Archive for the ‘GenCon’ Category

GenCon 2013   2 comments

I really didn’t have a plan this year.  i took my camera. I took some pictures.  Here they are.

After seeking out a CVS drugstore on the streets of Indianapolis, I spotted this awesome monument in downtown Indie that I had never seen before. More on this later.

After seeking out a CVS drugstore on the streets of Indianapolis, I spotted this awesome monument in downtown Indie that I had never seen before. More on this later.

Another shot. I went and stood in the middle of the street for this one.

Another shot. I went and stood in the middle of the street for this one.

Wednesday evening, i wind up demoing my new Dwarves and Dragon game. This guy is looking at the components.

Wednesday evening, i wind up demoing my new Dwarves and Dragon game. This guy is looking at the components.

That's me on the left, pushing the dragon around.

That’s me on the left, pushing the dragon around.

A slightly better picture. You can see the cover insert now.

A slightly better picture. You can see the cover insert now.

Thursday morning, walking around early, went to that monument I started the tour with and found this old church with its tall skinny steeple.

Thursday morning, walking around early, went to that monument I started the tour with and found this old church with its tall skinny steeple.

Doing my best to look awesome from above in front of Indianapolis's most impressive concrete.

Doing my best to look awesome from above in front of Indianapolis’s most impressive concrete.

Close-up.  Steve Crompton is acting cameraman for me.

Close-up. Steve Crompton is acting cameraman for me.

There's Steve, doing the Trollgod salute.

There’s Steve, doing the Trollgod salute.

Closeup of Steve. Doesn't he look kinda like a Guido to you?

Closeup of Steve. Doesn’t he look kinda like a Guido to you?

If there's something wrong in the neighborhood . . . who ya gonna call?

If there’s something wrong in the neighborhood . . . who ya gonna call?

I loved that monument. It had all this erotic, exotic statuary attached to it. Lady Liberty here looks like the figurehead of a ship.

I loved that monument. It had all this erotic, exotic statuary attached to it. Lady Liberty here looks like the figurehead of a ship.

Splash!

Splash!

Inside the convention center at last.  This is the entrance to the open roleplay area--dominated, of course, by That Other Game.

Inside the convention center at last. This is the entrance to the open roleplay area–dominated, of course, by That Other Game.

 -

-Out in the general hall, there were plenty of minis, including this fine castle.

I finally spent some time in the Flying Buffalo booth on the exhibition floor.  Several of my favorite comic superheroes stopped to chat with me.  Here's the Rocketeer.

I finally spent some time in the Flying Buffalo booth on the exhibition floor. Several of my favorite comic superheroes stopped to chat with me. Here’s the Rocketeer.

I met a beautiful barbarian. She told me 3 times what anime she was from, but it was Japanese to me.

I met a beautiful barbarian. She told me 3 times what anime she was from, but it was Japanese to me.

This booth babe looked so good I just had to take her picture.

This booth babe looked so good I just had to take her picture. She was guiding people into a room to try a new online game.

Men in blue robot suits--I don't get it, but these were fine examples of some of the hall costumes on display.

Men in blue robot suits–I don’t get it, but these were fine examples of some of the hall costumes on display.

--

Rick Loomis, Steve Crompton, and I participated in a gigantic Settlers of Catan game sponsored by Mayfair Games on Friday night.  It was an attempt to set a world record for greatest number of gamers playing a board game simultaneously–the same game.  We did set a new record. 922 contestants in the same game, and someone won it on turn 48.  I had fun, but didn’t come even remotely close to the prize money.  What you see here is a couple of people sitting between me and the screens where they projected the dice roll for each turn.

Saturday in the Exhibitor's Hall, Sir Lancelot stopped by to see me.  It was a truly impressive set of armor.

Saturday in the Exhibitor’s Hall, Sir Lancelot stopped by to see me. It was a truly impressive set of armor.

Last picture in my camera: Steve and Rick are sitting in the food court of the Indianapolis airport posing with the Catan map I got 3 nights earlier. While waiting for our plane back to Phoenix, the three of us played 3 Catan variants on it.  Kinda fun.  It's a pretty well-designed board for a small Catan game.

Last picture in my camera: Steve and Rick are sitting in the food court of the Indianapolis airport posing with the Catan map I got 3 nights earlier. While waiting for our plane back to Phoenix, the three of us played 3 Catan variants on it. Kinda fun. It’s a pretty well-designed board for a small Catan game.

