Thursday, September 2, 2010

Houserules: Goons

I like to have a lot of enemies on the field, but they can't all be minions.  That being said, I decided to create another class of monster in between minions and regular monsters, called goons.

A goon acts just like a normal monster, and in fact you can make any monster into a goon.  The rules for a goon are as follows: create a monster of the appropriate level, but reduce the xp given by half and reduce the hp to 2.  Special: a goon only takes 1 dmg from a hit, unless it is a critical hit, which kills goons automatically.

This way, a goon will stick around longer, is indistinguishable from regular enemies, and has normal attack powers, and you get more enemies on the field.  I used goons in my recent Dark Sun test encounter against a couple of my friends.  I took the Gith Spearhead and gooned him.  For the normal 200xp, I got 2 Gith Spearheads who had the Focused Stab attack, but both had fallen in approximately the time it would have taken to drop one.  In doing so, I got to challenge my players with more tactical maneuvering, deal more damage, and increase the tension in the combat.  It may have nearly killed them, but they survived.  I think they learned a little about how brutal Dark Sun can be in 4th edition.

Gith Encounter: 752xp
1 - Gith Drone (lvl 5 Controller)
2 - Gith Spearhead (lvl 5 Brute, goon)
8 - Gith Savage (lvl 4 Skirmisher, minion)

They fought in the first level of a dried aquifer and were surrounded by the Gith.  They were using two of the pregens from the Dark Sun Game Day: Tak'tha, the Thri-Kreen Seeker, and Bost, the Mul Fighter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Origins Game Fair 2010 Recap

This year was my first visit to Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.  I tried to get people to join me for the fun, but they either had no money, too much work, or were busy with frivolous things like a honeymoon in Maui.  So, I flew solo and drove down to Columbus on my own after my wife set forth for her first big job interview.  The drive down was uneventful, and there wasn’t even any real traffic.  Reaching the hotel was easy enough, being right off the freeway, but it was 10-12 miles north of the convention center.  Since I was alone, $39 a night and $8 a day to park was affordable, but in coming years, I want to be in one of the hotels connected to the convention center.  I know that Origins ended a month ago, but it has been hectic, and I had to set up a new blog, so here is my inaugural post.  I wanted to share my experiences at the Origins Game Fair 2010.

Wednesday June 23, 2010

I parked in a lot on the north side of the convention center and made my way in to the Preregistration booth.  The line was pretty long, about 40-45 minutes or so, but that was nothing compared to the on-site registration line which was wound back and forth and looked like it would take about an hour and a half.  I had to go to another line where I got my Board Room ribbon, and in it I met the owner of who was there with Minion Games.  It was kind of fun getting to talk with industry people; I don’t really get that experience back here in Michigan very often.
     This year’s swag bag was apparently much more robust than in previous years.  I got my event guide, the annual program, a couple maps, flyers, and an ad for the True Dungeon at GenCon in the form of a “gold coin.”  There was also a starter kit for Axis & Allies with a little set of minis to go with it.  My bag had a green starter box for Magic: the Gathering while others had different colors.  I also got a red bag that had the logo for Mayfair’s new game, Settlers of America, emblazoned on it.  My favorite part, however, was the d6 made for Origins 2010 by Crystal Caste.  It is a gold-flecked pink, and the 6 side has “Origins 2010” in gold.  I instantly dubbed the die a player killer, because a pink die could be nothing but.

