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Gen Con 2012 (or There and Back Again)

"Well I'm back." - Samwise, The Return of the King

I spent this last weekend at Gen Con, and, due to traveling, did not get a chance to update Artificer's Intuition.  My apologies.  I hope that everybody enjoys had a good weekend without an update from me. :)

The Wizards of the Coast booth in the central showroom had a lot of awesome things.  I got my drow dice bag and was able to get my d4 just from getting my picture taken with Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders.  I think she looks scarier here then on the cover of the Monster Manual 3 (no offense to the artist).

Me, in shocked surprise.  Note the hobbit-like backpack I'm wearing.
 There was also a really cool statue of Drizzt Do'Urden and Guenhwyvar.

The worst thing for me was that soon after my near-death encounter with Lolth, I spied a drow wizard receiving the blessings of the spider goddess for himself.  I needed to watch my back.

I spent the next couple of hours on Saturday making some paper crafts (and earning a drow d6) of Flame the Dragon and (surprise!) Lolth.

Lil' Flame
A more manageable Lolth
The main show room floor reminded me of the all the bazaars and marketplaces that I've read about in various books and RPG's.  The place was packed with people, and there were stalls everywhere selling all sorts of games, T-shirts, and other random merchandise.  I picked up a copy of Vaults of the Underdark (poster maps are always great), since I hadn't yet gotten my copy from back home, and I also snagged Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue for my little little brother, who is a huge Drizzt fan.  I wasn't able to find R.A. Salvator (who, to my understanding was signing books Saturday afternoon), but he wasn't too upset.

One of the most exciting stalls I found were the miniature vendors.  They had tubs full of miniatures that people were looting through.  I examined a few and found some miniatures that I thought I could definitely use: a cleric of Nerull (awesome PC mini), Kobold Slinger (for more PC use), a Kenku (another PC), a Blackwoods Dryad (to use as a Wilden), and in keeping with the Underdark theme, two hook horrors.  I probably would've bought more, but I wanted to limit myself (as I didn't know what else I would find, and I wanted to be able to pay for parking and what not - again this was my first Con).

While going through the bazaar, I wandered through the artist section.  I met Mike Schiley, the Feywild cartographer.  He was a really nice guy, and signed my book (since I brought it with me).

Mike also let me in on some secret Fey knowledge.  Something lurks within the edges of the Murkendraw Swamp...I need to look into that.

After that, I decided I wanted to earn some more drow dice, so I headed over to the room where Dungeon Command was being played.  I didn't have an official event ticket, so I had to sit and wait.  Turns out I was sitting next to amerondm (@ameron_dm), and we had a great conversation about article writing, D&D in general, and about the new Dungeon Command game.  I was able to finally see the goblin set (and play it) that I have been so eagerly awaiting since it's announcement.  I also got my drow d8.
Dungeon Command: Tyranny of Goblins: A Dungeons & Dragons Expansion Pack (D&D Miniatures Product) 
After that, I basically had to wait until 5pm so I could play the DnDNext Playtest.  I was pretty bummed that I couldn't get into the 2 hour 4e adventure (and get my drow d10), but oh well.  I went and did some more exploring and saw a lot of neat things.

Giant drow banner.  Taken from the 2nd floor.
I love goblins, so this was a necessity
This was a charity where people built with cards.  These were huge and amazing to look at.  I was looking down on this.
A D&D poster I got courtesy of Wizards of the Coast
 When 5 o'clock came, I was able to build myself a DnDNext character.  I finally got to see the Sorcerer and the Warlock builds, but since most of the table seemed like that's what they were building, I just went with a good old fashioned halfling rogue.  I loved the flavor/fluff descriptions for the two new classes though, especially with the warlock and the mention of another archfey (I'm a sucker for those).  This earned me my drow d12.

After character creation, I was able to sit and playtest.  Our DM had no maps and no minis.  It was strictly theater of mind (something I've talked about playing here: ).  We had a really good time playing, but unfortunately we ran out of time and didn't know what would happen.  My halfling was a little too brave and ran up to a drow, only to be caught in a cloud of darkness (I can't believe I forgot about that!).  At the end of our adventure, I got my drow d20.

After that, I called Gen Con quits for the day and went back to my hotel, snagged some food and called my fiancee.  I was so exhausted from driving, from the previous week's work at my other job, and from the day that I crashed super early.

I awoke the next morning and headed back to Gen Con to meet with the D&D Producers to talk about freelance writing.  This is what I went to Gen Con for, and I was super excited to meet all these other writers and people I had only interacted with on Twitter.  Once again, everything exceeded my expectations.  Everybody was extremely kind, and it was pretty cool to be able to say "you wrote that?  I thought *insert cool thing about their work* was really cool".  I would name all of them, but there were so many I don't want to forget anybody.  Regardless, I would just say that sitting in a room with some of the guys who put together some of my favorite articles/books/contributions to the D&D community was an extremely humbling experience.

Meeting Stan!, Jeremy Crawford, Greg Bilsland and Chris Perkins was amazing too.  I made sure to thank Greg for everything, as he's been my main WotC contact for the past few months.  He informed me that my article turn over rate (meaning draft to published) is probably the fastest one ever.  I'm stoked to have it go live.

I went up to Chris just to introduce myself again and thank him for hosting me, to which he surprised me by talking about my article and how much he enjoyed my initial pitch.  I was pretty impressed by that, as my pitch was about 4 months ago, and with all the stuff he does/pitches he reads, I didn't really expect him to remember all that much.  

My takeaway with meeting the WotC guys was that the game is definitely moving forward in a great direction (which I had already believed anyway).  To hear the things they said (as well as the things they told us freelancers), players should have a lot to look forward to.  The mindset of the team is solid, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I also received a Hammerfast supplement (which I didn't have).  I got another poster map, so rock on!

After the seminar, I bid farewell to Gen Con (and the other writers) and headed home.  Gen Con 2012 was an incredibly amazing experience, and I was glad for the opportunity to go.  Special thanks to Greg Bilsland, who invited me to attend the freelance seminar.  It was the hi-light of the trip.

Once I got home, I unpacked all my new stuff and came to the conclusion that Gen Con was a lot like my birthday.  I had a ton of fun and ended up with a ton of new stuff in the process!

My drow dice bag and my new drow dice.
As always, be sure to leave your comments and follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

Happy gaming!

P.S. I also spied this guy wearing Mandalorian Armor there....


  1. I am so jealous karl! The
    WotWC guys seemed really cool!


  2. Really nice to meet you Karl! Nice write-up, and I'm very eager to check out your DDI article!

  3. So exciting! WotWC is lucky to have you as a freelancer! I'm hoping to go to my first Con next year... maybe a hobbit needs another pal next time around?


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