[ORIGINS 2018 SERIES] Conventions are about people.

Conventions are about the people for me.

Maybe it's the person I meet in line that tells me about their cosplay, or it's the person I met in a random booth on the vendor floor who shares their Easy Roller Dice tray with me that I immediately NEED to have.  Seriously they're beautiful.

When we originally planned our trip to Origins we had a few goals:

  • Try some games out
  • Meet some influencers and creators in the gaming community
  • Generally enjoy a non-LARP-centric vacation.
  • Find some fun places for dinner/lunch (I'm a self-proclaimed foodie)

We were far more successful in our endeavor to meet people and get connected than either of us could have imagined.

We had the chance to meet and learn more about the amazing people behind so many brands and games that we were blown away.  While we will be covering this in more depth in future pieces, I wanted to at a high level share some of that experience.

Catalyst Shadowrun Demo Team (Shadowrun)

It takes a lot of planning and fortitude to run a ballroom full of tables.  This team frankly made it look easy. The Catalyst Demo Team makes a concerted effort to make sure that no gamer goes unseated.  Every person who shows up with a generic token is given a place at a table so long as there's a GM to accommodate them and there’s a genuine air of community and camaraderie between the table GMs, these are not people who just show up for a shift or two, these are dedicated and well trained storytellers who show up exclusively to show people a good time - and it shows.

The Demo team being playful and fun as always!

The Demo team being playful and fun as always!

I’ve been to a lot of conventions where the storyteller is a one person show, but that’s not the case for Catalyst, many of their GMs have been doing this for over 5 years, and Catalyst actually takes care to show that dedication in the “uniforms” and patches their team members spot.  We were really impressed with the sense of community that these guys shared, so much so we’ll be touching on it in another piece.

Steve Jackson (Munchkin, Illuminati, GURPS, Ogre)

The constant crowd at the Steve Jackson Games area.

The constant crowd at the Steve Jackson Games area.

I’m a huge GURPS, Munchkin, and Illuminati fangirl.  We got to sit down the the man behind those games, and enjoy his company briefly before he was whisked off to a signing.  Steve Jackson Games has put out their own customizable card game this year at Origins in the Munchkin universe.

Steve was gracious and we appreciated him taking the time to chat with us, despite his very busy schedule.  The Steve Jackson Games room was constantly abuzz with people, and there was a true sense of excitement and buzz about the new game.

You can check it out here.

John Wick (Legend of the Five Rings, 7th Sea, Houses of the Blooded)

John and Ray.  John is a genuine and thoughtful person and it was a pleasure to catch up!

John and Ray.  John is a genuine and thoughtful person and it was a pleasure to catch up!

John Wick has been a visionary in the gaming community for years.  I had the pleasure of meeting him back in 2008 at NeonCon in Las Vegas when I was the Marketing Manager and one of the VIP handlers.  I’ll be doing a longer piece on him, but for those not familiar with his work, John has always been a supporter of pushing the envelope in terms of storytelling and being socially conscious in his endeavors.

John is a passionate storyteller who was ahead of his time 10 years ago, and if you've had the pleasure of trying out one of his systems you know that they favor the cinematic and lend themselves well to LARPs as well as table tops.

We got to sit down with him for a few hours at Origins and learn how his wildly successful Kickstarter has influenced him, and what his thoughts are on the future of gaming.  We also got an unexpected preview of his newest pet project - XXX Galaxy.

We'll be covering more of our amazing experience and interview with him, but be sure to check his projects out here.

Ryan let me take some fun headshots of him.

Ryan let me take some fun headshots of him.

Ryan Macklin (Dresden Files RPG, Fate, Mythender)

Ryan Macklin may as well be the Hunter S. Thompson of indie game development.  He was a pioneer in the podcasting space, the indie game publishing space, and was nerd cool before anyone really knew what nerd cool was.  Like John Wick, I got to meet him back in 2008 and have had the pleasure of following his career including his newest pet project - Katanas and Trenchcoats.

We got to enjoy his company for a few hours at Origins, and he's a constant pleasure to chat with.  We'll be doing a larger piece on him, but if you've not had the chance to check out his work,


Chris Perkins (Dungeons and Dragons)

I'm a giant nerd. Look at how happy I am here. Dork.

I'm a giant nerd. Look at how happy I am here. Dork.

