News and Announcements

Here you will find the latest news and announcements in the weeks leading up to the convention. Check back often for the latest information!

T-Minus Six Weeks to the Con!

romanhelmavatarWith less than six weeks to go, the waters recede ahead of the oncoming storm.  A wave appears on the distant horizon, and excitement builds as we prepare ourselves for the inevitable strike… TsunamiCon is coming.

This week it’s finally time to start shifting gears.  We’ve been hard at work planning the events that your convention organizers, volunteers, special guests, and local GMs have in store, and the schedule has started taking shape.  In the coming weeks, you can expect to see us highlighting specific events, telling you more about them and inviting you to take part.  You expect to see some video promotion, audio features through our podcasting network, blogs and social media posts, and so forth.  In fact, if you skate on over to event registration now, you’ll find a collection of different RPG offerings, some miniature gaming and other tabletop games, LARPing sessions, and more!

Also, swag has been ordered, and we’ll only be able to sell a few more VIG tickets, so if you’re interested it’s time to make your selection.  Some of the swag has already shown up… *grins*

We also have even more prizes coming in from companies such as Atlas Games, Czech Games Edition, Looney Labs, Cheapass Games, and more!  As always, if you have a question that you can’t find an answer to on the website, you can check our FAQ or drop me a line at [email protected].

 

T-Minus Seven Weeks to the Con!

romanhelmavatarAnother week down, and the convention looms ever nearer as the summer heat finally starts to give way to pleasantly warm days and cooler nights.  October will be here before you know it, and with it TsunamiCon.

Our focus over the past week has primarily been the event registration schedule.  Over a dozen new RPGs have appeared on the site, and we’re expecting nearly as many more in the week or so.  Highlights include a panoply of Shadowrun missions helmed by RPGKC Castellan Brad Kelley, a few games run by TsunamiCon management personnel, and an exciting chance to game with one of our special guests at this year’s con, game designer and scribe Casey Christofferson.  You should expect to see some D&D Adventurers League hit the schedule this week, along with some Call of Cthulhu sessions, more Savage Worlds and Fate, and even No Thank You, Evil! for the kiddos.

I also mentioned in a recent article that the VIG Gold package had expanded to include a couple more goodies, including a commemorative pint glass.  I’ve ordered some extras to sell at the con, but the best way to ensure availability is to pick up one of our few remaining VIG tickets.

Updates on the site are numerous, but subtle.  A lot of cleanup and improved functionality and aesthetics on some of the landing pages.  As always, if you have a question that you can’t find an answer to on the website, you can check our FAQ or drop me a line at [email protected].

 

Next week, we’ll start taking a closer look at individual events.  So get excited.  It’s almost Go Time.  (Did I really just say that…?)

Ciao.

VIGs (Very Important Gamers)

glasswareshotEvery year, TsunamiCon offers a special selection of high-end tickets for attendees who want to show their support for the con and get the most out of the experience.  We call these packages VIG memberships, and they come with a few perks.  These tickets package together your basic weekend pass with our standard TsunamiCon swag, the T-shirt printed with this year’s logo and sponsors and a commemorative dice puzzle emblazoned with our logo and the date, and we sweeten the deal with a dedicated “VIG Lounge” where attendees can relax, enjoy some provided refreshments throughout the day, or even get involved in some additional gaming with other VIGs away from the noise of the con.

The Silver Level VIG earns the aforementioned rewards.

The Gold Level VIG gets a few extras.  This year, we’ve added a commemorative TsunamiCon 2016 pint glass to the gold package, as well as a $5 token for the TsunamiCon Marketplace.  As a Gold-level member, you also gain access to an exclusive D&D adventure designed and run by TsunamiCon management staff.  This is an adventure that has yet to be published, and you will among the first victims intrepid heroes to give it a whirl.  We’ll also buy you dinner after the con on Sunday evening, where you can hang out with TsunamiCon staff, special guests, and the cast of Metagamers Anonymous.

Because we order the swag and plan our exclusive games (and dinner!) based on volume, we have to limit the number of VIG tickets available.  We’ll be reaching our critical mass very soon and can only offer them for a limited time, so get them now while you still can!

 

Game Mastery and the Art of the Con

Ken runs a table of D&D Adventurers League at TsunamiCon 2014!

