site I saw the Road Crew Events. Fantastic, I would run this new RPG at Dragon Con, hand out a bunch of cool swag, and show players what I offer as a Judge and challenge myself to step out of my box after all these years. Certainly I would be the talk of the convention and people would be singing my praises to all that would listen. After much work on my part trying to communicate to the director of Non-Campaign RPGs (a whole other story unto itself) I finally made my sessions on their site, had my swag from Goodman Games, and slots were beginning to fill. “I got this.”

This was the schedule:

  • 7 sessions
  • 2 on Friday and Saturday; 3 on Sunday
  • 4 hour sessions; 28 hours total
  • 0-level character funnels
  • 112 characters used
  • 5 players maximum; each player would have 3 characters.

Yeah, that is a lot. Especially for someone who has never run a game at a convention.

Friday Session 1: The Portal Under the Stars 1pm-5pm

Bob, “Jim Carrey from Kick Ass 2”, “Sleepy”, “Quiet Guy”, Jason

Bob, “Jim Carrey from Kick Ass 2”, “Sleepy”, “Quiet Guy”, Jason

Positives: Bob and Jason were like life long buddies around the dining room table, very friendly and excited to be playing. “Quiet Guy” was fine, he was just that player that seemed to speak the least. They all loved the swag. Adventure and system well received.

Negatives: “Sleepy” did just that. He fell asleep within 2 minutes of me explaining the game. Even though it was incredibly rude he WAS paying to play ($3) and I didn’t let it bother me. Still though, I HAD SOMEONE FALL ASLEEP DURING MY FIRST SESSION! He said he had a hard night and I did call him out on it in front of everyone. He was much better after that. “Jim Carrey” had to leave a little bit early but no big deal, his loss at not experiencing the end of the adventure.

Conclusion: I felt good about the game and was heaped with praise from the players for my effort in making the game exciting. I was even asked if I worked for Goodman Games.

Friday Session 2: Attack of the Frawgs by ( 6pm-10pm

 Bob, John, Jennifer, and Joe

Bob, John, Jennifer, and Joe

Jennifer and Joe had a no show from the Judge that was running their game so I sold them on DCC RPG and they bought the pitch.

Positives: Bob again (yay!). Hilarious comedy from just about everyone. I was on a roll with jokes and had them laughing pretty much through the whole adventure. The adventure was well received and the last encounter was just side splitting with some sexual humor. John said he was sold the moment I said Gygax and he felt that the game was exactly what he was expecting and how I described it.

Negatives: None.

Conclusion: I was relaxed and getting into the zone earlier in the adventure and with more control.

Saturday Session 3: The Portal Under the Stars 1pm-5pm

Pierce, Tony, Amanda, Monica, and Rob

Pierce, Tony, Amanda, Monica, and Rob

This was a group of friends that all knew each other. Monica and Rob were married and Rob told me that he was his group’s DM.

Positives: A BOX OF WINE. Real easy going group that only got looser as the game progressed, and they all seemed to really love my style and excitement. Monica was the super roller at the table that seemed to be doing all the killing, which made it cool to see her embrace those moments. Pierce hadn’t played in years he said but DCC RPG felt great to him and he liked it a lot. He also came up with a cool trick to foil a nasty monster.

Negatives: Tony had to leave early which kinda stunk, but he did have to go get William Shatner’s autograph. I made a few mistakes with some minor rules stuff, but nothing crippling.

Conclusion: A very memorable group and maybe even my favorite. From what I gathered Rob had “taught” his wife Monica how to be a good player and it showed, very cool. They really got into the game and I felt their energy as a Judge and that only made me try harder.

Saturday Session 4: Attack of the Frawgs ( 6pm-10pm

Perry, John, Jason, John, and Pete (blue shirt)

Perry, John, Jason, John, and Pete (blue shirt)

Positives: Jason was back. Fun group of players that really enjoyed the adventure. Pete knew some of the system and had the book which was extra points. John in the orange shirt was having a ball, laughing hard and really embracing the characters he was playing. He actually said that he enjoyed Attack of the Frawgs more than “more deadly adventures”. The adventure ended in some great hooks for further exploration and the “acting” I did with one of the last creatures was hysterical.

