How many of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series? I remember reading through all the Choose Your Own Adventure books that my elementary school library had, multiple times, so I could get to all the endings. Choose Your Own Adventure books were the best.
Well, did you know that there’s now a Choose Your Own Adventure game?
Well, there is, and I got to play chapter 1 of the game today at work! (Yes, we got to play games for research purposes, so we can make our own choose-your-own-adventure-esque games – how awesome is that?) And oh, it was lots of fun. I’m going to buy it for myself so I can introduce friends to it, because I know a lot of people who would really enjoy this game.
In the game, the player (or players – while this game can be played by one person, we played it with twelve today!) takes on the role of a detective who’s been having nightmares about a haunted mansion and its missing owner – so of course you have to go investigate it. Gameplay involves two decks of cards – the story deck, which is composed of cards that tell the story, and the clue deck, which includes tools that help the player out, clues that change the story paths available, and other information the players might find helpful. The game mechanics also include a danger meter, which determines just how challenging any challenges that come up during the game may be, and the psychic scale, which we didn’t really get to interact with much today. The game starts by a player reading the beginning story cards for the chapter, and the game progresses by making choices on what to do next, much like your typical Choose Your Own Adventure book. However, unlike reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books, sometimes challenges appear that force you to go one way or another, depending on if you pass or fail.
The story itself is based on an actual Choose Your Own Adventure book, and that includes all the random dead ends and false starts and, of course, multiple ways your character can die. We managed to die, what, four times today? We got buried alive twice, got strangled by plants once, and – my group’s favorite – killed by a pack of Dobermans surrounding a chimpanzee playing a violin. I’m not even kidding. (We’ve been making jokes about the violin-playing chimpanzee all day.)
As I said, we only got through the first chapter today, but playing the first chapter was so much fun! Part of that might have been due to playing with a larger group of people, with a chunk of us tending towards the nerdier side of things (there were a number of Doctor Who and Stranger Things references made while we were playing), but I think it’d be fun with almost any group of people. Heck, I can see Ross’s family having fun with this at the next holiday gathering. (Then again, we’re all huge nerds, haha.)
If you have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, then you should give this a try!
It’s officially spring, and the weather’s getting warmer – and that means LARP season is coming!
I am really excited for the next season of Kishar to start. Granted, the first game isn’t until May, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start getting things ready now!
And folks, I’m really glad I decided to go through my LARP gear bucket now, instead of just before the first game. Due to the garage flooding during some insanely heavy rains earlier this year, all the gear I stored in there was either really musty smelling or covered in mold. So, I guess today is Ëlinyr’s laundry day!
Thankfully I only lost a sword frog and a shoulder bag to mold – everything else is getting washed! And I’ve even got some new stuff for this year, too, which I thankfully did not store in the garage. Like, for example, new elf ears! (and yes, I am wearing them while doing LARP laundry.) They’re a little smaller than the old elf ears, and they’re slip-on ears as well – given that Ëlinyr’s now a thinblooded elf, I think the smaller ears work better. (I am so glad she’s not a full-on sun elf anymore, I am so done with sweating glitter on hot days.) I also made a new skirt to go with an old shirt I made ages ago, and together with the trusty ol’ corset vest they make up a new outfit for Ëlinyr!
I’ve also made some adjustments to the “stealth” dress, as it’s been named, mainly adding some bias tape to the bottom to keep the edge of the dress from snagging on everything it brushes past. I had to remove a tier off the bottom of the dress when I first got it, to make it so I wasn’t tripping over it constantly, and the raw edge kept getting stuck on all sorts of things – sticks, thorny bushes, the buckles of my boots, and so on. The stealth dress was my first costuming piece, and I want it to stick around as long as possible. 🙂
Anyhow! I’ve also been brainstorming some story-related ideas for Ëlinyr for this season – especially since she’s now the owner of a coffee shop and bookstore (which still needs a name), as well as the owner of a rambunctious juvenile sand-dragon (think scaly Golden Retriever). Between the coffee shop/bookstore, the pet sand-dragon, adventuring, and teaching at the Royal Academy, Ëlinyr’s going to be rather busy this season, I think.
