Monday, December 08, 2008

Bravely into the winter months...

Why else would anybody drive to Milwaukee from Cleveland in early December besides the great weather? There was something about a game festival at a local game store, named Adventures in Gaming, but really now. Members of the gaming social network site known as the RPGBomb like Cyborg Trucker, Siefertma, Lucius, VictusMetalus, and probably a few others that I only caught their real world names were going to be showing up, but why bother with that? I even heard that James Lauder of TSR and elsewhere fame was going to be there also, but obviously we were going for the weather. Who doesn't though, really?

And the weather didn't dissapoint... Nine plus hours of driving, though the trek through Chicago was fairly non-stressful as a souped-up and pimped out 30 y/o Buick Rivera played my wingman keeping the jerks from zig-zagging all round us, we arrived in city of Laverne and Shirley and Miller Beer. The snow started within 30 minutes. Peryton directed me using a regular land map to where the store was with no problems what so ever. Finding a hotel or a motel besides an establishment directly besides a shady looking bar advertising dancers and live music was a bit of a pinch. The road-scrapers were starting up the major avenues when we pulled into a place called the Hospitality Inn and the walk into the lobby from the car was bitter. Feeling a chill on my sandaled feet, and seeing a mob of young adults in the glass-enclosed pool and whirlpool made me say to Peryton, "Let's get a room with a hot-tub."

She rolled her eyes, but as luck would have it the Suites were all that were left for the night. The lady at the desk liked how Peryton and I didn't get up-tight when we saw the place was party central and worked to make the stay worth our while.And as if by omen from the godheads, we got $85 off of the Roman Empire suite. There was also a free bottle of champagne, but, after a quick taste, soda and beer were the nightcaps. But I really enjoyed myself at the hotel. The room had a seriously large hottub and the bed had pillars around it. The wife wouldn't let me go get extra sheets to make a toga, but I pretended to in my own mind. The partying kids were good-natured and friendly, even a little drunken shouting in the hallway was accompanied with laughter not death threats, a nice change from every weekend at my neighbor's house. After midnight, everyone went into their rooms even. At breakfast, the partying kids and I talked, mostly about how to work a waffle iron timer, while truckers and groups of soccer moms in their pajamas sans sleeping kids inserted good natured jokes into the general mirth of the breakfast nook. I suppose the cheery weather outside, some 20 degrees and snowswept, had warmed our hearts.

Cyborg trucker had been sending me emails warning that there might not be tens of thousands of attendants, which seemed to scaring away other "industry guests and VIPs." He was apologizing to me for bothering me even for an event that I had willingly volunteered myself to participate in. As I am not certain what an "industry guest" is and definitely not used to being a VIP, I like road-trips to meet other gamers, you know having adventures while adventure gaming, so I was glad to be there. To be listed with someone the caliber of James Lauder, who had heard of our publishing before we met him that day, was very flattering. Siefertma and Lucius from the RPGBomb jumped in on my WHAP session, and I hope I don't ham it up too much, but I am being sincere when I say, they were two great roleplayers. Jim (Lucius) came up with a "Scrapper" character by the name of Morgan Wyatt, who I kept seeing as a mix between Gene Autry and Indiana Jones by the end of play. Mark (Siefertma) came up with a great "Gumshoe" character and kept getting extra XP's for doing great Humphry Bogart lines where appropriate. Peryton did up a "Professor" type, who came up with the "radiotronic message launcher with idiosignature-locked delivery system" with her Gadget-Making perk, which really added to the wildness in the pulp tale. GM'ing for three players who are experienced GM's, to begin with, was good for my soul. Lucius, especially, popped in with pointers which made the overall tale better for it. Siefertma for all of his shyness proved to be an amazing source of 1920's and 1930's specific bits and great impersonations. Peryton with her usual flare for unconventional thinking made my life as difficult as she could, but helped me re-adjust a couple rules that were getting out of control with Monk (WHAP's prime-shaker and co-author) and I scheming a bit too much in isolation from the tabletop. WHAP's "The Silver's Jungle" was a load of fun for me to run.

Around 4pm I looked around the basement where 70% of the store's gaming space was. Out of 14 tables, I think, there might've been more, most were occupied with four to eight people each. A dozen or so Halo-players were scattered along the wall playing at their PC consoles. Walking upstairs the flea-market table was doing some business, and the other tables, filled with hip and flashy games I suspect, each had groups around them. This was on top of getting free Chinese food for lunch and great local pizza for dinner. The RPGBomb Games Day: Milwaukee was success in my humble opinion. Cyborg Trucker and the guys who run the Adventures in Gaming store know how to throw a party. And I appreciated Steve's, 'Trucker, insistence at calling WHAP! "Wildly Heroic Action Pulp," I forget not everyone knows what in the heck WHAP! is.

Peryton and I played in Lucius's Zombies at McDonald's Farm, which I was lucky enough to get a copy of his homegrown miniature rules for. We had a blast. Robin, the old chimera herself, played Vince Withers, a Sean of the Dead homage. And I think I got the hoodie-wearing hood, who really knew how to shoot. We made a great zombie-killing team. I don't even like miniature games, but the rules on this one rock.

Heading home we stayed over night just outside of Gary Indiana. We had one more stop to make on the morn of the next day. Well more around noon but I am sure you get the gist. Peryton and I finally met our 8, maybe 9, year-long friend Stony. Stony and his wife no less. As some of you know already, Stony is about the wittiest guy that you're ever going to meet who actually has read Beowulf and really likes the Lord of the Rings movies. Luckily Stony and I exchanged warstories about our time in the Marines and Army respectively, with Peryton and Mz.L-Stony, dropping in tidbits not as boring every now and then, and did not remember our infamous, but unfinished, 'Who'd win in a arm-wrestling match: Seigfried or Beowulf?' debate. Who knows, maybe next time.

Back at home, I am recharged and inspired to get to work on yet another year of TAG adventures. That includes hitting the chatrooms again, where the system was finalized from a pocket notebook scribbled a decade before.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Temple of The Fire Monkey, Birthday Edition

Michael Larsen, whom we call "Monk," sometimes "Monkey 450", sometimes "One of many Monkeys," is Peryton Publishing's newest writer. Since his birthday is today I thought I'd give a quick biography. Ever since he failed in his bid to get into the NBA, he has been trying to change the direction of his life. For two years he pestered the people who run the "True Dungeon" at GenCon to play a halfling thief in one of their adventures, but for some reason he has not been contacted as of yet. Failing that he has been trying to become a stormtrooper for the 501st Imperial Legion, but no one has found a stormtrooper uniform tall enough for him– though they did find a great Hammerhead outfit that fit .

After a brief stint with the Firefly TV series, he plays a pillar/gangplank on the spaceship Serenity, he had to leave Hollywood after a scandalous dealing with co-star Jewel Staite, which we are not allowes to discuss in detail pending the trial. He was not selected to reprise his role in the Serenity motion picture needless to say. Once again adrift in the wilderness, Mike was seen frequenting many smaller game conventions where he and partner Mike Stackpole won the "Dwarf Bowling" championships for three years in a row. It was at the tail end of a binge for one of these championship celebrations, where he mistook me, Tom K. Loney, as his dwarf bowling ball and we became friends after a bit of yelling and explanation.

Mike has reformed his wild ways, especially after joining Peter Mahew's Furry Affinity Chapel of Enlightened Truth, and finding his "inner hippo." He was overjoyed at not having to wear a Hammerhead outfit to "fit in," to quote him. He now focuses his intensity and creative energy into making role-playing products and sandals for single lower leg amputees of America. His works include Wildly Heroic Action Pulp roleplaying tales, the forthcoming TAG's Rock and Roleplaying (set in the 1950's), many short stories to be published, and something known as the Half Birkenstock line of sandal wear.

Happy Birthday Monk, hope you like the biographical write up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pieces of GenCon '08.

Though the convention just wasn't going to be as much fun as it could've been, you see Ken St. Andre wasn't going to be there, about 90 minutes after I finished working the baseball game, approximately 130am, 13 August, Peryton and I were packed up and in the car headed towards Indianapolis. Listened to a few CD's that I hadn't in while, while the lady napped, or when she was awake, we made up comedy skits. By around 615 that morning, we arrived at the Hampton Inn downtown, GenCon central, for yet another year. We were too early for any rooms, especially the larger one we had reserved, so the hotel fed us and stored our luggage for us after parking the car. After B-fast, we walked around the empty convention center. Once again the giggles were overtaking us as we relized that though we thought that we were sneaking around, anyone was welcome to wander all over the place until the vendors started getting out of the boxes and crates. At about 9am, Caed called and let us know she was being kicked out of the room where she had woken up, probably from a blurry night before, and needed help with her luggage getting to the hotel where we were sharing .

Manual chores done, we reviewed our schedules and hung out in the lobby of the Hampton talking about the punch and grind of our geriatric-driven healthcare system, which employs both Caed and I, up until lunch. At lunch, I doscovered that the Ram, though I usually dislike it, does indeed have air conditioning and their blond ale is pretty kick-ass. After lunch, Caed was once again caught up in her masses of people needing her attention. We promised to meet her where she was doing a LARP event for Live Cthulhu that evening, then went and checked into our room, where I promptly got a nap in.

At about 8pm, Peryton and I made our way to Caed's LARP, where we found out that she was playing an NPC. We watched and spoke with Chris and some of the cast, and I found a nearby little bar, where I got fairly lit not having to play or GM in the drama unfolding in front of me. Bruce Wayne, Monk, and his buddy Marco, good enough handle as is, called during the session, so things were lining up. Rook of course bumped into us around 11pm, as we were on the way to Champions with Caed and some of her LARP'ers. I was pretty blotto'ed by then, I remembering buying a round of drinks and an appetizer for dinner.

Thursday Am, luckily I was mildly hung-over enough to get up plenty early to get my characters ready for the Spacer's session, "Episode 4: The Moon of Fear", and "the Dark Knoll" for the Peryton RPG. I was dreading an upcoming Mutants and Masterminds scenario that was based off of my POW! scenario "What Price Liberty" as I just hadn't found a way to get comfortable with the system for the six months that I have been trying. I figured I'd stop stressing and just work through the day. Peryton didn't deign to awaken so early, of course, so I walked over to the Union Station conference hall with my thoughts for company.

Monk introduced me to Marco and two other players showed up for the space opera sitting. And the fellow who played the Marine commander threw me for a loop during "the Moon of Fear" as he brought down a whole platoon of security with the away team, and the ship's engineer jerry-rigged a hand-help laser cannon. Needless to say, we had quite a martial game. Asteroid pirates and space marine casualties everywhere by the end of things. Bruce Wayne showed up at lunch, having had a hellacious day already, and wanting to have some fun! "The Dark Knoll" had no one show up at 2pm, so I watched Monk run his "Black Lotus Affair" WHAP adventure for a bit. Wayne, Peryton, and I walked the Dealers' Hall after a bit, where I saw Mz. C. Calhoun, in appropriate metal bikini attire of course, Chainmail Chick from Flying Buffalo's Lost Worlds series at the Paizo Booth promoting the Gamers movie sequel, Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Then we headed back to Union station to get some rest and catch the end of Monk's run. I actually caught a nap in a quiet secluded corner, though the marble wall and thin carpeted floor was a bit cold. but I woke up refreshed to catch the finale to the Affair, and Peryotn was finishing her notes for her Peryton RPG scenario "Escape from the Artificer!"

Wayne came back from somewhere and after the game wrapped up, him, Peryton, Monk, and Marco and I all wandered to a nearby Irish pub, with a Klingon name like Clandagh or some such, to try their fish and chips, of course. Sitting out on the sidewalk cafe' part Aarra' and Steppenwulf walked into us, and joined us for dinner. I think the waiter moved some of the beverages out of the way to make room for some actual food at some time. But then 7pm came rolling around and Peryton had her scenario to run, and I had my Mutants and Masterminds session to do. Well, I solved my anxiety like any true-blue American, I threw money at the problem. Like a Haliburton subcontractor with a friend in the White House, I paid any player who produced a ticket with the event and their name on it hard cash-- try finding a GM who is nice enough to do that at a convention sometime. The players were disappointed but at least not pissed. So Wayne jumped in on the Escape, while Monk, Marco and I wandered around.

After the game, we ran into Rook attending a jump-in D&D game where the game-master was quite the storyteller. Peryton and I found Caed already asleep in the room. Lordhed knows what shady business she'd been up to all day. The rest of us ended up the night at a Cajun fast food joint with a decent bar. Some pretty awful microbrewed beers, but at least it wasn't budweisser(sp).

Friday am, the door closing as Caed headed off to breakfast woke me up. I started getting ready for the day's events. Spacers "Episode 5: The Blades of Triton" and the evening's T&T scenario, "the Dwarf Holes." Peryton having finished her grueling ordeal of having a whole scenario the day before announced that she would be sleeping in (imagine that). I made it down to breakfast, and talked with a couple from Michigan as I shared a table, because Caed didn't save me a seat.

"The Blades of Triton" went wonderful. Had a group of guys from the same college in Chicago, Monk, Marco, and Wayne all showing up. It was no time at all the crew of the USS Venture were shaking and tilting in their seats as the rocketship took damage during the session's Ship-to-Ship extensive play-testing. We never did get to the duel of psychics, but Wayne fulfilled the genre's obligatory romance with the lovely Dr. Nomra Saline of the Neptune Exploratory Authority. A good session overall.

After lunch, Peryton and I walked the Dealer's Hall for a bit, then rested in some chairs, while I rubbed here feet. I was making plans for a early dinner when Aarra' reminded me that my T&T game was 5pm not 7pm via text message.

Once again at Union Hall, the official spot for the session was not the same as the last official spot that I knew of. But luckily enough, Aarra', Steppenwulf, and another player met me in the area I was at. I hear it was quieter any ways. Peryton showed up and jumped in to play in " 'the Holes." The game went nicely, and the third ticket-holder did a great job of playing my homage to Drzzit or whatever that drow dude is. Monk and Marco rolled in towards the end, complaining about an absent GM.

Afterwards, I helped Caed out her big production, the Zombie Walk. Hanging with the LARP'ers of
Midnight Productions was good for my role-playing/acting instincts, we played off of each others' leads. The walk got really, I mean, really long after the third stoplight and a gaggle at the elevator. Still Caed was glowing, and we got to watch zombie Elvis et al. perform "the Thriller" dance at the end of it. Wayne, Monk, Marco, Peryton, I, and later Caed all meandered over to the Bourbon Street restaurant where we late-nighted it the year before. Didn't run into Rook at the end of the celebrations for the day though.

Saturday am, I breakfasted with a guy from India then went upstairs bringing a light meal for the knocked out gals before setting up the characters for my one game of the day, "Lies, Black Eyes, and Spies" for WHAP. Monk and I were co-running the adventure so it occurred to me that i was working awfully hard, but luckily I did. We only had three players, maybe a fourth, if you count the disinterested Peryton, then Caed, who showed up an hour later. But the scenario provided some fun and laughs all in a mystery-comedy story which could have been from a 1940's flik.

That afternoon, we, the usual cast mentioned throughout this entry so far, headed over to the Wayne Manor for a small pool party. Marco cooked, while Caed, Wayne, Peryton, and even Monk joined Wayne's son and me in the pool. After dinner, Marco, Caed, and Monk headed back early for a game, while Peryton and I chatted up Wayne's friend Chris, Hole-Man from here on, at the fire pit. Wayne busy-bodied around, I think Dr. Freeze was loose or his wife needed help with the garage sale or something. Hole-Man and Peryton had his kids cracking up. Aarra' and Steppenwulf called just before 9pm, so Wayne took us back to the convention area.

