What Is Best in Life?

What is best in life? For game industry folks and gamers alike it must be GenCon. I will say that going into I was not as psyched as I’ve been in some previous years, but the show exceeded all my expectations.

If the Kids Are United
First of all, it was great to see 25,000 plus people going crazy for games. There were crowds everywhere and you could sense the excitement in the air. No matter what kind of game you were into, there was something for you at GenCon. When so much industry talk is doom and gloom, it was invigorating to see such enthusiasm for our hobby. And man, did the gamers come ready to buy. Our booth was mobbed on Thursday, with folks snapping up both the new products and our bundle deals. Ultimate Power was gone by noon on Friday and we sold out of a bunch of other stuff over the course of the weekend. I had a sales goal for the convention, which Hal thought was too aggressive. Until Monday morning I didn’t think we had made it but then Nicole tallied the credit cards and we hit it spot on. Yeah, baby.

Hat Trick
Friday night was the ENnie Awards, which have become the premier RPG awards in a short span of time. The room was too small and really hot, but otherwise the awards went off well. Kevin “Piratecat” Kulp was a good MC and the guest presenters also did well (particularly Rich Burlew from the Order of the Stick, who was a riot). The first half of the night our M&M; books won a succession of Silver awards. Green Ronin has done so well at the ENnies the last two years I figured that was fair enough. Then Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition won the Gold for Best Game and Best d20/OGL Product. Finally, they moved on to the Best Publisher category, which we’d won the previous two years. For that alone I figured we wouldn’t win, never mind that we were competing against WotC this time. So when Peter Adkison announced that WotC has won the Silver, I was surprised. I turned to Nicole and said, “Who beats WotC in a popularity contest at a D&D; fansite?” We thought it was probably Paizo, who had done very well throughout the night with their Shackled City Adventure Path. Then Peter announced GR and I was gobsmacked. Needless to say, we were thrilled to receive such recognition. Afterwards I changed and met the crew at the Rock Bottom. We were joined by the Fiery Dragon crew and proceeded to celebrate until the place closed down.

I’ve Got Your Warhammer Right Here
Marc Gascoigne and Kate Flack from GW were over for the show, along with novelist and bon vivant Dan Abnett. It was great to catch up with our English cohorts. There was much talk of WFRP and 40K of course, but it was also nice to grab a few meals together and socialize. The four of us did a 40K RPG seminar on Saturday. It had not made it into the event book, however, so very few people knew about it. Six people showed up and we just pulled chairs into a circle and let them ask us questions. I talked to many people later who were disappointed they had missed the seminar because they hadn’t heard about it. Hopefully next year we’ll have better luck getting things listed.

He Must Be a King
I had left Thursday night free so I could game with some of my college friends. Bill had said he’d have an RPG adventure to ready to run, though he wasn’t sure what. He punked out though and had nothing, so roleplaying was out. We were able to rent a copy of Shadows Over Camelot in the open gaming area though and played a couple of games of that instead. I was King Arthur the first game and Sir Palomedes the Saracen the next. The game was fun and it’s always great to see my old friends. We’ve been playing games together off and on for almost 20 years now.

A Reunion of Sorts
Saturday night Nicole and I had plans to dine with John Tynes. We thought it was going to be a small group, but when we arrived (15 minutes late due to a GR staff meeting) there were already 15 odd folks there. As I looked around the table, it hit me that we had a full on 1990s game industry reunion going on. There was Tynes and Scott Glancy of Pagan Publishing, John Nephew of Atlas Games, Christian Moore of Last Unicorn, Rob Heinsoo of Daedalus, and the always-independent Robin D. Laws. Nicole represented White Wolf and Bootstrap Press. All we needed was Ray Winninger, James Wallis, and Lou Prosperi and the table would have been an eerie recreation of GenCon about 10 years ago. It was good to catch up with folks I don’t see too often, particularly those who have moved out of the game industry.

It wouldn’t be GenCon without bringing home some stuff. I had hoped to pick up some historical minis, but there wasn’t much to choose from. I did do my traditional trade with Reaper and got some of their cool new monster minis and a couple of their Warlord army books. I also got Vlad the Impaler for Warhammer Ancients and the Alamo for Legends of the Old West. On the RPG front I got Qin, Artesia, Faery’s Tale, MMS: Silk Road, Castle and Crusades, and some of the recent Dungeon Crawl Classics (including the new campaign setting boxed set). I paged through Cadwallon and it looks gorgeous but decided to wait and hear some reviews. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work my way through the dealers hall, so I’m sure I missed some cool stuff. But hey, that’s what game stores and the internet are for.

I think those are the highlights I can talk about publicly. As always, it was great to have the GR crew assembled and to get to spend some time with everyone. It really is too bad we don’t live closer together.

For our travel woes, check out Nicole’s blog and read about the Spawn of Satan. Even creatures from the bowels of hell could not dampen our spirits after such a great GenCon though.

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