Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gencon Report: The Saturday Night Charity Auction

The single event we look forward to the most every year since the Gamer Wife has joined us for Gencon is the Saturday night charity auction. The Gencon auction runs for most of the day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All items are brought in by attendees of the convention, and it's certainly possible to make a good chunk of change by selling items through the auction.

Friday night is the big collector's auction. We had an epic game of Call of Cthulhu Friday night this year, so we couldn't make it, but we never schedule anything for the charity auction. This year was no different.

While the charity section, which is the final section of the auction, was a little lighter this year (we were done before midnight! pssh!), it still was a great experience. The auction staff and other volunteers work to gather some amazing original art, including the player mats which you can see throughout this post.

Apart from the player mats, huge art prints and signed novels are donated from many out in the artists' alley or vendors' hall. Numerous companies also donate brand new games still shrink-wrapped or premiering at the show.

These items always go for well above retail because the crowd at the auction is one of the best groups to be around in the entire convention. That's really what it boils down to. People are throwing money at each year's charity (which this year was Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana).

If you're at all into the old school revolution, this is the crowd for you. Of course the Friday night collector's auction is full of a huge number of rare modules, items, collections, etc. of really interesting D&D and TSR stuff, it definitely bleeds over into the charity auction as well.

And that brings us to our two auctioneers. For the last several years the final two auctioneers have been amazing and are fonts of role-playing and TSR history. They are so because they lived it. Tim Kask,who was Gary Gygax's first employee and created the famed Dragon Magazine and Frank Mentzer,who also worked for TSR in the 80's and founded the RPGA, are amazing and entertaining. They're incredibly passionate about the hobby even after all these years, and hearing these two guys who are so responsible for what goes on across the hall and through out the rest of the convention is it's own trip. Come to give to charity, stay for the chatting between these two living legends and genuinely nice guys.

There's a lot to say about the charity auction, but you need to experience it for yourself. It's an unsung hero of Gencon every year, but we love it. I will add that this year we didn't have any dice bags with original art up for sale, which is too bad, but can be incredibly difficult to arrange for all the artists. Here's a pretty decent sampling I've found of dice bags of years past.

On the other hand, the unique play mat you can see to the left there contains a sketch from every Magic: The Gathering artist they had at the convention. A truly unique item that you couldn't get anywhere else. If you're at all curious about the auction, I highly recommend popping in Saturday night next year.


  1. Those artworks must have been one of the highlights of the auction! They’re so astonishing, and I could imagine how the auctioneers must have been thrilled to bid them. Charitable events truly are a great experience for both the organizers and attendees. Thanks for participating!

    Norman Watkins @ Giving Works eBay


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