Dread Pixie’s Gencon Tips

Last week I gave you some tips on bringing kids to the con. I know not everyone has kids of course, so I wrote up a few more universal tips too. Even though this year will only be my 3rd GenCon, I have learned a few things in the past two years that I think are worth sharing. So here’s a few things that I hope will be helpful to you:

Potion of Purify Flesh

Con Crud is a real thing, and it is awful. You will probably meet a lot of new people or just meet up with old friends and there will be lots of hand shaking, hugs, handling money in the exhibit hall, and bumping into sweaty strangers. Make sure to bring lots of hand sanitizer and wash your hands whenever possible. You can grab cute little pocket-size bottles from a local Bath & Body works with little rubberized holders that make for the perfect con badge lanyard accessory too!

Don’t Skimp On Rations

Snacks are important because of the crazy con schedule. You might have an event that takes longer than you thought it would and not be able to grab food until after your next seminar. Expect the unexpected at gencon, and don’t get caught starving because not only will it make you feel terrible, but you could also wind up overpaying for vendor food within the convention center. So, avoid passing out or feeling sick from lack of food and throw some granola bars or trail mix in your bag. Also, keep hydrated! Water is so important, and although they will have plenty of vending machines around the con you’re better off to bring your own instead of spending $4 a bottle.

Save vs. Overbooking

There are a ton of awesome events at gencon, informative seminars, games galore, interesting people to meet, and just a bunch of cool things to see and do so naturally it can be easy to overbook yourself. You don’t want to spend your entire con running from one place to the next. Be sure to plan a little time to just hang out in the exhibit hall or check out the amazing artwork. Set aside time for ‘nothing’ and just see where curiosity takes you, there’s no reason to turn the entire convention into work. Also, don’t make the mistake of scheduling a bunch of time for games and no time to eat – unless of course you’ve followed the above guideline.

Encumbrance Rules Become Reality

Also, no matter how much you want to tote around your rule books, magic deck, small board game, and every die you own – don’t. Pack light and pack things you absolutely need like a set of dice, pen/pencil, snacks, water, character sheets or whatever else is necessary for your con-going experience for the next 4-6 hours. If you’re DM’ing a con game – don’t bring your dwarven forge or a giant box of mini’s! You’ll immediately regret packing your gamer life story and hauling it around in your bag all day when it feels like it’s going to rip your shoulder off, or after you’ve inadvertently blasted 300 strangers in the ribs with your bag as you attempt to traverse the con.

+5 To Self Awareness

This one basically goes without saying but try and be mindful of your own personal space, and others. As noted in the last tip, when you’re out at the con try not to stampede over people and knock into them. Possibly even consider using the words “excuse me”. Also, it should go without saying but please, please, bathe regularly for your own sake and the nostrils of everyone else you come in contact with.

Extended Rests

This one might sound like common sense but in all of the excitement of the con you might not want to go to bed. This also relates back to my tips for bringing kids to the con. Sleep is good! Also try to grab naps when you can during the day and try to get at least a few good hours of sleep every night. Don’t be a “con vagabond” as my husband calls them either, get a hotel room or try and share one with someone else instead of sleeping on the floor somewhere. The con will still be there when you wake up, just plan accordingly.

Rogue-like Footwear

You will probably be doing a lot of walking in the four days of GenCon so you should make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes to avoid blisters and foot pain. You’re going to want your kicks to be so soft, comfortable, and quiet that they would make any respectable cutpurse jealous. Make sure your shoes fit you right and don’t rub or pull at you when walking for more than a few minutes, and get yourself some Dr. Scholl’s inserts. You’ll thank me later.

 Prepare Your Knock Spell Ahead of Time

Mr Grumps. insisted that I add this last one in, though I don’t think it’s really fair considering it’s probably too late for most of us going to the convention but hey, it’s probably worth mentioning – at least for next year. Order your badges ahead of time and have them shipped to you. Waiting in an insanely long line for badges is extremely tiresome and no fun at all. If you can avoid it, please do.

Well that wraps it up for this one, I hope you get some use out of at least one of these tips. Have some more of your own? Please feel free to add them in the comments below!

About DreadPixie

DreadPixie mostly serves as editor the curmudeonly Gazebo who writes here, but she also dabbles in a bit of blogging herself. She’s also into streaming video games on Beam these days. She has a mean addiction to Dark Souls, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and baking. You can keep up to date with whatever awesomeness she’s up to by following her on twitter @DreadPixie.


  1. Not quite the same as GenCon, but one big event me and whole bunch of gamers make it to in Blighty is the Student Nationals. It’s more of a weekend of competitive gaming – board/card games, wargaming, RPGs, larp and anything else you could shake a stick at – and some wonderful night’s drinking and having a laugh.

    Due to a few ‘casualties’ on previous years, our society is trying to come up with our own survival guide. I think there’s a few that might be valid at both events. Especially the bit about your shoes.


  2. As an addendum to your +5 to Self-Awareness, my group coined two terms for folks like these:

    “Oblivions” – Those who are so self-absorbed that they fail to acknowledge anyone else. They can be found standing in the middle of walkways talking with friends; tying up a guest of honor line as they describe their +11 paladin at length; or updating their Facebook page during a game they’re supposed to be playing.

    “Human Traffic Cones” – Those who suddenly stop in the middle of a crowded pathway without moving to the side, forcing other walkers to walk around them.

    You may not have to wait in an insanely long Will Call line this year as they have announced that the Will Call booth will be open 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday. So stop by at 3 a.m., as I guarantee it’ll be a short wait. 😉

  3. I agree. Showers and “Excuse me’s” being the most important. Commuting 10 years in Toronto has made me appreciate bathing even more.

    Being polite is just common sense…

  4. Great article. As a convention go-er who has thrown many a purchased ticket in the garbage because he wanted to do everything, I second your overbooking warning.

    I especially liked the Dr. Scholl’s inserts tip. I use the foot powder in the socks trick to keep my feet dry but I think the inserts tip might also help (due to all the walking).


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