Gen Con 2008 Rambling (Semi-Live blog)

Two Sentences Summary: Gen Con is the most fun I ever had with tabletop gaming, ever. It’s about making friends, laughing like hell, and having no shame about being silly. I thought it would be a one shot ‘meh’ thing, turns out I’m now addicted to the Con!

I’ll put my ramblings here as I live Gen Con… no promises… just stream of consciousness time sinking when I can.

Wednesday, August 13th, 4pm

I’m at the Montreal Airport. In order to make sure I don’t get screwed by Continental Airlines Baggage practices (I have a connection to Cleveland), I adopted a crafty strategy:

I packed a huge Clothes/Swag suitcase (3/4 empty) that I sent to bag checkout (I’ll put all then stuff I get at Gen Con in it).

I kept a small-size suitcase packed with my core-books, Dice, Minis box and other gaming stuff. I packed an extra change of clothes in that one and some snacks for DMing.

I’m not letting that one out of my sight!

Of course, that box was X-rayed and security people were curious. They asked me if they could open the suitcase and 3 of them looked at my books and minis, more amused than cautious. When one of them asked me if this was D&D and I said ‘yes’, all inspectors smiled and nodded, one saying ‘I knew it’.

They actually thanked me for making thier job a bit less boring for 5 minutes…

I was happy to oblige.

All right I have 2 hours to kill now, maybe I should re-read those Pathfinder adventures.

Later!

Wednesday, August 13th, 11h30 PM

Made it to the Omni Severin hotel without a hitch. Had dinner, alone, with a Gen Con Catalog at a nearby Irish Pub.

There’s a Hooters nearby… I have to lose my Hooters virginity someday.

I’m still not sure where the Convention Center is… probably too big for me to notice in the dark. Tomorrow at 6h45 am I’ll do the dumb thing and follow all the gamers.

Thankfully, Paizo is just at the Entrance of the main convention hall.

Going to bed.

Thursday, August 14th, 5h00 AM

Sleep, What is sleep? Hah! I’m just too excited to sleep… and I’m 35 freaking years old!

Never stop being a kid they say.

Well, it seems some RPG Bloggers absolutely hate what Gen Con is all about and I kinda dig what he means by it all. 27 000 nerds being asked for money at every opportunity… he got that one right. The Omni Hotel has got a ‘Weekend Gen Con menu’ that makes me heart rise to my throat:

  • Buckets of Dew
  • Buckets of Red Bull
  • Chili Cheese Fries

Yuck…

Oh wait…

  • Bacon Cheeseburger…

I think I’m in love again!

I realized that I failed to pack some very basic items. I’ll need to inquire at the Front Desk about getting them. Is there a Department Store nearby?

Cya later, I have 4 hours of killing D&D 3.5 fans with Paizo’s own, somewhat lukewarm Pathfinder Adventure.

Thursday, August 14th, 6h20 AM

I’m sitting down in line to get my badge, computer propped on my suitcase. I just set up my 1st day of Wifi Access in the Convention Center (13$!!!!). So I guess that I might update people a few times a day.

You can also fellow me on Twitter @ChattyDM.

Some gamers are antisocial wrecks! This is going to be a very interesting 4 days, observation wise…

Thursday, August 14th, 1h30 PM

First game of Pathfinder Society went well… mostly because I’m such a softy DM. One death, whole adventure saved from certain TPK by timely Turning check of Cleric… can you say “I win” button?

Met Dave, Danny (of Critical hits) and Yax (of Dunegeonmastering) and toured the Exhibit hall a bit.

I met Wolfgang Baur and Ed Greenwood… our duel was postponed for after the Con, Ed offered to mediate. (So cool!)

No one showed up for my 2nd Paizo game… I was one of the 2 tables without players… :(

Oh well, I have 4 hours free… time to offer my playtesting services to Wolfgang and try to fix broken Wifi at the Convention Centre.

Oh yeah, Chainmail Bikinis exist!

Friday, August 15th, 1h30 AM

This has been, by far, my geekiest, most rewarding gaming day ever…

I met Ed Healy (of Atomic Pod and many other projects fame) and he introduced me to all kinds of nice people. Got some free RPGs and bought some 18$ polish Runic dice.

