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Gen Con 2007 In A Nutshell

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the just-look-at-all-the-stormtroopers dept.

125

Another year, another Gen Con? Hardly. This year was the 40th anniversary of Gen Con, marked the announcement of the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and was the first year videogame companies were actively sought out as exhibitors. Put together this resulted in what felt like record crowds, a healthy dealer's hall, and an instant conversation-starter with every other person at the event. Read on for notes on the new tabletop releases, thoughts on the new edition of D&D, impressions of the videogames that were in attendance, and a shameful admission of weakness.

Gen Con remains a bastion of tabletop gaming, but I'll admit it: I didn't get as strong a sense of the new tabletop game releases as I have in previous years. Instead, I spent time I would have normally put towards demoing games with dice and pieces towards getting a handle on the handful of videogames at the event. It seemed like almost every one was a Massively Multiplayer Online Game, but there were several representatives of other genres as well.

What I did glean from this year's event is summed up very well by well-known designer Robin Laws: "This year was a holding pattern." Many of the companies making products for the Open Gaming License/d20 system seem to have died back. With the announcement of Fourth Edition, there will be a resurgence the year after next, but for this year things seemed to be fairly quiet.

This Year's Releases

So what was released this year? Biggest hits at the con, by far, were the Battlestar Galactica RPG, Changeling: The Lost, and the new version of Talisman. The Battlestar tabletop game is a sister product to the Serenity (as in Firefly) RPG, both of which use the same rules-set ("Cortex"), and are published by Margaret Weis Productions. The Serenity game has a fairly impressive following, with the core book already being on its fourth printing just a year after it was released. Battlestar seemed to be offering up a similar buzz. The Weis booth was also playing host to voice actor Jason Marsden, who plays the part of Tasslehoff Burrfoot in the upcoming animated Dragonlance movie. They showed off a trailer for the film, currently slated for release later this year.

White Wolf gamers may not have been waiting with baited breath for a new version of Changeling; it was never as popular as their 'big three' of Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage. Just the same, I saw a number of copies of the updated title walking away from the White Wolf/CCP booth this year. The attraction of EVE Online in the same booth didn't stop White Wolf players from picking up the latest in the 're-imagined' World of Darkness.

Talisman is probably a name familiar to long-time boardgame players. Under the Black Industries imprint, Games Workshop is re-releasing their classic adventure game with a slightly updated look and a few tweaks to the rules. From what I heard, though, it's almost entirely the same game that you knew back in the day. It just won't cost hundreds of dollars on eBay anymore. Lines for the title were going down the rows and out the door of the exhibit hall, and my impression is that they sold out pretty much every day they had new product to sell.

It didn't have as much buzz as other announcements at the con, but well worth noting was the formation of a company called Catalyst Game Labs. Catalyst is a new outfit formed from the ashes of "Fantasy Productions", or FanPro as it was more commonly called. FanPro has been publishing the Shadowrun RPG since FASA gave up the ghost a few years back, and while the quality of the books has been fairly high it would be kind to say that they've been released on any kind of regular schedule. The new company marks a turn for one of the most well-known intellectual properties in pen and paper gaming, with two new books (Emergence and Augmentation) available just at this convention. Working together with the folks behind the Classic Battletech line, they now having backing and a business plan. If you're a Shadowrun fan, there's going to be a lot to look forward to in the coming years.

Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition

The biggest news was, of course, the announcement that Wizards of the Coast is going to be releasing the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons next year. At a press event the day before their public announcement to Gen Con attendees, they tried to lay out the groundwork for their ambitious new plan. Essentially, these new books have been eight years in the making. The R&D team at WotC is looking to adapt Dungeons and Dragons to the way that it's played, and stop forcing gamers to play the game the way the game is set up. While the switchover from 2nd edition rules to 3.0 was an amazing step, it was in some ways still black magic. They now have a large base of knowledge to work from, that's going to let them change the game in fundamental ways. They hope it will be for the better.

The biggest changes will be mechanical. My review of the Saga Edition of the Star Wars RPG discussed the significant rules changes that title underwent; the R&D folks as much as admitted that book was sort of a 'test run' for concepts they'll be incorporating into fourth edition. The focus is going to be on ease of play for everyone, both in front of and behind the DM screen. Party roles will be more clearly defined. Encounters will be reformatted, and monsters retuned to more understandable roles and difficulty levels. It may just be hyperbole, but the designers are aiming to 'make D&D feel heroic again.' On the far end of the scale, this means that epic-level play will now be a core part of the game. That is, the Player Handbook will support level progression from 1-30. Levels 1-10 will be known as 'heroic' levels, where characters are better than the average human but still 'normal'. Levels 10-20 are 'paragon' levels, where characters accomplish feats only possible in a fictional environment. Levels 20-30 are 'epic' levels, where heroes will be able to step out into the world and change the course of history. Desiigner Chris Perkins put it this way: "We want first level to be more than 'run away, it's a kobold.' Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard."

On top of that, WotC feels as though a new edition is necessary to support the other three columns of their ambitious new plan. Physical books are the most important part, but there are three other pieces that feed into the game. The first is community, exemplified by the terribly-named Gleemax.com website. Gleemax is going to offer up a single place where D&D gamers can come together to discuss the game, as well as CCGs, boardgames, and the lot; a MySpace for tabletop nerds, essentially.

Unfortunately, it's not clear how separate that piece will be from the ambitious D&DInsider.com. That site, essentially an outgrowth of the official Wizards of the Coast website content, is going to be a central hub for Dungeons and Dragons players. The late, lamented Dungeon and Dragon magazines will be available online there, and the site will also play host to the most novel concept in the fourth edition bag of tricks: The D&D Game Table. The Game Table is an online playspace, where groups can get together around a virtual table to actually play Dungeons and Dragons online. DMs will be able to lay out dungeon maps, place monsters, and run games. Players will have access to online versions of their purchased physical rulebooks, can make characters using a character creation tool, and can even create their own virtual miniatures for their characters. Voice chat will bring the whole group together. The WotC folks were very clear: this is not meant to take the place of your regular game. It's a place to go if your gaming group is spread across the country (or world) as so often happens in our busy modern world. They also envision a future where players who don't have regular games can hop online and connect with other folks to play in a regular campaign.

This last will likely be aided by the fourth leg of this concept: organized play. The RPGA has always been associated with but not a part of Dungeons and Dragons, if that makes any sense. With fourth edition the organized play campaigns will become a central component to the game experience. From your home, to the gaming store, online with the D&D Game Table, and all the way to conventions, the goal is for gamers to have a fun and slightly more formal handrail for gaming together. With a renewed interest in adventure publishing, designer goals seem to be to bring back the days when every D&D gamer could talk of playing through modules like Keep on the Borderlands or Tomb of Horrors.

All of this combines to an extremely ambitious goal: a brand new D&D. Just from anecdotal experience, from talking with players and retailers at the convention, my own gaming store, and from reading comments here on the site, the general reaction seems to be anger. The reason is understandable; 3.5 books aren't cheap, and many gamers have invested heavily in the current edition. In the latest D&D Podcast even the designers themselves admitted that 3.5 isn't 'that broken.' Thankfully, there's still quite some time before even the Player's Handbook comes out. The folks at Wizards have a good long while to explain to us what exactly they're planning to do. A long time to convince us, to reassure people that they really aren't ditching the OGL (full support), that their favorite campaigns will be supported (new Realms book next year, Eberron in 09), that it's worth shelling out another $90 for the upgrade. They've already begun, in fact; their ongoing design and development series has already put up posts on party roles, the new vision for Fighters, and what it's like to face a dragon in the new edition. If they even come close to delivering on what these articles imply, next year is going to be an interesting time to be a gamer.

Warhammer Online

Last year, I wrote this about WAR: "I wasn't very impressed, either with Mythic's showing or with the game itself. The buzz around the convention seemed to be that it is 'too much' of a World of Warcraft (WoW) ripoff." What a difference a year makes. Since then Mythic was purchased by EA, development has gone into high gear, and the company has done a tremendous job of getting out the word on what exactly Warhammer is all about. The result? A booth that was swarming with people from the moment the doors open until the exhibit hall closed. Their enthusiasm reflects my own; it's far and away the game I'm most looking forward to next year. I had the chance to take a Goblin Shaman for a spin in the Greenskins starting area, and the development team's cry of "War is everywhere" seems to have made for some inspired gaming.

Yes, it's primarily the same old level 1 experience you have in every other game. Kill grunts, gain xp, learn2play. But right away you start to see the difference. The Tome of Knowledge, for example, not only tracks what quests you're on, but tells you how many stunties you've killed (damn dwarves). Nearby a public quest is ongoing, as players struggle to kill the swarming squigs harrying a friendly giant. UI-wise, it looks like World of Warcraft redux, until you start to see all the extra doo-dads. My Goblin Shaman built up Waugh as he fought, which would have allowed me to heal more effectively had I been in a group. Morale rose as I fought too, allowing me to fire off special abilities just because I'd been fighting for a while. It's violent, it's fast, it's easy to pick up and play. And it's freaking hilarious. That dark British sense of humor seen in the tabletop game comes through loud and clear in-world, with everything from ability names (Brain Bursta, Geddup!) to quest themes. One of your very first encounters has you being tossed across a valley to the top of a dam, where you stuff unconscious dwarves into barrels and toss them over the side. I didn't even get a chance to check out Realm vs. Realm combat, the game's most exciting offering, and already I'm convinced of the title's potential. It's still in development, still getting the kinks worked out, but even in its half-finished state I think Warhammer is in a great position to turn heads next year.

Gods and Heroes

Perpetual's in-development Roman title, on the other hand, appears to be a bit adrift. At first blush it looks ready to succeed, with an inspiring and somewhat unconventional concept. The game focuses on combat in a mythical Roman setting where gods walk the land and monsters fill the wilderness. Combat with minion NPCs is the main mechanical draw. The minion system is a great addition to the genre, taking concepts seen in standard pet classes and the more advanced heroes of Guild Wars: Nightfall, and punching them up to the next level. On top of an interesting game setting and some new tweaks to gameplay, an ambitious animation system makes the game look as cinematic as it's described. Instead of blindly hacking at each other, fights involve stabbings, tosses, stamps, and throws. It's incredibly impressive when the animation system synchs up and pulls things off.

Unfortunately, there's a problem with that. Combat previously was 'locked', meaning that when two characters were fighting they were held fast so that animations could go off at set times. This looked really good, but playtesters found it too constraining. Perpetual listened, and has removed the locks. They're not working to tweak animation timing so that things will still look as cinematic as ever even without the lock system in place. It's still Beta, and there's time to get this stuff squared away ... but I have to be honest; the game felt like it was more than the two or three months away from launch than the company is claiming. When animations hit they look great, but right now combat is a mess to look at, moving through the world feels slow and cumbersome, and even the much-vaunted minion AI still needs to be tweaked. This game is doing a lot of things right, make no mistake, and I trust that when it launches it's going to garner some interest from players looking for something new. I just hope that the company gives Gods and Heroes the time it needs to succeed; right now it seems like it still needs a lot of work.

Fallen Earth

Big-name Massive games get a lot of press, but with the technologies behind MMOGs becoming ever better-understood smaller companies are starting to aim for a piece of that online pie. Fallen Earth is just such a game, backed by Icarus Studios. There's no word on a release date yet, but the little slice of the world I saw was fairly compelling. Assuming it goes live in the next six months or so, fans of the Fallout series will be able to sate their hunger on this post-apocalyptic treat. Fallen Earth imagines a southwest US ravaged by nuclear war and disease. In this bleak landscape you take on the role of an adventurer, working for the factions that control the vital resources of the area. Combat is a unique blend of FPS and RPG, with player skill determining if a shot hits and mechanics determining how much damage is done. The game feels like a fitting tribute to the complex CRPGs of yore. While it doesn't seem like it will reach widespread appeal, the players in this niche are going to have a lot to enjoy in this bleak, violent, and surprisingly funny Massive game.

Legends of Norrath

A collectible card game wrapped inside a Massively Multiplayer game sounds like crazy talk, but the folks at SOE are betting this will be a big hit. Certainly the concept is simple enough: give players of EverQuest and EverQuest 2 something to do while they're waiting for a group, or just as a way to mix things up a bit from the standard grind/kill/grind gameplay of a fantasy MMOG. While it's a simple idea, the execution is surprisingly robust. Players will be able to purchase virtual cards for a fairly low fee, or find them in booster packs dropped by in-world monsters. Decks can be constructed with the aid of a deck-building wizard (the software, not magical kind), and put to use combating players of both titles or NPC opponents. Gameplay seems to be of the 'easy to learn, hard to master' type that is quite prevalent in CCGs, with a few EverQuest-specific twists. The game will also offer up in-game loot from certain cards, just like a certain other CCG based on a MMOG ...

Pirates of the Burning Sea

I'll come clean: if the epic battle ever comes, I'll be siding with the buccaneers vs. the ninjas. It was a great pleasure, then, to get to have some more hands-on time with this most atypical online game. Although, again, I fear that broad market appeal may not be within reach, Pirates is shaping up to be darn fine game. The ship-to-ship combat is rock solid, immensely fun to play, and feels completely different from any other MMO experience you've ever had. There's a stateliness to the combat that makes the smoothly gliding schooners and soaring cannonballs somehow epic in scope. Swordplay is still a little rough, with the team still polishing in anticipation of a launch later this year. Even with the rough edges, this isn't your standard fantasy hack and slash. Players kick sand into the faces of their foes before a well-placed boot to the stomach takes them down. It's not fantasy, it's not sci-fi, it's piratical, and if you like Massively Multiplayer games you owe it to yourself to give Pirates of the Burning Sea a try.

Eye of Judgement

One of the few non-MMOGs at the event, this strange videogame/collectible card game/strategy game hybrid was drawing crowds simply because of its awesome visuals. The in-game art is definitely the first thing you notice, and is stunningly well-done. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this game, which has players angling for control of a three-by-three grid. Cards are played onto each square of the grid, where they're analyzed by the new PlayStation Eye camera and animated on the television screen. While it initially comes off as just eye candy, a few minute's play reveals the numerous layers of depth to the game. Cards have facings, for example, and must be angled to ensure their blind spots are protected. Grid squares are aligned with different elements, as are creatures, requiring players to not only control the board but consider where their thralls are placed. It deserves commentary at length, but suffice it to say that it's not going to get the kind of success it deserves. Given the strange hoops required to jump through to play, this inspired title is just not going to find the audience it should. If you have a PS3, though, I highly recommend at least giving this a unique experience a try when it comes out later this year; they're even including the eye for no extra cost.

Conclusions

Last year I was lamenting the decision to include videogames in Gen Con's mission statement, worrying that this would be the end of the convention I've grown to love over the years. That was, of course, before seeing the lackluster showing of the E3 Media event and the closure of Gen Con So Cal. "Gen Con Indy" is now the only Gen Con, and is one of the furthest east offerings for gamers when it comes to videogames. In short: videogames coming to Gen Con may be the best thing to happen to it since the move to Indianapolis. Between the MMOGs, the D&D announcement, and a huge number of attendees, the convention felt revitalized. There was a hum and a murmer to the hallways that's been lower key in previous years. It was, as always, a chance to see game designers in their natural element, and all of the folks at WotC seemed to have an extra spring in their step this year.

The tabletop gamer is a dying breed; it's well acknowledge that Massively Multiplayer games are killing them off. Playing with your friends is so much easier in your home from a PC, and is something that can be done regardless of what time zone everyone is in. This year, though, I had hope that maybe we might not be dying off so quickly as I thought. Fourth edition is an obvious strike back, an attempt by Wizards of the Coast to fight 'the enemy' on its own terms while applying eight years of careful observation back into the game mechanics.

It's incredibly risky, and the future of the most popular and well-known tabletop game hangs in the balance as a result. On the one hand, this could blow the tabletop hobby firmly into the mainstream. Dice rollers could take their place at the side of the World of Warcraft players, proudly explaining their misunderstood hobby to their relatives in terms they can understand. Or, this could completely alienate the D&D playerbase and collapse the house that the d20 built. I personally am excited. I'm excited about the possibility of a Dungeons and Dragons game without the kruft. I'm excited about the chance to play online with friends across the country. I'm excited about organized play tied directly into the core game. And I'm excited about the future of a Gen Con with no imitators on the west coast, new attendees drawn by electronic gaming, and ever-more-professional game design companies working on the hobby I love.

I'm also, sadly, excited about the future of the World of Warcraft CCG. Perhaps because of my exposure to Legends of Norrath and Eye of Judgement, my demo of the now-year-old game left me vulnerable to the dealers in the exhibit hall. I've spent the last few days happily tweaking my Blue Shaman deck, and look foward to running it against all comers at PAX. Anyone have a Parvink or two they'd be willing to trade?

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Tor like oatmeals! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321563)

Tor like oatmeals!

WoW & DnD (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | about 7 years ago | (#20321567)

It would be nice to make a DnD universe and make it a MMORPG like WoW.

Re:WoW & DnD (4, Informative)

k_187 (61692) | about 7 years ago | (#20321667)

*cough* http://www.ddo.com/ [ddo.com]

Not quite (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#20324319)

When the poster said 'Like WoW' they meant "Good"

Re:WoW & DnD (1)

blackicye (760472) | about 7 years ago | (#20327405)

Unfortunely it was based on D&D 3.5 and if that wasn't bad enough, it was based on Eberron.

The game is almost entirely instanced (ala Guildwars) with only players interacting in the cities (also instanced to spread load) overall its not very immersive.

I played DDO from launch and for 2 months after before I just gave up, Eberron just didn't do it for me, and many things were quite badly broken by design, abuse of Use Magic Device for heal wands, Warforged not being able to be healed except by Wizards who refused to prepare heal spells for them, etc.

Re:WoW & DnD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20327641)

"I played DDO from launch and for 2 months after before I just gave up"
-That's like a year ago, don't you think there might be some changes now?

Re:WoW & DnD (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | about 7 years ago | (#20331083)

The heavy instancing still makes it somewhat less enjoyable, although it does give you the tabletop party feel.

Re:WoW & DnD (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | about 7 years ago | (#20321731)

I'm assuming you're referring to the already extent, and apparently quite good "Dungeons and Dragons Online" from Turbine?

Re:WoW & DnD (1)

SSpade (549608) | about 7 years ago | (#20321755)

They did [ddo.com] . By most accounts, it sucked.

Re:WoW & DnD (1)

pluther (647209) | about 7 years ago | (#20321883)

I think the problem is that it was, as the GP said, "like WoW".

It should have been like D&D.

Re:WoW & DnD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322125)

I think the problem is that it was, as the GP said, "like WoW".
It should have been like D&D.

It wasn't like WoW. It had a very poor interface. DnD? Well, the 30mins I gave it was very DnD like in the sense I spent more time trying to figure out all the damn stat placements and feats to take than just get in and enjoy a game.

Re:WoW & DnD (3, Informative)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#20322323)

Go play a persistent NWN module?

Starcraft II... (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | about 7 years ago | (#20323595)

Don't forget that Starcraft II was playable and Blizzard had a nice LAN party set up in the convention hall where there you could play Red vs. Blue on teams of (I think) 3 vs 3.

Tabula Rasa? (1)

podperson (592944) | about 7 years ago | (#20323705)

A non D&D-ripped-off MMO would be even nicer.

WoW is, for all intents and purposes, a DnD-based game. Levels, classes, alignments ... a pure D&D setting would be the same concepts arranged in a slightly different pattern.

Even something as unoriginal-but-different as Traveller would be nice.

Re:Tabula Rasa? (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 7 years ago | (#20331541)

Traveller would not make a good MMORPG, IMO. Paranoia might... If you want a spaceship combat game, try EVE: Online.

    The problem with Traveller is people are either unskilled or old and skills come slowly (usually 1-3 a year). People are extremely squishy (basically 2-4 'HP' that never increase), and armor is almost exclusively specialized vs a type of weapon - reflective armor won't save you vs a shotgun. Most people are too poor to own a ship, so they'll be hired on as cannon fodder or menial jobs. Basically, it doesn't suit itself to a more 'action' genre without lots of modifications.

  Not that it isn't possible - one of the best Traveller games I played had the GM mod the game based on his idea of the future and tied us into events in the game's story. Essentially, we were a bunch of manufactured super-soldiers (no belly buttons) trained from birth by an interface with a computer (so we had a LOT more skills) and were awoken and given a mission to assassinate a dictator. After we completed our mission and as we were escaping, we found out we had just killed the emperor. With that exposition, we had a bunch of mysteries - who made us? are there others like us, hidden and sleeping, waiting to be activated? why kill the emperor and send the galaxy into chaos? can we trust anyone or anything onboard this ship (especially after we found a remote controlled self-destruct, disabled it, then later got the signal)? One nice thing was the GM then allowed us to learn or improve one rank in any skill up to level 2 by hooking to the computer (I think it took a week for level 1-2 and a month for 3), which made for a much faster paced game.

Re:WoW & DnD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20328559)

what, you mean a grasping, greedy munchkin universe? No thanks.

30th, not 40th (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321635)

The author (zonk) says 40th anniversary, that would put the start of DnD in the 60s, not the 70s where it belongs. It is a glaring, terrible error to start the article off with.

Re:30th, not 40th (3, Informative)

VGMSupreme (228396) | about 7 years ago | (#20321659)

It was the 40th anniversary of Gen Con, is what Zonk meant to say. That needs to be fixed.

Re:30th, not 40th (5, Informative)

4ginandtonics (455958) | about 7 years ago | (#20322275)

No, it was the 40th.

GenCon started before DnD was invented.

It started in Gary Gygax's house in Lake Geneva, WI.

Re:30th, not 40th (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20324029)

What you meant to say is "Posted by Zonk" is a terrible way to start any article.

Actually, this is definitely one of the better (and longer) posts by Zonk. While I'm not interested in it, I do see the value for some.

Wanted to go, but... (2, Interesting)

sgant (178166) | about 7 years ago | (#20321653)

My family and friends are of the type to talk a good game...but to actually get off our asses and drive to Indy to go is another matter. I used to go all the time when it was up in Wisconsin, but no one wants to drive the 5 hours now to go.

Thinking of dumping my family and friends...It's time I venture forth into the world and leave them behind!

Oh wait...they're buying me pizza. Ok, I'll stay a little longer....then I'm outta here! Ooooo...they brought beer too!

Re:Wanted to go, but... (0, Troll)

djdavetrouble (442175) | about 7 years ago | (#20321969)

It's time I venture forth into the world and leave them behind!

As someone that married a Hoosier (they are all so damned proud) and was forced to visit "Indy",
I'd stick with the friends you have. Unless you love the midwest or are stuck there, there is nothing
to love about that city, except some of the people in it.

Re:Wanted to go, but... (1)

navygeek (1044768) | about 7 years ago | (#20322129)

I dunno, I kind of like the nightlife downtown. Sure, it's no Chicago, New York, or New Orleans (pre-Katrina), but it has it's saving graces. For a small big city, it ain't bad really.

Re:Wanted to go, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322303)

And Broad Ripple is better than downtown.

Re:Wanted to go, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20328697)

I'm from Florida, and I love Indy. People are great and the city is clean, and the Ram has some Damn fine beer!

Re:Wanted to go, but... (1)

HiggsBison (678319) | about 7 years ago | (#20322215)

Didn't go this year. Last year 4-days plus hotel just wasn't in the budget. 4 hours of driving each way was acceptable. But $45 for the privilege of visiting the dealer area on Saturday? Nope. Uh-uh. Ain't gonna happen. Gen Con can FOAD for all I care.

Re:Wanted to go, but... (1)

Filip22012005 (852281) | about 7 years ago | (#20327909)

Thinking of dumping my family and friends...It's time I venture forth into the world and leave them behind!
Sorry, you must gather your party before venturing forth.

Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (2, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 7 years ago | (#20321669)

They took their biggest Living campaign, and killed it.

And why? So they can try to force us into the same arena where pimply Drizzt-wannabes run around.

They just killed the RPGA and D&D. Good for them.

Melodramatic much? (3, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | about 7 years ago | (#20321775)

Greyhawk is boring. So is FR. Completely bland, boring, generic fantasy settings.

I kind of wish they weren't starting a living FR. I just hope they keep doing things like Xen'drik Expeditions, which has been tons of fun and a unique experience, especially if you play in the Cabal of Shadows. Besides allowing evil characters, it has 4 "subsects" which you can choose to join... Each sect has their own secret missions, and it's not uncommon for one player's secret mission to directly conflict with another's. Adds a lot to the game.

Of, and of course, it's Eberron, which actually tries to tread new ground instead of following the same old Swords & Sorcery formula as 90% of the settings out there.

Re:Melodramatic much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20324033)

One day you're going to get to the point where there's nothing kinky left, and you'll be a bitter old man who can't find anything to get his dick up.

Re:Melodramatic much? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#20324281)

"Greyhawk is boring."

what? not true at all.

"Adds a lot to the game."
yeah, a lot of needless rules.

If you couldn't do that before, fire your GM.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (4, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | about 7 years ago | (#20321949)

They killed the RPGA. They killed Dungeon Magazine. They killed Dragon Magazine. They have set an end-of-life on half my bookshelf, the cost of which I don't want to think about.

The day they ended their license to Paizo for the magazines, was the day I canceled over $100 of pre-orders with Amazon for Wizards' products. I have spent thousands of dollars with them over the last decade on card games, tabletop books, etc. I will never buy from them again.

Burn me once, shame on you. Don't expect pre-orders for "Burn Me Again 4.0."

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

Obyron (615547) | about 7 years ago | (#20322049)

After three and a half editions of D&D, it's your own fault if you believed they'd never come out with a 4th edition that could potentially change everything. I don't mean to be harsh, but "come out with a new edition to make even more money" is a pretty common tactic from RPG manufacturers. End of life on your bookshelf? If you and your friends enjoy playing 3.5, then keep playing it.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (5, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | about 7 years ago | (#20322483)

Indeed, I am really astounded at the ammount of bile and anger that some people have responded with to the 4th edition announcement.

Don't get me wrong, I was angry too at first, but then I considered:

1- By the time it gets published next year, it will have been 8-9 years since 3.0, 4-5 since 3.5...

2- My 3.0/3.5 supplements will be outdated, yes... But hey! I still use a lot of stuff from my 2nd edition supplements, so my investment is still sound (and no, I am not going to sell/burn my previous edition products)

3- Every edition has been much better than the one before. This alone is good reason not to quit D&D before at least taking a good look at the new core rulebooks.

4- And finally, if everything that can go wrong goes wrong (for instance: D&D now requires official, nonstandard plastic miniatures (false), you cannot play offline and you must pay $30.00USD a month to unlock your Quantum DRM'd content (false), you cannot etc. etc. etc.), people will go ahead and "fork" the D20 Rules and come up with some nice alternatives for tabletop, pen & paper fantasy roleplaying (some people already have, check TrueD20 and other derivative games)

Seriously guys, take it easy!

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (0, Flamebait)

sudog (101964) | about 7 years ago | (#20327231)

You tool. The *value* of the 3.x books is practically nil. The value of the 2nd edition books is still so-so, and the value of the 1st edition basically hasn't changed in years. People don't want to invest *new* money in an *old* game. So either you stick with 3.5 (or 3.0) and the hundreds and hundreds of dollars we shelled out for them--and essentially negate the possibility of any truly new players joining up who would rather go with the latest so as not to get stuck in the rut of old editions like "those crufty old seniors next door who still play 1st edition," or we have to shell out yet more money to actively play an actively-maintained ruleset a.k.a. 4th ed.

It's not that 4th edition came out. It's that they destroyed any value the previous books had with their 3.5 edition, and then followed that only a scant 3 or so years later with yet another edition.

1st edition was ingrained for over a decade. 2nd edition had even longer. 3rd edition? Why buy an expensive hardcover book that you know can't even be sold on eBay anymore for more than $5? Or, for 4th edition, why buy a hardcover book that won't be worth more than $5 on eBay when 4.5 comes out in three years?

Books aren't supposed to rapidly depreciate in value: they're made on a precious natural resource (trees) and to build in planned obsolescence is to slap not only environmentalists in the face by printing what will be trash (not treasure) in a handful of years, but to every gamer who's even remotely concerned about the books as an investment.

Even fucking Warhammer's base armies can last decades and you can still play them, and they're some of the biggest money-grabbers there are!

WotC is screwing guys like me over. I was 100% into 3.0, and I paid hundreds of dollars picking up the various optional rulesets and official books. I bought the psionics book, manual of the planes, the core rulebooks, and about a dozen others I'm too choked to name right now, and now I can't fucking sell them for more than $50 for the whole set. If I'm fucking lucky. They're worthless, both in economic value, and in play-value: NOBODY new is EVER going to learn the 3.0 ruleset. Ever.

And now they're doing essentially the same thing with 3.5. The community will stagnate unless d20 lives on, and *everyone new* will be playing 4.0 from now on. Period.

That is *BULLSHIT.* At least 1st and 2nd were so radically different they were essentially completely different games.

Bah. Never another dollar. Fuck you WotC. You took my money and flushed it down the fucking toilets. Never again, assholes.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (3, Insightful)

Col. Blackwolf (778676) | about 7 years ago | (#20330289)

Books aren't supposed to rapidly depreciate in value: they're made on a precious natural resource (trees) and to build in planned obsolescence is to slap not only environmentalists in the face by printing what will be trash (not treasure) in a handful of years, but to every gamer who's even remotely concerned about the books as an investment.

I'm going to be real blunt here: Anyone who bought D&D books as a financial investment is a moron. They're gaming books, and there are millions of copies in print. They will never be rare collector's items, and they're value will never go up. If you're looking to invest money, buy something that's actually worth it (antique cars, real estate, stock, F$%king baseball cards even). The value of gaming books is strictly intellectual, and unless there's a plan somewhere for WotC people to track down everyone who doesn't upgrade and smash them in the head with a brick, that value is not going to go away. Sure, fewer people will play with the core 3rd ed. rules, but that doesn't invalidate the rest of the material. Like the way an old rule or bit of fluff was, then use it. My group still uses a pile of 2nd ed material in our games, even though we play 3.5 rules. And we'll probably do the same with 4th.

As for slapping evironmentalists in the face, what about newspapers? Magazines? More of them get trashed in a day then all the gaming books in a year. Not to mention the fact that pulp trees are grown on farms, N. America has more forested acerage now then in the last 1000 years and a whole bunch of other facts that are completely off topic to discuss here.

At least 1st and 2nd were so radically different they were essentially completely different games.

Indeed, and from the looks of things, 4th is going to be quite a bit different from 3rd. So what's your point? If it's an improvement, everyone will play it and like it and everyone who has 3rd ed. books will have to suck it down. If it sucks, everyone will continue to play 3rd and nothing changes. So you bought a bunch of 3rd ed. books. Big deal, so did I...over the last 8 years. And 4th isn't actually coming out until next year. That means that 3rd edition will be verging on 10 years old by then, and 3.5 almost 5. That's a damn long time when you sit down and think about it. To take your example of GW, they crap out new stuff every 2 years, and contrary to what you think, base armies do not last decades. Half my second ed. 40K army was invalidated by 3rd ed., and if you try to bring old minis to an official tournament, you'll be SOL.

So in the end, I fail to see the big deal. Sure, we're all going to have to buy new books. Our old books are going to have diminished gameplay value (I have shelves of books from dozens of games in the same state). So what? It's still a ways off. On the other hand, there are some major changes coming down in this edition, and it looks like it will really change the way things run. And there's a lot of talk about more focus on modular adventures, something that was a bit thin in 3rd ed. And if they do things right, it will be another 10 years before 5th ed. (and maybe we won't need a 4.5 to fix all the broken shit).

It may not pan out. 4th ed. may suck balls. Or it might re-invent the way D&D is played. We'll see in May. Make the call then.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | about 7 years ago | (#20331801)

N. America has more forested acerage now then in the last 1000 years and a whole bunch of other facts that are completely off topic to discuss here.
*blink* I forgot that we were measuring forestation levels back then.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

Archangel_Azazel (707030) | about 7 years ago | (#20330569)

Funny, I'm still playing a RAVENLOFT game, actually I DM the thing. What you seem to be forgetting is the fact that nothing says you HAVE to buy 4.0 books. Ravenloft isn't even being published anymore, yet me and my group have a lot of fun playing it. Why? Because I look for things in other settings, books, movies, etc. and incorporate them into my game to keep things new. The books are REFERENCE material. The true game comes from the DM. If you don't want to buy the new books... DON'T. How hard is that? Play 1.0 if you really want to, it doesn't really matter to anyone else.

*shakes his head*

My 2 cents,
A.A

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

ajs (35943) | about 7 years ago | (#20322915)

You misunderstand. We're not upset that there was a 4th edition. We're upset that Wizards said many times, though their public forums and in conferences, that there would not be a 4th edition any time soon, and we made purchases with the expectation that the shelf-life on 3.5 was at least on the order of a few years.

Then they terminated the print magazines that had been the core of the D&D community for 30 years and announced that the new edition would be published mid-next-year.

Yeah, we're pissed.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

shinma (106792) | about 7 years ago | (#20326109)

3rd Edition was out for 8 years. White Wolf games pre-nWoD generally had a new edition every 2 years. I'd say 8 years is decent.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

shinma (106792) | about 7 years ago | (#20326149)

Also, and possibly more important... It's not like WotC is going to come to your house and destroy your books. If there's a rule that says you can't play old editions of games, I must have missed the memo. Guess I have to destroy my old Top Secret S.I. box, and my old WoD books, and my Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu books, and HoL, and AEon, and...

Right. Nobody's forcing you to stop playing 3.5e, 3e, 2nd edition AD&D, or hell, break out the old Unearthed Arcana and let's play some 1st edition. Or blue box. Or red box. The books are rules, man. The game's imagination.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

ajs (35943) | about 7 years ago | (#20329819)

Also, and possibly more important... It's not like WotC is going to come to your house and destroy your books. If there's a rule that says you can't play old editions of games, I must have missed the memo.
Of course, and that's the case for 1st ed, 2nd and 3.0 as well. The problem is that any players I recruit won't be able to buy these books new as of next year. They'll find plenty of 4.0 on the shelves, and they'll be asking me, "why can't we just play 4.0?" It's an insidious trap and one that I've come to terms with. The fact that Wizards yanked the rug out from under their statement that there wouldn't be a 4.0 for years is what's making this an untenable situation.

Guess I have to destroy my old Top Secret S.I. box, and my old WoD books, and my Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu books, and HoL, and AEon, and...
Not at all, but try recruiting players for those. I can ... sometimes. But it's always much easier to recruit players for a game when you're playing something that they can go out and buy on their hobby/gaming store shelves.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | about 7 years ago | (#20322393)

They killed the RPGA.
Meh.

They killed Dungeon Magazine.
A pity, because it usually had good stuff. I never subscribed, but I bought an issue now and then.

They killed Dragon Magazine.
For this they deserve to burn in hell, although the magazine has had its ups and downs over the years.

They have set an end-of-life on half my bookshelf, the cost of which I don't want to think about.
I'm in the same situation: I have pretty much every hardcover book that isn't specific to FR or Eberron, along with a bunch of stuff from other publishers (Mongoose, etc). Not to mention a few of the other d20 system books such as Traveller, Black Company, Star Wars, Mutants & Masterminds...

The day they ended their license to Paizo for the magazines, was the day I canceled over $100 of pre-orders with Amazon for Wizards' products. I have spent thousands of dollars with them over the last decade on card games, tabletop books, etc. I will never buy from them again.

Burn me once, shame on you. Don't expect pre-orders for "Burn Me Again 4.0."
Since the early days of 2ed, with its recycled artwork and the increasing obviousness that T$R wasn't willing to pay even minimum wage to proofreaders to look over their stuff before it got to the printers, I've known that T$R was primarily concerned with making money. Aside from the 3.0->3.5 bait & switch, I haven't had much to complain about since WotC took over, though.

I play in 2 D&D groups (both of them containing people whom you know :-)). I suspect one of them will be ok with sticking to 3.5 rules. The other will probably want to move to 4.0, simply because of the announced rules improvements (though I'll wait to judge that until I see the details). The 4.0 rules will have to be spectacularly good for me to pay for them, I think.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

ajs (35943) | about 7 years ago | (#20323079)

They killed the RPGA.
Meh.

They killed Dungeon Magazine.
A pity, because it usually had good stuff. I never subscribed, but I bought an issue now and then.
Of those, only Dungeon affects me personally, but it was rather sudden notice for the RPGA.

They killed Dragon Magazine.
For this they deserve to burn in hell, although the magazine has had its ups and downs over the years.
I think any publication that tries to do interesting things will fall on its face from time to time, and I'll definitely agree that Dragon did. But, when I read articles like the Core Beliefs: Boccob ... it tears me up that they killed that. They claim there will be/is an online version, but it won't be Paizo and my subscription is dead.

Since the early days of 2ed, with its recycled artwork and the increasing obviousness that T$R wasn't willing to pay even minimum wage to proofreaders to look over their stuff before it got to the printers, I've known that T$R was primarily concerned with making money. Aside from the 3.0->3.5 bait & switch, I haven't had much to complain about since WotC took over, though.
I didn't either. In fact, even the 3.5 thing I understood. They had serious problems with 3.0 and errata just wasn't cutting it. 3.5 addressed those issues, and although there WERE differences, you could still use your 3.0 books with 3.5 as long as you knew where the major pitfalls were.

It was when Hasbro bought Wizards that they started pushing books that made no sense (why do we need a Complete Arcane *and* a complete Mage), only to then re-publish compendiums of all of the old material from those books because there was too much to read.

I play in 2 D&D groups (both of them containing people whom you know :-)). I suspect one of them will be ok with sticking to 3.5 rules. The other will probably want to move to 4.0, simply because of the announced rules improvements (though I'll wait to judge that until I see the details). The 4.0 rules will have to be spectacularly good for me to pay for them, I think.
I can't see 4.0 being worth it. Everything I've heard reads like they've ripped the soul out of 3.5 and made it much more a cookie-cutter game like the worst elements of original 1st ed. combined with a video game. Yes, I'd like to see level 1 wizards that aren't going to fall over when they see a cockroach, but not at the expense of the creative process of character creation and campaign planning. The whole "everyone will have more defined roles in the party," thing sounds to me like classic video game play, not what I look for in a tabletop game.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'll want to play 4.0, but it will be a few years before I get over this feeling of betrayal (petty though that may be). For now, I'll see what Monte Cook's World of Darkness [ajs.com] is like, and if it makes White Wolf games something I'd want to play.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | about 7 years ago | (#20325049)

For this they deserve to burn in hell, although the magazine has had its ups and downs over the years.
I think any publication that tries to do interesting things will fall on its face from time to time, and I'll definitely agree that Dragon did. But, when I read articles like the Core Beliefs: Boccob ... it tears me up that they killed that. They claim there will be/is an online version, but it won't be Paizo and my subscription is dead.
Yeah... I recently excavated the first Dragon I ever bought, the one with the Anti-Paladin class and "Good Hits and Bad Misses" critical/fumble charts. I don't know how they can just kill something with such history. Seems like... hubris to me.

I didn't either. In fact, even the 3.5 thing I understood. They had serious problems with 3.0 and errata just wasn't cutting it. 3.5 addressed those issues, and although there WERE differences, you could still use your 3.0 books with 3.5 as long as you knew where the major pitfalls were.
I agree. Aside from a few things I didn't quite agree with, 3.5 was a good, incremental improvement over 3.0.

It was when Hasbro bought Wizards that they started pushing books that made no sense (why do we need a Complete Arcane *and* a complete Mage), only to then re-publish compendiums of all of the old material from those books because there was too much to read.
Toward the end there, I get the impression that they were just bundling up random ideas every 6 months, and binding them in hardcover :-).

I can't see 4.0 being worth it. Everything I've heard reads like they've ripped the soul out of 3.5 and made it much more a cookie-cutter game like the worst elements of original 1st ed. combined with a video game. Yes, I'd like to see level 1 wizards that aren't going to fall over when they see a cockroach, but not at the expense of the creative process of character creation and campaign planning. The whole "everyone will have more defined roles in the party," thing sounds to me like classic video game play, not what I look for in a tabletop game.
That was my thought: it's like they're trying to dumb things down to make it appeal to kids who've known only WoW/EQ/etc.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'll want to play 4.0, but it will be a few years before I get over this feeling of betrayal (petty though that may be). For now, I'll see what Monte Cook's World of Darkness [ajs.com] is like, and if it makes White Wolf games something I'd want to play.
I'll take a look at it, thanks.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

Bob Uhl (30977) | about 7 years ago | (#20332389)

Fortunately, there are some great RPGs out there. If you're a big D&D fan, HackMaster [kenzerco.com] will be right up your alley; it's 1st & 2nd edition AD&D revised, expanded and with a sense of humour. Their license to WotC material expires this month, so order your books while you can.

GURPS [sjgames.com] is, of course, an excellent system complete with more different worlds than you can shake a stick at. High fantasy? Low fantasy? Sci-fi? Spy? Historical? Alternate history? GURPS has it all. Heck, if you want to run a campaign with Jedi Knights running around Discworld, you can.

Then there are things like the Traveller reprints [farfuture.net] , worth getting not just for historical value but because Traveller was a damn fun system. Ditto for the Space:1889 [heliograph.com] reprints--if you can't see the fun of playing a subaltern in the British Army on Mars, I don't think RPGs are right for you...

And of course there are a lot of other systems out there. We live in a great time for RPGs, if you know where to look. It's not at the local game shop; it's not D20; it's online.

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

Seule (128009) | about 7 years ago | (#20330241)

I play D&D because it is fun. I play Living Greyhawk because it, too, is fun. Just because I now know when the campaign is ending (and it's 16 months away before we can't play it any more) doesn't mean that I didn't have fun playing, and it doesn't mean that I won't continue to have fun for the next year or so.
After that, I plan to continue having fun playing the new campaign with the new rules. I fully expect 4.0 to be better than 3.5, just as that was better than 3.0, which was better than 2nd edition, which was better than AD&D. Game design moves on.
Everyone who plays the campaign will have to move through the acceptance that it is ending in their own way. I prefer to cherish the memories and friendships I have and look forward to how good it'll be in the future.

    --Penn, Ket Triad (Living Greyhawk volunteer)

Re:Quoth WotC: "FUCK THE RPGA." (1)

skinfaxi (212627) | about 7 years ago | (#20331149)

I got the 3.0 books from half.com a couple of years ago after 3.5 came out - at $3/book, I bought one for every player I had. We've been happily playing from them ever since. I was pretty stoked that 3.5 had come out since it made the older books so easy to get. But I'm a total tightwad.

Video Games... (4, Interesting)

Dracos (107777) | about 7 years ago | (#20321717)

Do not belong at GenCon for the same reason WOTC, WizKids, GW, and all the other vendors who do belong at GenCon don't belong at E3 or CES to peddle their non-electronic products.

The last of my 8 trips to GenCon was 2003, and even then the video games ate up 20% of the vendor hall. I can't imagine there was much space left for the small tabletop publishers this year.

Video Games...Like a gas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322087)

"The last of my 8 trips to GenCon was 2003, and even then the video games ate up 20% of the vendor hall. I can't imagine there was much space left for the small tabletop publishers this year."

2010 will be the new convention hall.

Re:Video Games... (1)

Kamots (321174) | about 7 years ago | (#20322121)

It was a quite small portion of the vendor room... maybe 20% at the outside, and off in it's own little corner. I avoided it for the most part... wandered through to see crysis and SC2. Interestingly, for the majority of the time there weren't even lines to play.

Personally I was dissapointed by the sheer volumn of RPGs... I've heard that Origins is far more tabletop oriented, so I'll be giving that a try next year instead. (Besides, that's where the *big* SFB tourny is held...)

Re:Video Games... (2, Interesting)

CaptScarlet22 (585291) | about 7 years ago | (#20324617)

I disagree. Back in mid-late 80's when I was able to go, Video games were just as popular as the tabletop games. The Ultima Series, Bards tale, Wizardy and a slew of others were always present at Gen-Con. It was the perfect place to target all the RPG'rs out there. Heck, you could get a STEAL on the auctions to boot! I suppose the presence wasn't as great, but the convention center wasn't as big as it is today either. I should know I live in Milwaukee....BRING IT BACK!!!!

Re:Video Games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20329961)

Actually GenCon increased the size of the Exhibitor's Hall by 25%, and most of the big companies got smaller booths. The room was still packed.

By 2010, once the Colt's have moved to their new stadium (Aug 2008) and the old one torn down and replaced with convention space, GenCon will have access to almost double the floorspace it has now.

Ain't that old (4, Funny)

navygeek (1044768) | about 7 years ago | (#20321723)

It was GenCon's 40th anniversary, not Dungeons and Dragons.

Zonk must have failed his Spot and Listen checks all weekend.

Re:Ain't that old (2, Funny)

UID30 (176734) | about 7 years ago | (#20323379)

He rolled a 1. nuff said.

Re:Ain't that old (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#20324265)

Hey, thats 3 greater then his int mod.

As usual CBT gets no respect... (2, Informative)

locust (6639) | about 7 years ago | (#20321851)

So, lets see... Battletech releases a new box set (with minis), the techmanual and starter guide, and an update to Total Warfare and all we get 'is its a good day for shadow run players'. Typical.

Re:As usual CBT gets no respect... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322017)

I give it respect. I even sent an agent to recover the sacred documents (aka: techmanual, box set, and Sword and Dragon).

As a side, one of the Reaper miniatures people (a competitor of Battletech) looked at the new products and the Camospecs Diarama and posted "oh hell. We're boned."

Battletech not only brought in the new products, but also won a Genie for best free download (CBT Quickstart Rules).

Also, 2 Shadowrun products at the show and they get a paragraph while battletech gets almost nothing? It must be a Word of Blake conspiracy.

Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring? (1)

Chas (5144) | about 7 years ago | (#20323045)

Yeah. That's what we noticed at the ENnies too.
Total Warfare got nominated for "Best Regalia".

?!?!?!?

Because Classic BattleTech is primarily a boardgame that can use miniatures, has a heavily developed game world and an RPG component, it's sort of relegated to a limbo within the game community.

Even so, it doesn't mean we aren't appreciated. The CBT QuickStart rules won not one, but TWO ENnies this year. That may not put it in Ptolus territory, but still. We're happy with what we get.

Oh, and did I mention that CBT also runs some of the largest single-system, single-game events at the con? Save for maybe a few hours in the "so late, it's early" morning, the events were packed. Even after being relegated to back rooms.

Battlestar Galactica and others (3, Informative)

navygeek (1044768) | about 7 years ago | (#20321853)

Honestly, I have to question the statements about the new Battlestar Galactica RPG that Zonk made. I played in each of the two modules/rounds offered at GenCon and in both cases registration was sold out, but we had to resort to finding willing players using generic tickets to sit a playable table. I just don't think it was as wildly successful as Zonk is making it out to be. I wandered over to the Margret Weis booth several times and it looked to me that the 'big sellers' were the Serenity corebook and literary books being sold. Maybe sales will pick up with the new season or when the book goes to Amazon, I can't speak to that, but while a good setting, it's not the big hit they were hoping it to be.

If you want to talk about an EXCELLENT game that was, in my experience, full-up all the time - check out Witch Hunter by Paradigm Concepts [paradigmconcepts.com] [Paradigm Concepts, Inc.]. It's a fairly imaginative setting that exploded at Origins this year. The game was popular enough that for almost every slot it was offered, the team in charge of the campaign - 'Witch Hunter: Dark Providence' - had to find judges so they could offer more tables per slot. Paradigm, by the way, is the superb team behind the Living Arcanis campaign.

Aw, to hell with all of this crap (4, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 7 years ago | (#20321919)

Who cares about what games are being re-re-re-re-rewritten? Where are the pics of the girls in the skimpy anime outfits?

Re:Aw, to hell with all of this crap (2, Funny)

Durrok (912509) | about 7 years ago | (#20321975)

Anyone get a picture of the girl in the foam rubber suit? No idea what she was supposed to be but I hope she was 18....

No, THIS is Gen Con 2007 in a nutshell... (5, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 7 years ago | (#20321931)

Help! We're all trapped in this bloody great big nutshell!

Miniatures (1)

hollowedOut (940591) | about 7 years ago | (#20322071)

Just an FYI - the 6th picture down (http://images.slashdot.org/articles/07/08/gencon6 .jpg [slashdot.org] ) is of a few of the miniatures from the Privateer Press [privateerpress.com] game Hordes. Hordes is releasing their first expansion, Evolution, and it's part of the larger tabletop/miniature combat world that is Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine/Hordes. For those who are tired of Warhammer, or who want to try something new, I can't recommend these games enough. Last year Hordes won the Origins Award for Miniature Game of the Year. The models are beautifully sculpted, the game is solid and it's loads of fun.

Just brining it up since there was no mention of what the picture was in the article. That's all.

The Real Story (5, Informative)

oGMo (379) | about 7 years ago | (#20322105)

Blah, blah, blah. The real story? Everyone's pissed about D&D 4e, because they just bought 3e, then 3.5e. I heard more than one person looking to dump their D&D gear entirely and get out of the system.

GenCon organization was also something of a disaster. Preorders set for will call were shipped instead. Badges were missing. People weren't in the system. There was a huge long line for the single will-call booth (the only place to pick up preorders), and a whole row of on-site stations (for those who just showed up). Not the greatest way to serve those who signed up over 8 months in advance. Tables were moved---which happens---and GMs were lost between buildings---which shouldn't.

That said, it was still fun; the exhibition hall isn't where people spent most of their time, either. I had the opportunity to play True Dungeon this year with a great group. We survived. It was far too expensive (at $35 a ticket for a 2-hour event), especially when you can essentially get kicked out of the game in the first 12 minute segment. Fortunately none of our team had that problem. The story was a bit disjointed and illogical, but the puzzles and other gameplay (battles and magic) were fun.

I was somewhat suprised to see the videogame section this year. I got an opportunity to play Eye of Judgement (which was cool), but the little time I spent in the exhibition hall was mostly a quick glance of the tabletop vendors, so I can't elaborate too much here. All in all, enough to do that even with minimal sleep you'll still see only a fraction of what's there.

Re:The Real Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322777)

WRT, 4e Some people are pissed some are excited...it's an angry crowd without much disposable income so there's always going to be grumpy people when more money is the issue. That said there was alot of excitement about it as well. WRT GenCon being run horrible...it always is. I don't know how often you go but I've gone for the last 5 years and every time there are issues. The website always crashes, they're horrible at managing events, and the lines are ridiculous. It's just something you learn to put up with. ALWAYS buy ahead of time and ALWAYS pay for the full badge. It's your best chance at not having to experience GenCon incompetence but you can't avoid it forever...they truly are bad at the logistics, technology, and management in general. That said it's completely worth it to get together with your other nerd friends once a year to see new products and play whatever games you like.

Re:The Real Story - amen to convention management (1)

Webcommando (755831) | about 7 years ago | (#20323055)

I've been going to GenCon since '93 with my wife (and now with my teenage daughter) and it still amazes me that they aren't smoothly running.

My greatest pet-peeve: the run for tickets the day registration opens. The servers grind to a halt, all the events are eaten up in the first hour. My wife and I bought tickets just to have events which I'm sure took some away from someone who probably cried when they were full. We then turned some in the convention that conflicted, but some we just skipped. I think this is just leading to many no-shows and people needed to use generics.

Personally, everything seemed to go much better when you had a chance to think about what you wanted, put it on the form with an alternate, mail it, and hoped for the best. At least got some of your events then could plan on seminars or open play. Of course, I ran 4-6 events myself for years...so I might not be an authority!

Also another let down...the Killer Breakfast (one of my favorites) is getting old. Seems more of a showcase for Hickman's ability to make DVD's and videos than for the "players" (a large number didn't get on stage because we just HAD to do "Chainmail Woman" ... and this is now a paid event).

Still I'll be there next year....

Re:The Real Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20326055)

Heh, I'm not pissed. I'm just watching the train wreck that D&D has become. I predicted in 2000 that WotC was going to turn it into an RPG equivalent of M:TG, and the more time elapses, the more my prediction comes true.
FWIW, I don't really play D&D much anymore, but if I did, it would be with an old ruleset like Basic D&D from the 80's. Something nice and simple that fades into the background and lets you concentrate on the the fantasy world and roleplaying more than mechanics. Of course there are lots of other "lite" fantasy rules kickin' around these days, so D&D(TM) isn't necessary by any means.

