GenCon 2013, Saturday

Read about the lead up to GenCon 2013.

Read about Thursday at GenCon.

Read about Friday at GenCon.

Read about Sunday at GenCon.

The convention was going too fast; it was already half over. I could feel it slipping away, though I was thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.

Crowds & Costumes

Saturday was the busiest day of the convention. The halls were packed and there were many costumes. My favorite were the Starcraft’s Kerrigan and Space Marines, followed closely by the Boba Fett Unicorn Ponies and last but not least, the Drow warrior and mage:


There were some very creative costumes across the geek ethosphere, but it seemed like My Little Pony (and its variants) had a particularly strong representation.

Expo Hall

The Expo hall too was crowded, and Tanis and I were definitely slowed. I bought Hillfolk and had it autographed by Robin Laws. I spent a fair amount of time talking with the business manager of Pellgrane Press about 13th Age, but I didn’t purchase a copy since one of the authors wasn’t there.

Maxims for Purchase (or How To Avoid Spending Too Much)

Which brings up the Maxims for Purchase that I followed to prevent spending too much money:

  • Must be something that I want for memorabilia, such as an autographed copy, or
  • Must be cheaper than can be bought through normal channels (retail or on-line)
  • Otherwise, get a business card and write the product on the back

Using these principles, I kept my purchases to a sane amount.

Hot Products

No one was larger though than Paizo and Pathfinder. It was EVERYWHERE. I think the two hottest products of the con were the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary set and the new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, described to me as a cross between the D&D Adventure Path games and Dominion. I want to get my hands on this one.

The surprise of the show to me was 13th Age. Numenera and Dungeon World also had considerable talk, and I even saw some competitors “researching” Monte Cook’s game.


The other things I bought on Saturday was some commemorative GenCon dice and a copy of Forgotten Realms 1e.

I bought the 1e version because I often wax nostalgic for the original FR campaign setting but my copy has long since disappeared. Perhaps because it was the first version I owned, it seemed magical. Whereas Greyhawk was gritty and dangerous, FR was magical and high fantasy. FR was Tolkien to Greyhawk’s Howard (I love both, just as I love both authors) and I played in both equally during my 1e days.

Dr. Who had a large presence and we spent time there. They perhaps had the coolest props around their booth.



After our 2nd session of DDNAA for the day (6th overall), Tanis and I played in a Sixcess game called the Long Road Home.

One of the things I like to do at GenCon is try new RPGs. This was, due to the length of the DDNAA, the only new system I was able to try.



Sixcess uses a d6 pool system. The GM sets a target number (TN) for a task and the player rolls his d6 pool. Each d6 that matches or is higher than the TN is counted as a “tick”. Each d6 that rolls a 6 is a “mark”, and counts as 5 ticks and allows an additional d6 to be rolled. Most often the TN is 4.

The initial number of dice in the pool is determined by the relevant attribute and skill. If attacking in mêlée, then the Reflex attribute (say 2 in our example) and the Mêlée skill (say 3) are added, so 5 dice would be rolled. If any of those dice came up as a 6, then an additional d6 would be rolled and counted in the success total.

Tests have a certain number of “ticks” to be successful. Sometimes a test might have a mark requirement as well.

Any given test has 3 axes that can be manipulated for the result: TN, ticks, and marks. This allows a lot of versatility, but I’m still not sure of the reasons for using one over the other as the success metric.

One aspect I do not like is that mêlée uses opposed roles and has skills that can be rolled, such as Dodge. This means that each action in combat requires at least two roles and often more. I noticed this slowed down our demo game considerably.

The last item of note is that Sixcess uses a bennie type system. Every player receives a certain number and can use them to influence the outcome of a situation. The GM also rewards bennies to players for good ideas, roleplaying, etc.

I’ve bought the book and hope to do a thorough review of the system in a future blog post.


We played in the ElfWood, the high fantasy setting that can be purchased with the system.

In ElfWood, all races are born from seeds of the Mother Trees that grow around the world, except humans who reproduce the same way we do. Social status is determined largely by what height of the tree you are born from; humans are the pariah of the world since they are not from the trees at all.

The world is covered by mostly acid seas. Boats made from the mother trees are impervious to this acid, but no other material is known to withstand it. Dwarves are able to traverse the sees by building ships with hulls thick enough to withstand the erosion long enough to make their journey.

There are many other races and details, but they weren’t relevant to our game, so I will omit them.


The premise of our story was relatively simple: a zombie outbreak had occurred and we needed to escort the elven prince home so he could warn the king. I played a Verdyn (high elf) Mage of fallen nobility. She was a “utility character” as the GM described her. I like those kinds of characters since they are versatile and allow me to attempt creative solutions. Tanis played a Taurim (think bison to Taurim as bull to minotaur) Mystic.

We started in a pirate haven on an island far from the elven homeland. Think Tortuga from the Pirates of the Caribbean. While were simply enjoying our debaucheries of the pirate life, several boats crashed into shore and unloaded the Zombie Apocalypse. A brief fight ensued as we defended the tavern and its precious swill while the zombies raged outside. The fight went poorly for us though, mostly due to our dice, while the GM was hitting us frequently. I cashed in my first bennie by switching the GMs dice for our dice. He was a good sport about it. The conclusion was that the zombies were defeated but only 20 survivors remained.

We commandeered the only (just barely) seaworthy vessel and started on our way to the elf kingdom. The vessel wasn’t capable of the entire voyage though, due to leaks in the hull, so we had to put into one of 3 islands: an elf outpost, a dwarf outpost, and an uninhabited island. We chose the elf outpost and found it ransacked by a zombie attack. This troubled the prince and we decided to escalate our urgency, after collecting the necessary supplies to repair the ship.

During our continued voyage, we were attacked by a Leviathan, which as far as I could tell was a cross between a whale and squid. I thought of the Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We managed to dispatch the leviathan by my casting of a suggestion spell that hypnotized it into thinking there was better prey nearby. However, it didn’t leave us unscathed. As it departed, its hand slashed our ship and almost split into two. I did earn a bennie for quick thinking (and making the fight quick, I’m sure).

With the damage done, we were forced to abandon ship. I used a second bennie to cast a large force shield to maintain the ship’s seaworthiness while the others gathered necessary supplies and everyone got in to the lifeboat.

Eventually we ended up on another uninhabited island. On this island we found a source of the zombies. A necromancer was corrupting a mother tree so that its pods would hatch the abominations. One of the other players managed to dispatch him quickly with a couple of good rolls, basically shooting him through the heart and the head with his pistols. Very cinematic and appropriate.

My final impression was that our GM made the game. This is somewhat ironic since he didn’t know the system well and made several mistakes (which I only found out after purchasing the book). The other players were colorful and I think we meshed well. However, my impression of the system is not a good one, and the world was interesting, but not compelling. But we had lots of fun because the GM was enthusiastic and involved all the players.

We hung around and got to know each other a little better after the game. It turns out that our GM was the fiancée to the daughter of one of the co-creators of the game. More serendipitous was that they had met a year earlier at GenCon. I wish them well.

Late Night Dinner in Indianapolis

After another stop at Steak & Shake, Tanis and I crawled home and into bed way too late for our own good.

Which brought up a thought. Tanis expressed it and I have to agree. With the crowd of people leaving the ICC at midnight, I’m surprised more restaurants weren’t open for late night hours.