Thursday, August 30, 2012

GenCon '12 Pt 5: The Outgoing Tide

Sunday, Sunday

Though I pretty much woke up whenever Peryton started getting up and ready, I decided to sleep in. So as she slipped out the door to be at the booth at 9am at 8:54, she was probably late, I fell into a deep sleep. And at 9:14 I awoke feeling absolutely decadent.

JerryTel was hanging at the booth, for a couple hours with Pery when I arrived at 9:40 or so. As for Sunday there isn't much to tell. The minutia about sales was something a little less than Saturday's. Dr Nik and Sligo were sharing their new found wisdom of having attended the ENnies and Saturday AM seminars, respectively with me-- This being my first year at the get-together in Indianapolis after all. JerryTel got bored quickly and slipped off just before noon. Cram stopped in and took his place for company while we plotted things T&T.

The afternoon was spent mostly making speaking with people who wanted advice on their own publishing thing, sometimes even acting half way interested in our products. One of the more pleasant moments was when one of the mysteries of earlier days playing out. No longer wearing a short dress and a black Bob Cut wig, the woman who dropped her business card in front of me on Friday, appeared twice at the booth. She was still very easy on the eyes in her jean coverall shorts, plaid shirt and natural hair. I don't think she figured that I recognized her. The second time she approached she handed me another business card. Different style than the one I saw on but the same name. Two different approaches and variation of style while doing so. I felt a rush of heat from under my collar.  Literary chicks are sooo damned sexy. I looked left and right. I felt like I was cheating on CCrabb*. I referred the woman to Peryton, the real Biblio-Babe in the my life, just too damned flattered to do more than flub about verbally. Amazing how would-be hacks like me get the attention of book dames with looks, brains and amazing style.

After the Fire

At 4pm, we gave away our Shark-Jumping poster to a kid. His father was one of the guys wanting to know about the small press industry. The breakdown of the booth took only minutes and for all the lack of sales, it actually was a much better than usual sales weekend on-line. Plus everyone at PeryPub, despite not reconnecting as much as we like to do at GenCon, felt like we had accomplished something. I had one last scotch and soda with Jack before he went home for Monday and Tuesday off-- it was on the house.

I tried to set up a dinner with Ken St Andre and Rick Loomis and Sutter, James Sutton, to meet. One party wanted early and the other party wanted late. Ken compromised by saying he'd meet at a Denny's outside of his motel right between the county jail and the airport or some such. I declined, as we were quite happy going to our "fancy priced restaurant for a late nite black-tie event," to quote him. We were going to Bourbon Street, at 7pm, as we are wont to do when we are in Indy. Sutter declined as well since his booth breakdown wouldn't be until after 10pm or so. Plenty of our friends showed up as it was. We had a fine victory lap dinner with Batman, Colts Gal, Sligo and Cram. The conversation was equally between football, an ancient Greek-themed T&T round of games for GenCon for 2013, and Sligo's continuing stream of bits of wisdom from the seminars that he had attended over the last couple of days. For that last bit, I think he felt I should be taking notes.

Godsheads bless Peryton, though she took off her Exhibitor badge, she couldn't stop carrying around her gamer backpack that evening. 

The next morning I was up around 6am and out the door to catch a bus out to Batman's house and retrieve the car. For all the work of the morning, it was not unpleasant.  Peryton was amazing at getting everything ready to go, and after dropping off some borrowed items around town, we were on the road. Poor me would only have three more days off of work to recover from our beach blanket bingo.


Still going to do the booth at next year's event, but I am going to be much more organized and assertive about managing it. Stuff like time-slots and scheduling help here and there. And the booth lay out is going to be awesome. A closing event, like a poster give-away raffle for interested folks, will be a nice top off.

Definitely will have to cut into business and game-running time to have more social occasions for our clique. One the phone over the last week, after GenCon, we all really missed each other.

*Christine Crabb is PeryPub's Editor, its managing editor, its main squeeze; dammit. Get your mind out of the gutter already.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GenCon '12, Pt 4: Eye of the Storm

One of the nice things about the late night games, is that I when I woke up after a three or so hours of sleep I don't have to spend too much time moping around the hotel room or the hotel before I have to get going to the booth. And considering on Saturday morning I must've slept over four hours, I awesomely work up twenty minutes before the booth was supposed to open up. So I nothing to worry about rushing from the hotel to the convention hall. Peryton had a game that morning, so she didn't deign on waking up before noon.

