Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Sorry folks I thought that I had finished this. But hey better late than never...
Saturday evening at BASHCon is always kewl. For all the trials and tribulations getting to this period of time in the space that is the University of Toledo Student Union, it is these hours of relaxed abandon where the true gamer can bask in glory of it all. It isn't too hard paraphrase the 80's band the Police to say, "There has to be a Dorkiness sun, that gives its heat to everyone." And by around 6pm hanging with the BASH folks, one can tell that they are goofy Mercury. The main room is just packed. Most tables have at least five people gathered and paying attention to the game master or the facilitator. The dealers are getting itchy to close their booths and join in. Even the staff is looking forward to something, probably a Bob Newhart drinking game in their bud's dorm room, but still they're smiling, if confounded.
Of course, this year's staff found a way to mess with the mood, the Public Announcement. Not just the PA system, but the public announcement as practiced. I shall illustrate my contention here as the tale unravels before you.
After walking around for a bit, at 6pm Peryton and I walked up to a table with JerryTel and three other people and found out this was where I was supposed to running my CoC adventure "The Horrible fate of the Haunted House Hunters." The table actually assigned to me was being used for garabage collection and a Pokeman game by that game's three devout convention goers. Jerry had wisely decided that table-squatting was the best way to go, and I agreed.
I had five players and was sucking wind, as well as sucking as a GM, as I only had four pregenerated PCs ready. I normally have six to eight ready to go, but this year I blame the hotel for my remiss. Still, the group around me threw me a line as I invented tasks to keep them looking at their character sheets as I quickly scripted the basics for the fifth PC, and had him fill in his special touches. By 6:28pm we were ready to go.
I could tell it was going to be a good game, the players were GenCon-goers, and we all knew JerryTel. I started with my prologue for the night's adventure, drawing the players into the world of the Reality TV semi-stars 'The Haunted House Hunters' led by "Truck ," a former pro-wrestler now celebrity entertainer, played by Jerry. I laid down the first scene with a strange call from a worried neighbor about the upstairs apartment, the players were becoming their PC's and even leaning forward...
"If you want to play REAL Call of Cthulhu...!" Yelled someone walking up and down the center of the auditorium. "Come try our new game Dark Eons in room..."
The rambling announcement only disrupted many already busy tables for about two minutes. Selfishly, I noticed that I had the rules book for Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition in front of me. Looking deeper, I think that I was the only person running a CoC at that point in time according to the schedule. I almost took offense. Luckily, one of my players brightened the mood by acting like he was about to leave for the "real" CoC session, but then sat back down.
The game was great. 'The Haunted House Hunters' players got right into their roles. Jerry made a great celebrity and Peryton found an ashtray, yes a clean ashtray, to use as her imaginary camera's lens focus, and everyone else let themselves feel like they were actually going to be on TV whenever she pointed it at them. Her trippy MTV style of video shooting had everyone a little hamming it up. I almost felt bad as I started to mess with them as they were in a real haunted house. I think I got some actual surprised looks from the players.
At 8 or 9pm, the Dealers' Area was closing down, I know because there were only three announcements before over the PA system before it finally did. I know at 9:17pm a guy that I had seen earlier in the day at the Dark Eons room walked past my table to offer his advice to my players.
"Oh look Call of Cthulhu! Burn the books! Burn the Books! And always run away!" I suppose things were a little dead in the Dark Eons corner of the convention.
All of my game's players did fantastic in their roles, all I really had to do was parcel out clues and use insanity to speak for PCs to provide missed clues. And soon enough, I had a college professor lighting himself aflame and driving a minivan into the front door of house in a nicer Cincinnati neighborhood. This gave me all the energy I needed for the scenario's horrific narrative, which I had been working on for two months. At 11:45pm I was lyrical,
"And the house flashes, blue then green! The sky itself turns blacker than the darkness already there!..." I sang.
"Testing.... Testing... Is this thing on?" Someone said over the PA system, and he of course he tapped the microphone three times, then went on to stammer. " If anyone here has found my copy of White Wolf's World of Darkness..."
Want to talk about pissed?
"Shut up!" (Sounding more like "SHUT! UHP!") I finally shouted very loudly, as the person looking for his personal items over the Public Announcement system. Instead of personally going from table to table and doing the leg work that he should have been doing before bothering everyone, the man had found a microphone. And we all listened as he rambled further into an incoherent whine and then an undecided finishing point, which others finally shut off the microphone in his hands.
