Friday, June 08, 2012

In Which The Warlock Wraps Up Origins 2012!

Whew!  I'm really running behind on this one!  The PlatinumChick and I scurried back from Columbus on Sunday evening, and I have yet to say a thing about our Origins weekend.  Man...I'm slacking!

The entrance for Origins 2012!
As I've said many times earlier, our trip to Origins was significantly abbreviated from its prior years.  Under normal circumstances, we'd drive out Tuesday night, get settled in, run games Wednesday through Saturday, then leave Sunday after the dealer hall closes.  This year, as I've been up to my eyeballs with students' finals and closing down my classroom--thanks to the date change, primarily--we were only able to attend half of the time, arriving on Friday afternoon and staying through Sunday.

However, this did afford us one luxury that we hadn't been able to enjoy prior to:  our own hotel room!  Yes, cats and kittens, the PlatinumChick and I actually managed to stay in a place to ourselves this time around.  Mind you, not that we did much, seriously:  we were up each night till around 3:00am or 3:30, either raising a glass with El Willy and the WEGSHogz or grabbing a bite to eat with the Journeyman GM!

The Events!

Friday evening started for me with another session of the D&D Next playtest.  Yes, I know what you're doing to say:  "But Warlock, you hated D&D Next!  You wrote this scathing review of it when you ran it, not three weeks ago!"  And, yes, you'd be right.  But, I figured that I'd give the game another chance, this time as a player--more particularly, as a player of the one character that wasn't represented at our home table, the human "laser" cleric. 

And, truth be told?  I'm still not impressed.  My cleric, with an 18 Wisdom, had all of two spells for the entire day.  Rather than heal, I focused on combat utility, eschewing the mediocre Cure Light Wounds for Spiritual Hammer, which more than doubled my potential damage output.  However, it was to little avail.  Our characters nearly suffered a TPK from a sliding stair trap, and our fighters--while admirable at damage output (but little else)--spent most of their time in single digit hp, falling in and out of unconsciousness constantly.  D&D Next has a long way to go before I'll be putting down money on a new edition.

My Saturday started much better, with a session of El Willy's newest release:  Pittsburgh 68:  a quick and dirty card game (edited by yours truly) emulating the old grindhouse horror classics, particularly Romero's quintessential Night of the Living Dead, which was set--you guessed it!--in Monroeville, PA, right along Pennsylvania Route 68.  I actually ran two sessions of this on Saturday, and a third on Sunday, to help take some of the strain off of El Willy and his crew as they pushed both WEGS and P68

Saturday was also seminar day for me, as I sat in on three separate seminars on game design, game development and genre emulation.  While listening to the gaming industry's self-styled "sublebrities" (as in, sub-celebrities) is always enlightening, the actual utility of these seminars has been...well, I'm not exactly sure.  Going to these gives me the chance to hobnob with some of the industry luminaries--I think Kenneth Hite may get sick of seeing me after all of this!--but their advice is only useful if I can actually put it into action!  That comes this summer, as I focus on finishing up oh-so-many projects. 

Unfortunately, I wish I could say that my third seminar, featuring Lou Zocchi, would have been more useful.  Zocchi's "insider" information brought several useful tidbits, but most of these were minutia, not applicable to most current situations.  Further, Zocchi's source information was woefully out of date, attempting to tell the audience about Kickstarter and DriveThruRPG, as if they had just come about and were some experimental force in publication!  I'm not sure whether it's a matter of his tendency to avoid computers or a genuine unknowingness, but Zocchi's information probably wasn't worth my time.

Sunday, the PlatinumChick and I spent most of our time trolling the dealer hall, but also spent a good bit of time with a Myrmidon's "Zombie Containment Rally"--a fun little zombie-killing romp, using heavily modified OGL rules for quick, streamlined mechanics.  Teaming up on the far side of the map, we managed to seal one of the four rifts in the complex and come in, guns a-blazin', to save the rest of our team.  It made for a fun game, in all, and a great way for us to wind down our convention.

The Swag!

The Origins 2012 Swag Shot
Not much this year...maybe next?
Not too much in the way of swag this time around, all told.  I was hoping to pick up a copy of All for One:  Regime Diablolique while there, but no retailer actually had a copy!  I did manage to pick up a copy of Unspeakable Words for $10 as well as winter-themed set of Dungeon Tiles for $6--can't beat those for prices!  The biggest bit of swag, though, is the mace I purchased from Edhellen Armory.  Yes, friends and neighbors, the first piece of my Man-at-Arms cosplay is in place.  I'm hoping to pick up the helmet and the blaster next in July, then the armor (football pads) and Wonderflex in August.  If all goes well, I should be able to have a costume in time for Halloween!

The Observations!

As predicted, this year's Origins was a ghost town in comparison to years prior.  While GAMA has yet to release the official numbers, you only had to walk around for a few minutes to note the sheer lack of attendees.  The convention center food court, which normally would be jam-packed at dinner hour on Saturday, was deserted:  many restaurants had no lines whatsoever, and seats were plentiful.  The Hyatt Grand Ballroom, which was reserved for RPGA games and D&D playtests, was barely one third full during a prime gaming hour:  Friday, at 7pm. 

Speaking to several dealers, sales were down at this year's show as well.  El Willy noted several times that the weekend "felt like a Thursday" from prior years, with a significantly lessened gamer density.  Luckily, Origins will be moving back to June next year--well after the vast majority of schools have let out, allowing educators and families with children to come back.  With any luck, they will. 

You know, it's weird.  While still running demos of P68, I find myself missing the act of running RPG sessions for the convention crowd.  The only issue I'm going to run into next year, though, is what to run?  I could easily continue running the games I love:  Deadlands (especially with Hell on Earth coming out at GenCon!), ICONS, and many others.  I could easily also run sessions of the games I've helped to write or edit for, like The Laundry or WEGS.  But, I'm also trying to keep a weather eye to Cold Steel Wardens...which means running demo sessions and showing off what I have.  And that's to say nothing of my board games!  So many decisions, and only a year to do it in!


  1. Sounds like this was not the year for me to come out and have my first Origins Experience. It doesn't sound nearly as cool as it seemed last year and the year before that.

    Time and money allowing, I hope to make it out next year, tho. :D

  2. It'd be awesome to see you out there! We could raise a glass at the Big Bar on 2! :D

    If you'd be up for sharing a hotel room, keep us posted!