Archive for the ‘Game Conventions’ Category

Origins 2014–Lots of banners   Leave a comment

I spent June 10 to June 16 in Columbus, Ohio for this year’s Origins convention. It was a good convention for the gamers and merchants–nothing memorable for me. There really wasn’t much in the way of hall costumes. So, this year I’m devoting the blog record to the merchants and the signs that marked their booths.

 

I’m just gonna show some of the best booth banners and maybe a few other things that justified a photo.

 

Looking at the main concourse lobby on Wednesday morning befor the crowds arrived.

Looking at the main concourse lobby on Wednesday morning before the crowds arrived.

 

A distinctive feature of the convention center is this gigantic staircase that is seven aisles wide–three escalators in the center and two wide stairways on either side. When I felt strong, I climbed the stairs, averaging about 5 flights of stairs per day.

The Exhibitor's Hall before anyone gets set up.

The Exhibitor’s Hall before anyone gets set up.

 

HackMaster was just across the aisle from Flying Buffalo. Dave Kenzer is standing by the HackMaster Banner. I just wish Tunnels & T rolls had a banner like this.

HackMaster was just across the aisle from Flying Buffalo. Dave Kenzer is standing by the HackMaster Banner. I just wish Tunnels & Trolls had a banner like this.

 

Jolly Blackburn, creator/artist/writer of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book poses heroically.

Jolly Blackburn, creator/artist/writer of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book poses heroically.

 

My friend, Jolly, personifies all that is best about gamers at Origins. This is the single nicest guy in gaming, even nicer than me, and I’m as easygoing and friendly as you could ever wish. Jolly is better.

Here begins the great banners of Origins.

Here begins the great banners of Origins.

 

I’m not going to comment on most of the banners.

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I told these guys I expected some tribute because I’m the Trollgod, but it didn’t happen. They even stole my acronym, T&T.

 

Heh, I'm using this cartoon as my background on Facebook right now.

Heh, I’m using this cartoon as my background on Facebook right now.

 

Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.

Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.

 

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Ya think something might be epic around here?

 

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James Ernest is still the mastermind behind Cheapass Games. I had a good talk with him at a later time.

James Ernest is still the mastermind behind Cheapass Games. I had a good talk with him at a later time.

 

I demoed this game. It was kind of fun, like a g-rated version of Las Vegas.

I demoed this game. It was kind of fun, like a g-rated version of Las Vegas.

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This is a beautiful educational game that looks like a lot of fun to play. The designer and his family will be thousands of dollars in the red, and unlikely to appear again at next year’s Origins. Sad, but true. That is still the fate of most self-published books and games.

This guy is a talented artist. A lot of artists come to Origins. I don't know why. Gamers are mostly not interested in buying or commissioning art.

This guy is a talented artist. A lot of artists come to Origins. I don’t know why. Gamers are mostly not interested in buying or commissioning art.

 

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2014-06-11 19.05.18There was some great steampunk costumery stuff. You had to be rich to afford it.  $80 vests. $500 coats.

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2014-06-11 19.09.03Technically, this is more of a toy company than a game company, but you could certainly use these toys in games.

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2014-06-11 19.09.41Henry Lopez (seated, white hair) is a man who produces quality games. His Witch Hunter 2nd edition rpg is one of the few things I brought back with me from Origins.

Cute!

Cute!

 

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2014-06-11 19.16.14I’ve played King of Tokyo. It plays fast and is good fun. Brilliant game!

There were a lot of zombies at the show. Zombie games remain popular.

There were a lot of zombies at the show. Zombie games remain popular.

 

Steve Jackson games was there, of course, doing their highly irritating "Exact Change" song and dance whenever anyone paid with cash in the exact amount asked for.

Steve Jackson games was there, of course, doing their highly irritating “Exact Change” song and dance whenever anyone paid with cash in the exact amount asked for.

 

2014-06-11 19.18.00

 

Will Neibling Sr. is a Hall of Fame game designer with a deep interest in World War II and military simulation. He still runs his own game company.