Went to late lunch with Dave and Danny of Critical-hits.com and got invited to a Wizards of the Coast Press Dungeon Delve DMed by James Wyatt… we all died… It was so worth it.

(Working title of game report: WotrC Killed the Press!)

Then I scooted over to the hotel and we started our Drunken D&D game. Which just might have been the greatest gaming fun I had in 25 years. We spent 4 hours on one damn lousy fight vs Flesh Golems and Stirges and we pissed our pants (a free action in 4e, it’s confirmed) because we laughed so much!

More on this soon… we agreed to reconvene on Saturday Night to continue.

I lost my badge earlier today and I just got a Twitter message from Ed Healy saying he found it… what are the odds?

I’m off to retrieve it.

Friday, August 15th, 6h30 AM

You know what’s the downside to Drunken D&D? The Bud light Headache. Which is slowly receeding as I write this (thank god). I thankfully didn’t drink all that much last night (actually less than I do on some of our average games) and I’m glad I did… except, it kinda defeated the adolescent purpose of a D&D drinking game.

Oh well, there’s always Saturday.

Day #2 of sleep deprived gaming insanity starts. I’m on less than 8 hours of sleep in 48 hours… and I’m set to DM for more than 12 hours today! Something’s going to break, I feel it. Day number 1 was so much fun, I hope today is as entertaining.

I’ll get to see Nick Logue in action! Weeee!

Friday, August 15th, 4h15 PM

I just DMed 2 4 hours games. I need to sleep. I’ve 2 hours before the next game and I haven’t had a full meal (my bag is filled with cereal and fruit bars…. well it used to be).

I must say that DMing low level 3.x games remains exceedingly fun. The game is very mature and players know the rules and experiment with weird concepts. Highlights at my table today:

  • A Sorcerer that uses the Mount spell (look it up)… many times. A horse is a hard thing to deal with in a small room.
  • A halfling fighter using hand axes
  • A fight lasting 30 rounds and using 12 potions of Cure light wounds…
  • A whip wielding Bard that dances to inspire… on a rowboat during fight.
  • PC exploded in a ferocious attack by magical beast (sorry not allowed to spoil)

I’ll try to catch some Zzzzzs before the next event (a 5 hour mega adventure with 26 GMS and 126 players… all sharing the same game!)

Friday, August 15th, 20h20 PM

Copied from Twitter:

Starting the Acension of the Drow Mega Event. I’m a table GM for the Noble House of the Dire Masters: Slavers, Vampire Priests, Gladiators.

I have half the noble house, sharing other group with second GM. My table is full of nice, not too scary people… other GM not so lucky.

More as I have time to add…

TY Monte Cook for showing me how to cheat at 3.X. Advanced a Roper to 30 and made it fiendish in 5 min… had 12 players fighting it fight lasted 3 rounds and 30 minutes! All players were happy and had fun.

Roper exploded for 20d6 on death…

No casualties… but 8th level bard ‘ronin’ that just offered allegiance to house made it unscathed… somehow.

I made him the mascot of the House and he grants a +2 bonus on any die roll to the House player closest to him.

I said a lot of bad things about D&D 3.5 but when you play it seat of your pants and let the rule of Fun take over, it’s still a fucking awesome game….

Okay, Demon lords are pissed that No Drow noble died yet… they want half of the city to die in the next hour or they nuke the place.

Yeah… this is a huge Storytelling game with Hundreds of railroads… but hell, the players seem to like it.

Oh shit we have to kill 63 players, by combat (not narrative) real fast… I’m not paid enough for this… I fucking love it!

Latest plot decision by my players… trying to capture 3 nobles to sacrifice them and bring in the Tarrasque in the Vault.

(Personal Analysis: Why are they trying to destroy the city they are trying to rule)

New ‘ronin’ showed up offering services, BArd Mascot babckstabbed him… Minotaur gladiator joined the fun, dead wizard.

Fuck my house summoned the Tarrasque and it turns on us

Tarrasque Killed one Gladiators and all other Pcs (14) flew/teleported/gaseous formed away…

I got to play a Tarrasque! I’m done with D&D 3.x, I’m going to bed… I’m Gen Con’s whore for life.