The next stop was the Board Room, which was cordoned off in half of the gaming Hall E.  With my ribbon stamped, I was awarded a free random game from Rio Grande games: Assyria.  I also received Dragon Parade from ZMan games and a deck of Transformers Topps War Game cards.  It seemed like there were already many games in progress, so I sat down at a table of people looking for playtesters for a prototype game called Tian Di Huan, a game about smuggling and selling items on the Chinese black market.  It is a Euro-style game that was pretty fun, even though I lost miserably.
After a few games, it was time to explore again.  I saw the Looney Labs area, which were suitably wacky with their tie-dyed tablecloths and flowers on the ground.  They had their Giant Pyramids, and the Lab Rabbits who were working the area all had long white lab coats.  I stopped for a bit and checked out their offerings.  They had Aquarius, Chrononauts, Pyramids, TreeHouse, and a multitude of Fluxx games including Original, Family, Eco, Stoner, Monty Python, Zombie, and Martian Fluxx.  They were also playtesting both Pirate Fluxx and the Back to the Future card game which was an update to Chrononauts.  I sat down for a demo and played Martian Fluxx, which with its simple basic mechanics and the additive rules structure quickly became a wacky, interesting game.
Inspired by the fun game of Fluxx and the prospect of having to pay generic tokens to continue to play in the room, I slipped off to go get the Big Experiment ribbon which allowed me free access to the Looney Lans games and such as well as 10 generic tokens to use as I saw fit.  The line was about 45 minutes also, but I didn’t have much else to do at that point, so it didn’t bother me.  It was roughly dinner time at this point, so I made my way over to the food court to look around.  I ended up with a Chicken Parmesan sub, which was passable for $6 or $7.  I came back to the RPG hall to watch a few games where I sat in and watched a game of Cthulhu Tech, which is run on a d10 system and set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Old Ones invaded.  It looks like a fun system, but I never got to play it during my time at Origins.
After watching a bunch of games, I went back to play Pirate Fluxx before Are You A Werewolf? until the wee hours of the morning.  I met Matt & Kimber, who ended up being good friends to play Werewolf with.  I have to say that’s what I came down to the con for.  I wanted to meet more people who game (easy to do there!) while playing some new things myself.  The Are You A Werewolf? was a fairly odd concept in itself, but I really like the way it works once it gets started.  I played games until about 2am, them I went back to the hotel, which took longer than I had hoped because of a freeway closure.    

Thursday June 24, 2010

I woke up early in the morning to play my first Living Forgotten Realms in Battele Hall.  It was worth it, however, when I got to sit down at a table and play my Level 4 Githzerai Stone Fist Monk Laikon who should have been able to stop enemies in their tracks and put a severe beating on the enemies presented to us.  Instead, I had to play in character and keep my head down as we investigated a few things and spent almost two hours in extended skill challenges where we rolled dice, but dealt no damage.  Oh well, we would get our chance to make that right…    
When we finally got to fight, I went toward the largest group of enemies where I would be the most effective with my crazy Striker damage.  I told the Warden, Runepriest, Bard, and Sorcerer where I was going, and they promptly ignored me.  Four crossbowmen decided that I should take a rest for a bit, so they turned me into a pincushion.  I did discover a new Monk power, however.  It’s called Lie Down & Bleed.  In the end, however, we rallied and took them down, found the people we were looking for, although the module ended without any real closure.
With that game done and the Exhibition Hall open, I went to indulge my consumerism and do what I came to Origins to do: buy the Dresden Files RPG by Evil Hat Games.  I picked up both volumes and had the whole team of 7 big developers sign Book 2, since I won’t be sharing that one with the other players in my group.  I also picked up a set of 15 Fudge Dice, which are used in Fate system games, essentially a d3, with 2 sides with a -, 2 blank sides, and 2 sides with a + on them.  Apparently, at the time I am writing this, there are less than 200 Fudge Dice available because the people who make them have to make more.  That is Lenny Balsera running a primer on the Dresden Files RPG for people at the Evil Hat booth.    