Will Neibling Sr. is a Hall of Fame game designer with a deep interest in World War II and military simulation. He still runs his own game company.

 

 

 

2014-06-12 18.32.08

 

It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.

It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.

 

Arrrrgh!

Arrrrgh!

 

2014-06-12 18.32.58

 

3D open dungeon on display at the Kenzer booth. The pieces are modular, and can be built into any pattern you wish. Great for miniatures, and so pretty.

3D open dungeon on display at the Kenzer booth. The pieces are modular, and can be built into any pattern you wish. Great for miniatures, and so pretty.

 

2014-06-12 20.33.04

 

Where do they get those marvelous toys? I'm not in the Exhibitor's Hall now. I'm off in open gaming where the mini-gamers have set up.

Where do they get those marvelous toys? I’m not in the Exhibitor’s Hall now. I’m off in open gaming where the mini-gamers have set up.

 

If I had a lady, I would buy her one of these gamer jewels.

If I had a lady, I would buy her one of these gamer jewels.

 

2014-06-13 01.41.09

 

I do so love fantasy art featuring warrior women. Not sure I wanna be married to one tho in the modern world.

I do so love fantasy art featuring warrior women. Not sure I wanna be married to one tho in the modern world.

 

A good thing about the dealer halls these days are the many demos going on. Tired? Sit down and learn a new game.

A good thing about the dealer halls these days are the many demos going on. Tired? Sit down and learn a new game.

 

Speaking of warrior women, there weren't very many hall costumes, but this woman had the best one of all. Awesome to look at, and a killer smile when I talked to her. I wanted her so much.

Speaking of warrior women, there weren’t very many hall costumes, but this woman had the best one of all. Awesome to look at, and a killer smile when I talked to her. I wanted her so much.

 

This is what the main concourse looked like after Origins had ended on Sunday afternoon.

This is what the main concourse looked like after Origins had ended on Sunday afternoon.

 

Finally, a selfie picture of me just to prove I was there. Crom! I look more like a gnome or a goblin than a troll these days. Maybe it will look better if I grow my beard back.

Finally, a selfie picture of me just to prove I was there. Crom! I look more like a gnome or a goblin than a troll these days. Maybe it will look better if I grow my beard back. I started working on it for the whole week of Origins travel and show.

 

And that was my look at Origins 2014.  If you were there, and have a comment, please leave one. What did you like best and least about this year’s Origins?

–end

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Laughing Moon Con 2014   Leave a comment

Today’s entertainment was a trip to Litchfield Park, west of Phoenix, for a mini gaming event held by a high school gaming club. It is called Laughing Moon Con, and is named after the Laughing Moon rpg created by Todd VanHooser, a high school teacher there. This is the second time I’ve gone.  I like it a lot. Go in. Do some gaming. See  your friends. Leave when you’re ready. No muss, no fuss. A good time is had by all.  I had my little camera and took a bunch of pix, and this is how I spent Saturday, March 22, 2014.

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Jessie Foster, leader of the Arizona Men in Black, is, I believe, the best known, and most popular gamer in Phoenix. He was the  fourth person I saw that I knew at the con, and the first to get his picture taken.
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I spent a little time teaching Purple Warrior Girl how to fight. Great costume and makeup!

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I spent a couple of quality minutes with my favorite pirate queen author. Her trolls aren’t quite as big and mean as mine.

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I invented anew game for the occasion. Troll Race used components from the Cave Troll game to serve as a board. Used some minis that Trollhallans sent me as game pieces. The combat system was rock/scisssors/paper and worked well. It was a game about trolls. It started as a race, but always ended in thuggery, with the winner of the last fight also winning the game.

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The Arizona Men in Black were playing Munchkin.

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Jim Miller spent his time playing Dust–sci-fie World War II action.

2014-03-22 02.24.28

You know, Frankenstein’s monster was a zombie.

