Indiecon is about my favourite convention. It has a small, more intimate atmosphere than many cons and is all about the joy of playing games rather than tournaments and sales (not that there’s anything wrong with these). Indiecon is attendee organised with masses of games being played at the site and the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, learn new games and learn about the existence of new games as well as supporting indie game designers and the companies that also support them.
This was my first Indiecon as part of Chronicle City rather than attending as ‘myself’, as Postmortem Studios. In some ways this was a lot easier than previous years (I didn’t have to drag all my own stuff down there) and in other ways it was harder. While there were several of us the stand was much bigger (we had as much stuff as Leisuregames did, to give you some idea).
We did pretty well for a small con (250 or so attendees), taking home a good bit of money and running some great demos, we picked up a lot of stuff too and had some good conversations about work and play. As usual it was a great con.
That said, a few things weren’t as good as usual and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. In no way take this as criticism of the con, which continues to be more and more awesome with every year.
1. The state of the site: The lodges and chalets on site are surprisingly comfortable and warm considering that we’re there in November and often battered by wind and rain (things were pretty mild this year for once). This year the lodges were looking a bit worse for wear and felt more fragile. Interior doors wouldn’t close properly, one of the showers was a little leaky, the kitchen utensils were even more scarce and useless than usual and the deck/balcony out back was undermined and starting to collapse. In the main hall the heating was ferocious, to the point that it made me sick one of the days we were there and when the aircon was switched on it leaked, with water dripping from the ceiling. Stock – and people’s games – could have been damaged.
2. Attendance: Normally the con is oversubscribed or subscribed to capacity. This year it seemed to be down. This was in part due to more people playing in their lodges (this was a shame, but last year it was harder to get tables, so it makes sense). It was also, however, in part due to the absence of the fanatical Pathfinder players who usually attend. On the one hand it’s arguable whether Pathfinder qualifies as ‘indie’ any more and the PF players never seemed to play anything else in any slot, on the other their absence is bad news for the con’s long term attendance and viability – which would be a shame.
On the more positive side, I made the following observations on demography at the con:
1. There were a good number of ladies present. I took a head count once a day and the proportion of lady attendees in the main hall varied from approximately 1/4 to approximately 1/6. That’s pretty good and, perhaps, reflective of the type of games played, the family/child friendly nature of the site and the welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
2. There were a lot of younger players present, at least comparatively. Between some gamer-dads running Happy Birthday Robot and other games for the really young un’s and some teenagers it was a hopeful thing to see so many teens and kids around. I couldn’t get a proper headcount but it did seem that gaming has sort of ‘skipped’ a decade or two. There’s a lot of older players and then it seems to be their kids – and their friends – that are making up the new generation. This gives me a lot of hope for analogue games in the future.
Numenara & Player’s Guide: Safe to buy now that MotSP is out, this is a science-fantasy game with some eminently thievable ideas – such as effort.
Broken Shield Based on the SF noir books by Gunnar Roxen. The demos were incredibly popular so this had to be worth a look. It’s also a Chronicle City product, hint hint 🙂
Iron Kingdoms: Kings, Nations and Gods: The updated setting sourcebook for Iron Kingdoms. A must buy if you like IK and a suitable replacement for the 3.5 edition versions. Mine has some ballsed up pages, but I don’t know if this is a broader printing problem.
Beat to Quarters: An immensely popular (at Indiecon at least) game that’s been present for years. Napoleonic in setting, Beat to Quarters is about naval combat while its partner game, Duty and Honour, is about troops combat. It engages at both the heroic and unit level and as such is perfect for gaming things like Sharpe or Master & Commander. It’s also eminently hackable and I’ve seen it used for Sci-Fi space battles and all manner of other things in its time. Check it out.
Fiasco: I just supposed I had better get a copy at this point…
Reign, Enchiridion: ORE system, played at the scale of nation/country/community. I’m a bit obsessed with three game concepts at the moment – cooperation, legacy, community. This was bought for research/inspiration.
Eternal Contenders: A GMless game of adventure/duelling that I found fascinating and wanted to read in detail.
FATE Accelerated: I may like this better than full-fat-FATE. Great for pick-up-and-play.
MSG: I reviewed this way back when and I wanted a physical copy since I had the opportunity.
Noteboard: A portable whiteboard. I’m not much for using minis in my RPG gaming, but for tracking initiative, sketching the lay of the land etc. This thing is great.
Misc Stuff: Bob the Diceman carries every dice you could think of and all the things you might otherwise forget too. He carries pens, pencils, packs of cards, beads, counters, dry erase markers… he’s a bloody godsend at any con he’s at and also does sales online. Support him!
The cat is Nik (short for Nikola Tesla, whom he is named after). He was not loot, but also would not move.