GenCon 2003


"Four Winds and the Nerds Between Them"

Ah GenCon, that place where women dress in pinching chain mail and people can spend hundreds of dollars in one sweeping visit to the AEG booth.  It is a trip that I have come to take each year, and this year, of course, was no exception.  What follows is a brief retelling of some of my adventure, including observations on gamers (or mankind) as a whole...well, more like a part...

Despite his attempt to kill me here, ShoSho (Brent Keith) is my hero.  Why?  Because those Ratling Wind cards didn't cut themselves, people, and before he revealed this, all I had was some scissor in pocket-knife size.  ShoSho was handling Warlord this year, so he was always passing by.  It isn't GenCon without him.

For me, discussing GenCon begins and ends at one place: The Challenge Booth.  Any L5R player who has been to GenCon probably has seen it: a place where storyline prizes are have forced Crab against Crane, Scorpion against Lion, and, most recently, Ratling against Ratling and Unicorn against Shadowlands.  While the rest of L5R gamers were participating in the Qualifiers, Bayushi James and I were on station, serving our less-than-tyrannical overlord, Daidoji Gisei (whom I have no picture of, despite the fact that she shared our hotel room).  Between the games, a lot of money was brought in due to Yogo Ono's awesome Ratling Winds, and of course, the Box Can of Greed (but I'll let James explain that).  We were even invited to grab some of AEG's food while we hung about; now that's what I'm talking about!  Not that that stopped the three of us from showing a great Italian place a few blocks away that three gamers who have worked for twelve hours trump two pounds of pasta in about four minutes (if you're ever in Indy and hungry, look this place up.  They rule.).

But GenCon is more than L5R; it's a gamer's mecca, and you see all kinds of things.  The Indianapolis Convention Center is a huge, awesome building...and it was overrun faster than a Crane Province facing a Gohei blitz.  When we managed to snag some free moments, exploring was the name of the game, and with a list full of stuff, we set out in search of swag.  Even in a huge sales room (much bigger than the classic one in Milwaukee, I believe) I managed to locate AEG quickly, and proceeded to dump several hundred dollars into their hands to secure my Winds of Change.  Add to that some Tri-Stat roleplaying stuff and a lot of Middle Earth: The Wizards, and I was doing good (though I still got no Anduril, Flame of the West card...sniff).

A giant Pikachu roamed the sales floor, terrorizing all that passed its way.  We avoided the thing as best we could, but we knew that none would believe our tale.  At great risk to life and limb, this picture was snapped.

Every time we felt tired or pained at being at the Challenge Booth this always put things into perspective: you have no real cause for complaint if you're not dressed as a large electric rat.

Now I don't want you to think that GenCon is about buying stuff...because it isn't.  Origins, now that's about buying stuff.  GenCon wouldn't be GenCon without all of the cool people that I get to see.  Naturally, there's Gisei, who was nice enough to share a room with us, and added James and I to the list of "People Whom She Could Be Mother Of."  Add to that the late arrival of Jeanne and Shannon Kalvar (Kakita Kaori and Toshiki, respectively, and may I say this picture doesn't do Kaori justice) and the Crane were well spoken for.  Jeanne brought beautiful silk flowers for the clan champions in the tournament, and even improvised some of her famous haiku in one night!


Togashi Tenryuu (Jesse Cox) is a good pal of mine, and, unlike me, he actually looks like a samurai.  Would you mess with someone like this?  Despite the high Intimidation score, Jesse is always really nice; he even let us borrow his copy of Dynasty Tactics in thanks for me showing him the world of Dynasty Warriors 4.

Jesse did well in the tournament, going 5-3.  He was a little dissapointed, but he's improved from last year.  Next GenCon, you had better watch out for this guy...though I'll never worry, because I remember how that Kwanchai duel ended, Jesse...