Now, here’s hoping the musty smell comes out of her gear. There are a few things I think I’m going to have to rewash because they still smell a little bit, so here’s hoping a good soak will take care of the mustiness in those last few items. Otherwise, I’m going to have to go shopping for LARP gear…
For a couple of years now, I haven’t really owned a decent computer I could play games on. I mean, sure, I had my work laptop, Jadzia, who was a powerful behemoth when she was new, built for video editing – but she was my work computer, and I felt guilty installing video games on her, even if I never played them at work. I’ve got Nog, an old Lenovo ThinkPad that I inherited from Ross when he got a new work computer, but he’s nearly seven years old, and was never meant for gaming. He runs Stardew Valley pretty well, and Terraria runs alright too. Sure, it took about five minutes to create a new world in Terraria, but neither of those games are too resource-intensive. I wanted to play more than just Stardew Valley and Terraria. I wanted to be able to play more modern games, and maybe have a computer that could do some light video editing on top of it all.
Sharon (named after Sharon “Athena” Agathon in Battlestar Galactica) is a brand spanking new Lenovo Legion Y520. And I love her. She’s so lightning fast compared to most of the other computers I’ve used recently, and definitely the fastest computer I own. She can play Elder Scrolls Online with some pretty high graphics settings. She also handles video editing pretty well – I was able to use her to give a demonstration on how to use Adobe Character Animator, which is a pretty resource-demanding program, and everything ran really smoothly.
As with every piece of technology, Sharon has her pros and cons…
Boots up ridiculously fast. I think she goes from completely off to functioning in less than 10 seconds. (I haven’t timed it, though.)
Everything in general is lightning fast, with a 7th gen i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB solid-state drive. It’s fantastic.
For a gaming laptop, she’s rather light – she’s definitely lighter than the Dell Precision I had as my work laptop up until last week, and that was built for video editing.
Lenovo laptops offer Conservation Mode, which helps laptop batteries live longer if said laptop is primarily used while plugged in. It’ll keep the battery charged between 50 and 60%, which’ll help the battery live longer. You can turn Conservation Mode off and charge the battery to full if you anticipate using it unplugged in the near future.
There’s a lot of open vent space on the bottom of the laptop, to help increase airflow and vent out all the heat that builds up when you’re gaming.
With all the vents being mainly on the bottom, if the laptop isn’t propped up on some sort of cooling mat (or even something to just get it off the desk), it’s a little hard for it to vent out the heat properly. I ended up getting a cooling mat, but have only used it while playing Elder Scrolls Online since it’s a rather graphics-intense game.
The fans are a little loud – and the system’s a little aggressive about keeping things cool, so the fan does kick on a fair bit. I don’t mind it too terribly much, but Ross said he noticed it from the other room.
The laptop body picks up smudges from my hands pretty easily – it’s only a minor annoyance, but I do find myself having to wipe it down every so often to get rid of my smudgy handprints.
I was lucky enough to get the Legion Y520 on sale – the configuration I got typically retails for $1499 before tax on Lenovo’s site, but there have been multiple sales lately bringing the price below $1000 – which is a great price for such a good laptop. If you’re looking for a sub-$1000 gaming laptop that’s ridiculously fast, and aren’t too concerned about having the latest and the greatest processors, then the Legion Y520 is a good choice. I’m certainly pleased with it – and my friend Kasi even bought one for herself after I showed her how well Elder Scrolls Online runs!
Speaking of said laptop, though, I might have to go disappear to play some Stardew Valley. My farm is calling…
Oh, Stardew Valley. You’re one of the reasons I bought a new gaming laptop (although you can still run on my old ThinkPad). I’ve spent many hours planting and taking care of farm animals and trying to get friendly with the villagers. And now, I can do all that on my phone, thanks to the recent mobile port of Stardew Valley! It finally made its way to Android a few days ago, and was released for iOS a couple months ago. My review focuses on the Android version, but I’m pretty sure everything’s the same on iOS. For those of you who’ve never played the game before, Stardew Valley is a farming simulator, similar to games like Harvest Moon, where you’re responsible for taking care of a farm. In addition to making sure your farm succeeds, you also get to make friends with the villagers, as well as eventually start a family if you want to. You even get a pet! (I’ve got a cat.)
I’ve been really pleased with the mobile version so far – the developers did a good job of making it as enjoyable an experience on a mobile device as it is on a full computer. The controls are easy to pick up – you can either tap a location on the screen and your farmer will move to the tapped square, or you can hold your finger on the screen and your farmer will follow in the direction of your finger. The entire interface in general has been customized for small touchscreen use, which definitely makes playing easier. For example, your entire inventory is visible on the left side of the screen, and you can scroll through all your items and tap on the one you want to use to make it the active item.
The interface for shopping has changed slightly, too – while it’s not universal for all shops (for example, Marnie’s shop listings are displayed a bit differently than the items in Pierre’s general store), it’s definitely geared towards mobile use and makes it easier to tap on what you want to buy.
The crafting menu, as with other similar menus, are also mobile-optimized:
Another thing I’ve really enjoyed that’s exclusive to the mobile version is the ability to zoom in and out on the map, which has come in helpful when I’m looking for things to forage or just want a large overall view of an area.
Plus, it has all the original story and townsfolk you’ve all grown to love, plus the new farm types that were released when co-op mode became available! It’s very easy to lose a few hours playing on the phone, that’s for sure.
That being said, there are a few things missing from the mobile port – specifically, co-op mode, saving games to the cloud, and the ability to sync games between devices and computers. While they’re not a deal-breaker for me, some folks might really miss these features. There is a work-around to make it so you can play save files from the desktop version of Stardew Valley on mobile (link focuses on iOS version of the game), but it’s a little labor-intensive and involves a lot of shuffling files around. I’ve just been setting up a different type of farm on all the devices I’ve been playing on, so I get to explore all the different farm types.
There are also a few things that have taken some getting used to, like the automatic tool choosing – sometimes it doesn’t work as intended, and you’ll need to manually choose the tool you need to do a job (like when cutting grass, you’ll need to manually select the scythe before attempting to cut anything down). There’s also an auto-fight monsters mode in the mines, but in order for that to work well, you’ll need to select your sword before starting to do any mining – otherwise, you’ll just end up attacking with your mining pick, which isn’t as effective. Also, I’ve found that it’s really easy to accidentally select an item from my inventory while trying to navigate to the left side of the screen, and if you’re not careful, you might accidentally end up giving it away to a villager if you don’t switch away from said item before trying to talk. (for example, I accidentally gifted Penny an artifact that she really didn’t like, whoops)
Overall, the mobile version of Stardew Valley is great! There are some bugs, given that the game just got released, but I’ve only encountered them when trying to play on my Chromebook (which I was able to fix by restarting the Chromebook), and the developers are working hard to get them fixed. If you love Stardew Valley, are okay with not having co-op mode and cloud saves, and have a little extra cash laying around, you should definitely pick it up for your mobile device.
I’m no stranger to tabletop RPGs – I’ve played in a number of different systems, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and White Wolf’s World of Darkness. However, in all my years of gaming, I’ve never played anything quite like Blue Rose. For over a year, I’ve been part of a group that plays Blue Rose somewhat regularly, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
What is Blue Rose?
Blue Rose is a tabletop RPG published by Green Ronin, and is labeled as a romantic fantasy game. It’s set in the world of Aldea, and players can play as a number of different humanoid races or as a rhydan (which encompasses many different types of psychic animals). Player characters have three classes to choose from: adept, which is your typical magic-using class; expert, which includes scholars, spies, tricksters, and negotiators; and warrior, which is your classic fighter class. There are plenty of other aspects that go into developing a character, including their background, goals, destiny/fate, and, of course, their relationships with others – including friends, family, and romantic relationships.
The main focus of the game is on developing relationships, but depending on the storyteller, there may be a fair bit of exploration and adventuring involved as well. The world of Aldea is definitely large enough to do plenty of exploring in, and the core book includes details about many countries outside of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.
It’s no secret to you readers – I enjoy a good role-playing game, whether it’s tabletop or live action. It’s also no secret that I’m not exactly the most organized person at times – I try really hard, though. If I’m not careful, I lose track of my game stuff easily – just ask me how many character sheets I made for my Blue Rose character before I finally figured out an organizational system. (Pretty sure there’s four of them floating out there, including two versions of the digital character sheet I keep as a backup.) I can also get distracted pretty easily during games, and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss something important. After years of gaming, I’ve figured out a few ways to help keep myself organized when it comes to the various role-playing games I’m in.
