The towering Ogre-Mage at the gate stared down at me, its cyan blue skin shimmering and curly fangs snapping viciously. It raised a heavy polearm, its chromed-coated blade flashing in sunset's reds and purples, as the beast inspected my badge. This was the mental image I had ahead of Gen Con.
Weather was gorgeous, and the roads were clear. Janet and I made it through Chicago, barreled through the pigtail-shaped exchange near Gary, and zoomed down I-65 straight to Indy. Hurray! This time we experienced none of the road work agony and other travel hags of the previous years. Despite the long lines of trucks notoriously populating this part of the interstate, we reached downtown Indy in less than four hours. We left the ogre running far behind us, somewhere in a haze of road dust, crushed bugs, tire particles spewed into air, and car exhaust.
We'd secured a room at the Marriott, just across the street from the convention center. Oh, bliss! We'd suffer none of last year's driving miles out of town every day. An empty spot waited for us right by the entrance of the underground parking lot and the elevator to the hotel's lobby. We got there early enough on Wednesday to avoid waiting at the check-in desk--not even a wee glitch with the reservation to besmirch our initial experience.
|1. See Illustration key at the end of the page|
“Twelfth floor, corner room at the end of the hallway, away from the elevators. Got it. Thank you so much!” It was an important consideration for anyone expecting some sleep during a game convention. The truth is that gamers will be gamers, which means gaming until very late and a lot of boisterous shenanigans in the hallways. The room was wonderful and commanded a sweeping view of Indy.
After a restful break, we were off to Loughmiller's, a pub less than a block away, to meet up with our fellow panelists of the Writers' Symposium. Now and forever known as the Fearless Leader of the bunch, Marc Tassin warmly welcomed us. Many were already there. Mugs rose as we joined the merry coven. It's always such a pleasure to see familiar faces and matching new ones with names heretofore only heard of. I've been out of the publishing industry for far too long. Time to find out who's who and toot my horn. So there. Toot, said I!
Dinner was over in what seemed a fleeting moment. Good times never last long enough. Marc passed along everyone's Gen Con badges. I commented to Janet how fortunate we were to avoid the line at the con's registration. She nodded and gently reminded me I had event tickets to pick up anyway. Curses! I'd forgotten about them. Soon, along with a small bunch in the same predicament, we departed for the convention hall.
It was Wednesday night. The lines were still there, as long and sinewy as ever. They'd grow longer yet by the morning, like the tails of monstrous dragons. Last year, the convention boasted 37,500 visitors. Based on what I found out later, the 2012 vintage would definitely meet or exceed 38,000. The lines moved swiftly, and collecting my precious tickets demanded far less time than I'd expected.
When the attendant delivered my envelope in a halo of golden light, I could hear the distant blaring of angels and their trumpets. What? No mistake? No misplaced file or pesky computer glitch? Kudos for the staff! Of course, not one Gen Con booklet lay in sight. The Gen Con gremlins took them away when no one looked. They are known to chew up massive numbers of Gen Con booklets to pad their sprawling nests, or wipe their festering boils with them.
Under the ominous gazes of those gremlins hiding in the shadows, in the air ducts, on the roof, and under the ample robes of certain wizards and sorceresses sweeping along the convention's endless hallway, we headed off to the Marriott's bar to relax some more. As if we'd needed it. Any excuse was good enough to stick around with good friends. Along came Troy Denning, another veteran from old TSR. Major group hug.
|Convention registration, alive & well.|
He and I kept on chatting until everyone else left. He told me of his new home, away from civilization, and how quiet things were. A writer's paradise. I have to contend with the neighbors and their kids. It drives me nuts when I'm in the mood to write something and it all vanishes in a poof of greenish, noxious resentment at the sound of clumsy thumping next door, ear-piercing screeches, inane babbling, doors slamming, and so on.
Add to this the evil lawn-mowers-edgers-trimmers-blowers-aerators-mucksuckers-nosepickers, the trolls across the street who leave their cars open with bad music blasting, the misbegotten bloke who stands in the middle of the street yakking on his cell-phone for all to hear, and the town's weekly tornado siren. Yes, yes, I know. I should get a sound-damping headset from the hardware store. I went on to tell Troy about my plans for Mystara. I definitely have support here. Alas, none of what was said can be related now. But it was all very, very good indeed. . . Off to get some sleep.
Click HERE to access Part II
Illustrations (guess who's behind the camera)
- Clockwise: Don Bingle in his ubiquitous Hawaiian shirt, Brad Beaulieu, Dylan Birtolo (in the back,) Marc Tassin, Kerry Hughes, John Helfers
- Janet Deaver-Pack (far left), Robin D. Laws, Don Bingle, Ken and Kelly Swails (with a big smile)
- Tammy & Paul Genesse (left), Patrick Tomlinson (in the black cap)
- From left: Maxwell's assistant, Maxwell Alexander Drake, friend of an author, W. H. Horner, Dave Gross.
- Gabrielle Harbowy, left. Dave Gross, across.
- Janet Deaver-Pack (left), Dylan Birtolo (in the white T-shirt), Elizabeth Vaughan & Maurice Broaddus (across), Jerry Gordon (far right from Maurice.)
- On the left, a gamer checks to see if he still has a pulse. On the far right, another grimly realizes he'd followed the wrong line.