Over the past few years, one of our most frequently revisited topics on the Metagamers Anonymous podcast is the art of running “con” games.  In contrast to the sprawling campaigns we enjoy in our everyday gaming or even the limited series arcs we like to run for four of five sessions at a shot, con games are designed to be completely encapsulated in a specific period of play, typically four hours.  Needless to say, the strategy for running effective convention games is only marginally related to the art of the campaign, as it serves an entirely different need and requires an alternative form of investment from the participants.

Many GMs approach this practice with a sense of apprehension, whereas other game masters find the format infinitely more rewarding.  Either way, there is definitely an art to running an effective con game.

In the strictest sense, a con game is a singular scenario or streamlined adventure.  It can often be winnowed down to three or four scenes or story points, with a strict observance of the time required to move from one sequence to the next.  Fluid games are popular at cons, as they provide players a sense of agency while giving the GM a largely reactive role.  Alternatively, many con games are on rails, driving the story from scene to scene in order to derive the greatest story potential from the limited scope of the game.  Most fall somewhere in between, with players bashing through the GM’s hooks and obstacles as willing accomplices in the developing scenario.

Liz runs a World of Darkness game on a Sunday morn.For some games, numerous examples of suitable con games are available for GMs to explore, and they are no less challenging to manage.  Take any two dungeon masters with a copy of the very same D&D Adventurers League scenario and you may still end up with radically different experiences at the table.  This is because every adage invoked in campaign design regarding the chaos of player engagement is magnified in a four-hour game, wherein players are expected to have a more casual commitment to their characters.  Gamers can play it fast and loose, plot holes are virtually irrelevant, and character death is often celebrated.

With TsunamiCon approaching fast, it’s time to accept the challenge.  As a game master, you play an essential role in our community, and a game con is the perfect environment to celebrate it.  Players are ready to sign up for this year’s events, so get your games listed now.  It only takes two scheduled games to earn the GMs badge discount, and running at least one game each day of the convention will net you a free weekend pass.

T-Minus Eight Weeks to the Con!

romanhelmavatarThis past weekend, the TsunamiCon management team hosted our community’s seasonal GameDay event at The Burrow: Gifts For Geeks in east Wichita.  It was a day full of fun and gaming, with lots of RPG action, a few new faces, and a good time for everybody involved.  A few of us even had some birthdays to celebrate, so everyone had cake!

The importance of this event for us, however, is that we were celebrating our small victories over the course of the year:  the continued support of our local community, the hard work that’s about to pay off, and managing to pull a game con out of our hat in the face of enormous adversity.  With less than two months left to prepare, we nevertheless intend to make it the biggest and most successful convention yet.

If you poke around the website, you may notice a lot of updated information.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Venue page now includes a map of the facility and a breakdown of the rooms we’ll be using to host the event.  I’m not going to kid you… the scope of it is mind-boggling.  Now we just need to fill it with gamers.
  • We added a Hotel Reservations page with information on this year’s very affordable housing block and the information you need to book your room.
  • We’ve updated the Game Library to include a list of the games provided by contributors and staff for this year’s event.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, as we continue to acquire new games for attendees to try out and share with friends and strangers at the convention this year.
  • We’ve updated this year’s Special Guests to feature game designer Ryan Z. Nock from EN Publishing.  He’ll be running games, hosting panels, and generally being a great guy.
  • We added the Conundrum Cafe to our Featured Events.
  • We updated our Vendors page to include a form submission that allows you to select the details of your desired vendor space and submit them directly for approval.
  • And finally, we have update the Marketplace page to include scheduled exhibitors for TsunamiCon 2016.

As usual, we want to remind you to schedule your games for TsunamiCon as soon as possible!  Attendees will soon be planning their weekend and will want to sign up for your games, so be sure to get them listed.

And as a reminder, VIG tickets are still available for a limited time!  These tickets will not be available at the gate, and you will also find that our ticket prices on the website provide a discount on the badge for buying in early (even day passes!).  Visit our online store and grab your tickets today!

 

T-Minus Nine Weeks to the Con!

metanonhelm2With TsunamiCon clearly on the horizon, it’s time to take a moment to inhale sharply the sense of excitement and apprehension.  What adventures await the unwashed masses as we descend upon the hallowed halls of the historic Scottish Rite in downtown Wichita?  What stories will we have to tell our children and our grandchildren?

