4th Edition D&D designer Logan Bonner shares his Gen Con memories with us in our “My First Gen Con” series of guest posts. Logan will be leading Open Design’s newest project, The Lost City. Tell us the story of your own first Gen Con (even if this upcoming one is your first) in our My First Gen Con contest!
I went to my first Gen Con the year after I started playing D&D. For most of my peers, this would have meant going in the early-mid Eighties, but for me it was 2004. (One of my dirty secrets is that I’m pretty new to RPGs.)
But I went through a rapid succession of steps into the larger world of gaming. I jumped into a game with Tom Elliott, a college friend, who was just starting a gaming club. Come next August, we were borrowing a van and heading from western Kansas to Indianapolis. Six of us made the trip: Tom DM’ed while he drove, running us through a short freeform adventure in which we all played monsters.
When we hit the con, it was pretty damn exciting. A bunch of new stuff I was interested in dropped that year: Paranoia XP and GURPS 4th Edition were set to debut, and I’d already torn through Eberron. I spent most of my time in the dealers’ hall and at seminars, checking out new games and getting advice about game design. I met Gen Con staple Col. Lou Zocchi and got my first Gamescience dice (so even though I came late to the party, I still got the experience of coloring in the numbers on a set of dice). Out of curiosity, I nabbed the game books from the red box to look over and run later.
D&D had its 35th anniversary party, so we got to see a mind flayer in Nikes and an overheated umber hulk wandering about promoting it. We picked up our free giant turkey legs, t-shirts, tote bags, and cups, and met the Dead Gentlemen who were pitching the first The Gamers movie. The biggest D&D highlight for me was the Eberron seminar, where I could see the enthusiasm that James Wyatt and Keith Baker brought to the project. Afterwards, I stopped by the autograph booth where they sat with Kim Mohan.
Having left my Eberron Campaign Setting book at home, I had them sign some “Hi, My Name Is” badges I had handy (a DMing tool to help players learn character names better). They were only somewhat suspicious that I might be stealing their identities. I’ve since had the great pleasure of working with both Kim and James (which was definitely surreal at first). Hopefully I’ll find a good project to work with Keith on someday to complete the set.
After those few incredible days, we jumped back in the van for a fast trip back, leaving a total mess in our hotel room (we tipped well) and carrying the tools to bring Gen Con back to the rest of our gaming friends. There’s nothing like going to Gen Con to remind you why you’re a gamer, and just how much there is out there to see.
Logan Bonner has worked on 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons since before its release, initially at Wizards of the Coast and now as a freelancer. His contributions to the game include the new version of the bard, divine domains, the swordmage class, and familiars. He served as lead designer on Arcane Power, and his work appears in Player’s Handbook, Adventurer’s Vault 2, Monster Vault, and the primary books for the Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun settings. His adventure credits include The Slaying Stone and P1: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. Check out Logan’s blog, and follow him on Twitter.