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Kitt, the car in the old Knight Rider TV series, lives in Arizona now, and sometimes shows up for car shows and game conventions.

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Con Chairman Donald Jacques was promoting the upcoming (May) LeprecCon with firings of his home-made trebuchet.

2014-03-22 02.32.57 2014-03-22 02.35.03

Don let me shoot it once. You see that tree behind the Con pavilion. My 5-pound shot knocked a piece out of it (just a branch) As a gunner, I was no threat to whoever might have been living in the target castle.

I spent a little over 3 hours at the Convention, had a good time, left when I got hungry. James and I went home, got some pizza, and went back to doing computery things–my life most of the time.  Wrote a blog, this one, so it’s time now to adjudicate turn 4 of the Dominance 12 game I’m running for members of Trollhalla.

If you’ve ever fired a trebuchet, or gone to a mini-gaming event like Laughing Moon Con, or hugged a pirate queen, why not leave a comment?

–end

King of Spades   4 comments

It all started with this email:

from: Rick Loomis rick@flyingbuffalo.com

to: kenstandre@gmail.com
date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 5:37 PM

subject: Famous Game Designers/Origins poker deck:

Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.

Ken,
The votes are in, and you are one of the four kings this year. Sometime in the next month you need to send me a photo you’d like to use, and a list of the game design accomplishments you’d like to highlight. Also which king do you think is appropriate?
Rick
Flying Buffalo Inc  www.flyingbuffalo.com
PO Box 8467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252
480-945-6917

which left me going “What?”

And then another email showed me things were already moving.

from:  S Crompton sscrompton@cox.net
to:  Rick Loomis <rick@flyingbuffalo.com>
cc:  “Ken St. Andre” <kenstandre@gmail.com>,
Bear Peters <themancalledbear@gmail.com>,
Liz Danforth <etdanforth@gmail.com>
date:  Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 12:44 PM
subject:  Liz is the King of Hearts

Been working with Liz this morning  on her card for the Game Designer deck and we think it came out pretty cool.  I took this photo of her at my house the day we all did the photoshoot.  I added a new background and cleaned it up a bit and TA-DA – the Liz card.

KingofHearts

Ken – your next!  We keed a good photo of you wearing your hat, maybe with the T&T Gm Screen in front of you with a dark background… Or whatever else we come up with.

Onward!

Stee

[Note: I am showing these emails just the way they came to me, typos and all.]

When Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo needs a graphic production of some sort, he turns to his main man, artist/writer/compositor Steve Crompton. Steve is our main man for the actual physical production of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls also.

On the following day I called Rick and asked what was going on. Rick told me that I got the third most votes of the possible game designers to be in the deck. Reassured by that, because I was afraid that it was just going to be a bunch of Flying Buffalo people this year, and in that case, I didn’t want to be part of such naked self agrandizement, I agreed to participate. Rick told me that he had been voted in also, but that he felt that was too many Flying Buffalo people in one deck, and so took himself out of it.  So, I called Steve, and talked to him about it, and he told me to hurry up and send him some pictures and the rest of the info.  Here is my letter to Steve:

from:  Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com
to:  S Crompton <sscrompton@cox.net>
date:  Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM
subject:  King of Spades
mailed-by:  gmail.com

Hi, Steve,

     If I get my choice, I want to be King of Spades. The word spade comes from the latin: spada meaning sword. Swords and sorcery fantasy is my life. Furthermore, in Bridge and many other cards games, the spades are ranked as the highest suit. Therefore, my King of Spades would outrank Liz’s King of Hearts. And why isn’t she Queen of Hearts instead of King of Hearts?
[Too much honesty here, but I decided to narrate this event as it actually happened and let the chips fall where they may. Actually, this shows a petty side of me that I’m not proud of, but it’s there, and it’s me.]
I’m attaching a couple of pix you could use. Pick the one you think is best. My preferences are shown in the order of attachment.
Games to credit me with: Tunnels and Trolls, Monsters! Monsters! Stormbringer. Wasteland, the computer game.
If you have room on the card you might mention Griffin Feathers and Rose of Stormgaard.
Best,
Ken
P.S. That really isn’t the best picture of me from the photo shoot. I’m thinking you might pull out one of two from last spring–I can’t seem to find them any more, and pick one with a full face shot in it. But I like the one with the yott. I’m doing my wizard impersonation there, and it does have the Trollgod’s Hat.
Ken

