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[personal profile] mackknopf
I went to PlayOnCon 2011 IV yesterday, hosted at the Birmingham Marriott out on Highway 280.   I went it around 2 p.m. and only stayed about two and a half hours.  I didn't have nearly as much fun as I did last year, when it was at a hotel in Irondale.  They didn't have any tabletop games I wanted to play (it was mainly Pathfinder, a Dungeons & Dragons variant); I didn't feel like playing a boardgame in a crowded room; I didn't see any card games (last year someone roped me into a few rounds of The Great Dalmuti, which was enjoyable); and the miniature wargames (Warhammer 40K, etc) looked nifty but are not my cup of tea. 

I did think about bringing my Call of Cthulhu books, a plushie tentacled Cthulhu as a prop, and maybe a handwritten sign in the Open Gaming room  that said "Want to go insane, die, or kill your friends?  Play Call of Cthulhu!"  I probably could have gotten a decent crowd for a con game and just run one of the adventures I own, but that would have been work.  I wanted to play in a game of some sort, not have to always run, even though running is usually more fun for me.

But there was no World of Darkness, Savage Worlds, Paranoia, or really anything but the Pathfinder stuff.   There weren't even any live action games going on for background color, surprising to me.  There were some interesting and amusing costume players, particularly the girl dressed like Alice from American McGee's Alice, with blood all over her dress, and a plastic butcher knife.  I didn't quite have the nerve to ask anyone to pose for photos, but they probably wouldn't have minded (since after all they dressed to be noticed).

There were no movies being shown, and Japanese animation wasn't being viewed until later in the evening.  I saw one fiction writing panel, but it was by Mercury Retrograde Press, which looked perilously close to being a self-publishing "vanity press."  Noteably, the company doesn't pay you up front for the books they publish.  PlayOnCon needed a real writing track with some better known authors.  Also, it could use some Guests of Honor to contribute their presence (no sign of them or any real celebrities, even minor ones).

I did get some good deals at the dealer's room, but it was a fairly small place.   I bought some comics and a few old White Wolf books ($5 apiece for the Vampire Players Guide, Sabbat Players Guide, and Sabbat Storytellers Guide, all in mint condition).  I went to a couple of forum panels that were okay (one was by Sean Patrick Fannon about marketing your games, which didn't apply to me, but he's a fun speaker).  I'd rather have seen him run his Shaintar high fantasy setting, though, but he wasn't booked for that.  I just couldn't seem to
get in the spirit of the convention.  I also think there were more people the last time the con was put on, but who knows?  Maybe a lot came earlier or arrived later for the parties.  I saw a few people I know, but also saw some I was just as happy to avoid.

PlayonCon was probably worth $35 for one day, but I'm glad I didn't pay for the weekend (though that would have only been $10 more).  I definitely didn't  want to spend $25 on another 1-day admission pass, and I didn't go Sunday, choosing to relax instead after a busy Saturday.  Friday I was booked with Kris and Tirsah Jade coming over to my parents' for dinner.  I'd go to PlayOnCon again, but only if the gaming programming was better, there were decent fiction writing panels, or I was willing to run an rpg in the open gaming area and felt paying for admission to do that was worth it.

Verdict
:  Somewhat unsatisfied.

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March 2012

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