Updated on February 14, 2001

GenCon 2000 Report

Updates from the Convention  | Eric's GenCon Schedule

Updates from the Convention:
  • Update: I added PA's interview with Peter Adkison, below.
  • Update: I added one more photo -- Peter Adkison being interviewed by French D&D fan "PA."
  • I attended Wednesday, August 9th through Friday August 11, 2000. My notes on the experience are below. Any further notes I get about D&D matters revealed at the convention on Saturday or Sunday I will deliver through the news section on the main page.

Friday, August 11 -- 6:10 pm

I'm back in Madison, ready to report on the events of Thursday evening and today.

Monster Builder's Seminar

After updating yesterday (forgot to change the date in the header for that one, sorry :), I got to the Monster Builder's Seminar late. Didn't matter, as Skip Williams (Monster Manual author), James Wyatt (authoring about 2/3 of a forthcoming FR monster book) and (I believe) Jennifer Clarke Wilkes (editor for the Monster Manual) were just getting to the task at hand. They'd handed out a draft or excerpt short article written by Skip that basically outlines how the WotC folk go about creating a new monster. The bulk of the handout was charts of monster types (Aberations, Humanoids, Undead, etc.) crossed with size (Tiny, Large, etc.). Given these charts you could figure out the appropriate number and type of hit dice, the saving throws, attack bonuses, number of skill points and feats, and this would be the basis of any new monster. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a copy, though as I found out later, we'll all be able to read it in Dragon Magazine in October.

After a series of weird/random suggestions from the audience, we'd put together a Tiny Aberation: an intelligent three-headed poisonous snake with butterfly wings, Charisma-draining poison, and a gem on its tail (it uses it to lure people to pick it up). As James put it, "I have strong reservations about this creature." :) It was all to exemplify that monster building has some "number-crunching" aspects to it and some creativity and judgment calls. One thing that surprised me is that there apparently is no "system" for determining the Challenge Rating of a monster. You compare it to a similar monster, and you playtest it to be sure. Skip pointed out (in a later seminar) that while the 2E XP tables gave you the ability to calculate any creature's XP by knowing its HD and counting up its special abilities, that this was only giving you a false sense of a "system."

The Next D&D Campaign World

While I was waiting for the next seminar, I was accosted by a strange French guy. ;) Turned out to be a fellow known as PA on my message boards and on the official boards. After the seminar he showed me where the block party was. Note that I almost got a picture of WotC's Sean Reynolds with his shirt off there. :)

The Next Campaign World seminar was run by Jim Butler, with Rich Baker and some other people I couldn't see too well. Didn't matter -- it wasn't them talking, it was us talking. They listened to us spout off for almost two hours about what we wanted to see in a future campaign world product -- everything from the flavor/era of the setting to how many of what type of products for that line. Jim did explain a couple of things that helped direct us: 1) they have no plans to bring back any dead line at the present (apparently including Dark Sun), with the exception of Dragonlance, and that's not even on the 2001 schedule; as Jim explained it, with a couple of exceptions, the longer a product line got, and especially if it was one that was "reintroduced" or redirected (ala the revised Dark Sun setting, the revised Ravenloft setting), the worse the line did; and 2) in the future they want very, very short campaign setting product lines with a few focused products; with this, they could see releasing one new campaign setting a year ... but it might only be three or four products long.

So that was last night. Today was a little different, as I didn't have a jam packed schedule.