I’ve been meaning to write a bit about how I’m finally learning how to play Magic: The Gathering – and, well, what better time than now?
My first attempt at learning to play was back in 2005, when I was in college – a couple of the guys in SUNY Potsdam’s Gaming Club built me a simple deck, I watched them play one game, and then I think I got pulled into a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign and forgot about learning Magic entirely. I had that deck for years – I think I ended up donating it to Goodwill a few years ago, before Ross and I moved into our house. (I’m kicking myself for that now – I wonder how much some of those cards might be worth now!) I was still vaguely interested in learning, eventually, but I didn’t know anyone that played – until I met J, anyway.
Last year, I finally decided maybe I should try learning to play again – and J was more than happy to teach me.
I’ve been learning for a while now – I think J started teaching me the game last summer, and I only recently got to the point where I decided “okay, I’m going to stick with this, maybe I should get a deck of my own instead of borrowing one of J’s many decks every time I play.” So, with J’s help, I picked out one of the 2018 premade Commander (or Elder Dragon Highlander, depending on your preferences) decks and did a little tweaking to make the deck a little more powerful. I ended up choosing the Exquisite Invention deck, after looking through J’s copy of it – I’ve been calling it the Thopterpocalypse Deck, because when my deck is behaving, I can generate a lot of thopters and servos to rain down doom on my opponents. (I say when my deck is behaving because the last two games I’ve played, all my land has ended up at the bottom of the deck, no matter how many times the darn thing gets shuffled.) Now that I’m getting a feel for the game, I’m comfortable enough to be silly – like giving personalities to creatures I play, for example. It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s fun to say “oh, the Master Thopterist is in a bit of a mood, so he’s going to attack with his two thopter buddies.” It’s fun to be a little sassy while I’m playing, haha.
One thing is for sure – I definitely don’t know nearly enough to make decks on my own. Deck building is insanely complicated. You have to think about how all the cards interact with each other, and how certain cards can trigger combinations that may or may not wipe out another player’s creatures. It’s mind-boggling. I don’t know J does it – then again, he’s been playing Magic for far longer than I have.
I will say, sometimes it’s hard for me not to just buy all the cards I can. I like collecting things, and if there’s something I’m enthusiastic about, I end up wanting to throw money at it and buy all the things. I’m really glad J is guiding me in what to buy and what not to buy, because otherwise I’d probably end up with a hot mess of somewhat useless stuff because I think the card art is pretty. Also, good lord this hobby involves buying so much stuff – not only did I end up buying a deck of cards to play with, I had to get a deck box, and I bought Saheeli-themed card sleeves (since she’s the commander for my deck), and of course I had to get that Doge playmat, and yesterday I just picked up some token counters because Saheeli likes to make ALL THE THOPTERS – and speaking of thopters, I got lucky with that blind bag draw!
I sort-of knew what I was getting into when I got into the hobby – at least with the fact that cards can get expensive and there are LOTS of them, heh – but I didn’t quite absorb just all the little things you need to play Magic. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s not stopping me from wanting to play.
I’m really enjoying learning how to play. Each game is like a constantly shifting puzzle that you need to solve. Sometimes you get lucky and can solve the puzzle early and knock out your opponent, and other times you just end up stuck waiting for a needed card or two that never come up. It’s fun, and exciting, and sometimes overwhelming – and I love it. I’m really glad I got into this hobby.
Yes, there is a board game that’s essentially about making a patchwork quilt. My friends J and Kasi bought this game recently, and when J pointed out that they had a game about making quilts, I had to play it.
In Patchwork, two players compete to make the most complete (and highest-scoring) quilt they can on a 9×9 game board. Gameplay is pretty simple — players move tokens along a board (called the “time track”) to determine whose turn it is, and as players move along the board they can collect extra buttons or small patches to help fill in empty spots on their board. Each space on the board represents a unit of time, and each of the patches has a time listed on them, indicating how many spaces you’ll be moving along the board. (After all, quilting does take time!)
