If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
~ Bob Dylan – The Times They Are a-Changin’
What follows is likely the most personal entry in the history of my blog. It is the culmination of a number of major events in my life and many weeks of thought. There will not be any specific tidbits or suggestions for running a RPG campaign (those will return next week), although I believe some of the things discussed below (e.g., shifting priorities, work/life balance) may resonant with others in similar situations.
Perhaps the best place to ignite this self-disclosure fire is a conversation I had with my Unofficial Blogging Mentor, Mike Shea. He asked me an interesting question during dinner one night at Gen Con:
Where do you want to take The Id DM?
While it’s a question I considered often during the life of the blog, I did not have a very good answer for him in the moment. Spending a few days at Gen Con rubbing shoulders with other prominent bloggers, writers and designers in the D&D and RPG community was fantastic . . . but it also resulted in a personal swim through existential waters. It forced me to really think about the question, “What am I trying to accomplish with the blog?”
One of my primary goals at Gen Con was tracking down as many of the people I have gotten to know in some capacity over the last year or two through my blog. As a way to thank the individuals who were kind enough to agree to an interview for my site, I had special The Id DM dice bags created by Dragon Chow Dice Bags. The end result was fantastic, and I was excited to dispense the bags at the convention.
There are still a few individuals I need to reach so I can mail them a bag; not everyone was at Gen Con. But it was a pleasure to finally meet the following people in person after communicating with them online for interviews:
I once again offer my gratitude for their time and willingness to respond to my questions. And if you enjoy the photo of the dice bag above, then this is your lucky day because I am going to run my first-ever contest through this site. Multiple winners will be mailed a The Id DM dice bag created by Dragon Chow Dice Bags. Read below for the details!
I did not plan to buy many things at Gen Con; the cost of flying to Indianapolis and staying at a hotel were expensive enough. I went into the convention center with a mindset to avoid purchasing all the things I would – of course – want to buy. The only other thing I wanted to buy at Gen Con was a set of dice. One can never have enough dice!
My love/hate relationship with my dice has led me to engage in troubling behavior. I have learned though online osmosis about GameScience Dice and figured they would have a booth at Gen Con. I shuffled over to their booth and got lost in the rows of pretty dice. I finally decided on a set of orange and black dice (the colors of my favorite hockey team). I was happy, I bought my first set of GameScience Dice and those would be “My First Gen Con” dice.
@TheIdDM careful de-burring them if they have mold marks. Ruined my GS D6 using wrong kind of sandpaper...
However, a gentleman on Twitter – and who I met at the show a day earlier – commented that he ruined one of his GameScience dice when filing away an imperfection. I opened up the plastic box holding the die and – sure enough – each of them had a rough edge or some other type of flaw that would need to be sanded or filed down. On top of that, I realized he d20 was an old-school model with two sets of numbers that went from 1-0 with no teen numbers. There would be no way to tell if any given number was above or below 10.
I was seven kinds of frustrated by these developments! Below, I discuss my (probably too strong) opinions about different brands of dice, my irritation while shopping for dice at Gen Con and my idea for how to fix the GameScience Dice problem.
Because I would really love to say I have empirically validated dice!
I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I primarily play Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. While I thoroughly enjoy 4th Edition, I know I am missing out on many great gaming experiences in various formats. One of the formats I have not experienced often enough is tabletop games. In the past month or two, I have enjoyed playing Ticket To Ride on my iPhone, which is a port of the tabletop game of the same name. It is a fun game that features competition between 2-5 players. It made me realize there are wonderful gaming experiences to be had away from roleplaying games like D&D. During Gen Con, I was able to take advantage of several great game demonstrations that were available to test and consume.
While at Gen Con, I played the following games for the first time, Dominion (and later Dominion: Prosperity), Settlers of Catan, Kingdom Builder and Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. I saw how similar Dominion is to Ascension (and vice versa) and it reminded me of when I played and reviewed Thunderstone. All three games – and I’m sure many others I have not played – work off similar principles and mechanics. Of the three, I found Ascension to be the game I thought about most after I finished playing it. My friend and I came close to buying Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer but decided neither of us would be able to travel home with it. Besides, I had already reached my limit for buying merchandise at Gen Con!
Enter the slick Ascension application for the iPhone, which allows you to play the first edition of Ascension for a $4.99. The app also allows you to purchase the two expansions (Return of the Fallen; Storm of Souls) and additional Promo Cards for a few extra dollars each. The app has a solid tutorial that teaches the basics of the game, and there are routinely open games online to join 24 hours a day. Two-player games last approximately 10 minutes (when both players are actively playing back and forth) but games can also be played asynchronously over the course of days or weeks. It is addictive.
Let me repeat.
Below, I write about why I find Ascension so engaging and discuss my initial foray into playing against random people online – and the beatings I suffered as a result.
My first Gen Con is now a matter of record. I survived the experience, which can only be summed up in one world – overwhelming.
In the course of approximately 72 hours, I got to spend time with a great friend from another area of the country I rarely get to see, walk about 15 miles to, from and around the convention center, play an assortment of games for the first time, listen to employees of Wizards of the Coast talk about the future of Dungeons & Dragons and offer tips for running better games, salivate over rows and rows of awesome merchandise that would leave me broke and last – but certainly not least – meet many of the interesting people I have communicated with online since the construction of this blog in 2011. The experience was fantastic, and there is no way I could condense my experience into one coherent post.
I present some general reactions to Gen Con below, but during the rest of the month you can expect dedicated posts to the following subjects: