Returning to Gen Con

I’ve missed Gen Con, really missed it. I’ve been lucky enough to be a regular attendee for the last few years, and it’s become something of an addiction. I’ve met so many amazing people over the years, Gen Con has become less of a gaming con for me and more of an opportunity to hang out with friends I can only see once a year. Even with its return last year, those of us outside the US were unable to visit, so this year it was great to be back.

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Sadly the shadow of Covid remains, and so it was sensible for Gen Con to insist on attendees being vaccinated. Masks as well were mandated and it was good to see most people following these simple rules. Before I went I was concerned about the requirement to get a wristband to show you had shown your vaccination record. Queues at will call can be huge and I didn’t relish the idea of a second one. Luckily I went on the Wednesday and didn’t face any queues. While I was especially lucky, it seemed that even at the busy times the process was pretty swift. Unfortunately, the place to get the wristbands wasn’t especially well signposted, so in my case it took longer to find the room than get the wristband.

Once wristbanded, masked and badged up it was back to business as usual. This year I was working with Modiphius as I’m the lead on Dune. So, Wednesday was a long day of building the stand in a hall without the air conditioning turned on. Thankfully we survived and managed to get the stand built in time to welcome the crowds on Thursday morning. It was lucky we were ready as the opening was exceptionally busy. At one point I couldn’t even get onto the stand as there were so many customers! It seems people had come to Gen Con intending to spend money and all the traders I talked to seemed to be seeing very good sales.

While Gen Con isn’t quite back to what it was before Covid in terms of traders or attendance, in some ways this was an advantage. The most recent years had been so crowded it was nice to have a bit more space, both in terms of crowds and wider aisles in the trade hall. It was still spectacularly busy, but not quite as swarmed as it had been. I’ve little doubt it’ll return to those numbers very swiftly, but the space to breathe was much appreciated.

The next four days were the usual blur of working the stand, networking, doing demos and gradually trying to get round the trade hall. I still didn’t see everyone I wanted to catch up with, or see everything in the trade hall. But here is a very personal list of what caught my eye. Please drop a note in the comments with what I missed, because this barely scratches the surface!
  • Spectre Board Game– shameless plug time as this was what I spent a lot of time demoing for Modiphius. I’d not managed to get a look at a copy before the con and so was glad to find it easy to pick up. You all play Bond villains trying to serve the cause of Spectre, and your own agenda, while trying to avoid the interference of 007.
  • Renegade Hasbro – The Renegade stand was one of the largest this year, and has the odd mixture of developing both World of Darkness product lines and Hasbro’s animation lines. So Vampire and Hunter sit next to My Little Pony, Power Rangers and G I Joe. It clearly gives them a broad audience. It will be interesting to see if the Power Ranger players of today become the Vampire players of tomorrow.
  • The Devil and the Darkest House – The first of many things I missed. Monte Cook released a gorgeously illustrated book for their recent computer assisted game ‘The Darkest House’. I made the mistake of thinking I’d pop back at lunch and pick one up, and they were all gone. The book is stunning, with all the collected images from the computer version and details of running it. It seems I missed out on a lot of Monte Cook stuff this year as a friend of mine played a demo of ‘Stealing Stories from the Devil’ the recent kickstarter. It’s sort of a cross between Leverage the TV show and World of Darkness Mage. It’s got me thinking I should have increased my pledge, so hopefully it’s a sign the game isn’t too far away now.
  • Dice Everywhere – I promised myself to be strong this year as I’d backed way too many dice kickstarters. This year it seemed those kickstarters had paid off with many new dice companies joining the usual Chessex, Level up and Q-Workshop teams. The two I especially noticed were the gorgeous Dispel Dice and the quirky Mystery Dice, both of which I’d backed as kickstarters and not been disappointed with.
  • Doctor Who – While I was working with Modiphius I couldn’t forget my Cubicle 7 family whose Warhammer lines have expanded exponentially. This year they also announced a new 5e setting and the return of the previous Warhammer 40,000 role playing games. But for me the main draw was the new Doctor Who second edition limited edition book it its TARDIS box. Sadly, print copies of the new 5e version of Doctor Who (Doctors and Daleks) weren’t quite there, but it looks like there will be a lot more support for both systems in the coming months.
  • The Ronin’s Rose – As I’m running Blue Rose I had to drop by the Green Ronin booth, who had a swathe of new releases. The Expanse RPG has seen several new books and there was a new adventure book for Blue Rose called Six of Cups. I mainly wanted to catch Blue Rose designer Steve Kenson though as I had a question about wild magic. This is one of the great things about Gen Con, you’ll often find the lead writers and designers of your favourite games working on the stand. It’s a great opportunity to pick their brains and find out what else might be on the way for your favourite systems.
  • Shard – In my group of friends the main talk was of the Shard rpg, from Shard Studios. It’s a beautifully illustrated Indian/Arabian themed rpg with a host of playable animal species. I was the only one of my friends who didn’t get to play it, but the team joined us for our annual meal at St Elmos Steak House (try the shrimp cocktail) where I got brought up to speed. They were a great group of guys, with a great game that I’m looking forward to trying out soon.
There were also a load of things I didn’t quite get time to have a proper look at. Scented gaming candles, new expansions for Clank, a host of new board games being demoed, cardhalla, various bards and singers, Chaosium having two stands, lot of hats and previews for the intriguing Wildsea RPGfrom Mythopoeia. We also won an ENnie for the Dune Corebook for Best Writing. So, all in all Gen Con back where it should be, and four unspeakably packed days that never had a hope of fitting everything in. Hopefully, I’ll see you there next year.
 

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Andrew Peregrine

Andrew Peregrine



dragoner

solisrpg.com
Seemed off from the last few years, though I might not be able to go much longer, getting too old for the walking around. This year my knee really hurt, and then my hip, pretty miserable.
 


Jimmy Dick

Adventurer
I really wanted to go to Gen Con this year, but several factors combined to prevent my trip. My wife's health went really bad on the first day of Gen Con causing me to back out of six tables I was going to run for Gen Con Online. Had I been in Indianapolis, I would have had to return, but the way her health was, I would not have even made the trip to start with.

That said, I am hoping next year we see a return to previous Gen Cons. I have no interest whatsoever of going to Gen Con if I am forced to wear a mask. I hate GMing with one on as it lowers the quality of the game. Plus I am older and it is hard enough to hear people without one to start with. Add the mask and I struggle to hear people in noisy atmospheres.

Again, hopefully next year we see a good Gen Con with Paizo back to full in the Sagamore!
 

Psikosis

Explorer
It was another good year at Gen Con! Only downer was having a few events cancelled. Otherwise, had a lot of fun, though I didn't get to spend as much time in the vendor hall as I would have liked. I'm excited about the new 40K RPG goodies forthcoming, too.
 

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