Archive for August 19th, 2009

Actually, I’ve been back for a couple of days, but yesterday was rather a lost day. Ever notice that it often takes a day to rest up after a vacation? Odd.

Regardless, from Tuesday last week through this Monday instant, I was in Indianapolis for the GenCon Game Fair. I’ve been going a long time – every year since 1985, in fact. For much of my life I’ve been an avid player and referee of roleplaying games, and GenCon is the Mecca for such games – as well as board games, card games, miniatures games, and computer games – and much more. And while I don’t participate in the hobby much anymore (though for a while I wrote professionally for the industry), I still go every year as much to see old friends as to play games or buy toys. Roughly 20,000-25,000 people show up each year, which is quite a number of proud, self-proclaimed geeks and dorks to gather in one place.

Be afraid, be very afraid. 🙂

As usual, I had a fun time. This year, like the last few, I worked part-time at the Heliograph booth, played one game (a fun Call of Cthulhu adventure presented by the MU Skulls – my character went insane and died. Good times!), and spent the rest touring the Exhibitor’s Hall and socializing. Following are some observations.

Recession, what recession? The halls were jammed with people. On the weekend, I sometimes felt we were walled in by bodies around our booth, and even Thursday was busy. I don’t know what sales figures were for exhibitors, but my guess is they were very healthy. People may have saved on hotel bills, however; Sunday night in Indianapolis was emptier than usual.

While not many new products caught my eye this year, there were a few.

Gamers Rule has a very clever offering called Dungeon Deck. By drawing a few cards, you create a complete small dungeon and quest in 30 seconds, perfect for a quick game on the fly. They were our neighbors at the show and good people, so give Dungeon Deck a look.

Woodland Scenics, most associated with model railroading, demonstrated a very nice terrain modeling system applicable to wargames and RPGs.

Bucephalus Games was selling the Psychic Plush Lab Rat, which, as you can see from the picture, is more aptly named Cthulhu Rat:


Who could resist something so cute? (Click for a bigger pic.)

On the downside, I also had a look at the preview of the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) from Fantasy Flight Games, under license from Games Workshop.

Ugh. As I wrote elsewhere:

This is not a roleplaying game. Oh, players can add roleplaying to it, just like you can add roleplaying to Monopoly, if you want, but this is not an RPG in the real sense of the word. It’s as much a roleplaying game as Mordheim was.

And the price-point? $100 for a game limited to four players? Insanity. An FFG representative at a seminar at GenCon had the brass to suggest that the GM and players could split the cost. Oh, but if they want new powers and new careers, they have to buy later expansions.

Like I said: It’s Mordheim. Or maybe Talisman or Heroquest. But “WFRP 3” is not a roleplaying game. And I think it’s going to be a big bomb for FFG and GW.

WFRP is my all-time favorite fantasy roleplaying game. It had it all: simple yet colorful mechanics; dark, sometimes farcical humor; and a dramatic setting with real depth to it. This tosses all that to make a glorified board game. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen’s smackdown of Dan Quayle, “I knew WFRP, and this, sir, is not WFRP!”

Sad, very sad.

Outside the convention, the city of Indianapolis was its usual, welcoming self. A friend and I had an excellent meal at the St. Elmo Steak House on Tuesday, then repaired to Victory Field to watch the Indianapolis Indians play the Columbus Clippers. (The Indians lost, 4-2.)

They’ve also done a very nice job with their new airport, though its proximity to the old airport can be a cause for confusion for the unwary….

So, now I’m back and vacation is over, but I’m looking forward to next year.

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The Telegraph has a neat series of black-and-white photos of Londoners from the early 20th century through the 1970s on its site. Fans of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay will especially like this one.

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