Negatives: None.

Conclusion: Fun time had by all. I was starting to get pretty tired at this junction. I knew the next day was the adventure packed day and I was starting to lose my voice a little bit.

Sunday Session 5: The Portal Under the Stars 1pm-5pm

Rich, Kenny, Michael, Buddy, Chris, and John

Rich, Kenny, Michael, Buddy, Chris, and John

This one was bumpy.

Positives: John, Rich, Kenny, and Michael all seemed to be having a blast and told me it was great. Buddy was the “Quiet Guy” but he said he enjoyed himself. John told me later that he really enjoyed the effort and he would use my techniques in his upcoming games.

Negatives: THEY SPLIT THE PARTY 3 WAYS! Splitting the party tested me to the fullest and I had to think fast as well as keep it going smoothly. Chris was in pure survival mode and looked around the doorways with a mirror on a stick. Every room was meta-gamed to a high degree by Chris. Now I must say that if that is his style that is his style. It may not embrace the “feel” of DCC RPG but that is how he wanted to play his characters. None of them died and none of them lived if that makes any sense. The other players became frustrated with this “tactic” and the party was split. Characters died alone and information from one character to another was non-existent. I took major mental fatigue from this game right at the start it seemed. I hate that some players might not have had a better time due to one players inaction but I let people play how they want to some extent. There was an extra player due to Judges not showing up to run their own games though not a negative because I could handle it, just more work.

Conclusion: A very tiring game for it to be my first game of the day, and with 2 session left it damaged the soft matter between my ears. Again I must stress that I put everything I got into these games. I found myself standing up, acting out character attacks and deaths, and really using the space.

Sunday Session 6: Perils of the Sunken City ( 6pm-10pm

Bob, Lisa, ???, Pete, Jereme, Kelsey

Bob, Lisa, ???, Pete, Jereme, Kelsey

Positives: Bob was back and brought his wife Lisa. Pete was there too and its nice to have people that know your style and how you run things. Jereme and Kelsey were a couple and that’s always cool. Lots of deaths, which was fun and exciting. Perils is a brutal adventure and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. Opossumen characters were cool and fun to describe and act out for the players. They loved the swag and were very vocal about how much they enjoyed my style. Very clever ways of getting past “traps”.

Negatives: I forgot one guys name. Not that he was quiet or didn’t stand out, I just couldn’t remember it or to write it down and I was really exhausted at this point. They really didn’t “get” the last area of the adventure and that was disappointing for me as a Judge.

Conclusion: I still brought it 100% even though I was hitting a wall physically. The adventure didn’t go how I would have liked, but it was the first time I had ran it. I learned a lot about how to run the adventure the next time. I was lightheaded after this game and needed a boost.

Sunday Session 7: Perils of the Sunken City ( 10pm-2am

Player X, James, ???, Perry, Player Y

Player X, James, ???, Perry, Player Y

I normally don’t drink energy drinks but I was looking for any help I could get at this point. I was simply exhausted. It looked like I had 2 black eyes and was punch drunk like a boxer. I was so tired in fact that I forgot to take a picture…or maybe it was because I was about to run a game from hell. It was the latter.

Positives: Perry from my earlier game was there and he is a good guy.

