stevekenson: (go-play)
Since I’ve apparently got this head-cold to remember it by, I figure now’s as good a time as any to jot down some recollections from this year’s Gen Con.

This is particularly important, since this year was my 20th Gen Con: I started attending with Gen Con/Origins in Milwaukee in 1988. I skipped ‘89 (unfortunate, as it was the year two favorite games — Shadowrun and Champions, 4th edition — premiered), but I’ve been every year since 1990. Next year will be my 20th Gen Con in a row.

Ice and Fire: Naturally much of my time was spent, as it has been in recent years, with my fellow Green Ronin. Our booth was bigger and even livelier this year and sales overall were pretty brisk, particularly on Sunday when we marked remaining books down 30%. Mecha & Manga and Pocket Ultimate Power for M&M moved well, but the real star was A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, which flew off the racks, along with the Narrator’s Kit and its first adventure Peril at King’s Landing. Part of this was no doubt thanks to SIFRP Developer Jim Kiley’s tireless demos at the booth.

Into the Shadows... Again: As a change of pace for me, this Gen Con also featured a non-GR project, the 20th anniversary edition of Seattle 2072, written by me with fiction vingettes from across the Shadowrun freelance spectrum; not that you’d know this, of course, since a printer’s error left the credits page of the pre-release copies at Catalyst Game Labs booth blank. Whenever asked to sign a copy, I wrote in: “I wrote this ... really!” (or words to that effect). In spite of that, it’s a great looking book thanks to another brilliant graphic design job from Catalyst stalwart Adam Jury (who also pulled double-duty on development).

Dark Future, Past Prologue: Speaking of Shadowrun, man, did the 20th anniversary of a game that I not only played the hell out of back in the day, but also got me my start in the RPG biz, make me feel old. I’d gotten myself reacquainted with recent “events” in the Sixth World for Seattle 2072, but it was still weird talking about events in the game that are now 10-15 years old, much less hearing anybody else talk about them.

Elusive Dawn: My one failed acquisition of the show was a copy of the new edition of Earthdawn, which looked quite nice. Since it incorporates a lot of my prior work on the line for FASA, I was interested in getting a copy. Unfortunately, the current edition comes in four rather large hardcover volumes and the folks at the Mongoose Publishing booth informed me only one person from Red Brick (the game’s current publisher) was at the show, and I never managed to see or speak with him. Probably for the best, since my haul only just fit into one of our empty shipping cases as it was for the trip home via UPS.

Beware the Gate: Eight players. 21st level characters. A late night, and a bottle of brandy. Rob “Dr. Evil” Schwalb ran an epic-level D&D game for us on Thursday night. I think I won for “most obscure character” with my Kalashtar invoker. It was a fun game, serving largely to remind us that, whatever the game or system, tabletop RPGs are primarily an opportunity to sit around a table with your friends, laugh, and have fun. Plus it spawned the idea of designing a mini-game you can play during the 15-20 minutes you spend waiting for your next turn in such a large and complex game...

+5 Fabulousness: Thanks to our local host Brian (who has volunteered to make reservations year after year), we had our annual “gaymers dinner” at the Rock Bottom Brewery. I got to experience the center of the Venn diagram that is the gamer-gay-pagan crossover (and the closely-related gay-gamer-comic geek crossover). It was a great opportunity to see good friends from past years and meet new ones. I also enjoyed a visit from two guys who are assuredly the founders of the “Johnny Rocket Fan-Club” (from Freedom City) and looking to find Freedom’s super-speedster a boyfriend. Lots of potential there. After all, what’s a long distance relationship to a guy that fast?

Sweatin’ to the ENnies: GR took home two EN World Awards this year for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: gold for Best Free Product (for the Quickstart) and Silver for Best Rules (thanks to Rob Schwalb’s excellent design). I also got a special “award” in the form of host and co-emcee Denise Robinson pointing out that the venue for the awards this year had air conditioning, thus preventing everyone from having to see the damp spots left by my terrible flopsweat. (I’ll note for the record, as I did in accepting the Gold ENnie for SIFRP Quickstart, that I wore an undershirt this year to avoid a repeat of just such a problem ... thanks, Denise, for reminding us all of those good times...).

More Tapas, Please: A GR Gen Con tradition is a fine meal Sunday night after teardown. This year Nicole guided us to Barcelona Tapas, which was lovely, and we were smart enough to let her do the order, which worked out well for all concerned. Ironically, their “best sangria in Indianapolis” was the most disappointing thing I tried, until I realized just how low they had set the bar in their claim. The various cheeses, on the other hand, were fantastic, and the carmel espresso flan was sublime.

Those are merely the highlights, of course, of a whirlwind five or so days. The biggest and best thing about Gen Con, however, is the opportunity to interact with gamers playing and enjoying the games that they love ... that we love. For most of the year we industry folk are chained to our word processors and drafting tables, so events like these are a wonderful opportunity to recharge the creative batteries and enjoy a few days of camaraderie with our fellow games, both in the hobby and in the wider profession, making it, indeed, “The Best Four Days in Gaming!”

Still, I could do without the “con crud” afterwards...

No Origins

Jun. 22nd, 2009 10:25 am
stevekenson: (go-play)
So, after many years of attending the Origins Game-Fair in Columbus, OH, I won’t be going this year: time and money just do not allow for it. Green Ronin will be ably represented by Art Director Hal Mangold, with products available from Adventure Retail (Booth #133). I am planning on attending GenCon in Indianapolis in August (as this will be my 21st GenCon and my 20th in an unbroken streak — don’t want to miss that).

My apologies to convention attendees and my various friends in Columbus; I’m sorry I’m not going to be seeing you. Have some extra fun this week on my behalf!
All packed up and set to head off tomorrow to the Burlington, Vermont, area for the Northeast Wars convention. I attended last year and it’s a nice little con. I’m slated to run some M&M games, do a seminar, and a podcast interview. This year’s con is held at a hotel associated with the New England Culinary Institute, so there should be some good eats to go along with the weekend of geekery.
stevekenson: (go-play)
So voting in the ENWorld Awards (the “ENnies”) is now open. The ENnies take place at GenCon each year, and have become the major de facto industry awards (in my opinion) in fairly short order.

Green Ronin is nominated in several categories:

• Best Cover Art: Pirate’s Guide to Freeport
• Best Cartography: Pirate’s Guide to Freeport
• Best Setting: Pirate’s Guide to Freeport
• Best Supplement: Hero High (for Mutants & Masterminds)
• Best Reglia: Hobby Games: The 100 Best
• Best d20/OGL Product: True20 Freeport Companion
• Product of the Year: Pirate’s Guide to Freeport
• Fan’s Choice, Best Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing

You can vote from today until Wednesday, August 6th. Best of luck to the nominees and thanks to everyone who has supported us!

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