Well… for that matter, you could just bring them along.  *grins*

TsunamiCon planning is in full swing, and we’ve had some very exciting developments in the past week or so.  So let’s get to it:

TC16VIGADMITONGAs per our agreement with the venue, Venue 332 at Wichita Scottish Rite is an official corporate sponsor of TsunamiCon 2016.  They’re easily as excited about this event as we are, and they’ve taken additional measures to try and elevate our event.  We now have access to pretty much the entire facility… and that means more than enough space to suit everyone’s needs.  To keep the noise levels under a bit more control.  To move our entertainments and cosplay contest into the auditorium and our VIG Lounge into one of the coolest rooms in the house…

… Which brings us to our VIGs.  If you have ever considered taking part in our VIG program, now is an excellent time.  These specialty tickets are still available for a short while, and they are a fantastic way to get the most out of the convention.  You get all the swag, you get to hang out in the lounge and graze on the victuals and hobnob with the other VIGs, and more, depending on your level of involvement.  It’s a great way to show support for your local convention, and it’s a fun way for us to show you how much we appreciate your patronage.

Artemis-52Innovative gaming experiences!  Sounds cool when I say it like that, doesn’t it?  We have some very cool things happening this year, including the reappearance of Allan Grohe’s phenomenal ALIENS tactical miniatures RPG.  We also have some original LARP-like events happening this year, like Shaun Duncan’s original scenario The Purge, which plays out throughout the day on Saturday, and a hilarious live-action event based loosely on Monty Python’s eponymous Arthurian reenactment.  And finally, we’ve added the extraordinary Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator to our schedule for this year’s convention, which allows you and your friends (or you and a group of complete strangers, for that matter!) to take over the bridge of a starship for a unique and very personal gaming experience.

And all of this if FREE with your TsunamiCon badge!

So let’s get started, shall we?

T-Minus Nine Weeks to the Con

metanonhelm2With TsunamiCon clearly on the horizon, it’s time to take a moment to inhale sharply the sense of excitement and apprehension.  What adventures await the unwashed masses as we descend upon the hallowed halls of the historic Scottish Rite in downtown Wichita?  What stories will we have to tell our children and our grandchildren?

Well… for that matter, you could just bring them along.  *grins*

TsunamiCon planning is in full swing, and we’ve had some very exciting developments in the past week or so.  So let’s get to it:

TC16VIGADMITONGAs per our agreement with the venue, Venue 332 at Wichita Scottish Rite is an official corporate sponsor of TsunamiCon 2016.  They’re easily as excited about this event as we are, and they’ve taken additional measures to try and elevate our event.  We now have access to pretty much the entire facility… and that means more than enough space to suit everyone’s needs.  To keep the noise levels under a bit more control.  To move our entertainments and cosplay contest into the auditorium and our VIG Lounge into one of the coolest rooms in the house…

… Which brings us to our VIGs.  If you have ever considered taking part in our VIG program, now is an excellent time.  These specialty tickets are still available for a short while, and they are a fantastic way to get the most out of the convention.  You get all the swag, you get to hang out in the lounge and graze on the victuals and hobnob with the other VIGs, and more, depending on your level of involvement.  It’s a great way to show support for your local convention, and it’s a fun way for us to show you how much we appreciate your patronage.

Artemis-52Innovative gaming experiences!  Sounds cool when I say it like that, doesn’t it?  We have some very cool things happening this year, including the reappearance of Allan Grohe’s phenomenal ALIENS tactical miniatures RPG.  We also have some original LARP-like events happening this year, like Shaun Duncan’s original scenario The Purge, which plays out throughout the day on Saturday, and a hilarious live-action event based loosely on Monty Python’s eponymous Arthurian reenactment.  And finally, we’ve added the extraordinary Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator to our schedule for this year’s convention, which allows you and your friends (or you and a group of complete strangers, for that matter!) to take over the bridge of a starship for a unique and very personal gaming experience.

And all of this if FREE with your TsunamiCon badge!

So let’s get started, shall we?

