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Origins Game Fair Experience (Part 1)

A quick report from the front lines of gaming…

I just wanted to shoot off a quick blog this morning of my doings at Origins Game Fair yesterday.

Of course, first I had to get down to Origins, but as luck and a little good planning would have it, was not much of a burden at all.  I managed to head off for the convention at around 4:30 am, which was ideal for avoiding rush hour traffic as I drove from Troy MI to Columbus OH.  The drive down was trouble-free, and the only major traffic I saw was when I reached Columbus itself.

But I still managed to get parked, and checked into the hotel by a little after 9:00 am in the morning.  That gave me time to get changed and head over to the convention center before 10:00.  By the way, I managed to get a great room in the Hyatt on Capitol Square, and once again I cannot recommend Priceline enough.  My advice if you ever plan on attending Origins: bid $50.00 on a 4-star hotel, for the downtown district by the convention center.   It’s a great way to get a awesome room on the cheap!

And by the way, another benefit of staying in one of the hotels downtown by the convention center is the shuttle service.  Several of the hotels arranged to have a shuttle bus drive a route from their hotels to the convention center approximately every 30 minutes from 6:00 am in the morning until 1:00 am after midnight.  So there’s no need to worry about getting over there to the convention hall, and back again, any time of the day!

Obviously, once I got to Origins, there was still the process of getting signed-in, and then signed-up for events.  The lines were pretty short, however, and it didn’t take me long to get my badge and some tickets for three of the D&D 4E RPGA Events at Origins this year.  Origins Game Fair this year was scheduled around three big 4-hour time slots, starting at 8:00am, 1:00 pm, and 7:00pm.  This makes it pretty convenient to be able to get to your game, and have a break between to check out the other activities at the convention, or grab a bite to eat, or whatever you need to do.  And there is plenty to do if you’re not in a game, from the massive exhibit hall, to an art gallery, to a variety of larping and simulation activities.  The latter comes in a wide variety from the Battletech simulation booths, for a full immersion experience, in a cockpit full of surround sound speakers.  And there’s a company called TerrorWerks, providing an opportunity to battle aliens with space marines on a starship “sound stage” with all manner of props, gadgets, and real “simulated” aliens!

But despite all these distractions, I managed to get over to the D&D 4E RPGA area with enough time to sit down and chat with one of the DM Coordinators about how things have been going at the convention.  I met with Willy Burger, who when he’s not coordinating the ConnCon gaming convention, gets out to PAX East, GenCon, Origins, and the New York Comic Con to help set up and manage the official RPGA events.  Willy has been working RPGA events for many years now, and works extensively with David Christ, who is the Chief RPGA coordinator of large conventions all over the US – as well as with volunteer coordinators like John Stanford and Yvette Brown-Losson who were manning the sign-in station while I spoke with Willy.

By the way, both Willy and John had been at PAX East just a couple months ago, and helped handle that huge and unexpected rush of 4E gamers at the expo, drafting DMs to make sure that many of them got to play!

Obviously, the situation is a bit less harried at Origins, with tickets required to get into 4E RPGA events.  And even though some of the events sell-out of standard tickets, the RPGA Staff have been trying not to turn away gamers with “generic” tickets who want a chance to play some D&D at the convention.  And with a total of eight different D&D modules, with 4-6 DMs per event, and being run in three times each day, that’s a lot of D&D action going on!

The events range from “Learn to Play” sessions to introduce new Players into the D&D experience, to everything from Heroic Tier to Paragon Tier RPGA Adventures (check back Monday for a complete listing!).   There is even another D&D 4E DM’s Challenge at Origin, with a new theme: Zombie Apocalypse!  I enjoyed playing in the DM’s Challenge at PAX East, where the theme was Underdark, and I feel fortunate to have gotten a ticket for this afternoon’s session!  I just hope my Character is up to the challenge of facing hordes of ravening undead!

Oh, and I happened to be within earshot to learn that a certain guest star at the convention and a few random lucky 4E gamers got the chance to preview a certain, as-yet-unreleased Worldwide Gameday Module last night!  I’m heading back over to see if I can get the whole scoop and find out all I can about how the preview went.  Check back Monday for all the details!

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


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