Steppenwulf ran an impromptu T&T game, which we'll call "the Gremlin's Chimney," for now at least. As Rezz Undar, the Half-Human Warrior, I was able to merciless kill Magic the Gathering players, well viscerally at least, as well as Vampire LARP'ers. Marco jumped in for his first T&T game ever, I think. Monk then Caed wandered up to watch half way through. Andy Hopp, of Con on the Cob fame, said hi then popped back to the game that he was running. I really enjoyed myself, as anyone who knows me is just shocked to find out. I really want to write up this game though. It was quite fun. Steppenwulf has been catching on how to do a good T&T session and despite the lateness of the hour everyone had fun.

Everyone else ran into Rook on the way out the door. I was busy taking the fire exit stairs as the main lobby's atrium third floor escalator at the Hyatt was bothering me. Peryton and everyone was too tired to do much else. I ended up the night at the Cajun fastfood place for a night cap before heading upstairs and joking with Peryton as she tried to read the T&T 7.5 edition rules.

Ah Sunday, the depression day. Actually I wasn't nor did anything give me cause to even be
stressed. Both Caed and Peryton were packed up by 10am. My "Cthulhu at the Sands" characters for that day's CoC game were all but completed. Check out went easy, and we found a place to park. By 11am, I had bought everything that I had wanted to get from the Dealers' Hall, and Peryton and I were having nachos for a brunch at Champions. The Bundesliga soccer was playing on TV, and our waiter was very fast.

" ' At the Sands" filled up at the very last minute. And as expected every player was into the role they played. Soon enough Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Angie Dickinson, Aland Ladd, and Lauren Bacall foiled Liberace's foul plan to summon a Servitor of the Outer Gods to help out his brother George with a slight fatal injury-- with a little help from Jerry Lewis. I hope to get most of the group back for "Skit Skat Over Innsmouth" next year. We wrapped up just as the clock struck 2:30 pm, and I think my game was the last game running. I closed the Union Station at GenCon 'o8!

Lunch was once again at Champions, as the Ram had shut off its air conditioning and football fans and gamers competed with each other for space and to find out who were more like the Borg. Hugs were given, and promises made for next year, between Caed, Marco, Monk, Peryton, and me. We had missed Paul 1.0, he drove this year and had to leave at 2pm. When we missed the Cthulhu rally on Friday or Saturday we missed his only free time in his schedule.

Despite the fact that this GenCon was the best yet for me, it of course was no fun at all. Ken St. Andre just wasn't there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

of Flying Buffalo, Trolls, and Phoenixes

Well maybe just Scots, more so than phoenixes, as we traveled to Scottsdale not actually Phoenix for the Flying Buffalo and Tunnels and Trolls convention this last weekend.

It took a bit to get there. We had bought our tickets sometime in February or March, I'm not sure, after booking flights out of Columbus. And then getting the rooms reserved seemed a bit of a struggle from April until May. And the convention info was being posted lackadaisically at the FBI site for the most part. It really wasn't until a week before the Convention was supposed to take place that we attendees heard anything as to what was expected to happen. And when the information came there was a sudden need for 15 GM'ed adventures, not the originally posted five. And the guy who was supposed to fill three of the original slots opted out of showing up for whatever reason. That is on top of mandatory overtime at work at the Indian games and my own writing.

Luckily the night before we left Ohio, Flavia and I spent the night at Mandy-B's and Steppenwulf's house. Helping Mandy-B make a great vegetarian dinner and listening to her enthusiasm got me pumped up for the up-coming convention. And since we were flying out of town with them, it made getting there a bit of a festive pilgrimage. Though when we arrived in Arizona, we only had energy fro a dip in the pool and some late night pizza.

Friday morning rolled around, and I made myself stay in bed until 6am local time before jumping up to prepare the day's adventure offering of "Crossing Guard." At breakfast, Monk called and told me he was about halfway between Flagstaff and Scottsdale. Even Flavia found herself able to wake up before 9:30 local time as it was after noon back at home. We met Brian Penn, or Skulltosser, a long time editor of mine, and one of the better ones, over at Outlaw Press. With him was Bart and Byron, the men of mystery from the great northwest. And luckily Khayd', of Mike Eidson, was already chatting everyone up.

