Convention Report by the GameDaddy
Today, I’ll start where we, …being Nick and me, finished which was with the prime-time Saturday night RPG slot at Origins hosted in the Columbus, Ohio, Convention Center last June. Nick finished up his day with his second round of Call of Cthulu, his new favorite RPG. He specifically asked me before he had completely decided to go, if I thought we could find a Call of Cthulu game at Origins, to which I responded, …of course!
For me, I couldn’t think of a better way to end up a Saturday evening of gaming than sitting in briefly on a gaming round of the current Arcanis campaign with Henry Lopez GMing in the last premium gaming slot of the show. Henry had fourteen full tables that had signed up for an eight-hour Arcanis Interactive, and for eighty or so players (and at least one observer) he masterfully weaved the final chapter of a new tale of adventure with plenty of help from one or two co-GM’s, with many enthusiastic players adding comments in-character, and in-game, and that made this a unique, and awesome gaming experience. It was a real pleasure just to watch!
When I first came into the room, he had quietly walked up to me and asked me who I was. So, I told him. “Well,” I said re-introducing myself. “I think I was either the first, or maybe even the second guy that bought The Bloody Sands of Sicaris from you back at Origins in 2001. I’m here today to see how Arcanis is doing, and let my gaming peeps know what is new with the Shattered Empire.”
His hair was jet black back then, …now it is white as snow, I’m about forty pounds heavier than I was back then, and getting a touch of gray myself. He told me that they had just finished a Kickstarter and would be releasing the 5e version of Arcanis in early 2018. Just to let you know, …they were playing 5e Arcanis at the show this year, trying it out, playtesting, doubtless tweaking it, to make it better when they do publish. Looked good, …and they were having a lot of fun!
Back in 2001, He called me over to his booth at Origins, …there wasn’t a single soul there. He had a tall rack next to the tabletop with about eighty copies of The Bloody Sands of Sicaris. He introduced himself, and I did likewise, then he put a copy of the The Bloody Sands of Sicaris into my hands and he said “Here, you need to buy this now!”
Me: “…Excuse me… what?” I never had been one for aggressive sales techniques, …so was a bit put off.
Henry: “You need to buy this now! It’s part of this awesome new campaign setting we are in the process of releasing under the d20 license called Arcanis. We have plans for it, it’s going to be big!”
I looked around. Just me and him at his Origins Booth, with some foot traffic, no one else stopping by though. The big news at that show that year was WOTC with release of the 3e just the year before, and White Wolf was releasing Exalted.
Me: “What does this have that the new 3e D&D doesn’t?”
Henry: “An empire in turmoil, and a great desert city.”
By this time the artwork in the adventure book had caught me eye. It looked very Roman. Now, from 1977-1979 I had done a home brew D&D campaign with Romans in this Jungle Archipelago, and the artwork was giving me flashbacks to some really great games I had been running some twenty years before 2001. But up until 3e, no one had actually published a Roman style sourcebook for D&D, so I found this very interesting.
Me: “How Much?”
I have a long history of supporting new RPGs and gaming companies, especially Indy publishers and that day back in 2001 turned out to be no exception, so I got some momentum going for Henry & Paradigm. I was very happy to see his booth busy later that afternoon, and by Saturday, his rack were looked kinda thin. Then Paradigm grew! It really grew.
I used Sicaris in my D&D homebrew games. It fit especially good in my desert kingdom of Tabria, and I did up some homebrew custom artwork for my games which I’ll share here today for you. It would be another four to five years before I bought the Sicaris d20 hardback. I did run a few games with it in 2001, and then also sliced up the digital map, and ran one of the first online games in 2004-2005 using some software called GRIP which was released by a guy named Hunter. GRIP then is like Roll20 today, except you could only run a game with about six to eight players online before GRIP would crash, because online gaming was still very much in its infancy back in 2004, and the software wasn’t very good. We had plenty of fun playing in Sicaris online, though!
Earlier, at the Sicaris registration desk, before the evening game, I was talking to a couple guys behind the desk about Sicaris, I thought they were from the convention center. I was telling them what I really liked about Arcanis, and that I thought the original Sicaris was one the best adventures written for Arcanis (and d20 D&D btw). And that I was planning on coming back later to check out the Interactive Henry was planning on running. One of the guys lit up. “I’m Pedro ‘Miguel’ Barrenechea, I wrote that adventure!”
Me: “I still use it!”
I asked Henry when I talked to him earlier: “Will you make a new adventure for Sicaris?”
Henry: “We did that already, …it’s free, available in Interactive play”
I’m Like: “No, no. A completely new published adventure released in print as a supplement, …set in Sicaris. I’d buy it!”
He didn’t answer. It would be good to see it available as an add-on for the new 5e Arcanis for retail though, because I can only afford the spare time for a couple of conventions a year, so can’t really do the living campaigns.
