Well, another year, another GenCon. This is my sixth (!) consecutive report. Wow. I've been going since around 1989, and haven't missed a year since of the biggest show around. This year, I've scanned in pictures!
And,yes, it's horribly late, it only took me four months. Don't ask me about the Marcon report...Note that I blather a lot, but I have it well-categorized, so feel free to skip over the boring parts. (Tricked you! There aren't any boring parts! )
This year, GenCon (August 6-9, for those keeping score) was held in the new Midwest Express Center portion of the Wisconsin Center, a new set of buildings to hold conventions in. Actually, MECCA was renamed the Wisconsin Center a few years back. I still think that "MECCA" (Milwaukee Exposition & Convention Center & Arena) is a lot more clever than "Wisconsin Center", but alas, they didn't ask me. (I don't know what Muslims thought of it; I suppose calling a convention center "Vatican" would possibly annoy a lot more people...)
|A building that is no more; the white building is the late, lamented MECCA Convention Center. At left is The Auditorium (Bruce Hall), and beyond that is the Arena. The tall white building at center is the Hyatt (with its revolving restaurant at the top) and peeking over the Convention Center at right is the bright blue Reuss Federal Building. The new building is to the right of the Convention Center, well off camera.|
The parking lot and buildings in the block just to the south of the Convention Center building (adjoining Wisconsin Avenue, which is about as close to downtown Milwaukee's Main Street as you'll get; it's also the street that the Grand Avenue mall is on) were torn down, starting two summers ago. (The wrecking balls were going during GenCon 1996.) This entire block (which is about the size of two normal city blocks) is now covered with a single three-story building. They were building it last year during GenCon, and I have some pictures of it during its construction last January. (Maybe I'll eventually put some here, if I get to it...)
|These two pictures form a panorama of the northwest portion of the Midwest Express Center. Note the semi on the roof, at the loading dock. The Convention Center is just barely in the picture to the left. The Hilton is the large brown building at right.|
|The southeastern corner of the Midwest Express Center|
BTW, this was the first big convention for the new ME Center; it opened a week or so earlier. I believe that the previous weekend there was a convention of state governors there, as the first official use. But rumor has it that the ME Center was built almost specifically for GenCon, so its opening was certainly timed well. (Rumor also has it that the new, four-year contract for GenCon was not signed until after last GenCon, well after construction was underway. TSR apparently didn't have the cash, but their new masters, Wizards of the Coast, decided against making GenCon a roving convention and inked the deal. That's quite fortunate for Milwaukee. )
As to the building itself, it's beautiful, both inside and out. Several years ago, the example of new Milwaukee construction was the Reuss Federal Building (now right across Fourth Street from the ME Center). One of its nicknames is the "Milk of Magnesia Building", because of its hideously bright blue color. But over the last few years, a lot of Milwaukee construction was tended toward a more elegant, older style. The ME Center certainly fits that mold. Inside, it's also very elegant, with sweeping lines and other details that keep the layout from being boring (although still very functional). I especially liked the quotes that were on a lot of the walls.
|One of the hallways on the second floor, giving an example of the interior architecture (including one of the numerous quotes)|
Now, the next plans are to demolish the Convention Center. [ As of this writing, in December, it's totally gone. ] They started the week of GenCon, as at the start of the con, there was only a small hole in the southwest wall, that greatly grew before Sunday. It's kind of sad to see it go, because I have been at many conventions there, including nine GenCons and a Winter Fantasy. It wasn't an especially beautiful building, I guess, but it certainly held good memories. On its site will appear the other half of the ME Center, which will more than double the exhibit hall floor space, and add a lot more meeting rooms. I suspect it'll be ready by GenCon 2000. There will also be a hotel somewhere around there. Wells Street, which cuts between the two halves, I think will be closed off, but I'm not sure. There is a bit of an arch in the ME Center that peaks at its northern edge, and there is a lot of bare concrete on that side, so it's pretty clear that this is half of the final building. The Arena and Auditorium (AKA Bruce Hall) were still in use this year, but I don't know what sort of plans are in store for them once the ME Center is completed.
