Thursday, September 4, 2014

DragonCon 2014 in Review: Day 2

Saturday 1 PM - 5:45 PM
On Saturday morning, my son didn't want me to leave and so I was a bit late getting out of the house. I didn't make it down into the city until after 1 PM, which meant I missed a chance to play a game at 1 pm. I figured I'd swing by the vendor hall but the parade is Saturday and the sidewalks were packed. Getting into America's Mart (the vendor hall) involved a line and it was far too hot and humid for that.

Instead, I circled by a round about way to the Hilton and took up a place in the lounge, drawing the logo for the zine that I had hoped to have done for the con (spoiler alert: didn't make it). It's called Save vs. Paper Cuts and is a return to the aesthetics i prefer. Fear not, it doesn't replace 6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer, it's in addition.

I checked out some of the gaming going on in the basement - wow, was it packed. My plans for a pop-up zine library there went out the window: no open tables. 

People played everything from My Little Pony to Malifaux. I stopped to watch the demo of  Bravo Company (WWII RAFM Charlie Company) featuring some US troops landing on a Japanese held island but it seemed a bit chaotic with multiple people teaching the rules. The Hive and the Flame had a game going, and I think they were open to anyone joining anytime, but I went back to the lounge and setup myself for zines and sent out a tweet and such.

I refused to go back outside into the heat and humidity but eventually got tired of just sitting around, so I went to a panel on advanced audio techniques for podcasting that was held in the Hilton. It was pretty interesting - plus, it was nice to see that the audio knowledge I accumulated in college and 20+ years of playing in bands still has relevance, despite technological changes. 

Saturday - 6 PM - 9:45 PM
This was my first slot for running The Dungeon of Akban using S&W: Whitebox. I had a full group of six players, including one who immediately noted that the game was "broken" upon seeing the character sheets and hearing my explanation of the game. Inherently, I find such comments annoying when a person hasn't actually played the game.

I tried not to let it throw me, because I had two totally new players at the table and I wanted them to enjoy the experience.

Unfortunately, I had one member of the group who made that a struggle (different person). First, he was shopping for gear after I gave him the pre-gen. But, and this I found odd, he had no rulebook or price list to go from!

He was also overly cautious for a convention one-shot. I think we spent the majority of the first hour of the game in the first room at the bottom of the steps. 

When he interrupted my description of the result of another PC's attempt to test the giant bowl of fire for heat (since the flames weren't giving off any), to tell us how a blacksmith actually tests a surface to see if it's hot, I caught more than a few eye-rolls around the table (in fact, three of them decided secretly, that they would try to friend the villain, the White Witch, and then turn and kill that player's character). 

Thereafter, I did my best to curtail his activities unless they contributed towards moving the game forward. i had 5 other people to entertain and I couldn't let one person derail that.

A high point, I think, from the perspective of showing new players the game, was the capture, of some goblins for interrogation - They could ask questions and grill the goblins, and I was able to seed them the info about the big bad in the game, as well as some details about what to expect. As this took place in town, the entire party also equipped themselves to the gills with the gold they had already found.

In the end, I think it was a success, and even the naysayer at the start seemed to enjoy himself, although the game still wasn't for him (and that, you see, is perfectly reasonable to me. He tried it, had some fun, but not enough to make him give up Pathfinder). My two newbs enjoyed themselves as well, so plenty of points there from my perspective. I was pretty happy with how things had gone, with my improvisation and handling issues that weren't in the game itself.

After some pictures with one of the new players and talking Pathfinder with a couple of the others, I bowed out. I jumped on the train around 10:30 and headed home, but not after hearing some awful karaoke in the Hilton's lounge area.


  1. "My Little Pony"? I'm having a hard time getting my head around that one!

    I'm glad to hear that there is actual gaming at Dragon.Con. Some friends of mine are actively involved in business behind the convention and I had the impression that it was all cosplay and fantasy/comic book stuff tangential to gaming. So, even though I am about 5 hours from Atlanta, I never had a big desire to go.

    1. Hi Chris,

      I should have elaborated! It's the My Little Pony CCG. There were, I think, 6 or 8 tables playing. Not sure if it was a demo, or a tournament or just open gaming.

      Gaming isn't given top billing at DragonCon but there's quite a bit of it going on. There were 260 events listed and that's not a count of sessions, just the event titles. Many had more than 1 session.

      There are a lot of RPG slots (both campaign - think Pathfinder Adventure Paths, WoTC Adventurers League or whatever it's called, etc., and non-campaign which is everyone else), board gaming, open gaming (if you can get a table), CCGs, and some miniatures (Privateer Press, GW, whoever makes Infinity, and Wyrd all ran games open to anyone passing by). Up in the vendor's area, some of the game dealer's also run brief demos of their games.

      There were also Magic: The Gathering tournaments, HeroClix tournaments and a WarMachine tournament.

      Four gaming slots are offered most days, so you can, if you have the fortitude, game from 9AM (8AM if you play campaign RPGs) until 2AM FRI-SUN. Monday only has 2 slots and games end by 5PM.

      Here's a link to the gaming events:

      Here's a link to the Tabletop Gaming panels:

      Memberships are on sale now for next year at the lowest price they will be offered - if I'm not mistaken, it's cheaper to by a 4 day pass now then to buy a 1 day pass at the door.

      I plan on running 5 or 6 slots next year, come on down and play!

  2. Very tempting, now that I know gaming is going on! I miss going to GenCon. The problem with a lot of the conventions is that they have them during the school year.