* ROB KUNTZ, Special Guest at ARNECON 2 GAMING CONVENTION 2024, Minneapolis MN, See You There! *

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Garycon V: Report from the Hinterland

Garycon V:  Report from the Hinterland

My observations/experiences from the convention follow.  I’m going to give snap-shots of what I was involved in, etc. and then go into some details.  They are a mix of many things, and since I was so busy, and scored as much as 2-4 hours sleep per day during the convention, these will not be listed as day-by-day.  The whole experience was a whirlwind for me as there were so many things personal, professional and unexpected going on.

Personal Highlights:  Speaking at length with Ernie, Luke and Alex Gygax; my long-time best friend, Allan Grohe (who I roomed with); cavorting, talking, and gaming with my good friend Guy Fullerton (Chaotic Henchmen and Apple employee extraordinaire; and accompanied by Josh, his friend and gaming buddy) who surprised me by showing up at the convention; and, as a huge additional bump to the surprise meter, reuniting with long-time friend Mike Reese (Tractics, Fast Rules); talking with long-time buddy Michael “Gronan” Mornard; and being befriended and interviewed by, and having many long conversations with, the D&D Documentary team lead by the engaging Anthony Savini and James Sprattley (see pictures, below).

More…  Conversing with my old friend John Bobek (The Games of War, International Wargamer Editor bitd, and long-time educator); Jon Peterson (Playing at the World); Zach Glazar (Lesser Gnome Games); Bill Hoyer (IFW President/TSR Alumnus bitd); Mike Carr, David LaForce & David Megarry (all three TSR Alumni; and the latter two present with their charming wives); Paul Burdick; Mark from Creative Mountain Games; the “Three Amigos” from Eldritch Enterprises (w/Frank Mentzer accompanied by his charming wife); Dale Leonard (and his future wife-to-be); the ever-industrious Paul Stormberg (the Collector’s Trove); and two ex-TSR stalwarts, Harrold Johnson and the irrepressible Bruce Heard.

This is a list of friends, ex-IFW members, associates and pre- and post-TSR professionals that could only have been exceeded by the additional appearances of Len Lakofka, Don Lowry, Darlene, Lou Zocchi and others of similar stature from back-in-the-day.

Lost City of the Elders.  I DMed LCotE 3 times.  The overall reaction was very good.  Some parties got into more combat situations than others did; but all of them experienced the same strange dimensional environment; and in doing so they had to contend with many out-of-the-box situations that at once challenged their acclimating to it in order to become fully operable as a party thereafter.  Key phrases that describe these challenges:  time compression; gravity change; ultra-magical complications.

Every party rose to the challenges; and it was interesting to note how the reactions came down and set the tone each time for dealing with more OotB thinking regarding this ultra-fantastical place that challenged Gary Gygax back in 1973.

When I DM it at conventions again I will do so in open gaming where the adventures continue over days, thus allowing the explorations to build as its many mysteries are uncovered.  The sessions were 6 hours in length; and it is noteworthy that at LGGC #2 the adventure went to ten hours, thus allowing for the adjustments and more exploration/encounters to occur.

Play, Design and Form (seminar):  Inspirations from the Playtest of D&D:  Though it had a rough start with the listing being accidently dropped from the convention program, it finished strong, with good attendance and many thoughtful questions, especially those posed by veteran ex-TSR Games designer, Harrold Johnson.

This followed up in medium strides on open form, models in the RPG industry and entrenched formats, all of which was juxtaposed with those we adopted in the playtests and that were inherent to the game, 1974-1977.  This had a direct relation, in parts, to what I had touched upon in my recent GrognardGames interview as posted on Youtube.

The Dungeons & Dragons Documentary Interviews (2 of 4):  This was part of the unexpected.  I was not aware that these folks were present until they approached me and we started a discourse.  What a crack group of professionals!  Anthony Savini (Director) took the lead and I became instant friends with all of the team members.

The interviews took place Saturday and Sunday; and with my lack of sleep, I was on overdrive by Sunday, but they were ultra-pleased, stating (on their Facebook page) that I gave them one of the best interviews to date.

There was a sort of reticence on both sides at parting the ways, in fact.  And I was recently appraised by phone that they wish to follow-up with two additional post-convention shoots, which are scheduled for April.  I will post more when we solidify the actual dates.  In between, enjoy the pictures, below.

Overall Reaction to the Convention:  I will state it simply.  It was one of the best conventions I had been to in a while.  Garycon is a definite hit!  A hit, if you are more than an Internet-only presence gamer, that you should not miss!


  1. Excellent! I wish I had been able to attend! :D
    --Perhaps next year?

    I look forward to the interviews. :D

  2. Sounds great!. Increases the jealousy factor for those of us in the third world, for whom conventions are the stuff of legend. Thanks for sharing Rob.

  3. Hey Welleran! I could see that you were into it. It would have gotten more immersive the more time spent within it.

    You did some miniature games, too, unless that was someone else in Stormberg's photos... For this I am only slightly jealous... ;)

    See you around!

  4. There's never enough time in a con for a good adventure! Still, it was fun to see what we did see.

    I did, indeed, get to play in the Viking Assault on the Norman Fort. I make a point to play in one or more miniatures game each Garycon, including Allan's Aliens game (I'm still bragging about being in the only group to kill the Alien Queen and escape alive last year).

    Thanks again for game. I'm sure I'll see you next year!

  5. Thanks for the shout-out Rob: as always, it was great to see you and to spend some quality time together (draconic snoring aside ;) ). Dinner at NDP with you, Mike, Guy, and Josh was a definite highlight of the con for me. I'm looking forward to NTX and playing in the Sewers, and we'll talk again soon, I'm sure.


  6. Thanks Allan. Yes, the high-highlights were reuniting with Mike Reese and dining that night with yourself, Guy and Josh; the DDDoc interviews and speaking for over 2 hours with Ernie Gygax at his room (while playing with his dog--or I should say, she was playing "ball" with us).

    The snoring led me to conceptualize a new boardgame, btw. A short and funny one, pretty much realized at the moment of conception, and which I will get to hard-designing once the convention circuit part of the year is over. It will be dedicated to you, of course, due to the unintentional inspiration you provided. I described the intricacies of it to my friend Kathy and she approved of the whole concept (while laughing) and related her own stories of her mom (an inveterate snorer, also).


  7. LOL. Can't wait to hear more about it! We'll have to run it by Heather and her mother, too: Heather snores a lot, as does her father, and Laurie was the one suffering in the middle (so to speak). I don't normally snore, I still maintain, and I think Heather'll back me up on that one ;) ....allan

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