JP On Gaming

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Imaginareum 2018 After Action Report

I have been involved with Imaginareum almost from the start now, with a stop as we moved south to Nashville. Still it always held a place in my heart as a place where I realized I needed to focus on my craft. Not just as a writer, but also as a publisher, and an editor.


ActionMan and I reached Louisville around 3pm local time. This was great because it allowed us to check in to the hotel, look around and figure out where things were. Now since this was at the Ramada Inn just off I-64, near where my house was. It's fairly conducive to holding such a con. Things are close by and it is hard to get lost.

At 4:15, I ran my Adventure workshop wherein we designed an adventure as a group. Now... What we came up with, was... Unique. There were many elements that came up I never expected. I will provide more details about this workshop and all its craziness in a follow-up post.

We decided to call our adventure "Between a Roc and a Hard Place".

After that, we had an hour before the planned start of the game. The original plan was to head to Sechuan Garden with JD, a place he showed me that I really enjoy going to, and something of an unofficial date where we talk about Rhym. This time, as we were making our way to the car, we saw that a food truck was there, Sweet-n-Savory Lou. They were making wraps using crepes. I was sold. ActionMan, and JD got the goat cheese one, I got the Hot Brown (for those who don't know what a Hot Brown Sandwich is, it is a Louisville classic, an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and tomatoes and covered in bechamel sauce).

Okay, total sidebar. The food was delicious. It was great, and both ActionMan and I hate about half our food now, and ate the rest later in the evening. One thing I must say for food trucks, while I've yet to eat at a place that wasn't delicious, a few places left me with the impression that I was paying for just tiny amounts of food. Leaving me hungry for more... Well not this time. Here we had great quality, great quantity, and something that was unique. That was a positive experience but more about the food truck later.

The original plan had me running the adventure we designed. Unfortunately, we did not have enough players. I was ready to do it, but in the end, we agreed to adjourn and get together Saturday night. I was already planning to GM an adventure, so running this other one instead of the one I prepared, did not bother me too much.

So I attended a panel on Mastering Mystery. The panel was given by three Memphis-based ladies and a gentleman. The guy had little of interest to say on the topic. He'd written only a single mystery book and before he stopped talking for the first time, I knew the major reveal of his book. Everything he said just made me want to ask him to leave. I began to look at my phone when he talked. I did not want him to talk. A mystery is not a mystery when you know everything, and within the chances to speak, he went and spoiled more and more. One thing is for sure, I will not buy his mystery book. Heck! I already know everything about it, so why waste my time.

Truth by told, I'm sure the ladies just wanted to walk out and tell him off. And I would have not blamed them. They had much more experience in the field of mystery but he kept blabbing about his one story. GUH. I must remind myself NOT to be like "THAT GUY".

The panel ended leaving me somewhat unhappy and unfulfilled. I had a taste of what I wanted to learn, but only learned of the guy's story of a man who disguises himself and fakes his death... The story seems fine and very good, but I will not read it. The good thing is, I may reach out to their group and for inspiration or support in my own work. So a partial win.

Next we went to bed, with ActionMan being asleep before I managed to open the TV.


We woke up around 8AM. One thing I am always amazed about Louisville is the time the sun comes up (REALLY Late). I'm always amazed. ActionMan and I headed to Golden Corral, a place we used to go a lot when we lived in Colorado, but a lot less as we do not enjoy it as much here. Good fun. I gave him my phone and he texted and annoyed his sisters. Later, they would say it was easy to know when I was on the phone and when he was on it: the large number of emojis.

After that, I took two boxes of old books and turned them in at Half-Price books. It We sold everything, cleared some space, and bought a few things. One of those that surprised me was that they had multiple copies of brand new Pathfinder flip maps. I looked through their stash and found one with fire and lave that was pretty cool. There was another one with the rapids and falls, but I could not see much use for it.

After that, we headed back to the con. The place seemed pretty full and I was excited. Since my next panel was over two hours away, I took ActionMan to the kids area, where they would to art and play a kid-friendly game. He was excited to be with other kids, and I got some time to attend some of the panels I do not think he would be interested in. Double win! I will provide details of ActionMan's day later.

I attended a panel on Character development insight. That room was PACKED. I was really excited to see so many people as it augured well for the rest of the con. Whereas things looked quiet on Friday night, this seemed like a good change. The panel was interesting and the panelists gave interesting, different, and complementary views on the topic. I left with a few ideas, so a good panel.

Next, my panel was on Freelance Writing. There I spoke of my experience in writing for others and how I got into the business. I also met a couple of people with great insight. However, the masses who attended the previous panel did not follow. The cavernous hall we had felt empty, but the attendees asked and received great answers from the panel. I left the panel feeling very excited. Now I need to find more time to do even more work! I... think that's a win...?

I had some time so I checked in on ActionMan who was busy playing a game so I headed to the movie room to watch some of the special premieres they had.

The first movie I watch most of (it was a 10min short) called The Time Traveller. It was a movie made in the UK that mixed element of the classic HG Wells' The Time Machine with nods to Lovecraft and Doctor Who. It was made using action miniatures with some stop-motion. It was cheesy, but it worked. I laughed a lot.

