Oct 11 2010 9:55am

New York Comic Con, Day 3: Dungeons & Dragons, The Walking Snubbed, and Kids’ Day (?)

New York Comic Con coverage Day 3 by Teresa JusinoSome things just aren’t meant to be. My getting to morning activities on time is one of them. My getting into The Walking Dead panel at NYCC is another.

But do you know what is meant to be? Me becoming a Dungeons & Dragons nerd. And that’s despite the fact that it requires math skills, which I DON’T HAVE. Perhaps it’s the former actor in me. Perhaps it’s the writer in me. Whatever the case, I found myself getting scarily into the headspace of my burly human fighter character.

Here are my highlights from the final day of NYCC:

** Played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time! A delayed train from Brooklyn kept me from an interview opportunity earlier in the morning, but I made it just in time for a “Learn to Play” D&D run at 11 AM. Having never touched the game in my life before today, I have to say I was intimidated at first. Our Dungeon Master was spitting out rules so fast! Dexterity, what? Armor class, huh? And wait, when do I roll the 10-sided die?

But despite the myriad game pieces and the intricate rules, it’s surprisingly easy to start playing. We each had character cards in front of us which listed our character’s powers, and where we could keep track of how much damage had been done to us and how many times we’d been healed, etc. As it was a “Learn to Play” session, our DM was giving us tips as we went along, or reminding us of the rules when we forgot. It was great way to learn! Most of my friends don’t play, and as for the few people I know who do play, I wouldn’t necessarily want to hold them back with my noob-ness. This, however, was really comfortable, and by the end of 3 hours, I had a good sense of the game and left wanting to buy a starter kit!

I was the only woman at the table, and I have to say that intimidated me at first, too. I’ve heard horror stories from the women I know who play about being snubbed or insulted by guys when they try to get in on public games like that, whether the guys are noobs or not. However, the guys at my table, as well as the DM, were all really great and hilarious. None of us exchanged names, but while we were playing at having this adventure together, it was like we were best friends. It’s weird how that happens. It was as though we really were fighting four Orcs at a time, and helping each other out of trouble. That’s really the big selling point of D&D. I’m sure I would like World of Warcraft just fine if I ever played it, but what really makes D&D special is being in the room with these people. I could totally see getting together with friends over drinks and playing, actually spending time with each other and talking! What a novelty!

** The Walking Snubbed. The Walking Dead panel was happening in the IGN Theater at the Javitz. So imagine my surprise when I get there and am told that I have to walk two halls down to get in line. When I arrived, there was an enormous crowd. They started letting people in, and for a while, I thought we’d all get in, since the IGN is a huge room.

They stopped about 50 people in front of me. Frak.

So, I didn’t attend the one panel I was really looking forward to on the last day of NYCC. But since this isn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve been to panels before—not to mention the fact that I went to another panel featuring Robert Kirkman on Friday—I’m going to tell you what I think happened at The Walking Dead panel. Because the way I see it, all of you are already going to watch The Walking Dead anyway, and don’t need a description of a panel to convince you. Those of you who weren’t planning on watching it probably wouldn’t be swayed by a description of the panel, flatter myself though I do by thinking that you all hold my opinion in such high regard. Anyway, here’s what probably happened:

The panel featured Robert Kirkman, series stars Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden and Steven Yeun, and producers Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd. It was moderated by Eric Moro of He asked questions about the show. The producers were all, “We’re so happy to be working with Robert to bring his incredibly unique story to television.” Then Robert Kirkman said something hilarious. Then one of the stars was all “We’re so honored to be a part of this show! We feel a responsibility to fans of the comic to do this story justice.” Then the other star was all, “But we also hope that people will watch the show on its own terms and allow it to be its own thing. We might diverge from the comic, but in a way that’s true to the spirit of the work.”  Then Robert Kirkman said something else that was hilarious. Then they showed a clip from the show that was badass, and the audience went “Woooooo!” Then there was an excruciating Q&A where the audience asked really awkwardly-phrased questions. Then one of the stars said, “We’re so honored to be a part of this show! We feel a responsibility to fans of the comic to do this story justice.” Then Robert Kirkman said another hilarious thing. Then everyone got a free poster/sticker/button. The end.

** Kids’ Day! So, I babysit a first grader named Caleb, who loves superheroes. No really, he loves them. Knows everything about them. Practically has the DC Encyclopedia memorized. As I was going to be at NYCC anyway, I told his mom that I’d love to take him with me for Kids’ Day.

