Greetings Greyhawk friends! I am back and with a quick report of my time at GaryCon XV at Lake Geneva, WI. This is my 4th time going in person, COVID notwithstanding. Last year we were still coming out of the pandemic, masks were a must, but now we’ve moved on and the con is stronger than ever. Let’s get into it…

Me and my best buddies Jayson and Eric (who I’ve gamed with for nearly 40 years) headed upstate on Wednesday evening. We rolled in too late to hit the con proper and get badges though, so we slept early. Lesson #1 for those going for the first time, the con doesn’t officially start until Thursday, but you can pick up badges the day before if you get there early. It saves some time standing in line. The weather was quite nice overall. 

On Thursday we got to our actual hotel and took the trolley to the Grand Geneva. Lesson #2 for those aspiring to go to Gary Con, pay for the gold badge because you get a week head start to get closer accommodations and sign up for games. Or you can do what a lot of my Greyhawk colleagues like Anna Meyer do, and volunteer to work the con, this will get you there early and better chance of closer hotel rooms. Anyhoo, as I am neither there to work on my vacation, nor worried about getting in exclusive games, I arrive later than normal. Kudos to all my friends who do put in the time to make Gary Con a wonderful time for all us slackers! We ran to the vendor hall for a bit, and first place I like to hit up is Black Blade Publishing and talk to Allan “Grodog” Grohe. I bought some new larger hex paper from him, so expect some wild maps from me in the coming months. (more on that later). I also got to give a shout out to this advertisement at Allan’s booth. It is Hounds of Oerth by the inimitable Carlos Lising and various authors for his latest charity effort. Be sure to go to Casl Entertainment, download Hounds of Oerth and please donate to this worthy cause.

As a side note, Gary Con had a deal worked out to screen the new D&D Movie Honor Among Thievesonce a day. I did not take part in this exclusive event, because me and the guys already had an early showing of it back home. My short move review is that it is major fun, and worthy of a sequel. I had lowered my expectations after the last movie 20 years ago, but this time they made one with some heart. I can’t wait to see it at home so I can try to hunt for movie easter eggs. Good times.

Another astounding thing about Gary Con XV was the number of celebrities keeps growing each year. This year, I either spoke to or saw Vince Vaughn, Todd Stashwick, Tom Morello, Paul White aka Big Show, and of course Joe Manganiello. Then there is all the author and artist celebs that I geek over, such as Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Margaret Weis, Zeb Cook, Darlene, and Erol Otus. I also made sure to get a picture with the legendary Ed Greenwood who has always been fun to interact with in the past and now is incredibly a regular among the Greyhawk community, often featuring on Lord Gosumba streams. I’ve been to several Gen Cons over the years and never saw this many cool celebs all at once and in such proximity. Gary Con is small and intimate, but not a place where it’s overly mobbed with people. I can’t wait to see who else shows next year!

Thursday afternoon I was fashionably late to the 2nd annual Legends & Lore stream from Gary Con. Anna, Jay Scott and myself showed off a lot of upcoming projects in the Greyhawk community. We took a wild variety of questions from the audience, many who were new to the show, but no less enthusiastic to banter about all things Greyhawk. Special shout out to Eric Menge and Roger Moore for attending and lending their expert commentary as well! At the end of the seminar, I handed out print copies of a new Sea Princes map I created for this con. It’s a partially “burned” map that one might find in a chest or on a pirate ship. Download this map at this link for the full-size version and put it to good use!

On Thursday night me and my pals got invited to a pick-up game of 5E Ravenloft ran by the amazing DM Dave from the Twitch stream Guild Superior. This game was incredible in that he hosted over ten of us through his rendition of Curse of Strahd, starting as 0-level Barovian kids, to 5th level seasoned adventurers, and fast forwarding to 9th level heroes. It was quite the concept for a one-shot adventure and those of us who hung in there until 2am fighting Strahd did not leave disappointed (no help from me as I could not roll over a 10 to save my life). 

Kudos to Dave for putting on such a good game, and a shout out to my Barovian childhood friends, Anna, Scott, Jayson, Eric, Chris, Rob, Karl, Bob, Josh, and Chad. 
Friday morning, I played some Dungeon Crawl Classics and only lost 3 out of my 4 characters! I later caught Anna Meyer and Alysa Faden’s mapping seminar. Jay as always was manning the controls so the two could regale us with their mapping projects past and present. I regret however that I didn’t catch their party with Troll Lord Games to announce the Free City of Altimira Boxed Set project. There’s just so much to do at Gary Con and so little time.
Friday evening me and my crew took part in our second Legends of Roleplaying D&D tourney. Last year we finished top 5 out of over a dozen tables, this year the theme was a return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, and well, we didn’t do so hot finishing 9th overall. I was no help in that my elven thief got blown up by explosive runes. Timed games can make you do foolish things. This brings to mind lesson #3, crowded gaming halls are LOUD. So, get there early and sit close to the GM! At any rate, congrats to the winners of this tournament, I heard after the fact there is a trophy that is being passed on each, kinda like the Stanley Cup. I was dismayed after our game, but now I’m back on the horse! 
Saturday morning started out iffy for me. Up to this point Wisconsin weather was being pleasant but then BOOM we had six inches of snow overnight! I was up early and was cleaning the car off like I was in a hurry to get to work or something. Luckily my friends didn’t panic like me, and we stayed long enough to see it melt down later that afternoon as we finished with a game of Mutant Crawl Classic by Goodman Games. Fun stuff, it reminds me of old school Gamma World. That was all we had scheduled for Gary Con however since we planned to leave afterward. We made one more run through the con, dealer room and halls, then the most important thing before heading back to Illinois, we got Wisconsin cheese! Accept no substitutes. So yes, I missed a good 1.5 days of convention time, but really it was the best con I ever attended. I did everything I set out to do. There were so many people I met from streams and the community, and I got to game with so many people for the first time. If I missed anyone, I will catch you in 2024!

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