Gen Con 2015 via Contributor Alyson Knezevich

When I realized I really needed to be there for my wife and her family during the week of Gen Con, and thus was not going to attend, I started wondering how I could get some Gen Con details on the site. I didn’t want to ask my friends who already write for their own sites, that would be nothing more than redundancy, so I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to see if there were any capable individuals willing to do me a favor, and not to mention take advantage of a free Press Badge! If I had started sooner I’m certain I’d of gotten even more responses but I was pretty excited to get as many as I did last minute. One was a recently met friend named Beau who is in the process of designing a board game, he was just willing to write something as he already had a badge. I really hope he does because behind the scenes of shopping a game around the con would be really interesting stuff.

Other than Beau’s reach out the other responses I’d gotten were only nibbles. That’s why I was excited when another friend, Josh P., mentioned that his friend Alyson was going and would likely jump at the chance to write something up. Despite not knowing her I went for the idea, and boy am I glad I did. It’s always great to hear other’s Con stories and I’m going to just stop writing now, as I’ve droned on long enough anyway, and let her words take over. Thank you Alyson!

-Melvs

P.S. I know nothing of writing code so I really hope I Copy/Pasted Alyson’s coding joke correctly. Blame me if it looks wrong! 😛


 

Oh dear. Here it is—a Gen Con virgin writing an article about their first Gen Con. How cliché.
Luckily for everyone reading this, this was by no means my first convention. Although normally my cons are a little closer to home, hailing from Chicago, which is in no short supply of conventions. But you know—why not?

I certainly was not disappointed in the least.

I could gush on and on about how delightfully massive it was, but you would get bored eventually and tell me to—well—buzz off.

Regardless, after figuring out where to pick up my press badge—the sight of the Will Call line made me sob and thank the heavens I didn’t have to wait in it—I got to enjoy the wonderful Dungeon Mastery of one Ben Spiker (who, stands not only as editor for Pure Steam, a wonderful steampunk campaign setting for Pathfinder, but also the creator of the wonderful music that accompanies the books). The second book, which has a western steampunk theme, is on its way and the pre-made characters and adventures from the back of the book really aren’t terrible. In fact, I rather liked them.

I have always found myself loving character and world creation and customization—which the second book makes more offerings for—and HATE using pre-made characters or campaigns. I mean, I totally get using pre-made characters for a one-shot campaign, and I am beyond grateful that they were so well made that it made it near impossible to hate them. Additionally, I want to state that, for the record, I hate playing any magical class. They drive me up a wall. And, naturally, I got stuck with all magic users to pick from, being the third party member to arrive. Normally, I rock non-magical rogue characters—occasionally I am a back-up tank, in the case where a noob to a group is the tank and will likely kill them all, as a favor to my friends.

Alas—I was that one person who just went with the one who sounded the coolest—and the Gear Head Dwarf sounded pretty nifty. I’ll be honest, the way the Gear Head (Burrigan) is set up—his spells are literally just gadgets he gets to use, as opposed to regular spellcasting. Which does come in handy—especially on a mission to find and disarm the bomb on a passenger/freight train with a time limit.
Shenanigans ensued.

Now mind you, being a Gear Head, Burrigan is super intelligent and nearly stomped the Moonshiner (think drunken alchemist) Halfling with his Dwarven rage! (As dwarves are sometimes wont to do.) But first I saved everyone from the Moonshiner tinkering with the bomb, making the timer start to go faster, while I was making knowledge engineering roles to save us all from a fiery death so we could get paid. Good thing it was a one shot… because I rolled a natural 20 on punching him after I disarmed the bomb. Oops. At least it wasn’t confirmed to be a critical hit.

Now, I being a lass who grew up fighting with the Senegal’s Finest of Eryndor (the Michigan chapter of Dagorhir) before they split after I moved to Chicago, was thrilled to find some familiar faces in the gaming hall from Dagorhir, a nationwide roughly Tolkien-based LARP that focuses on combat (magic users need not apply). Primarily the booth was composed of folks from Mittelmarch (the Indianapolis chapter of Dagorhir) and one Senegal who has moved to Champaign, IL. (Hoorah Arczhidea!) As well as the wonderful folks from Forged Foam who hosted the booth (as well as some great combat gear in the vendor hall!)

The only complaint I have at all is that I do so wish they had more room and gym mats for the floor. It would work far better. (For those unfamiliar with Dagorhir, commonly when one takes a hit in the leg you drop to your knees.) The thing is with concrete floors you had to simply pivot on that leg—which kept you frozen in one place…undoubtedly with a lack of injury in the end at least. Additionally moving about is a nice thing to do so you’re not just fighting in a linear fashion. However, for one general ticket and the ability to keep getting in line to fight whomever with provided weaponry, it was a nice surprise.

I don’t get to fight much anymore save sparing with a friend of mine who played Amtgard (Another Foam Combat LARP) as an archer up in Alaska before he moved here to Chicago. Of course, now he has two jobs, and that doesn’t happen so much anymore. So spending a few hours doing that—regardless that most of the time was spent in line and giggling as I watched all these people who I knew could squash grown men into the floor with a single hit, fighting all nice and letting children kill them to be adorable—it was fantastic.

