Gen Con 2013 Overview

As has become my custom since my return to the show in 2010, I spent about half of my Gen Con scheduled time at the Writers’ Symposium, which is a surprisingly great convention-within-a-convention. Not only does it draw big names like Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson, it has become one of those events where you recognize almost all of the other participants from other conventions. It’s only a matter of time before it’s considered “part of the circuit” by writers with no connection to gaming.

Special thanks to Marc Tassin, for scheduling me to read beside Pat Rothfuss, and eternal gratitude to those Rothfuss fans who followed me down to buy not one but all four of my Pathfinder Tales novels. You made my weekend as much with your kind words as with the purchase.

A close second to my scheduled time was signing and hanging out at the Paizo booth. I’ve been blessed three out of the past four years with a book released at Gen Con, which makes a huge difference in the number of folks stopping by for an autograph, as you’d expect. This was the first year I felt the jealous eyes of my Pathfinder Tales colleagues burning stripes down the back of my neck, though. For that reason alone, it’s probably good that I don’t have a book scheduled for next August. Howard Andrew Jones probably wouldn’t hurt me, but Chris A. Jackson is a pirate.

I did a very brief signing at the Pelgrane booth for my tiny contribution to Hillfolk. Like most booths, they aren’t really set up for half a dozen writers to sign books, and I have that kind of agoraphobia that makes me itch if I’m caught in a small space by other humans. A couple of short visits to the Privateer booth where I signed cover flats with Larry Correia, Miles Holmes, and Howard Tayler could have ended up the same way, but  they had seats and a counter in front of us, so the close quarters never triggered my flight or fight response. Plus we had a great view of the demo area with its enormous warjack and a good Coleman Stryker cosplayer posing for photos.

The “real” action at Gen Con is always at the parties, where I spent most of my time enjoying the company of people I see only once or twice a year. My favorite function there is introducing people who ought to know each other, and I had plenty of opportunities for that. And I got to meet some folks I’d worked with but never encountered in fleshspace, notably the aforementioned Privateer writers and Scott Lynch, a fellow contributor to the Tales from the Far West fiction anthology.

Scott, Howard, Lou Anders, and Saladin Ahmed, whose work I’ve admired, playtested a new game with a scenario designed and run by Howard Andrew Jones. HAJ and I had already become friends over the past few Gen Cons, but the others were all new to me, at least in person. Playing an RPG is a great way to break the ice and get some inkling of someone’s personality, albeit through the veil of their character. And it was a special treat to play a game at Gen Con, which almost never happens to me anymore. HAJ’s Nordic-inspired scenario drew from familiar legend, letting us focus on the fairly simple game mechanics.

As has become my custom, I caught the con crud early. Fortunately, it put me out of the game only for Saturday night, although the cough persists. If I still have it when I return from Worldcon, it’s time to petition my new doctor for a course of antibiotics.

I went to the show intending to say “no” to all new offers of work, but I walked away with two maybes leaning yes and one yes because the setting is right in my wheelhouse and deadline is so far away. I guess the only way to stop this happening is to cease attending conventions until my desk is completely cleared sometime in mid-2014. I’m just a boy who can’t say no, and I’ve got to accept that and work around it.

While I have no events scheduled for Worldcon, please say hello if you spot me.

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