Saturday, September 10, 2011

Notes from the Underground: Dragon*Con 2011

My wife and I, along with a couple of our friends, spent the Labor Day weekend at Dragon*Con. While there were a few extra stresses to deal with this year as opposed to previous ones, overall we still had a very good time.  I'll get a few pics up this Friday, just to give everyone some eye candy.

A few random observations, in no particular order:

* While I love the overall scope, madness and energy of Dragon*Con, I wish there were some smaller cons in the Atlanta area.  I've been told that AWA is a good con to attend, but I'm not that into anime.  It would be especially nice if there were a good small- to mid-sized gaming con in the area.

* I did get to do a little gaming this years.  Savage Worlds isn't my first choice for a gaming system, or even my second, but it's a decent enough system, and some of the problems I would have with the system in campaign play aren't really an issue in a one-shot game.  The scenario was entertaining, the characters were fun (dealing with D&D style adventurers, but choosing archetypes that went against racial stereotypes, such as a halfling warrior, a giant rogue, a half-orc sorcerer, etc), and the GM was excellent.  Much fun was had here.

* Didn't get to attend any panels this year, but I did score several deals in the dealer's room, mostly consisting of over a dozen Essential and Showcase collections picked up on the cheap, giving me literally thousands of pages of Golden and Silver Age goodness to dive into.  Also picked up the hardcover collection of the first 13 issues of Invincible for half price, to see what the fuss is about.

* No OSR style games as part of the official gaming programming - lots of newer D&D (3rd and 4th editions), and a decent chunk of Shadowrun, plus other stuff I wasn't really that interested in.  Not that last year was that different in terms of the programmed stuff, but at least last year I saw pick-up games of Castles & Crusades and 1st ed AD&D in the open gaming area - this year I didn't even see that.

* Speaking of Old School gaming, Larry Elmore was selling a shirt with the image from the cover of the '83 Basic D&D box, with the words 'Old School' above it.  I know some hardcore OSR types would have aneurisms at the thought of Elmore being connected with the OSR, but I thought the shirt was amusing, and was glad when my wife picked one up for me. 

* I only made one other gaming-related purchase, but given that my local comic book/gaming shop was not able to order one for me ever since it was reprinted, I was thrilled to finally be able to purchase a copy of PostModern Magick.

* Attended the blood drive again this year, attempting the 'double red' donation (where you donate two units of red blood cells instead of one, while returning your plasma and platelets to you to keep you hydrated and healthy) for the first time.  According to LifeSouth, 3,499 people showed up to donate.  That.  Is.  Awesome

* I had been asleep for about an hour on Sunday night when I got a call from my wife.  They had just missed the last train to get from the con site to our hotel (about 14 blocks away, or 3 train stops).  My wife and one of our friends would be able to make it back to the hotel, but our other friend was having problems with his feet and really needed a lift.  More importantly, there was a young (college age) lady - it was her first con - who lived up in Sandy Springs (a suburb north of the Atlanta area), and she had no idea how she was going to get home for the night.  Could I get the car out of hotel parking and pick her up along with our friend, and give her a ride to her home?  Well, when I was younger, I often had people help me out of tight spots with no thought of recompense, so yes, yes I could.  To paraphrase Heinlein, don't pay back, pay forward.

* I spent the last hours of the con playing in a Gamma World scenario.  I was hoping that when it billed itself as '4th ed Gamma World', that it was referring to the 1992 4th ed rulebook.  As it turns out, '4th edition' in this case refers to the most recent version of the rules, which are based off the 4th ed D&D ruleset.  The GM was good, and the scenario was appropriately absurd, but even with the GW rules being a streamlined version of D&D4, this just pretty much confirmed that I probably wouldn't enjoy playing in a game using the D&D4 rules, especially when dealing with combat.

* I was pleased that my wife's costume of the Masque of the Red Death was very popular, and got her many compliments.  She put a lot of work into that outfit, and deserved every accolade she received.

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