Negatives: I will try to not make this too preachy but the tale must be told. I hope those reading this will learn something to look out for and maybe avoid it if you can. Player X and Player Y were quite simply the worst type of player you could possibly have sit at your table at any time of day. I instantly got a bad vibe as I got my stuff ready and was handing out materials. Player X was standing up a lot and was distracted by unimportant stuff. Player Y was slow to get a sentence out and showed up late. Both of them were playing 0-level characters and were “Role” playing them like a 15th level year long campaign character. Instead of being a group of peasants who worked in the same town together, they were out for themselves, especially Player X. Player X did pretty much the opposite of all the other players. He began sighing heavily at times. Along with him slowing the game down, he interrupted me every time I was reading block text from the adventure, which had me saying “let me finish!” in a stern voice. I’m talking he did it the moment I revealed some terrible monster or horrible revelation, my patience was out the window. I was moments away from kicking him out of the game. Player Y on the other hand would halt the game to a crawl with simply talking so slow and dragging out banality that it became infuriating. He would often stop the game to make a roll and then slowly debate in his mind if he should tell us what it was for, he didn’t. After a hour of game time we were at Area 2 of the adventure and I had to tell them to speed it up.

The player that I couldn’t remember his name seemed like a good guy until at the end of the adventure when he just up and left the table without a handshake, thank you or other acknowledgement of my hard work. I found that quite shocking to say the least as it was a first for me at the convention. Player Y preceded to tell me all the stuff his 0-level characters were thinking and doing after the adventure while Player X wanted to return to the deadly arena and reclaim peasant weapons lost in the fighting, all while I was trying to pack my stuff up, it was 2 am. I was dumbstruck by these two. I found them both to be socially inept in all regards. They simply only cared for their own enjoyment of the game and everyone else was forfeit to listen to their sputtering gibberish. James was tired of these two as well and Perry made the best of the situation. Unfortunately I had to cut out a few rooms because of the time we had lost.

Conclusion: Nightmare. I went to sleep with twitching muscles from exhaustion thinking of writing this report absolutely amazed at what I had just been through. I say to those out there that might play in a convention, try to think about others for a change. Its not all about you. Other people paid money to have a good time and you should make sure that your actions don’t take away from others. I am not your friend, nor have I been playing at your kitchen table, running games to suit your personal rpg needs. We only have 4 hours to get something accomplished that I have worked long and hard. These types of gamers hurt the hobby for others and Judges like me from returning to run something again in the future.

Overall I know that I had a lot on my plate and I accept that. I made the schedule. I won’t have those 2 players ruin what I worked so hard to accomplish. It was a fun experience and a positive one. I learned that I am a good Judge and my self esteem has been boosted from the endeavor. I made some new twitter friends and they still are thanking me for my effort. I love the hobby and will continue to run adventures at future conventions. I hope you have enjoyed this tale and I want you to know that there is a happy ending. Not only did I do what people have labeled me as “a machine!” but I had a belt buckle waiting for me at when I got home thanks to Joseph Goodman.

“I got this.”

“I got this.”

Brandon Goeringer is a 36 year old stay at home dad, living in Mauldin South Carolina. I first experienced role playing games with Steve Jackson’s Car Wars and soon after with AD&D 2nd. Edition and Twilight 2000 when I was 10 years old. Fighting Fantasy books scratched my itch when I was alone and once I was able to get a job and some money, the games I’ve played exploded. This made way for MERP, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Star Wars D6, L5R, Call of Cthulhu, White Wolf, and D&D 3.0/3.5 to more modern games such as Pathfinder, Scion, Dark Heresy, Dragon Age, and my extreme love of Savage Worlds. While I own many more games yet to be played I look back on my history and am amazed that I’ve been playing for over 2 and a half decades. Continuing to play the best hobby in the world today, Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG brings me back to those days as a child, looking at the art of Jeff Easley, Brom, and Elmore and being lost in imagination. (Twitter @SavageGM)

Gen Con – A Reflection

GenCon LogoGen Con is a gaming convention held yearly in Indianapolis.  It features role playing games, board games, card games, and LARPs.  If there is only one gaming convention people go to a year it is usually this one.  This is the first year that it has been held in Indianapolis that I have not gone.  I’m just a few hours away by car and I have plenty of friends to share a room with.  But it just was not in the cards this year.  It saddens me as there are a lot of friends that I only see there.  Gen Con for me is not about gaming it is about the friends I have gained through gaming.  For the socially awkward introverts like myself that is something to really cherish.

