Monday, August 21, 2017

Gencon 2017--It Happened!

Despite some plot-twists at the beginning, this year was one of the better Gencons I’ve had. One Tuesday, the alternator on my truck went out, turned to a carbonized chunk. This is the third Gencon in a row where I’ve had car problems for Gencon. Last year, our break line broke as we were pulling out the driveway. The year before that, the sidewall on my tire went out somewhere near Ft. Wayne. Frankly, I’m starting to take it personally. Thankfully, a friend of mine came over Tuesday night, and we (meaning him) swapped out the alternator—a five-hour process that saved me $500 and, indeed, the day. Helluva’ guy!

It’s notable that this Gencon I decided not to worry about networking or self-promotion, and I wound up meeting more people than ever before. Who’d’a’thunk? Instead, I took a lot of pictures of Hex Games mascot Happy D20 in interesting situations. It was goofy but I had fun with it.
So here’s how the rest of the week shook out:


My wife, our son, and I piled into the truck around noon and drove the 4 hours to Indianapolis with no troubles, listening to podcasts the entire way. Like last year, we stayed at the Motel 6 in Franklin, about 20 minutes away from the con. It’s a Motel 6, but it was clean and comfortable, the staff was friendly, and I paid less for four nights that I’d pay for one night in Indy. I’d do it again.

After settling in, we went to the Convention Center, picked up our tickets and got dinner at Steak and Shake. I certainly deserved a strawberry milkshake. Afterward we walked around downtown a bit while Ivy hunted pokemon and I actually took the time to look at the sites for once.


My wife and son are cosplayers. Today Ivy dressed up as Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time while Erik dressed up as Dr. Carlos from Welcome to Nightvale.

At the con, I went to the JW Marriot where all the Hex Games events were. The JW feels like a second home at this point. I met up with Ian “Dynateens: Surf Force” Engle to chat and catch up on things before he had to run his “Candyland Has Fallen” game.

Ivy and I made out first foray into the Dealer’s Room where I met up with my friend Brad “Nightlife”McDevitt at the Goodman Games booth. We chatted, caught up, and I bought some of his art originals. I also bought some prints from Doug Kovaks and some DCC books. Overall, Goodman Games got more money than anyone else this year.

I played Tunnels & Trolls “The Great Fairy Hunt” later that afternoon. I own, like, four editions of T&T, but this was the first time I had a chance to play it. Damn fun.

Finally, I ran my first session of Hobomancers in Time.” My players were all repeat players from last year and the game went very, very well. Using the Fantastical Time Spinner, they went to 1,000,000 BC, Sherwoood Forest, and Ape City to collect the Cosmic Tchotchkes and defeat VLHRG the Time Wyrm. One of the characters ascended to the Godhead. That was neat!

"Can I punch the Time Wyrm?"
"You can sure try!"


Today Ivy dressed as Dr. Girlfriend from Venture Brothers and Erik dressed as some guy from the dressed as a guy from the Yakuza video game I don’t play.

Sadly, my 9am Hobomancers in Time didn’t go off. Only one player showed up, and I assume the other five got stuck in traffic or something. Ian and I chatted with the one guy for an hour while we waited and had a pleasant discussion at least. Wish I could recall the dude’s name.

Steve “Death Cookie” Johnson rolled into Gencon today, and I talked with him for a good bit, having not seen him for a few years. He was running “Wet Hot American Monsters” today, using the Cinemechanix system. Cinemechanix, is the new system Steve’s writing and fans of Hex Games and QAGS should be super excited for its imminent production.

Since I had some free time, I went back to the dealer’s room, which wasn’t a great idea financially speaking. I bought more stuff and, more importantly, met Phil Foglio! Now anyone who’s seen my art can tell that Foglio was a HUGE influence on my style (especially the older stuff). I didn’t even know he was at Gencon until I was six feet away from him. I embarrassingly fanboyed all over him, but he was super polite and pleasant and patient.  I bought a collection of his Myth-Adventures comics as well as really cool print that Ivy liked.

My third and final Hobomancers in Time game was in the afternoon. I got a different group of repeat players for this session—the same crew that went to hell last year to fight Stagger Lee. This year they travelled to Camelot, the distant retro-future of the year 2000, and ancient Greece to collect Excalibur, the Spider from Mars, and the Golden Fleece to defeat VLHRG the Time Wyrm.

At night, Ivy and I went to the Embassy to play Inferno Road with the Dungeon Crawl Classics crew. Like last year’s Punjar 50k game, this was a multi-group/multi-table event of high-octane energy organized by Doug "Darkest Chaos Shadow Master" Kovaks. Inferno Road is like Mad Max in Hieronymus Bosch’s Hell. We drank beer, we rolled some funny dice, and had a blast.


Fatigue begins to set in on Saturday, but all my games are done, and I’m on my own schedule now, free to hang out and take things casual. Today was the big cosplay day, and Ivy busted out her Lapis Lazuli (from Steven Universe) while Erik dressed up as Nepeta from Homestuck.

I walked around for a couple of hours to look at the cosplayers and I ran into my cousin Kerwin, who was dressed up as Captain Hammer. We don’t get to see each other much, so we chatted for an hour or so in the concourse while people-watching.

Leighton “Laser Ponies” Connor showed up for his one and only day at Gencon 50. He ran a Laser Ponies game as well as a QAGS game based on his webcomic The Electric Team.

Pickle Rick!
Google Plus isn’t the best platform for direct messages, but luckily I checked my notifications at the right time to hook up with Jim “Jim—Yes That Jim” Ryan and Brian “Play on Target” Cooksey at the JW Starbucks. Gentlemen both of them.

After our games were over, Steve, Leighton, Ian, Ian’s brother Chris, and I went to dinner at High Velocity, a bar in the JW Marriot right below our game floor (decent food, and no waiting for seats!). After dinner Ian had a “Beau Hexed” game to run (French Foreign Legion vs Cthulhu). Steve, Leighton and I sat outside High Velocity for five hours talking about superheroes, movies, games, and brainstorming creative ideas. It was a good Saturday night and time well-spent.


The fatigue has totally set in, and Starbucks is out of cold brew. Still I soldier on. Erik has no costume today, but Ivy is dressed in her Original Series Star Trek science officer uniform with sensible boots.
I start my morning by playing in the “Sky ov Crimson Flame” Dungeon Crawl Classics game run by Thorin “Son ov Thrain” Thompson. It’s just the adrenaline rush I need, as all my zero-level heroes die one by-one in heavy metal Sam Rami horror-action. Damn good time.

After I say goodbye to Steve and Ian (Leighton left Saturday night) Ivy and I spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the Dealer’s room with a couple of her cosplay buddies, avoiding the temptation to abuse our wallets further. Out of pure luck, I run into Skaught “Pathfinder Dad” Bowden and we get to talk for a bit before we all have to leave.

Eventually we leave to make the four-hour trip back. Despite the onset of exhaustion and visual hallucinations, we arrived safely back in Toledo. Now, today, I rest and recover.

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