Well, we just got back from GenCon 2010 last night. I didn't post at all on the trip -- I'm apparently a real dope -- but I had a great time -- we played a lot of D&D, spent a lot of time cruising the dealer hall, and saw a lot of great stuff.
The Bad News: We didn't see a lot of new stuff that was exciting. I'm always looking for new accessories for my game, and in past years I've discovered the Alea Tools disks and the Dark-Platypus condition flags, but this year I didn't find anything that really feels like it's going to improve my game. Some of the apparently promising new developments, like Infrno, a new virtual tabletop solution, turned out to be far less impressive than we hoped. The GeekChic game tables are always impressive -- and they had a new coffee-table sized touch-screen surface table, but the prices for their products make them cool to dream about but not really practical.
Oh, and we didn't get into the finals of the D&D Championship. We were pretty frustrated about that.
The Good News: Had some really big high points this year:
1. Saturday Morning we played an adventure called Curse of the Gray Hag, and we were joined at the table by Chris Perkins. He was great to play with, and we all enjoyed goofing around a bit in character with him. That session, thanks to a good adventure, some well-prepped pre-gen characters, a DM who enjoyed creating some energy and theater around his descriptions, and a fun group of players, was one of the best convention games I've played in. And did I mention we got to play with Chris Perkins? He's the DM who killed Wil Wheaton (well, Aelfel Wil's character)!!
Chris played the Eladrin Cleric of Lloth, and I think he had a good time. He was a good sport when I accidentally zapped him while in Spark Form.
2. Dark Sun Arena. We got to play in the arena a couple of times, and I'm very excited about the new setting now. We were able to make our own characters, which was cool. I created a halfling rogue named "Puddles". In Dark Sun, the halflings are so committed to the preservation of the natural world and wasting nothing that can be put to good use that they are cannibals. Playing off that, Puddles carried four bone daggers, each carved from the femur of an ex-girlfriend, and named for that old companion. It was fun, in a gruesome sort of way, and set me up to offer a dagger to a companion who's weapon broke by saying "take one of my daggers, they were all nice girls!".
3. Essentials Characters. In the Delve, we got to play some of the essentials characters -- there were two rogues, two fighters, a wizard and a cleric. And they were very fun to play. I was really surprised, but after playing them I'm really excited to see the Essentials series of books. The new characters achieve some of the same sort of game play in different ways, but I found that they actually do a great job of capturing the flavor of the characters in cool ways. The rogues are a great example. Rogues, like fighters, attack using basic attacks, rather than at will attack powers. It's a rogue's movement that gets interesting, and the rogue's movement powers add rider effects to the rogue's attacks. This makes the rogue's highly mobile combatants -- they move around to get their special abilities and effects. They were surprisingly playable and fun. I also played the wizard, and I think they've made some good changes there, too (area effect spells do flat damage rather than rolled damage -- which cuts down a lot on the number of die rolls a player makes when he zaps a crowd of targets).
Overall . . . it was a good year, but not my favorite Gencon. There was a lot less competitive play -- Goodman Games wasn't at the con, and the RPGA D&D Championship was only two rounds instead of 3. We missed that, and hope to have more of that sort of action next year.