In just a little over a week, Iâ€™ll be enjoying the â€śBest Four Days in Gamingâ€ť at GenCon in Indianapolis. Before I get to the convention, replete with all of its gaming glory, Iâ€™m going to be taking the trip out there in a somewhat unique fashion. Along with Chris Tulach, Charles Arnett, and Trevor Kidd, Iâ€™ll be taking a train from Seattle to Chicago, and then driving to Indy. For two days on the train, though, Iâ€™ll be packing in a monthâ€™s worth of D&D with a marathon Dark Sun adventure.
Let me back up just a bit and explain the genesis of this trip. A while back my good friend Andy Collins, during one of our many post-lunch digesting talks, mentioned that heâ€™d always wanted to do a big road trip to GenCon, seeing America and doing a whole lot of gaming on the way. While a road trip from Seattle to Indy seemed challenging to pull off, earlier in the year Iâ€™d taken a couple of train trips to Leavenworth and down to Portland, and had pretty good experiences both times. A while later, I heard that Chris, Chuck and Trevor would be onboard with trying to make our GenCon road trip happen, but taking a train instead. Luckily, things worked out with our travel arrangements, and so weâ€™re going to be doing the Game Train to GenCon!
Iâ€™m pretty excited about this trip, and thought that, if things go well, it might inspire people to try something similar in the future. So, in the interests of helping people out, I thought I would share some of the preparations Iâ€™ve been making so that people would know what we did, what worked, and what didnâ€™t.
First, the adventure. Iâ€™m going to be running it, and Iâ€™ve done a lot of prep work for it already. I think prep work is going to be really important for this adventure. Iâ€™m running the adventure as four, four-hour sessions, and while that would normally be about a monthâ€™s worth of campaign Iâ€™m going to be running it over the course of only two days. Normally, between sessions Iâ€™d have plenty of time to make tweaks to the adventure, alter encounters, and so forth; this time, Iâ€™ll have a couple of hours at best. So, Iâ€™m doing extra prep work, prepping alternate encounters, preparing for several different eventualities, and so forth. So, thatâ€™s probably my first piece of advice: do the extra prep work.
I also started thinking about the kinds of things that I would need to run the game, and a battle grid came to mind. I thought for a while about running it old school, theater of the mind, imaginations only, but in the end I thought it would be interesting to try and play like we would play at my table on Monday nights. I did a little research and came across the Battle Graph dry erase boards, and ordered a couple of sets. Since weâ€™re going to be playing around tables in the lounge car of a train, I wanted something modular, and something relatively small; the Battle Graph boards fit the bill. Thankfully, the nice folks who make the board made sure to get them to me in time, and helped me get set up with everything I needed for the game. Instead of miniatures, Iâ€™m going to be using monster tokens, like the ones sent to stores for the D&D Encounters seasons, and the ones that come with the upcoming Monster Vault product.
I also put together a travel DM kit, using some of the same stuff I use on a weekly basis. A while back, my friend Stephen Radney-MacFarland introduced me to some great storage containers, made by Snapware, that make excellent storage bins for DMing supplies. Theyâ€™re modular, snap together top-to-bottom, and come with divider trays that are great for separating dice, tokens, etc. Iâ€™ve put together a portable version of my usual kit, which should fit nicely into the bottom of a suitcase.
Thatâ€™s about all Iâ€™ve done so far, but I think itâ€™s a good start. Weâ€™ll be blogging and sending out Twitter updates on our progress, so follow @wotc_rodney, @trevor_wotc, and @christulach if you want to see how the adventure is going. Weâ€™ll be playing a lot of D&D for the two day train trip, and it should be a lot of fun!