Amazingly, I wasn't late. And Monk and K-Bell showed up to help out with the booth. Right at 9am as well. And I suddenly realized, I didn't have to work the booth. I was able to do that 'networking thing' that so many of the professional game designers talk about doing. So I had time in the morning to meet with VJ Waks and Kevin Herbst. There was some discussion of getting them to do scenarios for Elder Tunnels.  And then around 11am, Derrenn Canton was early for our lunch date, so we were able to wrap up early enough to catch the last half of Arsenal game on TV. And then at 2pm I was hanging with James Sutton, Sutter from here on, from FASA games. As mentioned earlier, Sutter is a big T&T fan so among other things we talked about doing something at BASHCon big for the game.

In the evening, I ran Spacers (TM) "53 Miles West of Venus," for three players. Batman and Ben from Carnage and a fellow named Mike.  It was a rough game. I blame the players but I suspect that I was too weary from the long week to deal with my own rules. Still we had some fun, and had a few brews. Ben is never without food and beverage as I have learned over the years.

Peryton had some drama with her 9pm. Which JerryTel and I know the real story behind, but I suppose we're sworn to secrecy.

"The Rat Pack versus Cthulhu V: The Sword of Samael" Proved I wasn't too tired to run a game. I was just mixing up what number the game was, I had it in my head that this was the seventh not the fifth game. Dan and Russ from most years were able to make it. I had a special way to work out which players got Rat-Pack characters and who would remain the "nameless." And, the Jerry Lewis character went to fellow who annoyed the most people during character development. Still it was a great game, probably the most even -paced large group I ever ran. I pretty much can only thank the return players as well as the new guys, they rocked and got into the yarn wonderfully.

Got back to the room just a little before 4am. The line at the noodle shop was very long and slow.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GenCon '12, Pt 3: The Hard Bits

Friday morning came about with me realizing that four-star luxury meant that microwaving food and ironing clothes were petty prol├ętaire annoyances; that so would've made my life easier, but real GenCon exhibitors wouldn't complain. I suppose to-go boxes are for the masses. I should be wanting to go downstairs and spending $17 on whatever that included eggs and whatnot. Or I should be holed up in my room and eating pop tarts and making turkey sandwiches with ketchup, no mayo, for lunch and dinner. Peryton stumbled her way out of bed at ten minutes before the booth was supposed to be open so I walked over there. I left her my $19 pancake leftovers from the restaurant along with a plum. I shoplifted the plum, to explain to all how I go about things.

Friday our sales increased by 1% worldwide when someone bought a dozen PeryPub products within moments of us opening at GenCon. Sadly that was on-line. Throughout the day, sales improved in person as well, mostly folks from my "Balrog in the Basement" session the night before. Sligo and John Bennet, Cram, showed up and made on-going great conversation. I met an artist by the name of Derrenn Canton who was interested in doing art for PeryPub, I set up a lunch date. One of the T&T fans that were buying items from the game the night before was a Michael. The man was really adamant that I meet some "Jimmy Sutter" over at the Red Brick/FASA booth some 900 miles to the east of our booth at GenCon. I nodded and smiled, but you know I was thinking more about a nap than anything else.

Not that I ignored Michael Hammon, he is a T&T man from Columbus with ties in Toledo, stay tuned kids.

I left the booth to Peryton's more-educated approach to salesmanship, to head over to hotel for a nap. An interesting interlude happened. Because of some interesting construction going on I decided to take the "sky way" back to the Omni. I missed an elevator, so I decided to take the stairs, but as the elevator door was closing a young woman wearing triangular glasses, and a rather short beige skirt looked intensely at my gut. My "Exhibitor Badge" happened to be in front of my pent up manliness gut. While walking over to hotel just across the upper level, the same woman was a few steps in front of me. As it would happen, just before she turned off the thoroughfare she dropped stuff, well plenty of scrap paper. Where I am a sucker I helped her pick things up. Where I am not a sucker is that I read her business card, laying on the floor in front of me, and figured there was more to come. 

Back at the bar with Jack, I ran into a guy that I ran a game for last year. Craig, removing a letter and replacing it, was rather enthusiastic about seeing me again. The drinks were on him. So while Jack and I worked out the details of the Korean war, Craig worked out the details of a decent scotch and soda. And after a couple of the drinks, when I excused myself, the fellow followed me to the far off JW Marriot or whatever. He insisted that he buy me dinner, a steak no less. The meat was marginal, but the broccoli and fries were awesome soaked in its gravy.