The tables around mine, looked from the ceiling, where the PA speakers were towards me. Peryton frowned at me. One of the campus cops looked up from his coffee from across the auditorium at me. The rest of the table kept their looks passive, I'd say more than a little supportive. I then finished my final bit, trying to recapture the cadence and melody in language from before. Of course, I felt the need to apologize for my outburst. Overall though, this session rocked. The players, one of the best groups ever, and my notes came together very nicely. I hope to repeat this session more often than not in the future.
Walking out, the campus cop looked sideways at me, but had to smile when I shrugged my shoulders. Which leads me to the next advent of BASHCon, TACOS!
I can't really remember what we ordered at Del Tacos, but I remember the real corn meal in the tortilla. I also remember the plastic packages of sauce smelled like tabasco as well as chili powder, as Peryton barely contained herself applying the gunk upon her junk food. It was rather pleasant. Back in the room and Saturday Night Live was playing as I donned my Captain America costume and the wife donned here Wonder Woman single piece... I was probably falling asleep, as neither of us had even packed a swim suit, let alone a 60-pound shield. But hey Peryton would make Linda Carter envious.
Sunday was all fun.
I woke up a little too early, but was able to have breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. This was a first in three years. The gravy and biscuits was spoiled by hotel etiquette of using to many dishes for whatever recipe it is trying to sell. Gravy is poured over the biscuits, and the potatoes get soaked into the excess. Deep fried chunks of potatoes in a dish separated from the mosh pit of sloppy food is a untalented chef's choice (think on that Corporate America, you who think that chefs are cooks and menus just polite notes before biological needs). But I was hanging out with the Dealers of BASHCon, but I didn't have a booth. Of course, I was not hanging out as much as just saying "hi." Still it was nice to be the guy who is just there for the tacos and maybe selling a scenario, or 2'ooo, among the professionals.
Waking up Peryton at 7:35am, she informed me that our games didn't start until 10am. Everything was quiet, no exercisers of smokers within a stone's throw. At which point, I decided to do some napping. Napping is fun, especially the way I do it. I think of a plot that I want to explore and start working out narrative or dialog. I usually wake up commentaries on films from the 30's; but I am not confused, and rather exhilarated.
On the way to the convention I saw a Red Roof Inn on the correct side of the busy commercial road as opposed to where our hotel was. I couldn't help but smile. I like Red Roof Inns, and it is on the side of the road where I can drive into and out-of easily en route to the convention. That rather rocks., in terms of stress reduction for next year. Namely, it's a motel without dark nooks and crannies accompanied with fewer platforms for the educated and stingy to; all while make waiting to check in a step towards sainthood. I don't know about you, but I'm not seeing any negatives at having to drive to Del Taco for breakfast burritos instead of "hotel services" in future instances.
My PowderPunk play-test scenario was all ready to go, but no one showed up. Not really a surprise, so I just refunding my $15, and threw a dollar for a ticket in JerryTel's 2e. (plus) Ad&d game. Peryton showed up as well, but I think that she already had her ticket-- 2E. is like her D&D church.
I could go on forever about what I see is wrong with D&D, but I have to admit that JerryTel's talents made the session awesome. Our champion's daughter was without her finance, alas, just before the wedding day. The father of the bride, who happened to be our leader and friend, was trying to solidify a growing hegemony towards a fiefdom. Then there is his salesmanship. Of the five of us playing the scenario, there were two kids, and three of us more typical gamers (over 40), and we all got into our characters after hearing his description of them. JerryTel knows how to draw the kids in.
Despite JerryTel's D&D format, I was rather riveted as a PC as to how the story would turn out. Even as an older gamer, I was infused with energy by the adolescents around me. At the same time I liked the character that I was playing. Okay, I was a sugar-filled pastry that was a were-bear beserker. Which is easy enough for any table-topper looking for maximization of dice rolls, but I was drawn into the plot. Jerry is a story-teller. The guy developed a plot that TV writers would do well to emulate to get people involved with what it is that they are selling. Lastly rules-wise, as far as I can tell, Jerry crafted war-gamer obstacles, as invoked by the tale, a worthy challenge to achieve any victory points if that was a goal for success.
And with the superbly designed scenario finished, we had lunch with JerryTel then slipped off. We slipped off into the snow. The ride home was rather typical for winter storms. We actually filled up on gas as we thought that we were an hour out but were actually in our home county. Had we been been using GPS, or not just mentally napping, Peryton and I could have found cheaper petroleum. Luckily since we don't drive to often anyway, our gas tank three weeks later is still full.