Dragon, Dungeon and Third Edition

I got to meet editorial staff including Chris Thomasson, Dave Gross and Chris Perkins, along with Dragon's "Sage," Skip Williams. It was a sparsely populated seminar, which made it possible for me to really monopolize the discussion. ;) Here are my notes:
  • Dragon
    • Dragon is hungry for new 3E-specific articles.
    • The next few months will really be "back to basics" in terms of monthly themes. Here are some forthcoming themes:
      • Warriors (September)
      • Mystery (October)
      • Alternate Fantasy (November)
      • Dwarves (December)
      • Elves (January)
      • Sorcerers (February)
      • Psionics (in March to coincide with the release of the Psionics Handbook).
      • Forgotten Realms (April)
    • A "Countdown to Forgotten Realms" starts in October to build up to an April 2001 release date for the revised campaign setting.
    • Dragon doesn't want rehashed 2nd ed. stuff.
    • In Dragon, the Sage Advice column will be more geared toward revealing the "official answer" rather than advice, and this column will be the best source of any needed rules clarifications and corrections.
    • The October issue will feature an article by Skip about creating monsters; apparently this is pretty much a "must read" for every DM.
    • The new Dragon is essentially five defined sections. "Game Room" contains "newsy" stuff, such as convention listings, news, new product info, interviews, and letters to the editor. The next chunk is the featured articles. "Familiars" is the regular departments section, including Bazaar of the Bizarre, Bestiary (which will tie its "generic" monsters to locations in the Greyhawk setting), Class Acts (a new prestige class every month by Monte Cook), and Versus (strategies for combating a specific monster, both preparation strategies if you know ahead of time you're going to face this critter, as well as tactics that work particularly well against any weaknesses the monster has). Finally, we have "Wizards Workshop," which is the advice area (Sage Advice, Power Play, Dungeoncraft, and Forum).
    • Dave mentioned that they plan to do more Dragon Mag./Dungeon Mag. crossover events. He teased me with one word to describe such a crossover coming soon: "Lolth." :)
    • On the way is a new column (maybe not permanent) with adventure hooks for the discontinued campaign settings.
    • The Dragon Annual has an article about Cormyr (nation in the Forgotten Realms); an article by James Wyatt about how to use the multiclassing rules to create archetypal characters from fantasy (i.e. you want to play a Scout, there's no "Scout Class," you might put together a level of fighter and a few levels of rogue and take feats x, y, and z, that sort of thing); and an article (the first of a series maybe? didn't quite catch that) on generic fantasy organizations that can be dropped into your own world.
  • Dungeon:
    • Chris Perkins noted the new writers' guidelines, as well as the new format for adventures in general and encounters in particular.
    • He'd like to see more good dungeon crawls, and he's like some good Side Treks.
    • If you're submitting adventures, three plots to avoid: rescuing someone, murder mystery, and artifact hunt.
    • Not really related, but of interest, Chris is also going to be in charge of the new Star Wars Gamer magazine, for the Star Wars RPG, that will feature articles, adventures and fiction.

Psionics in Third Edition

This was easily the most informative of the seminars. The author of the Psionics book, Bruce Cordell, was the man in the hot seat, but sharing the heat was editor Dave Noonan (who was also the lead in-house playtester for the project), Jennifer Clarke Wilkes (editor), and Duane Maxwell (editor).

Bruce bascially just spilled the beans on everything, so I'm gonna try to condense it for you:

  • The goal was for the system to pretty seemlessly mesh with the existing core rules of D&D 3E, not be an added system on top of it. The challenge, then, was to be different enough so that it has a different flavor than just "more magic," but still standardized and consistent with what is already in place.
  • There are two psionicist classes: the Psion, and the Psychic Warrior. Just like any other class, these can be multiclassed into or out of with no problems. If you want to play someone who's like the old "wild talent," you need to take a level (or two or three) of one of these two classes. There are no alignment restrictions on these classes.
  • Here's the system: All of the psionic powers are divided into 10 levels, 0-9, just like spells. The psionicist's level determines the level of psionic power he can activate, just like any spellcaster. Psionicists get a small (but growing over levels) pool of "power points" to spend on activating these powers. So far, so good, basically a sorcerer with a point system. The twist is that instead of a set DC as with spells (where the DC to save against a spell is 10 + ability mod + spell level), the psionicist rolls a d20 instead of having a set 10. In other words, the DC to save against the power can vary greatly, and it works just like an opposed roll (the psionicist sets the DC at d20 + ability mod + power's level, then the victim rolls a saving throw against that number). When your power points are gone, you don't get them back until the next day after resting.
  • Psionicists can have their powers disrupted, just like with spellcasting. Psionicists don't have to worry about components (gestures, materials, speaking), but each power leaves a "display" of some sort that provides evidence that something supernatural is going on. There's a feat that can mask these "displays."
  • There is a system of psionic combat, as in earlier editions, where two psionic creatures can square off. There are five offensive modes and five defensive modes, and each is tied to a different ability score (except for CON). There's a grid that shows how different defenses are better or worse against different attacks. The twist is this: a successful attack deals ability damage. So for instance (making up names here), if "ego whip" is successful it might inflict d2 CHA damage. But it might not be successful because you're using a defense mode, and defense modes have "hardness" or "damage resistance." When you've run out of Charisma (in this example), not only are you reduced to a vegetative state, but the next damage from further attacks comes from CON -- and when you're out of CON you're dead. Psionic combat consumes the "power points" that are used for activating the psionic powers. Non-psionic creatures don't have quite as much to fear from psionic combat, as they get a big bonus to their save (something around +8), and they don't suffer the ability damage; rather, they suffer an equal number of rounds of being "stunned" (which, according to PHB rules, keeps the victim from acting, removes his DEX bonus to AC, and attacks against them are at +2 to hit).
  • The Psion class specializes, rather like a wizard does. Each level of the Psion's power list (which was handed out at the seminar) is divided into six disciplines, one for each of the abilities (Psychoportation, for instance, is related to Dexterity). Bruce mentioned that Psions can have "psychic crystals" that function sort of like arcane familiars -- but in this case it holds sort of a bit of the Psion's personality in it.
  • The Psychic Warrior has a d8 hit dice, and it's geared more toward combat. It has its own psionic power list, and gets extra feats (psionic-related ones, I believe). They have armor proficiency and have an attack progression similar to monks.
  • There are new feats and even a couple of new skills for the Psionics book. Mentioned were feats that allowed you to see a few moments into the future (thus giving you a bit of an AC bonus), and feats that allowed you to ignore armor with ranged attacks (not sure how that works... :).
  • The product is 160 p. long, and currently has around 65 pages of just psionic powers.
  • The individual psionic powers don't scale in power to match the level of the psionicist. This is because a high-level psionicist could use his power points to use a lot of 0 and 1st level powers, and if the power allowed you to do d4 per level that would be "too good" for the high-level psionicist.
  • The book provides four prestige classes for psionicists: Soulknife, Pyrokineticist, Metamind, and a fourth I didn't catch.
  • Psionic creatures, including Githzerai and Githyanki, are included in the book. There's also a psionic template that can be applied to critters. The thought eater is no longer a skeletal platypus. :)
  • Psionic item creation is covered, using the same system as found in the DMG for magic items.
  • Magic and Psionics: Dispel magic dispels psionics. Negate psionics negates magic. Options are provided for not doing it this way, but with the caveat that it means a lot more work for the DM in balancing his own campaign.
  • I did score the handout for this seminar: the entire power list for both the Psion and the Psychic Warrior classes, and the monster info for the Githyanki. I'm told these docs will appear on the WotC site soon or on Bruce's personal site, and don't want to trump that, so be patient and I'll try to let you know as soon as that stuff's available.

Other Stuff

Just wanted to mention that I got to meet a few more people: Jim Butler, Jim Bishop, Scott Matthews of Fluid, Jonathan Tweet, Julia Martin, Andy Collins.

Jim Bishop and Scott Matthews, in particular, were just off to announce that WotC is licensing the map editor from Arcanum to be part of the Master Tools program. I think the announcement has already been made by now, so it should be safe. :)

A Few Final Words

I had a great time and want say a super big Thank You to the folks at Wizards of the Coast for having me out. Now that I have faces for all of the names (and the faces aren't nearly as weird as some of the photos on their web site would indicate ;), it will be hard indeed for me not to think of them when I read their products.

I want to wrap up with just a couple of things I heard or overheard while I was there. First was when walking along with James Wyatt on Thursday night -- I asked if he was having a good time. He responded that he was having a blast. And it was evident that all of the WotC were psyched. When they're happy, you know they'll make us happy.

Second was overheard in a restroom somewhere at the con. Couple of guys were going on and on about the new changes in D&D. They liked them. They liked clerical spell swapping. They were excited. Multiply that by several thousand, and you had the essence of Gen Con 2000.

I posed for this picture Thursday morning a couple of hours before the PHB was officially on sale. Photo by Paul Mix.

Thursday, August 10 -- 4:45 pm

I was up late last night reading through the Player's Handbook (sorry, don't mean to tease!). It occurred to me that it was perfect timing -- I think I started the web site exactly one year ago yesterday. It's been a short year in some ways, a long year in other ways, but a great year in all ways and this is certainly the perfect topper.

