This was a great Gen Con. It's taken me a week to put together this wrapup because it's hard to transcribe such a fun experience into words. But here's a shot at it anyway!
The two highlights of the con were Blackmoor and the Dungeon Crawl Classics tournament. I'm going to cover the tournament first, since I just finished posting about the winners. We had 42 people sign up via preregistration, and we managed to open up another 12 slots with pickup games run by Jason "Iron DM" Little. Unfortunately, we still had to turn away more than 30 other fans who wanted to get in. We offered alternate spots in case someone didn't show up for their slot, but then that backfired -- in one case, we had 10 alternates show up hoping for a slot in a 6-person game! (And of course the full complement of 6 then showed up.) Next year we'll be prepared with more slots, better timing of the rounds, and a better system for getting whole teams into each slot.
For the 54 fans who did get in, the tournament was a blast. The Crypt of the Devil Lich proved to be an excellent adventure, and we got repeated complements on how much fun it was. Ten separate authors worked to give this module its incredible array of deathtraps, and the work paid off. Unfortunately, the one downside -- in my DM-mentality worldview -- is that not enough PCs died! We discovered that it's awfully hard to kill 15th-level characters. Of course, we were also dealing with seasoned dungeon-crawling professionals. In my home group's playtesting of the module, there was one room that dropped 3 out of 6 PCs in a single roll. (That's the rainbow room, for those of you who played it -- anybody else trigger the symbol of weakness on top of the Strength drain from the shadows on level one?) But we didn't have quite so much luck at the tournament.
For those of you who participated in the tournament, please feel free to post your highlights, lowlights, and suggestions here. Chris Doyle, who organized the whole shebang, will be carefully considering all suggestions for next year, so let your voice be heard! Chris did a great job of organizing this year's event, along with help from Jason "Iron DM" Little, Jeff Quinn, Adrian Pommier, Richard Iorio II, and Ken "Secret Backup DM" Hart. One thing's for sure: Next year we're going to kill off more characters. Just you wait. We'll figure out a way!
Having Dave Arneson signing at the booth was another big highlight. It's not every day you have the co-creator of D&D at your booth... it's not every day you get to publish Blackmoor... and it's not every day that Dave Arneson is signing Blackmoor on the first day of its release at your booth! It was great having Dave there and meeting some of his old friends who are now immortalized in Blackmoor as the various NPCs of the world. I only wish the booth hadn't been so busy so I could have had a chance to actually sit down and chat more! Many other contributors to Blackmoor were also on hand, including Dustin Clingman, Jeff Quinn, and Richard Pocklington, and we got a chance to play some late-night Settlers of Catan where we discussed top-secret projects for the coming year.
Blackmoor itself turned out great. It's everything it was supposed to be: big, bold, brooding, and beautiful. It got constant compliments throughout the show, both from old-timers and newcomers alike. The first supplement, an adventure called The Redwood Scar, is already in progress, and the development team has ideas for many more great sourcebooks which will be revealed in due time.
There was so much else going on it's hard to focus! We released Geek Wars: Battle for the Con, our first card game. Game designer Richard Iorio II ran demos the entire weekend, along with help from Susie Quinn, and many a happy fan walked away hooked on a great new game. The highlight of the Geek Wars demos came when one of the cards came true. As many of you know, the cards poke fun at gamers and their habits. Well, there's one card called "Soda Spill." It happened to be on the top of the deck when someone walked up with a big soda in one hand and said, "Hey, this game looks cool!" He gestured and promptly spilled his soda all over the "Soda Spill" card, as well as a bunch of nearby books. How much more accurate could the game be?
I was on a Sword & Sorcery panel to discuss DragonMech, and was very pleased at the great reception. (As the author of DragonMech, I'm obviously biased!) One guy from the panel audience immediately came down to the booth to pick up DragonMech, telling me that my description of aboleth mechs hooked him from the start. (Yes, aboleth mechs; wait until the Mech Manual to learn more!) Ken Hart and Jeff Quinn both ran some great DragonMech demos, which also helped introduce some new folks to the world. And we released The Shardsfall Quest hot off the presses.
And then there were the signings. In addition to Dave, we had Brad McDevitt and Jeff Quinn signing at the booth. Brad has had work in more Goodman Games products than probably any other artist, ranging from drow to dinosaurs to dungeon crawls. He showed off some great work from his portfolio. Jeff signed copies of Complete Guide to drow and DCC #8: Mysteries of the Drow. He helped set the high standard for Dungeon Crawl Classics in the very beginning with Idylls of the Rat King, which is now out of print but will be back in a 3.5 edition early next year.
Andy Hopp unfortunately wasn't able to do his signing because he was enlisted to judge the costume contest. But that certainly sounds like a fun job, so I can't blame him! Primeval Groves, Andy's latest installment in the Wanderers Guild series, was brand new at the show, and it got a great reception.
The one downside about the show was how busy the booth was. That's an upside, too; we had a very strong turnout, but it kept me on my toes! I love talking to people at the booth, but I didn't get enough time to really focus because I was constantly helping people. It also meant I didn't get enough time to walk the exhibitors hall and the artists alley (both things I love to do), or just hang out and watch crazy stuff happen. But I'm not worried. After all... there's always next year!
Thanks to everyone for a great show – thanks to the fans who keep Goodman Games in business, thanks to everyone who helped at the booth, and thanks to Indianapolis for the drunk Colts fans who provided so much amusement on Saturday night!