Players are doing a throne run… I say that my Vampire Priestess (and her Loyal 1/2 red dragon troll barbarian/fighter player win it.

Friday, August 15th, 20h20 PM

I’m done… going to bed after packing my stuff up. I loved every minute of it.

I heard that Yax (dungeomastering.com) won an Ennies and he thanked me for getting him to enter. I’m happy for him. A bit envious, yes, but happy. He deserves it, and the Magnificent Bastard always, always walks away with the chick. Good game man, next year maybe.

Paizo also won a ton of awards, congratulations guy, you guys are the Epic Legendary underdogs of Fantasy RPGs.

See you tommorow all.

August 16th, 00h55, Pre Sleep musings

(I gotta Empty my head or I won’t sleep)

I thought yesterday could not be topped… I was wrong… or close.

Met Chris Sims and Mike Mearls… he signed my DMG (I’ll catch Chris to sign my 3.x Compendium). I went fanboi on Mike and told him about “my adventure”.

I Dmed 12 hours for Paizo… as you can see up there… and that was the best way for me to say good bye to D&D 3.5… it will live long in Paizo’s hands.

For the first time in my DMing career I felt like Pro DM. I could lead a group through whatever was thrown at me in a fast way that I felt was fun for all. I watched the Tower of Gygax DMs do thier stuff at lightning speed and I realised that’s exactly what I have been doing today.

I’ll post a lessons learned post shortly after Gen Con, broken up by day. I got a lot of insights into DMing RPGs that changed my way of looking at things.

I leveled up as a Geek and as a DM.

Thank you to all players, industry people or legendary geek family members I met in the last two days. I’m now officially a Gen Con Addict.

August 16th, 05h44 am

Woke up 15 min ago, with lots of ideas to start the Seminar with… damn brain, I need my sleep! (12,5 hours in 3 days).

Man, was I drunk last night ir is that fatigue coupled with too much caffeine and not enough veggies?

Murderfuck????… Nah, still an awesome word!

I’m giving the first part if the GM-Fu seminar on Adventure Prep at 8h00 am (Embassy Suites III, it’s full but you can try to see if there are no shows… I intend to go somewhere with the group from 10-noon so I can have a real meal and talk with everyone).

I need to review the actual contents so that I at least make a token effort in fitting my stuff in the 1 hour that I have. Some people are finally understanding what I meant when I called myself Chatty.

All right I have some prep to do…

August 17th, 00h40, Wha…? I didn’t post all day?

(I was already told twice that this post is too long… I agree, but you know what, I don’t actually expect anyone to read all of it… peruse to your heart’s content… feel free to skip ).

Finally back to my room. I didn’t want to pay for the Convention Centre’s internet access today because I wasn’t Gming anything.

Day started with GM-Fu seminar, which was a resounding success. 21 people showed up at 8h AM to hear us supposedly authoritative GMs talk about our personnal GMing philosophies and techniques about Adventure Ideas generations and Prepping techniques.

I woke up the whole room with liberal use of the F… word. Apparently, that’s a big thing in this country. You must know that fuck means absolutely nothing to me and I don’t mind using it. However, I saw two people with far better people-skills than I have (Cough, Ed Healy, cough) asking people if they minded about cussing… so maybe I should be about that.

GM-fu Seminar went really well, although I had to shut up at a certain point because we’d still be at it now.

After that I wanted to go buy stuff in the exhibit hall, but I met Dave and Danny and we tried a new cool party game called Say Anything. It’s a really fun fast party game and I’d love to see it translated in French!

Then we had our RPG bloggers Unite! panel and it also went really well. We talked about the why and a bit about the how of blogging. I got a lot of good things out of it, including from Bob Younce, about niche blogging.

One person had a great comment/question about how new readers were not in on our own lingo and inside jokes. She said that a primer post/welcoming page about what the blog is all about would help new readers navigate the blog better! Duly noted!

Then we had a buisness meeting about the RPGbloggers.com network where we agreed that this thing was more serious than your average nerd project needed to be. We therefore hammered out the basis of what this project needs to rest upon and what needs to be done in the near future to make it better.

