Well, I had an unexpected game at GenCon this year. If it had been a LARP, it would have been a Cthulhu Live game. Those who play in that game system know you have a high likelihood of going insane, if not actually dying.
Probably the thing that most makes me crazy in everyday life is hunting for lost things. So, of course, the very first morning of the con, I lost my reading glasses in the dealers room. It was while purchasing some Cthulhu-themed items that I discovered my loss.
I made my purchase, hoping I had come reasonably close to signing the receipt correctly, and then began retracing my steps. I asked merchants if they’d come upon a pair of scary thick, green framed glasses, but to no avail.
With fear mounting but still not quite entirely panicked, I found a convention center employee and asked the location of the lost and found office. The employee didn’t know but found a fellow named Josh who was working medical services that day and Josh, who was tired of just hanging out waiting for someone to pass out or in some other way need medical attention, walked around with me helping me look.
We didn’t find the glasses, so Josh took me on his medical cart to the lost and found office where I filed a report. Then he took me back to the area of the convention center where I was to meet my friend, and fellow Airlock Alpha columnist, Richard Lee Byers at noon. Talk about the kindness of strangers!
As it was not quite noon, I used the time to call my eye doctor’s office and order a second pair of glasses so I’d not be up the creek if I never found the ones I had just lost. I don’t have my eye doctor on speed dial but I do know the number by heart. We people with albinism tend to be quite connected to our eye care professionals.
Once Richard was released from the clutches of panel stardom, we returned to the dealers room to take another look ‘round. We followed my original path, ending with the Cthulhu booth where I had come up short on glasses. A couple of hours having passed, I had resigned myself to having to hunt up a drugstore and buy some cheap magnifying specs to get by with for the rest of the con.
Richard was tagged by someone he knew so I was just hanging while they conversed. I noticed a woman in front of me bending down to pick something off the floor in front of the booth and, yes, you guessed it, when she rose, I could see that it was my glasses she had in her hand. I probably scared her when I gave her a big hug, or maybe, she just thought I’d not made a good roll of the dice on my challenge and had gone insane.
We were near many Cthulhu items, you know.
That same day, I got to use my press credentials at GenCon for the first time. I’d been contacted by Wizards of the Coast about conducting an interview. I had no idea whom I’d be interviewing but I’m used to faking it, so I arrived for my appointment -- with glasses, thank goodness -- and a notebook, pen and high hopes.
My hopes were rewarded. The person who had been assigned to speak with me was Shelly Mazzanoble, associate brand marketing manager. That longish title sounds a bit stuffy but Mazzanoble is anything but stuffy. She’s exactly what you’d hope someone who works for a company that is basically in the entertainment business would be. She’s upbeat, knowledgeable and loves Dungeons & Dragons.
In fact, she loves it so much that she wrote two books in which the game is featured prominently. "Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girls Guide to the Dungeons and Dragons Game" published by Wizards of the Coast won the 2008 ENnie Award for Best Regalia. Her second book was "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons: One Woman’s Quest to Trade Self-Help for Elf-Help."
The interview took place before the big keynote event at which new plans for Dungeons & Dragons and The Forgotten Realms would occur, but we did talk a bit about the future of Dungeons & Dragons and the Realms.
Wizards of the Coast’s lofty plan is to create over at least a two-year period a game system for Dungeons & Dragons that would allow players to play across all previous game systems. This will be accomplished in part by a new series of books that will put right what once went wrong (yes, "Quantum Leap" reference there) with the Forgotten Realms. The book series will be called The Sundering and will include books by authors, Ed Greenwood (the creator of the Realms), R. A. Salvatore, Paul S. Kemp, Erin M. Evans, Richard Lee Byers and Troy Denning.
Each book will be a complete story, but in total they will put the Realms back into a state that fans have shown they love dearly. Starting in August 2013 a new book in the series will come out every two months — none of this waiting a year or more stuff for the next story. I hate waiting forever for sequels. I like this every-two-months plan.
Mazzanoble couldn’t give me any details about how the books or new gaming products will change the Realms, but she did say that Wizards of the Coast is listening to what fans have to say and they will be working hard to create products that will give fans what they want. That’s why they don’t have a firm timetable for the gaming changes. They want to do things right.
My first gaming character was an elf sorceress and it turns out that Mazzanoble’s first character was also an elf sorceress. We bonded over that. If you are a gamer or have ever been a gamer, you understand. Mazzanoble is not just someone I interviewed now, she’s my GenCon pseudo-daughter.
Wizards of the Coast is one of the major sponsors of GenCon. Because they are the owners of Dungeons & Dragons, the game that inspired the start of GenCon, they were asked to present the first ever keynote event for GenCon’s 45th year.
You can watch the whole keynote event on YouTube, so I won’t even try to explain how cool it was. It was quite the Hollywood-style affair though, with a great setting at the Indiana Ballroom and colored spotlights waving over the audience and hard rock playing. What could have been dull and boring was really quite excellent. One big piece of news that came out of it was that Wizards will soon begin published all of their past D&D content in e-format.
When I started out to write this column, I thought I’d be able to give a fuller accounting of my GenCon experience for this year, but here we are over 1,100 words and I’ve only partially gone over the first day!
It was a great con and I played in some super fun LARPS this year, including one that will remain a favorite memory, Magic the Dislocating, a game based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.
I managed to hold onto my pesky reading glasses the rest of the con and I managed the same when I went to Chicon 7, the World Science Fiction Convention just a week after returning from GenCon.
It’s been a busy fannish life.
Next time: Return to World Con
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