Gen Con is huge.   It is really hard to imagine how big it is even if you are there.  There are sections of the convention that people are not aware of because they focus on events some people are not interested in. I make an effort to walk around to all the places in the convention hall and all the rooms in the many different hotels that they use just so I can get a better appreciation of it all. There are all kinds of board and RPGs being run at all hours.  They have GMs sign up to run games and then people buy tickets for these events.  It is one of the main attractions at the conventions.  People can sign up for games they know and love or try out ones that they have not been able to play before.  It is a great way to get an idea of what else is out there in the industry.  It is a part of Gen Con I avoid.  I don’t like their system to sign up for events and I have better luck with games at smaller conventions.  In all my time at Gen Con I have only played in one event and that was True Dungeon which I really disliked.  I have run three games there and those were done as a favor for a friend who asked me to help him run some events.  I play and run games with my large group of friends off book.  We have our own GMs and a huge player pool.  We do RPGs and board games and some card games and even miniatures.

I don’t think Gen Con likes that we do this.  One year we had games organized on Google Calendar and Gen Con asked us to take it down.  We used to use the open gaming space in the Hyatt and Gen Con people would harass us and then that spaced vanished.  Now Open Gaming is in the convention center in smaller space that is never open.  We would use table in the Embassy Suites but last year they were even cracking down on those and limiting when they could be used.  I’m sure they are cracking down on all kinds of events that don’t bring the convention money.   It doesn’t make me want to sign up for their events. It makes me want to game elsewhere.

My Gen Con experiences are about the people.  I know gamers that fill their convention with events but that is too much pressure.  I take a more laid back approach.  I’ll schedule a game or two each day leaving plenty of time for just meeting and talking to people.  I would spend time walking around and just see who I might run into and if they have a free hour to hang out with them.  I’m a morning person so I would always be up early and I knew which of my other friends would be up and we would get a nice breakfast somewhere.  It is a great way to start off the day with breakfast and good gaming conversations with good friends before the masses wake up.

Nights are filled with parties.  I will attend more parties at Gen Con than I will the rest of the year.  I do not drink alcohol, so that activity at the parties is lost on me.  But after a few hour of conversation there is usually some people just wanting to play something so we will throw together a board game or some kind of gaming event.  Even if we don’t there are few things better then talking and not drinking with friends.

The dealer hall is a big focus of the convention for many gamers.  It is the place that the vendors are and it has reduced hours.  There is always some hot new item that hundreds of people want and that causes the ‘Running of the Fatbeards’.  It is not complimentary term.  The doors will open and hundreds of people will run in trying to buy what they want.  I’ve seen it and it looks dangerous.  I’m really surprised no one has been trampled yet. It is only luck no one gets injured.  Convention Staff just stand back and try not to get hurt themselves.   I used to spend a lot of money in the dealer hall.  As the years have gone by though the old out of print books I want, I mostly have.  There are fewer and fewer items being made that interest me.  It is the great irony of a gamer.  When you are young you have all kinds of time to play games but no money to do so.  When you get older you have the money but no longer the time.

One hassle in Indy is that Gen Con doesn’t seem to get the city to itself.  There are usually other events going on that clash with Gen Con.  Sometimes it is other conventions, or a preseason football game, or some kind of motorcycle rally.  This can make it difficult to get a hotel or parking.  Parking is expensive, at least compared to the large cities near me.  It is about three times more expensive there.  Hotels are also not cheap, especially if one likes to do like I do and arrive Tuesday and leave on Monday.  It is more expensive but worth it.  I’ve stayed in seven different hotels there and a condo.  None of them have been bad.

Gen Con is a great experience and something I look forward to every year.  I am sad I am not there now and not going to enjoy the great experiences.  It is not a perfect convention by any means and I know the way I experience it is going to be very different from how other people do.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Origins 2013 Report

Origins LogoFinally 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!

The Gaming

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!

DungeonslayersOpen Gaming Area

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!!

DCC on Geek Chic TableWe 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.