Around the time track is the collection of quilt patches you can choose from. During each turn, players have the option to purchase a quilt patch or earn extra buttons by moving to one spot ahead of your opponent. You’re limited in which quilt patches you can buy, however: a marker works its way clockwise around the circle of patches, and you can only choose from the three patches in front of the marker. This is where sometimes moving ahead of your opponent can come in handy, if there aren’t any patches you can afford or any patches that fit on your board — you can simply choose to earn extra buttons, one per spot you end up moving along the board.
The buttons that players collect are really important. Not only are they the game’s currency, but they also help determine who wins at the end of the game: whoever has the most buttons at the end of the game wins.
As you can see, some patches have buttons on them – and those help you out as you move around the time track. If you move past a button on the time track, you earn a button for every button that’s on your quilt. The bigger your quilt gets, the more buttons you can earn at a time. (At one point, I think I was earning 15 buttons every time I hopped over a button on the time track — my quilt was very decorated!)
When both players get to the end of the time track, that’s when you figure out who the winner is. First, you count up how many buttons you’ve earned, and then subtract the amount of blank spaces on the board from the amount of buttons you’ve earned. Whoever has the highest point count after that is the winner! I didn’t win yesterday’s game, but I certainly had fun playing and will definitely be picking this game up for my collection.
I think I got a little burned out on everything after Gen Con – hence the lack of a post last week. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to get the last of my Gen Con reports put together, and there’s a start to it in the pile of half-finished blog posts I’m accumulating, but I just couldn’t nudge myself towards getting it done. I’ll try to finish it soon, though, as there are some pretty cool vendors and artists I want to share with you all that I discovered at Gen Con.
So that this week’s blog post isn’t all just me being down on myself for not posting last week, I’m going to talk about a Kickstarter whose rewards I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a little while now. Those rewards showed up on my doorstep the other day, and I can’t help but share them with you all, because they’re so beautiful!
Yep, that’s right – the Name of the Wind Art Deck Kickstarter started shipping last month, and I finally got my goodies. They were definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure.
Now, this isn’t the first deck of cards that’s had artwork from Name of the Wind on them – a deck was released a few years ago (also the product of a Kickstarter, if I remember right), with artwork by Shane Tyree depicting the characters we all know and love. I’ve got the Shane Tyree deck as well as the new ones with art by Echo Chernik, and it’s really interesting to see how each artist envisioned the characters.
The coin that I got as part of the rewards is beautiful – and pretty hefty, too! I’d be afraid to flip it and accidentally dent a table with it when it lands, haha.
The prints are beautiful, too – I can’t wait to get them framed. I’ve been especially excited about them, since I love Echo’s work, and it was really exciting to get to meet her at Gen Con. All in all, I’m really happy with the quality of everything – the cards feel great in your hand, and the artwork is absolutely wonderful.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with four decks of Name of the Wind playing cards. 😛
As I mentioned briefly in some of my daily Gen Con posts, I took part in two different LARPs this year at Gen Con, in very different roles. I’ve never actually LARPed at Gen Con before, so being involved in two different games might have been a little ambitious, but in retrospect, I had a heck of a lot of fun. Both games I was involved in were put on by Phoenix Fire LARP, a group that my dear friends J and Kasi run with some of their friends. Since convention halls don’t really lend themselves well to boffer LARPs (or, LARPs that make use of foam weapons for attacking others), J developed the FIRE System, which uses a deck of playing cards to determine damage dealt to characters, help add an element of chance to certain actions, and to help with determining initiative for the players. It’s a really neat system that’s pretty quick to learn.
While both games made use of the FIRE System, they were about as different as things can get – and I had completely different experiences in both games, what with running one and participating in another. Read on to learn more about Return to Paragon City and Showdown in Sacramento!
Return to Paragon City
Return to Paragon City was the game I helped run – it’s based on the beloved MMO City of Heroes, which I didn’t get to play for long before they shut the game down back in 2012. The game was run as a hybrid tabletop/live action game, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. However, to be honest, when I first volunteered to help run Paragon City, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect I’d be running part of the game by myself, but that’s what ended up happening. And given that it was my first experience running any sort of game, I was anxious as heck about it. I’ve played in tabletop games for years, and I’ve got a year and a half of LARPing experience under my belt, but running a game? Telling a story and keeping track of where everyone is in location to the bad guys and keeping track of the bad guys’ health ended up being a really overwhelming prospect for me. I was so worried I’d mess something up, and then freak out about messing things up, and it’d all spiral out of control. Each playtest we did helped me feel a littlebetter about things, but not much. I ended up showing up to the game in the middle of a massive anxiety attack. Oh, brain. Why do you do this to me?
