Gamehole Con 2018 Rocked the House
Well, another Gamehole Con has come and gone and I have to say, this was by far *the best one yet!* The Geek Foundry Crew’s Mothership landed Wednesday night to stake our territory and setup the booth so we could get our Geek on for the four-day event. The con organizers added an extra day for vendors to represent this year, so we had four jam-packed days of meeting some of the most excellent people we’ve chatted with all year in that short amount of time–and we were so very pleasantly surprised to have so many visits from loyal, repeat customers. That truly made our weekend something special.
The crew was the same this year as last with my bestie Chris stepping up to help out Thursday and Friday during the day, my son Deacon sliding in to take afternoons Thursday and Friday–then the full shifts Saturday and Sunday, and me at the helm making sure everybody who came to meet & greet or buy our wares was taken care of with complete care and attention. I gotta’ tell you, that extra day added on to the vending schedule was pure Hell on the feet, knees, and lower back–but it was totally worth it to have been able to hang out with everyone who stopped in our booth to say hi or buy.
I have so many great stories to share that I don’t even know where to start. The stories range from the crazy visits from orcs sniffing and trying to lick our merch while pulling out (LARP) daggers and asking me, “Choppy choppy?” to a really embarrassing but hilarious encounter with actor, Matthew Lillard–and no, Grognakh, as much as I’d like to lose weight, you cannot choppy choppy my belly.
Our first celebrity encounter was with Satine Phoenix, a.k.a. DM Satine. She was strolling through the dealer hall and was kind enough to stop at our booth and chat for a few minutes. A buddy of mine chauffeured her in from the airport so I knew she’d be at the con but I had doubts that we’d get to meet her. I was glad I did. She seemed super cool and had the most mellow vibe–and she’s a wicked DM as well!
Our next celebrity encounter was with Matt Mercer of Critical Role fame. Matt was about to throw down on some of Madison’s famous Ian’s Pizza with Gamehole Con Director, Alex Kammer. Ask me how I know this. I know this because Deacon and I had just finished some wicked tacos from El Sabor de Puebla‘s food cart and he was still hungry so he started lobbying for a slice of Ian’s. We decided not to go all fan-boy over Matt and instead we simply said hi and that we were happy to have him in our wonderful city of Madison, Wisconsin. It wasn’t until he stopped outside of our booth to pose for selfies with some fans that we hit him up for a photo. Super cool guy and what a terrific smile.
Somewhere between all of the selling, handshaking, chats with friends, and food, a funny thing happened. I say funny now because it took a couple of days of therapy to get over the embarrassment of having my balls busted by the most excellent actor, Matthew Lillard. He was at the con representing his venture, Beadle & Grimm’s. The premiere product being sold was the seriously cool Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Platinum Edition box set. You’ve got to see this thing to believe it. Anyhow, back to our adventure… So this guy comes into my booth and is checking out our wares, and is rolling dice in our exclusive, Made in Wisconsin red oak dice boxes. I recognize him right away and again, nix the fanboy thing to give him some space to browse. He compliments me on our products and I say thanks in return. As he’s leaving I catch site of this magnificent blue d20 he’s rolling in his hand so I walk over to our booth neighbor and ask Matt, “Do you mind if I take a look at that d20 you have?” He grins a grin like only he can do and says, “You totally think I stole this from your booth.” I think at that point my head exploded and the world disappeared as I stood there mortified. That was totally not I was thinking so I start stammering like an idiot swearing up and down to all that is sacred and holy and on my bag of dice that all I wanted to see was that magnificent color blue that the die was molded in. He grins again and says, “You totally think I stole this.”
Now I’m absolutely sweating bullets and am saying, “No, no, no, no..! That’s not at all what I think. Honestly!” So he shows me the die and I instantly recognize it as one of Cosmo Joe’s Shit or Crit d20s from Studio 6D6 and I blurt out, “See! We don’t even CARRY those dice!” Holy shit was I flushed in the face. Matthew just laughed. I walked back to my booth, super embarrassed. I immediately turned back around and went to tell Victoria at the Studio 6D6 booth the story and she says, “Yeah, I know, he just told me.” HOLY SHIT what’s a boy to do??? So I turn to Matt and he just busts out laughing and says, “I’m just playing with you.” Phew! What a relief!
I wound up catching up with him later that evening and had another laugh over the situation but told him to stop by our booth the next day because I had something for him. I found out through a little bird that his favorite color was blue, so I custom-made one of our red oak dice boxes for him with felt that matched the d20 he got from Studio 6D6. He seemed pleasantly surprised at the gift and said, “It matches my dice!” I simply replied, “Of COURSE it does!” and thus ends the story. That’s one way to meet a celebrity. ::grin::
We had the good fortune to have a visit by the esteemed Tim Kask Sunday afternoon. Tim spent a good hour chatting with us about the old days of gaming, what he’s running now, and he also shared a truly fantastic story about a device he uses to weave players’ backgrounds into the sessions he runs. He also lamented having to not forget to pick up the latest Gamehole Con exclusive plushies for his granddaughters. This guy was the first employee hired by Gary Gygax at TSR–and he was sitting right there in his motorized scooter, shooting the shit with me and my son, and it was fantastic.
We wrapped up the weekend and the whirlwind celebrity meet ‘n greets by spending some time with one of my favorite gaming icons: Stefan Pokorny, owner and founder of Dwarven Forge. Stefan and Anne were strolling by our booth when our studded armor dice bags caught Anne’s eye, so she stopped to buy one. I was focused on Stefan’s massive scoop of ice cream so I asked him what his go-to flavor was. “Cookie dough and cookie everything” he said. We had a nice chat and I thanked him for producing such fantastic gaming terrain. I’ve been buying from Dwarven Forge from the time they only sold through the back of old gaming magazines like Shadis and Dragon. I told him I don’t like to get all fan-boy on celebs but I did ask him if my son Deacon and I could get a selfie with him and he was happy to oblige. Stefan’s a cool guy and I hope that some day in the near future I can play a game he runs.
Gamehole Con was completely a smash success this year in so many ways. We made a lot of great new friends, got a chance to show our asses a bit and goof off, and we definitely feasted on the positive, happy energy of the crowd as food for inspiration for next year. We crushed it. And we’ll be back next year.