Christian Wilcher of Fort Wayne was busy painting a piece of home insulation board a combination of black, gray and white.
His instructor, Dillon Olney, advised him to add a bit more white into the mix. It was a base for a tabletop game set in some imaginary place.
Olney, owner of Critical Crafting, had several students quietly and patiently using the insulation board, paint and other tools to fashion dragon lairs, caves and whatever else their imagination led them to create in a class offered Saturday at DralaCon 2019, a convention for people involved in tabletop role-playing games.
The convention at Grand Wayne Center continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an entrance fee of $20.
The first-time event had 200 gamers registered and more come through the door, said Joseph Timmis, DralaCon's director.
Gamers were welcome to check out any of 100 board games in DralaCon's library and play on tables set up in the large hall. Popular games included Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Starfinder, Tales from the Loop and Call of Cthulhu, Timmis said.
By far the most popular game is the latest iteration of Dungeons & Dragons, titled 5e, Timmis said. The original game debuted in 1974 and has celebrity adherents like Stephen Colbert and Vin Diesel.
Gamers take on a role and create a character, which Wilcher and his friend, Amber Regnier, also of Fort Wayne, said is good practice for someone who wants to be in the theater.
“You have to build a role,” said Wilcher, whose current character, Hodar, is inspired by Norse mythology and doesn't take life nearly as seriously as his creator.
“It takes a lot to get him upset,” Wilcher said.
Regnier was dressed in purple and black and wearing what might be described as a witch's hat, only smaller. She combines her love of role-playing games with Renaissance fairs, she said.
Next year, Timmis hopes to offer a costume contest. Some of those dressed up were vendors offering customized drawings of characters and crocheted hats and other related merchandise.
But at Critical Crafting, the half-dozen students were intent on creating other worlds with the help of Olney, 26, who offers classes on YouTube under the same name.
His videos are created with the help his brother, Christian Olney, 20, who says the six-year age gap shows when it comes to learning how to attract an audience. The site has more than 1,500 subscribers and is free, the Olneys said. Both Olneys are graduates of Carroll High School.
Timmis has hopes that DralaCon, hosted by The Nerd Asylum LLC, will grow. Gamers came from as far as Mexico, Canada, California, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“We were very pleased with 200 (people),” he said.