This year was my first time attending the celebration of Gary Gygax’s life , Gary Con IX, located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I had some hesitation in bringing my hippy games into the lair of AD&D but I had heard such great things about the community that I really wanted to give it a try. I will say that if you are an old school TSR fan this is going to be like heaven to you. I’m not that person but I had a really fantastic time this weekend.

It was the best I’ve ever been treated as a GM. That started with an email the week before the con that included all of the information that I would need to get my game sheets, basic polices, and dealing with tickets. The cart that brought free snacks and drinks around to the GMs also collected tickets and game sheets to save us a trip downstairs. Several staff members thanked me for running games and how important is was to the convention. I felt appreciated even after I showed up to run my games. Every other con that I’ve ever been to could learn at least a little from them.

I had some really exceptional players over my games and I am thankful for each and every one of them. It was a weekend filled with awesome guys named Brian. I have 100% success rate (3 out of 3!) with Brians. All of my games were fun but Tick, Tock, Dead was a perfect storm of a story that I love and excellent players. Both Brians were a joy to have at the table. Lene brought great ideas and tackled problems in a refreshing way. Jim, who played in two of my games, was a fantastic moral compass for the police team in Tick Tock. The gentleman that played Dakota was fantastic as well. Shout out to Thaddeus who I sat with in a couple of other people’s games.

Will I be back next year? I’m not really sure at this point. If I return it will be for the fantastic people that I interacted with there. While no one was rude or disparaging at any time I felt like an outsider all weekend. That is fully appropriate because I came to the heart of dungeon crawls with a time travel police drama. I’m trapped between wanting running subversive games at a celebration for a man that helped change the way that we play pretend and wanting to be in a convention mostly filled with others running the gaming equivalent of punk rock games. Either way I’m really glad that I took the leap.

6 Responses

  1. This was my first GaryCon, too. I had a great time, but it was exhausting. Like you, I’m not sure whether I’ll go back. The room where I played 6 of the 7 games over the long weekend got REALLY loud, and it was nearly impossible to communicate with the game master and other players.

    1. I experienced that same problem at at least one of my tables. I’m naturally loud when I run games so when people are have trouble hearing me you know that it’s extremely loud.

  2. Cameron and I have always been fascinated by Gary Con, but ultimately our resources are small and these double as family vacations. GenCon is by far the most family friendly convention we’ve ever attended, my sense of GaryCon is that it’s not exactly a place we should show up to with two kids under 5 in tow.

    1. You would actually be surprised. While the little ones wouldn’t be welcome at the table you could definitely bring them along and have fun. The resort that located at has a giant pool, child care, and there is a waterpark at the other hotel on the property. There were tons of families while I was there. There were tons of people drinking too, including at the game tables, which is a deal breaker for me and kiddos but I recognize that I’m in the minority on that one.

  3. Wow, I’m coming to this post of yours pretty late and a little sad. After checking to see if you’re running any games at Garycon this year, and not finding your name anywhere, I did a search and found your site and this post. I understand your reservations – Lene and I love Garycon, but aren’t particularly into traditional dungeon crawls – but, man… come run more punk rock games! We loved, LOVED, Tick, Tock, Dead! Honestly, it felt like a master class in RPGing, and was, by far, the one we discussed between ourselves the most, and talked up to other people later. So, you’ve got fans at Garycon… if you decide to do one again sometime, you’ll have a hard time keeping us away from your table.

    And if not… I notice you haven’t GM’d in Illinois yet. Ever come through the Chicago area?

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you had a good time at the game, Brian! I do really love Garycon but this year I was invited to be a guest at Breakout Con in Toronto, also in March, and I just couldn’t swing both. I would love to come to Chicago and run some games! Which convention should I add to the list? Give my best to Lene and I hope we all get to share a table again in the future.

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