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 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.
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.
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.
I’m not going to comment on most of the banners.
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.
Fantasy cartography is getting pretty great, but not for Mac owners.
Ya think something might be epic around here?
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.
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.
There was some great steampunk costumery stuff. You had to be rich to afford it. $80 vests. $500 coats.
Technically, this is more of a toy company than a game company, but you could certainly use these toys in games.
Henry 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.
I’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.
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.
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.
It was a big panel and took 2 photos to show it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I spent a little time teaching Purple Warrior Girl how to fight. Great costume and makeup!
I spent a couple of quality minutes with my favorite pirate queen author. Her trolls aren’t quite as big and mean as mine.
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.
The Arizona Men in Black were playing Munchkin.
Jim Miller spent his time playing Dust–sci-fie World War II action.
You know, Frankenstein’s monster was a zombie.
Kitt, the car in the old Knight Rider TV series, lives in Arizona now, and sometimes shows up for car shows and game conventions.
Con Chairman Donald Jacques was promoting the upcoming (May) LeprecCon with firings of his home-made trebuchet.
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?
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?
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?