On Friday, I am taking a bit of time to reflect on a number of small things about Gencon. I choose to do it in a "random shots" format, whether I think things are positive or negative.
Pre-Packing (positive) My packing method really came through for me this time. Since I do not have to carry so many iconics, I printed all six for the each table, along with one set of handouts for each table. Each set of handout and iconic were clipped together. This allowed me to easily pull out what I needed on the fly without having to check. Everything was ready to go. My on-site set up time was super-quick, allowing for maximum game time.
I had my black box with battle mats, Pathfinder Core Rulebook and Bestiary, and Ultimate Psionics, next was my minis box, and a small binder on top of my little roller-thingie. This allowed me to travel quickly and not spread out too badly. I need to keep doing this for sure.
Adventure Format (positive) The format I had was appropriate. I was able to finish every "regular" adventure in under 4h (closer to 3:30 on average), allowing for the world info, handing out the characters, and usually having a break in the middle without having to rush the game.
Special (positive) The specials were a little more touch-and-go. Since the players did not have any investment in the campaign or their characters, some of their decisions were interesting. The second group, instead of exploring, wasted their time trying to ambush the other group. Their choice.
Which means that I have a nice dungeon left unexplored that I can pull out and use somewhere else! That includes two unique items.
As I value the "special"-ness of Gencon events, I am forced to think about what I plan on doing. I have a few ideas of what to do, but will wait for next year to decide what I want to do. Now is not the time to wrack my brain trying to come up with an alternative. I still have a year to go before I have to finish it!
Last minute arrivals (annoyance) Players at Gencon tend to arrive at the appointed time to muster, leading to some wasted time particularly when looking to seat players with generic tickets. Minor annoyance as I like to start as close to the posted time as possible. However, I much prefer Last Minute to late to no-show.
No shows (annoyance)This is something that always drives me nuts: you buy a ticket to play something then not show up. The good news is that my percentage of no-shows was really low this year. Less than 6 over the course of the con, including the Sunday morning. I can consider the events to have been meaningfully played.
Critical Event Summaries (positive) A CES is a sheet where the GM or the players fill in what happened during an event with the obvious intent to alter the course of the campaign with those. I fill up my own for all the Saggakar events, keep track of them and write relevant sequels. I got to participate in some for PCI, for the new Arcanis adventure. However, I was happy to see that they also had players fill some for their 5e play-test/try-out. Seeing these sort of things always make me happy as I know that *I* get a say in what is happening next. Kuddos PCI. Keep this up!
Specials stuff vs. FLGS (annoyance and positive) This one is an aspect I really struggle with. Personally, I head to Gencon's dealer hall for products and games I cannot get in my local game store (FLGS). I would rather make sure my local community receives some of my hard-earned cash than "some other store". If I cannot get it anywhere else, or if the company runs a special, then I am interested. Privateer Press is one company I make a point to visit every year to grab my copy (or copies) of their Gencon-exclusive model. Every year, their alternate model carries a keg or stein of cold beer, making the model awesome... although last year the model was a bathing beauty... If you have con exclusives, I will show up and see what you have. Otherwise, all my purchases will be through my local store.
Palladium Books (annoyance and positive) For the past two years, I have looked at Palladium's stuff and sighed. As much as I would love to pick up the Robotech Tactics Game, I wonder very much who I would get to play with and that has prevented me from buying it, especially since they have discounts on their products... One day, when ActionMan is older, I might become a Valkyrie ace (though it is more likely I become a Zentraedi commander!)
KOLD (annoyance) Yes, with a "k" the room where I got to GM this year was an icebox. I never thought - at least not with any seriousness - that when I named an adventure Memories of a Frozen Hell that the "Frozen Hell" people would remember would be the game room, and not the adventure itself... It was cold. A lot. Very, very cold. The best environment I got was on Sunday, when we moved the game to the corridor where open gaming was located.
Food (positive) Like Origins, I packed some food (smoked turkey, sharp cheddar, provolone, bread and some spicy mustard). This simple diet seriously cut down on my con costs and allowed me to pay for one warm meal a day (usually before bed) and not break the bank (which is a little tight these days, long story). However, one of the great things of being at the Hyatt is that there are "quick" and "inexpensive" food option with Subway and the pizza-by-the-slice place.