Genghis, Khan of Cons
versus Harley, the Reluctant Celebrity

Driving back from Genghis, the highway had vanished under a couple inches of snow, so I had a good 5 hours to review my weekend.

Genghis occupies that sweet spot where it has enough critical mass to draw gamers from the entire West and Southwest, but isn’t so large that it has to branch out into non-game events like Gen Con's dubious Segway Challenge. So while it doesn’t have the same sheer spectacle or intensity as some of mega-conventions, it is perhaps --- in the final analysis --- more true to the vision of a “gaming convention.”

I was a late-comer, so my events didn’t make it into the printed catalog, but we still had overfull tables at both games. The largest was 9 players --- we had one guy rolling up a halfling barbarian (his tribute to the sexy shoeless god of war) while I sprinted back to my room for more pre-gens and another guy looked for extra chairs. Note to self, always bring at least twice the number of characters required for any session. Both games had their own charm, and I think it was a good sign that my group was told to shush from a nearby table. When it was all said and done I was spent, and after only running 2 sessions, another good sign.

We were play testing Maze of the Oracle, a 3.5 version of Goodman Games’ 2008 Free RPG Day adventure. We’ll play test it again, in house, for 4E rules balance and whatnot, but this weekend I was looking mostly at continuity and to see where things bogged down and got boring. While it was good to run the adventure through the paces, I’m a terrible play test GM. When games gets boring, I make up stuff on the spot --- after all, I’m here to entertain the players, right?

So yeah, I have low threshold for boredom at the table. As soon as folks start stacking dice, I’m pulling the train off the tracks and making everyone roll for initiative. That’s fine and good for home games, but in the publishing world, “made up stuff on the spot” tends to not make it into the finished release, and some this weekend’s material, tailored to a specific group, was decidedly PG-13+.

(At one point, the rib cage of the party’s wizardress was rotting out, and the rest of her team was debating the merits of inserting the evil war-god idol into her side. Definitely not your usual DCC fair. Sorry guys, you won’t be seeing any of those travails in the final release.)

Stephanie Latta and the Denver Gamers’ Association put me up in style and took great care of me over the weekend. Scheduling permitting, I’m hoping that we can pull a repeat next year, with maybe some other Goodman Games writers in tow. It’d be fun to pull in cohort of writers and use Genghis to test out adventures and new games. Specifically, writers who are better at that whole play testing thing.

One of the cooler games I saw over the weekend was a massive war game table, re-creating the last battle in Lord of the Rings. Siege towers, boats loaded down with orcs, flocks of giant eagles, the whole shebang. I’ve never played any war games but they are a lot of fun to look at. The only flaw (and again I’ve never played in any) is that turn resolution seems to take forever. Witnessing one kid getting his hat handed to him by the Witch King of Angmar and then having to wait 5 minutes before slugging back was just painful.

All told, the show was blast. Next weekend I’m headed to Arlington for the D&D Experience, Wizard’s premier show, so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.

Thanks again to DGA, Genghis Con, and all the folks that signed up to playtest Maze. Hope to see you all again next year.



At 2:36 PM, Blogger Jeff LaSala said...

Whoa. How are giant eagles represented in miniature on a (relatively) 2D mat?

At 3:02 PM, Blogger saurus said...

wait, you're up the road in virginia and you didn't even tell me? bastard :)

At 3:05 PM, Blogger saurus said...

scratch that - i ain't driving to dc. as they said in blazing saddles - son, you're on your own.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...


It was pretty 3D, as far as war games go. The coolest part of the table was seeing the sculpted mountains separating the various forces, and the sculpts of the various citadels.

While the Witch King was laying down his smack, the horse lord dudes were riding hard to make it around the mountains in time to save the day, and off in the distance was the Tower of Saruman the White, Mordor, etc. All of it was "playable" space.

In the version I watched, the good guys weren't doing so hot. Seemed like maybe the watch fires hadn't been lit, or something, because it was all of Mordor versus the City and you can guess who was coming up the loser.

Oh. And the eagles were on elevated needles a couple inches off the table.


How close are you to Arlington?


At 4:16 PM, Blogger saurus said...

not very. heh. 5 hours on a good day. that means no beltway traffic. say hi to the marines for me :)

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Matt's at something called Bash Con in Toledo this weekend... who knew we'd meet so many gamers in Ohio?

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

Matt's at something called Bash Con in Toledo this weekend... who knew we'd meet so many gamers in Ohio?

I'm so envious ... Matt's my player, damnit! :)


At 12:52 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Our friend Ned who is running the 1983 Basic set campaign might disagree after we've been playing for a few more weeks, but secretly I'll know you'll be my one and only GM. ;)

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Grimbones said...

That is so painfully cool. :)



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