Aug 28, 2013

Gen Con 2013 - The Vendor's Room, Dinning at the Con, and My Biggest Achievement

For my penultimate Gen Con post of 2013, I want to touch on a few other things I did or saw, or in some cases didn't see at the con.

While a large appeal of the con is the chance to play all sorts of games, shopping in the vendor's room is just as big a drawl. With the chance to see up close and demo games you might not have known about, get a copy of an early release of a game (I'm looking at you Pathfinder card game fans), or get that sought after mini, or TCG card, not to mention all manner of costume accessories or home furnishings, it's easy to see why the room is always crowded.

This year I didn't have a real shopping list going in to the vendor's room, but I still found myself in there nearly every day. Thursday's visit was to pick up the few must have items (gifts for friends and family). I tried to get in to the Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) booth to see what they had on site, but the wait line was too long (as in stretching around their booth and through various walk ways). Being a Lego fan, I of course found the only Lego dealer in the room and checked out those offerings (and picking up a neat little custom minifig for my collection). Friday and Saturday was mostly just walking around with friends and eying up a few places I wanted to check back with on Sun. Since Sun was also the drive home day, the vendor's room visit was more a surgical strike. Go in, see what was left from the few places I had already scouted out, and hit the road.

My biggest surprise was how easy it was to navigate through the room. Even with people in full costume (I'm looking at you lady with the wings sticking out two feet on each side), and people stopping in the middle of a cross-way to Twitter or Facebook, it was still a relatively easy travel. Good job Gen Con planners!

Another highlight of Gen Con is the local eateries. Once again we made trips to Stake and Shake (they really need to coordinate the arrival of the Stake with the Shake; my buddy and I were practically done our burgers by the time the shakes arrived), and The RAM. On Wed night, after getting our badges and tickets, we tried to go to Scotty's Brewhouse, which once again, had a Gen Con themed menu, but when we arrived at 8pm and were told it was a 2 hour wait (for a table for two), we promptly went over to the Irish bar/restaurant across the street and had a wonderful dinner. Maybe next year we'll make it to Scotty's.

One of the things I didn't get to do was attend the Night with D&D event. I was already registered for another event at the same time, and by the time I tried to drop that event in favor for the D&D one, the Night was sold out. From what Twitter activity I've seen from the event, it looked like a lot of fun.

One thing I did get to do, and which was one of the high points of the con for me, was to actually run an event. I've been running most editions of Dungeons and Dragons for many years now, but haven't really had the courage to run at a convention. This year, after having played Next since the public playtest opened, and having played the Murder in Baldur's Gate event earlier that day, I went back and volunteered to run a table. Luckily they were understaffed at that time and I was able to step in.

As much fun as I had playing the event, and as much fun as I have with my weekly game, running at a con, with little prep, was a wonderful seat-of-your-pants experience. I didn't have any minis so I used dice for the PCs and colored beads for the NPCs, giving the table a real old-school vibe. I also had to improv when the rogue PC wanted to run across some roof tops to go after one of the archers. I ended up running a quick roof top fight and almost had the dying archer pull the halfling rogue off the roof, but making the Dex check avoided that scenario.

The guys at the table were all great, and mostly new to Next, so I had fun also educating them about Next and some of the neat new mechanics (Advantage/Disadvantage and Dying rules). Oh, and that Lego purchase I made earlier. That little minifig put in an appearance when I needed the big bad for the end of the module, a colored bead just wasn't going to do it.

I had so much fun, and got some neat swag for running the table, that I will definitely be signing up to run more events next year. And this time, I'll bring minis!