Tuesday, August 4, 2015

GenCon 2015, Part One

Living local to Indianapolis, I had the opportunity most of last week to travel to GenCon, self-described as "the original, longest-running, best-attended, gaming convention in the world!" Over the course of three days, I played a variety of different tabletop games, attended some writing seminars, and got to participate in several sessions of the Dungeon and Dragons Adventurers League. So all this week, I'll be blogging about my experience at GenCon this year. Today, I want to discuss my experience with the D&D Adventurers League.

Participating in the league at GenCon is fairly straightforward. You sign up for whichever sessions you are interested, pay a small fee, and roll up your character according to their guidelines, which are very close to the standard character creation rules for 5th edition. These sessions are actually run for dozens of people at a time, broken down into individual tables run by gamemasters who are paid for their time. They are also restricted to characters within certain level guidelines, and to play a character higher than level one, you need to have completed previous sessions with the wider Adventurers League organized play (although not necessary at GenCon). 

I ended up creating a Human Monk specializing in fire magic (thanks to the Human Variant that lets you take a feat at level one), and for my first session was paired with a party that was the maximum for that particular module. I basically hid in the back and used my marginal ranged abilities, especially when we found ourselves facing off against hook horrors and xorns who were part of an attempt by an elemental cult to retrieve an artifact stolen by a dwarf who we were hired to protect. In the end we defeated all the attackers, allied with the band of dwarves sent to retrieve the artifact, and closed the elemental node that the artifact opened. 

Over the next two sessions, I helped defend a village against marauding beasts, was captured by a group of racist mercenaries, and was conscripted as a gladiator to satisfy the whims of a local city. I actually ended up dead in the arena, thanks to failing my death save four times in a row (which essentially required me to lose a coin flip four times). Even worse, this was my last session of the convention, and after four hours of play, I ended up forfeiting everything I had earned in that session (although at least I did retain my now level three character).

Overall, I had a very positive experience. The organizers did a great job assigning me to a table, the gamemasters were friendly, knowledgeable, and kept the games running smoothly, and on the whole the modules were varied and interesting. Despite the fact that I ended up dead, I had a great time in the process, and I definitely intend to play more at next year's convention. I only wish my schedule allowed me to travel down to some of the game stores in my area to participate in other Adventurers League games, but sadly they only play on evenings that I am otherwise engaged.

Next time, I'll talk about my experience at the writing seminars.

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