After hearing rave reports about the convention from many of my gaming compadres I decided to give Big Bad Con a try this year. Choosing a gaming convention is an important decision for me as now that I have kids I can only attend one overnight gaming convention a year. Spending time away from the family puts more pressure on my family and costs enough money that it is a decision that I make carefully. Big Bad Con is run by Sean Nittner, a local alpha gamer, and many local gamers act as volunteer staff.
There are several things that make Big Bad Con unique to Bay Area Cons. First off it is an RPG focused convention. You won’t be kicked out for playing a board game but literally every event and seminar is related to either RPGs or LARPs. As I am a primarily RPG gamer this was something that really attracted me to Big Bad Con. The selection of RPG events really focuses on indie games which is fine by me. Big Bad Con caters to an older crowd. They have a policy to admit only people of age 18 or older. This is again something that I appreciated. You knew you were going into a game with other adults. Big Bad Con also has one of the most open community standards that I have seen at a con. I thought it was a breath of fresh air. Signups for events (aka gaming sessions) is done online. In the first round you can register for 2 games then after 2 weeks you can register for any event that you want. I LOVED signing up for games early. I’ve heard this is a standard practice on the East Coast but out here in the Bay Area online game signups before you attend the event is a recent phenomenon. This signup process worked GREAT for me. I got literally every game I wanted to play and was able to nearly fill my schedule before actually attending the con. This also allowed me to purchase the RPGs beforehand if I did already own them and read up. If you did not get into a game then their awesome Wolf Pack took up the slack. They had several games on demand that looked great. Laminated sheets made it easy to sign up. 😉 Finally a portion of the registration fee goes to a charity. This year it was Doctors Without Borders. Just awesome. 🙂
When I showed up at Big Bad Con on Friday afternoon I was warmly greeted by Sean and the volunteer staff and picked up my badge. Along with the lanyard were some neat little pins that attendees seemed to wear like badges of honor. So very cool. 🙂 I also picked up my t-shirt that I got as part of the kickstarter. The Big Bad Con 2015 t-shirts were awesome and before I left I ended up with both the Wolf and Creepy Little Red Riding Hood designs. In the same room Endgame had a rack with some of their products on hand. I picked up a copy of Monster Of The Week that was on my want list.
Game sessions were held in either a larger conference room with 4 tables or in a private room with a single table. I played several games in both environments and frankly never had an issue. Sometimes the single rooms would get hot but opening a window did the trick.
During the con food was provided by either the local hotel restaurant or by food trucks. The food trucks were frankly awesome! I tried lots of different food including eggs benedict, gyros, wraps, pad thai, and crepes. I think the lamb gyros were my favorite of the weekend. The only complaint that I heard very strongly was related to a burger truck that came on Saturday night. In my session it took almost an HOUR for folks to get their food and return. I did not try the burger truck so I don’t know the reason. I guess the staff should consider multiple trucks on Saturday night for dinner. The local hotel restaurant is fine but a bit expensive. I enjoyed the Sunday brunch a lot but it was a bit expensive. Big Bad Con often had coffee available which was appreciated. I also found it interesting the two of my GMs actually brought food to the games. NEAT! 😀
I played in four convention events and one game run by a friend. I started on Friday with a rip roaring game Of War Of Ashes by the author of the book, Sophe Legace. It was a blast. My second game was Motobushido. It was epic samurai goodness! Godlike started off Saturday. The GM was from Double Exposure and did a nice job with it. I then rounded out my Saturday evening with a game of Champions that was tons of fun. On Sunday I played a game of Kerberos Club (FATE) run by Craig Robertson. I actually met Craig on the board game front (aka Tide Of Iron and 1AGames) but I had never played an RPG with him. Fun game! I was so tired that I did not attend my last scheduled event and that was a shame as it was the game I signed up for first. Carl Rigney was running Golden Sky Stories. I had seen Carl at several seminars at DunDraCon and really wanted to game with him. Next year Carl! 🙂
I have been attending gaming conventions for over 30 years. My first convention was DunDraCon IV. I have been to probably 40 gaming conventions over the years including GenCon, Origins, DunDraCon, Pacificaon, KublaCon, PolyCon, and others. Out of all that con going Big Bad Con stands out as my favorite gaming convention after only attending one time. If you live in the Bay Area and play role-playing games you should make Big Bad Con a destination. To get more information just head over to BigBadCon.com.