Or, "The Ramblings of a long trip, coupled with scant profound utterances"
The focus on Wednesday was the trip there. Packing up the van, meeting up with Paul, my well-reputed navigator, and getting on the road. The trip was filled with discussions of what I knew about the gaming world, our opinions of various rulesets and game worlds (including a long discussion of the Legend of the Five Rings storyline, which Paul is a huge fan of). Anything to keep us from realizing the length of the trip. And, while the lovely outdoors was truly a sight to see (at 70 MPH) West Virginia seems to have the lowest amount of roadkill on its roads I've ever seen. In Maryland, we have some; in Ohio, it was everywhere. In West Virginia, we saw plenty (!) of blood on the roads, but not the animal. I leave you to make your own conclusion here.
About five miles from the appointed hotel, I get a phone call on my digital phone - reporting to me that the original hotel was a dump and that we were going to be staying in a new place. Please note that our trip was WELL mapped out to the original hotel - but I was clueless about Ohio in general beyond that. After some grumbling, we got directions to the new place and the phone number in case we got lost.
Which, of course, we did. Because the directions were wrong.
After a short jaunt towards Cincinnati, we finally got correct directions and arrived at the hotel. Paul and I got to meet the Reaper crew (whom I had "virtually" worked with for months now) - Ed, Miriam, Ron, and Jon of Talon Games. The meeting was brief - we had to haul ourselves over to the convention center and unpack!
We got to the convention center, which was bustling with game companies putting together booths and carrying in boxes full of goodies. We carried in all of our stuff for the Reaper booth and our demos - when we get a copy of the Origins guide.
And, we're not in it. Nowhere is the name "Reaper Miniatures." Or any of the events we have scheduled. Or a map featuring our booth.
Suffice it to say Andon isn't presently on the Reaper Miniatures Christmas Card list.
After sorting out some of this (read: damage control) and setting up all we could set up, it's time to go and get some dinner. Reaper had been invited to the home of Eric of Lance and Laser, for a pre-Origins gathering. The hospitality was fantastic - a big thanks to Eric and his wife for having us, as well as a big warning to anyone who plays their youngest daughter in chess. We also got to meet the RAFM guys at this time- Jack, Jamie and Colin - who, for Canadians, seemed remarkably well behaved. (Gotcha!)
After dinner and much discussion, it was time to head back for the hotel. Had to get a good night's rest - the next day was going to be the big time.
I woke up nice and early - leaving plenty of time to get ready. I quickly learned that the Reaper crew have their own separate, and equally diverse definition of "early". Paul, likewise, seemed to enjoy his bed too much, as he had to catch up with us later. A-hem.
Anyway, we made to the convention center in one piece, and found our tables. Luckily, we were in a relatively high traffic area, and got to speak to a lot of people as they were travelling from the dealer's room to their scheduled games. We got to run a number of them through the demos - my demo of "the Battle of the Bloody Coast" and Ed's demo of a coastal treasure hunt (with real gold!). The players really seemed to have a good time on both tables - despite my occasional rules screw-ups. (Sorry guys!)
In between the talking and the demos, I got to meet all sorts of folks - the guys and gal at Agents of Gaming, Ken Carpenter at Alderac Entertainment Group, Dustin at Chaosium - as well as a large number of gamers.
After the dealer room closed, and the last dice rolled on our last demo, it was time to go and grab some food! After driving around for a bit, we settled on a place called Cheddars - which is a fine feeding establishment. Much joking, ribbing, and eating later, it was time to head back to the hotel. (Which actually was no rest of the wicked - we were up half the night discussing the forthcoming Dark Heaven RPG and a few more projects that I am not allowed to speak of - but their initials are C.A.V.)
Ah, Friday morning. Whereas there was NO trouble rising on Thursday, Friday did not prove to be so easy. After a bit of a late rise, we had to haul ourselves down to the convention center and speedily set up for the morning's demos-- nothing like a hotel with no alarm clocks, nosiree! But despite my personal extended stay in the sack, we were able to set up and run some more demos.
In-between the demos, I got to do some wandering of the dealer's room. The big stars of the show seemed to be the few new products out there - 7th Sea by AEG and Aberrant by White Wolf. (AEG was also doing demos of the 7th Sea card game, called No Quarter, but I don't believe they were selling it. Which, to me, seemed rather odd)
I also tried to note those companies not in attendance, or at least those who had no one selling their products. Off the top of my head, I counted Dream Pod 9, Geo-Hex, Pagan Publishing, Tyrant Games, Alternative Armies, and Harlequin Miniatures. (I'm sure I've a few-- but these are folks I was looking for) While Origins isn't on the same level as Gen Con, I was still surprised to count so many missing. Some of it, at least, could be blamed on the fact that DragonCon and Origins were the same weekend. Really smart, folks.
