This weekend, Anexandros and I are heading to Rice University in Houston, TX to go to Owl Con XXIII.
Most of the conventions we go to are like Space City Con or Comicpalooza, and are not specifically “Game” conventions. They generally offer gaming, and have areas set aside for people to play role-playing or video games, but the focus of these conventions is always more towards the panels and the guests.
Not so with Owl Con. Owl Con is a game-specific convention, with games running throughout the whole weekend. The convention supports a wide variety of games, as well. Table Top RPGs, Board and card games, miniature games, Live-Action Role Playing games, and organized play (this year, they are supporting Pathfinder, though in the past, the convention has had RPGA/Living Greyhawk).
With the wide variety of games, every year I’ve gone I’ve been able to sample and play new and exciting games that I may not have otherwise picked up: games like the Witchgirl Adventures. Even Exalted, the game my RPG Group is currently playing, was introduced to our group at an OwlCon many years ago.
The convention also offers fantastic prize support for “winners” of games played. The prizes range from the simple (stickers, magnents, and dice) to the complex (one year I won a leather-bound RIFTS manual, a prize in my collection).
While I have not run games at every Owl Con I’ve attended, I do frequently. This year, I’m running Changeling: the Lost. This will be my first experience running this particular game, but I’m certain to have a blast.
2. Great support from the staff
The staff of Owl Con, the core group of individuals who have run the convention for the past several years, are amazing and talented group of people. They sacrifice their own ability to play just so they can make sure that the players have optimum Owl Con fun throughout the weekend.
But the support is very thorough. Volunteers and staff members check in at every assigned game spot to make sure the GM is there to run and that there are players in the game. If there are not players, they will rustle some up, old west style, to make sure that the game makes. And if the GM does not show up, they remember, and keep a look out for that GM in future conventions.
I’ve had a few problems, here and there, with the timing of my game, the placement of my game, and even with problem players within the games that I run. The staff at the convention is smooth and awesome about making sure that whatever the problem is, it gets taken care of.
3. Dealer’s Room is not separated from the action
I’ve spoken at length about how I love the dealer’s room at other conventions, and Owl Con is no different. The dealer’s space at Owl con is held in what looks like it would ordinarily be a dining hall, dance floor, or for an extra-large lecture. The center of the room is filled with tables, where games, usually miniature games, are spread out so others can watch and enjoy the beautifully detailed mini sets.
So, the Dealers get to at least see some gaming. And gamers are right there, at the dealer’s room. Ready for fun .
4. All the Larping
I’ve made no secret in the past that I’m not a fan of Live Action Role Play. And while it is true that many of my bad LARPing experiences have happened at OwlCon, the convention is still a great place for someone in Houston to meet up with other LARPers. This year’s events include a Steampunk LARP, a Firefly/Serenity themed LARP (hosted by the Houston Browncoats), and a Cthulhu LARP (hosted by Mythos Houston).
The number of LARPs and size of the events waxes and wanes, but the LARPS are a constant. There have been years where a LARP fan could report to the LARPBuilding on Friday night and not go to the rest of the convention, ever. And there have been years where there were only one or two Live-Action Roleplaying events.
LARP is a staple at OwlCon, and speaking from the experience of having run one or two at this particular convention., all the work and effort put forth by the convention personnel towards running this game are appreciated.