My first GenCon: Saturday and Sunday

Due to being busy, I am writing this post later than I originally planned. In my final two days of GenCon, I played several Dungeons & Dragons games, listened to an interview with Chris Perkins, attended a burlesque show and played a hilarious game of School Daze.

Wizard of the Coast (WoTC) had a dice set to collect at GenCon. We started our dice hunt on Thursday by visiting the WoTC booth and then went to fold a cute red dragon paper sculpture:

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They are cute, right?

We were registered for the D&D Next playtest event which gave 2 dice. There were 2 dice left so we signed up to play those 2 events. First was Dungeon Command demo. It is a fun and quick miniature game. I played it before in Ottawa during the Dungeon Command game day. As I played it before and knew Brenda wasn’t a fan of miniature games, I played against her and provided a fun experience for her. The other event to get the dice was a D&D 4th edition adventure prequel to the season of D&D Encounters “Council of Spiders”. We almost didn’t get to play this fun adventure. We used generic tickets and thus we had to wait until all the registered players got assigned a GM. We waited in line and saw the number of GMs available dwindle. One player right behind us in the line mentioned that he’d willingly GM the encounter if they have enough copies and some other players later in line made the same offer. When the organizer came back and mentioned there are no more available GMs, I asked if there were extra copies of the adventure for volunteer GMs currently in line. There were 2 copies of the adventure. The player right behind us GMed for Brenda and I. He took about 5-10 minutes to review the adventure which gave us time to review our characters. For a two-hour adventure, they have full-page backgrounds, personalities and relationships with other PCs for each of the available characters. This was a rich adventure in story and a decently challenging encounter. We were all playing drow from various factions. Our GM was great even though he had little preparation.

The D&D Next playtest used the iteration of the rules released around GenCon. There was a 30 minute character creation session then an hour session of actual play. As I had read most of the playtest documents on the plane trip to GenCon, I had a decent idea for my character. I made a halfling wizard who ran a mystical circus. In D&D Next technical terms, he is a stout halfling wizard with the charlatan background and magic-user specialty. It took me 15 minutes to transcribe my choices onto a character sheet. For some folks who hadn’t read the rules before, they were not quite done after 30 minutes. I think they need to streamline character creation for convention play and one-shots. Most of the elements provided permit several story opportunities at character creation. I enjoy that. At the actual play, we had several scenario options. The group agreed to a scenario that had around 60% combat and 40% social interaction. We went hunting some kobolds in tunnels. It was hilarious seeing the cleric necromancer, or as he called himself “the giver and taker of life”, hunt down souls to power some of his spells. I memorized a few non-damage spells since I enjoy those. They were fun to play with. We ended the session with the necromancer chasing after a purple worm to capture its soul.

In the early evening, I attended a live recording of the show “Gamer to Gamer” hosted by Tracy Barnett. He interviewed Chris Perkins, the DM to the stars at WoTC. It was a fascinating interview about his gaming experiences. I enjoy “Gamer to Gamer” because its talks about the passion folks have for games. To me, a geek has passion over a subject and shows it. I recommend you listen to the podcast when it shows up but in the meantime, listen to the other episodes of “Gamer to Gamer”.

Later in the evening, Brenda and I attended the d20 Burlesque show. Even though I took a few pictures, their quality were not great due to my distance from the stage. My favourite act was the first one which is the Great Old One Cthulhu. The dance and performance were comical and fun. It was a surreal experience seeing Cthulhu dance enticingly on stage. Other performances included: zombie, pedo-bear, a Mortal Kombat character, an ode to Risk, and Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear video game series. There was an act based on those text-based choose your own adventure computer games. Due to our seat, we couldn’t see what was happening on stage. The line of people wishing to enter a command blocked our line of sight to the stage. Overall, the show was great entertainment and I’m happy that I saw it at least once.

On Sunday, we had an afternoon flight home but we had enough time for one last game. We finally went to the Games on Demand section. We left ourselves open to any game. We played School Daze by Tracy Barnett. It is a role-playing game set in a high school. Our GM was Tracy Barnett. Our table of 6 had five Canadians (Brenda, Chelsea, Lyndsay, Adam and myself) and one American (https://twitter.com/loganbonner). Our high school was a Canadian high school and all our characters were Canadian stereotypes while Logan played an American stereotype as an exchange student. Being the only French-Canadian at the table, I made a French-Canadian student who loves drama and is party of the improv league. The game was in preparation for a pep rally which is strange because they are rare in Canada. I don’t remember in high school ever having a pep rally & it looked like none of the other Canadians at the table ever had one either. We understood the concept and went along with it. The game was a blast. We laughed. It was crazy funny. I highly recommend you try out School Daze.

I had a great time at GenCon. It was a great experience. There is so much to see. You can’t see everything on your first try. I plan to attend future GenCons when my budget allow. I want to try different things. Brenda mentioned that she wants to try True Dungeon and it does intrigue me.

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