OH! One more thing:

Dear Gen Con,
Please do not put the foam combat booth near where people can make foam weapons that are certainly not legal by the safety guidelines of that game (meaning they could seriously hurt someone with them if they were fighting with them) and would make everyone’s lives a lot easier and less confusing.
Sincerely ~ A Concerned Con Attendee, Esq. The Third

Now, as the readers of this blog don’t know me, I’d like to let you all know now—I am not normally one to attend panels. I’ll run just about everywhere, save panels, when I’m at conventions. However, this time I actually went to one and was pleased to find myself intrigued to say the least. It was of course the radical feminist in me that called me to the Women in Gaming Panel, but that aside it was not the way you’d think it would be. As the panelists stated at the beginning, it would have been too easy and of not much good to anyone to sit there and rift on everything wrong with how women are treated in game and geek culture.

Lynne Hardy, Shoshana Kessock, Elisa Teague, Rachel Ventura, and Nicole Lindroos—some fabulous ladies in the gaming industry elaborated on why it was so important to get to a point where noting the number of ladies in gaming and geek culture isn’t necessary anymore. I mean the feminist in me enjoyed it. Hardy said many a noteworthy thing. The panel as a whole touched on equal representation not just for women, but also for all shapes and sizes and colors of women.

The one complaint I had was there was not a single woman of color on the panel. Different sizes, yes. Ages, kinda. Ability, yes. We even had people from the international community—however, everyone was still white. When I look in the mirror, I see a feminist. When my friend Liza looks in the mirror, she sees a black feminist. The set of problems are different for her than they are for me and still have to be recognized. Perhaps that can be remedied next year.

Panel aside, I was rather happy to find that there was so much—and I mean SO MUCH—Cards Against Humanity, both pick-up games officially organized ones, EVERYWHERE. In fact, during one such session a wonderful lady was feeding me scotch. But I digress… my point being, as a terrible person I found myself in many a game of CAH feeling familiar and safe with complete strangers equally as terrible. Probably good for children not to appear during those games… with talk of coat-hanger abortions, lampreys biting taints, Bigger Blacker *cough* Boxes and what not. My first two nights certainly ended with CAH games that went on for a while as they often do.

The third ended with six hours of “Are You A Werewolf?” with the same moderator. Our moderator loved us (us being my two companions for all six hours of gaming)… maybe. We certainly loved him, and how he cared less and less over time. It was hilarious for us at least.

boolean play = false;
int time = 0;
int x = 0;
boolean modCaring = true;
var mod;
boolean somethingHappening=true;

void wereWolf ()
{
time++;
if (x==15) {
play = true;
} else {
x++;
}
if (play=true;
&&time==1.08e+7) {
modCaring = false;
}
if (modCaring = false&&somethingHappening=true;
) {
mod = ohThatsRightImModding;
} else {
mod=eatingChinese;
}
}

Yes, I did just make that kind of joke. (Yes, I could have more aptly coded that so it could actually work—in fact, I just might.) I have to say though, it was bloody brilliant not being werewolf fodder twice in a row. It was also bloody brilliant unleashing my sneaky werewolf self, as I chomped the village to nothing—twice in a row. Om nom nom, villagers.

As far as the vendor’s hall goes, I was extremely pleased to discover a wonderful steampunk game. “Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis” with a dapper convincing sir, Tobias McCurry, on stilts selling the pants off of it. Though only watching the game play, I was intrigued by it anyway. It’s one of those rare board games where, not only can you play it co-op or competitively, but you could also play it on your own when you have some time to kill, wonderfully versatile indeed.

Of course, I nabbed some more expansions for “Dominion” for a fantastic deal, “Cthulhlu Munchkin” (Because why not?) and “Fred”—which is a very ridiculous game whose art reminds me strongly of a mix between the works of Michael Hussar and Roman Dirge, and whose game-play sounds like it’s bound to lead to someone being arrested because that game seems like one that will be played with alcohol involved. For example, one card dares a player to strip to their skivvies and run a lap around the building in which you are playing. (Questionably arrest-worthy here in my neighbor in Chicago.)

And a few other trinkets here and there. What looks to be a wonderful comic, “The Sixth Gun” (Authored by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt and published by Oni Press) which was described to me as a western-horror-fantasy. The line work is gorgeous in it. I also purchased the 5th ed. Player’s Handbook because, while I do have the .PDF, it’s always nice to have, you know—not questionably acquired things that you can hold in your hands. A new dice bag with an amazing octopus embroidered on it. You know—things and stuff.

FINAL THOUGHTS/REGRETS/LESSONS

Learning from my mistake this year—waiting until the last minute to purchase event tickets is a terrible plan of action. So if you have never gone to Gen Con before—let me lay it out as a good plan of action now. BUY ALL THE EVENT TICKETS. Well not all of them, but certainly more than one event specific ticket.
Also I really should have brought my camera—says the BFA with a concentration in photography. I know I left it behind for the very reason that I absolutely know I will get caught up taking photos of all the cosplayers and not actually doing fun convention things—however it makes me sad that they only pictures I got were terrible phone images. //cringe
The two that I took were important (to me anyway: one wonderful Slenderman cosplay and a video of a fantastic Star-Lord complete with music.) I probably should have taken a picture of my Capable cosplay from Thursday, but I’m not too concerned.
Also bring more money… so many things I wanted in the vendor hall—so many things.
In addition to that, I need get a room attached to the convention center—or near it. Yes it will be far more expensive, but I can really rock my con body at that point and not sleep for days. It will be wonderful!
And then it would be terrible.
Anyways…
Yay coming home to my copy of Exploding Kittens (complete with NSFW deck) and another PS3 controller!
Hope everyone made it home safely and I hope I will see you all next year!

-Alyson

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