Day Passes

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!

Origins 2013 Prep

Origins LogoOrigins Game Fair is this coming up weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The dates are from June 12-16 and it takes place in downtown at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. This is a local con for me. Sometimes I only make it out for a day or two and other years I make it out for the whole convention.

This year is a year I will be spending a lot of time there. I have a multitude of folks from some of the online gaming campaigns I enjoyed this year on G+ coming into town for the con. There are literally people arriving from the north, south, east, and west to all meetup face-to-face for some gaming fun this year!

I was going to prep some Swords & Wizardry and run some of that system, but I had some last minute real life stuff pop up and I ended up defaulting back to Dungeon Crawl Classics for the games I am prepping. I will be running The Tower Out of Time at least once. I am also planning to run The Waystation from Purple Duck Games. I will likely read through Portal Under the Stars for a quick funnel to run for those that have not played it or read it too closely from DCC RPG rulebook.

I have access to The Tower Out of Time as part of the DCC RPG World Tour. Goodman Games has a system setup where judges that run a certain number of games can earn themselves some pretty cool swag. Judges for these events also get some swag to hand out at their tables as well. The box of player swag arrived late last week, so I am all set for Origins!

I still have a few more things to prep before the show is upon us and I am running out of time! The blog will likely be a little quiet towards the latter part of the week.

If you are interested in crossing paths while at Origins, be sure to follow my Twitter handle. I find Twitter a great tool for impromptu meetups at cons. I will also announce any last minute games I run (likely of the DCC RPG variety as noted above).

Aethercon Update

The Iron Tavern is proud to support Aethercon as part of their Bell and Scroll. Below is the most recent update from this online convention.

A lot has happened over the last two weeks:

We heartily thank those who have contributed prize support.  The prize bundles for each of the tournaments are currently valued at 265 dollars for first; 170 dollars for second; and 100 dollars for third.  You can see the growing list of companies adding to our prize list by visiting ‘To The Victors’.

You can see the games in our lineup by checking the Game Glance page.

If you want to play in one just fill out our Player Registration Tool.

Everything you’ll need to register in the Events menu bar on our main site. So get your spot today!

The following games and GMs have recently been confirmed:

  • Joseph Flanery – Shadowrun
  • Marcus Flores – Monster of the Week

The following games have been added to our schedule:

  • Dave Michael – Cyberpunk 2000 – Vanilla Extract – Saturday and Sunday
  • Joseph Flanery – Shadowrun – Things that go Bump – Saturday and Sunday
  • Dave Michael – Steampunk Crescendo – Fire in Cairo – Friday
  • Anthony Preece – Savage Worlds Deadlands Reloaded – Red River Blues – Friday and Saturday
  • Erik Evjen – Basic Fantasy RPG – The Battle of Mount Ravinfell – Friday and Saturday
  • Stephen Smith – Castles and Crusades – A Scratching on the Glass – Saturday
  • John Dorman – Dungeon Crawl Classics – Lake’s End Portal – Saturday

Here’s a quick view list of all the games we have in our schedule at this time:

System Total Sessions Friday Saturday Sunday Tourney  
All Flesh Must Be Eaten 2   X X    
A Thousand and One Nights 1   X      
Atomic Highway 2   X X    
Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game 2 X   X    
Burning Wheel 2 X   X    
Call of Cthulhu 13 X X X X  
Castles & Crusades 2   X      
Cyberpunk 2020 2   X X    
Dark Heresy 4 X   X    
Deluxe Revised RECON 1 X        
Dresden Files 4 X X X    
Dungeon Crawl Classics 2   X      
Eclipse Phase     X X    
Labyrinth Lord 2   X      
Legend of the Five Rings 2 X X      
Leverage 2 X X      
Macho Women with Guns 2   X      
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying 3   X X    
Mouse Guard 2 X   X    
Mutants and Masterminds 1 X        
Paranoia 2 X   X    
Pathfinder 20 X X X X  
RIFTS 2   X X    
Savage Worlds 19 X X X X  
Serenity 4 X X X    
Shadowrun 10 X X X X  
Star Frontiers 2   X X    
Star Wars (D6) 2 X X      
Steampunk Crescendo 1 X        
Time Lord 2   X X    