After the con Friday, we grabbed dinner at the restaurant adjacent to the convention center - I don't recall the name, it wasn't really noteworthy. However, most of the patrons were familiar faces - seems we were all too worn out by the convention to wander too far.
After dinner, we grabbed a set of seats in the hotel for the usual round of banter. While I pulled out my (vastly extensive!!) set of jokes, part of the Reaper-RAFM group went off to see the fireworks. The rest were tormented by retellings of my infamous bear joke.
Saturday morning was smooth - nobody overslept. We got down to the con and set-up like a well-oiled machine. The demos went well- after a 10-minute explanation of the rules and perhaps 20 minutes of supervision, the players took over and I could just sit back and watch the carnage. (A quick note: the humans really were supposed to the win the scenario I was running. They never did. The groups who ran in the demo on Saturday fought the hardest, but the orcs still ruled the day)
After attendance felt low for the first two days, the con seemed to pick up on Saturday. I also got to meet a few more people that until then had only spoken to over the net - Dennis Johnson and Demian Rose, late of Global Games. I also failed to run them through a promised demo - something they'll have to find in their hearts to forgive me.
After the demos were done, I finally got a chance to check out a lot of the other games that people were playing. There were several demos of Clan War going on. Several large scale fleet actions for both Babylon 5 Wars and Silent Death. Matt Forbeck of Pinnacle was running people through the soon-to-be-released Brave New World. There seemed to be demos of FASA's VOR: The Maelstrom going on, but I never got to see them playing. I did get to check out the Growler models, however, and they are nothing less than fantastic. But that's Kev Adams for you.
Also going on was the Fantasy Rules! Zodiac Tournament. It was over before I got to see much of it, but I heard several reports that it was a blast. (Damn those early risers! They started around 8!) Target Games had tables of Warzone and Chronopia set up - included a very amusing Stygian dinner table scene. There was a large-scale Star Fleet Battles game - intimidating as hell. I'm almost loathe to mention what Agents of Gaming was doing for Starseige: Rebellion. They were hunting-- pokemons. Pikachu in particular. It seems that one of the sick minds at AoG wrote up stats for the beastie and were chasing it around the mining tunnels of Mars. Oh, what a sad day for us all…
I won't list how many people were using at least one piece of Armorcast Terrain. I know Reaper had more than a few. I got to stop by their booth and see the monstrous resin Mad Cat they just put out. Oh man.
I wish I had more opportunity to check out the board game companies, like Columbia Games and such, but they were quite busy and I really didn't have the proper time to go up and soak up the info.
Saturday night, being my last night there, was a working night. We put our heads together and cooked up all sorts of plans for….. [censored]
The end is nigh. Of the con, anyway. I had the day demo-free, so I had time to go and chat with people. Plus, for the first time all weekend, I had time to play! The point of Origins! However, the only games I got to really check out were RAFM's Charlie Company and the as-yet unreleased Baker Company. Charlie Company is really like no other Vietnam based wargame that I've ever seen. (I snagged a copy, so you'll get treated to the full review later folks) Plus the RAFM guys - Jamie and Colin - make really good demo guys. Which is amusing, because it was the most I heard Jamie talk all weekend. I was promised a demo of Clan War by Ken Carpenter himself, but that didn't happen - and so I need to publically rib Ken for it. Gotcha.
The rest of the time I spent wandering the dealer's room trying to take in everything. I got to check out the new Demonblade GWAR figures - which are nearly as scary as the GWAR people themselves. I also had the fantastic opportunity to be slammed by the daughter of the owner of Lance and Laser. For a little kid, she was damn smart.
All good things must come to an end though, and we had a nice long drive ahead of it. After leaving the con with many, many more Reaper figures than I arrived with, saying a load of good-byes, we hopped in my van and headed for home.
The trip, mostly uninterested, was punctuated only by my desire to very nearly run out of gas and finding a rest stop with approximately two thirds of all of the flying insects of Pennsylvania. Sheesh.
But we did make it home intact, around 0-dark-hundred or so.
The Con is over….I'm back home. Tired. Spent. But pleased. It's a different world crossing over from the consumer to the company. Not as glamorous as people think, though. Of course, after being gone "gaming" for several days, my darling fiancée puts me to work…
It was good to meet the people I did there. Same time, next year?
---Robert E. Allen III
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