|Oops! Looks like that skywalk to the Hyatt is going to be lonely...|
Yes, it's elegant, but there were problems you could tell that this was a new facility. For example, a lot of the time, the escalators didn't work, and a lot us were huffing and puffing up and down the "manulators". It seemed that it was most often the down escalators that weren't working, so it wasn't too bad. RPGA events were still in the Arena, which entailed a block-long hike without the aid of a skywalk. (With the demise of the Convention Center building, the Wisconsin Center is totally cut off from the network of skywalks downtown. I expect it'll be re-linked eventually.) The most convenient doors there (in the front of the Arena) were often not open. Oh, and the gaming areas in the new building seemed rather cramped. It looked like most of the non-RPGA RPGs and some miniatures were stuffed into three largish meeting rooms on the second floor. There were no curtains between tables, like in previous years, so noise travelled better. I hope that there will be more room to allow for less crunching in future years. (The RPGA tables in the Arena did have the curtains like in previous years, and Bruce Hall seemed mostly unused, but with a lot of tables if one wanted to do a pick-up game of some sort, or just get away from the hectic pace of the convention. Oh, and the Hilton and Hyatt hotels are now both approximately across the street from the Wisconsin Center; there were some seminars in both hotels, but I didn't get to either. Going to either involves an outside walk, but I would guess that the Hyatt will get their skywalk reconnected. (Since it's still hanging in space over the big hole where the Convention Center used to be...)
Well, to (finally) finish off this description of the new building, I'll put in a little description of what was where. I would scan and put in the maps of the building, but I'm sure the owners of the copyright would be annoyed. Anyway:
|Entrances to the ballroom, from the back half of the building|
- First floor
- The ballroom could be split into four smaller ones, but here it was used as two, I think. I really only wandered through there once. The computer games were in there, and the map assures me that board games and CCGs (WHAT! CCGs at a WOTC convention???? Who would have guessed?) were in there as well.
- There are three smaller meeting rooms along the south side, used for the Art Show, some miniatures I think, and the anime room. I was in the anime room a couple times, (unfortunately not very much) and the use of an actual room where one can get it dark (and the 24-hour use of the room) was better than in previous years. Of course, it was harder to just walk by and glance at what was running, since it was out of the way and only had the one door to get in.
- Registration was along the east side of the building, (but not event registration, that was the third floor), and it seemed pretty well organized.
- The main set of escalators climbed up the east side of the building, behind the registration booths. There were two sets, to allow a good stream of people between floors.
- Second Floor
- A lot of this floor is the top half of the ballroom, but there are three more meeting rooms above the three meeting rooms on the first floor, with similar sizes. These, as far as I could tell, were the central location for non-RPGA RPGs.
- Third Floor
- Event registration was here, in the northeast corner, in a relatively small area. This, unfortunately, seemed to be the only area that sold generic tickets.
- The exhibit hall takes up most of the area on this floor, and it's big. I think that it's been stated it's only slightly smaller than the total exhibit hall space of the old center, with both wings open. Once the new half opens, the claim is that the space will about double. The only other thing on this floor is the (outdoor) loading dock on the west side. It's kind of funny to see semi-trailer trucks outside on the third floor of a building. There is a ramp for the trucks up to this floor that's not immediately obvious.