I started the day outside the Exhibition Hall, waiting for the big presentation. After some stirring percussion music and an armor-clad "Regdar the Fighter" delivered a copy of the Player's Handbook to the stage, was a speech from WotC President Peter Adkison, who was visibly excited about the release of the Player's Handbook. He spoke with great emotion about the role that D&D had played in his life, about the hard times that hit TSR in the mid '90s, and his hope that this version of the game would prove that WotC would do well by D&D fans.

Ryan Dancey (center back) waits for the opening ceremonies to begin.

WotC CEO Peter Adkison talks about the new Dungeons & Dragons game.

I then met up with James Wyatt at the Dungeon Delve while my friend Paul went off to wait in an hour-long line for a PHB. I signed up to play and ended up with Dave Noonan as my DM; I played Hennet the human sorcerer (first level). I and my fellow adventurers started off the delve by completely wasting some hobgoblins (I'm proud to say I used two sleep spells to great effect). By that time, James (with the group he was DMing) had already killed off four PCs, while none of ours had died. Granted, he'd had a half-hour head start, but Dave was getting some guff about being too easy on us. :) The next room was a little more lethal with some zombies knocking out one of our number. After all of that, I went to investigate a pile of rock (don't ask me why) and got crushed for 28 hp damage after failing my Reflex save. Dead, dead, dead! But fun.

See that smile on Dave Noonan (left)? That's how he looks right after he slaughters your character in the Dungeon Delve. :)

James Wyatt (right) is a thoroughly pleasant fellow.
He's also very, very dangerous to have as your DM in the Dungeon Delve.

I spent the rest of the afternoon at seminars. I have a few notes but not a whole lot of substance. Mixed in among these notes are some other "random encounters" I've had:

  • I've met some of the more famous members of the fan community, including Kevin "Piratecat" Kulp, Henry "C'mon August" Link, Jason "MAG Games" Klank. Please accept my apologies if I didn't mention you here. :)
  • I've had a chance to meet or shake hands with a bunch of WotC folk including Ryan Dancey, Monte Cook, and Sean Reynolds.
  • Adventure Design Seminar:
    • At the Adventure Design seminar, they handed out photocopies of Chapter 4 of the DMG! This chapter focuses on adventures -- how to pick the right number of creatures of a given CR to make a particular EL; wandering encounter tables; dungeon dressing tables; material hardness charts; and a sample dungeon. Very cool! (See, Mike, didn't leak a drop! ;)
    • An encounter that is 2 levels higher than the party's average level is just about the max that they can take and still survive.
    • DMG has tables and charts of properties of walls, doors, pit traps, shifting walls, features, mechanical and magical traps (lots and lots of traps with CRs).
    • DMG has an "expanded equipment list" that includes property prices and upkeep costs.
    • Roger Moore discussed Living Greyhawk for a while.
    • Mike Selinker (again, gotta check spelling) called Monte Cook's first chapter of the DMG the best piece of writing about D&D. Period.
  • Convert your Campaign:
    • Convert Your Campaign was run by James Wyatt, Monte Cook, and a late arrival who wasn't introduced though I think they referred to him as Stan. :) They basically just answered questions or gave suggestions for those who are running home-brew campaigns and looking to explain the sudden appearances of sorcerers, converting gods/religions, adding domains, dealing with specialty priests (the consistently most difficult topic, apparently).
    • Snippets about the "Loremaster" prestige class, an add-on for spellcasting classes. Let's say you're a 12th level wizard and add 1 level of Loremaster. You're treated as a 13th level spellcaster for purposes of number of spells per day. Plus you get some Loremaster benefits.
    • The Hero Builder's Guide will not only have "character background" tools but presents possible explanations for why a multiclassed character might have "switched careers."

Well, I'm late for Monster Builder's Seminar, so I better head off. Tomorrow I hope to attend "Dungeon, Dragon and Third Edition," "Psionics," and "Prestige Classes." But no guarantees! :)

Update: February 2001.
PA's interview of Peter Adkison appeared in the October/November 2000 issue of the French-language Science Fiction Magazine. I've been given permission to share the English-language version right here:

Peter Adkison
I met Wizards’s CEO early on at the GenCon and after our first meeting, he always had a warm French “bonjour!” to greet me. Hey, you don’t even need to have seen him dancing in Hawaiian T-shirt at 2am past to understand that with such a man on the lead, WotC has little to do with what TSR had become…

Q- Wizards holds an exclusive patent on the play mechanics of TCG. If you can get a patent for a type of game, why not RPG? After all, D&D was first in the field.
A- You have a time limit to follow your patent. I think TSR made a mistake by not following for patent!

