I used to go to a fair number of gaming cons, but that was my first Gen Con experience. Steve goes every year for professional reasons - he almost always has a booth on artists alley. I'd always wanted to go since seeing the ads in the back of my Dragon mags back in the 80s, so going with Steve, who has the connects to get a hotel room nearby, was a no brainer. Obviously Gen Con is a totally different thing now than it was then. Well, maybe not totally different...
Here's me and Lou Zocchi, the original master of randomization. His booth is probably the single best direct link to the classic spirit of Gen Con. If you go to Gen Con you MUST stop by to see him and buy some dice. Check this insane original Range 1 digital randomizer he had:
Gen Con was especially sweet for me this year because I got to meet up with my niece, Celeste Conowitch, who was there DMing a live Twitch feed for Wizards. Long time readers might remember this old post, from when Celeste was 16 and running an all-girls D&D game. Now she hosts a popular D&D actual play podcast called Venture Maidens, is a frequent guest on many other podcasts, and is publishing 5e material with Onyx Path and Kobold Press. Here's Steve, Celeste, and myself hanging out Steve's booth (Steve did the cover for Celeste's Blood Sea book from Onyx Path):
By the way, I ran into GWAR in the hallway near the Chaosium rooms:
Paizo is a huge thang at Gen Con. I was curious to try out Starfinder, so I played in one of their "adventure path" games, which was ridiculous and pretty much sucked. Not because the system was bad, necessarily, but the tired, unengaged gamemaster was basically reading each step of the adventure off of a laminated card and we just did a scripted series of easy combats and guided dice roll games. Lame. I think a lot of people spend most of their Gen Con time grinding through these "path" games to build up their characters. The size of the Paizo gaming hall is difficult to imagine unless you've been there. It was pretty impressive:
I did play a lot of excellent games, especially hanging around the Chaosium rooms with Matt, including Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, and Pendragon. So maybe I'll talk more about those games later. But probably the best surprise of Gen Con for me was all the artists showing off their work. I spent a long time checking out the work and chstting with artists. I ended up buying a piece from Jon Sideriadis, who ended up winning the Jury Prize for Best Artist. I will definitely write more about Jon's art in a future post.