Current games confirmed for AetherCon currently include:

  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten
  • A Thousand and One Nights
  • Atomic Highway
  • Burning Wheel
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • Castles & Crusades
  • Dark Heresy
  • Dragon Age
  • Dresden Files
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Eclipse Phase
  • Fantasy Craft
  • Labyrinth Lord
  • Legends of the Five Rings
  • Leverage
  • Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
  • Macho Women with Guns
  • Mouse Guard
  • Mutants and Masterminds
  • Palladium RIFTs
  • Paranoia
  • Pathfinder
  • Pathfinder Society
  • Runequest 6th Ed
  • Savage Worlds
  • Shadowrun
  • Star Wars (D6 WEG)
  • Swords and Wizardry
  • Time Lord

We are currently looking for GMs to help run the following tourneys:

  • Pathfinder
  • Savage Worlds
  • Shadowrun
  • Call of Cthuhlu

The Artist’s Enclave welcomes Jordy Lakiere, the hand behind Gartlegarn Coalcrusher,  and Kai Ortmann, the hand behind Brindlebee Burrbonnet, our latest free downloadable wallpaper release.  Eric Lofgren has been nabbed by Privateer Press for a project.  Watch for his upcoming wallpaper, Kruultok Azgraatugaan.

You can find all of our wallpapers here.

Watch for Carver ‘Crash’ Doering by Jon Gibbons (U.K) (AEG, PEG), Keburil Kotsboddle by Stanley Morrison (USA) (AEG) and Eduourd ‘The Gallic Rooster’ Henrique by Cristian Montes (Chile) coming soon.

The Fest Hall welcomes Charles White of Fabled Environments and Robert W. Thomson of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming.

The Vendor’s Hall welcomes Clockwork Gnome Publishing to booth #7. Polyhedron Games adds demos for their D6 based Keep It Simple System (KISS). Imperfekt Games adds demos for Invulnerable RPG and playtests for Broken Symmetry. Ophelia’s Shop of Roleplay Specialties adds a raft of Fiasco demos to the schedule all weekend long.

Check out the rest of our Vendor’s Hall here.

Silver Gryphon Games released Part 3 of Camp Wicakina:  “Wanagi Mato Lives!” for Aether and Savage Worlds.

Skirmisher Publishing released Insults & Injuries:  A Role-Playing Game Sourcebook for Medical Maladies

The following releases at Aethercon are confirmed:

Troll Lord Games confirms the release of The Giants Wrath.

X-Split for facilitating the live streaming of games.

We welcome Nerd Trek, Bring You’re A-Game,  and The 23rd Stage to the Bell and Scroll.

Dorklands joins our Talking Drums initiative.

Top five cities in North America for unique visitors to our main site to date:

  • Chicago, Illinois;
  • New York, New York (tied);
  • Portland, Oregon;
  • San Francisco, California;
  • Houston, Texas (tied)

Top five cities in Europe for unique visitors to our main site to date:

  • London, UK;
  • Hamburg, Germany;
  • Nuremberg, Germany;
  • Helsinki, Finland;
  • Moscow, Russia.

Top five cities in points abroad for unique visitors to our main site to date:

  • Wellington, New Zealand;
  • Sydney, Australia,
  • Toronto, Canada (tied);
  • Melbourne, Australia;
  • Vancouver, Canada.

Finally, a question: Which of our latest games would you like to play the most? Check out our poll on Facebook or Google+ and have your say.

Help us get the word out about AetherCon by liking and sharing on our Facebook event page, following and re-tweeting via our Twitter page and adding us to your circle on Google+.

Don’t forget to let us know you’ll be a part of AetherCon with our event pages on Facebook and Google+.