[and I sent him these three pictures of me]

Ken with yott

Ken_smiles

Keninwizardhat

from:  S Crompton sscrompton@cox.net
to:  “Ken St. Andre” <kenstandre@gmail.com>
date:  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 1:36 PM
subject:  Re: King of Spades Ready for you to approv
Ken here is your card!  It took me some work, but I used the big picture you sent and made you look like a mage casting a spell!  Hope you like
Be sure to read the text and edit as you see fit.  Just remember there isn’t much room.
Steve
KingofSpades
and my reply:

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to S
Hi, Steve, I like it. Tis a stunning effect, but I think it could be better. How would it look if you took out the rather gloomy blue background and photoshopped in either an erupting volcano? emeral green flames? or a fantasy city-scape?  See attachments, please. I don’t know if any of those would work better, but I’m thinking the whole thing is too dark, and a lighter touch in the background might make it better.
You know me, hard to satisfy . . .
Note: you probably can’t legally use any of these images. I include them just to put different ideas in your head.
[Note: I am not going to show you the three images I sent back to him. I have no right to reproduce them, and I only sent them along as examples of things I would rather see in the background of my card. They showed an erupting volcano, an elven city, and emerald flames.]

sscrompton@cox.net

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to me
The idea is that you are in a classic dungeon, but I’ll see what else I migjt have that might work.
Steve

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to sscrompton
And the idea works, but I just don’t like that gloomy blue background very much. Give me something with some red in it, please.
Ken

S Crompton

Feb 27 (1 day ago)

to me
All right take a look now.
Don’t forget to read the text too.
Steve
14 K Spades

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

6:20 PM (23 hours ago)

to S
It’s better, Steve. More symbolic, more evocative, more T & T.

Let’s talk about the text. It is not quite perfect.
The fact is that I was a co-designer on Stormbringer and Wasteland. I could make a case for being the primary designer, but other people were also involved and they were important.
So, if you’ve got the space, let’s change the last half of that credits sentence to something like: “and he was instrumental in designing Stormbringer (the RPG) and Wasteland (the computer  game).  That is probably too many words, but it is a more accurate reflection of the truth. Perhaps you can squeeze it all in by reducing the fontsize.
Or perhaps you could just say something different like:
Ken St. Andre, Credits: Tunnels & Trolls, 1975, Monsters! Monsters!, 1976, Stormbringer, 1981, Wasteland 1988, Trollhalla.com 2002, Tunnels & Trolls 7th edition, 2005, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls 2014
and in tiny little  2 point type at the bottom “and lots of other crap”.
You know, when you actually look at the record, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life/career.
or another approach: Credits: Tunnels & Trolls (all versions 1975-2014), Stormbringer, 1981, Wasteland 1988, Trollhalla.com 2002-
Thanks for being so careful with it. I want it to be the best Kings card ever.

S Crompton

8:31 PM (21 hours ago)

to me
Ok here is an updated version with new text.
Please proof
Steve

14 K Spades (2)

Ken St. Andre kenstandre@gmail.com

9:27 PM (20 hours ago)

to S
That’s a great card, Steve. I am honored that you put so much time and work into it, and every other King in Origin deck history is gonna be so jealous. Thank you very much for all the effort you put into making this card.
[And that is the end of this story, dear Reader. I have given you a glimpse–the same glimpse that I’ve had–of what will be in the 2014 Flying Buffalo Origins Poker Deck. I’m very pleased to be included as a king, and shown you all what a pain I am to work with. heh!  I have no doubt that Steve remains hard at work finishing up the rest of the deck.  The man is the greatest workaholic I know.]
****************************************************************************************************************************
If you have ever obtained a Flying Buffalo poker deck at Origins, or if you’d like to get one of the older ones from me, or if you plan to come see Rick and me at Origins, why not leave a comment?
–end