So I showed up for my "The Tunnel of Hard-knocks" a bit over-fed and well imbibed. Well I had to ask exactly where my game was, which was my introduction to an ongoing ittsy-bittsy drama going on for the GenCon staff. Someone was not wrapping up their game very quickly. Now had I not been late and a bit loopy, the situation would have been handled a bit differently. But in this instance, an event coordinator  got to prove their worth and act all dramatic as she recited some passage from an obscure GenCon policy, which she had looked up ten minutes earlier. This one outdid most in fax outrage while speaking to the offending GM.

This GM, after being chided by the event coordinator heard my name and suddenly stopped listening to her and looked at me. Apparently he was a big fan of me as well. James Sutton introduced himself while I apologized for all the officiousness going on. I did mention, that he should acknowledge the players lining up around the table when his game runs over to avoid the awkwardness that him and I were in. All the same, we set up a meeting for Saturday to talk about things T&T.

Don't read too deeply into my insinuations here. The woman dropping her business card so that I could pick it up had nothing to do with Craig, my fan player. Craig had nothing to do with the hall monitor. And the GM in front of me was more worried about the success of his game than he was about reading the schedule and knowing who was coming up after him. It was just rather fun and dramatic afternoon.

The Hard-Knock Tunnel worked out nicely. I ran a tunnelhack adventure that ended up in a battle. All within four hours. A handful of old-school T&T players, the most demanding audience sword and sorcery fans that I can think of,  decided that my GM choices in rule tweeks and how they worked were not only effective, they liked them. If I die anytime in the next three weeks, assume I died happy.

The evening's CoC game "The Tarot Deck" went swimmingly. The players caught the clues and only one of them died. They didn't piece enough of the mystery together to avoid the two villains from escaping. The players were so into their roles, that I might just run a semi-private game for a couple of them returning as the PCs from last weekend.

I was supposed to meet Caed for her birthday party, but she was having a problem with her foot. I also hear that her Zombie Walk only had a few participants, so I bet she was boozing and barbituate-ing in her sorrow. I found her text message not to swing by as I walked into her hotel's lobby at 3am. That's okay I needed the exercise as I backtracked back to our hotel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

GenCon '12, Pt 2: To and Fro the Grains

Some Forces Are Immovable
For all the shark discussion, the booth stayed pretty uneventful. We allowed one interview, Peryton wanted to do less. The Gaming Gang's, Jeff McAleer charmed us both into it. I remember the interviewer and Peryton asking me if there was anybody else that I'd like to plug or could we start talking about Peryton Publishing finally. Sorry but Jeff Werx, Tavernmaster Games, the Troll Hammer, Trollhalla, and Flying Buffalo Inc all are apart of the package when it comes to Elder Tunnels and my T&T products. Sales were dismal, and Pery kept finding little critiques of every time I tried a pitch, so I settled into annoyed boredom and did up player-characters for the night's upcoming tabletop sessions. Dr Nik would come by and join in with Peryton in the softly-worded attacks on my sense of worth as well for a few minutes. So it was like every other day at home almost. Despite everyone's best efforts I made a sale and won over a couple people. One couple celebrating the wife's retirement and commitment to coming to GenCon every year from now on especially brightened my day.

In the afternoon, I slipped off at 4pm, allowing Peryton to show me how the selling thing was done. Stopping in to see Jack at the Omni bar, he didn't mind when I asked him to turn the 15 year-old basketball game on TV to CNN. A gamer from the across the lobby rushed over and asked why we weren't watching Fox News. I think it was phrased "Why don't you turn on Fox?" When Jack asked if he wanted a drink, we got to hear about his diabetes and dead aunt, so we both stopped talking to him. The dude went back over to his boxes of miniatures and waited for his taxi to take him two blocks like he was before. We then discussed the Pussy Riot conviction in Russia, which had just taken place. Neither of us were very happy about that. A bit later, I met Peryton, Batman and Sligo for dinner a little later at Champions but had to slip off for my evening's games.

Ah to Have Wings
The first game of Thursday evening, I ran into JerryTel running his Game of Thrones RPG at the table next to where mine would be starting. No time to talk, but it's always good to see him.

My T&T scenario "The Balrog in the Basement" went well. Two of the players had come from Ken St Andre's session that morning or afternoon. And though only those two would admit it, almost all the players had a lot of experience playing T&T. What struck me most about the session was that it was easy to handle the players. Now every GM will tell you that there is always one very strong and vocal player, and there is usually one, maybe two shy players that might blend into the wall if not poked every now and then. And this time was no different. What was different was that the shy player, I only had one this time, arose to the occasion near the climax. He died a heroic death, but the man was awesome in doing so.

