Origins Report: Huge, Friendly...and Penguins

So, having got back from the Origins Game Fair, I thought it seemed a good idea to share some of my experiences there while I'm getting over jet lag. However, this is not an article about new releases or recent gaming news. That sort of thing is already excellently covered by the marvelous Egg Embry and the EN team. So instead I spent some of the con making a note of anything interesting I came across. So this is something of a very personal ramble of stuff I found interesting. All of the following can be found online with a quick google, I urge you to give them a closer look.

Huge but Friendly

It is generally accepted that the four biggest games conventions are Essen (Germany), Gen-Con (Indianapolis), Games Expo (UK) and Origins (Columbus). But despite its size I've always found Origins to be somehow small enough to be the least manic of them all. There is plenty to see but somehow Origins also offers you time to hang out and chat without missing anything. Even though trading was very busy (I was there with Cubicle 7) I still had time to take a walk around the trade hall a few times and catch up with friends on other stands. I even managed to actually play a few games, which is a rarity! This is what I saw:

Dice!

If you want to add to your dice collection, a con is always the best place to do that. No games shop ever has half the selection that one of the many dice stands will be able to offer. There are prestige wooden or metal dice on sale next to a bewildering amount of designs and collections in more standard flavors.

They are all amazing, and hard to resist. But one particular set caught my eye, the 'Elder Dice' from 'Infinite Black. These were a kickstarter a while ago but they are now in the shops and they look amazing, and perfect for Cthulhu players. Instead of just adding a D6 with a special symbol, all the dice in the set replace the highest number with a special symbol. They have several different sets, all in a different color with a single symbol (such as the Elder sign, Cthulhu or Yellow sign) as the theme for each set. There are about six different sets in all and they are well worth a look.

Artists

Aside from dice, conventions are also an especially good time to see the work of gaming artists (and novelists come to think about it). Many artists show off their amazing skill and talent and offer prints. But what drew me to Doug Hoppes 'Shadowmyths' stand was that he also offers a collection of his art as a deck of cards. I picked up a set last Gen Con, not only because I liked his work but also so I could use them as narrative aids for role-playing. I use them for visions, flashbacks or just random encounters in games like vampire or Cthulhu. This year he's added more decks that include an array of monsters and horrors. I'd love more artists to do that, if only to pick up a selection of their work in a convenient box.

Maps

As we seem to be edging towards horror with Cthulhu and vampire, it seems appropriate to move onto maps on skin. 'Cave Geek Art' creates all manner of maps for gaming. While he offers prints of his work, what makes his work unique is that he burns and inks the maps onto real animal hide. So if you want to get the same map your adventurers are actually carrying, this is the place to go. The maps are hand crafted and often add raised sections burned in cleverly to produce three dimensional mountains and the like. There are many faithful reproductions of a variety of fantasy lands and the artist also takes commissions for you own designs.

Gaming Bags

It seems pretty much everyone has a 'bag of holding' but I was really impressed with the selection from Heather Kalafut at 'Amusing Designs'. There are a good selection of bag types and the embroidery designs are really amazing. You can't see them especially well in the photo, but my favorites were the gallifreyan writing and blue celtic wolf designs.

Penguin

When you see a guy walking around with a penguin you'd be remiss not to comment on it. As it turns out, Cesar Reyes Pinguino (Pengee to his friends) tours quite extensively with his partner Brian Solomon Whiterose. Catch up on their travels and Brian's work on various social media as 'brianwhiterose'.

Games

Oh yes, there were a few games at Origins as well. Sticking with a penguin theme I found two family games that both looked a lot of fun and were being exhibited next to each other. 'Someone has died' from 'Gather Round Games' is a fun storytelling game set at a funeral. The deceased has a large fortune that needs to be claimed and each player needs to prove how well they knew them and what their claim is. There are cards to prompt all of this, and the combinations are a lot of fun. The judging player is also well within their rights to say none of them deserve the fortune either!

'Winging it' by 'Flying Leap Games' involves fewer penguins and rocket packs than you might expect but does add crazier combinations. In this game a problem card is drawn detailing a situation that the players need to fix, such as 'the shrimp are trying to take over the world' or 'the guillotine is broken and the crowd is getting restless'. Each player is given a collection of random objects (on cards!) and they have to use at least three of them in their description of how to solve the problem.

Dune

In more serious board game news, I did get to take a look at a pre-production copy of the old/new Dune board game from Gale Force Nine. This is actually an old and very popular game that has been out of print for a long time that is being reproduced by GF9, hopefully in time for Gen Con. The game involves six factions (Atreides, Harkonen, Emperor, Fremen, Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild) all trying to take control of the planet Dune. As always spice is the key, and politics is the weapon on choice.

