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GenCon Report

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Last year, BlackWyrm Publishing had five booths (that were spread among three different locations, keeping my crazy busy). This year, we didn't have any (some of our products were being carried by other vendors), so I had time to help out with the Christian Gamers Guild's booth, and to actually look around the convention. Sadly, all the nearby hotels and AirBnB's were taken, so we stayed about 45 minutes away. That was a bit of a hassle, since it made it more difficult to see people just hanging out after the hall closed (and no chance of a get-away-from-it-all nap), but it worked out well enough.





I ran a game I called MAD LIB HERO. Players filled out stacks of cards like Adjective, Attack, Material, People, Place, and Title (plus dozens of other cards). From there, they drew descriptors from the piles to discover their names, powers, equipment, and complications.


There were two Complications that couldn't be filled out by drawing from the piles. Each character had a fear and a hatred. To determine those, they rolled a d6, and chose some aspect of the character that many seats from their left (for fear) or their right (for hatred). That made sure to build some interesting inter-team relationships.


Once the sheets were filled out, they drew cards like Day Job, Relationship, Crime, Tragedy, Costume, and Personality Trait, to build their backstory.


Each player then illustrated their character, using the artwork templates, and made a name plate so we could all remember their names and to see what they looked like.


The players who finished their characters first then did the same thing to create my villains for the evening.


Here are some of the amazingly weird characters they ended up with:

• A mentalist known as Transparent Shiny Lass, whose mental illusion power's name became "Hit with a Bus"

• A power-suit character known as Newby Rubber Trans, who ended up with the enhanced sense of "Sexy Taste"

• The Amazing Flea Male, with a defense power of "Stupid Kraken" (who would apparently jump in the way of attacks)


The players were all great sports about the utterly weird idea, and we all had fun.


The hero team included:

• Admiral Tall of Victoria's Secret

• Transparent Shiny Lass

• Master Loop Sonny

• Awesome Flee Male

• Private Shiny of GenCon

• Lavender Gold Missy

• Monkey Butt Fall Male

• Newby Rubber Trans

• Vivacious Plasma Madame

• Wonderful Strange Crow


They fought against:

• Puke Green Necrotic Fraulein

• Collecting Flamboyant Senor

• Private Shy Paris

• Maroon Earth Collector

• Vivacious Strange Shark

• Dull Smooth Goldfish












I ran was a muppet fantasy adventure, MEEP ON THE BORDERLAND. I didn't know my friend Ed May (a professional muppeteer!) was at GenCon this year, or I would have found a way to drag him to the game.


The Hopalong Kid, played by Kermit, led the band of rebels known as the muppy men. He was joined by Cap'n Swagger and some of his crew, and by Lady Prosciutta and her bodyguard Sir Paragon.


Some highlights:

• As we were about to sing the theme song, Sam the Eagle's player got all the other players to "rise for the national anthem."

• Fozzie had to get the gate sentries (Statler and Waldorf) to laugh in order to enter the castle, but couldn't come up with a second joke that would get them to laugh, so Animal kicked his legs out from under him, which worked.

• The Swedish Chef got Sweetums to throw him at the airborne Big Bird, and not only attacked him, but succeeded at multiple Riding checks to stay on his back.



