Saturday, August 30, 2008

GenCon Day 2, Part 3

Day 2 was so busy, it took three posts to cover!

After the "Ways to Play" seminar, we took a bit of a break. We missed the Ennies and a Paizo seminar, instead retiring to our room to check out some of our loot. That will be a separate post, probably next week.

We returned that evening for the D&D Miniatures seminar. As we came in, the folks giving the presentation showed off a few of the upcoming minis they had with them:

Minis Seminar - Iron Dragon
Minis Seminar - Ogre Pulverizer
Minis Seminar - Thoon Hulk

Once everyone got settled, they began the presentation. There was talk about the current starter set and available minis boosters. Then, they talked about the next booster set coming out:

Minis Seminar - Demonweb

Oooh, baby. Yes, that's a mind flayer sketch on the left, and a stirge mini in the upper right! They did say they learned their lesson from the last time they put out a stirge (and it was hard to get), so it'll be a lot easier to get them now.

They talked about last year's championship winner, who got to help design a new figure. It's an elf ranger, with a crow companion on his arm. They did let slip that, yes, the Martial Power sourcebook will have rules for animal companions in it.

Next was Legacy support.

Minis Seminar - Legacy Support

The plan is to pick up posting new stats for the old sets starting in October. They'll publish downloads for the cards once per month, except for months where a new booster set comes out. They'll do this all the way back to Harbinger. They also said they were looking into making sure that old Chainmail minis that had an equivalent DDM figure would be allowed in league play.

Minis Seminar - 2009

The next discussion was what they wanted to do in 2009. Yes, that's another beholder, an aboleth (which they gushed over, saying they didn't think it could be done until they saw the first sculpt), and a rust monster. The rust monster is apparently going to be a critter in MM2.

Minis Seminar - Orcus

Yes, they still want to publish a colossal Orcus figure. They're having some issues finding a way to make it economical and affordable to gamers at the same time. They did cite that the Colossal Red Dragon didn't sell as well as they'd hoped due to the price, and some people mentioned they saw them for sale in some of the discount booths at the con for as little as $25, while the Gargantuan Blacks and Blues were going as low as $15. (Apparently those sold out quick, as I didn't find one at that price the next day.)

During the Q&A, someone brought up the lower quality of recent sets, and the Wizard reps agreed. Apparently they had changed companies, and weren't happy with some of the figures they got out of the last few sets. However, they said that this has been worked out, and they were really happy with Demonweb.

There was also a question of playing the minis game online through DDI. This is something the Wizards reps said they wanted to support, but the RPG side was first priority, so this would be further down the line.

After the minis seminar, it was time for one of the more expensive things I had bought tickets for: the "Haunted and Historical" tour of downtown Indianapolis.

Haunted & Historical

The lady in the green cloak was our tour director (I forgot her name by the next morning, unfortunately). She was working in cooperation with an actual "ghost hunter" society that operated in Indiana, and took us to some of the more famous "haunted" sites in town.

Haunted & Historical - Grand Central Station

Our first stop was the Indianapolis Grand Central Station, the first Grand Central Station in the USA. Supposedly, this is haunted both by a conductor, as well as a "ghost train" of President Lincoln's funeral train. And, yes, that's a full moon in the sky. I was happy with how this picture turned out on my little camera.

Haunted & Historical - Slippery Noodle

This is the bar "The Slippery Noodle." Originally, the building was a storehouse with a hidden tunnel to Grand Central Station, which was used to conduct escaping slaves for the Underground Railroad.

Haunted & Historical - Manager

As our guide was telling us about the stories, this guy came out to listen. When she was talking about one of the night managers who heard footsteps when no one else was there, this guy said "That was me!" The manager told us a few of his own experiences, as well as other stories he had heard about the building, which was a great little bit of lucky timing.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Statue at Night

This is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, dedicated to all the service personnel who died in the Civil War. Supposedly this used to be the site of the mayor's mansion, but the mayor never lived there. His wife didn't like hanging her laundry in the middle of the downtown square, so they lived outside of town. Shortly after they moved out, there were rumors of a headless man seen inside the house, which persisted for years. One day, a young man went inside on a dare, and caught a turkey that was walking around inside the house. After that, the headless man was never seen again. ;)

We stopped by what is now a bank building, which used to have a restaurant in the upper floors. I don't remember the story well for that one.

