So, it’s hard to say even where to start. This was a whirlwind of a year, end-capped by craziness and filled with surprise and excitement! Yeah, I think THAT is a good way to describe it. But to go into just a little more detail for those of you who weren’t there to experience it first hand, let me give you the run down:
Booth and Sales
This year was an odd assortment for the booth. We were with the IGDN again (Booth 2437 FTW) but with so much to pack into the booth, we ended up with our table sideways instead of facing the aisle. A lot of people couldn’t find us, since our name wasn’t in the book again this year, and if they came down the aisle in one direction it was hard, but the other direction was difficult. It wasn’t the best situation, but it was the best that worked out equally for all involved. It didn’t deter us, though, we had sales that were just as good as last year. This was due to a few different factors:
- Pip System Corebook: It was brand new and people seemed to gravitate toward it, and coupled with Mermaid Adventures it was a hit with a lot of families looking for a new system or fans who had the original and wanted the updated version. There were a few people who were like “oh, now you need this to play Mermaid Adventures?” and the answer was “yes, but the experience now is bigger, more fleshed out, better edited, and has a lot more player options.” It was hard for them to say no. The Pip System Corebook accounted for just over 25% of our booth sales, which I think says a lot.
- The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition, Sins of the Father, and the ENnies: Obviously, the fact that The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition had already won an ENnies and Sins of the Father was up for Best Game, we had a lot of interested folks at the booth wondering what was up with these two masterpieces (my word, not necessarily theirs). Sins of the Father sold amazingly well, what with its $20 and unique system, and The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition caught the attention of a lot of players and sold pretty darn well, along with its GM screen. The ENies were wonderful, but I feel like my thoughts on that event deserve their own blog post.
- Booth Staff: It wasn’t just me this year. I had my booth partner Kristen who helmed the whole thing, but we had some new and enthusiastic faces help us out this year. Jess Hartley was amazing, Beth Pintal really knows her stuff, and Patrick L. always brings a great smile to the table. Without them, I would be lost at these cons… or just crazy… strike that, I’m already crazy. But bad booth staff spells no sales, and I had lots of sales.
- My Game Masters: In that vein, I had some great GMs this year. THE Eric Paquette ran some Pip System Super Mario games, James Pintal ran some Pip System Mermaid Adventures games, Chris Perrin ran some Pip System sentai and Dune games, and Corey Watson ran some pulp Pip System games. And those are just the Pip System games! Carol Darnell, Ramon Jaimez, Nate Goble, Dwayne Stewart (my wrangler), Patrick Lapienis, Patrick Cassidy, along with the other GMs, ran a combination of ninjas, demons, gods, AMPs, and other soulless creatures. I couldn’t even count the number of times people came to the booth and said “I just played this, so I’m buying it” and I have my GMs to thank for that. HUGE thanks!
- Paizo’s Starfinder: Weird entry on the list, huh? But over the weekend someone spotted that Part-Time Gods was listed as inspiration for Paizo’s newest release. That was awesome and I can’t wait to actually read it and see where it may have been inspired. But yeah, we sold a lot of copies of Part-Time Gods on the last two days (assumedly after people got a chance to read their copies of Starfinder). Literally had one person say “I’m buying this because I saw it listed in Starfinder” so I don’t think it’s too much to assume this may have influenced others. lol.
Games I Ran
So, I wasn’t actually planned to run any official games, but that’s how my convention started off. I gave my GM (who was ready to run at 2pm) the wrong time and ended up running a session of Sins of the Father at 10am. I happened to have all my cards and characters ready to go, so it wasn’t a problem. Oh man, this game was so good. They were servants to Xantor, the Dream Eater. They had to break a serial killer out of jail, bring him back to their basement worship area, and then enter his warped mind to unlock it so Xantor could devour it. The players were amazing and engaging and completely incapable of pulling a card that helped them the whole session, which made it all THAT much more fun! All of them, however, made amazing choices during the session, especially the Envy character who stole the serial killer’s last shred of hope from his mind before leaving it to Xantor’s mercy. Epic session with amazing players, who all liked the game enough to play it, which is very humbling. I always try to be a good GM, and having people so pumped that they HAVE to buy the game you just ran is kind of the ultimate props.
Then I had my off the books game of Sins of the Father that I ran later that same night (remember, I had all my materials ready to go, right?). This time it played like a con game, filled with a bunch of my friends, new and old. Jess Hartley joined us, so with Ian and Max, and Sarah and Jeff Moore (friends I’ve hung out with for years, but never really gamed with). It was a pleasure to play with this group of five. They all got really into character and engaged the scenes with an intensity of veteran roleplayers. This game here was the one that made me laugh and laugh and laugh. We had to take several breaks, and even when we focused on a single character here and there, all the players were into it and playing along. Everyone was amazing and the game ended like 5 hours later with a twist.
