Gen Con Report: Fri, Aug. 15
I managed to get up early-ish on Friday, get some breakfast, and make it to the Exhibit Hall at 10:30 am. My tentative plans for the day included a last-minute midday interview with White Wolf that was set up the day before. Until that time I wandered the upper part of the hall (the lower numbers), meeting the crew from The Game Master Show at the White Wolf booth just shy of noon, as agreed since they would be joining me for the interview. There also were Victor Cantu (Fist Full of Comics and Games, in the red shirt) and Ethan Parker (Gamer’s Haven), on their way to another interview elsewhere in the hall.
Sadly, this was also the day when most of the Hunter designers were giving a number of panels, so while The Game Master Show got an interview about EVE Online, I did not get a chance to record with the Hunter folks (I left my card, but I never heard from WW again during the rest of the con). With some time to kill until my 2:00 pm panel, I went to buy one of the books that had really caught my eye at the show, and in my opinion, one of THE books to get at Gen Con, Starblazer Adventures. I also went by the Paradigm Concepts booth to pick up A Child’s Game, the new adventure for Witch Hunter, and then wandered the hall, discovering that one of my other planned buys of the show, the Pathfinder RPG Beta Rules, had sold out earlier that morning. Grrr.
While wandering the hall I met up with Mick and we went to see the Art Show. Our friend and ex-podcaster Jeff Himmelman was exhibiting his art at the show and we both wanted to say hi to him and his wife Caroline, as well as check out his art. Jeff, without a doubt, is someone who will only get bigger from here on. He has a fantastic style and a range so wide it’s enviable. His pieces just display a sense of the emotion inherent in the scene in a way that is captivating. I ended up buying a print of the piece called “The Witch Hunter”, which will soon appear as the cover of an upcoming Witch Hunter product by Paradigm Concepts. After chatting with Caroline for a bit, and Mick also picking up a print, we were about to leave when I said, no, I have to go and meet Rebecca Guay.
I have been a fan of Rebecca’s work since the Changeling: The Dreaming 1st edition books, and of course, her days as a regular Magic: The Gathering artist. I just love her work, her style. She is, without a doubt, my favorite artist in the industry, and finding her here at the con was a complete surprise. I was paging through the program book when I turned a page and saw her listed as Artist Guest of Honor. I had basically given up hope of seeing her in person since she doesn’t really work in the gaming industry anymore, so when I saw that page I literally squealed with delight, texting my wife in Miami just past midnight to let her know. When I was finally face to face with Rebecca, I (and I hate to admit this) was completely awestruck and proceeded to be a huge fanboy who suddenly forgot the English language. There’s really no way to express to her how much I love her art, the kind of emotional response it elicits in me, so I simply told her I was a huge fan and had been for years, that I really loved her art, that I once had a website showcasing her artwork (The Art of Rebecca Guay, still there I have no idea how) and that I was happy to see her still putting out excellent art through other mediums. Through this all I had a really corny smile on my face that I could not just wipe off. It all took less than 5 minutes and that’s probably a good thing given how nervous I was (which why I forgot to ask to take a picture with her), but I cherish that experience. I purchased two prints, wishing I had multiple thousands of dollars to buy one or more of the original paintings she had on display. One day, perhaps.
Eventually I made my way to the Embassy Suites (with a quick detour to the Hyatt to meet up with David Miller, who would be sharing his food with me and had brought me lunch) and to my panel, E-Publishing: Bringing RPGs to Market in the 21st Century.
The panel went off extremely well. Both Ryan Johnson of Guild of Blades Publishing (center) and Gareth-Michael Skarak of Adamant Entertainment (right) have extensive experience in the industry and both have been pursuing alternative forms of publication and distribution for years; me, I was just there to look pretty and promote podcasts. Actually, the way it worked out, I turned out to be a model example of many of the suggestions being given by Gareth and Ryan; seeing how Highmoon Media started as a direct result of the d20 OGL boom, and that I had learned the ropes the hard way, I was able to provide real-life testimony to back up the advice of my fellow panelists. I think the information we gave out was very useful, and I look forward to releasing the recording on my podcast (you can see the digital recorder at far right behind the cup, resting on my leather dice bag).
