Origins 2014 is in the books. Every game has been played. Lessons have been learned. Experience gained.
I have to say the this year, Origins was a very mixed bag for me. Some lows and some highs. As I start writing this I'm pretty sure this will evolve into a number of different posts. As I feel I will have a lot to say. So I will start with the bad, go on the 'meh' (things that are important to me, but not others or vice-versa), and finish with the good stuff.
The Bad Stuff
The Program was one of my biggest issues with the con in general. Not only was one of our slots, simply NOT in there (the Friday Afternoon), but it was missing something very important information: the game system. I did join a few games based solely on the blurb, but it was a very random thing. With the amount of games and events offered, it ended up creating something of a SNAFU with many of the smaller groups having difficulty finding players (note that a number of them still got to go off, but I know of another creator whose games all fell through). I passed on my comments to the leadership team and they will be addressing this in next year's program, by putting the game system in the program.
I learned that I will be adding a note that "This is a Pathfinder RPG game" (or something like it) to all my future submissions to large (and small) game shows. Live and learn, I guess.
Only 1/9 slots of Legacies went off Directly linked to the previous issue. Because of that only one table went off! Of the 18 available tables, (I had two GMs: the lovely Isabelle and myself for 9 slots each) it was pretty disappointing not to run all these games I wrote in a frenzy in the weeks before. Plus it was the premiere of John Dow's first adventure for us. That's the one that got to go off. Now I need to run Secession and Legacy of Lies in other venues... looks like I will have to put games up on the web... So keep watching the Legacies Facebook Group for full details and upcoming dates. They will be posted shortly.
Didn't have time to do everything In a con this big: one must prioritize what to do. I did not have time to see or do everything. Those things I really wanted to do, I managed to find some time. I will admit that having my slots not go off helped getting me to do most of those, still I would've preferred to run more NeoExodus.
One-Page This one is 100% on me. Of all the things I needed to print, the one thing I forgot was the one-page intro to NeoExodus! I will have those at Gencon for sure (tickets are going for Gencon, with a few tables fully booked already), so that's good! I really kicked myself for this. Lesson learned!
5-hour slots Isabelle pointed this one out to me, and I say I have to agree. slotting 5 hour games makes it difficult to have food breaks between games. Next year, I will plot my events to be 4h long. NeoExodus games usually run in that 4h more than 5h anyway. Another lesson learned.
KOLD This one was something that I did not expect. Yes, I mean KOLD with a 'K'. The Greater Columbus Convention Center is an ice box. I mean freezer cold. Lucky for me, I brought (through pure dumb luck) a hockey jersey I wore most of the con over my t-shirt. I also put on socks to keep the frost at bay. Though this was an inconvenience I can easily remedy, the alternative: hot sweaty gamers is so terribly worse that I had to push this from the "Bad" to the "meh". Next year, I will have long pants and a few long-sleeves packed in advance knowing this.
Mostly Board games (vs. minis & RPGs) From what I have seen, Origins has a very large board game community and vendors carry a lot of them. To me this is a no-use situation: I don't play them, I have too much to do with minis and RPGs already. I don't need another vice/money pit. Many people I know love and enjoy them. This con is great for you! I strongly recommend it. I did look at a few things here and there (mostly games with some minis). I am happy to see that the creativity in that field is thriving, I just have no interest in it myself.
Kickstarters I have a very love-hate with kickstarters, particularly those companies that start new ones without fully delivering on previous ones (I look at CoolMiniOrNot.com in particular). Unlike at Gencon, CMON did not have any Relic Knight or Wrath of Kings minis, the two kickstarters I still wait on. RK in particular is late by more than a year and it is supposed to be shipped "any day now". Call me St. Thomas: I'll believe it when I open my box of minis.
But back to the point. I encourage and enjoy companies that talk about their kickstarters (both previous and upcoming), it seemed to me that most companies were all waiting on KS to do anything, and that is somewhat annoying to me. I want to see more companies push forward without KS but I understand its lure. So that's one thing I consider to be a neutral.
The Good stuff
Got to play a lot of Arcanis I got to play 5 rounds of unscheduled Arcanis (2 of those were originally planned). So this is good! As usual the story remains compelling and exciting. A few changes were made to the rule/campaign that I disagree with - and will be posting later this week. In spite of this, I decided to focus on the good and had a lot of fun, reforming 4/6th of our Arcanicon team. Paul and Nicole who I play with regularly on-line and Eric. I forgot about Eric's mancatcher... I will say that this BI was BY FAR the most difficult and tough one of them all. I spent a lot of time on my back or almost on my back (and I do not mean anything dirty by it, for once). My face character is not designed for these situations. So I will have to teach her some new tricks for upcoming games.
Got to play a lot of Witch Hunter Like Arcanis, I was able to play more Witch Hunter than I expected. A nice bonus! I will say that I really like WitchHunter, not only for the game itself but the fanboy in me who has a thing for the 17th century really digs it. The adventures I've played thus far are all somewhat fast-running (about three to three-and-a-half hours each). Still fun fun fun.
Got to run WitchHunter I did get a chance to run my own Mastiff of the Baskertons to a lucky table! The adventure had a few rough chinks that I will correct and send to Clint for review. Nothing overly major, just references to things that were not correctly edited out (by me). If he will let me, I may very well write another one.
Got to play: Heroes of Rokugan, Shadowrun Missions, Twilight 2000, Reality A, Rotted Capes So many games I never played or haven't played in a long while. I will detail my thoughts on each of them in my day-to-day. But you can know that I liked most of them already. Big Kudos to the many GMs.
Nerdgasm truly, there are three things that really got me excited to the point where I would call nerdgasm.
First, I got to spent time with a good friend from college, Isabelle. She came down from Ottawa to experience Origins. We also got to play a number of Arcanis and Witch Hunter events together. It's always good to play with her and I really enjoyed myself.
Second, I got to meet with all the PCI staff in one place: Eric, Henry, Jim and Peter. My weekend was done when I received the personal thanks of Henry for my work on Witch Hunter. High praises indeed! I also played a game GM'd by Peter (long story there...). Got to speak with them at the PCI booth, at/during the interactive, and even between/during slots. It was a very fun thing for me to exchange with these guys who put up a product I love so much.
Finally, and this was something of a surprise for me, I got to chat with Chris Tulach about some of the 5e organized play. I really liked how he was tackling some of the issues that plague organized play. I won't go into to many details, but I think that his take that stores should be the main beneficiaries of WotC's plans. This, I believe, is a GREAT setup for success. By using stores as their local representatives, they hit the nail on the head by getting willing and invested partners in the success of their products. Other than a few of the "big cons" (Chris said that list was going up to 20 this year), all local events will need to partner with local store(s) - which many of them do already - for special access. This is a good move, unlike the previous 4e move of "support home play above and in spite of everything else." I really liked what he said, and that echoes a lot of things I hear about 5e.
Convenient Setup Of *ALL* the conventions I have attended, I can easily say that Origins was easily the most convenient overall for everything: food, hotels, parking, and resources all accessible between slots without a mad dash. For the food, I would not call it cheap, but I would not call it overpriced either - much to my surprise. The ice cream place was really cheap for the amount one could get. Always a win in my book. Great setup to the con team and to the thinkers of the convention center.
24h gaming I was able to get into some planned games starting at midnight. Not the classic midnight madness with a dead-tired GM and bunch of sleeping players. No, a GM who was alert and players who were also.