After, we had lunch with Ed and I basically basked in the glow of his wisdom. I finally got “how” to do a proper product review and basically got to know a great guy better. Of course, being as tired as I was then, I was a complete social wreck and ended up treating a bit like crap, for which I apologize. (I know you were ribbing me about it Ed, but I do sincerely apologize… some things I just can’t blame on being French).

Then Dave basically observed that we’ve spent far too much Gen Con time doing business stuff and not, like, actually, playing games.

So we agreed to go do a Magic the Gathering Draft.

We signed up for a 10th edition draft (Sorry, I can’t explain what this is, but It’s my favorite way of playing that game) and we were paired with very nice players.

I ended up drafting a Monster Mono-black deck as I was being shipped insane black cards, a sign that the whole table was made of non pro-players (a good sign).

During the draft, I got to meet Magic Designer Ken Naggle. He showed me Magic cards he designed and how much some prototypes get changed during the design cycle. So Cool. He also shared with me his experiences about D&D 4e. It was very interesting to see that while both games are astoundingly similar in some aspects of thier respective mechanics… fans of one game might just not “get” what the other game is all about. Ken does not get D&D… and he’s cool about it.

I ended up winning the 1st round and playing against Dave for the second round. In a textbook perfect Magic match, Dave and I went to 3 games, playing masterfully. Dave is a true master of game design, marrying fast appraisal of situation with rapid threat/response analysis. Still, thanks to a slight error on his part (which he disagrees that it was) I ended up winning the 3rd game in a very close match.

Of course, by that time, it was 20 minutes past the start of our Drunken D&D game and that’s when I realized that I had told Bob to meet us in the lobby of our Hotel at 7h30 PM, told no one else about the meeting point (all others made it to the game room) and I never gave Bob our phone/room numbers.

Here’s the thing… I freaking hate it when people blow me off or come in late. It’s the epitome of rudeness. Yet, here I was, doing that very thing to Bob.

Bob, if you ever read this, I’ll make it up to you, somehow. I truly am sorry and take full responsibility for that.

:(

As I was getting ready to set up, I realized that I had lost my binder with my D D&D game printed out (I think I forgot it in the Paizo Ascension of the Drow Adventure). This basically means someone may have had their hands on my adventure. Oh Noes!

While I have no intention of ever publicly publishing that adventure as I can’t publicaly advocate excessive drinking, I claim ownership of this adventure should anyone find my binder.

Regardless, the game comes first and we still played our Drunken D&D.

We loosened the drinking rule tremendously as we were just too tired. As it so happens, anything remotely dirty still made us crack up… Stupid Ranger took many photos where the Chatty Dm was broken by a witty comment by Vanir, Danny, Dante or Dave (sometimes all of them teaming on poor old me…) Said pictures will appear online soon, I promise (no worries, everyone kept their clothes).

So yes… Drunken D&D is definitively the most fun I ever had with RPGs in 25 years of DMing.

I’m shutting up now as I basically wrote another ‘5000 word epic about the contents of my laundry basket’.

Don’t forget, you don’t have to read it all… There’s a 2 Sentences summary at the top.

I’m off to bed soon. I promise.

Monday August 18, 2008 1h15 am

I’m home. Still too excited to sleep.

I played in Stupid Ranger’s Out of the Box roleplaying and had a metric ton of fun (better than Imperial I say!).

Quick quote:

Dave the Game”s Character, yielding a Ring of Wish, pointing at Vanir’s turned-into-a-Balor character: “Fix our friend”

Vanir, Growling and mewling at the same time (!!!): I can’t have children anymore!

This people, is the way to play D&D whatever the edition!

Oh yeah, I’ve finally discovered my Player Type, I’m an (Impatient) Instigator, Storyteller, Psychodramatist.

Sigh, I hate those!

Then I ate lunch with the Stupid Rangers (and great friends!), Dave, Bartoneus (Criticalhits.com) and Yax (Winner for the best Fan product at the 2008 Gen Con Ennies awards…. oh yeah he runs a blog too… Je t’aime man!). I basically took over the discussions and proved for the N’th time in 4 days why I chose my moniker.

I liked them as bloggers, I now love them as Brothers and Sisters…. Except Bartoneous, I just really love him…

And his mom.