I stayed for the next film, this one called Baby Frankenstein. It was a comedy on some horror tropes. Basically this guy finds a midget Frankenstein monster in the attic of his new home. The film has a real 80s vibe to it and the characters pretty entertaining, especially the mother's new boyfriend who was a complete jerk. I could not stay and watch the end, but the setup and build up was funny.

My next panel was on Layout and Design. From the low attendance, this must not have been something people wanted to hear about. However, the panelists had a lot of insight and I learned a few things from this. They will be useful when I publish fiction work. It was interesting that my position as publisher of RPGs provided a good counterpoint.

Then a panel about gaming which really got me excited, Discussing D&D. I have mixed feelings about this one. It seems that our moderator kept pointing us towards other RPGs. Of all the panels, the conversation was interesting but I did not get much out of it. Perhaps one of the biggest thing was that I got to meet Michael Williams, who worked at TSR "back in the days" and who wrote a number of Dragonlance novels. I wanted to hear more from him. Still *I* may have gotten less, but the attendees seemed pretty happy and excited for the topics we covered.

On Friday, our trek to the Sechuan Garden ended at the food truck in the parking lot. But the food would not be denied. We packed ourselves in JD's car and went north of I-64 and had ourselves a feast. ActionMan really enjoyed the food as he ate very well. So did all three of us.

After dinner, things go serious. It was time to play D&D run the adventure we designed the night before. JD and his player joined us and we got the adventure off the ground. (hehehe) I was not able to fit in ALL the elements we discussed simply because it would have taken many more hours. The biggest and most important elements appeared played a part in the adventure, and fun was had by all.

Great group!


Sunday morning, I had planned to meet with some friends in Louisville, namely Derek-R and Chad-N, but Chad could not make it. My old "work husband" and I caught up with how things were going back at the old job, how things were at the new one, gaming, writing, conventions, ActionMan, etc. It is a treasured moment, because we typically meet during a convention, whether I am GMing or running between slots or he is making sure thing are actually running.

The one bad thing about it? Well I had to run off to give a panel. So the discussion was cut short, but it was entirely worth it!

I participated in a panel Building brand of you. This was a very unique panel with a very wide range of experience, which is something I value a lot about this convention. This was my final participation in the con and I was not sad that it was over. I was pooped, and ActionMan could barely stand.

We drove home where we both slept the weekend away.

Thanks Louisville.


The good, the bad

Let's go over the better elements of the con...

I said it before, but having the food truck on-site, was a move of GENIUS! These guys did so much business they RAN OUT OF FOOD. I really, really applaud whoever made that decision. That Sweet-n-Savory Lou was good and offered value only makes this happening more awesome.

The panels I attended, both as a participant and as a attendee, were filled with fun panelists that added much to the conversation, and left me feeling like I learned something. Oh yeah, except that one guy on Friday... But let's see... On about 30 panelists, 1 I did not like? That's a pretty good ratio. I put that as a positive.

Another genius move they did: their panel slots. Every panel was slated in 1h blocks, with a 15 min pause between. So the panels started at: 9, 10:15, 11:30, 12:45, 2, 3:15, 4:30, and 5:45... They had events throughout the day and other things during the evening. The breakdown made me feel like I could stop and talk to people, like I was never in a rush, until I collapsed at the end of the day with a smile on my face.

I have great writer friends and acquaintances. Some old, some new. A few names (and I forget many more): JD Conrad, Paul-H, Bethany, and Allison,

I say and will say to the day I die that I love Kentucky and its people. They embraced this wonky Canadian coming down from the Rockies with open arms. Some bluegrass will always grow on my heart. I mean, do I need to mention Derek-R, Dave-M, who I met over the weekend. Great guys. I am truly blessed.

Is there a better takeaway from a writers' convention than to leave wanting to write more??? Even someone who hates his fiction - such as myself - wants to give it a serious go, and that is a mix of all of the above positive things I drew from Imaginareum.

Which leads me to have to mention a few negative points.

Perhaps the biggest negative was the Attendance. Many of the panels were very thin in participants, on the plus side, those who attended did get to talk to the panels and get many of their questions answered.

Because of the attendance, the gaming room looked sad. It was a vast empty space. Eric-B and most of the GMs (such as JD, Corpse, and myself) spent time looking at each other waiting for something to do. I know this is not a gaming con. The problem is that I don't know what to do about the gaming room.

Imaginareum has a number of "Other events", such as opening ceremonies, award ceremonies, a banquet, a dance party, and closing ceremonies. All things I personally have little to no use for. These events do pull attendants away from the other events. And when attendance is low...

In the end

I really had to give more thoughts to this one. When I left, the low attendance made me lean towards "no". But writing this, and that is one of the advantages of writing this down, I must say that despite things not going fully according to plan, I have to say that I really enjoyed my weekend.

I left with a renewed sense of interest in my craft. Not just writing, but editing and self-promotion. Once again, I came away from the con with a bunch of new facebook writer friends.

I attended the first Imaginareum "way back when" and to see it ebb and flow is quite interesting. This is not a games convention like many others, this is a writers' event. For people interested in writing and everything related to writing, this is a great place to mingle and network. This may not have been ActionMan's favorite but he left speaking highly of the kid's events they did.

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