RinCon 2012   2 comments

39 years ago I helped start LepreCon, the first sfnal Con in Arizona.  At least if anything else preceeded it, my friends and I had never heard of it, though we knew about cons in California and back east.  Since then the number of cons has increased tremendously, and it reached a point where cons weren’t just for science fiction any more–they spread out into all sorts of related fields, like Gaming.

It all blurs together after a while, but I don’t remember going to any gaming specific cons before the 1990s.  However, once the idea caught on, it became quite popular.  This year, I have attended three Gaming Cons here in Arizona–VulCon I, Conflagration 1, and RinCon 2012.  In addition, I have spent most of my con time gaming at DarkCon, LepreCon, ComiCon, and CopperCon.  And those were just the cons in Arizona, which I tend to attend because they are close and don’t cost me much money.  Out of state I went to Origins, OSRcon, and GenCon.   And I’m planning on LaughingMoonCon on Oct. 20.  That makes 8 weekends minimum spent at conventions, mostly gaming–slightly more than 1/5th of the year’s weekends up to my neck in cards and dice mostly.

Last week, Sept 28-30. I was in South Tucson for RinCon 2012.   This southern Arizona convention is about 5 years old now, and I have attended it once before.  This year the Con committee made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (a hotel room for my stay at the con–I’m easy, folks, you can have me for as little as a place to stay while at the con (grin)).  My son and I went to the Con.  I played Tunnels & Trolls twice, and a few other games.  I was on two interesting panels with John Wick and Mark Truman who were the other major frp people at the con.  We talked about such things as GM technique, things to keep in mind if you want to create your own frp game, and how the sport of role-playing has developed and is likely to continue developing.

I took my little camera along and took a few pictures, which I will now share with you.  They don’t really make a story this time, but it should give you an idea of what it was like.

There was plenty of function space at the Airport Holiday Inn in South Tucson. About half of the gaming took place in this large hall. The dealers have an area down at the far end.

I broke a rule, and actually played That Other Game. Jim McKenzie, the big guy on the left ran Pathfinder for most of the weekend, and I sat in on a game Friday afternoon as a wizard. Had to leave after about an hour of play, and I got back just in time for the grand finale. My wizard wasn’t missed, and got to throw one magic missile in the whole game.

Although you will find I prefer my own Tunnels and Trolls to all other frp systems, I am willing to play other games from time to time.  Really, it isn’t the system that matters.  It’s the role-playing that counts and having a good time with others.

That evening, Jamie, the cutie on the right taught my son James, the blurry fellow on the left, and me how to play the World of Warcraft CCG. James won–twice. I prefer Magic ™, but if one were a WoW player (and I’m not), I could see how one might grow fond of this game.

James Ernest was the Guest of Honor at RinCon. James is an amazingly smart game designer of mostly board games, but he could do anything. We know each other, but don’t mingle that much. Here he is having breakfast at the hotel buffet on Saturday morning. Bacon, eggs, and orange juice–yum!

The major Event of the convention was a GM conference on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m.  5 game designers including me down front and 20 to 30 people in the audience at various times.

Audience, right side, Matthew Nielson down in front.

Audience, left side.

John Wick sat to the right of me. John pretty much dominates any panel he is on.

John said he had designed 10 rpgs this year already.  I said, big deal, designing them isn’t so hard.  Getting them published and out to the gamers in an attractive format is the hard thing.  John amended his statement to say he had published 10 rpgs already this year.

Mark Truman sat to the left of me on the panel. Mark is a game designer on the rise.

You won’t see any pictures of me at this Con, at least none that I own.  I was always pretty much at the center of the action and looking out admiring the great works of other people.