Before the games started, Rick Loomis's littlest sister, Nancy, told us about a great Mexican food restaurant just up the road. Two people we'd met Doug, Nodin, and Mark S., Spencer, offered to drive us, but then I decided that we'd, Monk, Flavia, and I, meet them there because I wanted to walk. Of course, I got lost and we found someplace else, a Cien Agave, where we got six dollar tacos and did much goofing off.

We were only 5 minutes late for the "Crossing Guard" session. Where I met Martin L., Dwarflander, as he and Nodin showed me some player tricks that I hadn't seen before as a GM. Afterwards, hearing of Flavia and my misadventure, Rick insisted on taking us to the correct restaurant. He also brought Steve S. Cromptom of Grimtooth's Traps illustration fame. After dinner, Ken showed up, and everyone retired to individual suites for the evening game sessions.

I played in Byron's and his brother Bart's room, 'A Role of the Dice" was Byron's adventure and I was awed as a GM watching him. Now when I do characters, I do voices. But this guy did at least six different characters with different voices AND at no time did one of the characters get mixed up with the others that the GM was doing from before. Now that was talent. Byron has been nice enough to email me a copy of the scenario, so I can finally figure out what we the players were doing.

Back in the room, Monk was crashed, I think he had around 6pm, as he worked the night before driving in. It was after midnight, or 3am my time, I got to bed quickly.

Saturday morning, Monk and I were sitting by the pool at 7am, as I put final touches on the characters for my spaghetti western WHAP! session. By 830 am, I saw that there were more than enough GM's to make the morning a success. Mac McMahon, Mak, was recruiting as many people as he could for his old school T&T/Call of Cthulhu game, but as I had five players, if including Flavia, for the "Hey Amigo It's Sabbatoe!" I had to decline. Khayd', as well as Landdwarf and Nodin, helped Monk, Flavia, and myself enjoy a good old fashioned Saturday Morning cowboy play-pretend. We did lunch, Khayd', Monk, Flavia, and I, at a Indian restaurant afterwards. When I thought Flavia might be catching the bill, I discovered that she had found some jewelry to purchase instead.

The afternoon session was going to be a wash for getting all but more than two people at any table that was not Bear Petersen and Larry Detillio(sp?) GM'ing an adventure. I scrapped my Spacers' episode for the afternoon, hopefully giving some players to Bart or Mak or whomever was still running. I sat in lobby with Jim Walker, one of the world's foremost experts on Monsters! Monsters!, and a whole slough of cool kids came over and hung with us after a few minutes. I slipped away when Flavia informed me that Liz Danforth was in the building. And I FINALLY met her, the woman who made FRPG come alive for me. This little "fanboy" session for me was almost as much fun as when I met Ken St. Andre for the first time.

Oddly enough, while I was talking to Mz. Danforth, a woman came up and waited patiently for me to finish my conversation with Liz. I figured she knew Liz, but I was determined to hog just a bit of her time. Well her name was Teri and she was waiting to ask me to run a "Classical T&T" adventure on Sunday. She wouldn't take my WHAP! powder punk event, so what else could I do. Frankly, I have to thank her an
d her husband for asking. I love doing "quick writes" for special audiences. More on that later.

Around dinner time, Bear Petersen wrapped up his game, and a horde of people discovered they were hungry. I think the other bigwig's game was still going on or took a break or something, but it was clear that time constraints were not relevant to that one session-- so much for anyone else wanting to play in his game, I suppose. But in anycase, we all plodded over to Red Lobster and had a dinner. I missed the awarding of Rick Loomis with the special T&T hat as I had to run back and get our camera. But I had fun none the less (see the pic's above).