The TsunamiCon Experience

A few years ago, our convention was one of a handful of newly-minted localized gaming conventions popping up across the country that were being run – not by independently wealthy entrepreneurs who could afford to throw $10,000 into a black hole on a whim – but by ordinary folks living paycheck to paycheck who had a clever idea and a will to persevere.  We saw a hole in our local hobby community that we desperately wanted to fill, and we found an opportunity to fund our convention in an as-yet unconventional way.  We crowdsourced it.

ShaunVIGWith a collective holding of breath, the local and regional gaming community took to Kickstarter to help fund our tabletop gaming convention here in Wichita, by purchasing tickets and swag ahead of time and providing us the necessary startup capital to make it work.  By the time November rolled around, we had a working model for a local gaming con and were ready to greet the masses.  And we were pleasantly surprised to find that our premiere event blew the doors off of our immediate expectations.  In fact, compared to many other Midwestern gaming cons that had launched in the previous handful of years, our first event was a virtual barnburner.

TsunamiCon is a tabletop gaming convention designed to provide local and regional casual and dedicated gamers alike to ruminate with like-minded folk and enjoy the labors of their hobby for three days straight.  Our management team is comprised largely of dedicated RPG enthusiasts, but we owe much of our success to a rabid enthusiasm from the local hobby boardgaming community, which had virtually exploded overnight in the previous two years.  Local game masters and demo teams brought a variety of gaming opportunities to the con, and we watched in awe as peoples young and old, from here in town and far away, streamed into the building over the course of the weekend and sat in on the fun.

scottisritecollageAt TsunamiCon, it’s easy to find gamers interested in sharing the joy of their favorite games.  Some involve elaborate tabletop displays, some little more than books and dice, some are played with cards or meeples, and some with little more than your imagination – we even have live action experiences that give you an opportunity to more fully immerse yourself in a role for a couple hours.  To round out the weekend, we’ll have party games, live comedy entertainment, a diverse marketplace, fantastic on-site concessions, geeky panels and cosplay events, and more!  It’s a way to step out of everyday life for a couple days and become drenched in the pomposity of fun and positive vibes.

To elevate the experience further in Year Three, we selected a venue that will take your breath away and leave your head spinning.  Join us this October 7th, 8th and 9th at the beautiful and historic Wichita Scottish Rite Center in downtown Wichita.  Advance discount tickets are available now.

An Un-Conventional Marketplace

MarketplaceBefore I ran TsunamiCon, my experience with gaming conventions was admittedly quite limited.  I had a great deal of experience organizing other kinds of large-scale events – concerts, faires, home and leisure shows, wedding and trade shows, etc. – but one of the things that drove me to start a gaming con here in Wichita was that we would often see gaming and gamers at local and regional fan conventions, but the gaming was something of an afterthought.  Like a fun thing to do for geeky attendees, but all the convention did was supply the space and maybe organize someone to manage it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A game con, however, is clearly a different animal.  At a fan convention, the focus is exhibitors and guests.  A hoppin’ con is filled to the gills with vendors, plying their trade, selling unique items and collectibles, and generally adding to the substance of the event.  Oftentimes, convention organizers can even offer their space at a premium to bring in small vendors, because they are dedicating enough of their overall space to make it easy to cover the costs.

A gaming convention, however, is about gaming.  This presents a unique challenge… the majority of the available space absolutely must be made available for gamers who come in, sit down, and spend an entire weekend at the table.  This is another huge difference in this kind of con, as most smaller fan conventions attract attendees who browse for a couple hours, maybe meet a guest or catch a panel, and otherwise are just there to socialize and/or show enjoy their cosplay craftsmanship (whereas larger fan conventions have attendees attempting to pack as many panels, autographs and photo ops into three or four days as humanly possible).

AirshipGypsyGoldSo herein lies the challenge.  As a merchant at a gaming convention, you have access to a fairly broad audience.  But their interests are primarily oriented toward the activities at the con.  So your wares, your presentation, and your salesmanship have to compliment this arrangement to be successful.  Some opportunities are quite obvious… if you sell games and gaming accessories, it’s a good venue.  If you sell collectibles that will appeal to gamers and genre aficionados, you’re also in good company.  And if you’re a game designer, publisher, or demo team… you’re definitely in the right place.  That being said, you still have to play the long game.  Clearly, you get a mix of impulse buys and carefully considered selections, since they often have all weekend to decide.

