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?
I spent most of last week–Aug. 2 through Aug. 8–at GenCon in Indianapolis. Thirty or forty thousand gamers, dealers, exhibitors, models, musicians, and cosplayers were also there. What a scene! I talked to a lot of people, sold and signed a lot of Tunnels and Trolls stuff, and got some incredibly kind words and compliments from nearly everyone I met. I had a blast.
Last year I devoted my camera work to people in costume. The costumes were abundant this year also, but I’m not going to do that again. This year, I just took a bunch of pictures, and each one reminds me of the fun I had. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Rick Loomis and Corencio are having supper at Steak and Shake near the convention center.
Rick Loomis, Mr. Flying Buffalo himself, is my principal publisher and patron. I go to big conventions like GenCon and Origins with him to help man the Buffalo booth and to promote Tunnels and Trolls. This year I brought along my son Corencio to help with the heavy lifting. We arrived late on Tuesday, set up the booth on Wednesday–that’s a miserable job as the convention hall is not fully air-conditioned before the show starts–and it’s 90 degrees and 200% humidity inside. After setting up we all went over to Steak and Shake to have supper–yum! I do love those double fudge shakes, and this is the only place I ever get them.
Three Amigos--Grimtooth, Shrek, and Trollgod.
Later in the day, I ran into my friend Steven Crompton, and Corencio took this Three Amigos picture for us. I didn’t expect to see Steve at the show, but he came to demonstrate his new Powers superhero trading card and sticker game. Steve is an amazing artist–and the creator of Flying Buffalo’s Grimtooth the Troll character. Steve is an Arizona boy from Scottsdale, and also a member of my <a href = “http://trollhalla.com> Trollhalla </a> web fanclub for Tunnels & Trolls fans. That gigantic ogre is really a foam rubber creation and lighter than it looks. He was extremely busy taking pictures with Con attendees for the whole week.
Rick and Corencio teach retailers how to play Nuclear War.
On Wednesday night before the show we went off to demonstrate our games for retailers at Victoria Station. We showed a few people how to play Nuclear War and Lost Worlds. Wizards of the Coast hogged most of the visitors with their lavish spread and demonstrations of Magic ™ and their Dungeon Assault version of Dungeons and Dragons–not available for purchase, but playable by groups in game stores that sell their products. Steve Jackson Games and Mayfair were also there in force. I ignored the big companies pretty much–I’m there to see what the little guys are doing.
Typical of the small exhibitors was this company with their pirate miniatures game. Very nice toys they had.
Explorers back from the Center of the Earth.
When the show opened on Thursday morning I went around and talked to some of the dealers. I most admired the ones who came in costume and wished I had more than an old Tunnels and Trolls t-shirt to wear. Before it opened on the first day was the best time to see what was at the show–after it opened it was a shoulder to shoulder crowd scene most of the time. That’s great for dealers, but not so good for rubber-necking game designers.
The Flying Buffalo booth number 501 just before the doors opened to the public on Thursday morning.
Flying Buffalo shared 1/8 of our booth with a small company this year that couldn’t get their own booth. Studio 9 does small fantasy-themed card games. Last year they released Treasures & Traps; this year they came out with Villagers and Villains. People in the picture include Cameron and Lisa in the light green shirts, Bill who helped us in the booth, Rick in the command chair, and Corencio hanging around the back. One of the few games I got at the con was the T&T card game. I liked the initials.
Christian, also known in Trollhalla as Dupin, stopped by to say hi.
Death wandered around during the convention. He didn't seem to be taking anyone with him, though.
The Olde Guard was there in force. Here I am with colleagues Robin Laws and Ken Hite.
A member of Trollhalla demos my new DewDrop Inn solo adventure.
Trollhalla member Brrrennt gives A TRAVELER'S TALE a thumbs up plug.
Trollhalla member Kopfy shows off the latest two publications from Peryton Press–Elder Tunnels–Tunnels & Trolls fiction and games that don’t come from me and Flying Buffalo. I think it is very good to have some outside support for my game.
Perrryton and Aarrra'aghaa are both members of Trollhalla.
Classic profile of a winner--later in the afternoon, Perrryton came and whupped Corencio, Brrrennt, and me in a game of Magic.
Brrrennt explains some of the finer points of the game to Corencio.
The convention center provided a couple of good places to simply sit down, eat, relax, play your games. I spent a fair amount of time in this area gaming. It wasn’t as noisy as the main halls, and food was close at hand in the form of small convention center cafes just out of sight. I ran my one game of Tunnels and Trolls at this table on Friday afternoon.
I had to walk a mile for my supper on Thursday night.
When the dealer room closed on Thursday, Corencio and I joined some friends for a Mexican supper. Afterwords, we went to their domicile for a Call of Cthulhu game–everyone died, but no one went mad. Thursday was actually the first and the best day of the Con for me. Flying Buffalo had a very good day for sales, and most of the friends I actually wanted to see at the Con came to see me that day. Then we finished it all off with a game. Can’t beat that!
Fast forward to Friday . . . We had so many helpers at the Flying Buffalo booth that I couldn’t actually stay there all the time. In one way that was bad because some of the people who came to see and meet me actually missed me. In another way it was good because I got out and saw more of the Con.
