Any good author would have seen today as foreshadowing. As much as I didn’t want it to happen, we did it to ourselves. We had Tracy and Laura Hickman’s Killer Breakfast in the morning and True Dungeon in the afternoon. Killer Breakfast is about everyone’s character dying, and True Dungeon is an event where you want to wind up with the button that says you survived. Again, we set ourselves up for that. These are to big events that I’ve known about and wanted to attend for years, so as Gen Con last year was a dream come true, so too is this year. My first Killer Breakfast, with my awesome family, and my first True Dungeon crawl with them as well.
Simply put, Hickman’s Killer Breakfast is a variety stage show in which Tracy Hickman DMs a free-form game of kill the party, all of them. He plays off the add-lib elements the players give him to expand his story in ways that bring the audience to tears of laughter. Sometimes there are songs, games, audience participation, but mostly it’s a lot of “and you die”. You live longer if you are creative, entertaining, or creatively entertainingly stupid. In the end, however, everyone dies. Even when it’s a guest appearance by people like R.A. Salvatore who dared Tracy to kill him. That’s Bob second from the left (he didn’t say I could call him Bob but I am, it’s just easier that way).
Among other celebrity guests there were some highly creative players. The show was stolen twice by smurfs, zombie smurfs (zmurfs to be exact), a Shakespearean Jedi, and Godzilla’s battle with Mothra. When I say Gozilla and Mothra, I really do mean an epic battle between the two right on stage. One of the players spoke in Japanese, to which his assistants carried banners across the stage for the translation, and then he held up his smart phone for the music and special effects that led to a guy dressed as Godzilla and a puppet Mothra. It was absolute chaos on stage for a long time.
Overall it was a great experience, and one I’ve wanted to have for a long time. If you are coming to GenCon I highly recommend getting tickets to this. It isn’t expensive, and there’s no actual breakfast, but it will be two hours well spent.
The other big attraction for me was True Dungeon. By the time we realized we were going to GenCon last year this event was already sold it. It’s one of the more expensive events and if you don’t get your tickets early you aren’t going. This is one not to miss and hopefully we will be able to do it every time we come. We decided on the puzzle path, which meant more rooms of puzzles and traps rather than combat, though we did participate in combat some. The puzzles were fun, and sometimes hard, but for the most part our party worked together to get through.
I took the wizard, because I was the most experienced between the three of us. My son took the ranger, and my wife went with a fighter. We each got a pack of ten tokens that had equipment, treasure, and magical items on them. In the end I wound up with a stack of scrolls I didn’t wind up using. I won’t give away the story or the puzzles, but I will say it’s very hands-on and immersive. It was sort of like an actual haunted house for gamers. We went from room to room, made up to look like dungeons. If there was a monster, there was actually someone dressed as the monster. If there was a puzzle it was usually something we interacted with physically. In the end, as foreshadowed by the breakfast we didn’t have with Tracy Hickman, we all died. It was definitely more than I expected, and I want that experience for anyone that is reading this and might do it themselves. I won’t ruin it for you by telling you all about it. Trust me, it’s a blast and well worth the money.
Finally, the other big highlight of my day was seeing my son get his Dragonlance book signed. I met Weis and Hickman last year and talked to them a bit. I also got a book signed that I had bought at the con. This year it was cool to see my son do the same. I was reading that book at about his age, and could only have dreamed of meeting the authors. I am so glad that he came and was able to meet them while still discovering their work. He also made me very proud by thanking them, and being very polite. I also got a book signed, my black cover collector’s edition Dragonlance Chronices that I had received as a gift a few years ago. I would have had it signed last year had I known they would be here, but I didn’t. This year I got it signed, and found out that it is worth a lot of money. Not likely that I’d ever sell it, but it’s in the ballpark of seven or eight times it’s cover value. That’s just nuts.
I also got a chance to talk to Wayne Reynolds, the artist more commonly known by his initials and signature, WAR, who does a lot of work for Magic the Gathering, and Pathfinder among others. I know him most for Pathfinder, and the artist responsible for getting me into that gaming system. I hang a lot on the detail the designers go to with the art. Let’s face it, roleplaying is all about visualization and imagination, but when they give you such amazing art as the stuff WAR put in the core book to start, it’s invaluable. I draw inspiration for my character design from the art in the books. Not since Larry Elmore have I looked at a picture in a roleplaying book and said, “I want to play that!” Flipping through the core rule book for Pathfinder I think I wanted to play everything. If you get a chance, and haven’t seen it yet, get over to his site, or the Paizo site, and check out his work. It is amazing.
It was a great day at the con. I’m sore, we all are, and tired. One more day to go but it’s a short one. I haven’t actually hit the convention floor for some serious grinding so that’s my plan tomorrow. My wife and son are doing that and a foam weapon class to make things to beat each other with. I’m hoping to land a couple of sketches and maybe pick up some art or something cool for my Sith costume. I already have the most precious gems to take home, in the signatures and stories from the authors I’ve talked to. Everything else will just be gravy on top. Happy gaming!