Tracy had a chance to sit down and talk with Shane about Savage worlds, the new book and a host of other topics!
In this episode, Tracy catches up with Jason Morningstar at Origins. Jason is the creator of Fiasco! Fiasco is a game about ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. It’s designed to be played in a single session, usually around two and a half hours, with no prep.
Grab a copy right here on the site, or head on over to iTunes.
I’m way behind in getting these files posted, but I have finally found the time to get some audio from Origins 2011 posted. I’ll keep the writing short and sweet so you can get to the good stuff.
First up is an actual play session of Jeremy Keller’s Technoir. Meeting Jeremy was awesome and getting to playtest his game was an absolute blast. The beta rules for the game are still free on the site I linked to, so do yourself a favor and check it out. Without further ado, here’s the audio! Soon, I’ll post interviews with Shane Hensley, Cubicle 7 and other such awesomeness. Just you wait and see!
Available on iTunes.
I managed to get my daily updates for Origins done for at least the first three days of the convention. I was hoping to be able to get daily info posted for each day of the convention, but by the time Saturday rolled around, I barely knew what to do with myself. This convention, much like last year’s Origins, was an intensely personal, excellent experience. I will do my level best to explain in the following paragraphs.
Last year at Origins marked an expansion of my gaming horizon like I had never before experienced. Prior to Origins 2010, I had never played an RPG that required any dice for conflict resolution aside from a d20. I spent the entire extended weekend experiencing new games and gaming in new ways. It confirmed for me how amazing the hobby of tabletop roleplaying games can be. I wasn’t sure if this year would live up to the high bar that Origins 2010 had set. Well, it did, but not in the way I expected.
It’s all about the people, stupid
Thanks to Twitter, I had made plans to game with some really awesome people. What I hadn’t counted on was all of the new people that I was going to be meeting at Origins 2011. I met, talk with and hung out with (in no particular order), almost the entire crew from Evil Hat who were responsible for the Dresden Files rpg, Will Hindmarch, who is a hugely accomplish freelancer in the RPG industry, Ken Hite, whose accomplishments are things of legend, Dave Chalker and E. Foley, gamers and blogger, par excellance, Jason Morningstar, creator of Fiasco, Shane Hensley of Pinnacle Entertainment, Sean Preston and Dave from Reality Blurs, Tom Cadorette, Bob and Jody, fantastic gamers from the DC area, Jeremy Keller, creator of Chronica Fudalis and Technoir, and many other people who are unfortunately slipping my mind right now. Go on, Google those people. See what you come up with. And embarrassment of gaming riches, that’s what.
I learned last year that game designers are just people, like me. This year I learned how awesome and amazing those people can be. More times than I care to count during Origins, I looked around at who I was talking to, thought about the content of the conversation, or how wonderfully the game was going, and I thought “Is this my life? Really? Awesome!” It was surreal and awesome and, in the moment of it all, I had a very hard time getting my thoughts together to say anything more than “This is awesome!” Not exactly great blog content.
Suffice it to say, the most important thing I learned at Origins was the it is people around you that make a convention what it can be. No organizational issues, no missed appointments and no shitty game experiences can stick with you long if you’ve got an amazing crew of people that you know and can hang with.
Not all sunshine and roses
That’s not to say that there weren’t issues with the convention. In fact, most of the issues stemmed from Origins itself, and the way that GAMA organized it. Or, not to the point, how they did not. I had issues getting my media badge (not major issues, but still…), and more people than I care to count, including one of the Guests of Honor, related huge issues with the scheduling of their official events. Vendors who were supposed to appear in the Media Room for interviews didn’t know when they had been scheduled. Events were mis-printed. The book stated that the event was to start at 7pm, but it wasn’t really even supposed to start until 8. Even then, it didn’t begin until 8:30 and was very poorly attended.