Q- WotC has replaced TSR as the organizer for the GenCon; you own the licenses for D&D, of course, but also Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, soon the Wheel of Time… All in all, the company has more influence in the hobby games field now than any other in history. How does it translate, do you think?

A- I think we’ve all been very blessed, very fortunate that we had the success that we had; all we are trying to do is to make great games, you know, and everything else is just taking care of itself. We try to make really good products that gamers like; that is what will make us popular. We keep doing that, we will continue doing our job. I also think, the market is very healthy; our size does not prevent, or I would say even hardly even hinder anyone else from being successful: somebody else wants to do the next Magic the Gathering, the idea could come from us, it could come from five people thinking in a basement or someplace in a small company, someone is going to have a huge innovative brainstorm and that is what will be the next big breakthrough. And hopefully, if WotC has an influence, it is a good one: for instance, in the US market here we have a program, we try to encourage retailers to display a lot of products, to have really good stores, with places to play, with good customers service It helps everybody: the store is a better store, the store is a better merchandiser; that will help every company in the street! So yes, hopefully, WotC has a positive influence.

Q- What about the influence that the d20 system and the OGL will have?
A- I don’t know how big it will be but I think there are a lot of companies, especially small companies, who want to produce stuff for D&D, and it will allow them to do that.

Q- What is your biggest gaming regret?
A- In my business, you mean? I think when we were a very young company, there were a couple of situations that we didn’t handle as well as we could, like with our early artists, we just made some people upset; there are different times, I just wish I could go back… If I had the skills then that I have now, in terms of just management skills, and people skills, and stuff… It’s all about things early on that I mishandled; but I wouldn’t redo it, because we had so many good things happen to us, it would be pretty bad to wish badly on my past.

Q- Which accomplishment are you the most proud of?
A- Wow, there are several… but I think that on the top four-five, the launch yesterday of the third edition of D&D was for me personally a big step; business-wise it’ll be nice but not as big as Pokémon or Magic was, but for me personally, D&D is a game I love, and I personally worked on the game for six months and really made sure that the product was going to come out the way I wanted it to. I love to play D&D, so I wanted the new edition to be the game that I wanted to play. Personally I am very very happy the way it came out.

Q- How did you influence the game?
A- I picked who would be on the design team; I actually led the design team for six months… Well, I am not a great game designer, I think I just helped them to keep high standards: every time when I would say, “no, those rules are not good enough yet, you need to work on them longer” and “I want to go more this direction and that direction”… So it was more a leadership sort of thing, but leadership with a pretty good understanding of the game.

Q- Was there a point when you had to change the team, because it didn’t work out?
A- Yeah.

Q- Do you have another project in mind, now, or are you just… out of dreams?
A- You never are out of dreams! D&D is a game that I love, so now it is a matter of making it bigger, of finding out ways of blending it with the computer notably.

Q- Do you take an active part in Neverwinter Nights?
A- Not me personally, not very active. It’s a licensed product; it’s limited how active we can be.

Q- Do you think NWN could be a competitor for paper-based D&D?
A- If it brings more people into roleplaying, I think that’s good for us!

Q- If you could play with anyone in the whole world, who would it be?
A- I’ve got that now! I play wargames with Gary Gygax, and D&D with Dave Arneson… I have, I’m very proud of this, I have a regular D&D game: I play, every GenCon, before the convention starts, with Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Don Perrin, Jeff Grubb, and Ed Greenwood. And this year, Aaron [Eisenberg? not sure who this is (Lee Aaronberg?)] set in on the game too. It’s like, how could I be more lucky? It’s so fun. But you know, the best games are between close friends.

Q- What was your favorite game as a child?
A- As a little child? I used to play Pinnacle. I was still young, I could not hold the cards, so I’d set them, my cards, behind something! And then I played wargames when I got into the high school; and then in 1978, I played D&D. D&D, MtG and Twitch are my three favorite games.

Q- Do you have a fondest memory tied to RPG?
A- So many! Seriously, my campaign that I have been running since 1981, it’s like almost 20 years old... It’s just getting together with your friends and telling all stories, there are so many… It’s really the friendship that comes out of it.