Haunted & Historical - Indianapolis Athletic Club

This was the Indianapolis Athletic Club. Supposedly it was not built with fire in mind, so of course a bad fire broke out one night. The firemen couldn't get to the water line inside, people couldn't get out easily. They got some of them out, but one firefighter went back in to save a man trapped inside. The firefighter died of smoke inhalation later. After that, people say they can still hear a fireman banging on doors at night, warning people of a fire that went out years ago.

Finally, we stopped by the local arts theater. One of the owners apparently liked to jog around the upper levels on days where it was too rainy to do his jogging outside. He was unfortunately killed near his home one day while jogging, after being struck by a car. Folks report they can still hear someone running upstairs late at night.

Also, a homeless man apparently fell down an open window into the basement during the depression. He was badly injured and no one could hear him. When they finally found the body, they found bloody scratches on the wall, and the rock he had been using to bang on pipes, which he ultimately used to kill himself with. Apparently people can sometimes still hear banging on the pipes, or see a figure in the basement shadows.

So, that finally brings us to the end of day 2! We were absolutely exhausted after this one, let me tell you.

Days 3 and 4 will be much shorter, so they will likely be combined into one post. Then I'll have a final post, showing off some of the stuff we bought/won at the con, plus a bunch of cosplayers we saw!

Gencon Report: Day 2, part 2

Work was hell today, and I've picked up the sinus bug that's going around, so I really don't feel well. However, I'm going to get up at least the second part of day 2 here. I'll try to get days 3 & 4, as well as a special wrap-up post, but those may be delayed until next week when I'm off work again. Yes, I have to work through the Labor Day weekend.

After the D&D Seminar's presentation ended, they took questions from the audience for the second half of the event. Unfortunately, I didn't get a recording or notes, so I'm going by rough memory here.

A question was brought up about how well D&D 4e was selling, and the team was obviously enthusiastic. My impression was that they were happy with the sales, not just in marketing-speak mode.

People asked about DDI stuff, some to do with compatibility (the guy asked about Linux, but the Wizards folks mostly focused on the possibility of a Mac port "when it makes sense"); some about the virtual mins (you get a default set of 3D "minis," can buy more random sets of "minis," and there is a set number of times you can "clone" the 3D mini; cloning it onto your game table more times than that results in 2D tokens instead for the rest); getting a group together (yes, there will be a "waiting area" where you can set up Pick-Up Groups); and how the app handles your numbers (it will auto-calculate the results of rolls, which you can drag & drop into place, eg. you roll 2d6+3 for damage against a player, get a result of 13, and can drag that "13" to their HP, which will deduct the damage appropriately).

There were questions about specific rules issues, which I can't remember the details of. Sorry.

Someone brought up the OGL and how useful things like the Hypertext d20 SRD were for DMs. This got a direct answer: the OGL was bad business for Wizards. They still wanted 4e to be open, but not so open that it cost them the way the OGL did for 3e. They realized that there were concerns about the GSL, and they're working with other companies to fix that. Finally, they recommended that anyone who needs an electronic resource for looking up rules either subscribe to DDI for the Rules tool, or purchase the PDF versions of the books and take advantage of its search functions.

After the Q&A was over, we went to lunch at Steak & Shake. The local one had experienced GenCon before and was well prepared. They had separate lines for pick-ups and dine-ins, and a staff that was both efficient and very friendly. If you just want a fast-food meal at GenCon, I recommend hitting this place.

Then, we went to the Fantasy Flight Games PR venue.

Fantasy Flight seminar

These guys were very friendly, and had some great insights into the board games market. Also talked about their relationship with Games Workshop, and their issues getting the Confrontation game to market. They also mentioned they had a new Arkham Horror cardset out at the con, Black Goat of the Woods.

We had some time after that, so we went shopping in the exhibition hall. More on that later, but I did pick up Hunter: the Vigil and its brand new book Witchfinders, while my partner picked up the Arkham Horror expansions Kingsport Horror and the aforementioned BGotW.

