Gamers on board for role-playing contests

November 12, 2017 GMT

Robert Bausser of Fort Wayne started playing role-playing games when he was 15 and a student at Paul Harding High School.

The games weren’t the kind where you dressed as the character, but rather where you took on a role at a board game, using your imagination after you were given the characteristics of your character.

“Your character was not just a pawn on the board,” Bausser said Saturday at the 33rd PentaCon : billed as Indiana’s longest-running game convention : at Grand Wayne Convention Center. “You created its own personality.”

He’s been gaming since his teenage days and shares the passion with his son, Nathan, 22, who also came to the three-day event, which runs today from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

About 200 people seated at tables playing various board games attended Saturday, according to Allyson Hull, one of the organizers.

Father and son enjoy Darkus Thel, a role-playing game that one website describes as a “world of sword and sorcery, of romance and danger, and of trials and triumph.”

But on Saturday, Robert Bausser joined a group of seven other players to play ChiffChaff Manor, a board game created in 2013 by Lori Fuelling of Kendallville. She was an enthusiastic game master, leading players that included Terry Schneiter of Ohio City, Ohio, and Laura Landau of Indianapolis through the four-hour game.

“We call him Rotten Robert,” Fuelling said of Bausser. But it’s all in good fun. “I like to make games that are fun. I want people to laugh.”

The game, set between 1890 and 1910, is too big to market, she said, but she occasionally leads it regionally.

PentaCon got its start in the mid-1980s and, by 1993, the event dominated Grand Wayne Center’s Exhibition Hall, according to a chronology marked in floor flagstones at Grand Wayne Center. However, about 10 years ago, numbers started to decrease.

Robert Bausser says the popularity of computers has affected board game conventions. Cost is another, he added.

A lot of the gamers are students and can’t afford to pay $40 over the course of three days to play the games, he said. Hull said she wasn’t sure why the numbers had come down, even though board games are still popular.

There are prizes to be given away today that include new board and card games, which are displayed near the entrance, and the entry fee for today is $20.