New Registration System
Andon Unlimited (the convention company that Wizards of the Coast absorbed several years ago, which by default is now running GenCon because WOTC also absorbed TSR) implemented its own ticketing system this year. I expect they didn't do so last year because WOTC took over too late in the year to change TSR's old system. This is the same system (or one very close to it) that Andon has been using for several years. Once you register for an Andon con, they send you a confirmation letter with your VIP number and the events you got into. (To cut through the doublespeak, it's just a number that Andon uses to keep track of you. While I am impressed with Andon's convention management abilities, I find the use of "VIP" to be a bit disingenuous. If everyone from Ed Greenwood to Joe Smith is a VIP, what's the point of being one?) Since I've been going to Andon cons for several years, they used my (5-digit) number, and already had my RPGA and DCI numbers on file. I think that a lot of the people who got new numbers for GenCon got 6-digit ones. If you went to GenCon, keep track of that VIP number; there will be a space for it on next year's registration form. (Even if you leave it out, I think that Andon will match you up with it from your name and address anyway. )
Anyway, TSR in previous years would mail the tickets out ahead of time, printed out apparently on a dot matrix mainframe printer on 8.5 x 11 sheets of pre-perforated heavy stock paper. Andon, on the other hand, just sent a confirmation letter with your events. This is SOP for them, but it gave me pause because while picking up the tickets on site at AndCon is no big deal, going through the lines at a large con like GenCon to get your badge and tickets would be a chore. It didn't turn out very bad, really. First, Andon had registration on Wednesday from Noon to 10 PM, which is five hours longer than in previous years. That, in itself, was a good sign. Also, there were quite a few people grabbing tickets from the bins for the congoers, so the line went pretty fast. What they handed you was a business envelope (which were sorted by VIP number, but fortunately there were workers by the start of the line that could look up your VIP number if you had forgotten it) that contained your tickets. The tickets were slightly different than Andon has used in previous years. They were about 4" x 1.75", fed through the (inkjet?) printer in a single column, with a lot of information on them. This included the event name, event description, event number, when it was, and where it was. It even included your name and VIP number! This was a lot more sophisticated and readable than TSR's system. If you went through the event registration line to get other events, they would print them on the spot with your name and number. Also, there were several TV monitors in the registration area that constantly scrolled through the events that were sold out. This computer system certainly beats TSR's old system, which required all tickets to be printed beforehand and hung on a pegboard. Like I said, Andon knows how to run conventions smoothly, and they certainly managed to convince me they could scale up to a con as big as GenCon.
Oh, and much as I like Andon, and respect their organizational abilities, it seemed as if GenCon tuckered them out a bit much this year; their pre-con organization of their flagship con, AndCon, in October was quite bad, I felt. A fan-run con I went to a month later seemed to be more professionally run, especially their pre-reg book, because in AndCon's case "book" was a quite generous description. Since this is about GenCon and not AndCon, I'll leave the comments at that.
I snagged my badge and tickets on Wednesday, to beat the rush Thursday morning. I thought that worked out pretty well, even though my first game wasn't until Noon. It gave me a chance to glance over the new building, and wander among the crowds already gathered.
8 AM: Signup
I accompanied a friend in early so he could sign up for events, and ran into a couple of other friends. Those two were playing in the Deep Space '98: Terek Nor LARP all weekend, and had gotten a couple Cardassian characters. I'm not a big LARP fan (actually, not a LARP fan at all), but their goals seemed to be rather fun. Consultation with them on Sunday revealed that it was a lot of fun (one of them had managed to help fix some Borg and got their undying loyalty as a strike force). Despite the depredations of the South Park clan (including K'Artman the Klingon), who apparently had stultifyingly powerful abilities, fun was had. The universes got mixed up in a plot-devicey way at one point, and Voyager's doctor (in the shape of GOH Robert Picardo) made a cameo, much like Ensign Harry Kim (Garret Wang) did in "The Kim Sim" two years ago. But I'm getting well ahead of myself, the Great Hall hasn't even opened up yet.
|The opening moments of the Exhibit Hall!|
10 AM: The Great Hall
Yes, I was there as they opened the Great Hall (AKA Capitalism Central) for the first time! The rushing hordes of humanity spilled through the doors into the cavernous hall, sweeping over the unfortunate booths in the front, crushing books and dice underfoot....