Anyhow, I told J that my brain was conspiring against me and that I had no idea how I’d be able to run my section of game, so we tag-teamed my section of the event – I’d do the storytelling, while J handled the combat parts. That combination worked out well – during combat I focused on keeping track of where people were on the map and how many hit points the bad guys had, while J handled the actual logistics. And our group had loads of fun! We had some great superheroes in our group, including Professor Photon, Cameraman (who had a camera prop and involved it in all of his attacks), and The Spicy Taco (whose attacks were, of course, taco-themed).
All in all, I learned a lot – and learned that maybe I need training wheels, so to speak, for a little bit longer when it comes to running a LARP.
Showdown in Sacramento
Showdown in Sacramento was an entirely different experience. In fact, the only thing Showdown and Paragon City had in common was the FIRE System – everything else was incredibly different. Instead of being set in a fictitious city full of superheroes, Showdown is set in Sacramento during the gold rush era, and is full of supernatural beings- mages, werewolves, vampires, and fey (in addition to regular plain old humans). In last year’s game, an event happened that caused all the supernatural beings to glow with a specific colored aura around them, based on the type of supernatural being they were. This made things a little… interesting for this year’s game, especially when it came to the political elements.
I like how J and Kasi handled character creation, although I know it resulted in an immense amount of work on their end. Instead of creating our own characters, we were each assigned a character and given a fair bit of backstory for them as a starting point for this year’s game. I ended up playing Lucina Finch, a relative newcomer to Sacramento who’d recently purchased a mine and was planning on using her abilities as a mage to construct machines that would work in the mines, to lessen the potential harm to humans. Having the character information to start from made things much easier for me, especially since I was new to the game – once I got into character and started interacting with others, I had a great time.
Lucina partnered up with two other mages (Isadora and Adelia) to work on making more machines to work in the mines, which was one of Lucina’s main goals for the game. There was also a lot of mining (Lucina had to pay Adelia for the rights to her gold-detecting machine somehow!), a marriage market where Lucina got matched up with a friendly werewolf named Thomas, a number of fights with thugs attempting to raid the mines (Thomas protected Lucina from one such attack by transforming into a werewolf, which Lucina thought was pretty awesome), and even voting on political issues that would affect the supernaturals living in Sacramento both immediately and in the years to come. And with the help of a couple of others, the lady mages found out the source of the auras that were affecting the supernatural folk of Sacramento!
I had a heck of a lot of fun in Showdown, and I’m really glad I decided to jump in and play this year. Granted, doing two 6-hour LARPs over the course of two days was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.
Well, Gen Con 2018 is all done – which I’m rather bummed about, I had an absolutely wonderful time this year! Thanks to staying in a hotel in Indy, I actually had the energy to post something little each day of the convention, but I’ve got a heck of a lot more to ramble about – so here goes! To keep this one post from getting too ridiculously long, I’ve split out the long and rambly parts into their own posts:
My experience this year was pretty good in general – I kept up on what was going on with the Fans of Gen Con group on Facebook, which was full of good information. From where to find certain games to how long the line for Will Call was, the folks in Fans of Gen Con posted about it all – and it helped me feel a little more connected to the convention in general. I’m hoping I can actually make it to their pre-Gen Con event next year, the Stink, so I can meet more of the great folks in that group.
Speaking of Will Call – what the heck was up with Will Call this year? The lines were insane, from what I heard – this year I ended up getting my press badge with my friend Rachel (of The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast) on Wednesday, and then hopping into the Will Call line – which stretched almost entirely across the convention center. It moved pretty quickly, though – Ross, Rachel, and I were only in line for a half hour. However, Thursday was an entirely different story.
Apparently the line was really, really bad on Thursday – so much for Will Call being such a well-kept secret! I think Ross and I are going to plan on getting my press badge on Wednesday of Gen Con from now on, so we don’t feel so rushed trying to get things taken care of early Thursday morning (and so we avoid the potential horrors of the lengthy Will Call lines).