If you would like to contact us for any reason including to inquire about volunteer opportunities feel free to use our Contact Us page to do so.

Find us here:

Gen Con 2012 Report

As it turned out I did make it out to Gen Con 2012 this year for what amounted to 36 hours including six hours of driving time from Ohio to Indianapolis. I had a great time while out there and was able to meet up with several of my local gaming group friends and meet several folks that I had only known from online interactions previously.

Game wise I did manage to get a couple of games in. First up was The Red Dragon Inn. A fun game from Slugfest Games you play adventurer’s drinking it up in the tavern. A fortitude score and alcohol content score are the prime mechanics at play. Each player plays a character that has their own deck of cards for that character. It was a quite fun to play.

I finally managed to cross paths with Tracy Barnett (@TheOtherTracy) despite both being from the Columbus, Ohio area and missing each other at Origins. He ran a late night game of his creation, School Daze. It was also a fun, Fiasco inspired game that is fairly free form and improv. Character generation is easy and a d6 is the only die needed. We played the Super Villian version which meant we each had some super power and attended school with other super villains. Tracy ran a great game, I had a lot of fun with it.

I was able to take in a couple of seminars while I was there, one covering freelancing in the RPG industry and the other Meet the Kobold Minions. Both were enjoyable and I was able to meet a couple of the people on the panels afterwards.

I of course spent a good amount of time in the exhibit hall this year. It always amazes me how crowded the hall is, even on weekdays. I really only had one item I was really on the lookout for and that was GameScience zocchi dice. They were easy to find and I picked up two sets of those. Over the course of my time there I did pick up a few other things, including a great deal on the 1e AD&D reprints.

Twitter was an invaluable tool while at the Con. It made running into people (it is how I managed to get into the last minute School Daze game) and seeing what was going on very easy. While I tend to prefer Google+ these days, I have maintained my Twitter presence. At Gen Con twitter definitely seemed to be the best way to keep up with what other folk were up to in real time. Or to let other folks know where I was out for them to find me.

And finally, here is a look at some of the things I brought home with me. I would have had more pics of other things from the Con, but my phone camera lost several photos while I was out there.

Update: Iron Tavern and Gen Con 2012

It looks like things have come together enough to allow me to sneak off to Gen Con for Friday and Saturday. By the time you read this I will be on the road for the trip to Indy!

Given the last minute nature of the go or no-go, I do not have a lot of games lined up. I plan on hitting the dealer hall up and wandering it aimlessly and then crossing paths with a few other friends I know are out there. I will keep my Twitter feed updated during my two days there. If you are at Gen Con as well, fell free to ping me on Twitter and we will see about meeting up!

Oh – and I may or may not have 20 0-level DCC RPG pre-gens in my bag and a few 3rd level pre-gens with a couple of DCC RPG mods to run if the urge strikes!

I will be writing up a post-Gen Con report here as well early next week. Also don’t forget that my weekly series covering each character class in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG will continue next Friday when I will be looking at the Wizard.

The Iron Tavern and Gen Con 2012

Gen Con 2012 quickly approaches and here I sit still not certain if I will be attending. I have my badge, I have a place to stay, and I have plenty of folks to see, socialize and game with, but even at this late point it is an unknown if I will be there.

Due to some recent family medical issues my availability to attend is a day-to-day decision. Even if I am able to attend it will be a shortened trip, most tentatively it would have me heading out on Friday morning and returning home Saturday afternoon. Luckily I am within three hours of Indy, so I can get away with that.

Keeping an eye on Twitter or Google+ will likely be the best way to see what the final decision is. If I end up making it out there I would love to meet up with some people, so drop me a tweet if you see me post that I will attend.

If plans do not work out this year, I think I will take a serious look at attending Gary Con this year. DCC RPG has been a big game for me this year and I think I could get a lot of quality playing up there. I might also check out CONCurrent as a possible option during the Gen Con time frame as well.

Regardless of my presence, The Iron Tavern hopes everyone has a great time at Gen Con.