Gen con is upon us! Some of you may already be there wishing you didn’t forget that favorite game book, some of you may be still home frantically packing that 26th set of dice into your overstuffed backpack, wondering how you are going to lug It around all weekend. Regardless of prep, we all want to enjoy the merry madness that is Gen Con with a minimum of fuss. So, in the spirit of slackers everywhere, Your friendly neighborhood Grognard is here to help you enjoy the best four days of gaming. Note: these suggestions are mostly aimed at Roleplayers, but can be broadly applied to all.
Step 1. Leave the rulebooks at home.
Unless you are just a true stickler for rules, and just can’t leave home without them, leave home without them. Most of the games at Gen Con will be have pre-generated characters and your Game Master (hopefully) will know all the rules or at the very least should be able to make an on the spot ruling for the session you are in. They are fun to have and show off, especially if they are old OOP games that haven’t seen the light of day in decades, but they are extra weight you will be lugging around ALL DAY. Consider putting them on your tablet/laptop if you must have them for a backup, but in my 30 years of con experience, if you know the rules, you don’t need to bring the rulebooks. Unless you are running a game, some dice, pencils and scratch paper should do. When packing that backpack, ask yourself: Do I really need this or am I just showing off?
Step 2. Have a Buddy System.
Indianapolis is a great town, but there will be 60-70,000 extra people in town that week. I’ll say it again. 60 to 70,000 EXTRA PEOPLE. That’s a lot of wonderful and diverse personalities, hopes and desires in one place. Everyone is there to make the best of their experience, but sometimes accidents happen. Drinks get spilled on terrain, people get knocked over by overloaded backpacks, some people lose their group in the vendor hall. Have a friend that has your mobile number and can get in touch with you from time to time to make sure you are ok. Do NOT rely on FB Messenger and other IM services as WIFI may be spotty depending on your location. Keep those lines of communication open—I’ve literally seen people waiting outside the vendor hall hoping they are at the exit their friends are coming out of hoping to rejoin the party. Also, don’t have your phone on the table during the game. Its just rude to the GM and other players. A quiet vibrate will let you know if it’s a call you need to take.
Step 3. Know where your relative position is from sustenance/waste disposal.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. There are a lot of great maps of the convention center and the hotels online, so map out ahead where food may be that’s in your price range. Plan on spending at least 30-40 minutes in line to get said food or send a runner for your group with free time. When going to your game room, mark your preferred restroom areas mentally so you know where to bolt during that 10 minute bio break.
Step 4. Be prepared-- to Have fun!
Gen Con is one of, if not THE largest, gaming conventions on the planet. There is something for everyone interested in gaming, and if you aren’t having fun, this just isn’t your lane. The con staff has a great badge/hotel package that allows GM’s to be compensated for their time they dedicate to prepping and planning games for you dice-chucking nerds. Sometimes the best of intentions can be set aside, and you may find yourself at a game with a GM that may have forgotten to pack their scenario and are trying to run it from memory, or with players that have been at it for 16 hours straight and really need to just go get a nap and a shower. Whatever happens, just make the most of it. These games are an immersive and group-contributive experience, so encourage your tablemates to play it to the hilt! If things are winding down to a crawl or the GM obviously looks hopelessly lost in their scenario, don’t be afraid to call a quick break for everyone to go refresh and get their act together. This is an experience to remember, make those memories ones you will treasure like Platinum, not cursed items you will regret.