Or, Things I Bought and People I Want to Buy From
I spent most of today gathering together business cards from the various companies that interested me. I didn't go to any events (Sunday is a half-day, and I was more interested in finding deals in the Exhibit Hall anyway). The cards I gathered together are these:
Gamescience: These are the guys I was most interested in getting business information from. They make dice that I haven't seen from any other manufacturer, and their "normal" dice are precision-cut perfection.
Tiffany Wiggs: I sort of picked this card up by happy accident. I was standing at another dealer booth and saw a young lady holding a woven, albino beholder and asked her where she had purchased it. Turns out her mother makes them, and her daughter passed me one of her cards. She doesn't go through any distributors or anything yet, but I'm going to see what I can do to get some woven, stuffed dragons and beholders in the store.
Crystal Commerce: These guys sell a point-of-sale system that does basically everything we wish our point-of-sale system could do. I asked a lot of questions. They gave me a lot of answers that I really liked. Most importantly, it will work on any number of computers and on my ipad at the same time. *glee!*
Dragon Pets: Holly bought a small, posable dragon from these folks, and they are very, very cute. Again, they don't have a Canadian distribution arm, but we may still order a selection of them in. Some come with armor. And helmets!
Medieval Collectibles: This was a card that also came with a catalogue for quality LARP materials, both costuming and boffer weapons. LARP seems to be growing in Edmonton, and I think there is always a market available for foam weapons with which young people may hit one another. As a whole, Warp has shied away from LARP (it takes up a lot of space, and the gear doesn't tend to sell as well as, say, books), but with the growing interest, both in the store and in the city, it's probably a good idea for us to start looking into it as a viable expansion market.
Hirst Arts: There were a couple of people I was looking at buying things from in the direction of 3D terrain. In the end, I decided I wanted to go with Hirst Arts, because they don't sell terrain at all, the sell the moulds to MAKE terrain. They have some beautiful rubber moulds that you can fill with plaster of paris and make some fantastic 3D terrain for role-playing games, miniature war games, what have you.
Geek Chic: If you haven't seen the tables these guys make, you're missing out. I mean, sure, they're costed similar to gently-used BMWs, but they're worth it. Seeing the tables in person has made me rearrange my expectations of which table I'd like to have in my home (the Sultan was actually just the size of my living room), but I would absolutely love to work with these guys and get some custom play space built for the store. Card tables that convert to role-playing tables that convert to miniature war game tables would be a hell of a thing for us, especially if the conversion were _easy_.
Q-Workshop: When I buy dice, I do it in three ways. I buy a pound of them (you can buy them at the store! while supplies last!) or I buy semi-precious stones (like the limited-edition 16mm bone dice I picked up at the convention) or I buy Q-Workshop. The last way has been, traditionally, the hardest. Q-Workshop is located somewhere in Europe, and their dice are of a much higher quality than most. While not as precise as the dice at Gamescience, they tend to be much, much prettier, with runes and elven script or pictures carved into the faces. I bought three sets of Q-Workshop dice while I was at GenCon, two for myself and one for Holly. They were well worth it. According to the good folk at GenCon, Q-Workshop has been working with one of my bigger distributors to get their dice into Canada, so I hope to have a much larger selection of them in the store very soon. They are more expensive than Chessex or Koplow, but if you like your dice pretty, they are well worth it.
Serious Pixie: This woman is amazing. She's one of the driving forces behind Heroes of Hesiod, and did a bunch of awesome seminars and things over trade day. I didn't get a chance to hang out with her nearly as much as I would have liked to, but she did let me know that she's looking at building a role-playing system that brings kids into the game step-by-step, year by year, which I think may be the coolest thing anyone has ever done. Don't get me wrong, I deeply appreciate what Daniel Solis is doing as a story game designer, but if we want the hobby of role-playing games (as we currently know them; what Daniel is doing is for a different post) to survive, we're going to need a way to introduce them to new generations of gamers. And that means we need people like Susan J Morris in the world.
Stuff I Got!
