Back from Gen Con!

Gen Con was flat-out amazing. I’ve been to the show 23 years in a row now (I started young), and I can’t imagine my summers without it. For me, this is like summer camp wrapped up with Christmas in August, except you get to pick out (and buy) your own gifts.

The show started out with the Diana Jones Award party on Wednesday night. I made all the arrangements to pull the event off, and it went well. I handed out hundreds of free drink tickets to those who attended this industry-only event, and I had the pleasure of handing the trophy to Paul Czege for his My Life with Master. It’s a great game, and I urge you to check it out.

At the show, I wore a Green Ronin badge, as the fine people there now publish the paper games from Human Head Studios. I didn’t spend too much time in the booth, but I didn’t have to. Instead, I relied on the able skills of Blaze Miskulin, Matt Tice, Luch Robinson, and Aaron McConnell to show people how to play the recently released Dracula’s Revenge, my latest board game. Special thanks to Blaze, who road-tripped there and back with me again.

I spent most of the show wandering the hall, checking out all the new games, and taking part in book signings, seminars, and business meetings. At night, I grabbed dinners and drinks with friends both new and old, and I wound up far too many such evenings at the local Steak & Shake.

The book signings for Secret of the Spiritkeeper went as well as I expected, given that it’s my first mass-market novel. Only a handful of people signed up to each, but a few friends stopped by too, and a couple were even kind enough to buy books for me to sign. Also, I got to hang out with Christina Matthews and Linae Foster from Wizards of the Coast as well as Richard Knaak and Tim Waggoner, both great gentlemen and fellow Wizards novelists.

Two new products of mine I’d not seen before made it to the show. The Authority Role-Playing Game showed up, and it looks phenomenal. I only wrote a chapter of it, so I can’t wait to finally read the rest. I also had my first article ever published in Dragon Magazine appear. It’s a preview of Secret of the Spiritkeeper, complete with D&D stats for the heroes of the book, so please check that out too.

Most of the seminars were packed, although I attribute most of that to my fellow panelists. When you’re standing between Mike Stackpole and Tracy Hickman on a novelist’s panel, there’s little doubt who the crowd is there to see. The same’s true when Ed Greenwood, Ken Hite, and Justin Achilli surround you while talking about world building. Or when Ron Edwards, Monte Cook, and Mike Gray help you guide people through the myriad ways to get a game published. Toss in Dave Williams, James Ernest, Michelle Nephew, Andrew Bates, and Christian Moore in other panels, and, well, let’s just say I was in fine company.

On Thursday night, I attended the 30th anniversary party for D&D. The threat of rain forced the party inside, which was all right, but it led to long lines to get in. I grabbed sushi with friends first and showed up late. The VIP lounge strangely had no drinks, so a crew of us ended up at the Ugly Monkey, courtesy of Ryan Dancey. I sang my first karaoke songs ever that night, including the Freelancers’ Anthem: “Takin’ Care of Business.” I had to scream out the lyrics over the noisy crowd, but with Ryan and Andrew backing me up, we did the tune proud. Many thanks to Jenny Bendel for leading me down that twisted path.

I got up in time Friday morning to make the Origins Awards Task Force meeting that I held for all interested souls. No one brought a rope to string me up with, and the conversation was pleasant and progressive. I have high hopes for something good to come from all that.

Friday night, I ended up playing a game of Ticket to Ride (from Days of Wonder, which won the German Game of the Year Award this summer. It’s a fine game, and I nearly won, but Martin Stever plucked victory from my grasp.

This made me late for the ENnie Awards Ceremony. On my way in, I discovered that Redhurst Academy of Magic won silver awards (second place) in all three categories for which it had been nominated. Thanks to all of you who voted for it! After the ceremony, I apologized to the judges for not being there to accept the awards when they were given out. Still, I figure if you’re going to miss a gaming awards ceremony, then “I was playing a game” is about the best excuse you can provide.

After the ENnies, I headed to the White Wolf party, at which they released the latest edition of Vampire and The World of Darkness. Although the party started slow, it opened up once the books started selling at midnight. I ended up at an afterparty and wandered home sometime just before the sun came up, which seemed appropriate.

Saturday night was a bit more tame but just as much fun. Several groups of industry people converged on the same bar at once, and we were all able to drink and chat together in far more relaxed way. Some guy started chatting with me in the restroom and ended up asking me to work on his new board game. The power of the schmooze seems to know no boundaries.

On Sunday, Blaze, Jon Leitheusser (from WizKids, and I piled into the car and headed out. I almost had to leave behind my prize from the show, a poster-sized copy of the cover of Secret of the Spiritkeeper I rescued from the Wizards booth, but Blaze worked his packing fu on it to make it all fit.

I’m still recovering some. My voice sounds like something short of Bob Dylan at the moment, but it gets better every day. The fun’s over now. Back to work!