My Gencon Experience. A Personal Post.

Posted on August 9, 2010 by

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This post will be a weird one for me.  This post is being written with very raw emotion present, along with a spinning head, and not passed through the filters of thought and etiquette.  It will begin as one thing, and may end up as something else.  It is definitely a stream of consciousness article, unlike many I write on my site.

Before I begin, lets get something out of the way.  There are plenty of shit kickers on the internet, and I want to silence them before they fill my blog with the shit they fling.  If this blog veers off towards a negative slant regarding Gencon, it has nothing to do with not winning either of the Ennies I was nominated for.  In fact, this is the only time I will mention the Ennies in this article.  I was nominated for two Ennies, and that is a huge honor, and a lot more than what shit kickers on the internet can claim.  So that’s that.  The best blogs and podcasts won, and it was thrilling to have my name up there.  Twice. 🙂

So, my Gencon experience started off fairly bad.  Due to airline issues, I missed my flight on Wednesday afternoon, and had to settle for getting there on Thursday, where I was scheduled for a little Colonial Gothic action.  Again, due to circumstances beyond my control, the game fell apart, so I headed to Hooters for some silly gaming fun/engagement party runn by a few of the bloggers I know and am friendly with.  I had a chance to sit in and watch a session of the new Castle Ravenloft D&D Board Game.  It looks interesting.  It comes with tiles, unpainted minis, scenerios, and a bunch of cards and tokens.  It looks like the perfect gateway game to get someone into D&D.

On Friday I also played Dark Suns with Chris Sims, formerly of WOTC and now writing for Critical Hits.  The game was fun, brutal, and ran by a great DM.  He has clearly mastered the craft over years and it was great to watch his calm and collected attitude.  We also played with Robert J. Schwalb, who designs a whole bunch of 4e stuff.  He’s a hell of a funny guy.  Check out the skulls he drew on my character sheet for every death save I made:

Death Saves skulls, by Robert J. Schwalb

Mr. Chris Sims.

That night after the Ennies I also played a late night Space Hulk card game with Mike Mearls & Jeremy Crawford, from WOTC and Mike Shea of the Sly Flourish blog.  It was a fun game, even if the rules as we were interpreting were a little wonky.  The company was nice, and I got my D&D PHB signed by Mearls, who is a great guy.

"You are a newbie no more"wrote Mike Mearls on my PHB.

On Saturday morning I headed out to the Wizard’s new product seminar, to see what was announced.  There are plenty of blogs out there reporting the news, so I won’t get into that.  Stuff I liked were the Ravenloft box set announcement,  the new way for DM’s to give out magical items which will be introduced in an upcoming product, and lots of monster tokens in lots of products, which I am a big fan of.

I was twittering the releases and pictures fast and furiously, along with Critical Hits, so if you followed us on twitter, you would have gotten real times updates as things were mentioned.  It was my first time at a product seminar, and it was an interesting experience, the place was packed.  It’s my gut feeling they pick a small room on purpose for an announcement seminar like this, which should realistically fill a much larger hall, to give it the “standing room only” feel, but that’s just speculation on my part.  Nobody at WOTC is talking about the books out of print issue, so don’t ask me about it in the comments below.  They aren’t talking about that. Period.

I had a chance to play with the much awaited new red box.  What can I say about it… well  it looks nice, it includes a double sided map which unfortunately uses repeated art (crossroads and monster’s lair from the minis) along with a new Dungeon on the other side.  It is still 4e, but it is a product for newbies.  Very simply put, I’ll likely not buy it.  I am not a 4e newbie, and I do not need every single D&D product on my shelf.  Nostalgia factor?  I’ll get the real red box on ebay if I ever need it.  I am not knocking red box, or giving it a bad review.  It is a nice introductory product, but one I do not need.

I also had a chance to see the upcoming minis line, Lords of Madness.  Cool stuff including a huge blue dragon that looked pretty neat, along with a pretty cool looking hydra.  BTW, the official answer on a new minis line for 2011 was “we do not have anything to say”.  Which does not look good for minis lovers, if the large amount of monster tokens included in everything announced is any indication.

Minis!

Also on late Friday night I was graciously invited by Danny (Bartoneus from Critical Hits) to join him and some WOTC folks for drinks at a local place in Indy.  Thos guys are all cool folks, and a pleasure to hang out with.  Danny, Trevor, & Greg, I am looking at you ;)  Sorry for the back and forth regarding my time line, the weekend was a blur!

On Saturday night was the Media Meet and Greet and I had a chance to hang with fellow bloggers and podcasters.  Chris Sims also joined us at the table for a nice chat regarding skill challenge design and execution, along with other insights regarding the game and rpg’s in general.

Whew. that was a lot to type.

