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.