That was how Origins 2017 ended for me, revisiting an old friend, and happy to see a large and active player base playing in an organized play interactive which featured just about zero advertising. It’s a game that continues to be popular, because it is good, and because the players like to meet up every year to play it. And it is getting a new release in 2018!
Paradigm Concepts Website
We arrived at Origins at almost exactly ten in the morning. We had not pre-registered for the show, and just lined up with the Saturday morning crush to register onsite. The line was long, but moved very quickly with nine windows opened up for onsite registration. We were inside in just under forty-five minutes and had taken $20 worth of generic chips to just walk-in to games with, so a very respectable registration time for a Saturday morning, and then we hit the dealer hall.
Me: “Nick, anything you want to pickup here today?”
Nick: “I want to get the Call of Cthulu RPG”
Me: “I have just the thing for you…” This was just as I spotted the Pelgrane booth, which was on the South wall of Dealer room. “This guy we are going to talk to, he sells Cthulu RPG stuff.” Of course, it was Simon Rogers, owner of Pelgrane Press, who actually was manning his booth. He had his admin with him, and Ken Hite was there too. Ken didn’t have any panels this year at Origins, …he was there to have some fun!”
I introduced Nick to them, letting Ken know that he had a new young fan who wanted to play Cthulu games with his friends, and of course, they had the newly released Trail of Cthulu available, which we went to purchase immediately, however Pelgrane is a European company. I had already maxxed my Mastercard, and was working on Discover, and found out to our dismay, that they didn’t take Discover. Simon said he could take Paypal, and I said ok, but thought I could find an ATM around. Ken mentioned something about the influence of Cthulu, and I just said “…mmmhhmm, we’ll just see about that!”
Went and found an ATM at the North Market, and stopped for lunch while there. Never had setup a pin number for the Discover so of course couldn’t withdraw cash, so ended up setting up a PayPal account while having lunch just to transfer some money over to Pelgrane Press. Then after lunch, we went back to pickup the book. Ken had taken off, but we ran in to him later on in the afternoon, and reported our success. He said he would be happy to sign our book, but we had already stashed that in the Honda, and wasn’t going to hike a mile to go get it, with only twenty minutes left before the dealer hall closed so we contented ourself with a request for a group picture including a copy of the new book, you know, for Cthulu, and Ken graciously obliged. Ken Hite’s newest gaming group is all high-school teens! Nick was also totally impressed that Simon Rogers had flown in from London, …just to sell game books!
I was kind of under the impression that Nick wanted to buy and run Sandy Petersen’s Call of Cthulu, since that is what he had played first, and we’ll probably get around to that later. Trail of Cthulu looks absolutely gorgeous, and Ken is a first rate writer with considerable chops in writing up conspiracy theories, so I think we got ourselves a win with this. I told Nick I would run his first game for him and his friends, if he wanted, or that he could call me to sit in on a game of this he runs. I’m very interested to see what he’ll come up with. We also picked up the Trail of Cthulu: Rough Magicks guide while we are at it. Eventually, Nick might actually find my copy of 777 which is shelved in the library here in my office. He has a good start with these two game books though. Through the summer Nick has been working on crafting his own Cthulu adventures.
After this photo Nick went off to his first Call of Cthulu game, and I went back to photograph the dealer room, as well as the gaming halls, and to catch up with a few gaming friends.
The Origins halls were both gorgeous, the dealer hall was mostly carpeted, and both the dealer hall and the main player hall had beautiful multicolored banners and signs setup everywhere. Everything looked really professional! A few comments on pictures uploaded here as part of this article…
Upper Deck Booth
Upper Deck is Hiring. They are looking for a few good Marketing Managers, so if you are up for some convention type retail sales, or you want to spend some traveling in a district or geographical area representing Upper Deck, polish up your gaming sales resume, and submit it with a cover letter, or stop by their booth at any show and inquire.
An awesome new board game I discovered at Origins 2017! The game has starship minis, as well as 25mm scale deckplans of the Starships featured in the game for boarding party actions and optional roleplaying adventures.
Fat Dragon Games
So he was all like “Hey I Know You!” Of Course, I was there the first year he had a booth at GenCon, and bought some of his cardstock floorplans, and walls. Now he sells all kinds of stuff!
Another new release at the show, The Chronicles game. Gorgeous miniatures, Lost of Werewolves and Nordic Style Minis
Francis Drake by Eagle-Gryphon Games
Just some awesome looking new Privateers and Pirates game set in the Caribbean!
Battlestations Second Editions
Spoke with Jeff Siadek, He has all kinds of new and awesome adventures that are included with this boardgame. Each player is a member of the crew, and collectively they try to keep their ship running through epic space battles, mishaps, mistakes, bad landings, bad takeoffs, Interstellar Storms, and much more… You can check out this tabletop starship simulator at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gorillagames/battlestations-second-edition-classic-board-game-r