Last year, defying all our own expectations, the first annual North Texas RPG Con was announced in February for that summer as a three day celebration of old school gaming. By June we had 60+ people signed up and a full fledged mini-con in session, with special guests including Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Paul Jaquays, Rob Kuntz, Dennis Sustare and artist Jason Braun. The point of the con was to prove we could get several dozen fans of old school D&D at a con featuring just old school gaming, and it worked. Over 50 attendees showed up for 14 events including OD&D, AD&D 1st Edition, Basic D&D, and Matt Finch's Sword and Wizardry. Attendees came from all over the world (the US plus Canada and the UK) and all events were completely booked up! (I had earlier predicted we MIGHT see a couple dozen gamers there!) Some of the highlights included releases of NTRPG Con logo versions of Goodman Game's Tomb of the Blind God, and the 1E version of DCC9 The Secret of Smuggler's Cove NTRPG version by Black Blade Publishing, a giant BBQ at co-founder Doug Rhea's house (Fresh meat for 50 people!), a tour of the Reaper Miniature's factory (thanks Gus!), and unbelievable support from the entire OSR and gaming community with treasure chests full of donated items including minis, modules, gamebooks, and more (all put in the raffle to offset costs). We lost a ton of money, but we proved it could be done, and I can safely say it was the highlight of my decade.
Where did we go from there? Having realized a small but loyal group of old school gamers would support a mini-con if properly run and promoted, we almost immediately started planning a bigger and better con for 2010. We quickly confirmed most of last year's guests and added Jim Ward and Steve Winters, two veterans of game design from the old days of TSR. We found a much larger and nicer venue (Staybridge Suites, with FIVE gaming rooms instead of the ONE gaming room we had to cram everyone in last year!). We planned more games, with another day on the schedule (Thursday) for 30+ events total (in contrast to last year's 14 events). We will have seminars and discussions in a lecture room at the hotel (the first scheduled is a seminar on module design featuring The Megadungeon). We have prevailed upon several new faces in the retro-clone, simulacrum and old school gaming industry to show up and run games, including Matt Finch (Swords & Wizardry http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/), Jon Hershberger and Allan Grohe (Black Blade Publishing http://black-blade-publishing.com/), Michael "Chgowiz" Shorten (Three Headed Monster Games http://thmgames.blogspot.com/), Richard McBain (Castles and Crusades http://www.trolllord.com/), Bill Barsh (Pacesetter Games http://pacesettergames.com/home), and many more. We basically pulled out all the stops to make this year's version of NTRPG Con even more like a "real" con and an essential stop for gaming grognards across the nation!
And we did this all before February of THIS year! Ahead of schedule, baby!
With registration for games opening February 1st this year, we are expecting double or triple the amount of attendees from last year, and look forward to once again spreading the word about classic RPGs to both the enlightened and the masses. On the first weekend in June 2010(the 3rd-6th) we hope to see anyone interested in old school gaming (particularly Dungeons and Dragons) in attendance at our hotel in Irving, Texas, reading to roll some polyhedral dice! This year not only includes the mixtures of old school games we had last year, many run by veterans of the scene, but other diversions:
Vendor Tables where OSR publishers will peddle their wares;
Open gaming room with lots of board games both donated and brought by attendees;
Tim Kask running two sessions of the chariot racing game "Circus Maximus";
Another raffle with some amazing prizes donated by the gaming community (including a Dragon Magazine #1, a copy of the hard to find Castle Zagyg, and a painted mini by renowned artist Angela Imrie);
An auction of several items both unusual and rare;
Several "themed" games, including Matt "Mythmere" Finch's SIX PART "Tower of Mythrus" Megadungeon scheduled to run once in every session, and Jon Hershberger's all-day Sunday (8 hour) game of Megadungeon exploration;
A surprise announcement that should take the old school publishing industry by storm;
And much more, etc etc. Besides Garycon, there exists few outlets for gamers who want to go to gaming conventions and not have to wade through many events involving cards, furries, Battletech minis, and the latest abomination from WOTC to get to a game they know and love. Here is a convention with ONLY the games you know and love! When a con is properly set up, each session you miss should drive you nuts, and this weekend surely delivers in this department.
The best part IMO is the low key atmosphere of the con, where you can suddenly find yourself sitting in a 3 hour conversation between game designers Paul Jaquays (Dark Tower, Caverns of Thracia) and Dennis Sustare (Bunnies and Burrows) in the hotel lobby, or having a 1 am meal at IHOP next to Frank Mentzer (TSR) and Tim Kask (Dragon magazine editor), both of which I was lucky enough to participate in last year. We did a great job of finding special guests with a historical overview of the hobby who are approachable, funny, and above all still interested in talking about their years in gaming with anyone interested.
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