GenCon SoCal 2004

Attendance was up, and industry presence was strong. Peter puts on a well-run show. The staff and volunteers are friendly and helpful..

There wasn't a lot of casual costuming but there were a fair number of really nice costumes.

The convention center is spacious and pretty. It’s nicer than Indy's convention center, which can be a bit industrial.

A few boffers showed up, but it’s nothing like it was in Finland. One day I’m going to get myself one of those swords, so watch out.

The guy in the middle has been hit in the left arm and now has to fight one-handed.

The kids’ area was totally out of this world. Free games and activities for the kids, free babysitting for me.

Remember, if you panic, do not grab onto the bars or you’ll get your finger mashed like that one kid.

"Don't laugh, kid. You're next."

Flash Gordon would be proud.

Just because you’re a little girl wearing pink doesn’t mean you can’t fight.

While the kids are playing, there’s something for grownups to do, too. There was a margarita stand between the exhibit hall and the tournament area. For beer, they only had mass-market domestics. I took the opportunity to get reacquainted with an old friend that I haven’t seen in years, MGD.

The real party, however, was Peter's dead dog party. He hires gorgeous women to work the cash room so the dance floor is guaranteed to be worthwhile.

Drinking is OK, but smokers are consigned to the outer darkness. I don't miss the stench or the coughing up chunky phlegm, but what I do miss about being a smoker is the social isolation.

Anachronism made an impressive debut. It’s a trading card game with nonrandom boosters. Here’s Beowulf, who spent the weekend going toe to toe with Miyamoto Musashi. The semi-gamer 10-year old I was escorting around the con really got into it. The launch of Anachronism was one of Ryan Dancey’s projects, so the booth staff knew what was cool about their own game.

You need dice to play Anachronism, and you got free dice if you played a demo of Space Assault, so Space Assault it was.

Wizards ran demos for lots of different games all weekend.

Here’s a Hoth battlefield for Star Wars Miniatures.

Beholder versus Nightwalker on Sunday afternoon. The D&D Miniatures champion won the beholder as a prize, and here he’s using it in a skirmish. The enemy warband has the custom-painted Chuul, another prize in the tournament.

See the trophies up close here.

Paint your own mini and then take it with you for free. What kind of crazy deal is that? The paint-and-take volunteers were really pleasant. Remember, don’t leave your brush soaking in the water.

Shifting Forest Storyworks debuted eight standalone, one-evening, one-room larps. Each $10 booklet gives you the rules, the background, and the characters you need for a larp with up to eight people. I played one larp and bought five others. The larps cover a lot of styles. My first and still favorite is a disturbing version of Snow White. The others I bought are sci-fi, Hamlet, disturbing supernatural, and disturbing psyhological. The parlor larp looks like a really good format for creative storytelling.

Here's the Snow White adaptation.

Game play is sort of a hybrid between a larp and a tabletop game. There's plenty of OOC discussion, as with a tabletop.

There was a time in my life as a gamer during which I’d never have paid $10 for a larp that you’d play once. Today, the cost of playing a game is mostly time and effort. Spending a fun evening with a bunch of friends is worth way more than $10.

My guilty pleasure purchases included two Ral Partha miniatures from 1988: a beholder and an umber hulk. Here’s the other: a movie by Heavy Metal comic artist Richard Corben. As I understood when acquiring the movie, it’s terrible. As I hoped, it was worth it.

And don’t forget that the happiest place on earth is a short trolley ride away.

Peace out!