RinCon pays its GMs in RinCoins–tokens that dealers have agreed to take as part of the purchase price of games. Alas, I spent my RinCoins buying more Magic.

This BEN HVRT (clever play on Roman letters and a movie title) looked like a lot of fun. It represents all the great games I saw at RinCon but never got the actual chance to play.

After 2.5 days of gaming goodness, RinCon came to an end on Sunday afternoon.  While I was there I participated in a Pathfinder game, 2 Tunnels and Trolls sessions, a Settlers of Catan game, several rounds of Magic with my son, a WoW demo, a game of Gloom with my son, and a long session of Legacy the other t & t game (time travel and technology).  It was a good weekend for gaming.

If you were at RinCon, or some other gaming convention recently, why not leave a comment and mention your exploits there?

–end

GenCon 2012: Part 4 (Saturday, Sunday)   Leave a comment

I come now to the end of my photographic tour of GenCon this year, the last few shots I took on Saturday and Sunday.

Another pretty Elf wandered by. There is no real connection here. I just like pretty elves.

An urban shaman/wizard also came by. I love the sunglasses as part of his costume. Cosplay is not just for the fem fans of the world. Guys get into it too, and they look good when they do.

Back to pretty elves. When I got away from the FBI booth, I wandered back to the authors area for some random socializing. Look at that lovely purple hair!

On Saturday night James and I were invited to an Apples to Apples party and contest. Even though it meant Rick would have to make an extra trip into town to pick us up when the party was over, he agreed, and we went to it, in vague hopes of being champion players and walking off with prizes.

Zatanna was at the party. James and I got to sit at her table for the first round of Apples to Apples competition. I did pretty well in that round, getting 10 cards in 20 minutes. I did not do so well when I switched tables and competed against others in the two following rounds.

At the end of the party, I got my picture taken with my piratical Apple buddy.

Later that evening we wandered into an open gaming area and found a giant-sized Catan game based on the U.S. map.

On Sunday morning I ran my last T & T game. Afterwards I posed with Mike and Rob, brothers who were both in the game. Rob’s son Jacob was also there.

Back in the Exhibitors Hall and the authors area, I stopped to chat with Chris (C.V.) Marks–a fantasy author of the kind of stuff I like. She always hands out chocolate bars as a lure to bring people to her table, and I was hungry. She lamented that she would have to carry her heavy pre-publication copies of her new Elfhunter novel away from the Con with her, so I asked for one, and made my Charisma saving roll. I promised to review the book afterwards. I’m currently reading it–about 6 chapters in, and it reads very well. Two pretty elven heroines are tracking down a monster. Look for a full review in a week or so when I get the book finished.

My last stop of the con was at Kenzer and Co. where I got a chance to chat with my friends Dave Kenzer and Jolly Blackburn.

Shortly after this picture was taken the Convention officially ended, the Hall closed, and we all packed up and went home.  I had an invitation to go to Sunday night supper with Tom and Robin Loney and some friends from FASA, but I was really too tired to go back into town for one last crowded and expensive supper.  Sorry, guys!  Anyone who wants to socialize with me at these cons has to do it before the last night.

We flew home to Phoenix on Monday afternoon.  I love flying west.  We left Indianapolis at 6:15 and arrived in Phoenix at 6:55, even though we spend 3 hours in the air.  That was all less than a week ago, as I write this now.  I was really exhausted by it all, and it took me 3 days to recover and get back into my regular routine of  posting things all over the internet.  I don’t think there are any more big conventions in the schedule for me this year, but I have a small one–CopperCon 34 here in Avondale next week.

–end

GenCon 2012, Part 3 (Friday, Saturday)   1 comment

I began Saturday with the resolve to take more pictures and do a better job of documenting GenCon.  It had rained during the night, and we overdressed in the morning because I thought it would be chilly.  I also put on my minimal steampunk costume–shiny vest, demonic badge, trollgod’s hat with goggles.  I looked like this.