Friday morning found me at the Namaste booth where I went to see my friend Liz Danforth–she who is the very Goddess of Fantasy Illustration–and the creator of the classic Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition cover.
Dungeon delving is a blast.
Aaron wants to revolutionize MMORPGs. I'll help him if I can.
I’m in the picture here with John Harmon who is one of the artists at Namaste games. He spent some time explaining their storyblocks system to me. They brought Liz Danforth to the con for the first time in ten years, and signed her up to do concept art for the mmorpg they are creating. I demoed their system, and I like it–very story based, and not so much twitch gaming like most of the runner/shooter computer rpgs you see these days. I hope they succeed.
Liz Danforth (in purple) is talking to some of her fans.
It was great to see Liz out on the convention scene once again, and apparently having a good time. On Saturday night Liz had supper with me and Rick and Corencio and Steve and Rick Roszco at the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott. That’s living the high life, folks.
Arch geekery with Steve Jackson.
Liz and I connected with the ever reclusive Steve Jackson at the Namaste booth. Twas really good to see Steve again–it has been more than a decade since our paths last crossed.
LIfe-sized Robo Rally.
When I wasn’t in the dealers’ room trying to sell stuff or talking to people, I hung out in the convention lobby a lot. In once place they had a life-sized Robo Rally game going for the whole convention. It attracted a lot of attention and was beautifully produced. Where do they get those fabulous toys?
Steve came by and talked business with Rick later in the day.
Richard Roszko is the Nuclear War apps developer for Flying Buffalo.
One of the people who helped out at the Buffalo booth was “Nomad” Rick Roszko. He created the spinner map for Android cell phones for Nuclear War, and is working on a complete Nuclear War app. The two Ricks think that if Apple Computing would only approve these apps, they would soar to undreamed of heights of popularity and richness. C’mon, Apple, get off your butt, and approve the Apple I-phone version of the Nuclear War spinner. Later you can approve the T & T cell phone interactive stories we intend to do. Nomad took us all to dinner on Friday night at the Claddagh Pub. Thanks, Nomad!
Saturday was Shadowfist Day!
On Saturday Corencio and I spent a lot of time playing cards at the World Championship Shadowfist tournament. You may see me write about Magic a lot, but my real favorite collectible card game is Shadowfist–the game of Hong Kong action science fiction movies. My son, Corencio, is currently the Arizona State Champion of the game–though I think he was lucky when he won that–and we tried our hand at the World Championship. Now this is sort of typical of my life in gaming. Here I was, competing for the world championship in a game, and there were only 14 other competitors. Neither Corencio nor I even came close to winning–we didn’t even make the finals–but we had a good time, and saw some great players in action.
Do these guys look like kung-fu killers to you? The Shadowfist Championship tourney.
After the Shadowfist tournament I went back to the Buffalo booth for the afternoon. Rick went off and ran a Nuclear War tournament at 4 p.m.–he had 30 players. Ha! He should bill it as the Nuclear War World Championship tournament at GenCon. He might get 100 players if he did that. When the hall closed a bunch of us went off and had supper at the High Velocity bar. What a feast! But what will forever stick in my mind was the fact that they had television monitors in the Men’s restroom. You could stand there doing your business and never miss a moment of whatever game was currently playing.
Sports TV heaven and the food was good too. I could not say the same for the Champions Bar in the other Marriott hotel down the street where I had lunch on Sunday.
We parked across the street from the football home of the Indianapolis Colts. The whole stadium is enclosed within this gigantic brick building with huge neon lights on the outside.
The City of Indianapolis has a lot of bizarre and impressive structures in it. I would have a good time just riding around and photographing strange places. The football stadium is one of them. So is the church that follows. I wish I had time and a local guide to get to know these places better.
Twin Towers--the top of the cathedral across the street from the convention center.
Go for baroque front facade of the church across from the convention center.
The church was so massive I couldn’t get it all into a single photograph. Likewise for the stadium, and I didn’t even try for a photo of the power plant or the convention center itself or the state Capitol buildings a block to the north.
Some Uruks got lost in the Dealers' Room on Sunday--three of them.
Did I mention that the hall costumes were incredibly great this year? They were spectacular and none were better, imho, than these lost uruks. The leader, above, had this harsh rasping voice you could hear halfway across the hall, and yet he was the soul of courtesy and couth. I tip the trollgod’s battered fedora to the Uruks of GenCon.
Looks real to me.
This fellow had an axe to grind--luckily not with me! I'd sign him up in a hearbeat to guard the trollcave at Trollhalla.
Sunday was the least eventful day of the trip. I had lunch with my Trollhallan friends and said goodbye to them. Perhaps we’ll meet again some time. By 6 p.m. the Con was over, and we had packed the stuff we didn’t sell and were ready to head out. This concludes my tale of GenCon Indy 2011. It was the best I’ve ever attended. All the dealers seemed to do well, and the gamers, cosplayers, etc. all seemed pretty pumped up and pleased with it. My congratulations to Peter Adkisson for running a great Con. Long may it continue!
