Gen Con is a gamer’s candy store … no matter what you want, the chances are there are SEVERAL exhibitors there selling it! And sometimes they’re even giving away free samples. (“The first one’s free, kid … we know you’ll be back!”) Now that I’ve unpacked my bags, I thought I’d show you the bounty with which I returned.
Although I’ve spent most of my time in the industry working on big “sandbox” games like D&D and D20 Modern, at heart I’m an indie game kinda guy. So it should come as no surprise that I came home with a few prime examples of that movement. From Cubicle 7, I got copies of Greg Stolze’s A Dirty World, an intriguing RPG focusing on the shifting alliances in “noire” stories. I also got a print edition of Villains & Vigilantes 2.0 (the original V&V having been my game of choice from 1982-1990) and The Laundry (which, being based on Chaosium’s BRP system and a series of best selling, is not really and “indie” game … but it did win a couple of ENnie Awards).
Meanwhile, over at the Indie Press Revolution booth, I picked up two books: Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, a storytelling game that bears remarkable stylistic similarities to Avatar–The Last Airbender, and makes a perfect follow-up to Happy Birthday, Robot! for kids who are ready to take the next step into the RPG hobby. (I think I might have to rant a bit about how relatively little attention HBR has received from the broader hobby … but I’ll save that for another post.) The second book I got at IPR was Fiasco, this year’s Diana Jones Award winner and a game I’ve been dying to play for months. The quick-pitch is that it’s a storytelling game that recreates wonderful disasters like you see in Coen Bros. movies.
On a more self-congratulatory note, I also picked up my contributor copies of several products published by Gaming Paper. These included the Mega-Dungeon 1 pack of a 100-sheet mega-dungeon complex that also serves as a collection of dungeon geomorphs. Related to that is The Citadel of Pain, a mega-adventure that is set in the gigantic mega-dungeon described above, and All Stars Take on the Mega-Dungeon, an anthology of four smaller adventures, each of which takes place in a dungeon comprised of geomorphs from the larger mega-dungeon set and are designed by gaming luminaries Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, and Brian Cortijo. (This last product was a Gen Con exclusive. It won’t be available in stores for another month or so … it’s just another one of the bonuses you can get for BEING at Gen Con.) I say “self-congratulatory” because I served as the Creative Director for both CoP and ASTotMD … which really means I got smart, talented people to agree to write cool stuff, then I stood out of their way and let them DO it!
I also picked up a handful of smaller items. Some of them free–like a few of the buttons that Paizo Publishing was handing out at their booth each day (I was kind of surprised to see how big a deal it seemed to be to try to collect ALL of the Paizo buttons) and a preview pamphlet for the upcoming Mistborn RPG based on the novels of Brandon Sanderson. Others of them products whose size in no way is commensurate with their value–like two new sets of crystal dice from Crystal Caste (I use these almost exclusively in my dice bag … and there’s never any confusion about who they belong to at the end of a game session), a new copy of one of my all-time favorite games Cosmic Wimpout from Koplow Games, and Carnival Arcane the newest album from the sonic wizards at Midnight Syndicate. I was also given a copy of Game Design in the Classroom by its author, David M. Miecikowski. This is a subject that’s very dear to me, and I was really touched that David offered me a copy.
Finally, the very last thing I got before the exhibit hall closed was a game called Food Fight from my friends at Cryptozoic Entertainment. I only got to play the demo version, but it seems like a great beer & pretzels game that’s ALSO a primer for how to play TCGs. Unlike the also excellent Ascension, this isn’t so much a “deck-building game” as it is an overview of ALL of the elements of being a TCG player, and it gives you multiple chances to try different strategies all within a single fast-paced game. I can’t wait to try the full version!