Saturday, August 22, 2009

GenCon Recollections

I attended the GenCon Game Fair in Indianapolis, IN, recently. I had a lot of fun, but it was not all fun and games (pun intended). But before I forget all about it, here are some highlights.

Wednesday, August 12:
My friend Brayden picked me up for the drive, but not before I had to leave some of my items at home for lack of space in his car. So no updates for my LFR PCs, as one of the items that were left was my laptop. We got to Indy for his slot zero, and as he parked the car, I checked myself in at the Marriott. A bit later my first slot zero table convened in the bar just off of the lobby. We ended up ordering dinner instead of moving to a different table. But we did break for the RPGA judges's meeting in the convention center. The shirts that they got for us this year are certainly different than the ones I got two years ago. Mine were a bit too big (2XL). My other concern was getting a refund for my player's badge, but the RPGA staff said that they would take care of that. After that, I was able to drag Brayden from our room so that we could have fifth player for my second slot zero. Fun all around.

Thursday, August 13:
Thankfully I did not have to judge the first slot, as that allowed me to get a bit more rest. When I did go over to the convention center well before my first judging round, I made the mistake of entering the center during the opening ceremonies. That was brutal, but then again I was wondering if most of those people were competing to see who would be the first into the dealer's area. I was able to get one of my shirts exchanged for an XL shirt, which fit much better.

After that, I had my first session as a judge, and it went well. I was able to ask for a particular table featuring another friend from my area (Hi, Harold!) and Gerrie, a friend whom I had last seen at a convention in Cape Girardeau, MO.

In the last slot, I was released due to lack of interest (or maybe due to the number of players who tried to get into a level 4-7 module with their level 1 characters). I went to the front desk, and was asked to run a module for "open play" (they play whatever is available), but the only module that I had at hand was that module that I had prepared to run. So, after procuring a copy of the special (and a borrowed battlemat), I was given a party to judge. All went well, but I feel that I could have done better. But for the fact that I had had no time to prepare, I feel that I did my best.

Friday, August 14:
Another day, more judging. Got through the morning session alright, although I was once again asked to judge a module that I had not prepped. Thankfully I was able to borrow another judge's pre-made map.

After that I had an open slot, and I decided to play that round instead of going to the dealer's room right away. I went downstairs and got in line to buy an event ticket for an LFR game. I had two choices, and went with my second one. But after buying that ticket, I checked the event guide...only to find out that I did not have a character for that game. Oops. I then got in line at the Customer Service booth to get that error fixed. I got back to the RPGA room just in time for the slot, and then proceeded to play the low-level special that I had just judged the night before. Thankfully I was playing a silent fighter-type. I later got in a trip to the dealer's room, coming away with a free key chain, a Hare+Guu Deluxe part 2 DVD, and a new flipmat from the Paizo booth. I passed on their Pathfinder D&D 3.75 product, preferring to get it later, if at all.

After dinner at the Circle Center Mall, I was able to finally get back to judging the module I had prepared for. I really liked that table, and not just because of the all-dragonborn characters. The only downside was the event ran a bit long, so I reverted to a non-D&D decision making prop that my local group adopted from the Champions RPG. I had all of the players make what is called a "luck roll" to decide the outcome of the final combat. I know that is a cop-out, but due to the fact that my side had a good chance to win, I felt that having them make those rolls was a fair decision. The rolls were in their favor, which makes me feel better about the situation.

Saturday, August 15:
Time for some more judging. Five of us were released from our group, and we were all given the choice to run the two-round MINI game. As three of those released had the next round off, I and one other judge were assigned to that game, with the caveat that we were not expected to be there for the next round at the IMPI1-5 group. I was thankfull that I had bought that flipmat the day before, as the only mapping items that I had brought with me were the Dungeon Tiles that I had picked out for the IMPI1-5 game. Turns out that what I had heard about the MINI1-1 game was true, as my table got done in a little over 5 hours, including player stops for food and bio breaks, and I even got a bit of lunch in.

I went back down after the game, with the intention of getting a three-set of generic tickets and the thought of getting into another round of playing. When I returned to the RPGA area, I found out that the IMPI area got slammed and was the group that needed more judges. Well, I decided to put back on my judge's shirt and run another round. At least my area did not have to turn away players.

I then went to get my judge's rewards (aka swag). I let the people at the front table that I had judged an extra slot, and was told that it did not matter that I had somehow fit in another game. I had been put in for 7 rounds, and that was the reward level I was set at. WHAT THE?!? I proceeded to pick out my rewards (Books: Divine Power, Eberron's Player's Guide, and Adventurer's Vault 2, one pack of the new minis, and two Dungeon Tile sheets featuring boats) and vowed that I would talk to others later.

Another trip for dinner to the Circle Center Mall, and I ran into the marshal for the IMPI1-5 area. I told him my issue with the front desk, and he asked if I had talked to anyone in charge. Well...DC had been absent, and I had not seen TB, who is a person I had known from a couple of trips to Chicago-area conventions back in the Living Greyhawk days. He said that he would talk to DC about the fact that I did not have to volunteer to run a slot when I was asked to. When I got back to the LFR area, he took me to the desk, and I was then credited with my extra effort (book: Monster Manual 2, and a pack of the Rewards Cards).

Then came my last judge slot with Team Wootzor. They were the most eclectic group that I had ever judged, even going back to all of the tables that I had run in the LG days. They even had a bit of feng shui going, as every player had a particular seat that they had to have in conjunction to where the judge sat. Needless to say that they really got into the role-play portion of the game. And their needing to shout out their name whenever one of them rolled a critical hit. (I was even expected to yell out "Whoop-Ass" whenever I had a critical, which I had a bit of a challenge to remember). In the middle of the game, just as I was rolling initiative for the second combat, the fire alarms went off, forcing us to evacuate the convention center (but not before everybody gathered their stuff). We reconvened in an open-gaming room at the Hyatt, where the gang was forced to keep their yells down a bit. I came away with a keepsake d6 and an appreciation of their group.

Sunday, August 16:
I had the entire day off, and I took advantage of it by sleeping in a bit. However, Brayden and I had to be up in order to check out in time. He had a bit of a panic by having misplaced his Rewards Cards set, but he had packed them in one of his bags already. After vacating the room, we checked out and had the bags put in temporary storage. While he went to visit friends, I proceeded over to the convention center to play a couple of games. I ended up getting involved with their University of Catan promotion, having gathered the basic commodities that are present in the game Settlers of Catan, thus gaining the title Knight of Catan, an entry in a drawing they were holding, and a half-off coupon I used to buy the latest version of Eurorails. After that, I hooked up with Brayden, and watched our stuff while he got the car. And that was that.

All in all it was a good convention. I am considering judging for them at DC's next convention (DDXP in Fort Wayne, IN), but I will make sure that I hit the free hotel room level.

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