Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Loot! The Gen Con 2013 Report


This year I brought home a veritable dragon's horde of stuff. It's so much stuff it needs CliffsNotes so here's the short version: 

I got three new games, Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG, Outbreak: Undead RPG and Shadows of Esteren RPG. We expanded our collections for other games, including Monsterpocalypse, Dust Tactics, Classic Battletech, Battletech A Time of War RPG, Pathfinder RPG, Call of Cthulhu LCG, and A Game of Thrones LCG. I got a limited edition copy of the new rules for Shadowrun RPG, and the quick-start preview rules of Call of Cthulhu RPG 7th edition. The core rule book for 7th ed. comes out this spring. For Desi I brought home a huge Squishable Cthulhu plushy, a zombie t-shirt, a Gen Con hoodie, Shadowrun bag, and a couple of patches, but her big haul was a collection of steampunk accessories that should pretty much complete her steampunk costume. I got a selection of dice to even out my collection from the bulk bins the last two years, even more Hirst Arts molds than I got last year, a GMing book, a few miniatures, the dice cup I've been after for a couple of years, and some Gen Con 2013 swag.

Detailed list below, which is mostly for my own benefit, but you can check it out if you really want.

Gen Con 2013 Report

The big, bold, headline highlight from Gen Con 2013 would be, "Shadows of Esteren Is Awesome!" The subtitle would be, "I wish Desi had been able to share it with me."

Shadows of Esteren
Shadows of Esteren is a dark, gritty, role playing game with elements of horror, steampunk, and Mideval fantasy. It's a new game, or at least the English translation is new, and it wound up winning a bunch of awards Friday night. When I bought the first book Friday afternoon, however, I'd never heard of it. I bought Book 0-Prologue on a whim because the vendor put another book I bought in this great big bag, and I felt like I had to get something else. Less than an hour later I'd gotten all three books, the Game Leader Kit and the set of map tiles that went with the intro adventure.

When I came back for my book, they invited me behind the table for this photo op. The guy next to me is the lead developer and the guy in the foreground is the lead illustrator.
The Shadows of Esteren booth after ENnies

You see, just around the corner from where I'd bought the first book I found the booth with the whole Shadows of Esteren team talking to people. These were the authors, illustrators, artists, designers and translators. They are all French, and only one of them spoke decent English. I talked to him first. He explained the whole thing to me through a thick French accent, but I got the gist. As he talked I grew convinced Desi would love this game. He described it as a mashup of Game of Thrones, steampunk, and Lovecraft. Perfect.

My table for Shadows of Esteren
I bought it all up, and set out to find someone running it. By some miracle I managed to get into a game Saturday afternoon even though the ENnies had elevated its profile and there were a bunch of generic-holding players in line ahead of me. It was even more luck that I got what turned out to be the best possible GM (called a Game Leader in SoE). The adventure was scary, paranoia-inducing, and atmospheric, drawing on Alfred Hitchcock for inspiration. One of our party nearly lost an eye to the birds. It also had cultists that you might find in a Call of Cthulhu scenario. It was every bit what the creators promised. Not only was Amanda Stewart, the game leader, spectacular, so too were the other players at the table. We actually did some role playing and played our characters, and I think we all did it well. SoE is a high lethality game, and none of our characters died, which was as good as a win. 

Original art and inscriptions from the creators of the game.
To top it all off, I left book 1 with the SoE team overnight and when I picked it up the next day the illustrator had drawn some original art on the inside title page and everyone had signed it. I now have a one-of-a-kind copy of the game.

Will Call area Wednesday evening
Beyond SoE, however, Gen Con was a decidedly mixed bag for me this year. On the one hand, I did something I never do--the whole "shop 'till you drop" thing--which you can tell just by looking the rundown of loot. I brought home more stuff than I have ever done. On the other hand, Desi wasn't there. Desi's doctor said the noise and stimuli of Gen Con would be too much too soon after her concussion, so she couldn't go. It figures that the one time Desi gets all of the craft-type activities she wanted, a couple of which she's wanted to do for years, is the one she has to cancel. We got a refund on the event tickets, but the $74 badge was non-refundable at that point. Bummer.