Goodbye to Indianapolis!
I know thousands of you were at GenCon with me. There were a million other things I could have mentioned, but I’ve been working on this blog for half the day already, and I have to stop some time. What did you enjoy most at GenCon? I’d welcome your comments for this blog.
M. Scott Verne stopped by TrollCon last week, and played a game of Tunnels and Trolls with me. In his honor, I winged something using a deck of Magic ™ cards and his latest project–the City of the Gods Map Pack. When we were done, he gave me one, and asked if I’d review it. Since this is a very handsome gaming accessory, I, of course, agreed to do so, and here comes the review.
If you don’t know about The City of the Gods by M. Scott Verne and Wynn Mercer you should take a moment and check it out. They have a website for their book at http://Cityofthegods.com, and the book is available on http://Amazon.com. I also reviewed the book in an earlier blog–you can see that here: https://atroll.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/city-of-the-gods-the-book/. The map pack is not available at Amazon yet.
Although the book is epic fantasy, this map pack is planned as a gaming supplement. It’s a generic product that could be used with any gaming system. If you are the kind of Game Master who is chronically short on time and/or imagination, these generic products can be a real boon. They provide settings and npcs that can be adapted into almost any campaign. I should mention here that City of the Gods Map Pack is a Catalyst product from Flying Buffalo Inc. (http://flyingbuffalo.com) As such, it is the latest in a series of products that included City books and Traps books, and you can learn more about them on the Flying Buffalo web site.
This module contains several different pieces. First, there is a very handsome map of the city itself, printed on medium grade cardboard in full color. Here’s a look at it:
How many quarters are there in a city? I'm counting at least 18.
The color is absolutely gorgeous, and you’ll be amazed at how much detail can be crammed into an 8.5 X 17 inch map. The main attractions of the city are the major temples. I mean, what are gods without their temples? It’s almost like Where’s Waldo? How many different famous buildings can you identify in this map. The Great Pyramid of Gizeh dominates the lower left quadrant, but can you find the Parthenon, the Colisseum, the Taj Mahal or the Forbidden City? Can you distinguish the different cultures and mythologies represented here? For those of us with an interest in world mythology and history, the map alone is like a referesher course in the history of the world.
(As a side note, Mr. Verne pointed out that I have had an influence on the city. If you look in the Egyptian quarter you will find the Sphynx of Nebthu, which was never mentioned in the novel FORGOTTEN. It appears now because I mentioned the sphynx as the temple headquarters for Sekhmet the Cat Goddess in a short story that I wrote for an upcoming City of the Gods anthology. Mapmaker and artist extraordinaire Steven Crompton liked the idea, and crowded it into his metropolitan design. Heh! Of course I like the map–a little piece of me is in there.)
The biggest part of the module is a 20 page guidebook to the map. If you look carefully at the map, you can find little blue circles with numbers in them. Each numbered location, all 105 of them, is described and explained briefly in the guidebook. Study them all, and you will really know your way around the city of the gods. The guidebook also has a section that lists and describes the 18 character cards–all done in full color–that come as part of the package. Each character is meant to be used as an adventure hook for a G.M. wanting to set a game in this environment, The cards give the reader some idea of the appearance and powers of the different non-player characters that might be encountered in the city, and where one would be likely to find them.
The back cover of the book shows the extended map for the realm of the gods.
Eighteen character cards, each with a full color portrait, a listing of abilities, a probable location, and a deity allegiance are included in a separate little packet. They would be ideal for showing players in a rpg just who they are dealing with. Most of the characters are gods and goddesses, but there are a few that are just mortals or heroes. Oddly enough, D’Molay, the protagonist of the City of the Gods, is not included as somene that you might meet.
trading cards of the gods
There is also an 8 page pamphlet in black and white with short excerpts from the first novel. There is a 2-sided CotB bookmark featuring D’Molay and Aavi. And there is a full-length comic book created by Steven Cormpton and Debra Kerr–Pantheon number 2. The Pantheon comic features some of the same characters as City of the Gods, but in earlier incarnations–so to speak.
The whole map pack is very handsomely printed and a delight to the eyes and mind. It is designed to appeal to gamers, and to lead them back to the novel, and to the sequels that are planned for that novel. With a suggested price of about $20, this is a high quality gaming product.
I have only one criticism. For someone who has already read and enjoyed the novel, there is really nothing new here. The art is recycled, and the prose in the booklets and on the cards simply summarizes and condenses what we learned about the city in the book. (That’s not strictly true–there are some places on the map that were either never mentioned, or mentioned only briefly, in FORGOTTEN, and that info should be new–but it’s obviously background material that the authors created for the main project, and it will probably be featured in the sequels.) One of the first rules of film making is “Reuse your footage.” and that appears to be a rule of the City of the Gods project as well. It is very fine footage, and well worth re-using, but it isn’t really new.
In a normal review I’d say this is a very fine product, perhaps four stars out of five, and recommend you purchase it, but this is Atroll’s Entertainment. I make comments and critical remarks here without any recommendations. The map pack amused and delighted me, and I was able to use it for a Tunnels and Trolls session–I’m glad to have it. You might like it, too.