Origins Game Fair 2021 – After Report Part Two

In the first part of this two-part series about the tabletop RPG scene at Origins Game Fair 2021, I looked at the attendance at the show and 2021 tabletop gaming conventions in general. In addition, I talked to Chaosium, 9th Level Games, Fragging Unicorn Games, Imagining Games, and Inkwell Ideas about their thoughts on the convention. In this part, I talk to IGDN, Free League Publishing, Gooey Cube, Chris A. Jackson, World of Game Design, and Penny for a Tale to get their impression of Origins 2021.

IGDN Booth.jpg

Matthew Orr, Convention Coordinator for IGDN [Website Facebook Twitter], helped with the IGDN booth, a collective offering many indy publisher’s books. I’ve spoken with Matthew about Never Going Home RPG (here and here), so it was nice to meet him in-person.

“First, I have to admit that I've never been to Origins before, so I don't have much to compare the con to. That said, as I passed the gaming tables on the way to my booth every day I could see how many people were playing games and the fun they were having. It seemed people were happy to be at a con. The climate was very relaxed because of the small size and perhaps the sense that not much important would happen (no big companies, no big announcements, Gen Con just two weeks before). That relaxed feel didn't translate into strong sales, at least not at the Indie Game Developer Network booth where I was working. Never Going Home from my own company, Wet Ink Games, sold fairly well with the new Campaign Dossiers continuing to attract attention. Additionally, Threadbare from Sephanie Bryant continues to get people to stop and look despite being almost five years old. This year, Imagining Games was promoting their Kickstarter for the CHEW RPG with a banner and by running games. People seemed excited to know it was coming soon. I have heard that the Origins crowd is more knowledgeable about indie games and that was born out anecdotally in my interactions with people who both knew exactly what books they were looking for, or who had very detailed questions about how the games they were looking at played. I also talked to retailers who were shopping for their brick and mortar stores. I didn't have all the information I'd like to have had for them, but I'll know for next year. There will be a next year!”

ALIEN and ENnies - Free League Booth.jpg

Doug Shute, Victory Condition Gaming [Youtube Facebook Twitter], was at Dragon Con (here). He was at the Free League Publishing booth at Origins. We caught up, talked about Free League’s upcoming Blade Runner RPG, and I had a chance to see all of their ENnie Awards for their many great games.

Origins has been a convention I've wanted to attend for years and 2021 did not disappoint. For me, Origins had been known as the convention to play games at and this year proved that fact for me. It was really great to see the thousands of people connecting and playing games throughout the weekend. Since I ran the Free League Publishing booth we anticipated most of our interest to be in the ALIEN RPG. And, while ALIEN was popular, the products that we sold the most of were Forbidden Lands and Coriolis. Those product lines are amazing, but they have also been out for a few years; so that kind of surprised us. It was really great to see attendees discover some of the titles that we have put a lot of passion into over the past few years that maybe aren't as well known as ALIEN. My takeaway from being there for the first time this year is: if you aren't running or demoing games at Origins you're missing out on a large reason why attendees go to this event. We'll definitely be running games at Origins in the future.”

Gooey Cube Booth.jpg

Alphinius Goo, High Archmage of Gooey Cube [Website Facebook Twitter DriveThruRPG], was at Dragon Con where we talked (you can see our Dragon Con photo here). At every convention, Gooey Cube offers a large 5e presence with loaded boxed sets of material. It was good to see him selling and working his magic.

“We very much enjoyed meeting so many folks and enjoying the con after so many months of not being able to ‘be together.’ There were so many amazing gamers and it was wonderful to see all the players at tables again. Our friends and fans were very interested in our new materials … The Dreadmist Curse: Chapter 4 of the Red Star Rising Campaign, and the West Verdestia Lore Book. But we also had more than a few who had never seen our stuff before purchase the earlier chapters and the original World Lore Book. We were so pleased at the enthusiasm we felt from the people we spoke to. One of our friends, Mike, ran a number of games there and people really enjoyed it. Mike is a very good Game Master and we were proud to have him running Gooey Cube adventures.”

World of Game Design Booth.jpg

Zac Goins, Creative Director at World of Game Design, Publisher of Scrap Rats, Oceanic Depths, and Drifter's Atlas' Ascension line [Website Facebook Twitter DriveThruRPG], had a great booth with a nice mix of RPG zines. We talked a bit about their upcoming Kickstarter, which I’ll have more on closer to the launch date.