It can also be enterprising to make the process of interacting with you about having fun.  Use dice or games of chance, have drawings and giveaways, engage passersby with the enthusiasm you have for your product or craft, and so forth.  One of the advantages over a fan convention is that there are fewer exhibitors, a more select market, which virtually guarantees that almost every attendee who walks through the room will take a look at your wares and perhaps stop to visit or ask a few questions.  And it’s important to note that the smaller size of the marketplace is not a detractor, as your customers are there for the gaming.

It’s a unique experience, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know our vendors over the past couple years.  I am certainly pleased at the number of returning vendors, and I love seeing everything from homegrown games and handmade items to top gaming merchandise and collectibles.

If you are interested in joining us, we still have a handful of vendor booths available for TsunamiCon 2016.  Reserve your space now by pledging on our Kickstarter page.

Secrets of the Tsunami

About four years ago, shortly after running our second local Tsunami GameDay event, I floated the term “TsunamiCon” onto the world stage via the auspices of our RPG podcast Metagamers Anonymous.  It was kind of intended to get a rise out of my co-hosts, who were already reeling from the high-energy output necessary to make a GameDay happen… and my insistence on treating a day of tabletop gaming for 20 or 30 people like a major event.  Everyone laughed nervously and rolled their eyes a bit, certain that ol’ Erik was just reaching well outside the bounds of reality.

Liz runs a World of Darkness game on a Sunday morn.

Liz runs a World of Darkness game on a Sunday morn at TsunamiCon 2014.

Even if you’ve never run a major event, or even contemplated it, there are a few things which you can reasonably assume:

  • It’s complicated.  There are obviously a organizational details and planning exercises involved, and you have to know where to start.
  • It’s questionable.  Just because 30 people show up to a free GameDay, what makes you think you can get a couple hundred gamers to pay for the privilege?  And doesn’t advertising cost money?
  • And it’s expensive.  Clearly, it takes a solid wad of cash to put something significant together.

The first point is inevitably true, and this is where my radio background has served me well.  I’ve helped organize – and often spearheaded – numerous events over the years, from concerts to cooking shows to variety shows at the local park.  I’ve also been firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to marketing, so I’m no stranger to the art of promoting an event.  And as for the cash… well, I wasn’t the first to use Kickstarter to fund a convention, but I definitely felt like a pioneer.

The real secret of my success is in that first paragraph, however.  I figured it out a long time ago, when I was touring the Midwestern bar scene as part of a blues band.  You see, real blues fans are kind of an exclusive crowd.  Sometimes, you’d land somewhere and pack a tiny club with enthusiastic locals; at other times, you’d be lucky to have half a dozen folks in the audience.  But both kinds of gigs had something in common… the audience was full of people who loved the blues.  So whether you played for six or sixty, you got up there and jammed out like it was the freakin’ Hippodrome.

ShaunVIG

Shaun runs a private game for VIGs.

In short, any event worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability.  Last year our attendance ran at about 220 people, not counting volunteers, guests, and staff.  Not particularly large by convention standards, though given that a gaming con is about hanging out all day long playing games, it sure feels busy.  And I’ve had a chance to visit with other small convention organizers, and you guys’ll be happy to know that our numbers for the first two years compare very well indeed.  But my point is this… even if you’re game con has only 200 people, it’s your job to treat it like there are 2000.

Details are important to me.  Impressing people with a world-class experience is important to me.  Not just because I want them to come back next year, but because I want the folks in our gaming community to feel like they’ve had a chance to do something awesome.  To have an experience that’s both fulfilling and memorable.  To be fair, we struggle to raise enough capital to have a convention at all… but I could easily sink another $10,000 into our con just to make it shine.  Just to make the experience that much better for everyone involved.

So the secret is this…  If you want to do something BIG, do it right.  If you find yourself looking at the details and going, “that’s just too much work”… buckle up and do it anyway.  Don’t cut corners, don’t over-promise and under-deliver, and don’t shy away from a cool idea just because it sounds complicated.  Take risks, and understand that the reward is the undertaking itself.  The rest will come in time.

Oh… and back my Kickstarter, would ya?  Thanks.