While at the Evil Hat booth, I overheard somebody say something about Reaper Brian – in a voice that I recognized.  It was, in fact, Reaper Brian from The City of Doors podcast, which I had been listening to on the drive from the hotel to the con that morning.  He told me to come visit him later at the Reaper booth.  I also wandered over to the Geek Chic booth where I saw the Hoplite – their newest gaming table, this time in coffee table form.  As all of the others, it is gorgeous, but in a way that might actually make it into a normal family home.
Since it was nearly lunch time, I headed over to the North Market where I had very difficult decisions to make as to what I should eat.  I ended up with Nida’s Sushi where I got Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai with a little salad, a spring roll, and a California roll.  I was very happy with it.  There were three or four big shrimp in there, and the Pad Thai wasn’t too spicy (I had asked for normal), but was had a pleasant kick that I have come to expect from it.  With something that was tasty and a little spicy in my stomach, I thought it time to take Fred Hicks’ advice.    
Fred Hicks (of Evil Hat) told me also that when I made my way over to North Market that I had to hit Jeni’s Ice Cream, so I did.  Jeni’s makes all of their ice cream from fresh ingredients, and many of which come solely from Ohio.  They had Belgian Milk Chocolate, Cherry Lambic, Riesling Poached Pear, Roasted Cherry Goat Cheese (delicious), and Thai Chile.  I ended up with two small scoops that I thought would be delicious together: Backyard Mint and Meyer Lemon/Blueberry.  It was fantastic and refreshing, and I highly recommend it.
On returning to the con, I wandered through the hall more, looking at the infamous Sultan table by Geek Chic, visited Reaper Brian, who graced me with a mini for my LFR Warden Asurak, and stopped by Looney Labs to play a bit more Pirate Fluxx before I played my next slot of Zombie Dice.  With five of us playing around the table, I came very close to winning, but due to five shotgun blasts on five dice, I wasn’t able to pull off a victory.  After we finished, we played some Cthulhu Dice, which is a very fun, fast paced party game that I picked up for a very reasonable five dollars also.    
Wandering through Battele Hall, I saw some of the LARPers practicing swordplay with their boffer swords.  They looked like they were having a lot of fun, but I wasn’t there to hit people with foam swords, I was there to roll dice to pretend like I was hitting people with real swords!  In any case, some of them were fully geared out with chainmail hauberks while some were just wearing shorts and t-shirts.  No matter the outcome, they were furiously bopping each other, batting the swords away with shields, and just having a pretty good go of it.
My last scheduled slot of the night was my first game of the Dresden Files RPG, which as I mentioned before runs off of the Fate system.  This game was called First Down and Hell to Go, and we were relatively high-powered characters.  The premise was that three of us were Baltimore locals and the other three were sent by the White Council to assist averting the apocalypse.  Hey, who says Harry has the monopoly on saving the world?  There was a Red Court Infected, a Changeling Parkour Adept, a White Council wizard, an Ectomancer, another one that I can’t remember, and me, whose high concept was the Mountebank Magician.    
My character was marked by power, but had none of his own.  Both of his parents were wizards, but he had none, so I had to convince people that I was powerful so that faerie and other bad folk stayed away from me.  I was a pretty good con artist and had good razzmatazz, but I was pretty ineffective in combat, which I think was the point.  I had a wonderful time playing this game; we worked really well together, the scenes were engaging whether it was spending a half hour trying to get our weapons past security at the game or fighting ogres in the locker room.  I really enjoyed it.
At the end of the Dresden Files slot, I kept seeing somebody that I thought I knew walking back in forth in the hall.  It looked like Eric Ebbs, who I had last seen six years ago when we lived in Japan for our semester abroad.  Imagine my surprise when I later found him in the dealer’s hall the next day!  The world truly is a small place.  My last bit of time that evening was spent playing Are You A Werewolf? where I swore that I was only playing two games before heading out to the hotel.  One game was really quick, but the second was an experimental Werewolf game that had us roaming around instead of being seated.  It was interesting, but lasted over two hours, which meant that I didn’t get back to the hotel until nearly 3am.