I finished Gen Con with a very rapid run through the Exhibit Hall (Losing my Gen Con Pass, and dropping Yax’s and then losing my Baggage ticket… I was so out of it).

Chatty’s Play by play Mad Rush through the Hall so he doesn’t miss his plane

(Imagine a 24-type digital clock ticking)

I Bought Pokemon Cards for my Son… We’re going to break the Pre Constructed decks soon and I’m going to teach him about Deck Building (he’s 6 years old).

I met Bruce Cordell. I Geeked out with him a short bit and pitched him my Dragon article idea. He said ‘go for it’ and that he’d see with the office how to explore that idea if I didn’t follow up on the pitch.

Aside: Now this opens up a discussion on the ownership of ideas, and I will have a post on this someday. I currently think that if I don’t use an idea and someone else uses it to make the game I love better, how am I losing

I say Ideas are worthless if there are no guts, talent and sweat to back them up. Ideas alone should not be hoarded or be guarded jealously”

Chatty DM says: get the fuck off your butt and deliver on them!

(So sorry for the hundreds of inside jokes. You’ll know soon enough)

Plus the Wizards of the Coast people are currently busy enough not to kill-steal the ideas they hear about.

At least it beats hearing Vortos monologue about his Paladin for 2 hours.

Where was I?

Ah yes!

I bough a Kirby and a Luigi Plush Doll for my 5 year old daughter so they could play with the Mario doll I got from ZeStuff and the Donkey Kong one we got during our vacations.

I met Robin Laws and apologized for “borrowing” his stuff in his Laws of Gamemastering book to make a series without asking first.  He basically said ‘no, that’s totally cool, go for it!

I will finish it… once I find the PDF again… or find my Steve Jackson Games account number to download it.

I then used my action point to whip out our GM’-Fu seminar workbook and say ‘well actually I also built on your stuff in this book of tips I wrote, here’s a copy!” and then use my move action to run away.

And a free action to be Happy.

Yeah, Pissing your pants, having fun and being happy are Free Actions. Wotc confirmed it, news post at 11. Expect ChattyDM Studios to come out with the 500 page E-Book of Free Action in January.  Only 5$!

Ahem…

Game designers are one nice bunch of geeks, almost nicer than RPG bloggers… When they are both, we get Nerdvana level niceness!

I ran away from the hall, bid my brothers in arms farewell, made strong promises to come back next year and got to the airport (Graham, we’re spitting a press room)

On the way, I asked the Taxi driver to stop at a CVS and I bough my non-gamer-but-still-geeky wife 100$ worth of Itunes US cards. Why? Well because we can’t legally download US TV shows in Canada because of our (sadly very much needed) cultural protection laws.

Yeah, I have to commit a technical Federal felony in order not to commit another very real one. Ask Shamus Young what he thinks about that?

Then I got back home safe.

Roll credit on Gen Con 2008, the murderfucking best 4 days of gaming!

Damn 3807 words. I was so going for 5000.

Oh well.

I love you all. Peace out, I’m going to bed!

Comments

  1. Good job, Chatty!

    You have passed your first test-getting past the guards. Now to stow away aboard their flying machines. These are a strange people but you have done well. Continue with your reports as you investigate the mysteries of the gaming convention. ;)

    Deadshots last blog post..Con-less on the East Coast

  2. I am so jealous. First day of training today was useless and boring. I played BrickBreaker on my phone all day. At the rate I’m going, I should have all the levels unlocked by Friday afternoon. *sigh*

    Geek’s Dream Girls last blog post..Moradin’s Lass: The Shaft Incident

  3. Go Chatty!

    Questing GMs last blog post..Forgetting the Realms? Part 2

  4. That may well be one of the angriest blogs I’ve ever read… which perhaps says something about the volume of blogs I read, but still.

    I miss GenCon. I attended my first one maybe 10 years ago when it was still up in Milwaukee and but had to switch to Origins when I got a new job whose vacation blackout period fell squarely when GenCon was. The atmosphere of the cons is different. GenCons people watching was so much better.

    Anyways, don’t try to do to much. Have fun!

    justaguys last blog post..Gamelog, Session 5

  5. Always wanted to go…someday maybe. Looks like you have a fan over at turbulent thoughts : )

    Hope all is well, guard your wallet – sounds like those are a targetted commodity.