Ya think the big convention badge kinda ruins the look?
But first let’s go back to late Friday afternoon.  After walking around the hall for a while, I got back to the Flying Buffalo booth to find this going on.

Stephen Conway is talking to Rick Loomis about games. I came in too late to hear much of what they said, but it made me jealous, so I talked Stephen into interviewing me also. His podcasts can be found here: http://thespiel.net/

I’m attracted to warrior women. I met this dangerous dame and got her picture.  She’s my idea of a living t & t adventuress.

I just love the look of this old Catholic church across the street from the Convention Center. I got this shot as we headed for the car Friday night after the Dealers Room closed.

Rick goes to Indiana and GenCon to sell games.  Sometimes I think I go with him just to indulge myself at Steak and Shake restaurants.  We don’t have them in Arizona.

There was a Steak and Shake restaurant right next to the Red Roof Inn where we stayed about ten miles south of downtown Indy. The food is mostly hamburgers, but the variety of shakes is exceptional and they are really good. I took this shot Saturday morning on our way into the Convention after breakfast.

The Wookies get really tall at GenCon. Half a day has gone by and another T & T adventure is behind me.

This dragon witch was one of my T & T players. When I saw her again in the convention hallway near the balloon dragon, I got her picture. She was the last survivor of my Seven Challenges adventure on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon Rick Loomis did his Nuclear War tournament, in which he had some 48 competitors.  I stayed and watched the Flying Buffalo booth, and sold a ton of stuff.  Much to my delight, my most talented niece, Angela St. Andre stopped by to visit me and show me her latest work.  She is a sculptress, but she works with welding and cutting tools in metal instead of a hammer and chisel in stone.  Look at this beautiful notebook.

This awesome gaming notebook with its secret compartment for dice was created by my artistic niece, Angela St. Andre. It weighs about 20 pounds and is made of steel. It is lying in the midst of the Tunnels & Trolls material we were selling, including my largest recent solo: the Dewdrop Inn.

Angela St. Andre and her shoulder dragon. Lots of people were taking her picture. This young woman is seriously talented, and she loves gaming.

Here’s Angela with notebook and shoulder dragon. She didn’t buy these artifacts, folks. She made them.

After Angela left, Harley Quinn stopped by to see me. What a babe! Totally wasted on that Joker doofus, imho. Hey Mist-Tikk Foo-all, here’s a troll hammer for you.

Actually, Han Solo was walking around with Harley Quinn. GenCon is a very strange galaxy.

I only have about ten pictures left to go, so let’s stop the tour here.  I’m still at the Buffalo booth selling things, but Saturday was a great day for hall costumes.  In general, big gaming and sci-fi conventions are great places for cosplay.  The regular costume for such meetings is jeans and t-shirt, but the really cool people come in costume.  I’m not one of the really cool people, but even I have put together a costume for such occasions–you can see it back at the top of this picture essay.  I also bought an elven forester’s costume that I haven’t worn yet, just to have something special for the next masquerade I get to attend.

–to be continued

Columbus, Ohio   3 comments

Part of my plan for keeping myself healthy is walking a lot. Walking is very good for you, even if it does make your feet and back hurt. On the day before we set up for the Origins game convention, I took a walk around downtown Columbus and took the following pictures. Columbus is a beutiful city, and it’s the capitol of Ohio. I’m sure there is a lot of history associated with the things I saw.

Rick Looms and I started the morning by visiting the GAMA headquarters offices in a hotel across the street from the Hyatt and the convention center. Rick had shipped the Flying Buffalo product there, and had to arrange to have it moved over to the convention floor. We got a cart and did that the frollowing day. This pic shows some of the Origins Award-winning games that were on display in the office.

More stuff on display in the GAMA (Game Manufacturers of America) office.

Rick Loomis in his “position of power” in the GAMA office. He is President of the organization this year (and next year till mid-summer anyway). The cardboard boxes to his right contain Tunnels & Trolls merchandise and lots of other stuff that he and I would spend the weekend trying to sell to gamers.