One of my Shadowrun games
Desi's special activities were just about the only thing we had luck getting when registration opened. I got one ticket to one Shadowrun CMP event, and that was it. On the other hand, we (it was still we, then) got our ideal hotel, the Downtown Marriott. Having that hotel is just soooo nice. I went back to the room between just about every event, before the vendor hall so I didn't need to carry my gaming equipment through cramped isles, and after the vendor hall so I didn't have to lug my (often weighty) purchases to my next game. I got to lay down on the bed in the quiet for a few minutes, and slash water on my face. Plus, and I can't stress the importance of this, I didn't have to use the public restrooms in the convention center.

Everything was like that, back and forth, good and bad in more or less equal measure.

Dealer/Vendor Exhibit

A booth Desi would have liked in the exhibit hall
A booth I liked in the exhibit hall
I spent more time in the dealer hall than ever. Every day I went for more than an hour. Each previous year we'd start off trying to see everything, and then run out of time, abandon our systematic approach, and fly around trying to find the stuff we were especially interested in seeing/visiting/getting, blowing by the rest. This year I think I finally managed to see everything there was to see in the vendor hall. 

Something Desi would want, and eventually bought virtually, through me
Since Desi wasn't there I had to shop for her. She actually did some of the shopping herself, vicariously, through me. With pictures, text messages and a couple phone conversations she picked out some things she wanted me to buy. The guys at the steam punk costume place were very nice about letting me take pictures and they got a kick out of the whole back and forth.


Limited edition of the new Shadowrun 5e rules
I didn't have but one actual ticket for an event, but I ended up playing a few games. Firstly, the Shadowrun folks worked their tails off to fit generics into pick-up games. They short scheduled every table so they would have at least one seat of overflow for generics, and they scheduled not one, but five floating GM's to build whole tables of generics. This, they said, was a lesson learned from Origins this year, and they committed to not turning any player away. 

Stephen A. Tinner, GM to the Stars, and he ran our first ever Shadowrun game. He was one of the hard-working floating GM's this year.
That was a promise they probably regretted about Friday evening. I played two games on Thursday, but the hall was loud and I wussed out of the 8:00pm slot. I played another game Friday morning, but when I went back Friday for the 8:00pm slot they were so packed to the gills that I gave my seat up to make room for a couple that had just been introduced to Shadowrun and were eager to play. They may have been able to fit us all in if I had stayed, but it would have been grim. Their portion of C Hall was just overflowing with players and the staff had this contorted expression somewhere between cheerfullness and the edge of insanity. They deserve a lot of praise. Every Catalyst Game Labs person, be they staff or volunteer, was exceedingly nice and eager to please. 

I also played 13th Age, Outbreak: Deep Space, Shadows of Esteren, and the Walking Dead board game. That was it, really. I had made plans to play Mouse Guard that fell through, I couldn't get a seat at Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, couldn't catch drop ship into a Battletech Grinder. If I hadn't been so focused on shopping I could have played more demos in the dealer hall, and I particularly regret not taking the time to play the Battletech: Alpha Strike.

13th Age is a good game. It has good mechanics and a decent setting. I love the story-based character building aspect. However, for me it's just too much of yet another fantasy RPG. There anything so compelling about it that I would spend money on it. I can see a disgruntled Pathfinder or D&D player taking it up, though.

Christopher De La Rosa, author of Outbreak: Undead
Outbreak: Deep Space is an expansion to the Outbreak: Undead RPG. I had hopes of getting into the Outbreak: Undead game one table over, but they were full up with people holding actual tickets. Deep Space is an interesting game, and it's kind of in beta, sort of, which I guess is why the author and creator of Outbreak was our GM. That was really awesome! I only wish I'd been playing with better players. The guy on my right was a complete spazz who'd never played any RPG but Pathfinder.  Not particularly swift, he just couldn't grasp some of the mechanics and none of the spirit of the game. Plus he kept saying that he was a technical sort of player, which was patently untrue and made his assertions grating. Add to that some truly horrible luck on the dice, and the session was a grind. I want to play the game again because that wasn't a fair trial. 

Playing Shadows of Esteren was by far the best experience I had at this year's Gen Con. I hope Desi and I get a chance to play it together next year.

