GenCon 2013, Thursday

Read about the lead up to GenCon 2013.

Read about Friday at GenCon.

Read about Saturday at GenCon.

Read about Sunday at GenCon.

That alarm. Oh how I hate it and love it. So tired, but it beckons towards the Gate of Gaming Goodness™. A quick breakfast courtesy of the hotel and we were on our way to the convention center.

D&D Next All Access

The first event on our schedule was the D&D Next All Access. On time, we quickly formed a group of 6 in the corner table and started our character creation. I, being fairly flexible on which class to take, ended up with a human rogue named Egregious^[egregious]. This name turned out to be prophetic.

We had a group of 7, including myself. Our group members were:


Group members, starting with me (orange shirt) and going counter clockwise around the table:

  • Me - Human Rogue
  • Tanis Kint - Human Mage
  • Jeff Soper - Gnome Barbarian
  • Ivan Soper - Human Cleric
  • Matt Mosher - Half-Orc Fighter
  • Matt Barton - Wood Elf Ranger
  • Tim Stack II - DM

This was the highlight of the convention. My feedback was emphatically that they should do this again. I thought 28 hours with the same people might be a problem, but we had a good group. And I didn’t see any other groups having problems either. D&D players in large part are a good people, and it showed at this event.

The adventure itself is solid, and the “pre-production” notes are hilarious. I won’t go into spoilers, but I will say that it seems deadly. I know of one group who suffered a TPK, and several other characters died. I came close a couple of times (and actually was dead until a rule clarification brought be back. Thanks Matt Mosher!).

The adventure is split into 4 parts, centering around Daggerford in the Forgotten Realms. There are plenty of side quests too, so a group could stay busy well into 10th level. The XP for the monsters was way off though, so you will have to level your characters at appropriate intervals rather than relying on experience points.

I would recommend picking this up. At $30, it’s a good value, though it is soft cover, not hard cover like the other “mega-adventures”. I know this adventure was GenCon only, but I’ve seen quite a few on E-bay already, so I would go snag one if possible. (Note: I have no copies on E-bay for sale.)

My only suggestion was to cut the length of the event to, say, 20 hours. I would have liked to attend more games at the convention. Rather than 2 per day and one on Sunday, having 1 per day and 2 on Sunday would be a killer way to close out the experience.

Our DM was good and knew the rules and adventure well considering how massive the adventure is and that he only had the adventure a short while. Some mistakes were made, but nothing that spoiled the fun. Our mix was good, and everyone was able to contribute in meaningful ways to fulfilling the quests. It was hilarious though how my dice really couldn’t find a trap or secret door the entire adventure. Luckily they came through for me in several crucial fights.

There were a few places where we got stuck because we couldn’t find a secret door and as mentioned earlier, the module seems particularly deadly at certain points. The stuck portions could be reworked, and certain fights should be deadly, so these aren’t really issues, but perhaps small caveats for would be GM’s running this at home.

I am tempted to talk about the rogue in the current playtest, but since the next (and final public) playtest is only a month away, I won’t waste the effort.


This event was expensive, $100, but it was worth it in swag alone.


The box was a nice touch, and to include the seal and candle that were on the invitation was just icing on the cake. However, the best were the signatures within our copies of the Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. The dev team did a great job in making unique and funny personalized messages. Not one of the messages in our table’s copies were the same.

In addition to the gifts, we were allowed entry into the D&D Party Thursday night and a free copy of Temple of Elemental Evil CRPG from GOG. Now if only it included access to the private alpha test going on until publication of the final game… :)

Dev Team

What a great bunch of guys. In general RPG creators are friendly and love to speak with their fans. The same is no less true for the D&D Next R&D Team. Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson in particular came over and solicited feedback and provided clarifications to our table on multiple occasions.


(Yes, I’m a D&D fanboy.)

All Access?

Frankly, I’m not sure why it was called All Access. I mean, we got access to the 28 hour adventure, and to the party, but that was it. It’s not like we were entered into a secret design cabal where they explained the future of D&D to us… Man, that would have been cool.


Our noon–4 event was Artemis. Artemis is a starship bridge simulator meant to be played by multiple people in the same room. Tanis and his friends played it for his 18th birthday, so when we saw that there were sessions available at GenCon, we made sure to sign up.

We had a blast. We played 3 games, two half hour scenarios and one hour long, difficult one. Tanis assumed two roles for each scenario. He was the captain for all the scenarios and played the helm in the first scenario and the engineer in the second and third games. The other player, Boon, was our weapons officer for each game. For the first scenario I was the engineer and for the remaining scenarios I was the helmsman. The last role of science officer was filled by one of the Artemis staff.


The game wasn’t as fluid as I had imagined it, but it was incredibly fun nonetheless. I preferred helmsman to engineer, but engineer was fun as well. The best part was that each role contributed to the game.

The staff did a good job of introducing the game, and Tanis was a good captain, directing us and often explaining the function of our station patiently.

I would definitely play this again at a future convention. I’d also like to set it up for our D&D group to try one night.

Giant Settlers of Catan

Mayfair set up several tables with giant and mammoth versions of their Settlers of Catan game. We played on one of the Giant tables.


The other two players were Scott and Ron. The time slot was 2 hours, and we were able to fit in 2 games. Scott won the first game, and he made a good charge for the second, but Tanis won that one with a last minute victory point development card coupled with longest road and largest army. At least Ron made a good showing in both; I never came close to competing in either game.


It was amazing how many people came to take photographs of the board. The most unique event during the game had to be this:


Tanis threw this dice and that’s how it landed. More remarkable is that it wasn’t stuck in a divot. It just landed on its curved corner like that.

D&D Party

We hadn’t originally intended to go to this. Instead we had registered for NASCRAG, but we were so tired after the day that staying up until 1am would have been herculean. Tanis was so tired he didn’t even go to the party with me.

The party was about what you would expect: loud and crowded. I can’t say I had particular fun, but I did have the chance to have some book signed by R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood. I also met Robin Laws and had him autograph a card, since I wasn’t sure if I would get the opportunity to see him later at the show.

During the party they celebrated Drizzt’s 25th anniversary as a character in the Forgotten Realms and had Salvatore cut a big cake and then served it.

There was a fun mystery game where you would help solve a murder by collecting clues through talking to the right people. I didn’t participate and left the party early.

Good night GenCon, Good night Brain of Mush

After the first full day, I was so tired I wasn’t sure how the rest of the con was going to go.