Wednesday, March 16, 2011

About Conventions (and NTRPGCon Thurs Schedule)

Earlier on I posted a series about the Commercialization of the Old School. One of the conclusions I reached was that, along with the positive effects of the surge in old school publishing since 2000, there have been some negative effects, one of which is the increased commercial communication within the community. That commercial speech isn’t going away, because publishers are a new and very durable part of the hobby’s landscape. However, in this post I’m going to talk about a part of the surge in communications that’s not only unambiguously positive but that offsets the “for profit” buzz generated by publishers such as myself.

That benefit is conventions such as North Texas RPG Con. Note: the only reason I have so much to say about NTRPGCon as opposed to GaryCon is that I can’t make it to GaryCon but I can make it to NTRPGCon. So NTRPGCon serves as my example for everything.

The conventions have a for-profit presence, but since it’s in a dealer room, and since there have always been commercial publishers at cons, and since the dealer room is actually an attraction at conventions, a convention is one place where the presence of new publishers doesn’t create any negative effects, and actually creates a very positive one. “Hey, there are new products here! And they’re old school! Woohoo!” Unlike the internet, where free materials are part of the landscape, you can’t download material at a convention. You didn’t go there expecting free adventure modules, so there’s no broken expectation when the modules aren’t free. If you know that your gaming budget doesn’t include purchases in the dealer room, you don’t feel slighted when things for sale are beyond your budget. Indeed, the low cost of the recently published material relative to the original, marked-up books is a nice thing. Maybe your low convention budget isn’t so much of a problem, and you can walk away with some stuff after all.

In any case, that’s a digression back to an original topic.

Let’s talk about some games.

We’re a little ahead of ourselves, because you can’t actually reserve seats until April 15. It might be that on April 14th I’ll revisit this topic to get everyone fired up for the con. Anyway, first I’ll take a look at Thursday evening’s games.

Probably the biggest event on Thursday evening is the Charity game being run by Jon Hershberger using the OD&D rules. By paying $2, you can watch the game: this might seem like total idiocy (pay to WATCH a game???) until you see who’s playing. The players are: Erol Otus, Rob Kuntz, Tim Kask, Dennis Sustare, Paul Jaquays, Steve Winter, Frank Mentzer, and Jim Ward. In other words, this is a star-studded adventuring party. We’ll see how good these guys really are, and how they do it. I predict high attendance for this event.

However, this isn’t the only show in town. The first heat for the Circvs Maximvs tournament takes place almost in the same time slot, although you can watch an hour of the charity game before tying the reins and stepping into your wheels to compete for the three Red Faction slots.

The first expedition into my “Ruins of Mythrus Tower” megadungeon also takes place on Thursday night, and fortunately this doesn’t roll around until the charity game is three hours in. I want to watch that game, and I’m glad not to miss all of it. In fact, if I were going to miss all of it, I’d be whining at Doug about the scheduling. But I can live with only missing an hour of the expo game.

There are plenty of other games in that time slot (after three hours of the expo game, missing only one hour of it). Basic D&D (Moldvay), AD&D, Paranoia, a game called Urutsk (not familiar with this) and …a Chainmail battle (Five Armies) run by Marshal Mahurin. Miniature wargaming!!!!!!

Thursday night is all I have time (or space) to cover in this post, but I’ll return to the convention’s playlist again to cover the later stuff!


  1. This convention sounds so cool - having all of those old-guard attendees in one place is an opportunity that sounds like it shouldn't be missed.

    It seems like there should hopefully be some kind of press there to take advantage of having all of those guys in one room. I was recently speaking with a reporter here at one of my local NPR stations and mentioned to her that I play RPGs and she asked me about the current state of the hobby and I mentioned to her that the original founders of the game have sadly been passing away in the past few years, and she agreed that was very unfortunate because part of the history of the hobby was then lost forever. She thought it would make a good story to track down some of the other original founders who are still around and get their stories down for posterity's sake.

    The North Texas con seems like the perfect opportunity for something like that. It's like one-stop shopping!

  2. Doug Rhea just emailed me because his comment kept not showing. This is a bit of useful information for anyone scheduled to run a game in the Charity Game's time slot:


    The time slots at the Con are "reserved" slots for the DMs to run the
    games, these are not actual "gaming times". So DM's are more than welcome
    to start/stop/break anytime during their reserved time.

    So you can watch the entire Charity Game and start your Mythrus Tower
    anytime between 1800-2400