Well, maybe not. It was rather busy, though. I walked into the hall with two main objectives, both of which I accomplished the first day:
- Get Phil Foglio to sign the last four issues of the Buck Godot comic book (I had bought the first four from him at a previous GenCon, and were signed then) and the second "What's New?" collection; and buy most anything else he had for sale
- Buy several issues of KenzerCo's Knights of the Dinner Table comic that I had missed
BTW, both are very good comic books. KODT is steeped in the gamer tradition, and is hence the one that would probably appeal more to the audience reading this retrospective. The art is rather infantile and repetitious, but the writing is really funny! It's about a group of gamers, including a harassed GM, two power-gamers, a role-player, and a rules-lawyer. Trust me, you'll probably see echoes of your role-playing group somewhere in there. (KODT started as a one-pager in Shadis magazine, and jumped to Dragon a year or so ago, so you don't need to hunt down a comic book to get a sample of the humor.)
Just about anything by Phil Foglio, though, is near the top of the heap in comics. He has a quirky style of drawing, and he has a very good ear for humorous dialog. He did "What's New?" in Dragon Magazine years and years back, which is collected in two volumes that he had for sale there. He resurrected "What's New?" for the Duelist magazine a couple years back, and hopefully that will someday also be collected. (since I no longer subscribe...) He (and his wife Kaja) are probably best known for their Magic: The Gathering card artwork, though.
The eight-issue Buck Godot series is possibly the best-written series of comics I've ever read; it has a lot of humor, but the main story involves a lot of aliens (Buck is a member of an offshoot race of humanity, and most of the action takes place on a station that houses embassies of literally thousands of alien races), a murder mystery, and the appearance/disappearance of a mysterious creature named the Winslow. If you can find it, read it! It would be a good idea for Phil to collect it into a graphic novel; I'm sure that he's thinking about it.
Well, since the Foglios were the number one priority, I skipped merrily to their booth, located near the back of the left wall. It seemed that the only thing that he has for sale that I didn't already have were five collections from his Xxxenophile comic book. (I already had the Buck Godot comics and What's New collections.) I decided to get a couple, and as I was waiting to pay and have Phil make a bunch of autographs, I realized that Ed Greenwood was right in front of me buying all the Xxxenophile collections! (It seemed as if he and Phil had met previously, and Ed obviously has good taste in comics!) I now had seen three celebrities within the first 15 minutes of the convention. After getting the autographs, I grilled Phil for new projects, since Buck Godot was now finished. He said that he had a new one coming soon, but it was hush-hush. He hoped to get something published next year, though.
Xxxenophile is an adult comic book that features art from Phil and some other artists, I think. Phil made a CCG based on it a couple years ago, and rumor has it his intention to sell it at GenCon led to him having a disagreement with TSR and his not being there two years ago.
I wended my way through the rest of the hall next, making my way to the Kenzer & Company booth, near the right side. Besides being able to fill in my collection of old ones, they had #22 available as well, which made me quite happy. (#22 later shipped to comic stores on August 19.) KenzerCo also sells the Monty Python card game, and some RPG supplements about the world of Kalamar. I haven't sampled either, but they're likely to be quality products.
I'll slide in some general comments on the Great Hall here, as I did manage to walk all the rows before my Noon game. The more thorough inspection came later, though.
(In no particular order...)
Freebies are to be encouraged, and are much appreciated. There were a few this year. First, in the bag handed out at registration, there was a Monty Python booster pack, and a 9-pocket card page filled with different promo cards, including a Magic: The Gathering Unglued card (more on them later). One was a card for Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite (one of the GOHs). If you wanted something for her to sign, there it was... Also, there was a free board game from Cheapass Games called "Landyland", illustrated by Phil Foglio. It has a use for those M:TG land cards and glass beads you've accumulated.
Inside the hall there was some even better stuff. Precedence was handing out a free starter deck for their Babylon 5 card game. When I was waiting in a long line for Claudia Christian on Saturday (more on that later), Thunder Castle handed out a bunch of Highlander starters. Of course, they were pretty old, since one card ("Quality Blade") had an offer that expired in July 1996. Hey, but it's a free game... I spent a lot of that line reading another freebie, a totally compter-rendered comic named "Platinum" that was really rather bad. (Judging by the movie "Spawn", this is pretty similar in tone and setting to that comic book, but probably not as good. Not that I'm saying "Spawn" is high art...) I also got a free novel (Dan Parkinson's The Whispers) at the Del Rey booth. I'm not sure i've ever read any of his books, but hey, it could happen...
