Posted by Raine Hutchens on Sep 6, 2012

ISU-Con 2012 – Another Tabletop Journey

Each year a huge tabletop gaming event takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana called Gen Con. The event covers 4 days worth of gaming and thousands of players flock to the convention every year. What a lot of people don’t know is that Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana holds their own tabletop convention that takes place about a month after Gen Con. The event is called ISU-Con and it’s even sponsored by the big prior event. It was held this past weekend and I got to head up and see what all the fuss was about.

ISU-Con is held at the University in one of their larger gyms. There was plenty of gaming going on and the local cosplay/anime club was handing out pizza and drinks free of charge for attendees. One of the major cogs of this convention machine is the Mind’s Eye Society, a large live-action non for profit guild that’s spread all over the United States. Mind’s Eye worked together with students, volunteers, and tabletop enthusiasts to make ISU-Con a reality. The event focuses on tabletop gathering where new players can sign up to learn brand new games as well as make new friends and find more players for the games they’ve already established.

There’s no admission fee and not really any rules to follow. You can simply show up, sign in, and get to gaming. Near the admissions table there are other tables lined with signup sheets for games. Staff who have volunteered to run games each have a sheet for the game they are running. All that’s required on your part is to simply sign your name to one of the open blanks and you’ll be good to go. During the entirety of the event a charity raffle was being run, and there were some gaming memorabilia that were being auctioned off. Everyone got a raffle ticket for attending, and for each game you signed up to play you received another one. This was the con’s way of raffling off some pretty cool items. There were so many games to choose from and after some perusing I found one I definitely wanted to try – the Marvel Heroic RPG. Once I signed up for the game the room was open to whatever I wanted to do.

After playing a couple of different games I turned my attention to the LARP in the furthest-back corner of the room. There was a Geist game running, which is a LARPG centered on one person dying and being brought back as a supernatural being. After that a Vampire: Requiem game started, and it was the game many of the attendees were there for. Now I’m not in to that specific game, but it didn’t stop me from admiring the players. Plenty of them arrived dressed in costume and they maintained their character very well. The game went on without a hitch, and during that time I witnessed one of the coolest things I’ve yet seen at a convention.

Like I mentioned above, the Mind’s Eye Society and a lot of the organizations at ISU are very involved with charity. They raise a lot of money and donate it to specific charities each year, and the spirit of their giving came out at the con. For Vampire: Requiem Mind’s Eye Society put together an auction of sorts. On the tables in front of the game were papers. These papers stood for in-game items that players could bid real money on. At a certain point during the evening these items would be auctioned off and given to the player with the highest bid. All of the money collected for these items goes straight to charity. It’s really a win-win situation: players get awesome in-game items, and charities get help with funding. Meanwhile everyone at the event is gaming and having a great time.

The gym was fairly large, though that left a lot of unused space. The place was pretty hot too, which became an annoyance the more I stayed. It didn’t stop me or anyone else from playing, but it is something for staff to think about in the future. Since the room was open and the games were set on a schedule, if you didn’t have a demo at the current moment you could mingle, and I did just that.

I walked around, checking out other games, and I saw a lot of people interested in a variety of games. There was Cards Against Humanity, Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer 40k, Axis and Allies, and much more being played all around me. It was my own little slice of heaven.

While at the con I got to try out the Marvel Heroic RPG and I fell in love. I went home and purchased it the next day which filled me with all kinds of excitement. The event uses the perfect gateway to get players to purchase games: by demoing them. Every GM was very nice and friendly, and I had a really fun time checking out all of the games.

A local game store, Full Moon Games, stopped in and set up a small booth where players could make purchases. They brought everything from Magic: The Gathering booster packs to dice and game mats. They even brought with them some board games available for purchase, and their pricing wasn’t bad. This allowed players the ability to spend some money while at the con to grab new games and whatnot, which is the big selling point for a lot of conventions.

ISU-Con wasn’t something huge – though the staff would like it to be one day soon. It was a great event where tabletop gamers could come to congregate and learn new games. For a free event where the refreshments were provided I certainly got my time’s worth out of it. I learned a new game, hung out with cool people, and laughed more than I could have ever thought possible. I think ISU-Con is an event that’s less-traveled to, and I hope that changes. I certainly had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to next year’s con. If you’re in the area and are looking for an event that can help satiate your need for con fever after Gen Con, this is the place to be. Great job to the staff, GMs, and players for making such a fun and involved convention!

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