And that’s it.  I told you I didn’t do a very good job of taking pictures this year, and I’m not saying anything about the 4 Tunnels and Trolls games that I ran, or the people that I talked to, or the delicious suppers I had at restaurants on the far edges of town. Yes, we ate once in Steak & Shake, and it was deliicous.  Other places, including a Denny’s not far from our hotel, were even better.  I brought home a few purchases, and samples that I picked up at the con–nothing very impressive.  Maybe I’ll show those off in my next blog.

Hope you enjoyed the incoherent pictures.  Please forgive me for inflicting this on you. And if you weren’t there this year, don’t you wish you had been?

If you have done a better GenCon blog than this, please leave a comment, and a link so others can see the Con from your point of view.

–end

If You Want to Talk To Me   2 comments

then I want to talk to you. I’m easy, and mostly friendly.

Does this look like a gam designer to you?

Does this look like a gam designer to you?

I want to make things easy for anyone to contact me.  My email is kenstandre@yahoo.com.  If you know me, or want to know me, go ahead and send me a letter.  We can talk about life, love, and gaming.  Or maybe about food, fitness, and fun in general.  But if you’re just sending out spam, don’t waste your time or mine.  I’m not buying, not gullible, and I will trash and block all spammers or scammers.

I will be at GenCon this year.  If you’re going to be there too, stop by the Flying Buffalo booth and talk to me.   Ask me for a demo of my new game: Dwarves and Dragon.

–end

Dwarves and Dragon   1 comment

I design games. It’s what I do. And not just role-playing games and scenarios. I can make any kind of game, out of virtually any kind of material. Before the end, I would like to show the world some of my other game designs.

Another TrollCon is coming up at the end of July.  20 or 30 people will get together in Scottsdale to play Tunnels and Trolls and other games and just have a good time.  I’ll be there.  This year I wanted to do something a little special for the people who come from other parts of the country to game with me.  So, I created this game.  I’ll give it to you if you come to the con. Otherwise, I’ll sell it to  you.

It's a simple game. Steal the dragon's gold!

It’s a simple game. Steal the dragon’s gold!

This one isn’t a complicated roleplaying game. It’s snatch and grab.  Cunning versus Power.  Would you like to try it out?  Are you clever enough, swift enough, to steal gold from a dragon?

The game will be available in pdf at the beginning of August.  In the meantime, if you’d like to have a hardcopy, send me an email.  The price will be $8 in the U.S.A, or $12 in any other country, and I’ll cover the postage and have it autographed by the artist and me.  Need a birthday present, or a Christmas gift for a gamer friend?  This could be a good option for you.

I’ll demo the game at GenCon, and we (meaning Flying Buffalo) will sell it there.  In the meantime, if you’d like a copy hot off the presses, send me an email: kenstandre@yahoo.com.  Or just paypal some money to me at that address.

If you’ve ever tried to steal gold from a dragon, or if you think stealing is wrong, why not leave a comment?

*************************************************************

Two days later, and I’m back from the post office. I’ve just sent off some 42 copies of Dwarves and Dragons to the first people who were kind enough to order it. Those who are close to me should get their copies tomorrow, further away by Saturday, and the rest of the world before the end of next week.

If this game came in a box from Z-man or some other good-sized game producer, I might have included some extra components.  The game needs 1D6 in order to play. I didn’t put it in.  Who out there doesn’t already own dice?  Now that production is done, and I have a chance to think about it, it could be fun to make a couple of custom D6s for it.  I could have a Dwarf Die with a pair of eyes on it where the one should be indicating invisibility for the Dwarf when he rolls a 1.  I could have a Dragon Die with a Dragon head on it instead of a six to indicate when the dragon is breathing fire.  You don’t need special dice for this, but it would be nice.

There’s another component I expect the players to provide on their own: coins.  Three or more pennies can serve as the dragon’s hoard. Everybody can produce a handful of copper or silver to use as treasure pieces.  Or I could have designed some cardboard gold coins.  It’s another non-essential that would have driven production costs up.  If the game becomes very popular, which I am not counting on, it would be fun to design some fantasy coins for it.

Miniature lovers, Dwarves and Dragons is the perfect opportunity to use your minis in play.  If you have dwarf minis, you should use them; if you have a dragon mini of about the right size, you should use it.  You could also use the transparent stones/counters used in Magic and other card games for the boulders in the cave instead of the cardstock counters that I provided.  By taking the game out of the realm of cardboard and cardstock, and pushing it into the realm of realia, players could get even more fun out of it.

