JP On Gaming

Monday, August 14, 2023

Gencon 2023 After Action Report Part 1

Parts 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Before Gencon

Gencon never starts with the con. It typically starts when I'm driving back from Gencon. That's when I begin spitballing a few ideas to my carmates about "you know what would be cool?" But then I promptly forget most of that, my fatigued brain remembering only a few elements of the ideas. These form the core of adventures to be explored.

Nothing fully-formed, just an overall idea.

Having run "Hades' Back Door" in 2022, I had created an elaborate magic trap/puzzle for my table of 11th-level First Ones. It featured a massive green crystal, effectively one of the many lynchpins of the universe, holding the planes separate from each other.

And they cast disintegrate on it.

Just like that.

No puzzle. No discovery.

Worse thing: that was one way to solve the challenge.


Now I had initially planned on having a war between the titans and the gods of Olympia, but as everything marinated in my brain, such an opportunity was just too good to pass up. It had to become the focus of my annual storyline. When would I get another change? Not without forcing it.

It's one thing I love about running this "campaign." Not only do I not script the storyline beyond one Gencon (or if I do, it is in such broad strokes that it can be used for anything), but I set things up so that the players make choices that affect and direct my storyline. Just because I tell you "next year, we are fighting the titans" does not mean someone won't do something that requires a different story to be told.

I do think of artifices of the game and how to change or alter the formula: six players, one (round) table, and one GM. My idea is to offer a playing experience that is completely different from other gaming group, particularly for our specials. I know many groups offer great, quality games, but how many seek to break the mold?

FOE does.

And I am lucky to have a growing crew of GMs willing to go along with the madness I envision and run with it. Giving life to these visions.

So... How to break up everything into tiny chunks? So that each adventure gives some added piece of the puzzle.

First challenge was to identify something that could be used as a common link. That was pretty simple, if everything came from a shattered green crystal, green crystals would be manifestations of something wrong.

Next, I sat down and broke the events I wanted to run by setting:
- An Ozaka Introduction (It would be the major release of the year)
- Two Akhamet
- Two Olympia
- Four Specials

The great news was that BOTH Bill-C and Thor-G both offered to write and run an adventure for FOE. This would be Thor's second adventure and he wanted to write an Akhamet dungeoncrawl. Bill's idea was a little more nebulous but it would be set in Olympia.

I quickly broke things up into smaller pieces. High-level notes about what the overall theme was for the adventure. My post-it board was filled with a few words like "Dungeoncrawl," "divine curse," and "Godzilla" with partial arrangements ready to be turned into adventures.

That was all nice and good. But many many times over the next few months, I got hit with a horrible case of writer's block. I knew what I wanted to do at a high level, but turning those ideas into adventures just didn't happen.

I reached out to different people to get different perspectives or views on what I had and with their help, I was able to complete the adventures. Each of them having something different and something new. See I COULD use the same formula and run the same thing over and over, but I refuse to do so. I want things to be different, sometimes those difference are mostly of me the writer, but I like to think they all feel different in play too.

I finished the last adventure sometime in mid-july and thought I would relax.

But that was me not counting on the printed miniatures I forgot to prepare for the GMs. See, this year, I thought I had everything done, but I basically got in the car with paint still drying on my hand...

Here are some of the miniatures I painted (GMs, you can guess which ones I painted last...). You will notice the diversity of creatures used across the con. And some creatures appeared multiple times. You can click on them to view larger versions.

Parts 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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