• Kermit, The Hopalong Kid, Ranger

• Fozzie, Friar Schmuck, Cleric

• Scooter, Tenderfoot, Scout

• Sweetums, Polearm, Monk

• Swedish Chef, Meatball, Fighter

• Dr. Teeth, Bedlam, Bard

• Animal, Savage, Barbarian

• Rowlf, Allegro, Druid

• Honeydew, Prodigy, Alchemist

• Beaker, Jinxalot, Wizard

• Miss Piggy, Lady Prosciutta, Sorceress

• Sam, Sir Paragon, Paladin

• Gonzo, Cap'n Swagger, Rogue

• Lew Zealand, Ahab, Archer

• Crazy Harry, Pompeii, Assassin



• Stalter and Waldorf, Salsa and Maraina, Tomato-Wielding Archers

• Yip-Yip and Nope-Nope Martians, Klaatu and Barada, Flumphs

• Big Bird, Squawk, Gladiator

• Pepe, Scampi, Kobold

• Count von Count, Countsferatu, Vampire

• Mumford, Dr. Jif, Warlock

• Cookie Monster, Crumbles, Barbarian

• Elmo, Hellmo, Imp

• Link Hogthrob, Papa Legba, Voodoo Shaman

• Spamela Hamderson, Luau, Fire Elemental

• Snufflupagus, Swampalupagus, Swamp Dragon

• Bert and Ernie, Triclops, Giant


The annual Christian Gamers Guild panel discussion this time was focused on geek media. The panel consisted of Chris Ode (of Dead Gentlemen Productions / Zombie Orpheus Entertainment), and Kyle Rudge (of Geekdom House and Area of Effect magazine). I'd already heard a little of Chris's background before, as a pastor gamer who makes funny nerdy movies, and it was great to hear some more detail. I hadn't heard of Kyle, who had a film crew with him to film a documentary about geek ministries. He had brought a church choir to San Diego Comic Con, and had them sing a bunch of geeky songs, like the theme song from Serenity. Very cool stuff.


I played in Michael Surbrook's Shadows Angelus game, where the elite XSWAT force sealed a hole in reality. I played a philosophical but kick-ass demon-fighter, and had a lot of fun with it. I'd been hearing wonderful things about the campaign world for years, and I'm so glad I was able to get into one of the sessions.









I had a ticket for the League of Extraordinary Southern Gentlemen 1970s, but gave up my seat to some of the onlookers with generics. The visual effects for the game were outstanding! The character stats were printed on the back of 8-track tapes. It inspired me to up my game, from a design perspective.


I stopped by Champions Can of Whupass to say some hellos, and found out that Mary (a frequent player) had passed away, at a very young age. The Evil Fleet crew started off their annual 25-player mega-game with a brief memorial service for her. To conclude their tribute, they sang one of Mary's favorite "hymns" from diabetes camp -- "Bad Bad Leroy Brown." the whole room joined in the chorus, and the GM would point to a different player at each verse to sing it in a character or impression that they're well know for. The concluding verse, about Leroy looking like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone was masterfully delivered by Brad Torres doing Christopher Walken. Mary would have been proud.


I stayed to listen to the new characters, and boy were there some great ones. The one that got the most groans (or winces) was probably Fifty Shades of Gandalf the Grey. (And here I thought that stuff about the fires of Mount Doom was just metaphor.)


I found out the next day that the winner was none other than muppeteer Ed May.











Church service on Sunday was great. We heard from Derek White the Geek Preacher again (the seventh year, I think), this time about slaying dragons. He made great points about Paul applying the armor of God ironically. Put on the breastplate... of righteousness? Pick up the shield... of faith? Attack with the sword of... the spirit? And he provided a very personal example of the dragons that we bring into our own lives, and how we must fight them.


Thanks to everyone who helped out. Kristin Beemer led our prayer, Shelley Johnson led our music (and her guitarist David), Eric Anderson led our communion. Plus there were many other volunteers helping us out with the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a church service that would prefer to remain anonymous.


A big thanks go to Gen Con and The Westin Indianapolis for giving us such a fantastic room! Our room this year had a stage, a sound system, and a projector screen. And, with seating to accommodate 500, we don't have to cap attendance at just 300 for next year.







I picked up a luchador mask with a rooster motif in the dealer's room, and later that day, ended up walking past a tableful of players in their own luchador masks.


I stepped out of view, and put my mask on, then rushed the table, shouting that El Pollo Loco shall fricassee them all.


We all had a good laugh, and I was surprised to see that one of the players was my friend Wes Gladden.



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All five of my Hero events were well-attended and went very well. So, thanks to anyone on the boards who played. 


I also got to play in a few Infinite Imaginations Inc events that I greatly enjoyed (both rounds of their annual Champions tournament, a great Star Hero event, and an event called Forensic Hero.


Finally, I got to run four playtest of Word Nerds (my card-based word game), my first attempt at designing a game, which proved to be very enlightening and has me ready to produce the next iteration of the game. 


All in all, a great convention. 

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