My deviant version of CoC's scenario "The Moonrock and the Astrologer" had Caed showing up. And the four other fellows were the relaxed and quiet types that I'd expect to find at the Thursday night late shows, that I have been running for years. And as usual, the educational level and experienced professional level of all the players, me as usual being the dumbest in the room, kept the game at a very erudite level of humor and allusion-- we were chuckling about blood sugar levels in little old ladies playing slot machines and the costs of surveillance equipment and training. But sadly, the group missed a crucial plot point, namely keeping track of all three of the "red-heads" in charge of the evil-goings-on. Though they did great at cornering two of them, the third had their bag. Three died in the resulting gun and vehicle combat, two were sacrificed to an avatar of Azathoth.

Best image of the convention for me though, the wicked witch of the west getting ran over by a '78 Mustang, while a Prius drove head long into sub-machine gun fire.

Caught a cab with Caed and made it back to the room before 3am.

Monday, August 20, 2012

GenCon '12, Pt 1: Specks of Sand

The Stuff of Sandpaper, but of the Beach as Well
From the 11th until the evening of 14th, I was sitting around at home putzing around here and with my Spacers(TM) scenario "53 Miles West of Venus." Most of my After-11CoC adventures were flow-charted out at, while the T&T ones were pretty much complete. Now all I had to do was wait for GenCon to actually start. Peryton was actually lucky, she still worked up to the last evening where we had to pack up and head to Indianapolis.

Wednesday morning was spent stamping my foot to remind Peryton that we had work to get done. And then most of the day was spent with me waiting by the car while she disappeared to meet contacts inland in the jungle war-zone of the Exhibition Halls. And like advance troops anywhere, Pery spent her time hanging out and thinking of calamities to avoid getting work done and to get the folks back at home riled up. I actually shared a cigarette with Sheriff's Deputy who came by looking at his wristwatch, our car, and the time limit sign. We became fast friends. Upon hearing that a dolly for getting multiple boxes from the car to our booth area would, would take "a few minutes" because of contract obligations with a nation-wide temp-help agency by some game manufacture association, I told the woman to come back to car. I made her give me my exhibitor badge, and drove us to Acapulco Joe's.

With a frosty beer mug and tall, wet glass of ice tea in front of us, I found a flyer for UPS in the extra paperwork that came along with the badges. With a phone call, we had a dolly that we could pick up in about an hour, or earlier. So after a late lunch, I left Pery with a full dolly of boxes to make her way back to the booth area and set up. I drove the car out to Jordan's, Batman's, house, and made my way back via bus-- which happened to be the most air conditioned and least time consuming part of my day.

Back in the convention center, Pery had finished up the booth. The AC wasn't on, so Jim Searcy was worried about me having a heart attack as I touched up this or that around our setup. It was with some relief that I stepped out of the convention center to walk the dolly back to the UPS store. On the way to the hotel, I saw another red-head who had just walked out of a building into the August sun. We made eye-contact.

"I am so done with this Summer." She said.
"Me too." I replied.
"I know you are." She quipped.
"Ginger Pride, babe!" I held up a fist to her amusement. "Stay strong sister."

At the hotel, I stopped off for a refreshment at the nice bar at the Omni Severin hotel where we stayed this year. Met a fellow Finn turned into a World Citizen by the name of Teemo Toivanen, Timo from now on. His and the bartender's, Jack,  conversation, was such comforting replenishment, as well as the Sun King Pale Ale, kept me there for a while.  Well a "while" means long enough for Peryton to call me and ask if I was ever going to bother finding our hotel room. I told her to meet me at the bar. And started to assemble the gang for this year's Old Home Night. We invited Timo. I think he enjoyed himself.

Just a quick note to Scotty's Brewery, there is a reason why dance floors, not diner tables should go next to live music. And whoever was the band's manager is going to have his ass whooped by me personally next time I see him. "Take the chairs. I need the table." Why can't he sit next their speakers? He's lucky he got the hint that no one wanted to hear his talented trio and wrapped it up in an hour.  And Scotty's, you're getting as bad as the Ram in bad crowd management.

last part of the evening was spent with having the half-drunk gang get their badges and a nightcap. The Will-Call was open all night, good job GenCon. The Southern Gentleman's fiance Frostie, no nickname required, was a hit with the whole gang.

