Lots of random and silly stuff in this one, only some of it vaguely GM-centric. If you’re interested in my RPG-specific experiences at Gen Con, try here .
My ‘normal’ Gen Con experience is a number of seminars, maybe a game or two, and lots of time at the Exhibit Hall. This year, I played in a few games and gave two seminars, but didn’t actually attend any.
The seminars (All Grown Up And Still Gaming, SEM0900278 with Phil, Patrick and Vicki Potter from Tabletop Adventures, and The Game Charter – Creating Common Ground For Your Gaming Group, SEM0900230 with Patrick) went well. Vicki and Phil have completely different styles than Patrick and I do, and this probably showed in the presentation. Phil’s got great coverage of it here . The Game Charter seminar was fun to give, as Patrick and I traded the soapbox as if we’d done this a dozen times. If you weren’t there, most of the information is available here .
I don’t LARP, but I do play True Dungeon and (after this year) TerrorWerks.
True Dungeon  is normally a big part of Gen Con for me, but was frustrating this year. In particular, the puzzle clues seemed vague, although my group admittedly was not at its best. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed TD this year, but it didn’t have the “This is awesome!” impact that previous years did.
On the other hand, TerrorWerks:Contagion  was one of the most fun and intense events I’ve ever experienced at a con. I must extend heartfelt apologies to my group for my forceful personality and aggressive nature when I’ve got a weapon in hand and a mission to complete. More apologies to the executive I was supposed to protect. And an almost-apology to the zombie I almost-punched. (That would’ve been ugly.) Everyone made it out safe, but I am both proud and embarrassed to say that I disobeyed direct orders to recover one of our wounded comrades. Hoo-ah!
Board, Card, and Dice Games
No, it’s not GMing, but these are handy when your group fails to make quorum.
Battlestar Galactica  is about as complex as I want my board games to be. But this one’s worth it. The ‘hidden Cylon’ element is simply awesome, although in small games, the he or she should probably just come out of the closet.
Pandemic  by Z-Man Games is a solid cooperative board game; the tension builds as the game proceeds, and the team has to perform under growing pressure.
Bang!  is a consistently fun card game. If you’re not talking with a drawl by the second round, you’re doing it wrong; go watch a spaghetti western and try again.
Letter Roll  is a brand new game that’s quick, simple, and fun. It was also sold out by the time I got to it. This is a good thing, because my wife will probably kick my illiterate ass at this game.
Perennial favorite Snorta  is brutal at the brain-dead end of a con, but there’s nothing funnier than watching two people desperately shout animal noises at each other.
I printed up some tri-fold pamphlets based on this article  by Martin. They were a bit hurried and could have been better, but the reaction to them was simply amazing. A number of vendors wanted to link to it, and a few folks really wanted to pursue it a bit farther than I expected. I kept hearing “It’s about time someone did this.” We’ve going to edit and prettify them a bit, and then post the PDF so anyone can print them up.
The Geek Chic  gamer tables seemed much more affordable this year, but that could be the new model . (“Hey, are you new here? Want to come back to my place? I’m into roleplay…”) The website’s nice, but these are really amazing up close.
I enjoyed “hangin’ with my Gnomies” on Friday. We met at the Claddagh (because every adventure begins in a tavern), and really had a great time. The Gnomes aren’t just another bunch of nerdy gamers; they’re a bunch of nerdy gamers who happen to be a lot of fun to hang out with.
I ran into Micah from Obsidian Portal  at a party late on Saturday night, and he was a great guy. Congrats again on the ENnie, Micah!
What I learned:
- The stereotypical inability of gamers to make decisions is real. I’m not naming names, but an Excel spreadsheet that you roll against to decide on dinner is not a reasonable substitute for discussion and compromise.
- Kilts are awesome, but they don’t really prevent the legs from rubbing against each other. Body Glide , on the other hand, does prevent chafing.
- GI Joe  (the movie) is a really fun RPG session that was put on the big screen. Everything from the pacing, to the coincidences, to the choice of locations, to the cool-ass gear, even to the editing after splitting the party, feels like an RPG. This does not, however, make it a good movie.
What were your experiences at Gen Con? Did I miss or forget about something? Sound off and let us know!