And then there was this guy (I guess he would be from WOTC) tossing Rage starters out into the crowd wating for the exhibit hall to open on Saturday. They weren't in boxes, with just a plastic band around them. Unfortunately, he got a little enthusiastic, and one hit one of the light fixtures, and POOF! Cards everywhere. Nope, no action shot of that...
There were a bunch of other freebees, including maps of Faerun from TSR, posters from FASA, issues of Shadis and so on. Good haul.
FASA was against the wall again, and had pretty much the same booth as before. (Except their always-cool demo dioramas were different.) I didn't spend much time there, because I don't really play much of their games (although they are quite good). SInce then, I've gotten back into Shadowrun (to put that into perspective, I last played when First Edition was current) in the form of RPGA's Virtual Seattle. Pretty neat stuff.
TSR's castle was still there smack dab in the center of the hall, dominating the entire proceedings as usual. I guess WOTC still wants us to think it's TSR's show, eh? It had the usual assortment of things, although this year, it also had an RPGA area, frantically manned by Polyhedron editor Jeff Quick. I hope that he was able to get some sleep afterwards. He certainly looked quite exhausted on Sunday, but I think he did a lot of good work. [ Of course, he bribed me to say that... I offhandedly mentioned that I had never gotten the RPGA Members' handbook in the year that they had been available, and he gifted me with the handbook, a copy of the latest Polyhedron, and the new members-only adventure for this year, "Kidnapped". No, not the one by Robert Louis Stevenson. ]
WOTC, for its part, set up a much less imposing area, to the rear right of the hall. There were a lot of demos (in fact, so many you could play in eight of them and get a free t-shirt). In fact, adding together the demos at the WOTC (13), TSR (3) and new WOTC protectorate Five Rings Publishing (7) booths, you could certainly get a lot of stuff (each demo could turn into a spin on the "prize wheel". I don't know what the prizes were). Seeing some of the Unglued cards convinced me to do something I haven't done since Mirage came out (what, two years ago?): buy Magic cards. They're pretty cool, especially the ones done by Claymore J. Flapdoodle, who has a rather familiar style... (::wink:: )
[ Five Rings was in another sprawling area in the rear left of the hall, and much less ostentatious than either TSR or WOTC. ]
Let's see, White Wolf had the usual Gothfest at their booth; lots of style and... style. ("Substance? What do you think this is? Plato?") I've played some Vampire, Werewolf, Mage and Changeling, and dislike the setting. (Well, and the system, which looks ill-conceived, although not as much so as good ol' AD&D.) Of course, many people play and enjoy the game, so I guess I can't complain. (But more on that later... )
Okay, so I have a definite philosophical disagreement with playing the villain. We're in this to write wrongs, dammit, not make more. Being the bad guy is fun once in a while, but a whole campaign of it? So sue me, I like heroes. (And, to be honest, I may not have had the most accurate experience with the game, mainly having been taught it without reading the book.)
And there were a bunch of other booths, missing of course the ones that boycotted this year (Steve Jackson, Palladium, Phage Press and the financially-challenged West End Games among them) because of the huge rate hike. I hope that that gets cleared up before next year, and I hope that it's not just because WOTC is profiteering. Paying for the new center is a big bill, but of course it's not WOTC's. It's Milwaukee's. Rental fees must have gone up. But by how much? Like us normal mortals know. I have not done much with SJG or Palladium games (although I found that Rifts is a bigger morass of rules than AD&D), but I have pretty much everything Phage has ever published, and all the Torg stuff WEG ever published. They were missed.
Speaking of Phage Press, I saw Erick Wujcik (its founder) a couple times at the Sierra Studios booth. He is one of my favorite game designers, mainly on the strength of Phage's Amber Diceless Role-Playing Game. At Ambercon in the spring, he mentioned that he had just gotten a job at a computer game company; Sierra must have been the company. He does very good seminars, but I unfortunately wasn't able to catch any seminars at all (and indeed, I don't know if he gave any).
|Gaming giants Gary Gygax, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman hawking their wares|
12 Noon: The Body Human (Torg)
Torg, as insinuated before, is my all-time favorite RPG. It's... well, visit my Torg page over at my main web site.
