GenCon 2014 Recap


I survived my third GenCon! I hadn’t been since the Boy started kindergarten a few years back (when the con coincided with his first week of school). It was great being back at GenCon, and I never want to be separated from it again.

My friend (and superb Paranoia GM) Kerry was there too, as well as some of his friends. Kerry and I don’t live in the same town, and in fact only see each other at conventions. We met at his Paranoia game at MidSouthCon a few years ago.

At a con as big as GenCon, it’s hard to split your time between games, the dealer room (or Exhibit Hall, as they call it at GenCon), and panels. And sleep. (That last part is hard to skimp on for this aging gamer, or else the other choices suffer.) This year I did moderate gaming, heavy Exhibit Hall exploring (though not enough–it’s never enough), and no panels. (And sleeping through most of my morning plans.) I wanted to check out some writer’s panels, but the games I most wanted to play conflicted with them.

The games I played were Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and SpaceMarvel Heroic RoleplayingFading SunsCthulhuTech, and World War Cthulhu. It was my first time playing any of those, and almost all of them were fun. My favorite bits were playing as the 4th Doctor, playing as the Thing, and being taken over by an energy parasite (in WWC).

Adventures in the Exhibit Hall

Mongoose Publishing and Cheapass Games were the only companies on my wish list that did not have booths. Paizo had four Cheapass games for sale, including a card game version of Kill Dr. Lucky called Get Lucky. As a gift for a friend, I bought Veritas, in which you play as the Truth. Awesome.


Monte Cook Games had their new game The Strange on display. I’d been planning to buy Numenera at the con, but after lots of deliberation picked The Strange instead. It looks amazing. The book is pricy, but players only need the $20 player’s guide. A couple of cute kids (around 8 to 10 years old) ran my transaction; I wonder who they were.


I tried out the Bravest Warriors card game, and liked it. I’d have bought it for the Boy, but it was sold out. They were showing two decks, each supporting 4 players, and combining the decks allows 8 players. Each deck is $13. Yes, please.

At the Eden Studios booth I got to talk to Alex Jurkat, who was my editor when I worked on a few City of Heroes adventures. It was the first time I’d seen him since the previous GenCon for each of us (in 2006, I believe). Like back then, we mostly talked about getting our kids interested in RPGs. He’s been more successful than me at that goal. The Boy has video game fever.

A man at the Pinnacle booth talked to me about the Savage Worlds edition of Space: 1889. It looks excellent, and I’d have probably bought it if I had the latest version of Savage Worlds. (I don’t know for a fact the game wouldn’t work with an older edition of the rules, but with limited Exhibit Hall time I got in the habit of making quick decisions.)


I spent a lot of time at the Steve Jackson Games area. It’s hard not to, with so many Munchkin variants on display. I bought Munchkin Adventure Time for the Boy, and now I’m really eager to try it out, but have to wait until his birthday, because that’s what I’m saving it for. I’m also excited about the pocket edition of Ogre (selling for $2.95, just as it did when first released in 1977), but I missed out on Car Wars, which sold out before I arrived.

The biggest hit to my wallet (and my RPG shelf space) was from the 20th anniversary edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, by Onyx Path. It’s stunning. I like the larger-than-normal print in the book (and my aging gamer eyes appreciate it), though I wonder how much that added to the page count. I got to talk to the game’s art director, and compliment his work. He says their next Werewolf book will be a revised edition of Way of the Wyrm. I took a look at the anniversary edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, but my wallet said no, not this time, you’ve hurt me too much already.


During my Fading Suns game I learned that the game (which I thought was no longer in production) had been revived by FASA. Yay! The setting is like a science-fantasy dark ages in space, with lords and aliens and psychics. I invested in the new edition.


At Chaosium, the big news was the impending release of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, due out in November. For the first time the core rules will be in two separate books, the Investigator’s book and the Keeper’s book. The final manuscripts were on display, and the books’ interiors are gorgeous. I can’t wait.

I’m not a big D&D fan, but I still bought the new 5th edition of the Player’s Handbook at the Wizards of the Coast shop. One reason I bought it was because, as a student of RPG design, I’m curious about the changes to the game. But the more personal reason is that it was at my first GenCon that I bought my first version of D&D, the 3rd edition (which was released at that GenCon in 2000). So I guess I wanted to carry on that tradition. And, spoiler warning, I’m loving the 5th edition.