Friday June 25, 2010

I woke a few times in the night, once to shut off my alarms, and again to answer the wake-up call that I diligently set each night.  I finally woke up to my wife’s morning call, and I listened to her when she told me to go back to sleep.  She always knows what I need.  I ended up sleeping through one of my games, but it wasn’t an RPG slot, so I was okay with it.  I missed out on playing Munchkin, but I had a Munchkin Quest slot later that day to play, so I was all right with that.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to go visit ComFest at all, or just hang around the con, but I knew that I both wanted to be comfortable and join in my fellow gamers and be kilted.  I wore my black Amerikilt to the show, and it turned out to be a kilty type of day.  There were so many Utilikilts, Amerikilts, assorted tartans, and more, I knew that I was among my people.  I mean, we are confident enough that we can wear kilts, we are all there to have fun, and there was never once anybody making fun of any guys for having on what some people called a skirt.  I mean, technically it is, but it’s a MAN’s skirt, dammit!  Before going into the convention center, I went over to Barley’s Brewpub right across the street for a pint and some food.  I ate on the cheap and had their chicken finger appetizer, but I enjoyed their Blood Orange Wheat beer.  It had that smooth, sweet flavor from a blood orange which made it unique.  I definitely enjoyed that quick snack, but there was gaming to do and less time to do it!
After grabbing lunch and playing more Looney Labs games, I found the Amorphous Blob game rooms and settled in for my game of Munchkin Quest, where two of the young players were from the next town over.  In fact, they both went to the school that my wife did her student teaching at.  It is a very small world.  Anyway, we played Munchkin Quest, which apparently can be a very long and involved game since in our four hour slot, we were just short of winning.  I was just barely level 10, but I wouldn’t have won before the other guy got to the exit.  But, hey, at least I got an Amorphous Blob d10 for playing!    
I had about 45 minutes until my next game at this point, so I took the opportunity to grab a fast dinner.  I decided to eat on the cheap, so I grabbed Subway from the food court.  Behind me in line was a gamer from my neck of the woods, it was Michael Evans of Neuroglyph Games who was down for a day or two.  He got to play a little bit, but was down for his blog.  It was really nice having lunch with him and talking about some of the things that we both had done at our first Origins.
My next slot was one of my most anticipated.  I was playing a 4e conversion of Bill Slavicsek’s Night of the Walking Dead module that was originally written for AD&D 2nd Edition.  The game was run using d20Pro software that acts as a Virtual Table Top and game aid.  It can also be used to run games remotely, so you can run Skype games using this instead of the cumbersome (to me at least) MapTool.  Dan Riviera was our DM, and that’s good because he was also one of the designers of the software!  We used pregenerated characters that he had already, and the Ravenloft creepiness began!
After talking with Vistani who disappear into the Mists and reaching a town where our priest of Pelor decided to put down the unquiet dead for good (the zombie was securely locked in his coffin, and the priest interrupted his funeral!), we found out that most of the unrest stemmed from the manor outside of town, where we were treated to a creepy dinner party and fought a bunch of zombies and corruption corpses and a few ghouls.  Although the d20Pro software is native to 3.5 and other d20 systems, it plays very well with 4e.  I really enjoyed playing this game and I think I will get some new software soon.    
When that game ended, I met up with a Matt & Kim to go play Werewolf, but I got distracted by the prospect of a cold one.  I decided to check out the Origins Beer Haus upstairs, with beer provided by the Elevator Brewery.  I had a good time wandering around, watching everybody with their games and beer, enjoying the more adult side of gaming.  The placemats provided for the Beer Haus were a Catan Dice game that I never got a chance to play.  There was a game that was sitting unattended called Tumblin’ Dice that looked cool.  It was like a game of Shuffleboard that used dice.
Instead of using little bumpers or coins, you rolled or flicked dice off of the top platform, trying to get the highest side of the die on the highest multiplier platform.  Players took turns trying to score and knock the other dice off of their spot.  It was really fun, but the owners of the game said it cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $60, which is too much.  In any case, I played a game of that while drinking my wheat beer (nothing more appropriate for summer quaffing) and went down to Hall E to play one game of Werewolf before deciding that I needed to sleep and left for my hotel.