We managed to get into a panel with none other than Chris Perkins, Line developer for D&D 5th Edition. Ray got his player’s handbook signed and I didn’t (I'd left mine at the AirBNB that morning).  I’m salty about it. [insert post con pic of ray with the PBH looking happy]   He was incredibly approachable, and spoke for a whole hour in a humid ballroom about his journey with Wizards of the Coast, and his background.  For someone who had a serious hand in the revitalization of D&D, he was incredibly humble and gracious.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to watch him on Dice, Camera, Action or run Acquisitions Inc. at PAX Prime, he’s far more than just a line developer, he’s helped change the face of Dungeons and Dragons.  He’s also a huge fan of beholders.  He's actually great to follow on Twitter.

Ken St. Andre (Tunnels and Trolls)

I learned a salute from Ken when we caught up with him!

I learned a salute from Ken when we caught up with him!

This year, Origins recognized Ken St. Andre by welcoming him into the Origins Hall of Fame.  His influence in the table top community may not be so much known, as it is felt in every corner of our hobby.  From coining the title Dungeon Master, to being the first person to implement saving rolls, he holds the privilege of having published the second tabletop game ever, Tunnels and Trolls.

John Wick introduced us Saturday night while we were out and about on our way to meet Rudy Rutenberg of Maze Arcana.  Ken was just the kindest gentleman with his cowboy hat and constant smile. Humble, gracious, and a true gentleman is was a privilege to meet someone who has helped shape the lexicon of our hobby.

Jeff Stevens (DM’s Guild Adventure League Writer)

Every once in a while you meet someone who is willing to share their journey with you, not out of interest for themselves, but to help elevate everyone around them.  This was Jeff. We initially met him as part of the Down with D&D Podcast talk we attended. If you play Adventure League, you’ve probably seen something Jeff wrote.

We got to learn a lot from Jeff about what it’s like to publish on the DM’s Guild and all the moving parts that go into creating a successful (or unsuccessful) module.  We’re looking forward to doing a piece on Jeff in the future, but if you’re curious here’s some of Jeff’s work. (Jeff is pictured below)

Ruty Rutenberg (Maze Arcana)

Ruty was an inspiration to talk to, and is one of the hardest working people in the space (imho).

Ruty was an inspiration to talk to, and is one of the hardest working people in the space (imho).

We had watched the InkWell Society with great interest in its first season on Maze Arcana.  Ruty is not only the StoryTeller of the gritty Eberron set Twitch show, but he’s also the brilliant mind behind the whole channel.  Ray and I had been fans of his work, so on a total wild hair we reached out to him on Twitter and much to our delight we got to sit down with him and learn about what it’s like to be a trailblazer in the Twitch streaming universe.

Ruty was so incredible to talk to that we’re doing a whole piece on him, but in the meantime check out Maze Arcana and his other works.

Down with D&D Podcast

These guys have been podcasting for 7 years, and run an amazing podcast that is well respected in the gaming community.  They did a whole panel on podcasting which was really informative and quite educational about some of the things going on in the space right now.

They're worth a listen, check them out here.

Avonelle (Dexcon, Double Exposure, Metatopia)

Sometimes you meet people you immediatly click with.

After spending the last three years running large scale events, and fostering a very inclusive space in my local community, Wen Reischel (Wrath and Glory, several other titles, and a Colorado local) recommended Ray and I meet with Avonelle, half of the team behind Double Exposure, a group that does inclusive and thought provoking conventions that allow for creators to put their products  in front of focus groups as well as other creators.

Avonelle is an incredible voice for positive change and progress in our space.

We will be doing a full piece inspired by the conversation we had with her at Origins that focuses on what it is to give back to the community, support the community and help new creators find a space in a world that was once dominated by the "old boys."

A reflection:

Some of the writers for Adventure League and other various D&D 5th Edition books. (On the Right is Jeff Stevens who I mentioned above)

Some of the writers for Adventure League and other various D&D 5th Edition books. (On the Right is Jeff Stevens who I mentioned above)

When I was a young gamer, I dreamed of writing novels.  Other friends wanted to write their own campaign settings or systems.  We all had big dreams, but we looked at the hardcover books in front of us and it all seemed so un-achievable.  

 We could never be that person that creates those experiences for other people.

The truth is, you can.

The gaming world is filled with dreamers and doers.  These are people who have rolled up their sleeves and commit their dreams to paper making their vision a reality.  The people we met are living proof that with enough motivation, luck and some talent you can make an impact on the gaming world.

Going to Origins and meeting some of these great people was reaffirming for Ray and I in our choice to tell the story of these inspirational people.  These are the people inspiring others through their work, and we look forward to sharing their stories with you.