My evening session was in Khayd's room, where we played two new friends Dave and Tracy, Minodave and Tracitroll, as well all of the Peryton clique, well almost because Monk was busy in the other room writing "Sock Hop of Terror." And lest I forget we met Tmuwo, one of the many Pauls of Trollhalla. But the game was "A Chance Encounter Meeting of Paragons," as usual as well written and pieced as anything Mike Eidson puts his mind to. It was a blast, I was reminded of StarGate for some reason, but this was as my Dark Elf jumped out the window for his life as the rest of the party went to slice out my heart. At midnight though, I felt like it was 3am and more than ready for bed.

"The Fire Monkey's Treasure" was written between 7:30am and 10:25am, just after breakfast. I was happy that I scheduled my game session from 11am until 2pm, because though I didn't sleep in, I needed the time. By 11am everyone signed up was there, including Landdwarf, Spencer, and Nodin, as well the Oleg and Teri, the requesters. Teri's mother Ann asked if she could watch. Mak came by just too late and too crowded-out to be accommodated with a player slot-- luckily I don't think he hates me, just yet, because he is a charismatic and funny guy. Well, the game went okay, it was a true "tunnel crawl," which as some of you might know, is not my norm, so I was a bit apprehensive. We even went 40 minutes over, which made Skulltosser late for his co-GM'ing with Mak at the next table. But at the end of the final conflict, where the characters have saved some pilgrims and are being chased by mounted bandits of human and Yyena (gnolls/hyena-kin), everyone, including me applauded. A whole new experience for me, and this crowd of players were some pretty amazing role-players, so I felt that the pacing was just right at least. Teri's mother Ann admitted that she was a T&T player for a long time, and she wasn't frowning so maybe things weren't as rough else where as I thought.

The dinner at the steakhouse was pretty good. Steppenwulf won Player's Most-Valuable Player. Spencer won GM's Most-Valuable Player. And best of all Byron won Best GM. Ken, Dan Lambert, Rrramberrt, and his friend Tony, Mr.T, Khayd', Flavia, and I mostly talked about Trollworld possible critters for Shippy's upcoming magazines.

I ran an adventure in my room,but first Rrramberrt and Mr. T- showed us the upcoming board-game Big Dragon, Little Knight. let's call it the "Afterglow Game." Khayd', Landdwarf, Spencer, and Skulltosser made my job as the GM that of the audience. They were so annoyed when I interrupted them with the plot that they killed the antagonist in about two turns. I didn't mind in the least.

Monday was spent not hiking the Camelback Mountain. But Monk, Flavia, and I did get to know the Heroic Fantasy guys, Doug, Frank, and Chris in the morning, and we walked the right way to the Mexican restaurant for lunch this time. Monk at dinner talked me into a fun little bachelor party idea, which I can't talk about here, maybe next time though.

On the way back home, I sat next to Jack Russel of the band Great White. I am not making that up.

Quick thoughts:

o...When Landdwarf and Nodin left, I really felt a "ping," those two guys had really made the convention for me.

o...Rick and Ken attrack the brightest, best, and most beautiful gamers in the world. Say what you will about how things fell together, we all made it work.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hanging the hat in new places.

It has been a rough couple of months. At work, there has not only been the Day-to-Day grind of having to be someplace to get money for so many hours (plus), but pissing against other healthcare sorts, including other paramedics, as well as nurses and a doctor here and there, who seem to think that I am inclined to listening to what would make their jobs easier as opposed to doing my job correctly. On top of that, there has been an inordinate amount of heart attacks cropping up here and there of guys in their 40's and 50's, both at work as well as in the media. Besides my good imp whispering in my ear, "Thou art mortal, oh Caesar." it's been a bit wearing on the soul. Breaks have been needed.

So to break my morass, I "escaped." Flavia and I found a new Hike-and-Bike trail where we could walk from our neighborhood to the suburban cinema mega-plex to have dinner and watch the Hulk. Found quite a few hidden gardens along the polluted Cuyahoga River worthy of repeat visits. I started playtesting my RuinCrawl and WHAP! game systems once again in chatrooms whenever possible. A large amount of fantasy literature has been being deposited in our mail box as well. Finally, this last weekend was the first of the Summer conventions that we'd take, Origins in Columbus.