  6. Thanks for the pingback chatty, and I hope you have fun.

    And don’t spend too much.

    Wyatts last blog post..Deflecting Indianapolis

  7. Chainmail Bikinis exist

    Damn right they do.
    (Under the “18+” thumbnails, so NSFW, and if you’re under 18 looking, shame on you for liking boobies! :D or something.)

    Steelweaver, by the way, is based out of Winnipeg, where I also live. So not only are there chainmail bikinis (etc), but they’re made in ‘Toba! Whee!

    They also make dice bags, so yeah.

  8. I should be there. I should be doing all this fun stuff but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. I’m stuck doing retarded work training.

    Geek’s Dream Girls last blog post..Moradin’s Lass: Tip-Toe Through the Hummus… I mean, humus?

  9. Reverend Mike says:

    I need to finish that tabmail shirt…

  10. I’ll be out there some time tomorrow night in Kilt and Goggles. I’m going to swing by the GM-FU seminar and try to meet up with you around then. Unfortunately Gencon’s event system is stupid ala all gaming convention webpages (Why do gaming convention web pages always have such terrible coding and organization?) and it won’t let me download events. Thus, I am unsure what time on saturday that is. I’ll figure it out and find my way there. See you at the con!

  11. Just enjoy the experience and breathe it all in. Truth is: I’m envious! It’s been too many years since I’ve been to GenCon but they started in the house in which I grew up and I was one of the little red-headed girls serving hot dogs and “pop” at the Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva back in the day…later hawking the latest modules at the TSR booth. Really feeling bummed that I’m not there to see all of the tributes and people of all creeds enjoying Gaming. Hoping I can make it next year to reminicse about my past life. Have a wonderful and adventurous weekend!

  12. I’m sorry I can’t answer comments properly… this 1st day has been 1000 different ways to awesome. I’ll try to jot down a few notes tomorrow.

    I’ll come back later on comments.

    @ “E”: I’m so sorry you can’t be with us, we’re creating gen Con traditions here and you and Graham need to be here with us next year.

    @John: I really hope I get to meet you. I’ll hang around after the seminar for as long as needed to talk!

    @Heidi: Wow… I’m honored. Welcome on the blog Heidi. I would love to meet you and chat. I owe so much to your dad I don’t even know where to start. Oh, BTW, the weird french guy trying to friend you on Facebook is me.

    Off to get my badge from Ed.

  13. Ugh. Never do drinking games with beer! Especially American beer! You get the worst hangovers that way.

    Really, man. Believe the engineer. :P

  14. Have a ton of fun there! :)

  15. This post is awesome! Thanks!

    I love the idea of the huge player and DM events all in the same game. I would love to pull something like that off locally. I’m keenly interested in how it’s run and how it goes.

  16. Oh man! Remember the 3,2,1 rule.

    Get 3 hours of sleep a day, min.
    Get 2 good meals a day, min.
    Take 1 real shower a day, uh, min.

  17. @Lex: Thanks, I am having the geek time of my life.

    @Dar: Good tips… I’m off to bed NOW!

  18. It turns out that one of your Paizo games had one of my old friends (who was the guy who got me into True Dungeon.)

    Why am I telling you that here? I’ll see you tomorrow! :)

    Dave T. Games last blog post..GenCon: Live ENnies Coverage

  19. Oh?….

    Dread and excitement mounts!

  20. Man am I jealous.

    Geek Gazettes last blog post..Congratulations Ennie Winners!

  21. Heh. Ol’ Chatty’s being too hard on himself. I hadn’t committed to the game when we last spoke, and I wound up not going anyways. It’s all good.

    I will say this: I really enjoyed the blogger seminar. Chatty, the boys from Critical Hits, the folks at Stupid Ranger, and Dungeonmastering’s own Yax are an awesome bunch of folks. They’re not just great bloggers, they’re genuinely nice people.

    Bob Younces last blog post..2 stormtroopers just walked by…

  22. @Bob: Thanks man! I truly appreciate it… We’ll totally ‘talk’ soon!

    @All: Thanks for the comments! Normal Bloggy Chattyness will resume soon…

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a headache to nurse. =)

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