Next was the "Villains of Eberron" seminar, by none other than Keith Baker, along with his assistant.

Keith Baker

He had a lot of great insights into how to use the various groups in Eberron as antagonists in your game, as well as a few hints at the 4e version of the setting.

We had to cut that seminar short to make it to the next one: "Ways to Play D&D," aka the RPGA seminar. A few of the guys from the Q&A seminar were back to discuss the new Living Forgotten Realms and how it was going to affect ways people play D&D.

One of the main things talked about was the new Wizards Play Night. This is the group that does the "Friday Night Magic" stuff for Magic: the Gathering, and now they're doing something similar for D&D: the Delve Night

Essentially, Delve Night is a monthly adventure broken up into four major encounters (with accompanying roleplaying opportunities). The idea is that you can play once a week for a couple hours, so folks who want some casual D&D can get together regularly to play. They'll also support bi-weekly or monthly play for folks who can't get together as often. It's fully supported by the RPGA, so it counts towards your points and such.

Also, there's going to be a special event October 24-26: Weekend in the Realms. It's an LFR event where you basically find a shop, library, bookstore, etc. that agrees to host you, and play a special D&D adventure all day. It's a mega-adventure broken into three parts, each part taking approximately 3 hours to play. They really want this to be a public event, rather than something you roll at home, so that other people get exposed to LFR and D&D.

You can read more about the Delve Night and Weekend in the Realms on the Wizards site.

We all recieved a little postcard-flyer for the WitR, and also the con-exclusive LFR player option card:

RPGA Character Option

Normally, characters cannot play RPGA events with the new "spellscarred" rules in the upcoming Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. This card is the exception to that rule, so GenCon attendees will have an extra option unique to them. I expect most folks will keep theirs, so I doubt many will show up on eBay or anything.

Then, we were asked what we wanted to see out of Living Forgotten Realms. Adventure styles, rewards, etc. Some of the rewards suggested were: player option cards with unique feats or powers, not found elsewhere in the rules; exclusive battlemaps or Dungeon Tiles, including spell effects; exclusive minis, which may be too expensive to pull off, but they were willing to look into it; a branded d20 die (with an RPGA or LFR symbol for the 20); free DDI time and other "virtual rewards."

That prompted some questions about online play with the DDI. We were assured that yes, you will be able to play RPGA sanctioned adventures using the online game table app. There's still some discussion about how to use player option cards online, and possibly awarding things like alternate virtual minis and such.

... this post is running long! Okay, I'm going to stop here, and post a Part 3 for day 2 for the last two events, which are rather photo heavy: the D&D Minis seminar, and the "Haunted and Historical Downtown Indy" tour!

Friday, August 29, 2008

GenCon report: Day 2, part 1

Sorry for the lengthy delay. Things have been a bit weird for me this last week, but I should be able to get this GenCon report finished up in short order.

Day 2 began with a brief stop at Starbucks on the way to the D&D 4th Edition Q&A Seminar! Lots and lots of information here, including a ton of pictures, so this seminar gets a whole post to itself.

I'm afraid I lost track of exactly who was giving the seminar, as I didn't have a chance to note their names down. Plus, I had my camera set wrong, so the first few pictures came out too blurry to keep. Once things settled down, they started talking about developing 4e and things that had recently come out & were coming out. The FRCS was mentioned as being on sale at the con (and sold out later that day), and they talked about the upcoming FR Player's Guide...

D&D Q&A Seminar

... and they had a copy to show!

After that, they started into the slide show presentation, discussing things that would be coming out over the next year:

D&D Q&A: Scepter Tower of the Spellguard

Scepter Tower of the Spellguard is an adventure coming out in September, which will be made to work in a Forgotten Realms campaign or a basic D&D campaign.

October is going to be a busy month for D&D!

D&D Q&A: Martial Power

Martial Power will be out. No real surprises here, except that there will be more racial feats in this book.

D&D Q&A: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens

King of the Trollhaunt Warrens, the first adventure in the P-series of Paragon-level adventures. Maybe featuring trolls? ;)

D&D Q&A: Streets of Shadow Dungeon Tiles

Streets of Shadow Dungeon Tiles, for your city-based adventuring needs. Also has some spell-effect tiles.

