Hmmm…I’ve had many great, even amazing, convention purchases over the years. There are all the games I discovered there—particularly the small press games before there was realistic internet ordering—such as Providence, Fudge, Maelstrom Storytelling, Theatrix, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Aria, and Everway—games unlikely to ever show up in my FLGS. Several of these went on to become my favorites, and, more importantly, they helped broaden my notion of what an RPG could be. Likewise, though after internet ordering was becoming an option, there are Burning Wheel, Sorcerer, My Life With Master, and Primetime Adventures. In a similar vein, I once picked up all 4 issues of Interactive Fantasy, and I still return to some of the articles in them when I need game design advice.
My best purchase this year is easy: a gorgeous limited-run print juxtaposing the Doctor’s name, River Song’s name (both in Gallifreyan), the Tardis, space, and the vortex. You can sorta see it in my picture of this year’s Gen Con loot.
But my best convention purchase of all time is undoubtedly my first set of Storypath Cards. Not the originals by Lion Rampant, but their [licensed] successors by Three Guys Gaming. Storypath Cards became a core part of the mechanics of Four Colors al Fresco, and without them it might never have quite gelled into a solid game (even if you don’t need a set to play the final version). They’re also one of my favorite tools for any traditional RPG—and some story games—for injecting a little player authority into a game. Nearly everyone who has ever played with them has said their eyes were opened to a new way to play. Despite the recent proliferation of card decks for RPGs, I’ve yet to see anything quite like them.
p.s.: I’m working with Three Guys Gaming to publish a new edition of Storypath Cards, hopefully this winter, probably via Kickstarter. Keep an eye on here or The Impossible Dream website, if you’re interested.