Saturday June 26, 2010

I awoke in the morning nice and refreshed, no thanks to Wanted being on tv when I got back to my hotel.  I had only one game planned on Saturday, but I did want to crash a couple of games.  In fact, I wanted another crack at some Zombie Dice, so I hit up the 8am slot and joined in.  We competed for the free set of dice (which I would have bought if I didn’t win, it’s that fun!) and it went to the zombie that won three rounds first.  It took a while, but I actually won!  Free Zombie Dice for me!
After my game, I wanted nothing more than to take a nice, long look at the dealer’s hall, so I took a nice, leisurely stroll through the shops.  Of course, I wan entranced by Geek Chic once again and took an in-depth look at the Sultan.  I love how it has build in dice towers, a dice bin where you can toss dice, the apothecary drawers, and especially the DM station where I could fit my books, minis, maps, and other set pieces in that area.  Obviously at over $11,000, I am not able to bring one home with me, but maybe in the future I will be able to make something that would work out like this in my game cave.    
I didn’t have any real plans until 1pm when I had a Dresden Files game, so I instead enjoyed what I knew was the show coming to its climax and inevitable end.  I spoke to many of the Lab Rabbits at Looney Labs and learned how to play Pyramids and Treehouse.  I bought my Cthulhu Dice from Steve Jackson Games.  I played in the giant dice area that Chessex had set up and bought a Dice Boot factory second so that way my best friend wouldn’t damage my table my throwing his dice into the air.  With a little time left, I stepped out and played some more Pirate Fluxx with some people who hadn’t ever played Fluxx.  It’s kind of funny that I was sitting there teaching it to them when I had never played it only two days earlier.
With about an hour before my game, I decided to sit down at the Paint & Take and paint my mini that Reaper Brian graced me with a bit earlier.  Ugulnuk the Half Giant became Asurak, my Goliath Warden with a bit of paint, making a leather-skinned goliath with blood red, nightshade, and black hide armor, and a wickedly sharp halberd.  As I got up to go to my game, I noticed that the little girl who had been painting next to me left her Chibi Cthulhu and other plushies from Mayfair, so I ran them to Lost and Found before heading down to the RPG hall.  I would hate to lose my stuff, and I hope she got them back.
I did make it in time for my game, so that was definitely helpful.  This was the Halftime Hexes, and was a much lower power game that was set to take place during the U of M/OSU football game.  Being from right next to Ann Arbor and having multiple people in my family go through U of M, I tend to bleed Maize & Blue, so I jumped at the opportunity to play a girl from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who was a Were-Wolverine.  It was a dangerous prospect, being that character in Columbus, but I braved through it.  We had a lot of fun, and even got a chance to face Kalshazzak, a demon from Storm Front.    
The convention center is great and all, but I highly recommending leaving it to get food.  This is at the Park Street Cantina a block away, where for Happy Hour, they had 24oz margarita pitchers for $5.  Between that, the free margarita that the trainee bartenders had to make, and the carnitas tacos, I really enjoyed my time at the cantina.  The atmosphere was definitely that of a party, mainly because I think ComFest was just either ending, or they all had the munchies from spending their day in the sun.  It was loud and raucous, and exactly what I wanted at that point in time.
Back at the convention center, I wanted to see the Origins Awards, so while asking where it was at the Looney Labs area, I saw Andy Looney (game creator) playing what appeared to be a bunch of games at once.  He was playing Andy vs Everybody and had about 30 games using various products of his and he ran in between each of them.  His track record wasn’t great, but it stilled looked awesome.  
After being told that the awards were in the ballroom just off of the Beer Haus, I moseyed up there, got a stout, and sat down at a table.  It turns out that the people I sat down with were Dave “the Game” Chalker of Critical Hits and E. Foley of who was there with Kristin Looney, and Andy joined us all when he finished his game.  It was pretty cool sitting there with him when he won the award for Are You the Traitor? But lost the card game award to Poo!  I mean, who loses to Poo!?  He took it graciously, however.  At this point, I had a little bit of a buzz, and it was time to move on.      
I slipped away and tried to either watch or join a game in the RPG Hall.  There was a really cool looking Star Wars SaGa Edition game (Star of Agnor, or something like that), some Cthulhu Tech, or something else that I wanted to play, but when I walked into a room and saw a very familiar Dungeon Master Screen from AD&D 2nd Edition.  I asked if I could crash the game, and was allowed to join.  I was given my character sheet, a sketch of the character, and got to select my prepared spells.  It was kind of exciting, going back to my gaming roots where I only had a few spells, minimal hit points, and pitiful attacks.
I was a level 4 Mage (Invoker School Specialization) named Amandi of the Bitter North.  The game was set in a flavor of Greyhawk of the DM’s own imagining, which he has been playing for the past 20 years.  I have to admire the dedication, but I don’t think I could have the same game world for that long without getting bored.  The adventure progressed well enough, but there was very little combat.  We were investigating a spate of break-ins and trying to find a Thieves’ Guild for a few hours, but at the end, we tracked the thieves down and gave them a sound beating.  THAC0 is like riding a bike; you never really forget how to do it.    
When I finished my trip down memory lane, it was after midnight and my buzz from the margaritas and beer were gone, and I was still flying from my nostalgia.  I knew that I had a long day tomorrow between my 8am Living Forgotten Realms slot and driving home, so I decided to call it a night.  I walked past the d20Pro area where they were still playing their marathon game of the Ghosts of Mistmoor that had lasted for at least eight hours by now, nodded to Dan, the GM and developer, and headed down toward the other gaming halls.  I knew that I wasn’t going to stay and play any more Werewolf because of the time, so I went into the hall to say goodbye to many of the people that I had met and gamed with for the past four days, whom I wouldn’t see again until another con at the earliest.  It was kind of tough, really.  I hadn’t come down to the show with any friends or family, but within minutes, these people were helping me learn new games, suggesting cool and exciting things for me to doo and see, and making me feel welcome to something that has been going on annually for longer than I have been alive.  I really appreciated everything that they did to help me out, and that is why I think the Looney Labs section of the show was my favorite.  Not only do they have great games and the Lab Rabbits are nice, but the type of people that they attract to their area was exceptional.  For me, best in show.  Sorry Evil Hat, you are a close second with my favorite con acquisition.