I was glad to see fewer PC or console games on display at this year’s con than there were the last time I went. I love those games, of course, but they’re easy to find everywhere else. The electronic games that did make it to the show were more closely related to tabletop games, being either electronic versions of tabletop games (such as an iPad edition of Ticket to Ride), or digital assistants to traditional games (like an app that facilitates gaming groups that are separated geographically).

There’s so much more I could ramble about concerning this year’s GenCon (the costumes! The shirts and hoodies and robes for sale! The dice, man, the dice!), but I better stop ‘cause I’m getting antsy for next year already. Only 48 weeks to go!

Informational Competitive Dance Meeting?

A recent email from my son’s school mentioned the following upcoming event:

“Informational Competitive Dance Meeting in the library”

There’s a lot going on in that sentence! I’ve been trying to figure out what it means, and I think I’ve got it licked. It means one of the following:

  • This is a meeting about Informational Competitive Dance (ICD). Apparently there’s a type of dancing intended to convey facts or data, and these info-dancers need to prep for an upcoming dance-off.
  • Bring your notebook AND your dancing shoes, because this dance meeting is a competitive one. Oh you’ll come out of this with some info, sure, but you’re gonna work for it, and only the best dancers receive valid information. The info might even come in the form of tap shoe Morse Code.
  • We dance at this meeting to help us cope with the fact that all the info presented clashes with other info that’s already been brought up.

Stan Lee Cameo Ideas for Upcoming Marvel Movies


Stan Lee’s cameo appearances in Marvel Movies are always fan-pleasing events. From his first appearance as a bystander in X-Men, to his latest in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which I won’t spoil since it’s still in theaters), Smilin’ Stan has shown a lot of range.

So what’s next? There are still countless parts, small and large, that Stan could play. Here are a few suggestions of how Marvel might work Stan into the upcoming Marvel masterpieces.

Fantastic Four (March 2015)

Stan could appear as the Impossible Man, long-time quirky foil of the team, who shows up at the beginning of the movie to explain that the first two Fantastic Four movies were merely a bit of whimsical prankery on his part.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015)

Picture Stan borrowing Jack Colvin’s role as reporter Jack McGee from the Incredible Hulk TV series. McGee is trying to spy on the Avengers in order to get the scoop on Banner and produce an exposé on the Hulk. Hawkeye puts a stop to it in no time, with a little thing called an arrow to the camera lens.

Ant-Man (July 2015)

The tiny hero’s first big challenge is Stan the Exterminator (working for Excelsior Extermination, of course). Stan is just trying to do his job and cleanse the place of pests, but all he gets for his trouble is a big-time “one that got away” story.

Captain America 3 (May 2016)

Cap could meet Stan in the role of Colonel Canada, a retired superhero being honored at some big military shendig. Unless Stan wants to try an accent, and play Major Mexico. (Do you realize Stan was Cap’s age during World War II? If Cap were real, they would have been contemporaries, and Stan didn’t have the luxury of sleeping through most of the years between then and now!)

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 2016)

Stan might appear as one of Mystique’s disguise forms. Or Professor X’s father (Professor W?). Or a wheelchair repairman.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (June 2016)

We don’t know the villain(s) of the next Spider-Man movie yet, but we do know this: Stan’s librarian character should return ASAP. Instead of showing the school library get destroyed again, maybe this time Stan can give Peter a book that helps him save the day. (Perhaps a book about illusions or hypnosis to help him beat Mysterio? Please? I miss Mysterio!)

Batman vs. Superman (May 2016)

Yeah, I know this isn’t a Marvel movie, but that hasn’t stopped Stan the Man himself from dreaming about a cameo in Batman vs. Superman. How about Stan as Alfred the butler? Hey, go big or go home!

What if “The Flash” Was Written by Runners?


There’s a new Flash TV series coming this year! I’m pretty excited about that, ‘cause I’m a major Flash fan.

Having said that, I think there’s one thing that the writers of Flash comics and TV appearances have always ignored about him.

He’s a runner!

The Flash can run across the country in seconds. He’s fast enough to defy gravity by running straight up walls and across water. He and Superman raced for a charity…if that’s not a modern-day runner I don’t know what is!

