Origins 2003: Sunday, 29 June

Reported by Neal Sofge, Super Genius, Fat Messiah Games

Good Morning

Seems like I'm never going to get a good night's sleep again in my life. Last night after the Diet Evil Games squad broke up Phil and I hung out debating the nature of reality and consciousness, as we often do. That was enlightening as usual, but did keep us up late.

For this final trip I finally have an idea of the convention center area topology, and we get to the parking lot closest to the tabletop hall after only 10 minutes and one completely illegal turn.

Dealer Room Sweep II

I've got some time this morning between saying goodbye to everyone I know and running the last Insecta Macro game at 14:00, so I head back to the dealer room for one last pass from the other direction.

This is Dead Ant Games' first release, Summer Camp. Players struggle to get the most coolness points; your hand is the bus, and the central mechanic involves laying campers out around the campfire. I didn't have time to check it out in detail, but it's vaguely reminiscent of Chez Geek and looks to be about as much fun. Their second release will be Monstrosity, a game of building monsters out of body parts and unleashing them on each other, much like the classic Golem made famous at PolyCon.

Digression: Those of you who have watched me wig out when people compare Robotanks to RoboRally or Shapeshifters to Titan are probably wondering why the hell I'm lapsing into this behavior myself. It's because when you have to talk about something after seeing it for less than 200 seconds, the easiest thing to do is draw parallels to things you already know about. I'm sure there's important differences between Dead Ant's products and the ones I'm comparing them to, and in this particular format you can instantly hit their site to make your own judgements, which is why I'm allowing myself to be lazy just this once. Besides, a company that's cool enough to put a game on the back of their catalog can probably stand up straight without my help.

Interestingly, Dead Ant appears to be one of the growing crop of third-world companies who were inspired by Cheapass, instead of us old-timers who followed on the heels of TSR, Avalon Hill, or White Wolf. Quite a legacy you've built, James!

This device is an aura camera, provided by Lynn at Violet Vortex Games and which will supposedly reveal your state of being through the color of your aura. I wish I had time to try it out, to see if my soul is really as black as everyone says.

I'm a sucker for time travel games. I've owned and/or played Time War, Time Tripper, Continuum, Timemaster, Time After Time, Time Agent, various incarnations of Dr. Who, even (ugh) Timeship. So I had to check out Time Control, by Thompson Industries. It's a boardgame for 2-4 players, with a 1 hour playing time. It pulls this off by having simultaneous no-turn activity (after all, you're all time travellers) until someone spends resources to take "time control" and finish what they were doing without interference from anyone else.

Time agents head into the enemy past and create disruptive time waves heading for their present, but unless time control is in effect you can always undo what someone's done. The trick is that you never get any more resources, so the winner is the last one standing -- run out of stuff, and a time wave will inevitably catch up to you. In fact, it already did, before you even started...

Michael J. Nickoloff, Chief Operating Officer of Third World Games, models their creepy new card game The Testimony of Jacob Hollow. Looks like all you fellow Arkham Horror fans out there might like this one. The goth babe in the background is the poster girl for Battle of the Bands, released at the last Milwaukee Gen Con.

Holistic's Rapture: The Second Coming D20 book generated surprisingly little noise at the con, possibly because it's an adaptation of an existing work, or possibly because the "angels & devils" genre is already an established old hat. Being one of those whose formative gamer years were spent in the era of fundamentalist anti-D&D ravings, I still find it hard to believe that we're able to publish stuff like this or The Book of Vile Darkness without getting serious bad press, but it seems that we've finally grown past that sort of thing. I hope.

(The sign on the right edge notes a special deal for Testament owners, who can now run games at the beginning and end of history...)

Insecta Macro #4

No one's showed up after half an hour, but I'll give them until 15:00, and then fold it up and head home. I'm too tired to keep sweeping the dealer room, though I suppose stopping by WizKids and figuring out whether Crimson Skies is worth picking up might be a good idea -- I'm almost as big a sucker for airplane games as I am for time travel.

On second thought, if players aren't here by now there's probably no hope -- Marcelo's not around to save my ass this time. So I pack it in and go to see what Phil's up to.

Dealer Room III: No Photo Zone

Phil's still Megafauning, so I hit the dealer room one last time. I'm starting to have trouble with the digital's batteries, and Phil's still got the film camera. So the rest of this report will unfortunately be in old-fashioned dull HTML.

After playing fraud games with the owner of Rogue Publishing last night, I stopped to check out their Den of Thieves and Rival Den of Thieves card games. I didn't get a chance to play, but they look like fast-playing, easy-to-learn little packets of fun.

Guild of Blades claims to be releasing an expansion to their Talisman-esque boardgame, World of Heroes & Tyrants. They also have the distinction of having carried the only product banned by convention management.

Cheapass has their new Diceland: Ogre on display, and it looks great. The best part is the huge Ogre die, appropriately dwarfing the other units.

As yet another sign of the coming gaming apocalypse, the Valar Project's Book of Erotic Fantasy finally gives D20 players a book covering "sex, love, seduction, romance, marriage and conception." I shudder to think what the book's obligatory feats and prestige classes will be, but I'm sure it will fly off the shelves when released in October. It's admittedly interesting to see plans for covering Orgone magic in a gaming context, in addition to the obvious Tantric and Kundalini stuff. The art will be completely photography-based, something we haven't seen since Archangel's Zero.

I can't resist a stop at Crazy Egor's on the way out. Paul's got a bin full of classic Traveller stuff that's apparently been water-damaged (or at least way too damp) at some point in its lifetime. I pick up copies of Annic Nova and Leviathan for original cover price to fill out the FMG Library, and then find out from Paul that the copy of the old Leading Edge Aliens game I gave away last year could have fetched up to $200 at auction. Darrell, I hope you had a good time playing it!

At around 16:00 or so, the traditional "The dealer room is now closed" announcement is made, followed by the also-traditional dealer staff cheer at having survived their 4-day ordeal yet again. The convention center workmen immediately start pulling up the carpeting, which is as good a sign as any that it's time to bug out. So I drive Phil to the airport, and then start my long journey across the green hills toward home.