“As a first-time vendor at Origins, we really appreciated being given an opportunity to step into the larger convention scene, even with the smaller capacity. There were certainly chaotic elements to the convention at large, but we found plenty of opportunities to engage with peers and clients that made the trek absolutely worthwhile. We came to the show promoting our collection of new D&D 5e and Mothership supplements and found an audience with a shared hunger for exactly what we were offering: something different. Our Scrap Rats (Level-0, Sci-Fi 5e) seemed to connect heavily with the current 5e audience searching for new horizons, and the Mothership community continues to grow and remains ravenous for content. We also teased our upcoming Mayan Epics book and Ascension Kickstarter. We eagerly await Origins 2022.”


Chris A. Jackson, author [Website Facebook Twitter DriveThruFiction], talked to me about his experience at Dragon Con (here). He writes fiction for multiple RPGs including Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and more as well as original works of fiction.

“This was my first Origins Game Fair, and even though attendance was low due to pandemic precautions, I had a great time. Rarely does a con accommodate author guests so thoroughly. The hotel was nice, and the convention center had plenty of support shops to grab a bite or beverage. The author area was situated right on the main thoroughfare, so we had good walk-by traffic, and fans were enthusiastic. There is also the added bonus of seeing author friends I haven't seen in over a year, and making a few new ones. The game and vendor areas were vast and well run as well, and while we had no time during con hours to run games, people were there to play and shop. In fact, myself and several other authors sold out of many copies, and my neighbor, Jennifer Brozek sold out completely! Sales weren't limited to game tie-in fiction, either, as most authors have many non-game titles. I will definitely be attending Origins again!”

[L to R] John McGuire, Leland Beauchamp, and Egg Embry after playing CHEW.jpg

[L to R] John McGuire, Leland Beauchamp, and Egg Embry after playing CHEW

Mitchell Wallace, Penny for a Tale [Website Facebook Twitter DriveThruRPG], and I have done several interviews including our discussion with Pete Petrusha about the CHEW RPG (here). Mitchell ran a session of CHEW for me and my friends which was outstanding as it captured the feel of the comics.

Origins was a nice small town convention. The local food was great albeit short in options. Though the options had were amazing. The convention hall was well done though lacked TTRPG related content that I so desperately love. I missed Magpie Games, Modiphius, and Studio 2. I did wish the games that were being run were closer to the exhibition hall. CHEW! We ran alot of games and had some promotional material at the IGDN booth. They went amazingly. So much fun and the players really got into it.”

Egg Embry, EN World Columnist [Website Facebook Twitter DriveThruRPG]. For my part, I always enjoy Origins Game Fair. It has everything I want from a big convention, but at a relaxed pace. They had some great features this year including print on demand badges and tickets. The convention coordinators had printers setup with scanners to scan your QRG code, which automatically printed your badge and event tickets. This was faster than the setup at Dragon Con, which is still face-to-face, but not as good as Gen Con’s option to mail the badge and tickets to you. One of Origins great advantages is the Greater Columbus Convention Center, it’s larger than they need which makes the convention easy to navigate without the press of bodies up against you. While we were there, we saw that Hilton was building a new hotel onto the convention center which looked to add a lot of capacity for 2022. This is part of the Columbus advantage, the convention center is hooked to a parking deck, a small shopping area with an excellent food court, and two (soon to be three) hotels you can easily access without stepping outside. If you do step outside, there are restaurants, more hotels, and a great toy store. GAMA does a good job with the show, but its greatest strength is the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

As with every convention, the highlights are the connections and games. I talked about the games I wanted to play at the con here, so I’ll skip that breakdown to say this, talking to great creators, publishers, and getting to play games is as much fun as I can have. If you’re looking for a big convention that still offers the relaxed feel of a local con, I recommend Origins Game Fair. But for another perspective on Origins Game Fair 2021 including the games I played there, read my publishing partner, John McGuire’s review of the con here and here.

While Egg Embry pays for his travel, hotel, and food, certain conventions discussed in this article provide complimentary entry to their cons because he registers as a member of the press/media. Egg’s written about the return of conventioning in 2021 at d20 Radio (here, here, and here) as well as past conventions (Dragon Con 2019, Gen Con 2019 [here and here], Origins Game Fair 2019, among others). Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
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