GAMA, you ask that us media types send you our coverage. So please, read this: fix your convention. Take a page from PAX and empower your volunteers. Make sure you know when and where events are supposed to happen. And, for the love of all things holy, don’t give people the runaround when they are looking for help. It’s like you’ve got seventeen left hands that don’t know what the other twenty-three right hands are doing. Fix. It.
Oh, and moving the dates for the next two years to the end of May? Ouch. I hope I’m able to attend so I can see my friends, but it’s looking grim. And I am far from the only one with this issue.
All what you make of it
Organizational issues aside, I made Origins a great convention. I took the time to find people on Twitter that worked for and on products that I love and respect. I made the effort to find these people (both at PAX East and Origins) and I worked to be someone that people would want to talk to. It all paid off with rewards like I cannot even describe. I didn’t just meet people, I made new friends and new contacts in the industry. This is not something that only I am capable of. So, if you spend time at conventions like Origins, go find the people you like and respect. Try to game with them, talk to them. Be cool and don’t freak out. Be you and let what happens happen.
I got some great interviews and game session recordings this year and you will be able to begin listening to them sometime next week, assuming I have time to write while prepping for KantCon. I hope you enjoyed my Origins coverage. If you can make it out next year (or to KantCon, GenCon or Con on the Cob this year), I’d love to hang with you. Find me on Twitter and make it happen.
There is only one problem that I can really pinpoint about what I’ve been doing at Origins this year: there is so much cool stuff that has happened each day that it is very difficult to sit here after only 6-ish hours of sleep, trying to remember what happened, and in what order. Still, that’s a fantastic problem to have as it means that the convention has been a rousing success thus far.
You’ll Always Be Surprised
I started off my Friday of Origins 2011 by walking to the Media Room to write me recap of Day 2 of Origins 2011. (There might be too much recursion in talking about writing a previous post when writing my current post, but I’ll brave it). The notable event of that morning was my introduction to Square Shooters, a dice games that seeks to replicate a deck of cards on 9 large six-sided dice. I had seen signs for it around the convention, but I was skeptical. After all, why couldn’t you just pull out a deck of cards, I thought. But two of the GAMA Media Liaisons had gotten a copy and wanted to try it out.
It was surprisingly good. I’ll be doing a full write-up of the game once I find the time (hopefully this next week), and I summarily went to their booth to grab a copy to review. I didn’t expect to find something that good in a card/dice game, so color me impressed by the product.
Following that (and some lunch), I got some interview time with Angus and Dominick from Cubicle 7, the folks responsible for the Dr. Who RPG and an upcoming game called The One Ring, which looks like the first RPG set in Tolkein’s Middle-Earth that I actually want to play. The proofs of the book they had with them look gorgeous (and I mean stunningly, brilliantly gorgeous), and the system looks like it’s something I could get behind for a Lord of the Rings game. I’ll be posting the interview (again), as soon as I get the chance so to do.
Smart People Doing Cool Stuff
The rest of my day was basically meeting and talking to people who very handily fall under the heading above. I observed a playtest of a Thief: Dark Project-inspired tabletop RPG that Will Hindmarch is working on, I got a chance to interview Jason Morningstar, the brains behind Fiasco, and I got to play in a late-night playtest of Technoir, by Jeremy Keller, which still has a few days left in its Kickstarter. And all throughout those experiences, I got to talk to a ton of cool, amazing, weird and downright smart people who are doing cool stuff. If there is a better way to sum up what Origins 2011 has been for me thus far, I don’t want to hear about it.
Today it looks like it will be more of the same. I have zero room to complain.
Short recap, I know, but I have to get back down to the convention center so more awesome can happen. Find me on Twitter if you want more details.
The second day of a convention is always interesting for me because I lose the energy and excitement of just having arrived. As well, I usually end up staying up really late on the first night, so trying to get going on day 2 can be a challenge. That said, I knew that I was going to be able to get into the Dealer’s Hall on Day 2, so that helped.
