air_n_darkness: (fangirl)
[personal profile] air_n_darkness
One of the things I've given up over the past eight years or so is my involvement in the gaming industry, both as a participant and industry worker. Oh, I've dabbled around with some games here and there, but overall, I've not done much. In the past two years or so, I've really been missing the conventions, the people, the play. I've missed the ebb and flow of the industry. It was something I truly loved participating in, but there were quite a few strings and memories- good and bad- attached to it, so I've not been too serious about trying to get involved again, really. Last year, I considered going to GenCon, but couldn't afford it on my own, and no one seemed interested in really trying. It was a half-hearted attempt at best.

This year, my friends Julie and Travis invited me to attend with them and their family. All I had to worry about paying for was my entry, food, and spending money. Honestly, with the way my year has been on a financial level, it wasn't the best decision, but I chose to go anyway. I needed the break on pretty much every level. Plus, I've never gone to GenCon as an attendee. I have always worked the event, pulling long days taking tickets for TCG events. I usually would get a couple hours off to hit the dealer's hall on Sunday, and would do dinner and drinks with the team members, but never really just enjoyed the event. So getting to take four days to just play was a novel concept to me.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't do that. An RPG that I've gotten rather interested in over the last year, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] tek2way, called Shadows of Esteren (SoE) put out a call for booth volunteers for the weekend. I offered up my Thursday and Sunday, which they eagerly accepted. I had already purchased my ticket, so that helped them out, and was told I'd receive a small gift for assisting. Nice, but I wasn't expecting much, given they are small press and all. I volunteered because I wanted to do so. I am more comfortable at large, crowded events when I have a "homebase," a role to play, and I am a salesperson at heart. Volunteering helped me out as much as it helped them.

Aside the first: One of the main reasons I was willing to help out, is that SoE is a French import, and I would get the chance to work with the developers of the game. SoE is a low-fantasy, medieval, gothic horror setting- think Game of Thrones meets Ravenloft, and I was eager to talk with them. I wanted the chance to pick the brains of the people who created such a rich setting, and to give back to them a bit. SoE is the first RPG I've gotten truly excited about since Deliria. The SoE books have won numerous awards for game design, art, and development, and just getting to chat with the guys at my leisure was going to be a treat.


I'll skip the drive up on Wed night/Thurs morning, as it was mostly uneventful. We hit the hotel, unloaded, and went straight to the convention hall. I was on shift that day, and had told them I'd be there by noon, and made it pretty much right on time. I got there, introduced myself, and was tossed into the fray, so to speak. For that day, I was told that if someone wanted to purchase, just grab one of the guys and they would pull the item, record it, etc. It was a bit of an ordeal, because the payment station was actually further down the aisle, with the bulk of Studio2's brands. Given that we were in the same aisle as Upper Deck and Munchkin, well... we did a lot of swimming upstream. I stationed myself at the aisle intersection end of the table, where they had the splash display with all the books and the board game, because it didn't seem anyone was consistently down there. Plus, it was the best place for me to stand as far as minimizing how many people my back would be to when assisting interested buyers.

Now, I will readily admit I didn't have near the game system knowledge I probably needed to hard sell the system. Details on mechanics were not something I was going to be able to answer. However, I didn't need it, because I had a very good grasp of the setting, some basics on character creation, and above all, I know how to sell. I sold a setting, and experience, not a system, and I started by asking the person, "What kind of RPGs are you playing right now?" because that told me where to go with my pitch. The SoE guys tended to talk about the system mechanics more than the setting; plus, their English was of varying degrees, so getting the right words was sometimes difficult for them. The hardest sell, at first, was the boardgame, because that was not something the guys on site had developed. None of them had a real working knowledge of how to describe the game. However, the board game developer was on site at 2pm, and I got two really good run downs from him over the course of the weekend, which helped. Of course, while he was there, he was able to pitch the game, and sales started picking up.

After the hall closed, the guys invited me out to an industry only party, but I declined. The hotel room wasn't ready when we arrived, so I had yet to unpack, I'd had no food since around 8am, and- and this was the deciding factor- I had worn the wrong shoes that day. My feet were killing me, and I knew once I walked the half-mile back to the hotel I wasn't likely to be able to walk back. I left my books there so they could get signed at the guys leisure, and headed out. Later, Travis, Julie, Chris, and myself went down to dinner at the hotel bar, and then played board games into the night. Well, more accurately, we played one game, called Iron & Ale. It is a drinking game (we had soda, thank you very much), and it is hilarious. We did break out Hex Hex, but we were all pretty tired by that point.

Friday was weird. I had nothing to do, and nowhere to be. I did sign up for some of the free seminars, but I was too tired Thurs after shift to stand in the Will Call line for my tickets, and had already decided I was not making the 10am one. I actually wound up skipping them all, which is rather pathetic, I suppose. I just decided I would rather spend my free time hanging out with friends, instead of running between the convention center and the hotels trying to find these events. The only one I regret missing was the White Wolf 20 panel, and well... that information spread like wildfire. I will get my Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary. I missed all the others, but I will have this one; once the Kickstarter is announced, I will be buying in.

I took my time getting moving, while Julie colored her daughter Lia's hair in preparation for My Little Pony cosplay on Saturday. We all headed out, around lunchish to the con, and met up with Travis for some quick lunch. Travis and Julie do game reviews for NoobSource, and it was a working day for him. Lia had spotted a "travel-sized" version of my Snorlax sleeping buddy (which I did not bring) when they were wandering on Thurs, and wanted me to see it. That turned into buying it, of course, since I had missed my stuffy the past couple of nights. So that was my first impulse buy of the day.