But wait, there's more!  So much more, actually.  One of the heights of the trip was getting to meet some of the people who share Gisei's writing group, Ricepaper (whom you have heard mentioned before around Kyuden Ryu).  I didn't take any pictures of them, but needless to say getting to hang around with such gifted people (some who had come from as far as England to play) was a lot of fun.  That's what GenCon is about, and that's why it rules: because for once, no computers, no e-mail, just a chance to say hello in person.  Kinda scary, really, but lots of fun too.

Speaking of getting recognized, even I got noticed once or twice (which was flattering, since people said nice things about Swordmaster and The Gozoku).  This guy was the best, and, unfortunately, I forgot his name.  He's passing by the Booth, stops, looks at me once or twice...I'm thinking he's mistaken me for someone else.

Than he says, "Oh cool, can I get your autograph?"

I didn't even know I had an autograph.  But he pulls a Kakita Yariga (a personal favorite of mine) from his deck and has me write in "Koshin."  Then I signed it both in real and Kyuden Ryu name.  That's why this picture is here...for proof. :)





It seems that Shimekiri (the infamous Troy Graham) has never forgotten that little scuffle in Swordmaster.  Though he claims to be lazy, he's also one of my favorite artists around, and he claimed to be working on a Koshin sketch (which, of course, will no doubt remind me that I suck).  I got a chance to discuss some things with Troy and show him a Shimekiri that I've been working on recently...

Hopefully you'll see both his work and mine soon...though he's painting houses, I'm told, and I'm working hard too (end mandatory artist escape clause).

Is it just me, or does Troy look way too cool to be hanging out with the likes of gamers?  If I had seen him a few year ago, the impulse would have been to hand over my lunch money. :)

When the final games rolled around for the Challenge Booth, Gisei proved that she is the nicest person in the Empire.  At the table, she told us, "There are six chairs.  Two are for Rich and Shawn.  Two are for the players.  And the other two are for you two."

That's right.  Thanks to her, Kyuden Ryu was front and center for the Challenge Booth finals.  It was great to see two drastically different games: Matt Demand (the Ratling Warlord) and Roger G-S (trust me, I would butcher his last name) played to a prepared tire, using a Show of Good Faith + Loyalty Renewed to end conflict between the Stained Paw and the Tattered Ear before chasing Shahai off with an Ambush.  The finals between the Unicorn and the Shadowlands, however, had no such alliance: they went right for each other in a very fast game, with the Unicorn honoring out and saving Moto Tsume's soul.

Though he had been fairly evasive all weekend, Shawn Carmen couldn't hide form us, just across from the table (and, apparently, he didn't try).  He also did the reading of some of the fiction for Diamond Edition earlier, so we were just glad he was still talking to gamers after all of that.

Shawn swears Rich Wulf faked an illness at the Diamond Discussion, just so people could hear Shawn's accent.  Given what we know about the terror that is Rich Wulf, I would probably buy into that theory.  Not that we really noticed: I think that the Diamond Edition thing was like a dream, because I remember the words Doji Reju, Kharmic Strike, and even Toshimoko Experienced...

It had to be a dream, of course. :)

I'm feeling good about Diamond Edition with this guy hanging around.  I'm a little worried about the mysterious individual positioned behind him, though...



And then there's this blurred individual, Rich Wulf himself.  People know that I'm not Gold edition's biggest fan, but let it not be said that I don't think Rich is heading in the right direction with Diamond Edition.  His answer to the controversial Carmen Accent question was worthy of the man who had played Hantei Naseru at the LARP the night before...

Kakita Brent: So Rich, were you really sick, or did you just want to make fun of Shawn's accent?

Rich Wulf (without hesitation): Both. 

Shawn Carmen: ...........

Good luck with Diamond, Rich.  But no more of this "Winds" stuff, OK?


So that's that, folks.  The Four Winds Saga is over (huzzah and hooray, hip hip and all!) and it ended with quiet a show.  Diamond Edition looks like I will no longer be a leper for sticking with my tried and true Kakita Dueling Academy, and maybe I'll even start liking that Doji Kurohito.  But for now, my mission is clear: to give people the gifts that they requested, and also to sort the swag!  Good night! - KB