I am not at Gen Con this year (or, as the harried Jimmy Johns worker referred to it last year, "The Gen Con"). Back in December, when I was starting to plan the trip, my wife lost her job, and while her prospects were good and the severance package better, the overall uncertainty made it unfeasible. This was for the best, since I'm about 99% sure if I had planned to go, my vacation request would have been rejected outright. My employer just completed a new, 44,000 square foot building, and we're moving into it in early September. As I work in IT, I am deeply involved in the process. So, no Gen Con for me.
Of course, the internet and the magic of living in the future helps lessen the sting a bit. I've gotten regular updates and photos from my friends, and I'm watching the ENnies Twitter feed to see if any of my friends won this year. But I miss the chance to break out the dice with new folks and try new things. Granted, I don't do a lot of gaming at Gen Con; I spend far more time socializing, shopping, and people-watching, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy actually sitting down at the table with a bunch of strangers with a better than average chance of coming away from the experience on far better terms.
One of the joys I get from convention gaming is the memorable one-liner. I don't know if it's because a convention game is largely a unique experience, or whether it's the sense of liberation that comes from a one-shot game, or what, exactly, but I've found that a disproportionate number of great gaming one liners have come from one-shots and convention games. Here are a few of my personal faves:
Me: Of course, this game exists in an alternate universe where super-scientists all have gorgeous girlfriends.
Player 1: Ric Ocasek being the perfect example.
Player 2: Yeah, but Ric Ocasek isn't an actual scientist.
Me: Band member! scientist! There's no difference!
Player 1: Do you mean Dr. Ric Ocasek, godfather of genetic engineering?
Slayers slay, Watchers WATCH.
Oi! I 'it it wi' me cricket bat! (This was the player's answer to everything throughout the entire adventure. It was also completely in character.)
(GM to a PC who also happens to be a vampire) Unfortunately, the burning truck you're currently standing on top of is running on the edge of a very steep drop off, directly above a village that is having its annual stake sharpening festival.
And my personal favorite, though it's not one I witnessed myself.
GM running a "Venture Brothers" Game: Hey, you guys are supposed to be 21 and 24, right? You're being awful quiet.
21: Jawas could totally destroy Ewoks!
24: Yeah, underneath those hoods, they're all spikes and rage!