I spent most of the last week at GenCon in Indianapolis. I flew in on Tuesday August 14 and went home late Monday afternoon on August 20. There were three in our party–Richard Loomis, CEO and Chief Factotum of Flying Buffalo, Inc., me–Ken St. Andre, writer and game designer, and my son James, gamer and actor. We were there to promote Flying Buffalo products and sell some games. If we should happen to enjoy ourselves and play some other games on the journey, that was all just a bonus. Personally, I had a great time, and so, I thought I would make my customary report here on Atroll’s Entertainment, which will have the usual form of photographs that I, or people near me, took, and brief comments on each one. I counted 55 photos, which is a bit much to cram into one blog–my plan is to do the blog in 4 sections.
In the course of composing this blog, I am bound to leave some things out. If you were there, and would like to add your own comments, it would increase the utility of this report.
This is what the Flying Buffalo booth looks like before we get it set up. I am here on Wednesday, before the show started, waiting for Rick Loomis to arrive–he had to go park the car. I”m wearing an old Conan t-shirt that I acquired at GenCon several years ago, and the Trollgod’s hat. It goes on all my adventures with me.
Most exhibitors set up on the day before the convention actually starts. It is a big job–hard enough for a small company like Flying Buffalo, but larger companies like Paizo bring in multiple employees, lay down their own flooring, set up gigantic displays–some of which I will show you before I finish talking about GenCon, and generally go all out to promote product and sell tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of games. I can only wish that Tunnels and Trolls had that kind of size and market penetration–if it did, I would be a wealthy man, but it doesn’t, and I’m not.
Robin Loney (aka Christina Lea) had her own booth at GenCon for the first time this year. She is the brains, and much of the writing talent behind Peryton Press. She has created her own rpg system (Qalidar), and she also helps support my game–Tunnels and Trolls. Peryton Press has more emphasis on fantastic fiction than on gaming, but both aspects of the fantastic are well represented.
Peryton Press is part of a small press retro pulp fiction movement happening today among fans and gamers. Now that self-publishing is within the grasp of any determined author or artist, the people are taking back the creative arts from the large corporations that have controlled them for most of the 20th century. I heartily approve, and if you were to look through my book and gaming collection you would find that small press publications have Pride of Place over large company productions. Not always higher quality, but always more heart and soul in the amateur productions.
James pretends to board the train at the Victoria Station hotel. We are on our way Wednesday evening to a Shadowfist demonstration. Shadowfist is one of our favorite collectible card games. This train station adds a lot of color and interest to the Indianapolis convention center.
Here we are at the Shadowfist demo. The banner shows Zu-Mei, one of the Seven Masters from the latest faction to join the Shadowfist war. James and I are better than average Shadowfist players already–we didn’t need to learn the game, but attended in hopes of getting a free demo deck (going to conventons is all about acquiring new game stuff–for free if possible!). The demo was surprisingly successful with more noobs than expected, so, we didn’t get any freebies here. They needed them go give to beginners.
Daniel Griego, one of the owners of Inner Kingdom Games, is current publisher and owner of the Shadowfist game. I don’t know him well, but he seems like a great guy.
James and I did other things on Thursday night. When the Shadowfist demo was over we walked a mile and joined Rick Loomis who was demoing Nuclear War at the DW Mariott hotel. I got demos of three games: Tsuro of the Seas, Dragon Dice, and Snake Oil. Tsuro is the most elegant, Snake Oil the most fun, and Dragon Dice has some way-cool dice in it. No pictures of any of those.
On the following day, the Convention officially began.
Tom and Robin Loney are doing good business at Peryton Press Thursday morning. Because they are my friends, I went by their booth every once in a while to see how they were doing.
I should have taken more pictures on Thursday, but most of the time the camera wasn’t with me, and I just didn’t feel like it.
The Con is going. I have switched to my traditional black outfits. Christian Lindke, a member of Trollhalla, has stopped by the Flying Buffalo Booth to see me. On Saturday, Christian gamed with me in the Seven Challenges adventure I wrote especially for GenCon.
Here we are on Friday morning already. These brave souls adventured in Dwarf World with me.
This is the adventure I ran on Friday morning. Our combats were not quite this epic, but we did manage a Dwarf vs. Goblin confrontation.
Playing Tunnels and Trolls with Ken St. Andre. I’m the goofy-looking one with the battered fedora. The players are trying to survive in Dwarf World.
When the T & T was over, I wandered the hall and found the authors corner of it toward the end of the day. Jeremy Jaynes was giving away free t-shirts to promote his books. Here I made a charisma saving roll, and talked them out of a t-shirt along with getting my picture taken with his pretty wife. The shirts look like the one she’s wearing. Jeremy seems to be a bit of a cyberpunk kind of guy, but the books are well done and fascinating reading. I support authors who not only write their dreams, but get out into the big world to promote them. Best of luck, Jeremy, and thanks for the shirt!
This brings me to a natural stopping spot for today’s blog. I admit that I didn’t do that good a job of capturing the full excitement of the con on camera for the first 2 days, but come back tomorrow. I get better and take more interesting photos.
If you were at GenCon, or wish you had been, go ahead and comment.