Rick went back to the hotel room at the Drury. I went for a walk in downtown Columbus. My first destination was my favorite building in the city. I call it the Ghostbusters building, although it has another name. It’s almost the tallest building in the city.

Looking downhill toward the Ohio River from High Street, one can see the base of the Leveque Tower and the marquee for the Palace Theater.

Cast your eyes upward from the same viewpoint to see the top of the Leveque Tower.

I thought this was an impressive front door. I think it’s a bank.

This is the statehouse in Columbus. William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, stands out front to welcome visitors. 19th century architecture loved the rotunda look on public buildings. The Arizona Capitol had one too. Pillars are also real popular, and lots of statues.

Looking down (south) HIgh Street I saw this other bizarre old skyscraper with its polygonal geometric design.

The Ohio Capitol Building is surrounded by a large open park-like area with extensive lawns and trees. My guess is this is the Ohio State flag.

I entered the Capitol and found this bust of Lincoln dominating the center of the building.

There was also this gigantic painting.

From the center of the Capitol one can look up about 6 stories to see this stained glass window in the top of the rotunda. Very petty and it makes colored patterns on the floor.

The Ohio State Senate Chambers. The Senate had the day off.

Leaving the Capitol behind, I walked through the rest of the downtown area and then down to the Ohio River. I’ve been to Origins in Columbus about a dozen times now–I forget, but it seems like a lot–and I had never gone as far as the river before.

Walking back north along the river, I saw this really impressive old building on the other side. I asked and someone told me it was a science museum. I would have liked to explore it, but there was a huge river in the way.

Bridge across the Ohio River. I did not walk across it. My feet were starting to get sore.

A small park bordered the river. It contained fishy fountains made of metal and spewing water as well as some big old swings where people could just kick back and watch the river go by.

“If there’s something weird in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call?” When I reached my favorite building I left the river and started climbing back up into the city.

I passed another government building. This turned out to be City Hall, pleasantly located close to the river. Chris Columbus himself stands out front, larger and blacker than life to tell you where you are.

I finally learned the name of my favorite Columbus building. You can look this up on wikipedia and learn that the building was designed to be exactly one foot taller than the Washington Monument–what kind of one-upsmanship was going on here?–but due to a construction error, it’s only 6 inches higher.

There is some very cool old Art Deco art inside the tower as well. I was only permitted to see a little bit of the lobby.

It’s not the Sistine Chapel, but somebody did paint on the ceiling. I wonder how many of these great illos are hidden inside this amazing old building.

As I headed back to the Convention Center I caught this distant glimpse of the city’s central police station. It looks like the kind of place where Commisioner Gordon (of Batman fame) might hang out.

I didn’t really want to get up close and personal with the Ohio Police, but what a bizarre building they have!

Next I moved into the Arena District and found the home ice of the Columbus Blue Jackets–a National Hockey League team. Hockey season was almost over–only the NHL finals were still going when I was there last week. Our Phoenix Coyotes were knocked out of the playoffs for the Western Conference Finals by Los Angeles. I used to be a hockey fan. I’m not any more.

Getting to the end of my walk, I entered the North Market from the west and found the Best of the Wurst.

I try to get into this multi-ethnic marketplace at least once during every visit to Columbus. It is an amazing place full of all kinds of food I would never find in Phoenix.

Later on, during the Origins convention, someone brought me a shwarma sandwich from this market. It was delicious.

Looking at the Market facade from the east side. I love the rooster head inside the letter O.

After a couple of hours of walking, I have returned to the Convention Center. You can see one of the entrances to it on the other side of High Steet.. This concluded my self-guided tour of Columbus, Ohio. For the rest of the week I was busy with the Origins 2012 national gaming convention, and I reported on that in the previous blog.

If you have ever walked around and found anything interesting in Columbus, Ohio, why not leave a comment? What did I miss?

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