D&D Q&A: Draconomicon

November brings us the new Draconomicon! Of course, it has new dragons and dragon-monsters; plus treasure, rituals and other player-goodies.

D&D Q&A: Starter Set

D&D Starter Set also comes out in November. This will have the usual stuff: pregen characters, adventure, tiles... but will not have plastic minis. Instead, Wizards is using tokens for the PCs and monsters, to cut down on production costs and keep the price down.

D&D Q&A: Manual of the Planes 4e

Manual of the Planes 4e comes out in December. Note that this is not the final cover art, just a mock-up with some filler art. Not much else to say, here. It's a MotP, you know pretty much what it's going to focus on.

D&D Q&A: December 2008

We'll also get P2: Demon Queen's Enclave in December. Again, not the final cover, but expect to deal with a lot of drow in this one.

D&D Q&A: January 2009

January 2009 will bring us a book I'm really looking forward to, Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. Obviously, not the final cover. I always love these undead splatbooks, no matter what system they're for.

D&D Q&A: February 2009

February will begin the Dungeon Delve. I'll go into this in more detail in a later post but, basically, this is an RPGA function where a DM can run a single encounter for players. It's designed to be like the "Friday Night Magic" leagues, where people can just drop in once a week and play for a couple hours. If you want, you can save them up to do bi-weekly or monthly games, but it's a great set-up for folks with less time to play.

Also, another set of Dungeon Tiles: Caves of Carnage. Lots of natural underground terrain. They specifically mentioned working on more non-linear features, like an underground stream that winds around on one side, with a natural winding tunnel on the opposite side.


March of 2009 is when we finally get to see the Player's Handbook 2! As the speakers were talking, they let slip that Bards are in, as well as Sorcerers (and that Sorcerers are Arcane, not Primal). They also said that we could tell what some of the new races are by the cover, so I got a closer shot:

D&D Q&A: Closeup of PHB2 cover

Unfortunately, I don't recognize them a bit. The big guy looks giant-ish, while the druid gal looks fey/elvish.

D&D Q&A: March 2009

There's a ton more stuff coming in March:

  • P3: Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress finishes out the P-series of adventures.
  • Player's Handbook Power Cards and Martial Power Cards: Wizards said they've heard people's requests for power cards. While you can print them out from the DDI Character Creator app, these are going to be nice, heavy cardstock prints of powers from the PHB and Martial Power books.
  • Feywild miniatures set.

D&D Q&A: April 2009

Arcane Power comes out in April 2009, with all sorts of extra stuff for magic-types to play with. This will include the Arcane classes from PHB2! A question came up later about how they'll support the Martial PHB2 classes, since Martial Power comes out before PHB2. There wasn't a solid answer, just that they do plan to offer more things for each class in future products "as it makes sense," ie they're not going to put out an "extra" product or delay another one to add extra features for classes; but, they're not going to leave them hanging either. Most likely, this will become Dragon magazine content, and show up in other products.

Also, E1: Death's Reach becomes the first Epic-tier adventure published this month.

D&D Q&A: May 2009

Monster Manual 2 debuts in May 2009, along with PHB2 Power Cards.

D&D Q&A: June 2009

June 2009 brings us the next campaign setting, with the publication of the Eberron Campaign Setting book. Note that this is proposed art for the cover, but nothing's final yet.

We'll also see the Arcane Towers Dungeon Tiles, said to feature the first round terrain available in Dungeon Tiles.

Finally, we get E2: Kingdom of the Ghouls. Hopefully we'll find out why Yeenoghu no longer has control of this realm!

D&D Q&A: July 2009

The Eberron Player's Guide comes out in July, and the proposed cover art matches up nicely beside the ECS4e cover.

Also out that month, Divine Power for the cleric-y/paladin-ly types; Seekers of the Ashen Crown adventure (which I'm guessing is E3); and an untitled Huge set of D&D Minis.

D&D Q&A: August 2009

And that brings us to August 2009. Here we'll see Adventurer's Vault 2, for even more treasure!

The big news this month is the "super adventure" Revenge of the Giants. This is going to be a "boxed set," featuring tokens instead of minis, just like the Starter box.

