As mentioned, I've returned safely from my trip to Indianapolis.
The convention was a success for me. I made some new contacts, and it looks like I've got more than enough work on the horizon to keep me happy. I got to meet a lot of people that I've been wanting to meet for a while, and the Thieves' World Player's Manual was released (and, by Sunday, sold-out).
I won't give you a blow-by-blow of the weekend. Suffice it to say that I'd be hard-pressed to remember every little detail. I know that I ate a lot of Indian food (well...two dinner's worth, which is twice as much Indian food as I've eaten in my lifetime). I have to say that I'm developing a taste for Indian cuisine. It's yummy in my tummy!
So...pictures. Here are a few.
The "Axis & Allies" collectible miniatures game is one of the new releases that Wizards of the Coast was driving home this time around. They had a full-sized tank on the premises, along with a couple of jeeps, a half-track, and armored car, and a motorcycle. I didn't get much of a look at the game; given my financial situation, the last thing I really need is a collectible game of any sort.
I was at the convention with my four-day badge, but I ended up spending most of my time in the Green Ronin booth. I even did a little booth work for both GR and The Game Mechanics. Trust me, at these events, they need all the help they can get! I don't really mind, either. It gives me a chance to socialize with folks I only see every so often. The alternative is walking the dealer's room, spending money I don't have.
Lynn Abbey, the co-creator of Thieves' World, was on hand to autograph copies of the Thieves' World Player's Manual. I've known Lynn for over seven years, but we'd never actually met one another. We'd planned to meet at Gen Con in 2000 (or maybe it was 1998 or 1999, I don't really recall), but it didn't work out.
When Chris Pramas asked her if there was anyone she knew that she thought should be working on the Thieves' World RPG, Lynn mentioned me. I'm thankful for the opportunity, because I doubt I would have had it otherwise. When I found out about it, she told me something along the lines of, "I've only opened the door; it's up to you to walk through it." Talk about performance anxiety. Gladly, it looks like I pulled it off well enough that Green Ronin is continuing to consider me for future work.
One of the other authors who worked on the Thieves' World Player's Manual with me was Robert J. Schwalb, pictured here. Rob has continued to amaze me with his integrity, his selfless dedication to his work, his wit, and his ability as a writer and game designer. It was great to meet him finally, after so many months of electronic correspondence. Unfortunately, our last co-author on the Player's Manual, Patrick O'Duffy, was not in attendance. He's an Australian, and he's retired from game design (or so I hear). His talent will be missed.
Of the Game Mechanics, what can I say? I've met them all, that is, except for Rich Redman. Rich is a lot different in person than he is at TGM's chat sessions. I wasn't sure what to expect, but he seemed a lot more reserved. Perhaps it was because he was wearing a Wizards of the Coast shirt.
Rich spent a little time at the booth, chatting us up. On Sunday, he even showed up and donned his official Game Mechanics work shirt! I wish I would've gotten a picture of that, but I didn't. As it is, here's a group shot of all the founding Mechanics, less Stan! Brown. Stan! couldn't make it this year, and we were constantly badgered by Upper Deck employees who dropped in to tell us, "Stan! says 'Hi!'"
Of the "Junior Mechanics" that were present at the convention (that is, freelance writers who work for the Game Mechanics), there were three (aside from myself). The first I will mention is Rodney Thompson, master of the Star Wars RPG Network, contributor to many Star Wars RPG products, as well as to d20 Future and a number of other books. I caught a rare photo of him here (trust me, Rod, it's much better than the other one, which I had destroyed).
The second Junior Mechanic on hand was Eric Cagle (or just "Cagle" for short, at right in the photo here). Eric's a funny guy, and he managed to maintain his sense of humor even after he had his hotel room burglarized. To make a long story short, Eric (who was rooming with JD Wiker) lost his wallet to a burglar who gained entry to their room on Wednesday night. JD woke up and confronted the guy, who shined a flashlight into his face and exclaimed, "Is this Bob's room?" before making his escape. Besides Eric's wallet (which contained money, credit cards, and ID), the thief got away with JD's business cards.
The last of the TGM freelancers on hand was Neil Spicer. Neil is a new face in the industry, having done work on the second and third volumes of the Future Player's Companion. I've known Neil for a long while, ever since I wrote some articles for Action Check, an e-zine for Alternity buffs. Neil kept himself busy, helped at the booth, and he and I shared a couple of lunches together. We're both new fathers, so we had a lot of notes to compare in that regard. Neil is also expecting his second child. Congrats, Neil!
The ENnie Awards were held on Friday night. I was at a meeting just prior to the awards, but I managed to catch the last few minutes of the ceremony. I'm glad I did, as my friends at Green Ronin walked away with several, including one for Best Publisher. This Gen Con was the first time I've been exposed to the Green Ronin folks in more than just a passing capacity. They are genuinely nice people who are dedicated to their work, and to creating quality products. I can't wait to see them again at Gen Con SoCal in November.
Speaking of the ENnies, I also ran into Hound (otherwise known as M. Jason Parent). Hound runs a Cyberpunk 2020 web site (The BlackHammer CyberPunk Project), as well as E.N. Publishing, and he and I have been in contact, off and on, for a long while. I met him for the first time last year, and we've maintained a closer relationship since then. We may eventually work with one another on a writing/gaming project; I certainly hope so.
How about products that I liked? There was a company there, just catty corner from the GR booth, called Steel Sqwire. They were selling a series of wire templates for mapping out spell effects and the like for d20 games. I damn near dropped the money on this product, because it was slick and I liked the look of it. In the end, my miserliness got the best of me; I wasn't figuring that I'd be using the stuff that much, so I couldn't justify the expense. If Steel Sqwire comes to SoCal, maybe I'll change my mind.
Oh, and then there was the kilt girl. Let me explain: my wife likes to take pictures of guys in kilts at cons. Considering how many guys own a Utilikilt, it's not all that difficult to do. She starting doing this in response to Sean Reynolds' "Babes of Gen Con," calling her version "Kilts of Gen Con." So, as I'm sitting in the Game Mechanics/Green Ronin booth, I see a girl in a kilt. Figuring I could kill two birds with one stone (first, she's a babe, second, she's in a kilt), I decide to snap a photo. The next thing I know, her friend in the blue is handing me a card and saying, "If you want to see more, check this out." The card says, simply, "Gnymphs.net: Softcore Porn, Hard Core Geek Girls." Signed on the back of the card is the name, "Morgan."
Well, I ain't never.
One other person I should mention seeing before I forget is Tom Lommel. Amy and I met Tom back in 1997, at Gen Con in Milwaukee. We were originally in touch with Tom in regards to the Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing game. He was a member of NASCRAG at the time, and since he was at Gen Con that year, we arranged to hook up and have lunch. Tom's a swell guy, and an actor by trade. He and I both have credits in Hungry Little Monsters. He may be moving to California in the next 12 months or so. It'd be swell to be able to see him more than once a year.
I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. If it comes to mind, and I feel it's important enough, I'll add another entry. But, in a nutshell, that was Gen Con for me. The end of the year is looking to be busy for me, if things work out. I'm happy to have the work; with luck, I'll be doing more of this as time moves on.