I don’t know about everyone else, but it felt like some parts of Gen Con were ridiculously packed compared to last year. It felt almost impossible to navigate the Block Party, where all the food trucks were congregated, during meal times (and forget about finding a place to sit!) – and the dealer hall was insane on Sunday. I get easily overwhelmed when there are too many people somewhere, and while most of the time I was fine, there were some spots where I just got so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people crammed into a small area. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to alleviate this outside of finding a new place to do Gen Con or expanding further into the surrounding hotels – it’s just something I guess I’m gonna have to deal with.
I will say, watching the crowds enter the dealers hall on Thursday morning was fascinating. I actually recorded the tail end of the opening ceremonies for Gen Con this year, and at about 4 and a half minutes into the video, you can see the crowd start pouring into the hall (and hear my silly commentary on it, too).
One of the things I love about Gen Con is the fact that I can run into friends from pretty much every part of my life here – over the course of the convention, I ran into a bunch of folks from Kishar, friends from work, my wonderful mom-in-law and brother-in-law, and even folks from SIGUCCS (a professional organization I’m a member of). It’s like one big geeky party that all your friends are at, and it’s fantastic. I always love running into friends and family at Gen Con.
Overall, I had a great time – I got to eat tasty food from the food trucks (including some pierogies from Pierogi Love, and a rainbow cupcake covered in glitter called “The Mike Pence”, haha), I got to wear a Sailor Moon costume I’d only ever dreamed about wearing before, I got to play in some awesome games, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money in the dealers hall (I bought a Utilikilt this year!). All in all, this was a great year, and I’m looking forward to next year’s Gen Con! Here’s a little taste of Gen Con 2018, in photo form.
Googly-eyed Starbucks lady greeted us at badge pick-up on Wednesday.
Cardhalla, on Wednesday afternoon.
The block party!
This is one way to keep occupied while waiting for the dealers hall to open!
The Pathfinder/Starfinder room. Maybe next year, I’ll jump in on a Pathfinder Society game.
Exploding Kittens brought back their vending machine!
This sign made me giggle.
Cardhalla on Friday! I’m slightly bummed that I didn’t get a picture of everything before they knocked it down.
It’s always awesome to spot friends in the crowd – like my friend Chris here. 🙂
The Mike Pence. It was tasty. And glittery.
The 2018 balloon sculpture!
A shot from the costume parade of Ross and I!
Keep an eye out for the more specific Gen Con Reports! 🙂 And if you want to listen to a more detailed (and much more tired) report about Gen Con, I guest-starred on the most recent episode of The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast, where Rachel and I talk about our Gen Con experience!
I apologize for the lack of a post last week and the week before — I’ve been swamped with Gen Con prep. And oh, there’s a lot of it this year.
For example: did you folks know I’m helping run a LARP this year? Return to Paragon City (based on the old MMORPG City of Heroes) is going to be my first stab at running a simple LARP, and I’m really excited for it (and more than a little anxious, I’m not going to lie). It’s been awesome, revisiting the world of City of Heroes as my friends and I put together the story for Return to Paragon City. I really hope it goes well!
In addition to helping run Return to Paragon City, I’m also going to play in a LARP too – Showdown in Sacramento! Which actually sold out on the first day event registration was open, which was awesome and slightly frustrating, haha. Thankfully, the friends running Showdown are the same friends running Paragon City with me, so even if Gen Con hadn’t increased the amount of available tickets, they’d have found a way for Ross and I to get in there and play (probably with a lot of generic event tickets, hah.)
I also spent most of last weekend making Ross the last piece he needed for his Star Butterfly costume – a star purse that came out far better than I expected it would. And yes, I lined it with My Little Pony fabric. Would you expect anything different from me? 😉
I’ve only got two days of officially planned costumes this year, Marco Diaz from Star vs. The Forces of Evil and Sailor Moon. I’m excited to be Marco Diaz (and even more excited to see Ross in his Star Butterfly costume!), and every time I think of my Sailor Moon costume I get ridiculously flaily. (As I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now.) Depending on how I feel on Sunday, I might throw on my “stealth dress” and wander around Gen Con as my Kishar character, Ëlinyr. Or I might wear my Sailor Moon wig and my Crafty Nerd t-shirt! Who knows.