Here’s the thing: they might say it’s Kids’ Day, but Kids’ Day isn’t really kid-friendly at all. I doubt that anyone planning NYCC’s programming is a parent. If they were, Kids’ Day wouldn’t be so adult-centric.

I started typing more about that, but as I did, I realized that I had enough material for a whole other post on the subject, so...hopefully expect that soon.

The day ended on a very high note when I went to Bob Fingerman’s signing at the IDW booth. I’m a big fan of his graphic novel, From the Ashes. Not only did he give me a sketch in my sketchbook, but when I gave him my name, he recognized it from this very site (being a Tor author and all). Turns out he’s a Doctor Who fan, and he’s been enjoying my Doctor Who write-ups! It’s always nice to know that people are actually reading the silly things I put up online.

Well, that’s it for NYCC 2010! This week, I’ll be posting write-ups about some individual panels, giving you the nitty-gritty as well as some photos! There might even be a creator interview or two! Stay tuned.

Teresa Jusino was born the same day Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a freelance writer in New York City who is a regular contributor to websites like ChinaShop Magazine, Pink Raygun, and Newsarama. In addition to her geeky online scribblings, she also writes prose fiction and screenplays. Teresa is the author of a chapbook of short stories called On the Ground Floor, and she is working on a webseries called The Pack, coming in 2011. She is also the last member of WilPower: The Official Wil Wheaton Fan Club. Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

1. Pendard
I love your description of the Waking Dead panel! I skipped NYCC this year so that's basically what I did in me head for the whole event!

Although no one could have predicted they were going to cut the price of comics. Didn't see that coming.
2. Eugene R.
Happy to read about your experience with the instant camaraderie of face-to-face roleplaying games, although I am a bit disappointed that you were the only woman in the session. Hopefully, that is just a statistical quirk - RPGs have been much more balanced in participation of women since the trend to indie/storytelling games began in the early 1990s.

Also, it does give you another link to your fan club's star, as he has recently pulled off a great RPG success at GenCon, dispatching the Big Bad with a single shot and proclaiming himself "Wil Wheaton, Slayer of Dragons".
3. Sarah Darkmagic
I'm really glad you had a great time. I was intimidated as well when I started playing and particularly when I first played in public, for many of the same reasons. A year and a half later, I've run games at a number of cons and blog about D&D on a regular basis.

I ran some D&D games at NYCC so it's great to hear that you enjoyed your session and I hope you come back for more. If you can't find a group, the D&D Encounters program run at many local gaming stores might scratch your itch. It's aimed at new and casual D&D players so you should fit right in.
4. Michael A. Parker
It was really Frank Darabont who had the hilarious lines at the Walking Dead panel, and it did take an exceedingly long wait on line (ad ensuing stampede) and waiting in the theater to see him speak. It was worth it. When comparing The Walking Dead to the very adult Breaking Bad on AMC, Darabont said, "We're going to make Breaking Bad look like pussies." He also prefers zombies to vampires, because "vampires are too sexy."
5. Shelly Mazzanoble
I too am very glad to hear you had a good time playing D&D and loved your post. Admittedly I have a vested interest as I work on the D&D brand team. I also wrote a book called Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game, which as you might have guessed, is aimed at women with little or no experience playing RPGs. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts about playing D&D. Maybe I could interview you? Drop me a line if you get a chance. Oh, and I think we might be soul mates. But that's a different interview.

(Hi Sarah Darkmagic!)
7. Tavis Allison
Teresa, you and any other readers in the NYC area are always welcome to get your D&D on with the New York Red Box group. We play in public and welcome all comers, being more interested in having a good time and spreading love for RPGs than in demonstrating a fallacious superiority by making anyone feel stupid for not knowing what kind of breath weapon a green dragon has. We run two ongoing D&D campaigns and a variety of irregular sessions of other RPGs (Runequest, Traveller, Call of Cthulu, Gamma World), all of which assume that players will come and go. For something even more low-commitment, I'm running a 1974-edition D&D game at the Allegra LaViola gallery this Thursday, Oct. 21st from 6-10 as part of the opening ceremonies for the Doomslangers show; having played once before may make you feel like an old hand compared to gallery-goers who accidentally wander into the dungeon.

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