Todd Furler and Russ Fernsler were back again this year with three new Torg games. If you're lucky enough to go to a con where they're running something, join in! They obviously have fun at what they're doing, and they use props!
This first of three games involved giving a Paris resistance member some medical assistance in a quite unusual manner. I was a cyberpriest.
5 PM: RPGA Living City Masters ("Dark Lord, Morning Glory")
[ If you don't know about Living City, go visit my LC page at my main web site. ]
Fairly standard Living City fare, except that I got to play with one of the semi-retired characters, Lord General Hildegrim (played by Joe Pavlico), who was a tier by himself, and he brought a large dog that I'm sure accounted for as many levels as my character.
9 PM: RPGA Star Wars ("Initiation")
Well, let's move on...
All right, it was the same GM as my Star Wars game last year, and was about as boring. Oh well, it would have been a better use of my time to see the They Might Be Giants performance out in the street. (Not my favorite genre of music, but it's pretty good.) This will teach me to try to play Star Wars at GenCon...
8 AM: RPGA Living City Exclusive ("Heart of Darkness")
Well, yeah, I got roped into playing another Dan Donnelly adventure. (Those who read last year's report will remember my PC got drained two levels.) However, this time I came prepared with a disposable character: my half-orc paladin of Illmater, Grunt Brokentoe. Good thing, too. This event was pretty much a running battle, which Grunt lapped up, plus we saved the Lady Mayor (something we had no inkling about earlier, we found her tied up in a closet), who granted us with the appropriate Charisma (paladins have a lot of Charisma!) membership in the Knights of the lady. So that is the short story of how a half-orc paladin became a knight. And he's not disposable any more, ::sniff::.
And I'm not giving anything away here I shouldn't, as it was an Exclusive event, not to be run elsewhere.
12 Noon: Torg: Moment of Crisis
Another Furler/Fernsler game! This time, I played an elven mage. We were all ords, and had our Moments of Crisis in game. It was, again, quite fun, especially when my mage and another character took off flying (literally) on their own for a subsidiary mission.
If you're not familar with what a Moment of Crisis is, here's the short version: most people are "ords" (ordinary). When either making a strong moral decision for good or evil, or being confronted with another reality, they have a chance to have a Moment of Crisis, and become Possibility-Rated [also known as being a Storm Knight (good) or a stormer (evil), as the clash of the different realities in Torg generates awful storms]. Storm Knights are tougher than ords, and have an easier time bending reality to their will. As described in the rule book, PCs in Torg are always p-rated, since they're the main characters in the movie, who survive when the bit-part ords get killed.
9 PM: RPGA Living City Feature ("A Necessary Evil?")
This was another great game, if only for the main combat that dragged on a long time, incapacitating almost everyone at different times, and ended with a couple of the characters being chased out of the valley by a flying wizard, who was finally arrowed down. Of course, this was my first adventure with this particular character, and I was Held in the early rounds, so I could do nothing but watch. But it was entertaining...
10 AM: Claudia Christian, et al
|Alexandra Tydings||June Lockhart|
One thing that I was annoyed about was that Claudia Christian (Commander Susan Ivanova on the amazing television show "Babylon 5") was not listed in the preregistration materials, or I might have brought some other things for her to sign, most notably a cast picture that I have several autographs on already. (Unfortunately, that doesn't include Mira Furlan from last year, as she was a surprise as well, and I didn't even manage to get time to get her autograph at all. Last time I'll play Star Wars at a con...) She was a guest of Precedence, the publishers of the B5 CCG, not strictly a Guest of Honor, which implies why she wasn't in the prereg material.
