Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:15 am  
My Kansas City Game Fair experience!

I just spent the better part of a three-day weekend attending the Kansas City Game Fair and thought it might be fun to offer some of the more interesting highlights for your reading pleasure. Smile

It was held Thursday through Saturday, this past weekend, at the Hilton near KCI (the airport), though I didn't make it down there until Friday afternoon. There were plenty of rooms to begin with, but some were so far removed from the main action that events scheduled in them were difficult to find. Unfortunately, those distant rooms were not available for the Game Fair's use on Sunday and all events had to be crowded into a few large rooms that day. This made for a bit of difficulty to those of us with less than perfect hearing, but it was a minor inconvenience that can, hopefully, be avoided in the future.

Of most interest to most of you is probably my take on the guest speakers. I specifically decided to commit to attending this event because Sterling Hershey is a friend of mine from our youth. Sterling is the author of the recent D&D Insider History Check article over at WotC entitled, Rary the Traitor, which Mortellan has linked to in his stickied blog thread. Below is a brief bit about each of the guest panelists in the seminar on Friday evening.

Sterling Hershey: Freelance designer and cartographer for the Star Wars Roleplaying and Miniatures games for WotC and West End Games. Co-author of Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale for D&D. Has authored recent articles in the Dungeon and Dragon sections of D&D Insider. Authored Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide (Star Wars). Is the current president of The Roleplayers Guild of Kansas City.

John Hill: Author of Squad Leader and Johnny Reb board games. The very first freelance wargame designer inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame. Used his design skills as a senior military analyst for the US government for 16 years.

William Reger: Author of the 2011 silver ENnie award winning Space 1889: Red Sands campagin for the Savage Worlds roleplaying game.

Tim Krask: First full-time employee of TSR - hired in 1975 to be Gary Gygax's editor. Edited the last four supplements to what is now referred to as OD&D and helped EGG delineate what became AD&D (1st Ed.). He started DRAGON magazine, developed and edited other TSR games and did some work for Avalon Hill. Published ADVENTURE GAMING Magazine.

Aaron Williams: Author/illustrator of the comics Nodwick, PS238, and Full Frontal Nerdity (at nodwick<dot>com). His new comic, Epic Campain, is a feature of D&D Insider's cartoons section.

Patrick Stutzman: Freelance writer for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition and for WotC's website. Authored the Pathfinder Genies book. Authored articles for E20 Evolved and Game Mechanic. Member of the official Spelljammer website's head council.

Rob Hobart: One-third of the RPG Design Team for Legend of the Five Rings. Ran Heroes of Rokugan (the "living" campaign for L5R) for ten years before handing it off to the current team. (Unfortunately, Mr. Hobart was not able to attend the seminar because he had no one to cover his table.)

I must say that this group of gentlemen represented an entertaining collection of game design success. Mr. Krask ran several OD&D events. Though I missed out on them, I heard from other Game Fair attendees that his events were some of the best roleplaying sessions they ever had the pleasure of participating in. They had nothing but effuse praise for his Dungeon Mastering skills and the tales from the early days of TSR that he regaled those of us who attended the seminar with were quite entertaining. It seems that he is a true Dungeon Meister. Cool

Oh, he said that he has formed a partnership with several people to publish a new roleplaying game very soon. Though I failed to write down the names, I do remember that Frank Mentzer was one of them.

Personally, I spent my time participating mostly in Pathfinder Society events (for the first time), but I did make sure to get in on a 2nd Ed. event and a 3.5 Ed. event.

The 3.5e event was a new level of Maure Castle designed for characters of levels 16 ththrough 19th. Guess who I took. Cool That's right, Sir Xaris came out of retirement and officially adventured for the first time since 1990! Razz There were a total of six players and at 16th level, Sir Xaris was the lowest in level. Never-the-less, he assumed the role of party leader and managed to keep the group's focus on the mission despite the eagerness of the Lawful Evil Warlock in the party to put an end to him out of spite. This adventure was the personal work of Roland O'Connel, who DM'd the session with excellence. (www<dot>dar-khazad<dot>com)

I had only one disappointment in this event. We fought quite a few vampires and the party members cut them down so quickly that no combat lasted long enough for Sir Xaris to set his Holy Avenger to dancing and draw his Frost Brand. Sad

The 2nd event I participated in was quite a hoot! I was disappointed when the DM informed us all that we would be required to play the pre-generated characters rather than our own that we had brought. I would have simply said, "No Thanks," and left to find a Pathfinder Society event to play in, but I didn't want to be rude. Lucky me! James Potts DM'd a scenario entitled His Majesty's Retainers. It turned out that we played characters that were toys of a three-year old prince. He was in trouble and we came to life feeling his call for help. I played Sojer, a toy soldier who was a fighter with some paladin-like abilities. The other two characters in our group were a teddybear cleric and a monkey thief. A Tyranasaurus, Sojer's warhorse, and Evilla, a doll, were other possible characters, but we didn't have enough players to include more characters.

Since we were only about 6 inches tall, it was obvious that real-life bad guys would squish us easily if we engaged them in combat, so we had a good time searching the castle while remaining hidden from the adults within. Alas, it became necessary that we destroy the castle cat as it attacked us without mercy. Shocked There were several fun and surprising twists in the story that made the play exceptionally fun. I highly recommend His Majesty's Retainers to anyone who has the chance to experience it. Note: this module was written for a convention (GenCon?) well before the first Toy Story movie came out.

As I said earlier, the majority of my time was spent participating in Pathfinder Society events. The five I participated in were expertly DM'd by Robert Kelsey. His numerous impersonations of myriad NPC personalities genuinely inspired me to make a greater effort in my own DMing to do the same. It added exceptional flavor to the adventure. Pathfinder Society is a "Living" campaign much as I imagine LG was (though I never had the opportunity to participate in the latter).

Well, that's about as short as I can make a general overview of my experiences at the KC Game Fair. The most pleasing aspect of the Game Fair for me was the great people I met, gamed with, and visited with. I will also mention that it was the first major gaming convention that I have ever attended and I plan to attend as many more in the future as I am able. Wink