But–aside from the running–Flash doesn’t really behave like a runner. I happen to be a runner myself. (A slow one. Probably slower than Barry was pre-lightning bolt.) So I have a few ideas for how the Flash’s writers could fix that.

The Flash Wears Boots

Really? Who wears running boots? The Fastest Man Alive is in desperate need of some foot support! Does he over-pronate? Does he need a stability shoe? The man needs to get his stride analyzed by some super-physical-trainer and start wearing footwear that will better protect those superhuman feet.

He probably also needs to replace them every day, considering the mileage he must put in. Might be a good idea for Barry to get an endorsement deal.

Stretching: Not Just For the Elongated Man

We see the Flash running fast. We see him run on clouds and dodge bullets. We even see him vibrate his molecules through solid matter. But do we see any panels showing him performing a set of stretches after a strenuous run? No we do not.

Look, Barry, I get it. You just finished tag-teaming Hector Hammond in Coast City with your pal Green Lantern, and now you have to hoof it across the states back to Central City so Iris doesn’t bitch at you for being late to a dinner date. But if you don’t take the time to care for your muscles and tendons and all that other gooey stuff we stretch, who will save Iris from Mirror Master when achilles tendinitis rears its ugly head? Hmm? Who??? Nobody, that’s who. (Except maybe Kid Flash, he’s like right around the corner.)

Captain Boomerang Says: Sweep the Leg!

Let’s see, what would be a great way to eliminate the Flash? Freeze him with a cold gun? Trap him in a mirror dimension? Tie him to a giant boomerang and shoot him into the heavens?

Nope. Just whack him in the legs. Flash needs to protect those drumsticks like Dr. Fate protects his pretty, pretty face. I mean, if the Martian Manhunter’s vulnerability is to fire, then the Flash’s should be crippling knee pain.

Best Time For a Crime Spree: Taper Week

Just because a guy can run faster than the speed of sound (or light, in some storylines) doesn’t mean all those miles of feet hitting pavement wouldn’t take its toll. If the Flash wants to be ready for the next world-smashing disaster, he needs to be smart and take some time off from running now and then, just like experienced runners do before a marathon when they taper off before a big event.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what ol’ Lightning Boots’s Rogues Gallery wants to happen. What perfect fodder for storytelling…maybe the Rogues feel Flash out by committing a test crime and then seeing if he breaks off pursuit after only a fraction of his normal mileage. Or perhaps the Flash works with Oracle to calculate a training plan that’s harder for villains to predict than how long the comic has to go before its next reboot.

Maybe he’d simply work up a crime coverage plan with the other speedsters, so at least one of them is resting while the others are fighting supersonic crime. After all, between the Flash, Kid Flash, Golden Age Flash, Impulse, Johnny Quick, and Max Mercury, I’m sure they’ve got enough participants for a relay team.

Advice From Rocket Red: Don’t Forget Fuel

In the boring ol’ real world, runners need to take in water frequently and more substantial nutrition as running length increases beyond a few miles. (We don’t wear those bandoliers of water bottles and gel packs just to look sexy.)

The Flash could at least give a nod to this idea by having areas of his costume accommodate the storage of water and gooey fuel. In some comics and the first Flash TV series, the Flash often wolfed down tons of food to illustrate that he had a high metabolism. This is crazy, and a first class recipe for giving Barry a case of the Super Runner’s Trots. Barry, just take your nasty gel like the rest of us do.

Fallen Arch Enemies

The Flash has a colorful collection of enemies, his Rogues Gallery. There’s the guy who throws boomerangs, the guy who blows a flute, the evil mirror specialist, the magician from the future, the dude with the heat gun, the other dude with the cold gun, the guy who runs really fast (and is also from the future), and the super-smart ape. Now, what do they all have in common?


What the Flash needs is some adversaries who can take advantage of his particular weaknesses. I’m just spitballing here, but how about The I.T. Bandit, always scheming to bring the Flash’s legs out of balance? Or Captain Caltrops, who tries to stymie our fleet-footed friend with his collection of tiny spiky speed bumps. Flash’s existing enemy, Heat Wave, would be smart to team up with a new baddie such as The Humidity Hellion, because their double whammy would leave flash wishing he were on his cosmic treadmill in his basement rather than fighting crime in the great outdoors.