Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Next Phase of the Old School Renaissance? Minicons.

Everyone is starting to agree: It's time we get together to game!

There are two full-blown cons devoted to old school gaming: GaryCon (Lake Geneva, WI) and North Texas RPG Con (Dallas, TX). Both of these have been growing steadily for the last few years and regularly bring in  well-known guest DMs. It's hard for many people to spare the time and money to travel to these cons, however. So now people are asking themselves, why not DIY locally?

Last year saw several minicons sprout up around the U.S. These were typically one-day events where a handful to a few dozen local gamers got together to play play play. The 2010 old school minicons I'm aware of were:

SoCal Minicon (Anaheim, CA)
Central Texas Minicon (Austin, TX)
Fal-Con (Middletown, CT)

Am I missing any?

This year there are rumblings of OSR minicons in Toronto and Vancouver, as well as repeats of the previous minicons. Are there any others out there?

I would love to see minicons become a primary instrument of the OSR and I hope the enthusiasm continues to build. As a "co-organizer" of the SoCal Minicon (if you can even say SCMC had a true organizer - it was just a bunch of us getting together in a clubhouse with no fees or registration), I can tell you it doesn't take much effort to put together a small event with 2 or 3 tables. The experience of meeting and gaming with other cool like-minded people is priceless fun. If you're thinking about hosting a gameday, D&D party, or minicon: DO IT!

Another minicon model to explore would be the con-within-a-con. For instance, players could pre-organize a series of old school events at a major convention like GenCon. Meetup groups dedicated to old school gaming also make sense. Does anyone know of examples of these approaches?


  1. North Texas RPG Con - really? Hmm. That's my neck of the woods. Gee - this could get interesting.

    - Ark

  2. North Texas RPG Con - really? Hmm. That's my neck of the woods.

    If you live near Dallas you'd be crazy to miss this. This year DMs will include: Erol Otus (YES - DMing!), Paul Jaquays, Frank Mentzer, Rob Kuntz, Tim Kask, Matt Finch, and Kyrinn Eis. I'll also be running an OD&D/Spelljammer game on Sunday morning.

  3. More props to the NTRPG Con from one of the co-creators and co-organizers....this is our 3rd annual show and we have gotten bigger every year (but not big enough to be be an ass whip). BTW I must give myself a pat on the back, as far as I know we are the FIRST con to run a S&W event (back in 09 with Matt Finch) and his games are now firmly a part of our con schedule.

    But to the subject of the blog, yes I also agree this is the best way to spread the OSR and the various rules systems and games associated. Many Acaeum members have been getting together since Gencon 2007 to play old school games, since then I have noticed a few OSR oriented games popping up on Gencon's schedule. And yes mini-cons are really quite easy to put together, at least initially. Most towns have a civic center, library, or even restaurant where you can use the area for free!

  4. Okay - so it looks like the NTRPG Con's web site has busted of suffered bit rot or something. So when is it happening???? I'm getting kind of interested. o.O

    Kind of.

    - Ark

    PS Okay, a lot.

  5. @Cyclopeatron, wow--so is Texas where OSR legends go to retire?

  6. Okay - so it looks like the NTRPG Con's web site has busted of suffered bit rot or something. So when is it happening????

    Yeah - it looks like the site isn't working today for some reason. June 2-5 I believe.

    @Cyclopeatron, wow--so is Texas where OSR legends go to retire?

    I guess Jaquays did... A lot of the other legendary DMs they are flying in from out of town. I'm not sure how Badmike pulls it off!

  7. At the moment the site appears to be having issues. NTRPGCON is June 2-5, 2011. Here's their Facebook page where you can connect with the organizers and ask questions, etc.!/group.php?gid=310434204630

  8. I'd like to co-opt Winter War in Champaign Urbana for any living near Chicago for a con w/in a con. I could do it this year... maybe we can plan for 2012? Get some gaming done before the Mayans come back?

  9. cyclo: Thanks for the mention. :D
    --I hope I get a chance to play in your session. :)

    All: I look forward to players with no prior Urutsk exposure, or even to gaming. I have one game scheduled (six-hour block), and there are Open Gaming tables for those who want to continue the fun.

  10. KantCon, in Overland Park, KS (Kansas City area). Not OSR per se, but friendly to it. Last year there were several AD&D & Swords & Wizardry games (I even snagged a "best player" award for one of my sessions!).

  11. They had a few mini-cons in Colorado Springs over 2009 and 2010 but the Army (or hard drive crashes) always kept me from attending.

  12. @cyclo & stan - thanks for the date info! I'm checking my calandar now.

    @Timeshadows - Okay, a brief check on Google doesn't really explain Urutsk exposure. What is Urutsk exposure, and does is cause blisters or hemorrhaging? :)

    - Ark

  13. News flash as of a few hours ago: It looks like an OSR "con-within-a-con" is brewing at GenCon this year! CLICK HERE for details. There will be a formal booth/command-center with OSR products, and hopefully springing from this will be a series of old school themed games. Cool cool!

  14. Thanks for the save, guys. Apparently NTRPG Con site is down for maintenance. Con is June 2-5, lots of old school guests and games....A lot of the old school guys came here after their RPG days to work on the growing computer gaming industry in Austin and Dallas areas. Paul Jaquays, Sandy Peterson, Dennis Sustare, Jeff Dee, and Steve Marsh are several guys with "classic" game connections to live in the Austin or Dallas areas (although Paul has sinced moved out of state, he'll be back for the con this year!)

  15. I appreciate your putting this post together. Thanks for the contact info about the OSR booth at Gencon; hope to be a part of it and see some you face-to-face in Indy!

    Anyone know of a Cleveland area OSR mini-con?

  16. There are a number of regional RPG cons that are also old-school friendly, too. In particular, the following leap to mind:

    - Genghis Con (Feb 17-20 @ Denver)
    - DunDraCon (Feb 18-21 @ SF Bay Area)
    - Total Confusion (24-27 @ Mansfield, MA)
    - KublaCon (May 27-30 @ SF Bay Area)
    - SoCalMiniCon (dates unconfirmed but usually in August in Los Angeles area)
    - dates unknown, offhand: WinterCon, Michicon, and a bunch of Northern NJ/NYC area cons that Joe Bloch mentions regularly in his Greyhawk Grognard blog


  17. Now if someone would just do a mini-con or any kind of rpg con in the Louisville Metro/Southern Indiana area I'd definitely be there.
    I kept missing Conglomeration because it happened around Gen Con, but now I think I may give it a try since it is in April this year.
    If there are others in this area I'd appreciate it if someone would post it.

  18. Well, there is the Dead Games Society, a group who exclusively runs out-of-print games at cons like Gen Con. They're mostly TSR RPGs from the 80s, though you can find the odd newer "dead" game (like Star Wars Saga edition) being run.

  19. I can speak up a bit about Total Con in Mansfield, MA. There is going to be an Old School gaming area. Frank Mentzer and Tim Kask will be there running games. I think they are scheduled for something like 8 sessions through out the con. The Old School department has a very robust showing with 28 different sessions available from Thursday evening through Sunday morning.


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