Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gen Con 2013

As you might guess, it’s been a very busy summer. Between the Primeval Thule Kickstarter campaign, a short vacation on the Oregon coast, preparations to send my oldest daughter off to college, and Gen Con, I’ve been on one deadline or another for months. Next up is the writing and design work for Thule, which is shaping up to 60,000 words or so over the next couple of months—but that’s the sort of deadline I have a lot of experience with, and I’m looking forward to snuggling up with this savage continent this fall.

(Speaking of Primeval Thule… you still have one last chance to get in on the Kickstarter if you haven’t already. We can take pledges at, and we’ll count those with the support we raised during the actual Kickstarter campaign. Your “late backer” pledge gets you the same books, packages, or PDFs that similar pledges during the actual campaign received.)
Anyway, for today’s blog, I thought I’d say a few words about things I saw at Gen Con. I didn’t go in 2012 or 2011, so it’s been a few years for me.

No Big Software Outfits
Throughout the late ‘90s and the early ‘00s, GenCon’s exhibit hall was increasingly taken over by big PC game and console game outfits. They brought in gigantic booths, deafening soundtracks, and huge screens showing off their games. This year, I didn’t see those guys in the dealer hall. I understand there were a couple who had rooms of their own elsewhere in the convention center. My guess is that most of these companies have decided to focus on other shows, like PAX. I’ll be honest: I don’t really miss them in the Gen Con exhibitor’s hall. I spent a lot of Gen Cons past shouting to make myself heard over super-loud digital games located in booths near the WotC or TSR booth where I was working.

With Wizards of the Coast holding off on D&D Next, it was a relatively quiet year for RPGs at the show. Paizo had a great show with a whole slew of great new Pathfinder material and a gigantic ballroom dedicated to Pathfinder gaming; pretty clearly Pathfinder is THE game people are playing these days. The new Shadowrun Fifth Edition book looks FANTASTIC, and I really can’t wait to roll up a gunslinger adept or a street samurai and play. Pelgrane was sporting their excellent new 13th Age book. Finally, Monte Cook brought his new game Numenera to the show, and that is also a fine-looking book. I haven’t had a chance to play yet, but I look forward to trying it out.

While WotC didn’t bother with a big booth in the exhibitor’s hall this year, they did draw plenty of people to their D&D Next Q&A sessions and special events like their Thursday night Forgotten Realms celebration in the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom. I think a lot of RPG fans are waiting to see what Wizards is going to do with D&D Next, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do a huge relaunch of D&D at next year’s show.
Dave, Steve, and I ran game sessions of Primeval Thule at the show, so I had a chance to GM some Pathfinder Thule on Friday. I managed to kill one of our big-shot backers by tearing his ranger to pieces with a saber-tooth tiger. That's Sasquatch, service with a smile!

If I didn’t know better, I would say that Gen Con is a boardgame show these days, with RPGs something of an afterthought. The sprawling booths for Mayfair, Fantasy Flight, Asmodee, and Catalyst were really the most prominent landmarks in the dealers’ hall. I had a chance to demo Flying Frog’s Fortune and Glory boardgame, checked out the Cthulhu Wars demo (boy, those game pieces are awesomely cool), played Monolith and Dungeon Roll, and bought the new Spyrium game from Asmodee. Asmodee is quickly becoming my favorite board game publisher, by the way; a few years ago I bought the excellent Mission: Red Planet game at Gen Con, and it’s one of my favorites.

Other Gen Con Observations
Cosplay is bigger than ever at Gen Con; I guess it’s just part of the con-going experience these days. The coolest outfits I saw belonged to a group of folks dressed as Steampunk-era Ghostbusters, complete with a colossal StayPuft Marshmallow Man. An important safety tip to Future Rich: Wear better shoes next year, dummy. I walked out my shoes on the first day of the show, blistered my feet badly, and had to spend the next three days limping around in severe pain. Finally, I was reminded that Gen Con is the place to be if you’re in the gaming biz; I saw and talked to scores of old friends, professional colleagues, and other interesting people during the show. My fellow Sasquatches and I are already talking about what we’re going to do for next year’s show.

Finally, I got a chance to play some Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures on Friday night, when I dropped in on the Battle for the Mediterranean tournament. I failed to bring tournament-legal fleets (that's what I get for not reading the whole event description), but I did have a chance to play a side game with longtime Forumini personality Weeds. My air-heavy Italian fleet was not particularly effective thanks to a twilight scenario, but my cleverly placed heavy shore battery caused Weeds no end of trouble, and late in the game I managed to vital the Nelson with a point-blank attack from the battleship Roma. Weeds defeated me in a real squeaker that came down to my last gunnery attack from the shore battery--it was a ton of fun!

That’s all for this time—I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!


  1. Hey, Rich! I laughed when I saw this, "I managed to kill one of our big-shot backers by tearing his ranger to pieces with a saber-tooth tiger." I thought that was hilarious! I was the player running Hilda the Barbarian. :)

    I'm going to do the 'late backer' bit tonight. I really enjoyed the playtest demo, and look forward to checking out the game.

    Also! I remembered why I knew I liked your stuff so much: Dark Sun and Dark*Matter! It's been a while-- forgive me. ;)

  2. Hey, thanks for stopping by! I had fun running the game. I've been playing a lot of 4e over the last few years, so it's fun to warm up my 3e/Pathfinder muscles again. And thanks for coming in as a late backer! We're finalizing the last details of our outline now that we know how the Kickstarter turned out, and I'm really excited about diving into a heavy dose of Thule writing over the next couple of months. It's going to be a great setting book!

  3. Hi Rich,

    I've never seen anyone else do a post-Kickstarter opt-in to the deals in a Kickstarter campaign. How does this post-Kickstarter pledge thing work? And when does it run out?

    I don't see anything about it on the Sasquatch Game Studio homepage? Is there another page that has the details?

  4. We've seen several other companies run "slacker backer" programs--in fact, we took our lead from them. The reason we don't have anything about up on Sasquatch is that we just concluded the program a week or so ago.