Shark Week?
Thursday morning came for me at like 4:30, so it was no problem for me to show up at the booth before the 9am early opening for the GenCon Very Important Gamers, the "V-I-G"s, or better yet "the Viggans." Pery was still blow-drying her toenails or something. This event pretty was much a gaggle of gamer-folk trotting towards the dealers with the biggest signs while knocking each other out of the way though there wasn't anybody around to be in a rush for. One of the Viggans, a short chubby guy with dyed-blonde hair, a Ken St Andre hat, and knock-off tan duster kept walking past the booth and trying to make eye contact with me. I was in a conversation with a 13 year-old about sharks, our poster had the quote "PeryPub We Don't Jump the Shark, The Shark Jumps Us" when the guy coughed trying to interrupt. JFK, Myth, a PeryPub contributor as well the guy working the booth next to ours tilted his head when I waved the guy on.
Yes Shippy, I received your email. Hoo boy, you came to GenCon and spent a lot of money before you got there. Until you stop messing messing with TrollHammer and Sligo, we're not talking.

By 10:15am, I was wondering what was up with all the response to our booth's poster. It had a shark jumping a spaceman and a goblin on a surfboard. Finally Peryton and fortieth person to comment on it explained to me that we were in the middle of Shark Week on the reality show network posing as something educational on cable TV or some such. I couldn't help but ask, "Where'd they work in the midgets?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Headed Down to a Beachless Sea

When people whom I know at a casual level asks me about where ever it is I go every August, I don't feel the need to be secretive. I tell them Indianapolis. When they ask why, I am a bit shyer. Come on, I grew up when everyone around me thought I was weird that I knew what a hobbit was. And the constant map drawing in my notebook gave many teachers a wrinkled brow upon their viewing of my "journals." Lordheads help me if a soccer or hockey coach caught me reading a Jim Apro drawn Batman comic book. "We go there for the beaches." I answer.

Ah yes. Tomorrow I take my coachman's vacation from a lot of hanging out in Cleveland, only one friend in jail, look I just bought him two beers, down to the shores of Indianapolis. And there I will bathe in tidal wave that flood the convention area with a medium-sized town's population of gamer dorks. And it's about damned time.

For the last four weeks I have working on my scenarios, which is not unusual. But at the same time I have been in-charge of, but not really in-charge of, setting up Peryton's and my booth. Yes we've gone and moved our basement business into the cottage industry of convention booth-buying tabletop gaming work producers.  Over the past year it has been something of a humbling experience, but I expect next year to be easier, after I get a view from No-Man's Land of the Dealer Hall at the bayonet level of vision.

The last minute writing has, as usual, invigorated me with love of whatever it was that I felt compelled to write back when the convention organizers demanded my game event submissions.

Spacers(TM) is looking especially awesome. Yes faithful play-testers (has it been long enough to call you players yet?) more space opera scenarios are on the way. The "53 Miles West of Venus" session is going to tie in nicely to the release of a little ditty that I am calling Spacers: Universe. It should be available right around Christmas. But don't hold me to it, because you know how I am with deadlines.

For my Call of Cthulhu stuff, my little angle is still getting worked out. But still no where near being ready to publish, certain people reading this blog. Horror is hard for me. But hopefully my two tales "The Moon Rock and the Astrologer" and "The Tarot Deck" will impress someone. I might not be as good as most of the GMs I know that specialize in horror at CoC, but I am clever and a fairly talented GM. My self-spun yarns might be starting to catch up with me this year. See you after 10pm if you're around.

My T&T scenarios have sold out this year. That is unusual, which I mean to say that I think my efforts since 2005 are starting to pay off. While I have been able to pull four to seven players for any T&T session at GenCon that I run; on the pre-purchased ticket buying metric, I've never had more than four people buy in. Ken St. Andre and Sligo are running events as well, last I heard. I think my titles for my favorite game, My Game, are rather unimaginative, but the tales I am telling in "Balrog in the Basement" and "The Tunnels of Hard Knocks" I feel reflect my usual comfort with the Tunnels and Trolls game system as well as my exuberance in presenting fantasy sword and sorcery as I see it.

So tomorrow, I head out to the White River where palm trees grow and women dressed as my favorite Batman babes show me their cleavage. I can deal with the long walks and bruising on my shoulder, where Peryton keeps hitting me for looking at the other women. I am at the beach.