I figured, since the convention is over, I'd might as well list the things I picked up this time around. I'm doing this mostly from memory, so if I miss something, I'll be sure to edit the post to include it.
Burning Wheel Gold - An updated version of the insanely popular Burning Wheel, having taken some lessons learned during the creation of Mouse Guard and applying them to the base system. Awesome looking book and I can't wait to tear into it and pick it apart.
A GenCon Hoodie - It has a dragon on it, and the words "GenCon 2011." It will be nice to have when I'm in weather that isn't counted in the thirties centigrade.
A shot glass with 2d6 in the bottom - Every time you do sneak attack damage as a level-one rogue, take a shot. Then figure out how much damage you did. ^_^
Dice - I picked up a set of Crystal Caste's semi-precious stone GenCon exclusive, the seven-piece set of 16mm bone. I also picked up a few sets of elven dice from Q-Workshop, and a dice cup with elven writing around the edges. Fucking hot.
Designers and Dragons - The most comprehensive history of role-playing games, the companies that make them, and the people involved that has ever been put together. It is my sincere hope that the people who put this together (Mongoose, I believe) continue to update the history as time goes one. If they put out a new edition of this every five years, it would sell.
Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple - Daniel Solis' new book. He's the guy responsible for Happy Birthday Robot, and Do has been getting a LOT of attention this year. It's a "wind punk" story-writing game in which the players take on the roles of Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. When prayers are sent to the Temple, the Pilgrims come to help out, but their natures are such that they cannot help but get into trouble while getting things sorted out. I haven't had a chance to give it a full read-through (why hello, three hour layover in Toronto), but what I've read so far looks incredible.
A new vinyl grid sheet - The one that I have at home is really solid, but when you get into the paragon tier it can be REALLY hard to constrict combat to a battle mat. I picked up a mega mat at a hell of a deal (roughly what they wholesale for), and plan on abusing the extra space, and my players, accordingly.
Magnets - I love status markers, and I picked up a fairly expensive Dungeon Master's kit of colored magnets that are meant for exactly that. The biggest reason is, again, the weirdness of paragon tier D&D means that there is a lot of flying and a lot of falling (and burrowing and phasing and all sorts of other ridiculous bullshit). It was pricey, even after the fifteen percent discount, but it's a thing I've needed and wanted for my games for a pretty long time. There are just too many statuses running around to not have a good way of keeping track of who is doing what.
Art! - I planned on doing some ordering at the store, and while some of the people I approached about that were open to the idea, they weren't prepared to action the orders from the convention and would have just taken my order back home and called me to confirm it. So I'm just going to call them when I get back. So, for the store, I picked up three adorable prints of classic monsters: a gorgon, a minotaur and a manticore. All of them are signed, with a cute little sketch of the monster in the corner of the print.
Gifts all around! - When we were walking through the art exhibit, I saw a picture that I gushed over quite a bit. It was a bank of clouds, and bursting from it was a turtle with a jet pack on. It sounds goofy, and it looks goofy, and I loved it. So Bloodsong picked it up for me and surprised me with it at the Bed and Breakfast. I picked up a set of super-pretty elven dice and a My Little Pony shirt for Autumnblade; for Bloodsong I got a cloak and clasp. Autumnblade picked up a wand for Bloodsong, as the one Bloodsong had bought earlier in the convention had broken; I thought the gesture was sweet.
All in all, I spent... a lot of money. ^_^ My boss was concerned that my budget was going to be too big, but I have about a hundred and twenty dollars left after buying the above and food. I would have spent much more if I'd had it. I'm not even kidding. I had to restrain myself.
I ended up buying a LOT of water. It was uncomfortable to carry a bottle around for too long, and the number of places I could fill one up were few and far between, so I ended up spending some three dollars a pop on water during one of the worst heat waves I've ever had the discomfort of living through. Also, Steak & Shake got more of my money than any one exhibitor, because their food is delicious and deceptively inexpensive. Fifteen bucks for a meal for two is less than you would expect at an A&W or McDonalds back home, so it seemed like a steal to eat there all the time...