* Was able to make the blood drive again this year, once again going the 'double red' option. I don't know if we beat last year's numbers, but the area where the blood drive was located was pretty packed throughout the weekend, so I'm guessing they had a pretty good turnout one way or the other.
* There are good deals to be found in the dealers/exhibitors rooms, if you're willing to spend a little time looking around. For myself, I picked up a metric buttload of comic book trade paperbacks/graphic novels on the cheap - the original cover price of said books came up to about $380, for which I paid about $150. The way I look at it, the amount of money I saved not only paid for my badge, but also for my part of the hotel room that weekend. My favorite purchase here, if I had to choose one, was the Star Hawks book, collecting together the complete classic Kane/Goulart newspaper comic strip, originally priced at around $30, but which I was able to pick up for $10.
* I was also able to pick up a couple of t-shirts from the Shirts For A Cure booth, which was nice.
* Got a few gaming books on the cheap as well - a Castles & Crusades screen for 25% off, a 2nd ed Mutants & Masterminds core rulebook for 75% off, and two d20 books (The Black Monks of Glastonbury, Seven Strongholds) for a buck each.
* Was able to play a quick demo of a card game called Building an Elder God. Had fun doing so, and although I'm not certain how much long-term replay value it might have,but it seems like a fun way to kill a half-hour here and there. Unfortunately (for me at least), the booth that was supposed to be carrying copies was sold out by the time I got there to ask about it.
* While tabletop RPGs don't command the same amount of attention of the overall convention, percentage-wise, as it did during Dragon*Con's early days, there's still a sizable amount of gaming going on during the weekend. Besides the various card, board, and miniature games, there was still plenty of RPG gaming to be had. Of the 'campaign' scenarios, Pathfinder (not D&D) was the clear favorite, and represented about 90% of campaign play. Of the non-campaign scenarios available, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and Savage Worlds were the big dogs, but there were plenty of other game systems represented, including some indie-style games like FATE. Notably absent were any 'old-school' games, such as Swords & Wizardry or Castles & Crusades. If the OSR-types are serious about expanding old-school play throughout the gaming community, then making an effort to demo a few games for players who might not be aware of these games (but who might open to trying such a game out during a one-shot at a con) would probably pay off dividends in the long term for the OSR crowd.
* Got to play in two RPG sessions during the con. The first was a GURPS game, which ended a bit early when we broke the GM's brain (it wasn't our fault... honest). The seconds was a d20 Conan game, which was quite fun, but ran on waaaay too long (most RPG sessions are slotted for 4 hours for a reason). Although not big on d20/3rd ed D&D stuff these days, the Conan system seemed to run smoothly enough, and had a few alterations to the basic d20 combat system that I might look at grafting onto the Castles & Crusads game, should I ever run it again. Besides myself, there was a young lady who also played in these two sessions, and her antics helped to make both games fun and memorable (and in the Conan game, I daresay it really was all her fault, no matter what her protests to the contrary...).
* Despite various stresses and dramas that occurred during the weekend, had a lot of fun, and already have the badges paid for next year.
* Oh, and just for the record? Rumors of people in costume dancing in the hotel walkways during the con? I have no idea how such accusations could be taken seriously... honest: