It’s time for the next (and, depending on some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, last) Gen Con update!

This year was spectacular for the Gnomies, as we took gold ENnies for Best Blog and Masks! It’s truly a humbling experience to meet many great GMs that enjoy our website. It was great to see my fellow Gnomies again, albeit only briefly, and I always leave Gen Con wishing I’d had more time.

I was Cubicle 7’s event organizer this time around, so I was pretty intimately familiar with the JW Marriott’s Room 206 by the end of the con. Amongst my duties were collecting, preparing, and playtesting the adventures, getting the copies ready, and ensuring that the GMs were ready and running at the appropriate times. This gave me some new perspectives on GMing and Gen Con events.

Some observations:

1. The food truck craze has come to Indianapolis. There’s a food truck “lane” just outside the convention center entrance near the RPG dealer hall, and they had many types of food. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of them and many seemed unprepared for the crowd; lines were long and food stock ran dry pretty early for some of the trucks. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to wait 45 minutes to an hour in line only to find out that the shrimp po’ boy I was craving got crossed off the list. That said, I love this idea and know that it’s only going to get better in the future.

2. If you’re planning on running/playing early or late events (that is, making a trip between an event and your hotel room), try to book a centrally-located hotel. It was pretty rough having to get up early and hoof it from the Omni to the JW each day.

3. The RPG publishing area of the hall seemed smaller this year and the publishers that were there took up multiple spaces. That said the publishers that were there are churning out amazing stuff and I saw a lot more games with their own mechanics rather than bolt-ons to d20 or Pathfinder (horribly anecdotal). I was also happy to see that WOTC had a prominent spot and an impressive design, although I didn’t get a chance to venture in and see what products they were offering.

4. Union Station is the place to hold the ENnies.

5. If you have time, walk a few blocks for dinner. There are several great restaurants that sit just outside the “need to wait an hour for a table” zone that are worth walking the 20 minutes for.

6. I know this one is fairly self-evident, but I was struck by how different GMs approached the same material. Some things I thought might be issues weren’t issues at all and vice versa.

7. Always plan your adventures to run about an hour short. I found myself (once again) doing some trimming along the way.

8. Handhold your players through the rules. Just tell them what they need to do when the situation arises. Even for new games, no one is going to digest a 30 minute lecture on the rules. A good adventure showcases the fun bits without relying on the players remembering Rule 5, subsection 3b. Players tend to expect a bit of streamlining and fudging for a con game.

9. Having pregens are great, but make sure they fit the adventure. One of our games used the PCs out of the core book, only to discover in play that they lacked abilities needed for the particular adventure.

10. I’d like to use political doublespeak and “walk back” my remarks on Generic tickets from last year. Virtually all Cubicle 7 events were sold out, but I was amazed at the number of empty chairs we had. One of the GMs pointed out the perils of block ticket purchases, but I’m not sure that accounts for a high percentage. Nor did it seem to matter when the event was being run.

That’s it for this year. If you were an attendee, how were your experiences this year?