Q- Are you still playing with the same friends?
A- Yes. Things always change, people go… but some of those friends I still play with.

Q- You really don’t sound like the late TSR!
A- <laugh!> Well, most of the people there didn’t play. I mean, the people in the company did, they were very good people, but the management did not. They did not care at all.

Q- You told me you intended to make D&D bigger; the same thing was said during a seminar on the Next D&D Campaign World. But then, how do you intend to make the game bigger? In what way?
A- The first thing was the foundation which was coming out with the new version of the rules; a lot of people want to try it again, now. We have an advertiser, there is a movie coming out… Doing a lot more licensed products that help expose people to roleplaying games, like what we do with the Diablo box sets: games like that, they usually don’t have a long life, but what they’ll do is that they will bring people in. And then, people who love D&D, it can mean a lot of work; I think that the more we can get the computer to help the RPG experience, the more opportunity the game has. But you know, there are a lot of people that play, but they don’t spend much, they don’t buy much, there are a lot who are happy with what they have; so, the challenge is up to us, to come up with things which are really cool, that they want.

Wednesday, August 9 -- 5:45 pm

I arrived in Milwaukee around 11:30, as there were some construction delays on I-94 coming into town. By 11:45 I had secured my hotel room and made my way over to the convention hall. As I had some time to kill I thought I'd be smart and pick up my badge early. I jumped into the pre-registered line and in about 20 minutes I had my badge. For Thursday only. Had to stand in another line to get Friday's for some reason.

By 1:20 I had found the "secret location" of the DM Boot Camp. This was a training session for the hordes of DMs who would be demonstrating either the D&D Adventure Game or the full-fledged, attacks-of-opportunity-and-everything D&D demo adventure, "Into the Dark." Half of the group was sent off right away to play through the demos, while the rest of us stayed behind to hear from T'Ed Stark, Mike Selinker, Bill Slavicsek, and Jonathan Tweet, among others. After talking about the various types of demos, suggesting how long each should take, etc., the floor was opened for some Q&A. The questions ranged from future product plans (the forthcoming Monk and Fighter book is called "Sword & Fist"), rules questions (attacks of opportunity, the weight of the clothes on your back, sneak attacks -- nothing you don't already know about, I'm sure!), and art (why do halflings look so different). It was especially good to hear stuff right out of the mouth of Jonathan Tweet, who is very impressive in person. He knows the game because he invented it, and it shows.

Brian Mitchell (r) holds up a component for one of the demos,
while T'Ed Stark (l) describes it and Douglas Steves (center) looks on.

After the Q&A, the two groups swapped places and I joined a group of four other players to run through the demo. Our demo leader was WotC's Michelle Carter, an editor whose name you might spy on a number of Planescape products. She provided the materials for the demos but insisted that one of us run them (after all, this was DM training). I volunteered to be DM for the D&D Adventure Game demo. We ran just one combat (the PCs against a hell hound and a ghoul), and it was very fun. The D&D Adventure game is very much simplified -- you don't roll for initiative, rather each character and monster has a set initiative score. There are no attacks of opportunity. No firing from behind cover. Monster skills are expressed as DCs rather than as bonuses to d20 rolls. But it still had the feel of D&D. There was a DM "cheat sheet" included in the product that I found to be very handy. The counters were neat (not only does it show a pic of the monster on one side and a name on the other but they're numbered so you can distinguish Skeleton #1 from Skeleton #2). The back of the dungeon map has a blank grid (laminate that baby! :). Fun stuff.

Michelle Carter led me and four other fine fellows through the demos at Boot Camp.

Another of our group ran the D&D adventure, again just one combat. I played Jozan and saved the day by turning a horde of skeletons and zombies. My fellow players (with the exception of Michelle of course) were all 3E playtesters and so knew the rules pretty well, but I was able to call them on a couple of things (charging must be in a straight line, people!). We then had a good discussion of the many benefits and improvements of the new edition. Jonathan Tweet stopped by and spoke a little bit about creating new feats. This is covered pretty well in the DMG apparently, but there isn't really a "scientific" method to creating a balanced feat -- nothing but experimentation will tell you if you've created something great or something aweful. Tweet put it very well -- when a new feat is created, it should appeal to some and not to others. It shouldn't be so good that every character would want to have it.