I did run one other game on Sunday after everything was over and done, a session of The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition. Two of my GMs, Corey Watson and THE Eric Paquette, were my targets, hoping to give back a bit of fun to them since they ran games for me all weekend. Joining us was John D. Kennedy, a writer who worked on the game, and Sean Patrick Fannon, who I had run this game for years ago once before. Our fifth player was Corey’s GF, Emily, who did really well, even though she was new to this whole roleplaying thing. It only takes one game to make someone a life-long roleplayer, I say. The adventure took a few turns at the beginning, but as soon as everyone grokked the system, they got really into it and followed the mystery of the Emperor’s New Weapon. It ended in explosions and everyone had fun, but we were all tired too. I want to make a tradition of running excellent Sunday evening games at GenCon for my GMs or other friends who can make it. I enjoyed it a lot.
So, I had one panel on my schedule, but I ended up speaking on THREE! the other two were me filling in for others who had to drop at the last minute.
The first panel was “Why is Adversarial GMing wrong” or something to that effect. I actually love speaking about these things and making sure that people know that style of GMing is wrong and they should just run games like i do and be done with it. I felt like I had a lot of contribute to the conversation, though, and made an effort to let others talk (those who have seen me on panels, know I like to talk). I gave some funny anecdotes and people liked my take on stuff. Knowledge was achieved! Thank you to John D. Kennedy and Ramon Jaimez was allowing me to sit beside them.
The second panel was “What is the IGDN.” The current president was having some health issues that day, and since I pretend to know what I’m talking about most days, they asked me to fill in as the past president. How could I say no? It was good, though, speaking on the panel with Matthew McFarland, the convention coordinator, and Ryan Schoon, the membership coordinator. We bounced off each other well, and where one people forgot to say something, another one of us picked it up and ran with it. Probably one of the best-balanced panels I’ve ever been on, really. And I think that shows off the relationship the IGDN members have with each other.
My third panel was the one I actually had planned, and it was Running Games for Kids. This one had myself (your dashing narrator through this trip of a weekend), BJ Hensley (who is a giant in the kids gaming arena), Shao Han (who apparently runs games for refugee kids in Singapore — I KNOW!!!!), and Olivia (a 13-year old GM who runs games and could speak to running games for kids from both sides of the table). The discussion was spirited, but I feel like Shao might have been drowned out just a bit due to the overzealousness of the rest of us. I apologize for that, Shao, and if we’re ever on a panel again, I’ll make sure that DOES NOT happen again. The panel itself was pretty damn great though, as everyone’s experiences were pretty different and really interesting. Which leads me to the last section of my recap…
Maeve and I Strike Back!!!
Oh man, do I love seeing this girl every year. For those of you who don’t know, Maeve is my fan from years ago when she started reading, playing, and running the Pip System for her friends and family when she was 7. Now, we make it a point to get together and take a picture to commemorate the year. This year, she’s been devouring API2E, apparently, and really loves it. She’s into Wolf People the most. 🙂
Every time I think about her, I am just blown away. She’s 11 now! Not only am I lucky to have her as a fan of my games, but the fact that she is just as excited to see me as I am to see her every year is just… I’m a writer and I just don’t have the words for it. I feel like a cool uncle for her, and I’m already got some presents lined up for her for the holidays, based on some of the stuff she was eyeing at the show. I don’t buy gifts like this for anyone but her. I hope she realizes how lucky to know her, but that she doesn’t hold that over my head (LOL).
I got to hang out with SO many people that to list the ones I can remember off the top of my head seems like it would be rude to the ones that fell into my GenCon brain. I’ll try though (in no particular order):
- Carol and John for being great roommates
- Andreas and Elizabeth for great dinner conversation
- Adam Jury-Last for his patience at my booth. I still need to hear the rest of that story.
- Brennan Taylor for being a super cool boothmate and completely forgetting about that one time I messed up
- Lillith (Brennan’s daughter) for having inane morning talks with me at the booth.
- Tim Rodriguez same on the boothmate front, and it was awesome to finally get a chance to hang with him
- Danielle and Wes for showing up, like, EVERYWHERE! Can’t see enough of you
- Mike Curry for the beautiful blue staring contest (well-deserved win on your part, sir)
- Chris Badell for breakfast and spoilers
- Craig McRoberts for sharing his happiness with me and finally becoming FB friends
- Andy Hopp for making me laugh my butt off!
- The Insomniac Club for the late night chat session while I was falling asleep.
- BJ Hensley for an eye-opening conversation
- Bill Bodden for being very tall and sweet
- Eddy Webb for making fun of me trying to buy his game on the last day after it had been sold out for a while. How silly of me.
- Meghan Fitzgerald for being really cool and making me feel really welcome
- Jodi Black for always being there with a hug and advice if I need it.
- Clint Black for showing up and ninja-ing his hug before vanishing into the mist once again
And that’s all I can remember right now!
This year I think was my clearest year yet. I remember a lot and I will treasure the memories. Here’s hoping next year can be ever better.