Sunday June 27, 2010

In the morning, I attempted to repack my duffel bag and get my gear together before I checked out of my hotel and drove down to the con for the last time this year.  It was another sultry morning, and I knew it would do nothing but get worse.
My last slot of the con was another D&D 4e game, which I had been waiting for this whole con.  I played Asurak, my level 7 Stormheart Warden, and I got to use my new mini from Reaper Miniatures as well.  My table also had a level 9 Earth Warden and a level 9 Druid as well as a level 8 Sorcerer.  We started off by joining a caravan and promptly getting attacked on an icy bridge.  We fought a barbarian who turned all icy and a few other shadowy figures who shouldn’t have been with the barbarians in the first place.  Also, we got a trained Veserab for a mount.  We went to investigate more on why the barbarians have been active, and ended up going to their camp and trying to get in.
We got in well enough, went to investigate the source of the problem, and failed our skill challenge because we were almost all primal and therefore have no social skills.  We ended up fighting a very, very difficult fight that kept dropping us in very unceremonious fashions.  All in all, we had to call the game because we ran 45 minutes over, and the DM had to go run another slot.  Awards were limited, and I never did get my +2 weapon.  I got my butt kicked and all I got was this lousy flying leech mount.  It could be worse; we could have easily died at this city, swarmed by nasty little Shadar-kai who shift around like they own the place.  All in all, this was a fun slot, though extremely difficult, and I suggest playing it with caution.    
That marked the end of my gaming at Origins 2010.  It was my first big convention, and I hope to return in the years to follow.  I had to get on the road, but I tried to soak in a last bit of the chaos in the dealer’s hall and walked around there.  I went to Crystal Caste to see if they had any more of the killer pink Origins 2010 d6 available, but he said that he would sell them at $2 a piece, which is too much for a single die of any kind.  I passed and made my way out to the car and into the heat.  The drive home was fairly uneventful, except for the part where it was 92 degrees and my air conditioning decided to konk out.  I did not appreciate that one bit.  I did, however, arrive home safely to my wife, where I proceeded to dump all of my swag and findings on the ground and tell her about my experience.  She didn’t care too much; she isn’t a gamer (yet) and she had just gotten home from a trip up to do wine tastings in Traverse City with her sister and a couple friends.  In any case, I thought that I would once more enumerate the swag that I gathered during my time at Origins 2010.

•    Bezzerwizzer trivia game
•    Bezzerwizzer starter packs (3)
•    ThinkGeek Eviltron
•    Chessex Factory Second Dice Boot
•    Top Topps Transformers War game
•    Settlers of America dice bag
•    Cthulhu Dice
•    Amorphous Blob Games d10
•    Zombie Dice

•    “Monk/Wizard” mini from Paint & Take (not pictured)   
•    Magic: the Gathering Green deck
•    Crystal Caste Origins 2010 Dice Set
•    Assyria
•    Dragon Parade
•    Origins 2010 shot glass
•    Ugulnuk the Half Giant Reaper Mini
•    Special Fluxx cards (signed by Andy Looney)
•    Set of 10 wooden train pieces

•    Counter coins from SJ Games
•    Set of 15 Fudge Dice for the FATE system
•    Dresden Files RPG Volume 1: Your World
•    Dresden Files RPG Volume 2: Our World
•    Roll d-infinity intro magazine
•    Axis & Allies starter book and minis
•    A pocket war game
•    Are You A Werewolf?
•    Munchkin (not pictured)

 Final Thoughts on Origins 2010

I had an amazing time.  The people that I met were absolutely wonderful.  They were welcoming and accomodating to me, a brand new con-goer.  My in-laws were surprised to find that the convention wasn’t filled with the stereotypical basement-dwelling troglodytes, but instead was filled with well-adjusted teens and adults (some with their whole gaming families along!) who were out to have a great time playing games, and rather than just trying to escape into a fantasy world, arrived to meet new people, old friends, and share a story.  I think that the convention scene really epitomizes the gaming industry as a whole.  There are disparate groups who all want to have a good time playing games.  People come from all around to meet, share some time together creating a world, roll a few dice or flip a few cards, and move on to share the experience with other people they know.  I wouldn’t have had my first gaming convention experience any other way.  I would make one change for next year, however.  I will be buying the Big Experiment ribbon right away, preregistering for generic tokens as well as planning games, and I think I will skip the Board Room ribbon.  I didn’t spend any time there at all!  The North Market and Barley’s Brew Pub are musts for anybody, and Jeni’s Ice Cream is an absolute necessity.  I will be back, hopefully in 2011, but without a doubt by 2012.