Saturday, August 30, 2008

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!

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