Gen Con, Day 1: Spirit of the Century, Godlike, D&D 4E

The big buzz around the con today is the anticipated announcement of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, when the game will arrive, how it will be different from 3E, and what this means for the hobby.

And that’s just what I heard while waiting in line for coffee. Then again, maybe they should have just read the official press release, which states the game will launch in May 2008. Which is way, way too soon for my tastes.

I had a leisurely start to my first day at the con, since my Spirit of the Century: Warlord of Fear game didn’t start until 10 a.m. (unlike my fellow Blackrazors, who had to scramble for a 8 a.m. start time for the RPGA’s D&D open). That gave me time to eat some zucchini bread my wife had baked me for the con, pack my traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bunch of snacks for lunch and head out looking for my game.

Spirit of the Century: Warlord of Fear

Finding my Spirit of the Century game was something of a challenge, as the interior of the Hyatt complex is under construction, blocking some passages and creating a rather labyrinthine layout. Once I navigated my way to the right room, I was able to snag some free Indiana public wifi to read up on the SotC rules via the online SRD.

With a basic understanding of Fudge dice in hand, I jumped into the game, which was everything that podcasting community said it would be — fun, fast moving, and creative. Our game master distributed pre-generated characters, but they were only half-completed — we could fill in additional aspects and skills as the game progressed. This allowed us to customize our characters on the fly — something I’ve rarely seen in other games — while at the same time helping to teach us the rules. By the end of the session the Century Club heroes had triumphed over a nefarious Chinese warlord in spectacular fashion.

Exhibit Hall, Round 1

The exhibit hall is … mind-boggling. To say it’s huge doesn’t begin to describe it — it’s an immensity of gaming that goes on, and on, and just when you think you’ve reached the end … you find more. Even after two passes through the hall I was finding new things, like say the entire software gaming section which consumes 1/8 of the game floor. Yes, it’s so big you could even miss a big, flashing, loud software exhibits and their accompanying booth babes.

I spent a good chunk of Thursday afternoon wandering through the exhibit hall, just taking in the sites and figuring out what was where. I then got a few of the RPGs I’d been looking for — Spirit of the Century, Pirates of the Spanish Main, Battlestar Galactica — and one I hadn’t: Burning Wheel, which I bought partly because I heard good things about it, and partly because it’s the first game I’ve ever seen that quoted in its review blurb. I also bought a set of four Fudge dice for SotC, which should come in handy when running the game for my friends.

I only scratched the surface though, and I’m seriously considering ditching my Saturday afternoon game in order to have more time in the exhibit hall to demo games like HaloClix.

Godlike: The Stand at Oradur Sur Glanc

After a consuming a quick dinner at McDonald’s, I ran to my first Godlike game in five years. It cost me my chance to hear the official Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition announcement, but hey, it’s freaking Godlike. Unless I can convince my friends to give it another try, it’ll be at least another year before I’ll have a chance to play the game.

The game itself itself involved a unit of American Talents — the Hard Luck 13 — as they sought to extract a German defeactor from the French town of Oradur Sur Glanc while simultaneously defending the town from attack. The game played well, though the character mix for this particular event was a little off — the group’s medic end up having too little to do (shocking for the normally bloody Godlike, but true) and our “bag of anything” Talent named Arsenal was resigned to pulling equipment from a bag and raining mortars down on the enemy. These are relatively minor flaws though; it was a fun game, and it confirmed to me that Godlike is worth another try.

GeekLabel Podcaster Shindig

The best part of the day was easily GeekLabel’s podcaster shindig which saw 40+ podcasters assemble at the Hard Rock Café. I got to meet up with a people I’ve been listening to, emailing and tweeting with, and generally respecting for the last two years.

I got to talk with the crews from the Harping Monkey, All Games Considered, The Gamemaster Show, Fistful of Comics and Games and many more at the event. Good beer, good conversations — it simply doesn’t get much better than that. I also got to meet up with David Vandermore (Gamemaster Show, Vegas After Midnight) and continue our plotting for a “This Day In Alternative History” featuring Mur Lafferty and Jason Adams arrival at GeCon (at least in another reality).

Buzz Worthy

Aside from Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and the subsequent crash of the new D&D Insider web site, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about Savage Worlds in general and the Savage World of Solomon Kane in particular. Most people don’t seem to know a lot about Solomon Kane — I certainly didn’t — but there’s a heck of a lot of interest in the game.

The new edition of Talisman is generating a huge amount of conversation, in no small part because its publishers are only selling 50 copies a day at the con. They’ve been selling out of the game in no time, and there have been more than a few jealous mutterings about those who’ve managed to snag a copy.