Update: more OwlCon photos available here!
I just spent 24 hours in the Forgotten Realms, and boy am I tired!
This weekend Steve and I packed up our PHBs and trekked on over to Houston for OwlCon 2010. We left early Friday because I wanted to play some D&D, actually I wanted to play a lot of D&D, and I got what I wanted!
When we got to Rice University, where OwlCon is put on, we were really pleased at how well organized everything was. Steve had the foresight to book a hotel just a few blocks from campus, so every day started and ended with a nice walk across their stately campus to the buildings where the games were. Inside, we got our packets, peeked into the exhibit hall, noting the Battletech Pods with excitement, and made our way over the the building where the RPGA games were held.
Now, in my experience, with the exception of GenCon, RPGA is the red-headed stepchild of convention events. That is to say the RPGA events tend to get shuffled off to a corner of the convention, and I usually get the impression that the convention organizers either don't really care too much about them, or, at some historical-miniatures-focused conventions I could name, seem downright hostile towards them.
OwlCon was different. When we arrived at the nice large room the RPGA events were in there were plenty of comfortable chairs and large tables. I was directed to the Houston RPGA organizer and right away started to have my socks blown off. My pre-registeration on Warhorn was indicated on his printout of all the weekend's games, he directed me to the GM for my game, and we sat down and started playing. We didn't have to stand around for an hour trying to muster, we didn't have to fight other players for a GM, we just showed up and started playing. Pow.
And that was just the start. On Saturday the morning slot started at 10 AM instead of 8 AM as you usually see at a con. That meant we got a good night's sleep and didn't have to rush breakfast or run like mad to catch our games. Steve headed off to play some Advanced Civ and Rail Baron, while I put on my dragon-skull helmet and headed back to Ferun for more bloody fun.
As a side-note, I've always been a Greyhawk fan, and was a little disappointed to see it replaced by Forgotten Realms by WoTC. But I really liked the stories that they ran this weekend. The organizers had put a lot of work into the scenarios and it showed. The adventures dove-tailed into each other and after an adventure or two you really had the impression that you were in a living setting where your actions would have an effect on what was ahead. They even played a round where the player's success or failure at the other tables affected what was happening at the other tables.
After my elven barbarian got his ass handed to him by were-rats (actually, a total party kill) the organizers went around and got sandwich orders from everyone from the campus deli. 30 Minutes later lunch arrived. That meant we didn't have to rush to wrap up our game, run off to find some lunch, and run back to make the next slot. This convention had a very atypical relaxation component to it that I could really get used to. I pretty much couldn't believe it.
After the third slot of the day finished at midnight we strolled over to the dealers room, perused the wares on display, and played a round of the Battletech PODS, which I had never had a chance to try before. It was every bit as fun as I imagined it would be. I was once again impressed by the fact that the dealer's room didn't close up at 7pm or so as is typical at conventions I've been to. Usually, even at GenCon, I have to decide between playing a game or skipping something to shop at the dealer's room. Not so at OwlCon.
Sunday followed Saturday's great lead with more of the same: friendly, if tired, GMs and players playing two more slots of RPGA events. At the end of the weekend my elf was 3rd level, I was tired and satisfied, but not frazled or exhausted as is ofter the case after a con, and we headed on home to Austin. We had met a bunch of great players and GMs from all over, and we had hit the monsters until the gold came out.
I'm already looking forward to OwlCon 2011. Thanks for a great time, guys!