For those of you who are going to Gen Con, say hi if you see me! Following is a breakdown of what costumes Ross and I are planning to wear on what days (when we’re not LARPing), so you know what to look for.
Sailor Meta Moon
(or, Usagi in a Sailor Moon dress)
maybe Ëlinyr? maybe Usagi?
And for those of you who can’t make it, don’t worry! I’ll be posting here and on Twitter daily while I’m at Gen Con, in addition to my usual Gen Con wrap-up posts after the convention. I’m so ready for this, folks. SO READY.
Here’s hoping I see some of you awesome folks at Gen Con!
This is going to be the first of a bunch of posts about Gen Con 50, which has turned out to be the BEST Gen Con I’ve ever been to. I’ve done so much and seen so many cool things over the past few days – and it’s not all going to fit into one post, so I’m going to do a handful of them – one on the overall experience, one on events, one on awesome experiences in the Dealers Hall, and one entirely devoted to cosplay!
The first thing I noticed about Gen Con, mostly because it was the first place I went, was the fact that Will Call was EMPTY.
I’m guessing it was probably due to no on-site ticket sales because Gen Con was sold out for the first time in Gen Con history, but still, it was eerie to see Will Call so quiet! As always, though, everything went smoothly – I got my press badge quickly, got event tickets even more quickly, and enjoyed all my time at the convention. It was fantastic, I swear.
And what was really awesome was the fact that Gen Con took over Lucas Oil Stadium – the home of the Indianapolis Colts!
I think spreading things out over three or four hotels, the Indy Convention Center, and Lucas Oil Stadium really helped spread out the crowds. My introvert self really appreciated it. The game lending library was right there on the field at Lucas Oil, as well as a mini museum documenting the history of Gen Con – which was fascinating.
I went to awesome events, had lots of compliments on my costumes, saw SO MANY other awesome costumes, and got to spend lots of time with friends.
I also got to help set up a LARP, got to listen to one of my favorite authors ramble about things and read his two “children’s” books, and ate tasty food from all sorts of places – food trucks, restaurants, and more.
I used to say Gen Con 2013 was the best Gen Con, but I think this one trumps it. By a lot. So many fantastic things happened – again, I can’t just cover it all in one post, so tomorrow I’ll share my experiences in the events I went to! After that, it’ll be fun from the Dealers Hall, and then the final Gen Con post will be on the epic cosplay! (And there may be an entire post dedicated to Pat Rothfuss, too.)
Well, apparently that tiny little game has spawned a tiny little parody. World, meet Munchkin: Loot Letter.
A quick refresher: in Love Letter, your goal is to get your love letter to the princess. You’ve got a small deck of cards which are numbered, and there are various amounts of those numbered cards – there are far more of those lower number cards than higher number cards, and there’s only one 8 – the princess. Once you get the princess, you pretty much win the game unless someone forces you to discard her.
Well, Loot Letter is pretty much the same – only there’s no princess. Only loot. And Ducks of Doom, and a Dread Gazebo. And a lot of potted plants.
I got the chance to play Loot Letter with some dear friends over dinner recently, and it was quite a bit of fun. J and Kasi had played it on their own previously, and found out there’s a lot less strategy involved and a lot more luck when playing with just two players. Adding a third player, though, made things more fun, and introduced more strategic moves to try and win the loot. Even though I goofed up a few times by not entirely thinking through some of my moves (like using a Dread Gazebo to swap hands with someone without really thinking about the effects of someone else ending up with the cards in my hand), I somehow managed to win the most loot!
If you’re in need of a short game to pass the time while waiting for food at a restaurant, or for a TV show to start, but don’t feel like something sappy, then Munchkin: Loot Letter is the game for you.
Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP. A real, actual LARP.
And it was FUN.
A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff. So, they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!
It didn’t work out all that well.
First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that. We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan. Second off, there was no combat. Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.
I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”
But then I met J. And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.
When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to. And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000. I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume. And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that. And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.
So I said “heck, why not? I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.” And I did – at the end of March.
I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures. It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened. While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.
After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest. My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic. And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on. Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things). And as I said earlier, you all know how much I lovemakingandwearingcostumes. Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.
So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on. As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome. And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!