D&D - Designed for 12 levels (1)

bigtangringo (800328) | about 7 years ago | (#20322249)

It's been our groups experience over the years, that D&D is pretty clearly designed up to level 12, and not much further. It'll be interesting to see is 4.0 "fixes" that.

Oh Dear God! 30 years since my . . . (4, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | about 7 years ago | (#20322309)

. . . first game convention -- ORIGINS '77 out on Staten Island -- and I didn't remember until I read this.

Man, have things changed.

Back then, RPGs were a minority presence. Historical miniatures games and boardgames were the thing. Roleplayers were considered immature and dweeby newcomers.

There were enough companies around to create a pretty packed and boisterous dealer's room. Avalon Hill was still its own company, and SPI, the juggernaut of well-produced brainy wargames, was still alive and vigorous.

TSR had a medium sized booth. D&D back then was three small, brown-covered books packaged in a small white box. (REAL old timers had three brown-covered books in a small brown box.) I recall buying STAR EMPIRES, Chainmail, and The Dragon #13. Metamorphosis: Alpha was on sale, if I remember right.

Game Designer's Workshop introduced TRAVELLER, if I'm not mistaken. I didn't buy it, but I did pick up a copy of Triplanetary, their vector-movement spaceship wargame. Still have it!

I stopped by the FGU (Fantasy Games Unlimited) booth, a miniatures rules company just starting to do RPGs. They would become my first publisher a few years later.

I only remember two bits of programming. A very funny British guy described some roleplaying adventures in one. In another, the late Ernie Gygax, subbing for his dad, talked about stuff.

* * *

It's a lost world, really. The medium is the message, and these days the medium is the computer screen and keyboard / mouse interface. On one level gaming is more inclusive and social (there's GIRLS out there!); on the other, it's kind of antisocial and weird. Back in the day people physically gathered together and shared food. They may have smelled bad and been cranky and wonkish, but they actually left the house. Memorizing big thick rules manuals was an intellectual feat in itself. Some spent weeks painting hundreds of little figures all by themselves . . . none of this buying special surprise collector packs of pre-colored minis.

Nurse? NURSE! Where's my dentures?

Re:Oh Dear God! 30 years since my . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322587)

If you want to play boardgames, the WBC is a great no hassle venue for that. There are no event tickets; if you show up with a copy of the game you get to play. (And generally you don't a copy of the game unless it is an out of print two player game.)
This year Historicon was at the same venue (Lancaster Host, Lancaster PA) as the WBC the weekend before. Since I got in early I wandered around a bit, and it looks like those guys do with Miniatures, something very similar to what the WBC does with boardgames.

Re:Oh Dear God! 30 years since my . . . (1)

HideEverFree (808079) | about 7 years ago | (#20329549)

" . . . the late Ernie Gygax, subbing for his dad . . ." Where did you hear that Ernie had died? Ernie Gygax was alive in June 2007 for Lake Geneva Con III.

Re:Oh Dear God! 30 years since my . . . (1)

StefanJ (88986) | about 7 years ago | (#20331971)

Maybe I'm thinking of a different son?

I'm not talking about E. Gary Gygax, the D&D inventor, but one of his sons.

Re:Oh Dear God! 30 years since my . . . (1)

HideEverFree (808079) | about 7 years ago | (#20332573)

AFAIK, E.Gary Gygax has three sons: Ernie, Luke, and Alex. However, I could be wrong about the number of sons. Luke and Alex were at GenCon 2007, and Ernie was at June 2007 Lake Geneva Con . . .

Don't mind me. I'm picking nits at a single word from an otherwise entertaining post.

D&D 4th edition (1)

night_flyer (453866) | about 7 years ago | (#20322415)

That had to be the quietest announcement of the con.
I didnt find out about it until I was told by a friend, who read about it on slashdot...

Quiet But Monumental (1)

HideEverFree (808079) | about 7 years ago | (#20322545)

The 4e announcement may have been quiet at GenCon, but it was news everywhere else. The Wizards web page went down when the 4e announcement was supposed to come online. Naysayers have been bemoaning 4e ever since.

Other pen-and-paper RPGs can benefit from 4e's announcment. Castles & Crusades (Troll Lord Games) may become more popular with the disillusioned; C&C is old-school roleplaying. Basic Fantasy, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, and a host of new RPGs in the old-school vein are on the market.

Beyond those games, Gygax's own Lejendary Adventures has been out for a few years as well.

Well now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322675)

My little brother attended this for WoW...

Compressed Version (1)

Kelz (611260) | about 7 years ago | (#20323117)

For those who didn't RTFA:

Gencon2007: "Help! I'm trapped in a nutshell!"

"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard." (4, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | about 7 years ago | (#20323429)

I'm wondering about the changes WotC made to character levels for D&D 4e, specifically with respect to the balancing of the various classes.

The old D&D "balanced" mages vs. fighters by having the mages be pathetic at very low levels, and awesome at high levels, and that was just broken. (That's "balanced" in the same way that putting your head in the oven and your feet in the freezer is "comfortable".) There was a quote saying "Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard" but no details. Does anyone know more about this?

I'm sure they won't do it this way, but the groups I used to play with had a system that I thought worked very well to balance mages vs. everyone else: a "spell points" system, where a mage had to power spells (and didn't forget them when casting them).

The mage needed to memorize the spells, and we used the standard table from the Player's Handbook for how many and what level spells the mage could memorize. The power cost of a spell was the square of the level of the spell, and "mana points" came at about 8 per level of the mage. (We had a formula to calculate it but the answer was always 8.) We also had a rule that a mage could cast a spell "out of his books" without memorizing it, but it was really, really slow. And in dire emergencies, a mage could use points from Constitution as mana points (only the very low level mages ever did).

Thus your first-level mage would know one spell he or she could snap off quickly (probably Magic Missile) but could very slowly cast Detect Magic or whatever out of the books, and could cast 8 spells per day; and your 20th-level mage would have two 9th level spells memorized, but would seldom cast them (as they would burn 81 out of a daily pool of only 160 mana points!). Medium-to-high level mages tended to use the Fireball spell (level 3 and therefore costing 9 mana points) as a pretty good spell that wasn't too expensive.

I felt this was a much, much better way to balance out the classes.

While in high school, I wrote up an article describing the above and submitted it to Dragon magazine. Editor Kim Mohan sent me a rejection letter, saying this proposed change was "too radical" to publish.

steveha

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 7 years ago | (#20324067)

There's a "spell points" system available as an option for 3.5 (In Unearthed Arcana, I believe) and they have hinted at something like that in 4.0.

I strongly disagree with anyone's assertion that a low level mage in D&D is underpowered. I keep seeing this argument over and over again (on Slashdot especially) and I just can't understand it. If you can't figure out how to abuse your spells, then play a fighter and learn how to do it by watching someone more experienced play the party mage. There's a plethora of spells available at low levels that can be completely game imbalancing. Most become useless at higher levels, but then you've got gems like cone of cold and chain lightning to throw around. It's just a thinking man's game.

Here's a recipe for easy-mode as a wizard for the future: roll your level 1 mage as an Elf and pick Sleep as one of your starting spells. Stay away from your party and whenever someone gets close to you, drop a sleep spell at your feet. Easy kills. You can easily have the highest AC in the party at level 1 (+4 mage armor/+5 Shield spell and +5 dex if you're an elf) and that D4 hit die can be really helped by picking Toughness or a decent con bonus... Though you might want to pick Combat Casting over Toughness... And since you're an Elf, you can take a longsword as your starting weapon. So use magic missile/light crossbow at range and sleep + longsword coup-de-grace if your enemies get too close. Other ridiculously overpowered spells at first level you could look into are Color Spray, Charm Person, True Strike, etc. And then when you hit level 3 you can pick up Invisibility and Scorching Ray and then the fun really starts.

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20324399)

I strongly disagree with anyone's assertion that a low level mage in D&D is underpowered. I keep seeing this argument over and over again (on Slashdot especially) and I just can't understand it.

Try playing a mage using the rules from AD&D First Edition and see if you still say this. None of your little tricks will work, they sound like 3e or 3.5e stuff (feats etc) and in the 1e D&D a first-level mage could only cast one, single spell per day. You couldn't use any armour, there was no "mage armour" spell, you could only use a quarterstaff as a weapon, etc. GP was correct that under the old rules, mages were pathetic at low levels.

And, I don't remember if this was optional or not, but there was a rule about rolling for which spells you would get, and you might start out with no decent combat spells. In D&D 1e the two good 1st level mage spells were Sleep and Magic Missile; other combat spells like Burning Hands had very limited practicality (Burning Hands did very little damage by itself, and it was best used to ignite burnable things near your target).

In the 1e days, low level mages seriously were desperate for magic items like wands, because one or two spells per day doesn't cut it!