Tabletop Gamers

While there were tricky to find, I did manage to stop by the Tabletop Gaymer's booth, although this year Ally and Gamer ribbons were easily found at the registration desk and several exhibitors too. This group always deserve a shout out for the work they do promoting LGBT awareness and inclusion in the gaming hobby. It was great to see so many attendees wearing Gaymer and Ally ribbons to show their support and help make LGBT gamers feel both safe and included in the community.

Finally, just to wrap this article up. I can't really end without adding a picture of a dice filled inflatable unicorn, which pretty well sums most of my long weekend up. See you all at Gen Con!

This article was contributed by Andrew Peregrine (Corone) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!
 
Andrew Peregrine

Comments

AriochQ

Explorer
Don't forget True Dungeon! (Disclaimer: I volunteered with them for the first time and had a blast) There were a lot of die hard TD fans at Origins and TD took up all of Hall D.
 

Corone

Explorer
Don't forget True Dungeon! (Disclaimer: I volunteered with them for the first time and had a blast) There were a lot of die hard TD fans at Origins and TD took up all of Hall D.
I would love to have mentioned it, but I've sadly never managed to play it.
(although it absolutely deserves a shout out)
It looks amazing, and every Gen Con and Origins I tell myself I'm going to find time to try it,
and then every time they have either run out of tickets or I never get the time.

One day!!! :)
 

Corone

Explorer
Interesting and brief. I thought the Dune boardgame would be a new edition not just a reskinned old one.
I'm afraid I don't know the old one well enough to share how it has changed, if at all.
I chatted to the GF9 guy who left me the impression it was simply a reskin/reprint.
However, I've seen plenty of people saying it was great as it was, so maybe they just didn't see a need to change it.
 

AriochQ

Explorer
I would love to have mentioned it, but I've sadly never managed to play it.
(although it absolutely deserves a shout out)
It looks amazing, and every Gen Con and Origins I tell myself I'm going to find time to try it,
and then every time they have either run out of tickets or I never get the time.

One day!!! :)
It is hard to get a spot at Gen Con, but they now also run at Origins, Gamehole Con, and Pax South. We had open spots at Origins every day except maybe Saturday (but even Saturday you could probably find a single open slot, just not a spot for a group).
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Though Origins’ dealers room felt more crowded, with more booths, the halls didn’t feel as crowded. Maybe it’s just that the new pre-registration/registration area was better-organized, but based on my totally unscientific observations, it seemed like there were fewer people this year.

One thing I’d like to add is that this year, they gave the musicians actual ticketed events, in addition to the usual hallway busking. We got to catch Dan the Bard and Apryl Knight perform.

On the downside, this year was a record for me for event cancellations. I had two events cancelled due to no-shows, and my brother had three.

My personal highlights would be the session of Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth with 1e rules I played in. We all died at the hands of a pair of ropers and a javelin of lightning, and it was glorious. The other would be Lou Zocchi’s seminar on dice. Dude’s 84 and looking to sell his company and retire, but he’s still entertaining and knows a ton about dice. Heard quite a few interesting stories from the early days of gaming.
 

Egg Embry

Explorer
Andy, thanks for the shout out! It was good to see you and hold an EN World Columnist World Summit and Expo over at the Cubicle 7 booth! ;-P

This is why this is a perfect article: Every time I see Andy, I ask what he's found because Andy's got his finger on the pulse. I don't think he's ever shared a con-find that I didn't think, 'I'm adding that to my list.'

Excellent article, Andy! :-D
 

Celebrim

Legend
I had entirely planned to take some time off and spend a few days at Origins actually participating instead of a few hours just browsing the floor, but unfortunately real life intervened. It's been a crazy year. I'm terribly sad to have missed this years convention entirely.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
We attended our second Origins this year. My fiancee has been unable to attend GenCon because its date always coincides with the start of school (not good for a teacher). So we tried out Origins as an alternate gaming convention, and we were amazed. I easily prefer it to GenCon. It's cheaper, less crowded, and you can actually get into games/events/True Dungeon. (I signed up also to go to GenCon with six other friends. Not one of us got into a single event we wanted, despite being there at event registration opening.)

GenCon is just too big. This will probably be my last one. Origins is 100% where it's at.
 

dave2008

Hero
Sadly I live in Columbus and I have never made it to one. I really have to get it on my calendar for next year!

I wonder if attendance was hurt or helped by the fact that it was Pride weekend in the Columbus at the same time. A friend of my commented about playing a game of guessing if someone was going to Origins or Pride.
 

Paragon Lost

Explorer
Origins looked like a fun one. My wife and I are big fans of Elder Dice, we snagged eight complete boxes from the kickstarters.
 
I wonder if attendance was hurt or helped by the fact that it was Pride weekend in the Columbus at the same time.
I can't speak about whether it helps or hurts attendance, but the scheduling is deliberate. There's considerable overlap between gamers and gaymers, after all.
 
This isn't by any means the first time Origins and Pride have happened on the same day. I remember many previous parades taking place while I was at the convention center or the North Market.
 

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