The Sprawling Masses
I was very overwhelmed by the Dealer’s Hall at Origins last year. I spent hours wandering the aisles, lost in wonderment at the sight of all of the vendors and products. Since I’ve been to a couple of other conventions since then, I was much more prepared this year. However, when I got in line, waiting for things to open, I was petty surprised at how it all went.
I was in a group of about 75 people, all waiting to get inside. When 10 o’clock rolled around, with no fanfare, with no grand announcement, people just were able to start walking into the Hall. I made a beeline for the IPR booth to grab my copy of the Fiasco Companion, because I wanted to make sure I picked it up before it sold out. Turns out, I needent have rushed. Not because the Fiasco Companion isn’t awesome (it is), but because of the vibe of the Dealer’s Hall this year.
The whole thing just seemed… muted. I didn’t feel that rush of excitement around the room as I walked. Even the booths seemed smaller and more self-contained than last year. Additionally, a lot of the booths were vendors for gaming accessories and (at least to my eye) far fewer publishers showing off their new products. I would almost call things laid back. Now, that might not be the case on Saturday when there are tons more people coming through the Hall, but I didn’t have trouble walking or making my way around. There just didn’t seem to be as much going on. I talked with some folks later in the day and they confirmed my suspicions. Things are just not as exciting in the Dealer’s Hall this year. Don’t quite know what that signifies, if anything, but it’s definitely the case.
Moving Softly Into the Afternoon
I went over to the North Market (again) to get some lunch, and then headed back into the Dealer’s Hall for something I was really looking forward to. I got the chance to interview Shane Hensley of Pinnacle Entertainment. It was a fantastic interview, and I got some relatively exclusive stuff about what Pinnacle is going to be doing with their games, especially the Deadlands line. I promise that as soon as I have a chance to (after the convention), I am going to get that audio up for you all.
It was especially cool to talk to Shane when I did, because I had a Deadlands game scheduled to run that afternoon. I managed to wrangle up a really good group of players, including Tom Cadorette, Dave Chalker and E. Foley. We played through a scenario called Bury Me With My Guns On, that I wrote last year for some friends at GenCon. I’ve had a chance to run it three times, now, and I hoping that I can the time soon to polish it up and possibly get it published. I think I’ve got a good adventure with it, but I need to tighten some things up before publication is an option. I’ll keep you posted. Also, the audio of the game was recorded and will be posting at The Gamer’s Haven soon, as well.
And On Into the Evening
Following the Deadlands game, I went out to dinner with the group, and that, really, encapsulates my evening: good food, good drink and good people to talk to. In fact, so far, that has been the theme of this convention. It’s very different from last year, as I kept myself so busy and wired that I barely had time to think. This year, I’ve been spending the majority of my time just sitting and talking to people. And, thanks to Twitter, they have been people who work in the game-publishing industry, so I’ve been learning a lot about what I should be doing as it pertains to Sand and Steam. It’s the kind of advice that I need, and I’m really grateful to have it.
Tomorrow (today), I’ve got another interview schedule, and this evening will be playing in a game of Pathfinder with my regular gaming group. (It’s really nice to have Origins as my local convention). I’ve also got a dice game that I want to check out on the show floor. It’s called Shootin’ Dice, and I was skeptical about it when I saw the signs around. I tried it out (while writing this post) and it seems pretty interesting. You should be seeing a review, soon.
Anyway, I’m off until tonight’s post! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend as much as I am.
As I told you a few days ago, today was the first day of Origins 2011. Last year, Origins had the honor of being the first convention I had ever attended. It was a fantastic time, and I really got a chance to expand my gaming horizons. How would this year stack up? Read on an find out.
A Change has Happened
I have learned so much about game and gaming in that last year that it borders on ridiculous. Additionally, I have met a bunch of people who work and play in the gaming industry, thanks to both the convention-going and through Twitter. When I went to Pax East this year, I spent the majority of my time hanging out with people, chatting about all things gaming and generally having a fantastic time. Given that I spent most of my time at Origins 2010 running around like a chicken with its head cut off, going from game to game with few breaks. This year, that was all different.