Finally, we get Arcane Power Cards to go along with the other power card sets published so far.

Note that there was no DMG2 mentioned anywhere in this. I'm guessing that they either don't feel it's necessary, or plan to wait until they have enough new stuff to talk about to publish one.

At the end of the presentation, they talked a bit about their online DDI stuff, and showed off from stills from the gameplay app. No pictures, as there didn't seem to be anything new to that. However, we did get a special treat: we got to watch (after some audio troubles) the upcoming new D&D animation video! Without spoiling too much, folks should enjoy this shot:

D&D Q&A: Trollin'

The second half of the day will be written up and posted either tonight or tomorrow!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Saw this gal on my way to the parking lot after work. All those little bumps on her back are baby spiders! Wish I could've gotten a clearer picture, but my cameraphone just didn't deal with focus at that range.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

GenCon: Day 1

The trip began way too early in the morning. I had to get up at 4:30 am to drive up to Indianapolis. Well, I had to sit in the passenger seat on the way up while Scott drove. ;)

We arrived in Indy and went to the front to register. Surprisingly, the registration process was simple, smooth and straightforward. Unfortunately, most of the gaming events were sold out in advance, and I managed to double-book some of the seminars. Others were just so physically far apart, we couldn't stay for one and make it to the other.

After that, lunch was in order. Found a nice little coffee shop across the street from the convention center called Ah Barrista. Really good sandwiches.

Then, the first seminar:White Wolf's Q&A for their new game, Hunter: the Vigil. The crew was great, very entertaining and gave a lot of information on how they designed the game. If you're familiar with the old World of Darkness game Hunter: the Reconing... well, forget it. This is its own beast. This has more in common with Hunters Hunted than HtR: mortals who might have access to esoteric abilities, not mortals called to fight by supernatural beings. You can play a straight up mortals game with this, or you can delve into more mystical groups such as the Lucifuge. I only wish I had snapped some pictures.

Unfortunately, my Secrets of Eberron seminar was in a hotel far enough away we couldn't make it in time. Instead, we hit the exhibit hall and did some shopping.

Exhibit hall

The main hall. I was surprised how much space they laid out for the vendors.

Fantasy Flight booth

Fantasy Flight Games had a huge amount of floor space, lots of demos for various games out there.

Tannhauser demo

Demo for the game Tannhauser: Undead Nazis versus cybered-up Allies!

Fantasy Flight booth - opposite angle

The other side of the FFG booth, lots of Confrontation minis.

White Wolf booth

White Wolf's booth.

Eve Online booth

Eve Online booth.

I have no idea what this thing is.

... I don't know. It was there, I took a picture of it.

Boffer Weapons

Boffers! People were whacking each other with these all weekend.

Banana & Monkey

A monkey and his banana.

Castle Molds

This is a great idea: rubber molds so you can make your own buildings and terrain for your minis games.

Wizards booth

The Wizards of the Coast booth, one of the bigger floor spaces (naturally). They had several demo tables, as well as...

D&D Character Generator

The new Character Generator app. From what I've seen it looks really useful.

Paizo booth

Paizo's booth was very purple.

Crocodile Games set

Crocodile Games set up some great tables to show off their minis.

Green Ronin booth

Green Ronin had a booth too.

Charity Die

Just outside the hall, the giant foam d20. It was hollow and people were encouraged to drop some of their own dice into it. The giant d20 and its contents would be auctioned off Saturday, and the money donated to charity.

After browsing around the hall,we did a “play to win” game of Risk 2210. This version of risk uses sci-fi units and a slightly different map to fit the theme. It also has some modified rules, such as command cards and a 5 turn limit. That limit makes it possible to play Risk in a few hours, rather than taking up all day, which is a major plus in my book. It came down to a tie-break at the end, and Scott won the game!

The game ran a bit long, so we missed out on a reading by Michael Stackpole. Still, we had a good time. Afterwards, we checked into our hotel and went out to eat at a fantastic Italian place, Bucca de Beppo. Wonderful food and fantastic service made it worth the price.

Coming up next, day 2, including pictures from the D&D 4e Q&A session!