From there we headed to Dryad Tea, way on the far side of the hall. Dryad Tea is run by some of the folks from a great musical group called Pandora Celtica, and they have several tea blends based off SJ Tucker's music. I had budgeted up to $75 for them, and I spent right at that amount, part of that amount including a gift for one of my managers back at YC. When it was my turn, I told the guy manning the booth, "I'm about to start listing off teas." He just nodded, but when I continued to call out teas, past the first four, he kept getting more and more surprised. I added a couple of tea infusers to the order, and he bagged it up. I got a bulk discount, as well as a card for a discount on my next web order. Their teas are awesome, folks, as are the musicians I referenced. Go check them out.

More wandering, and we passed the My Little Demon booth I had wanted to check out. One of Lia's friends had gotten a plushie there, and it was awesome. Demented My Little Ponies for the win! I chose to pick up an assortment of button, because I like to add new buttons to my lanyard ever year. I wanted the Four Ponies of the Apocalypse, but the buttons were 3 for $5, so I got those, another I liked, and one for Lia. I also snagged a book a RPG a friend had requested.

More wandering, during which time Lia was lamenting over how much she wanted an Enderman stuffy, but was told she had to wait until we found Artisan Dice. This was another "must hit" booth for me. I had budgeted $100 for dice from them. Gods, their stuff is so pretty, and the guys are really friendly. Yes, their products are pricey, but they are well worth that price. They did have some sets that were at the $100 mark, but I really wasn't sold on any of the woods in those sets. The things was, I am primarily a D10 system player; I wouldn't used half the dice in the standard sets. I decided instead to pick up some loose D10s, ultimately being able to find five of the same wood in the loose box. The D10s were $18 each. When I handed them over to pay, the guy who'd been working with us looked at them, looked at me, and told me that if I'd be willing to pay the extra $10, he'd let me have a full set- ten dice- worth of D10s, and I'd get a set box. Of course I agreed, and picked out five more: two of the same wood, and three of a different. Those different three are the "you're screwed" dice for when I'm GM'ing and the players do something stupid.

We left and ran into Chris's wife and their kids, procured the aforementioned Enderman, and then Julie and I took the girls back to the family area so they could play, and we could sit. This trip across the hall involved several shoutings of "Don't squirrel!" which was code for no distractions. After a bit, Travis met up with us, and Julie and I ran away together to look at more pretties. We specifically wanted to hit Crimson Chain, as they had hands down the best quality leatherwork at the show this year. Julie got several pretties, and thanks to her terrible influence, I got my last purchase for the weekend: a twisted elk-hide flogger. It was an overspend, for me, but I don't regret it. It's the perfect weight and balance for me, the elk is super soft, and can be worked wet, dry, or half and half. It's easy to care for, and stings like a lovely, lovely bitch. It's exactly the type of flogger I've been looking for. We both got one, actually, and sported them the next day with our not-quite-cosplay outfits. The day rounded out with an amazing dinner at a wine tasting bar, where we had wine and cheese and chatted for a few hours. Back to the hotel for yes, more board games, for which one of my old TCG friends James joined us. I think it was after 1am before we gave up the ghost, that night. Unfortunately, I slept terribly that night, and had a lot of trouble getting comfortable.

Saturday got off to a late start, as we were all dragging, and it was also cosplay day for the kids. I dressed in my Goblin Queen outfit, while Julie was just a pair of tight black pants away from a full-on rogue (in my opinion- her kids said she was a barbarian). Travis took the kids, so she and I got to really wander the hall at our leisure, and check out all the non-kid friendly art and such that we'd noticed the previous day. We swung by the SoE booth so that Julie could get a rundown on the boardgame from Sebastian (since she is a reviewer), and got pulled into the booth because the illustrator (who spoke almost no English) needed "a pick me up, because he was very tired, and he would like [my flogger]" wink wink nudge nudge. Lunch after that, then more wandering and meeting up with a friend of Julie's. She and I hit critical mass shortly thereafter, and exited the hall, posthaste, after she made the last purchase she wished to make. We found a spot upstairs and camped out until the kids were done with their MLP party, at which time they all went to dinner, and I headed down to wait for James to get off his shift working the Magic hall, as we had dinner plans.

Dinner was just a few blocks away at the Tilted Kilt. Good pub food. Lovely scenery. Think Hooters with plaid. To give you an idea:

James: Those aren't kilts they are wearing, you know.
Me: No they aren't. But they are short.
James: *laughs* That they are.

From there, it was back to the hotel, and more board games (do you see a pattern, here?). James and I stopped in the room so I could get all the makeup off my face, and lose the hat and overcoat, as it had gotten both warm and muggy. We started off with the Pop Culture version of Geek Out, and, apparently, I impressed Chris's friends. The game is known in their circles as Chris Wins, and I was the first person they'd seen give him a real run for his money. Font of useless trivia, I am. I gave up the ghost shortly after they stated playing Munckin, since I did have a work shift on Sunday, and didn't want to be completely exhausted.

I was up and headed to the con early the next day. Luckily, I ran into the SoE guys, so I got to slip into the hall early with them, instead of waiting in the crowd. I took up the same position as the previous shift, though we had a lot more people working than we did on Sunday. For Sunday, I was the Board Game Girl until Sebastian got there at 2. Pretty much from 11 until then, all I did was run people through the game. Since I could pretty much take interested people through an entire game turn at that point, the guys would actually tag off with me, if I was working with an RPG guest, and they had a boardgame bite. Shortly after 2, I had to leave, so couldn't quite finish out the day. The kids had school the next day, and Julie and Travis had work. I was given a very generous gift by the guys, and I have already agreed to work for them next year. I pretty much got everything I didn't have that they have published, except for the minis.

So that was my GenCon. I loved it, even if by Sunday, per usual, I was done and ready to come home. If you've never been, I recommend going, at least once. There is nothing like it.

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