The last time I attended Origins, it was in the 80's just north of Detroit. For some reason, mostly because of emails between me and the organizers, I have been reluctant to attend since my departure from the Army and the granting of enough freetime to start my adventure gaming exploits in earnest. Even when Ken St. Andre asked me to come, I'd only mumble something about clipboards and over-zealous event directors. But this year we took a chance. Luckily, it was just what the doctor, the figurative one, ordered.

The two robins, Flavia and Caed, and I, showed up to the convention center around 4:30pm, Friday. We meet Mandy-B and her husband Steppenwulf while I was buying a new shirt-- I've noticed I am wearing two shirts in the blogs here over the past year. From there we found a delightful pub called Barleys. Ken St. Andre and his son, Corencio, met us there for dinner. Ken charmed us all with tales of his exploits at the convention so far, and I prompted a somewhat shy Corencio into telling the rest of us about himself. Mandy-B and I mockingly argued the benefits of a History degree. Caed and Flavia made sub-audible comments which had everyone at the table except me laughing. For some reason, I suspect I was the butt of these jokes. Oddly enough I was very comfortable and relaxed.

After coffee we went over to see Mandy-B and Steppenwulf play Cthulhu Smurf. I had barely located the two when Ken got me drawn into Cthulhu over Sesame Street. The designer of Stormbringer the RPG fame, played Grover, AKA SUPER-Grover; his son played Count Von Count; while I played Herry, one of the original Sesame Street 'Blues Brothers.' A guy wanting to be called "Joe" played Ernie, and a woman named Angie, played Prairie Dawn. Another fellow played Cookie Monster of course, what Sesame Street scenario would be complete without this old sock. Oh yeah the Blues Brothers of Sesame Street consisted of Grover, Cookie Monster, and Herry. Angie did the best work, as she brought Prairie Dawn alive, despite the character's rather limited role. The GM, Earl, did a great Lovecraftian-yarn as well as "re-envisioned" Sesame Street. I had a good time and co-won "role-player" of the game, along with Joe's Ernie. Really we both had it easy. Corencio came up with the best one-liner of the game, "Mister Elmo, you haff some ecksschplaining to do..." It was a hoot. The Cthulhu-variants were offered up by Amorphous Blob Games. Pretty decent outfit, they run a good gathering. The crowds were not as massive as at GenCon , but the convention is right up there in standards and quality.

After midnight, the two robins and I ran into Rook, who we met at Con on the Cob last November, and have since played at his house on various occasions. After a couple of drinks, Caed made me take us all back to our parked cars, where she slipped off, as she always does, to attend to the demands of her family. Flavia and I read a bit and went to bed fairly happy.

On Staurday, Flavia and I had a fairly early start. We played Lost Worlds with Ken and his hat. I even got a chance to run his Lost Worlds show table for a family for all of 10 minutes. We then lost Ken to a Shadow Fists tournament, so we strolled the Dealers' Room. After buying too many great items we had dinner with Rook. Ken, it seems found Col. Zocchi to have dinner with and would spurn us, his faithful fans, for the rest of the night. Sawright though, we played Rook's introductory adventure for 4th ed. D&D. Steppanwulf helped us finish up the scenario, while Mandy-B was off hooting with the Amorphous Blob guys again. Ended the night with a rendition of Duran Duran's "Rio" at the Hyatt's (I think) bar, with Rook and two new friends, which he introduced us to. For lack of better names, let's call them B-Singer and Mister M-. .

Maybe because I was participating more so than running events, but while I noticed that there isn't as many bells and whistles as GenCon, the various gamer organizations are very welcoming. I've had about 200 conversations just by standing next to this or that clump of people. That said we're going to run adventures next year at Origins. It's a great event and less than a quarter tank of gas away.

The height of Summer is finding me more than fulfilled. The UEFA Cup dazzled me. The walking is helping me get a bit healthier (read skinnier). And the various conventions lighten up my soul to face the future with calm as well as bravery. Life is good, perhaps I can get out some decent fiction here and there on top of everything. And I still need to find me one of them hats.