According to the Gen Con Indy website, unique attendance — which means individual humans who came to the con — was 49,058. This is 20 percent more than last year’s attendance.
I have to say that I did notice the crowds were greater this year. What I also noticed was that they still processed people through lines quite quickly. I think I only waited at will call about five minutes to get my event tickets, and I was at the end of quite a long line.
Generally, I haven’t found that getting a press badge does much for you at a convention, but being on the Wizards of the Coast press list is awesome. I was given VIP treatment at the press event and got to stay for the four-hour long event that 800 fans paid to attend.
The main focus of the night was D&D Next and a six-book series collectively called The Sundering that will put right what once went wrong in the Forgotten Realms. Airlock Alpha’s own Richard Lee Byers is the author of Book Four in the series, “The Reaver.”
The first book, R.A. Salvatore’s “The Companions,” has just made its debut in bookshops and online outlets. A new book will appear every two months till the series finishes in June 2014 with “The Herald” by Ed Greenwood. Paul S. Kemp’s “The Godborn,” Erin M. Evans’s “The Adversary” and Troy Denning’s “The Sentinel” round out the series.
One of the cool things about The Sundering series is that each book tells a complete tale. Instead of taking one set of characters through what are realms-shaking events, we will see how the events affect different characters in different parts of the realms.
The book series is not the only exciting thing on the front for fans of Dungeons & Dragons. We were told that all across the country fans will be able to play in special encounters at local comic shops. The results of the games will be sent to Wizards of the Coast and they will study them and use them to help shape the future of D&D Next.
I often think bowing to fan pressure in television shows is a bad thing — think Stargate — but I think it’s different with a game. The interactive nature of gaming makes fan input really important. I am impressed with Wizards of the Coast’s response to fans who did not like Fourth Edition D&D.
As well as meeting game designers and authors at the event, you could you get your picture taken with your favorite hero from The Sundering and you could try to solve the mystery of A Murder in Baldur’s Gate. The latter involved seeking clues from random celebrities, eliminating suspects, and playing games to obtain passwords that would lead you to other clues.
Of course, there was food and drink and a giant cake with a note of congratulations for 25 years of R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt character. The cake was not a lie. I was lucky enough to get some of it from the chocolate side. I would have been happy with vanilla, but we all know the dark side is very seductive.
I didn’t play in the murder mystery but I did get my picture taken with The Reaver. I’m a sucker for such things. Some people speculated that they’d use standees to take the pictures, but the set up looked high tech to me and my suspicion that the character would be added digitally turned out to be correct. It was like green screen but you could see the background you and the character would appear against.
The venue for this event was amazing. I’ve been to the Indiana ballroom for several events and it never failed to impress. It’s got Victorian architecture and when you put colored spots around the room, it truly looks like some sort of magical realm. It was a perfect setting for the launch of The Sundering.
When I think of the word “convention,” I immediately think of people in costume. The costume turnout at this year’s Gen Con Indy was wonderful. I took dozens of pictures, and they were only of a fraction of the costumers I saw. There was a large Star Wars presence this year. I suspect that has something to do with the debut of a new Star Wars game. There were rebel pilots and stormtroopers in great abundance.
My favorite costume was Medieval Spider-Man. He was in tights, the puffy briefs (for lack of the correct term), and a doublet with the spider on the back. I love the idea of a new take on a modern character.
Unfortunately, there was to be no LARPing for me this time around. I was signed up for one but it got canceled because too many of the players didn’t show.
I did get to play a game I’ve heard of for many years but hadn’t tried. Now, I know how to play “Are You a Werewolf?” I was signed up for a two-hour session and I couldn’t believe how fast that two hours went. No wonder I’ve seen people up all night playing it at local conventions. I can see how you’d get addicted to it.
There was a sort of LARP chess game I tried too but I thought it had some elements that made it less fun than it could have been. There were too many players, I think. It would have been more fun if you’d gotten to do more than you did in your two hours. Also, once you were dead, there was really no reason to stay. This could mean you paid to play and got little for your money if you died early.
I’ve played in Cthulhu Live games in which characters died but were allowed to come back as monsters or ghosts and I think that’s a good way to give people a full gaming experience. Hint; if you play Cthulhu Live games, expect that if you don’t die, you will go crazy. That’s just the way it is in that eldritch world.
All in all, I had a great time at Gen Con Indy, but because there are never enough costumes to see, I’ll be going to a local comic con later on. Yep, when you are a fan, there is always another convention to attend.