Gen Con 2006, Day 2

Here’s my story for August 10, 2006, and I’m sticking to it.

After getting to sleep at 3:30 AM, I wake up about 9 AM but decide to take it slow and easy. I don’t have to be anywhere until 11 AM for my autograph session at the Wizards of the Coast booth. I end up wending my way to the convention center and find the Guest of Honor booth where I pick up my badge. Then I forge a path through the throngs to get into the exhibit hall and find the Wizards booth.

Of course, just getting to the Wizards booth is the first step. It’s a huge place, sectioned up into all sorts of different portions dedicated to different products and games. I’ve been to conventions at which the entire dealer’s hall isn’t as large as Wizards’ booth, so finding the book department isn’t as simple as it might sound.

Before I manage that, though, I bump into the Dan Steel from Esdevium Games and his new marketing manager, Charles Ryan. Charles and I go way back and even worked together at Pinnacle. He was the Dungeons & Dragons brand manager until the latest round of layoffs at Wizards, but now he’s moved himself, his wife Tammie and their two young children to England to work with Dan. It’s an exciting time for the Ryans, and I’m sure that he and Dan will do fantastic things together.

Charles points me toward the book division’s part of the Wizards’ booth, and off I go. It’s built out with wood and glass bookcases so handsome I wish I had them in my room. They even have a beautiful chair and couch set, set among lush draperies, reminding me of an old English bookstore, done up brand-new.

Susan Morris and Elena Moye—both great and friendly ladies—greet me and set me behind a table, across the cash register from James Wyatt, who’s sharing the time slot with me. James co-wrote the Eberron Campaign Setting with Keith Baker and Bill Slaviscek. He also teaches a free introduction to D&D course through Barnes & Noble University. We joke about how few people show up to talk to us at 11 AM on the first day of the show, but a number of people do stop by to say hi, shake hands, and say nice things to us. A few even have books for us to sign.

After the signing, I sit and chat with Jean Rabe a bit, as she has the next slot. When she gets up to sign, I wander off and grab a bratwurst and a coke from the concession stand and start wandering the floor a bit. As I go, I keep an eye out for the Sabertooth Games/Black Library booth, where I’m due to sign books from 1 to 3 PM.

I find the booth just in time and say hi to the crew, which includes Marc Gascoigne, Dan Abnett, and Kate Flack there on behalf of the Black Library. I edited one of Dan’s 40k novels a while back. He has a list of credits that makes mine look anemic.

Marco and Dan head off for panels, leaving me with the rest of the (Steve Horvath, Alex Bartos, and Erik-Jason Yarple, among others, including Shinyan Liu from THQ, who was there to show off the next Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War expansion. Most people wandering by aren’t too familiar with my Blood Bowl novels, but I hand-sell 15 or 20 over the next couple hours and sign them all.

From there, it’s off to Authors’ Alley for a mass Eberron signing with Keith Baker, Ed Bolme, Tim Waggoner, and James Wyatt. This is a great group of guys to hang out with, much less be associated with. That’s good, since few people show up for autographs and we end up entertaining ourselves by heckling the other authors in the alley and the people in the adjacent art show as we gaze longingly up at the staffed, full bar ensconced on the second floor of the nearby CCP Games booth.

When the session ends, I dash off to my first seminar, “Lifetime Freelancing,” in the Hyatt. A good crowd of people show up to listen to ramble on about what I do for a living. The questions are good and thoughtful too.

Afterward, I head to my room to drop off some stuff. As I go Sean Fannon calls to see what I’m doing. I arrange to grab a quick bite with him before I head off for an invite-only VIP screening of The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. My friends Cindi Rice and John Frank Rosenblum produced the film and kindly asked me to attend the premiere, so there’s no way I’m going to miss this.

On my way to the screening, I bump into Mike Selinker and Jenny Bendel (marketing wizard and karaoke crooner). Mike tells me the screening will be late, as the DVD the movie is on hasn’t arrived yet. I call Cindi to confirm. She’s at the airport waiting for the DVD to show up, and she tells me they’ll be an hour late getting started.

This works well for me, as I’d been about to blow off a party at Jillian’s: Goodman Games‘ BeerCon. Mike and Jenny are headed that way for a Gen Con party as well, so I stroll along with them. It turns out their party is in the same place the Diana Jones Awards were the night before, and they invite me to crash for a few moments before I head down to BeerCon.

After chatting with Peter Adkison, Owen Seyler, and his girlfriend Daniela—all of whom are working for Gen Con—I excuse myself and hit BeerCon for the space of a drink. I thank my host, Joe, kindly for the beer and catch up with a few friends before noticing that I need to get moving to make it to the screening.

I get to the theater and find a seat with two minutes to spare. Then I sit back and laugh for the next 90 minutes or so. Hard.

It’s a brilliant show, better than the original The Gamers in about every way. I saw this after the first Gen Con So Cal back in 2003. The crew had a booth there and handed me a free copy, which we later screened on John Zinser‘s massive TV.

The cast and crew behind the new film have grown a lot since the first movie came out, and it shows. Dorkness Rising is a more human film, with fewer of the gamer-only in-jokes, but just as many laughs, and it has a far more satisfying story as well. The cut we saw was still rough in a few spots and missing some of the special effects yet, but when the DVD is released, I’ll be first in line to pick a copy up.

Of course, some of the fun is seeing my friends in the film. Besides the regular members of the Dead Gentlemen who I’ve met, John Frank, Monte Cook, Sean K. Reynolds, Jeff Grubb, and Ed Stark all take turns in the film.

After the film, a bunch of us head out to a dueling piano bar to celebrate with the cast and crew. When that proves too loud, we end up next door at the Pub. This is a real locals’ joint, with cheap beer, lots of tables, not too much noise, and a pool table in the back. We hang out there until they kick us out around 4 AM.

On the way back toward the convention center and our nearby hotels, a couple of large groups of us stop off at Steak & Shake for an early breakfast. Happy, warm, and full, I get to my room about 5:30 AM and go straight to sleep.