Detailed List

Squishable Cthulhu
12x Monsterpocalypse boosters
          - 4 of unit and monster boosters from Rise, and 
          - 2 ea. from I Chomp NY.
Q-workshop tan suede dragon dice cup
Dust Tactics P-48 Pellican
Dust Tactics Horton HO-347
Dust Tactics Operation "Icarus" Campaign Expansion
Gen Con Rolling Bag/Backpack
2x Shadowrun laser etched clipboards
Battletech laser etched clipboard
Odyssey; The Complete Game Master's Guide to Campaign Management
Outbreak: Undead (RPG game core rulebook)
Outbreak: Undead Gamemaster's Companion
Outbreak: Undead Game Master's Screen
Shadows of Esteren RPG printed FAQ
Shadows of Esteren RPG Book-0, Prologue
Shadows of Esteren RPG Book-1, Universe
Shadows of Esteren RPG Book-2, Travels
Shadows of Esteren RPG Game Leader Kit
Shadows of Esteren RPG Loch Varn Tiles
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG Beginner Game box set
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG Game Master's Kit
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG Roleplay Dice
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules
Monsterpocalypse I Chomp NY Strategy Guide
Battletech: A Time of War RPG Limited Edition Game Master's Screen
Battletech: A Time of War RPG Quick-Start Rules
Battletech: A Time of War RPG Companion rulebook supplement
Battletech Hexpack: Mountains and Canyons
Battletech Hexpack: Volcano
Shadowrun 5th Edition Limited Edition core rulebook
Shadowrun "Everything Has a Price" poster
Shadowrun 5e Quick-Start Rules
Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Watch Station     
Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Battlefield                   
GameMastery Chase Cards Deck (PFRPG)                   
GameMastery Flip-Mat: Pirate Island Print Edition                   
GameMastery Flip-Mat: Country Inn                   
GameMastery Flip-Mat: Urban Tavern Print Edition                   
Pathfinder Dice Set: Curse of the Crimson Throne                   
Pathfinder Dice Set: Legacy of Fire                   
Pathfinder Dice Set: Kingmaker                   
Pathfinder Dice Set: Serpent's Skull                   
Pathfinder Dice Set: Carrion Crown                   
4x Pathfinder Battles—Builder Series: We Be Goblins Pack
A Game of Thrones CCG Iron Throne Edition Legacy Pack
A Game of Thrones CCG Valyrian Edition Starter Pack
A Game of Thrones CCG Ice and Fire Premium Starter Set
A Game of Thrones LCG Defenders of the North, The Wildling Horde Chapter Pack
A Game of Thrones LCG Defenders of the North, A King in the North Chapter Pack
Call of Cthulhu LCG Sleep of the Dead Asylum Pack
Call of Cthulhu LCG Bag of Cthulhu
Battletech Behemoth Hvy. Tank
Battletech Jagatai
Gen Con 2013 2XL Dragon T-Shirt
Gen Con 2013 2XL Orc T-Shirt
Gen Con 2013 L Dragon Hoodie
Battletech 2XL Black T-Shirt
"Your Zombie Survival Plan Will Fail" woman's T-Shirt
Shadowrun Purple Cinch Bag
Steampunk derringer set
Steampunk twin knife garter holster and knives
Steampunk working wrist sun dial and compass
Steampunk goggles
Steampunk nautical spyglass
Steampunk leather gloves and holder
12x Hirst Arts Molds
2x samples of Merlin's Magic pourable castle stone
3x iron on patches (2 Cthulu, 1 Shadowrun)
Gen Con 2013 Commemorative Dice Set
Set of 4 tentacle miniatures
Bag of bulk dice (hand-picked coffee mug)
Pathfinder goblin promo mini
Pathfinder 2013 pin
Catalyst Game Labs pencil
Gen Con badge holder and 4-day badge

Pathfinder Subscription Picked Up
-Pathfinder Pawns Bestiary 2 Box
-Pathfinder Adventure Path, The Worldwound Incursion
-Pathfinder Player Companion, Demon Hunter's Handbook
-Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Demons Revisited
-Pathfinder Player Companion, Faiths & Philosophies
-Pathfinder Core Rulebook, Mythic Adventures


81 d4's
23 d6's
14 d8's
118 dice total

Hirst Arts Molds

57, 58, 59, 221, 272, 301, 302, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330

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