Since I was at the Embassy, I took the opportunity after the panel to go up to my room and drop the art prints and the super heavy Starblazer Adventures book in my backpack, and grab a quick lunch (PB&J sandwiches rock!) before heading back to the hall. The trek there took a while as I kept finding people along the way to say hi, or even to actually talk to for a moment. One of the curses of Gen Con is that you get to see a lot of people, but invariably you don’t spend nearly enough time connecting with them, even with your own roommates sometimes. So moments like these, where friends meet when on their way to something or other, and can steal away a few minutes to chat, are invaluable.
My next appointment was an interview with Mark Kauffman of Days of Wonder at 5 pm. The original interview time had been originally set for Thursday at that time, but I completely forgot about it. I was fortunate that Mark managed to make some time for me on Friday, so when it was time, I made my way to the DoW booth to wait for Mark.
He got back to the booth at around 15 past the hour, and we went off to the Press Room to do an audio interview, joined by DoW CEO Eric Hautemont as well. It was a nice, quick interview and frankly, the one time that I really felt like Press during the con. It was also my only interview for the show, something I intend to remedy next year. My Press duties done, I went back to trying to see all of the Exhibit Hall. The thing is that, for all the times I mention I go to the hall in these reports, it is never time enough to see all that is there, so every bit of time you can manage going down the corridors is good. Almost at 6 pm I found myself in the back corner at the Wizards of the Coast booth, and suddenly I realized that someone I wanted to meet would be there at that time.
Steven E. Schend (left) and Ed Greenwood (right) had a book signing session from 5 to 6 pm. As a long time follower of the Forgotten Realms, I have been a fan of these two writers in particular for years. Ed was the creator of the world, Elminster himself, so he needs to introduction. Steven was the lead Realms writer at the end of the AD&D 2nd Edition cycle, and produced some of the most excellent supplements for the Realms ever, concentrating on the area of the Sword Coast, bringing a level of intrigue and exoticness to the setting that had been somewhat lacking up to that point. There was a time when a product with his name on it was purchased sight-unseen by me; that’s how much of a fan I became. Aside from that, I had been chatting with Steven on and off via Goodreads, which is how he told me about his schedule and how I found him. I have to admit, I was a bit awestruck (not nearly as much as when I met Rebecca Guay earlier, but still), so I didn’t get a pic with Steven and Ed (again!), but I did get to chat with them and both are super nice. I got an autographed copy of Steven’s new Forgotten Realms novel, Blackstaff Tower, which will released wide in September.
After the hall closed I met up with Mick and Josh at the Embassy’s Happy Hour, where we had chips, nachos and salsa with some drinks. I went upstairs to get ready for Shabbat, and once Itamar met me at the hotel lobby, we went to David Miller’s room at the Hilton Garden Inn for our Shabbat meal. Huge props go to David who hosted us and served a truly fantastic Shabbat meal, far grander than I would have ever expected it, and simply the best meal I’ve had at Gen Con, period. We ate and chatted for about 2 1/2 hours, after which we made our way back to the general convention center area. Itamar went to his hotel to sleep, David went off to the convention center to play some boardgames, and I went to the Embassy where I sat as a spectator and guest GM in a playtest of Ryan Macklin’s Mythender, a game where larger-than-life heroes travel to mythic Scandinavia to end Myths, the great monsters of legend. Great game, from what I could tell, and one I am eagerly awaiting in its final form. After the game ended we sat around talking and Judd Karlman showed up with Zombie Cinema, a very quick story boardgame of zombie mayhem. We played a game set at Gen Con and 15 minutes later all the players were dead, killed by the zombies, and we loved it.
At almost 2 am Josh and I decided it was time to go to sleep, when we happened by Rich Rogers and Chris Norwood, and Rich says, “Hey, you guys wanna play InSpectres?” Sure!
I know for a fact Rich regreted that question later on. We had a ton of fun, but probably for all the wrong reasons. We played a team of InSpectres (think Ghostbusters with the serial numbers filed off) at Gen Con hired by Peter Adkinson to take care of some supernatural problems in the hall. We were all sleep-drunk, so we started comic and ended up slapstick, figuring out that the ghost that was haunting the BioWare booth had been put there by Chessex in an attempt to disrupt non-dice using games, and we tracked down the ghost to the inflatable Monsterpocalypse monster at the Privateer Press booth. The game took about an hour and we never stopped laughing (except for Rich). At 3:30 am we finally got back to the room and simply crashed for the night. About time, too!