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

computer_redneck (622060) | about 7 years ago | (#20330825)

The funny thing a lot of people miss here..... and many places not just /.

This is a GROUP/TEAM game. The mage may not have a large repetoire of spells at low level but was an asset when needed to supplement the fighters and others during combat.

It isn't like you have a single Mage wandering around alone with no one else.

Then at high levels the Mage was great for helping the fighter out and softening up the bad guys for the fighters.

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

steveha (103154) | about 7 years ago | (#20332815)

The funny thing a lot of people miss here..... and many places not just /.

This is a GROUP/TEAM game.


Actually, no, I didn't miss that. Now granted, my experience with D&D is limited to the original books, the "Basic Set", and AD&D First Edition and Second Edition; the newer editions may have already done something to improve these issues.

The mage may not have a large repetoire of spells at low level

"may not"? A mage started out with one, single, solitary spell per day. It sounds like in recent editions that was expanded a bit. Also, a mage couldn't have any better weapon than a quarterstaff. Not only did a mage have 1d4 per level of hit points, but the mage was forbidden to have armor or a shield. (We used to play that, instead of rolling the die for your first level, you would get the max. So a mage would at least start with 4 hit points.)

It just wasn't fun to hear the GM announce a combat, to cast one spell, and then to cower at the back of the combat for however many rounds. The older versions of D&D didn't even have "feats" so a 1st-level mage who had cast his/her one spell really had very little to do. I used to buy ground black pepper and carry it in a special pocket, to throw in attackers' eyes, and I would buy throwing darts and burning oil when I could to have some kind of ranged attack.

In town, just doing standard role-playing, the mage was as good as anyone else; but our games tended to be rather combat-heavy, and it was boring sitting there while others fought a combat.

By the way, one of the GMs changed the "psionics" rules a bit. He reasoned that psionic combat must happen "at the speed of thought" so once a psionic combat started, only the psionic characters did anything until the combat was over (that is, one side of the psionic combat completely defeated). It sure was boring for everyone else with absolutely nothing to do until the psionic combat was resolved. This taught me that in a game like D&D, it's really only fun if everyone has something they can be doing.

(Don't judge that GM too harshly. We were all young, and IIRC he's also the one who had the brilliant idea to make spells cost their square in points.)

Then at high levels the Mage was great for helping the fighter out

A 20th-level Mage can cast two 9th-level spells just as a warmup, and then can start casting 8th-level, 7th-level and on down. A 20th-level mage has a truly staggering array of spells. (Granted they will take a while to re-memorize later.)

9th-level spells include Meteor Swarm! 20th-level mages can do a lot more than "helping the fighter out"; they can fry legions of the enemy before the fighters get a chance to do anything at all.

So, something that reduces the traditional power of high-level mages while increasing the power of very-low-level mages sounds like a good thing to me.

steveha

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20326733)

I don't think your AC calculations are very realistic:
The Shield spell only gives +4 to AC, and at first level, it only lasts 1 minute.
Casting both shield and mage armor will use up both your first level spells.
Getting +5 to AC from dex at first level is pretty extreme - I think wizards need int for casting high level spells someday more than the dex.

I like the idea of using the elf immunity to sleep, but I don't think its broken. At first level, you'd get to cast sleep twice (or once if you memorize mage armor or magic missile).

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

loucura! (247834) | about 7 years ago | (#20331863)

One minute is ten rounds. If your combat goes longer than ten rounds at first level, you're dead anyway.

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

Song for the Deaf (608030) | about 7 years ago | (#20325369)

While in high school, I wrote up an article...and submitted it to Dragon magazine. Editor Kim Mohan sent me a rejection letter, saying this proposed change was "too radical" to publish.

Honestly, proof of this should get you some kind of special annotation to your slashdot username- a flaming asterisk, goblin ASCII art or just...something.

I have not had this much nerd envy in a while.

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20327013)

I assumed they meant it quite literally. The Star Wars Saga Edition which they talk about being the testbed for D&D 4th Edition has greatly increased hit points. At 1st level, you start out with maximum hit points x3, + your Con bonus. So, if 4th Edition uses that model, even if mages still have d4 hit dice, they would start out with 12 hit points at 1st level, +/- Con bonus.

Re:"Gone are the days of the four hit point Wizard (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | about 7 years ago | (#20332525)

This is what I am guessing will be the case, but with the heavy use of DR to which they allude, they could give a static HD for all and have armor take care of the hitpoint to output ratio by tweaking DR.

Dragonlance preview (1)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | about 7 years ago | (#20323729)

Anyone know where the teaser clip can be found on the internet for the upcoming dragonlance movie? I hope its good, and not an embarrassment like the Dungeons & Dragons movie was.

Watch out (0, Troll)

cybereal (621599) | about 7 years ago | (#20323787)

Is this some kind of huge dork gossip column here?

Seriously, can you possibly get any more canonical in the world of nerd-dom than roleplaying.

Remember to roll to determine whether to mod me down, and again to determine in which way!

Re:Watch out (2, Funny)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 7 years ago | (#20331881)

There's always LARPers and Furries

False assertion table top gaming loosing out (2, Insightful)

mongre26 (999481) | about 7 years ago | (#20323943)

I do not see any evidence anecdotally (which is all this reviewer has) that table top gaming is somehow in decline vs Massive Multiplayer Online Games. While the market for MMOG is very large (9 million WoW players and counting) a lot of that is that the audience of WoW and similar games is just much larger than for tabletop games in general since the barrier for consumers to entry is just much lower. Just because MMOG are popular does not mean that table top gaming is becoming less so. My own experience is that tabletop gaming is probably as popular as ever. Of course MMOG are more popular than ever. It is not a zero sum game however as most of the people I play Privateer Press Warmachine with also play MMOG, and SCA, and etc... Certainly around here the miniatures gaming is very strong. Our Privateer Press Warmachine/Hordes tournaments are completely filled and getting more popular all the time. A great game combined with a great community is a killer combination, not to mention Privateer Press is one of the coolest companies out there. If anything over the long term an increase of MMOG will likely increase tabletop gaming, not decrease it as more people are exposed to the whole pantheon of gaming out there.

FFS (1)

Baljet (547995) | about 7 years ago | (#20328035)

Have you seen the state of the UK GenCon(http://www.consupport.com/index.asp?Con=61) this year?
I live in Reading and doubt I'll bother.

MMOGs : Social Engineering? (1)

Velaki (968192) | about 7 years ago | (#20329179)

But where's the socialization?

Most people are UTTERLY ineffective at conveying emotion via typing. In fact, most of the "chats" I've seen online are supremely disjointed collections of random thoughts, strung together by the most outrageous grammar, and executed with more spelling errors than stars in the heavens. *LOL*

Seriously, as nice as it is to try to game online, the experience is still too slow to permit enough real-time reaction to situations. No laughter at a dropped pair of dice, no pauses to pay the pizza guy. No human interaction aside from that which is The Game. There's no time to decompress from potentially gritty and gory combat sequences.

On one hand, it serves to desensitize the players. On the other hand, it serves to desensitize the players.

This might be construed as a Good Thing, simply because we're essentially breeding a line of workers (Betas/Gammas) who will have Fun at their Jobs. And these online versions of the games provide excellent training for an eventual life of sequestered performance in a career, punctuated by achievement of milestone life goals in a frenetic salmon-spawning manner.

There's still something good about hanging out with a couple of friends on a rainy day, around a table, and just laughing and playing.

Thoughts?
-v

"Say, Hobbit. Halfling is racist." -v

True Dungeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20329559)

I didn't see any mention of True Dungeon. http://www.truedungeon.com/true/dungeon.html [truedungeon.com]

True Dungeon (1)

drahga (1146607) | about 7 years ago | (#20329657)

I didn't see any mention of True Dungeon. http://www.truedungeon.com/true/dungeon.html [truedungeon.com] It usually sells out the first day tickets are available.

Fantasy Craft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20331295)

Lost in the Noise of GenCon's other announcements was crafty Games' Fantasy Craft. Crafty is formed of the authors of the acclaimed Spycraft RPG, which is what 3.5 should have been. Fantasy Craft is a fantasy supplement to Spycraft, adding back in the fantasy elements that were removed when it became a modern game. This is cool, very cool, and it is a point of light among all the depressing announcements at Gen Con.

Unimpressed, jaded, cynical (1)

IronChef (164482) | about 7 years ago | (#20332189)

... their ongoing design and development series has already put up posts on party roles, the new vision for Fighters, and what it's like to face a dragon in the new edition.

Rules and source material are good and useful. I buy them. I have even published them. But why would any self-respecting DM wait for Dungeons & Dragons R&D to approve a new vision for "what it's like to face a dragon" or anything else?

If they even come close to delivering on what these articles imply, next year is going to be an interesting time to be a gamer.

It's been an interesting time for 30+ years... If you choose to make it that way.
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