It’s sort of like using a fancy chess set versus using a plain chess set.  The game is the same, no matter which set you use to play it.  The fancy set is kind of distractiong at first, and you might not play your best game when admiring  your crystal queens and rooks and things.  I’d like to see it fancy, but I’m happy to see the game as it is.  It’s a start!

My 50 signed and autographed copies are almost gone.  Don’t let that stop you from buying one from me.  If I need more copies of the game, I will get more.  And I’ll sign and number them for  you. However, this first release is special, and I’m making the price as low as I can to encourage people to get one, and to reward those who support me at the beginning,  When the first 50 are all gone, the price will go up to what it really ought to be.  So, it’s a case of EARLY BIRD GETTING WORM, or early buyer getting a deal.

–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

GenCon 2012, Part 2 (Friday)   4 comments

We got there early.  These following pictures are chronological in order.

As we walked to the Mariott to run my 9 a.m. T & T adventure we passed these World of Warcraft giant posters stuck onto a business wall in downtown Indy.

We were early, so we stopped and played some Magic at a Catan boardgame table inside the Convention Center’s open gaming lobby. Mayfair was everywhere with Catan stuff.

James is making his way through the halls of the convention center.

I thought the place was like a gigantic crowded maze, so I took some pictures to show you what it was like in the halls.

And then we came to the entrance to the True Dungeon. Talk about larping. A ticket to walk thru and play that game cost $34.

I wanted to explore the True Dungeon. I didn’t have time to buy a ticket and wait around hoping to join a delving party, but I was able to walk around in the free area and take these shots. Obviously a poster of a goblin . . . I wonder why?

It was dark inside. D’oh! Delvers waiting for a trip counted their tokens and prepared for the ordeal.

A chart showing some of the tokens you might win or purchase inside the dungeon. Tokens represent treasure in this game.

Out of the dungeon and back in the labyrinth.

Some adventurers pausing between adventures.

The maze goes on and on. We were working our way back to the Exhibitors Hall. Yes, this is really what GenCon looks like in most places.

There were plenty of hall costumes. These lovely ladies were showing off. I don’t understand the hair tentacles.

The Exhibitors Hall (i.e. Dealer Room) was guarded by a zombie when we entered.

White Wolf shared a booth with Drivethrurpg.com. I probably should have gone in and talked to them considering how many of my products are on drivethru . . . but I didn’t.

Later in the afternoon, James and I met Daniel–a musician (drummer) and a Magic player. We wanted to try out our Magic decks against him, but never got the chance. Seems like whenever we saw him it was time for his band to go out in the halls and play music. I heard them play. They were pretty good, doing a weird kind of folk rock.

Wil Wheaton was at the Con. He seemed to spend most of his time in the autograph area signing things. Autographs were free and there were several notables including Nichelle Nichols of the first Star Trek series. She has snow white hair now, and is very thin and aristocratic looking. Later, I gave Will a D6 that I brought back from OSRcon with me–one from the Argh gaming club with a coat of arms on it. He admired it, said thanks, and tucked it away where it will probably never be seen again.

After leaving Wil, I went and talked to this pretty elf. She was helping to promote a Game Master’s software program–keep track of everything on your laptop when you run a frp game. There were elves all over the convention, and especially in the Dealer area, but she was the most beautiful one I met.

There were many heroic-sized statues located in the Exhibitors’ Hall and some of the dedicated gaming areas. Here’s a magical hero of some sort.

Speaking of elves, here’s Drizzt do Urden and his kitty cat guarding an exit from the Dungeons and Dragons (which I have dubbed “That Other Game”, area in the hall. I managed to sneak in past him.  I didn’t care at all about the products.  I just wanted to see and admire the statues.

10% sorceress, 90% giant spider thing. I’m glad she wasn’t hungry.

And that seems like a good place to break off today’s GenCon narration.  It was a very busy day.  The dealers seemed to be doing well, and the gamers seemed to be having fun and spending money.  Yay!  Spending money!  That’s what it’s all about for the many game publishers and manufacturers at GenCon.  For the rest of us, it’s a kind of huge carnival crowd scene with wonders in all directions.

–to be continued

GenCon 2012, Part 1 (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)   3 comments

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.

–end