Reporting!

Alright, I just returned from Cologne, and I’m dead tired. But you know what? Today was one unbelievable awesome day, and I’m not going to describe it in plain, simple words. No, you better get ready for my Role Play Convention 2009 Report…with pictures!

After a LAN-party at Fridaynight, I got up at 6:30 in de morning after a measly 4 hours of sleep. Oh well, the shower did me good, and after my 20 minute bus drive to Aachen Central Station, this magical elixir definitly hit the right note:

COFFEE!!!

COFFEE!!!

Yes, coffee! Or, to be more accurate: cappucino. A big mug of this divine sensation of the senses got me ready for a the train ride, which was not really noteworthy. As a true nerd I used to time I sat in the train to read up on my European Science stuff, but I got tired of reading about the financial crisis and old farts pretty quick, so you can understand that I was more than happy when the conducter announced that we had arrived at the Cologne Trade Fair (generally known as the “Koelnmesse”). As I got out the train, I checked my route planner for the next step of the journey. My paper fellow told me to search for “Strassenbahn 4”, which I did. But while I was looking for the tram, I noticed signs pointing out a footway towards the Koelnmesse. I said to myself: “What the heck, you have to healthy feet! How far can it be when the tram needs 2 minutes for it?”

Well, turns out that I was smarter than the route planner from the internet. Using the tram to get to the trade fair would have been nothing but a detour! And thus, I arrived about five minutes sooner than planned (what a difference), bought my ticket (which seemed to include about a dozen of common Magic: the Gathering cards…thanks organizers for adding more cardboard to my life), and entered the convention. I was supposed to meet up with Tommy and Natalia at the “Risen”-stand, but in the first minute of my attendance I was just OVERWHELMED by the sheer amount of people, colorful banners, costumes and goodies available! Dazzled by this cognitive overload, I almost walked straight past my two companions, but Tommy made sure to catch my attention (believe me, he has some suitable “attention phrases”).

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Our tour around the RPC started with an inspection of the LARP supplies shops around the main hall. Tommy and I are closet LARP’ers, but in this case I mean to say “too broke and lazy to start it” with the word “closet”. Still, we share a certain fascination for latex weaponry (addendum: every guy on this planet loves to hit someone with something. It’s fact), so the boothes supplied us with ample opportunity to see interesting designs and notice a certain difference in quality. But also, we noticed a difference in service. A little stand of a Danish LARP gear supplier (why did I forget their name) surprised us with a sign at the stand, saying: “Touch everything, and try it out…they don’t break easily”. Well, you don’t have to say that twice! Tommy and I got ourselves a fine blade, and went at it. After about five minutes of…ahum, finely aimed strikes and skillful handling of the sword, Tommy and I called it a draw, and decided to go at it again at the next best occassion. So, if you see me slinging around rubber swords in my living room, don’t ask. I’m just doing the Rocky Balboa training thing, but just more freaky. And with more sweat.

Our trip around the Role Play Convention got us to some very interesting stands, and we took our time to check out the boothes of industry giants like EA (boasting their MMO-RTS-TCG experience “BattleForge”), Upper Deck and more. Strange enough, I wasn’t THAT impressed by their appearances, as their stands just looked tóó sterile and controlled. Add to that the fact that the EA stand boothbabes (who were some very nice pieces of booty) seemed to be afraid of cameras, so I did not catch a single picture of them. A shame, as they seemed to be the only really hot booth babes around (trust me, girls with HUGE thighs in short skirts can almost ruin the last remnants of your already crippled eye sight).

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The halls were just filled with pure awesomeness, and a wide variation of publishers, companies, clubs and more. Of course, all of them were somehow related to fantasy, sci-fi and / or role-playing, but most of them added to the very warm and friendly atmosphere. Well, that “warm” feeling might be an after effect of the twelve different kinds of mead I tasted. Come to think of it, I forgot to get me a bottle of that cinnamon-flavored mead…damn!

Around 14:30, we made our way to the “Lese-Ecke” (Reading Corner), where one of the grand-masters of fantasy held a reading / Q&A session / autograph session: Andrzej Sapkowski, author of the books on which the PC-RPG smash hit “The Witcher” is based on. This Polish old gentleman turned out to be a man who was very well aware of his status amongst fantasy literature lovers, and loved to joke about it. Comments about how “truly awesome” he was were just the beginning, swiftly followed by a short story about how he became the “grand author he is now”, finished off with an outlook on his future, seeing himself working together with Steven Spielberg to make a DECENT Witcher-movie. The sarcasm was literally dripping from his statements, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the sit.

We concluded our visit by trying out a boardgame at one of the free gaming tables. We chose “Dust” (I can literally feel the CS-jokes coming up), a tactical boardgame set in an alternate future, where World War 2 never really ended, and the whole world turned into one big battlefield. The game shares some similarities with Risk, but feels kinda cool due to its unique setting and quick-to-learn basic rules. After three rounds though, we noticed that the game could last for a whole night if we wanted to play it by the book, so we changed the winning conditions a bit, and the gentlemen got their asses handed to them by Natalia. That’s what you get when you let a woman lead an army…

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Before catching the train home, Tommy, Natalia and I had a little diner at the local McDonalds, made sure to see each other as soon as possible, and went separate ways. While sifting through my collection of flyers, magazines and other goodies collected, I felt anything but let down by this experience. The Role Play Convention was even cooler than I imagined, showing visitors every possible facette of the role-playing subculture. The staff members were nice and helpful, and every visitor added to the totally awesome-o-saurus experience. In case that the organizers decide to stay in Cologne, I’m probably back at the RPC next year.

Signed,

Aki

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