After the demo we got back together as a large group and Brian Mitchell (very charismatic marketing guy) showed slides of D&D artwork. Lots of stuff we've seen, but there were some awesome new pictures I'd never seen -- a group of devils, a group of demons, a ghost. Very good looking stuff.

The ultimate highlight though was at the end when every Boot Camp participant was given a special gift bag that included (drumroll please) a copy of the Player's Handbook! Yes indeed, folks, I'm holding it right now (well, not RIGHT now, I'm typing, duh). They did run out of gift bags so some people (myself included) didn't get the D&D fanny pack and other stuff, but they had no shortage of PHBs. :) I'm as pleased as punch.

Bags and bags of Player's Handbooks and other goodies for the Dungeon Masters of Boot Camp.

Playtester and Dungeon Master Kevin "Piratecat" Kulp proudly holds up his PHB.
It was easy to spot him because he was wearing my site's logo attached to his badge. :)

Along the way today I got to meet and shake hands with other WotC folk: Douglas Steves, the assistant business manager who arranged for my accommodations; Brian Mitchell, the marketing fellow I mentioned; James Wyatt (well James I knew before :) and Dave Noonan; Keith Strohm and Cindy Rice.

Okay, I have some other notes but composing them into paragraphs is a pain. So here's a list:

  • Gary Gygax was in the audience at the start of the Boot Camp.
  • Marketing is trying to make sure everyone understands it's no longer 3E -- it's "D&D." (Yeah, over my dead body!)
  • If you have in-depth rules questions there's a Q&A table in the WotC Castle staffed by folks who can answer questions.
  • There's a D&D room off of the room where the seminars are being held that is dedicated to open D&D playing.
  • The exhibition hall, which holds the WotC Castle (which is where you can buy the PHB) doesn't open until 10:00. At 9:45 there will be an opening ceremony of some sort featuring Ryan Dancey, Peter Adkison, Bill Slavicsek, etc.
  • Dungeon Delve doesn't start until 10:00, so don't show up at 9:00 -- you won't be able to get in.
  • The D&D Movie tailier will be shown twice on Friday, once at 4pm and again at 5pm.
  • A nearby science museum is putting on a free laser light show for GenCon attendees, just show your badge to get in. Plays on Friday night and Saturday night every half hour starting at 5pm.
  • There's an auction where you can win a seat at dinner with some of the 3E designers or the "guests of honor" from the D&D movie. Look for the "Theme Day Booth" (whatever that is).
  • You can always take a 5' step without incurring an attack of opportunity. Tweet mentioned that the "step back 5' and cast a spell to avoid AOOs" is a legitimate strategy -- except at some point you run out room. :)
  • Tweet mentioned an early character class called the Spiritmaster. In his words, "The Spiritmaster sucked."

Wednesday, August 9 -- 9:00 am
I had trouble sleeping last night -- I haven't felt this giddy since I was a kid on Christmas Eve. Well, Mrs. Noah snores, too, so that might have had something to do with it...

Got up relatively early and went to work out. I'll be heading out the door in about a half hour, and probably arriving in Milwaukee around 11:00 am. My car has no air conditioning and it's supposed to be a hot, muggy day. (Hey, you wanted details, right?)

The pre-convention activity I mentioned is the DM Boot Camp, a training session for people who are going to be running D&D demos at the convention. Though I probably won't be running anything all by myself, the kind folks at WotC thought I might find this interesting and useful if I'm going to be allegedly "assisting" James Wyatt with the Dungeon Delve or other activities. It runs from 1-5pm, and when I'm done the first thing I'm going to do is find out where I can update the site. :) See you soon!

Eric's GenCon Schedule:

  • Here are the events I attended or participated in:
Thursday, August 10
10:00 am - 12:00 noon: Dungeon Delve
12:00 noon - 1:45 pm: Adventure Design for Third Edition (seminar)
2:00 pm - 3:45 pm: Convert Your Campaign (seminar)
5:00 pm - 6:45 pm: Third Edition Monster Builder's Seminar
7:00 pm - 8:45 pm: The Next D&D Campaign World (seminar)

Friday, August 11
10:00 pm - 11:45 pm: Dragon, Dungeon, and Third Edition (seminar)
2:00 pm - 3:45 pm: Psionics in Third Edition (seminar)

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D 3E and AD&D are all property of Wizards of the Coast.