Staggering out bleary-eyed for the retailer breakfast presentation, I walked toward the banquet hall through the Orleans casino and was suddenly joined by a well-dressed, middle-aged man who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He immediately caught me off guard by calmly, matter-of-factly stating “Yeah, the works of Satan are all around us, my brother.”
Without breaking stride, I confirmed that yes, I was a man of God, and in my sleepless, unthinking state, replied to his question of what brought me here with “I’m here reporting news,” and then cursed silently, knowing I’d just opened the floodgates. My roommate has since suggested I should’ve said I was here to gamble and hump the legs of pretty women.
Walking faster, I quickly explained that no, I couldn’t help him get his book warning of Satan’s works published, and no, I couldn’t report news on his book. He finally gave up, said thanks, and wandered away into a forest of nickel slots.
Quite a wake up call, overall.
Once I made it to the breakfast, UltraPro started things off with a backpack. And once the waiter came by with some coffee, I was able to hear that it was a rather swanky Gaming Backpack, tailored toward card gamers of course, with a soda pouch on the side. A revision of their earlier design, apparently. Each table had several samples of the new One-Touch Ultra Pro card protector, with magnetic closure. Ooo magnets… need more coffee.
Uberplay was next, and drove home the fact that retailers need to become more acquainted with their products by grabbing volunteers for a game of Family Feud. Top ten answers on the board, name an Uberplay release from the past year. Hoity Toity was number one, but no other answers were correctly given by anyone, showing how little folks knew about games like Oasis, Metro, Manga Manga and Oh Pharaoh. “The best games you’ve never heard of.” Well, yeah, it sure seemed that way.
Green Ronin took the podium next, and Chris Pramas blazed through a full boat of planned releases, both d20 and otherwise. The licensed products, Nocturnals, The Red Star, and The Black Company were up first. Expect Nocturnals very soon, The Red Star in the fall, and The Black Company toward the end of the year. The Mythic Vistas line will be joined by not only the Medieval Player’s Manual, but by Trojan War and Spiros Blaak as well. Races of Renown will get a pair of location supplements, Corwyl and Dezzevold, and an Aasimar & Tiefling book. For the Master Class line, the Cavalier’s Handbook will follow the just released Psychic’s Handbook, and Creatures of Freeport will round up the d20 products in a few months. The partnerships with The Game Mechanics and Human Head were highlighted toward the end of Chris’ presentation, and another HH boardgame, Age of Conquest, was described as “fantasy style Risk-like.” Should be interesting to compare it to Risk: Godstorm. Finally, the Blue Rose romantic RPG closed out the cavalcade of shiny GR product announcements.
Next up, Inquest Gamer’s representative Stuart Morales showed several covers of recent and upcoming issues. It was hard to absorb what he wanted to tell us, since his manic, nearly-hyperactive presentation style was like a cross between a monster truck rally commercial (“Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! We turn the arena into a massive MUDPIT!!”) and an over-caffeinated Ron Popeil announcer (“Now how much would you pay? But wait! There’s more!”). He promised the Inquest Gamer Award winners would be announced later today, stood on the chair and begged for questions, and lept off the stage platform when he was done. Possibly to go have someone wind him up again.
Social Games/AWSI looked positively sedate by comparison (and they got as little sleep as I did, so I don’t blame ‘em), but had some exciting announcements. Aside from accepting preorders for the Cyberpunk CCG: 2020, Social Games will be giving away boxes of starters to all retailers who come by at the show. The other part of their lethal combo, AWSI, has developed something called Guru, software that aids retailers in being found online when a gamer searches for a particular game. If that doesn’t get retailer attention, they just weren’t listening.
Finally, Steve Jackson himself stepped up to the podium and received a warm round of applause simply for saying his company’s name. Starting by saying “I’m a happy man,” Steve went on to briefly mention a few of the year’s impending releases: Chez Goth, StarMunchkin 2, a Cardboard Heroes Castle and Greek Quest (which gets my vote merely by having Phil Foglio art). But the big news (though not entirely unexpected) was SJ Games’ plans for GURPS 4th Edition, which elicited from the quiet crowd a lone reply of “Oh. My. God.” The two volume hardback core rulebooks will be over 200 pages in length each, full color, and backwards compatible with GURPS 3. The new edition draws on two years of player feedback, has been streamlined to make it easier to play or teach, and will use some of the GURPS Timetravel rules to form a metacampaign running through the system. Steve also mentioned plans to reprint a couple of the third edition supplements gamers still ask for, including GURPS Egypt and GURPS Greece. He ended his product overview by saying, “I don’t know what booth we’re in. We’ve got a big tower, it’s got my name on it. Come see us.” Well done, Steve.