GenCon 2008 Day 4 Coverage

By Scott Parrino 18 Aug 2008 0

Saturday night's alright for fighting / get a little action in

-          Elton John


Aren't You A Little Short For A Stormtrooper?

We ate dinner on the sidewalk of a sports bar Saturday night.  Around dusk several gamers dressed in their finest Star Wars stormtrooper outfits strolled across the street and headed for the same bar.  There would be an NFL game tomorrow and while GenCon gamers had a strong presence, there were a number of football fans there, too.  You could tell who they were because they acted like they?d never seen stormtroopers before.  They quickdrew cameras from nowhere and went running up like they?d just seen a quarterback.  It was amusing considering that there were close to a dozen folks dressed as stormtroopers running around the con all week.  But it is good to see that our subculture gets some respect even from the NFL crowd, and even if it is because of the movie angle.

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 Waving to their fans.

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A Jedi Meets Lord of the Rings Online.

Zombie Awareness

It wasn?t so long ago that I hadn?t really paid zombies much attention.  Our group had so much fun on Friday night that we decided to renew the opportunity to fight zombies on Saturday at midnight, too.  Yes, it means another late evening ending at about 2 am, but it would be well worth it.  I?ll have time to sleep on the plane home on Sunday.  Saturday night is dedicated zombie slaying.  It?s like a live action FPS with zombies and it?s starting to look like a habit.

Sunday morning I stop by the Zombie Buddy Productions booth to say hello.  As I chatting I notice a jar filled with rubber awareness bracelets.  I pull one out.  ?ZOMBIE AWARENESS? it reads.  I chuckle.  What?s the story with this?? I ask.  I am told that sometimes the Zombie Buddy folks will see someone who played the game before and they will follow them, dressed up in zombie makeup, of course.  They?ve played the game before, I am told, and should know better than to let a zombie sneak up on them.  Hence, the awareness bracelets.  I buy one.  We can?t have gamers going around being snuck up by zombies at the con, now can we?

You Have Two More Wishes

Dawn on Sunday rolls around just a bit too early for my taste but I?m up.  If it seems like over the course of the convention I?ve spent most of my days trolling the vendor room, it?s because I have, and it?s very deliberate.  GenCon seems to be a good time for a lot of companies to release new products, and it?s not uncommon for me to have not noticed something that has been here for a couple of years because there is just so much to see.  So rather than spend half of my day gaming, I have dedicated most of my con to searching for cool, unusual, or new items that readers might be interested in. 

A couple of years ago I was about to start a D&D campaign with a wizard.  I have several dozen v3.5 D&D books and, like any good wizard, I decided to leverage my knowledge to my best advantage.  That meant that I had decided to take on the quest of compiling every spell in every one of my D&D core and supplemental rulebooks.  Anyone who has anything more than cursory knowledge of D&D will understand this is a monumental undertaking.  I gave up after finding over 35 Level 0 spells (and the fact that we moved out of state so I was no longer part of the campaign).  However, it has always struck me that gamers should try to compile as many resources as they can.

There are a number of free tools available to D&D players who want a bit of an edge in creating their characters.  I had heard of PCGen from SourceForge, but whenever I was at a friend?s house using one of these quick start tools, they had always used something else.  They had worked OK, but I never felt like I had access to the Complete List Of Everything when I used them.  Well, as I was strolling through GenCon on Sunday what do I find but some folks from SourceForge.  PCGen is a free tool put together by volunteers, but GenCon is not a charity and booths are not cheap.  My first question is to ask what the heck they?re doing here.  Fans apparently contribute funds to help spread the word about PCGen, and after I chat with the folks at SourceForge for a minute I see why.  PCGen is a Java based application that references ?scores of d20 games and settings from over a dozen publishers.?  That made me sit up and take notice.  When I flipped through the pages of one of characters generated through PCGen, it was immediately clear how strong the tool is.  Listed were every spell available, plus all spells that had been memorized for that day.  It would be a simple matter to give that printout to the DM if the player couldn?t make the game that day and have anyone run it.  The tool can apply temporary bonuses, can track initiative, hit points, and spell duration.  Players can create custom equipment including spells and potions available to the PC.  Clearly PCGen is a robust tool.  It?s available for free from  Gamers interested in contributing to the project can get involved at

Relatively speaking there are a lot of vendors who are selling their own brand of miniatures at GenCon.  I don?t know exactly how many but they seem almost common.  Their work, of course, is unique, and often quite compelling.  As I strolled by one of them I was struck less by the beauty of the sculpts and more by how extraordinarily well they were painted.  I snapped several photos of them in the glass case.  Unfortunately, the color and lighting are far from ideal (as is my camera ? note to self, look for a new one).  The colors presented are washed out compared to how vivid they were to the naked eye.  What struck me first was the glow of magic as it arced in this scene.  Also, these two figures standing on molten rock hat an orange highlight that made it look like they really were being lit by light underneath them.  I got so wrapped up in the beauty of them that I neglected to even check to see who the vendor was.  I wish I could paint half that well.

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