I went to three seminars today, and a game event. The first seminar I went to was about super-charging my marketing, and it gave me a few really solid ideas for how to get my marketing message out there and grow the business some. I mean, the business is already growing like crazy, but if I can ever put 20% growth on my resume, I will.
The second was about an e-mail program and I mostly stuck around for that because I had no idea what to do with the next hour or so. I planned lunch after that, but we ended up taking a fair bit of time with it, and I decided to check out the Wizards of the Coast seminar about making my D&D and Magic events better than they currently are. Everything they talked about equally applied to my Yu-Gi-Oh! events.
The last seminar was probably the most eye-opening for me. There was a strange, nearly adversarial tone to the whole thing, from both the point of view of the retailers and the point of view of Wizards of the Coast. When the subject of places like WalMart or Chapters sometimes selling things before street date got out, Wizards' sales head got his feathers in a bit of a rustle (and later, when I suggested letting event store sell earlier than the Big Guys, he told me that a) there's no way WalMart gets product before we do and b) they give us pre-release events and that should make us happy, right?). Other store owners complained about many of the same things I complain about on a regular basis (better internal communication at Wizards being a necessity, the opaqueness of the Judge program, etc), which gave me a pretty solid sense of community and kinship with them. I'm not the only person who thinks Wizards of the Coast needs to get its ass in better shape.
I stopped for lunch and then headed over to the advanced play-through of D&D Lair Assault, which was ridiculous fun. I played a cleric, myself, and did a passable job for a guy who sits on the comfy-chair side of the screen more often than not. The Lair Assault initiative is sort of an answer to the D&D Encounters Initiative and the Fourthcore movement started last year. The scenario I played had our group chasing down a cult of Asmodeus in some sort of fire temple. The plot was obviously unimportant, as the Game Master flew through the description and got us right into playing.
The first room had four pits of oil and some minions that lit themselves and everything in a burst one on fire with them. It was only five damage, but that set the oil alight and got us taking ten damage every time we ended our turn in the burning squares. A non-minion warlock lit most of the party on fire and scattered them into the burning pits while we tried to clear out the minions and take down their lieutenant. Clearing that room, we moved into one that was empty except for statues (that shot us with their laser eyes), and that led to a false door that burst with a solid athletics check from the slayer. We faced off against a few more minions that killed off the slayer and the wizard (by this time I was out of heals), and we wrapped up because we were over time. I'm proud to say that my party made it the furthest in the adventure out of the showing at six o'clock.
A few interesting details from this Lair Assault:
It was one encounter spread over multiple rooms with a 20-turn time limit. At level fifteen, that would make things difficult. At level five, with mediocre characters, it was easily impossible.
There were no punches pulled on the damage. The baddies weren't dealing damage in the 20s, but they were in the high tens, and the environmental hazards were seriously kicking our ass.
The DM had a card with a bunch of different possible placements for his creatures, so that players can play through a few times and still not know what's going on. There were tokens for the statues in the rooms that flipped over to reveal if they were traps or a gargoyle.
There will be absolutely no pre-generated characters for Lair Assault.
Chris Tulach congratulated my party for making it as far as we did. ^_^