However, I should start at the beginning.
I first had to pick up my badge for the convention. Well, I didn’t really have to, as I hadn’t been planning on attending official seminars or playing in any official games. Still, it’s what you do at a convention when you’ve pre-registered for a convention. I didn’t see a sign or anything that directed me as to where I should get my press pass, so I went to customer service…
…who told me to go to the pre-reg line…
…who told me to go to Special Services…
…where I waited for 25 minutes (in a line of 4-5 people)…
…to be told to go to the Convention Office…
…where I waited another 10 minutes to get my badge.
Now, conventions like Pax East set an almost unattainably high bar for convention organization, so it isn’t really fair to compare the two shows. Also, it’s Wednesday of Origins (which is only sort-of the first day, even though there are scheduled events) and the volunteers are still being told how to do everything. Still, the hoops I had to jump through to complete what ended up being a super-simple process were stupid. It’s simple: if you’re going to offer events on Wednesday, train your volunteers the day before. Or have signs pointing people in the right direction. *sigh*
Following that, I happened to run into Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue of Evil Hat Productions. We sat and chatted for a bit (much as we did at Pax East), and then Fred pulled out the playtest of Zepplin Armada, a tabletop card game that they are in the process of development. The game was super-cool. You’ve got a flagship with special abilities that you want to protect. You build up an armada of zepplins (duh) in a 3×2 grid and do battle with your opponents. You play attack cards, which can be stopped or diverted with some very interesting effects. There are also event cards that can change up the formation of your armada or change the damage output that your zepplins do.
I’m not usually a card/board game guy (hence why I stopped reviewing them here on TitC), but this one really grabbed my interest. Much later in the day, I heard someone mention that they were going to go get in on another playtest of the game, and I immediately wanted to go check it out again. Definitely something I’m going to plan on buying when it sees its release.
Following that, I grabbed some lunch and then met up with Sean Preston of Reality Blurs, and basically spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out with him and a bunch of other guys from Pinnacle Entertainment. Aside from some awesome conversations (seeing a theme here?), we spent a good chunk of that time playing a Fiasco playset that Sean wrote called Innsmouth Confidential. I didn’t have the presence of mind to set down my voice recorder to grab the audio of the session, but it was a blast. Sean took all of the mythos goodness from Lovecraft’s famous city and mixed it with the things-are-going-to-get-royally-messed-up mentality of Fiasco. It was a great game. He should be publishing it soon, so look for it.
My day ended up with (wait for it)… more great conversations with great gaming people. I got to meet Ken Hite, and I had to keep myself from squeeing with joy when it happened. And I think that is a good way to sum up what today was for me: I got to talk to amazing people about the games we all love.
Last year, I had the amazing(?) realization that game designers are just people. It’s a very simplistic statement when it comes down to it, but there is a certain amount of hero-worship that goes on when it comes to thinking about the people that design and work on RPGs. Well, now I’m having the opportunity to hang out with these people and talk with them. It’s kind of amazing. I really hope that this post didn’t come off as just a whole bunch of name-dropping, but since I’m relaying the events of my day, and those are the people with whom I talked, I hope you’ll give me some leeway.
Tomorrow, I’m going to hit up the Exhibition Hall as soon as it opens (need to get a copy of the Fiasco Companion), try to get into a setting design panel with Ken Hite, run a Deadlands game at 3pm, and generally spend the evening relaxing with friends. It should be a great day.
If there’s anything you want me to check out and report back on, let me know. Here is me Twitter page. Hit me up.
“I’m… the Conventioneer.”
“Don’t you read the news?”
