3EG DragonCon 2013 Recap

Wow! DragonCon 2013 was a pretty great time for me this year. This is my 4th year attending as a “professional” and it feels better and better every year. More people who recognize me, stop me and tell me how much they love what I do. For reference, if you see you favorite creator of any kind (artist, writer, game designer, whatever), tell them how much you love what they do. You never know if they were possibly having a bad day and your kind words were exactly the thing that reinvigorates them. I had a moment like that this past weekend, as a matter of fact, so I can speak from experience.


DragonCon has always been the place where my focus is on panels. I love meeting people at panels an every year, they keep getting bigger and bigger. I had 3 panels I was supposed to speak on this year and I want to kind of address them separately, because they were all quite unique/horrific/amazing (you’ll know which one is which in a moment).

eloylasantaZero to Publisher

This was my first panel of the con, THE first gaming panel of the con and was taking place at 10am on Friday before DragonCon was even really started. I was pretty nervous about this one, actually. This was also my very first solo panel and I was going to be talking all about me, which I try not to do too much so I don’t come off as arrogant or anything. Humility is how I continue to be awesome, after all. Luckily, the Gaming Organizer, Rucht Lilavivat, came up and eased my tension a bit by introducing me a bit and boasting about me in a way I could never do about myself. In the end, I ended up having an almost packed room for my panel. It was even more humbling and everyone walked out of there saying they had a great time and learned a lot (lots of very positive tweets out of it). I even found this blog post from someone who said it was the highlight of the whole con. That makes me feel better and a lot more confident about possible future solo-panels.

Kickstarter 101

Hyped from my panel earlier, I came into the Kickstarter 101 panel ready to drop some knowledge. Problem was, there were 5 people on the panel. Well, some would say a blessing, others might say it was a problem. The idea behind the panel was to have a variety of publishers/creators who did kickstarters of various sizes. However, after talking a little about each of our own experiences, we only got to 3 questions. Even we talked a lot about the process, I always feel bad if any questions are left unanswered at the end of the panel. It could have easily been a 2 or 3 hour panel with the number of people in attendance and maybe it should be next year.

Game Design 101

And here is where my con took a turn for the worse. The Game Design 101 panel was the big one, in the ballroom, with tons of people, with Kenneth Hite and Keith Baker on the panel with me. I mean, this was the panel I was hoping to do all day. THEN I starter feeling dizzy. I should probably let the cat out of the bag and divulge that this has been an ongoing problem with me that I was keeping a lid on. I’m a hard worker and I wanted to keep that view of myself even though I’ve been afflicted for months by some mysterious dizzy sickness that comes and goes. 10 minutes into the panel I thanked everyone for coming and excused myself. Ken and Keith handled it just fine without me; they’re pros after all.

IMG_0878There I was, feeling terrible, light-headed and sick to my stomach all at the same time and then it happened – I had so many people coming to make sure I was ok.   It was touching. In my mind, I had built this up into a career-destroying thing that no one would ever excuse, that I had somehow failed my fans who were there to listen to me speak and lost out on the chance to meet new people forever. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but the brain is a crazy thing – especially mine.  Just after all of that, I had someone give ME present (an awesome t-shirt), thanking me for “all the Saturday nights of fun his group had because of my games”. And THAT’s what I’m talking about. Even though I was still feeling like crap, hearing some positivity was just the thing to make my weekend do an about face.

Playtesting Fun

So, I got to play a lot of fun games this weekend. The Pathfinder Story Card Game, Top Billing (my movie making card game) and even the DC and Marvel Deck building games. But the most fun I had was doing some of my own play testing. First was playtesting for Sinister. I had 3 players who all picked drastically different concepts and was easily able to accommodate all of them. After CharGen was done, we had a free-for-all between the 3 of them. That’s where I was very happy to see the system shines quite well. At first there was a bit of confusion and then – BOOM – lightbulbs went off. There were a lot of suggestions about how we could make it better and I’ll be implementing those pretty soon for everyone to enjoy, but the overall takeaway was how awesome combat worked.

The second thing I playtested was my side side project, which is a secret supers game. I had enough to make characters, but the reactions I got from the 3 playtesters who did so (a different 3 playtesters, mind you) were a lot of “whoa, this is awesome!” Can’t complain there and I hope to be able to share more of that with everybody else soon, but it definitely needs more tweaking. I was nervous about that one, because these 3 were the first people to ever see it outside of myself and a couple very close friends.

Savage Sunday Night

Yes, you heard it right. At DragonCon, the Savage night is on a Sunday. I wanted to make special note of this particular event, as it was one of the highlights of my weekend. I had a very engaging group who loved Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. – Savage World Edition and really got into the adventure. There was even a chance of having one of the characters balance themselves on the hood of a hummer at 80 MPH. It didn’t happen, which made me sad, but you can see from that what kind of group we’re talking about here. I also got a snazzy dice bag out of the deal, so WIN/WIN.


Despite my sickness (and I do feel mostly better today as I write this and my kickstarter for Divine Instruments has just hit is funding goal), DragonCon 2013 was a success for me. I hope to be invited back next year, with better health and even more fans to meet and greet!

Until next time.