I was all queued up at the doors before their opening, just like on Thursday, but this time, I had the path all planned out down Aisle 900 to the Precedence booth. Unfortunately, even though I showed a lot of hustle, I encountered the end of the line well short of the booth. I can only guess that there were a lot of exhibitors near the start of the line. Claudia was supposed to have started signing at 9:30, (I imagine for those exhibitors) but apparently she hadn't started until a bit after 10:00. After quite a while of no movement, we wer shuffled by quite efficient con staff so that the line went along the back wall of the hall instead of down the middle of an aisle, where we were blocking off dealers. I received my two autographed pictures about 11:00, and the line was stretched out long behind me. On Sunday, she was signing in a previously-unscheduled time slot, and the line seemed rather short then. If I had only known...
I wandered the hall for quite a bit longer, taking in a lot more of the sights and sounds I had hurredly passed through on Thursday.
There were a number of guests about signing autographs. Alexandra Tydings of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" fame (Aphrodite) was signing at the official autograph table a couple times, as well as Robert Picardo (the Doctor [no, not that one] on Star Trek: Voyager) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine, also on Voyager). At a regular booth were several of the Lost in Space crew: June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright. (no Bill Mumy, unfortunately) John De Lancie (Q of multiple Star Trek series) had his own booth as well.
After this, I wandered over to the anime room and watched some Ruin Explorers (pretty good) and the start of Slayers the Movie. (Which I have, so I left.)
5 PM: Torg: A Bitter Pill
|Shy gamemasters Todd Furler & Russ Fernsler|
Yet another Furler/Fernsler extravaganza! This time, it was using some new pseudo-LARP rules that they came up with, called "Synergy". I thought that they worked very well, and we all had a good time. I'll have to write some more about it in the future, but my memory is a bit rusty right now.
Note that I'm rather allergic to LARPs in general, as I'm not a big fan of walking around and acting like I'm someone else. (Oddly enough, sitting around and doing the same thing is fine...) But in this case, since it was (A) Torg (B) done by the Furler/Fernsler consortium and (C) was only a pseudo-LARP, I gave it a try. We spent a fair amount of time sitting around the table, but we wandered off into groups a bit and got some good investigative work done.
Hey, speaking of LARPs...
After the game was over, (note that we're talking 1 AM here) some of us went outside to return some of the group to the Hilton and retrieve some others who were to meet us. Gee, there's an awful lot of people wandering about the street of Milwaukee late Saturday night. Sure, it's a really nice night, but... Hey, that guy is walking around with his arms folded over his chest!
You guessed it. We were surrounded by Vampire LARP groupies. If you like Vampire, go back and read the stuff above. I personally don't like it, but I suppose it has entirely plausible attractions to some people. I found it amusing to be in the middle of so many "vampires", which people driving by had no clue about (well, there is the Masquerade to be upheld...), and which we were outwardly ignoring. We actually did have some people come up to us ("Would you like a donut?" - Seriously!) and try to interact before they realized we weren't playing. Sorry, but this whole episode strikes a funny chord with me.
And yes, I kind of am making fun of the game there... but with the realization that I do weird things too. Hey, I fried a bunch of undead, saved a king and beat up an insane survivalist that weekend. Who am I to judge?
8 AM: RPGA Living City Benefit ("To Kill a Nightingale" - Procampur)
As Benefits usually are, this was nifty. There was a big fight at the end that took a long time, but it had a bit of an interesting difference. And there was a particular event at the very end that affected some PCs, and I understand will come to fruition at Winter Fantasy. So, all in all, it was pretty good time.
You know, as I write this, I realize that the RPGA database still doesn't have most of my games from GenCon in it. RPGA had better get the bookkeeping in gear, I guess.
And then, after a bit of walking about the exhibit hall and making some last contacts with friends, the con was over. ::sigh:: Until next year...
|The demise of the Convention Center|
This report (including the photographs) is Copyright 1998 by Timothy J. Bailey, but may be freely distributed provided that this copyright notice remains intact and attached to the file, and that nothing is charged for it save normal download costs. Certain terms are trademarks of and/or copyright to their respective owners, and their use should not be considered a challenge to said claims; chalk it up to advertising for them.