Sadly, I’m nowhere near as famous as the super hero referenced in the altered quote above, but I am attending a number of conventions this summer. I’ll be covering them for TitC, as well as gaming for my own enjoyment, so if you’re looking forward to more information about what’s going down in convention town, look no further.
Origins Game Fair – Columbus, OH (June 22-26)
This one is right around the corner. In fact, it’s only 5 days away. This was my first-ever gaming convention last year, and it;s really close to home, so I’m very excited about it. Last year, I knew no one, but managed to play a bunch of games that were new to me (Cthulhutech, Delta Green, Relams of Chthulhu, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Burning Wheel, and Dread, just to name a few), as well as participating in The Cheese Grinder (which, sadly, will not be making an appearance at Origins this year). I had a fantastic time, and I hope to do the same this year.
This year is going to be a bit different, though. Instead of walking around, looking at a bunch of people I’ve never met before, I actually know some folks, now. I’ve got a Deadlands game that I’m running for some friends from Twitter (you follow me on Twitter, right?), and I’m even planning on running Realms of Cthulhu for the guy that wrote it, Sean Preston. Last year, I played in an RoC game run by him; this year, I’m gonna run one for him. Trippy. As well, I’m likely going to find a bunch of time to hang out with friends, play in off-the-grid games and generally have a great time.
Oh, and I’ll be eating regularly here.
KantCon – Kansas City, KS (July 8-10)
You’ve heard me talk about KantCon before, as well. I attended last year because I was the biggest fanboy of the Gamer’s Haven podcast that I knew. Well, a funny thing happens when you’re cool to people who are cool back: you get to be friends. This year, I’m going out early to hang out and help get things ready for the convention. Oh yeah, and I’m also the Event Coordinator. I’ve been helping plan this convention for a few months, now, and I’m really excited for it.
Last year, I think I said I was a bit crazy for planning to run five games over three days of convention. I must not have listened to myself, because this year, I’m running six game sessions. They are as follows:
Pathfinder – While the City Sleeps, We Rules the Streets
Deadlands – Chemical Valley – The Hunt for Asher
Monsters and Other Childish Things – Camp Yergonnadie
And, a crazy trio:
Savage Worlds – My Little Ponies of the Apcalypse
Savage Worlds – Care Bears: Reloaded
Savage Worlds – Bears vs. Ponies: Battle Royale
I’m looking forward to running these events. They’re all sold out, so I’m looking at a full house for the entire convention. Last year was similar, so with nearly double the physical space available for the convention, I’m expecting at least double the fun.
GenCon – Indianapolis, IN (Aug 4-7)
The granddaddy of them all. GenCon was crazy and a bit overwhelming last year and this year will likely prove to be no different. The Indiana Convention Center has finished its big remodeling project and that means that the majority of the big hubs of the convention (namely, the Vendor’s Hall) are in different locations this year. The upshot of this is that I won’t be in the minority when I’m wandering around like a chicken lacking a cranium.
Last year, I made the mistake of keeping my time at GenCon totally unstructured. As well, I forgot to take the afternoon break that proved to be so useful for recharging at Origins. This year, there is no way I a making the same mistake. I’ve got some games of my own planned to run (again, for Twitter folks), and I’m already scheduled to play in some other off-the-grid games. I also got an amazing opportunity to play in the True Dungeon this year and I am freaking pumped for it! I’m going through it with some great folks that I met at Pax East and, of course, Twitter.
I had a fantastic summer of convention-going last year, and I learned a lot about what I need to do and not to do to have a good time. One thing is for sure, this year looks to be set up to be an even better summer than last year was.
If you’re going to be at any of these three conventions this summer and want to meet up and roll some dice, or just say hi (as you might have guessed), Twitter is the best way to get in touch with me. I will basically be using Twitter as my connection to everyone I’m meeting up with, so if you want, use it to meet up with me. And, like last year, you can expect regular and likely far-too-wordy updates about my time at these conventions.
Here’s to another great summer of gaming!