GenCon Wrap-Up

This GenCon was definitely the best I’ve attended in very many respects. First, the con itself was packed, and the atmosphere was very upbeat. I was concerned that the absence of many creator-owned publishers might have affected this, but the residue of their presence (Games on Demand, for example) meant that their good work continues.

GenCon 2011 (by Ralf Schemmann)Second, Pelgrane had a stellar array of booth occupants. First we had Beth Lewis, who transformed the look of the booth, with a smaller demo table and large card displays which gave the demo area a dual purpose. Wire racks displays for Pelgrane and ProFantasy made both booths look more professional, and made a better use of space. Both printers (Taylor and Thomson Shore) came through, with Ashen Stars, Dead Rock 7 and Out of Time all present as planned. The GeoFern charge of $265 drayage for the 100 Ashens Stars stung, but steeled us to sell more copies.

Robin Laws spent much of his GenCon behind the Pelgrane booth, with appearances by Ken, whose brash American ways and gift for elegant précis shifted many books. Beth was also a good upseller, with a number of customers walking away dazed, wondering how their purchase of a copy of Esoterrorists turned into a 4 for 3 bundle. I designated the area behind the Pelgrane stand an American zone, and attempted to channel the colonial spirit of free enterprise and brazen commerciality, to limited success. Apparently “man up” has three a’s, and “conflab” is not an American word.

Paula Dempsey signed and promoted her book, the Investigator’s Guide to Occult London, and is now officially one of the talent. We took a more ad hoc approach to demoing, and Steve Dempsey ran many short demos for Trail of Cthulhu and Ashen Stars. We have to thank Kevin Kulp for the Ashen Stars demo game which he ran for us on Wednesday, and we appropriated. Kevin ran other longer Ashen Stars games – we know, because the players came to the stand and bought the book.

Graham “Walminator” Walmsley left us with the beautiful Stealing Cthulhu print copies of his Purist adventures and his other books, then flitted from booth to booth surrounded by adoring fans like a Justin Bieber’s red-headed uncle.

I only had a brief time alone behind the stand (half an hour or so on Saturday) – there is something about a single person behind a booth which is like gamer Kryptonite, or maybe it’s just me, but the rest of the time we were so busy, we didn’t get much of a chance to chat. Robin and I did devise “inappropriate dungeon” in a lull, but I’d better explain that one in person.

It was great to meet all our customers, and a far greater proportion of visitors to the stand already knew what GUMSHOE is and were really asking about the difference in iterations so they could pick the right setting for them. Robin, Ken and I ran a GUMSHOE seminar, and for the first time, the majority of people in the audience were already GUMSHOE GMs, and were asking useful questions which resulted from actual play. It was interesting that the panel members’ perspectives of investigative games differed, so we were able to give a broader range of advice. Steve and Paula noticed a big flurry of sales after the panel, so we must have done something right. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to record the session.

There were still a few people who equated “not having to roll” with “investigation is too easy in GUMSHOE” and “the idea of GUMSHOE seems railroady” but they are few and far between now.

We sold all of Stealing Cthulhu, most of the Ashen Stars, more Trail of Cthulhu than last year, sold through Mutant City Blues (which appears to be regaining momentum)  and lots of Bookhounds, too. Out of Time and DR7 also sold very well. Sales of all products were up, and our sales total was double last year’s, which is amazing.

(c)2011 Roberto Micheri
(c)2011 Roberto Micheri

Beth picked up an ENnie for Cartography for Bookhounds, and I want to give a shout out to the yog-sothoth forum volunteers who helped us compile the index. Next year, we’ll be submitting ProFantasy products as well, because the irony of Pelgrane winning cartography was just too much.

I talked to Jason Walters, who has big plans for IPR over the next year; Ron Edwards, who bemoaned his lack of technical nous in getting his books out in PDF form (any volunteers?); Luke Crane, who showed me how to walk like an American; Michelle Nephew who was there sans John and twins; Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball, whose shiny little faces give me hope for the future of the industry; and was very happy to talk to proactive retailers who signed up both to Bits and Mortar and the Ashen Stars Game Preview Event.

Swag was limited by luggage allowance, but I grabbed The One Ring, Free Market, Spione, Cliffourd the Big Red God, Cthulhu Gloom, some M&M and Eclipse Phase supplements.

Finally, big thanks to all the GMs who ran GUMSHOE and other Pelgrane games at GenCon; next year, we’ll try to get even more on the books.

Other GenCon wraps-ups mentioning Pelgrane:

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