Convention Reports
A Visit to GenCon 2003

Time for the Tenth Anniversary GenCon report - where does the time go? I'm not sure about the time, but the con has moved away!

Yes, unfortunately, the con moved away from the state which gave it birth. It's now in Indianapolis for the forseeable future. Specifically, it's at the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome. The floor size is actually smaller as the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee (formerly the Midwest Express Center - the airline changed its name), although it what it does have is connected hotels. Lots of them. (And the space was supplemented with rooms therein.) Unfortunately, the hotels are all very expensive. Oddly enough, there was a large cancellation fee for them as well. Given that hotels were the big reason that the con moved, very odd. I stayed about 5 miles away at a much less expensive motel.

Anyway, I got into town the night before, so I could take a look at the city before the con started. Bright and early on Wednesday, I set out to explore...

Wednesday, July 23 - Hey, this isn't Milwaukee!

So, first up was checking out the downtown a bit, first the Indianapolis Zoo. There is this place called the Arts Garden, hanging over an intersection, and Monument Circle, with a huge monument to the Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. I've put a few pictures below.

Turtle Deserts Building
Zebra Great Horned Owl
Animals in the Indianapolis Zoo

Arts Garden
Indianapolis Arts Garden
Indiana Capitol
Indiana State Capitol
Monument Circle Monument Circle
Monument Circle

Here's some views of the Convention Center itself:

Indiana Convention Center
Indiana Convention Center
Indiana Convention Center
Indiana Convention Center

With things done, I showed up at the center several hours early for the RPGA Members Meeting, and spent time talking with a bunch of people. At 7, we filed into the White River Ballroom, and were treated to a short meeting previewing the con, short because it was warm. Oh, and by the way, RPGA judges don't have badges yet.

Since I was judging a bunch of games, I was to get a free badge; I had paid for one before I had decided to judge, so I decided to see if mine was at registration. I hoofed it over there and (fortunately) found that it was available. I was one of the lucky ones.

I headed back to the motel to catch some sleep, before the storm of the con started.

RPGA gaming areas To see the layout of the convention center, take a look at these PDFs from the Indiana Convention Center site: 1st Floor map  2nd Floor map

At right are the RPGA areas. Exhibit Hall A was Collectable Card Games, B through E was the Great Hall, F was Board Games. The RPGA areas were pretty much the only rooms used around the stadium; there were no games actually on the floor, which was pressurized to hold up the ceiling, with doors we passed stating such.

Floor-level entrance to RCA Dome

Thursday, July 24 - Just the right amount of Force...

My badge!
Fortunately, my badge - a rare commodity

Still no badges. OK, I fortunately am set. The guards have been informed that they should make sure to let the judges into the game areas. Unfortunately, those lacking badges can't go the Exhibit Hall.

I start my con by playing - I go though the Living Force trilogy in the first three slots, and have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the third slot started at 5 PM, and I thought (for whatever reason) that it started at 5:30, and showed up 25 minutes late. (The second slot had ended early.) Fortunately, there was a 5-player table, so I got seated.

For the fourth slot, I ran the first of my four slots of Legacy of the Green Regent - Gray Hunt. We ended something like 1:30 AM (right on time). Badges are still not available.

Friday, July 25 - Things blow up

Wizards of the Coast booth
Wizards of the Coast booth

Bright and early again, Friday morning - I arrive to judge the Living City Ruins of Ravens Bluff Benefit, but for some reason, I get released. I spend some time having breakfast with some friends, and finish up looking at the Great Hall (which I had gotten some time to look at on Thursday.)

The Great Hall, of course, was a lot different than before. It was on ground level, for one. The demise of FASA removed one of the usual icons of the hall - sad to not see. The big displays were Wizards of the Coast and Upper Deck. There was no Fortress WOTC - the new display was much more open. At right is a picture that takes some of it in. There was the usual selection of booths with large and small companies, and the unique ideas, and the bargains. My main goal was to pick up Spelljammer books, as I'm running a home campaign of that. I was able to pick up quite a few books.

The most interesting booths, I thought, were the Army booth, with its video games, and the booth with the military hardware (a jeep and an armored car), and Hirst Arts, which sold molds to make your own dungeons, castles and the like.

After that, I played the two-slot finale for the Virtual Seattle campaign, called simply "X". We used quite a few high explosives, and my rigger used up some rockets that she had been saving pretty much since character creation. We sort of succeeded, to have things snatched away from us at the last moment. A good end to the campaign.

And then, at 9:30 PM, I started my second judging of Gray Hunt. There was a lot of Green Regent running at the con...

August Hahn as Thurm Logg
August Hahn as Thurm Logg

Saturday, July 26 - Party!

I showed up at my usual early hour of 8 AM, and started my running of two more events of Grey Hunt. Those orcs are getting hunted quite a lot, it seems. At 5 PM, I switched gears and helped in running the Living Force Interactive - Paarty On! It was fun, as usual, although I was very swamped running the games section all by myself. Thanks to the players that stepped up and run the games themselves - it would have been quite a bit more confused without it. August Hahn did a wonderful job portraying the caarite Thurm Logg again. There's a picture of him at right.

By this time, some judges had gotten monochrome badges (rather than the normal red ones), although some never got them at all. There was also a general registration problem that day, with some registrants waiting several hours to get a badge. I was glad I didn't have to wait in that line (which went outside on the sidewalk quite a way). I guess that actual heavy use messed up their computer system.

I went and continued the party by judging Living City Ruins of Ravens Bluff Feature for some new players, and we had fun dealing with a murder in Dwarfport until 1:30 in the morning again. I was quite ready to rest after judging all day.

Sunday, July 27 - Partings

Oddly enough, I was released at 8 AM, so I ran over to the Legacy of the Green Regent Exclusive ("Under High Lord's Hall"), and played it. It was pretty fun, although the special feature at the end (two tables meeting up in a Master Maze and fighting a single set of bad guys) didn't work near as well as it could have.

After that, I made some last-minute passes through the Great Hall, said good-bye to friends I wouldn't see for a while, and started back to Milwaukee. Ah, well, only a few more years running down to Indianapolis. Then I'm sure it'll be back. Smiley

Wall of Magic cards Legacy of the Green Regent banner
Legacy of the Green Regent Exclusive Master Maze
Wall of all the Magic: The Gathering cards released Legacy of the Green Regent