Okay, so now comes the other stuff.  Did I “enjoy” Gencon.  My answer is a bit conflicted, and I can’t entirely find the reason why.  I will say this though, and with no shame at all.  I am not the gamer I thought I was.  And by that I mean that I’ve come to the realization that I am not a lover of all types of games, nor a fan of most types of games seen at cons.  I am a roleplayer.  I am not into board games, card games, or weird hybrid games.  I like to play rpg’s.  That’s pretty much it.  And I can certainly do that at home without needing to sleep on a couch at a hotel in Indianapolis.

I wasn’t going to go to Gencon this year, but I was nominated for a pair of Ennies, and felt that in the least I should be there on the remote chance that I actually won.  I didn’t, but I don’t regret being there in case I did.

This blog is two years old.  I love my blog, and I love what I’ve done with it.  I don’t have eight writers, I don’t have advertisers knocking on my door to sponsor me, and I don’t have a desire to one day use my blog as a stepping stone towards other opportunities related to gaming.  It’s not my thing.  I have a career in television that I love, I’m living my dream.  I podcast because I love broadcasting, I love production, and I love playing and talking D&D.  That’s pretty much it.  No more, no less.  I like it, and I’m good at it, and I’ll let my minicast speak for itself.

I was having lunch with a good blogosphere friend at Gencon and he asked me “Where do we take this?”, meaning the whole blogging thing.  I wasn’t sure how to answer that.  I blog for fun, I don’t know if I want to make it my business.  “You are a good writer.”, he said.  I recognized that I am, but I’m still unsure how to answer that.  I’m not interested in some of the things that a lot of people on the rpg blogosphere are interested in, namely writing and designing rpg’s.

If you were interested in that sort of thing, and read this post, perhaps you’d think that I was in a sort of enviable position, hanging out with some of these industry types over drinks, gaming with them, and so on.  I can see why, although I’d likely not share your thoughts.

All this is leading me towards a crossroads here, and I’m not sure which way to go.

My blog has grown over the past two years.  I have accomplished many things as a blogger.  I’ve been published in two books, I’ve been interviewed at the Wizard’s web site, I’ve been nominated for a pair of Ennies, and have scored the occasional free book along the way.  The only thing I haven’t done is cash a check, but granted I haven’t gone out there to look for one either.  I know that I have helped and contributed to the D&D community in general, and that feels great.  That has been the greatest reward, and what I’m most proud of.

Let me go back to the Wizard’s new product seminar.  I was rushing to get there, carrying my laptop back, then started mad tweeting the event like if my life depended on it.  I had to check myself at the end there and ask myself  “Why?  What the fuck are you doing this for?”  And I’m not sure I could answer that for myself.  Notoriety?  To say I was there?  To keep up with expectations?  To be one of the best at doing this kind of stuff?

I started this blog to talk a bit about my home game, without any idea that anyone would actually like to read it.  It sort of just grew.

I have a lot of stuff going on in my personal life that reading about would be boring to you.  So a lot of this is actually therapeutic for me.  It distracts me and makes me think about other things.  But this blog isn’t my job, nor is it going to help me ever find a job in my field.  And I have to stop pretending that this blog is as equally important as other things.  It isn’t.  It’s a D&D blog.  I have found that there’s this pressure I’ve placed on myself to keep this going and set a high bar for myself that I am now going to knock down.  There are things I like writing and there are things I do not like writing for example.  Those that I don’t like will most likely not have a place in my blog anymore.  Reviews, for example, I loathe writing.  Unless a product really, really shines, I’ll likely not review it here.  There are plenty of other places for that, with way better reviews.

Am I ending the blog?  It may happen, although I’m not doing that, no.  But my game at home has almost completely vanished, and without DM’ing, there’s nothing to talk about.  Am I going to stop podcasting?  Nope.  I love it.  I really do.  More so than writing a blog in all honesty.

I truly am at a crossroads.  It felt like ultimately I was at Gencon to keep up with what I’ve created with this blog, and you know what?  I’m not really newbiedm.  My name’s Enrique.  I write a D&D blog, but I’m done trying to keep up with the best of them.  That’s not what I wanted when I started, it’s not what I want now, and it’s not something that I ever aspired to.

If you are reading this (not sure why you would) I’m sorry for the weird tone.  Like I said, I’m in a rough patch of life right now trying to find my way through it, and I needed to vent a bit.  If you are a fan of the blog, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.  I’m not saying the blog is going away.  It isn’t.  But it may be a bit before I update it, unless I have something to say.  I’m not a news portal for D&D.  There’s other places for that.

I didn’t write this looking to get drama traffic.  I don’t need it.  I wrote this to vent, and let some stuff out.  Now I did.  So with that, I’m always on twitter, email, and easily found, so thanks for all the fish.

Posted in: Gaming