Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BASHCon 2013: Are the Mayans Dead Now?

The ride to BASHCon was a little hard on me. Both Peryton and Ken felt like being late for the final day of the convention, so I only worried about when we were going to be putting some gas in the car.

Before then, I was a little hungover on fun when I woke up. I am not certain of the time, but I stretched out for 40 minutes or so. And images of the BASHCon came rushing pass me.
There was Friday evening with Peryton (not pictured), G'noll, the Boy, Sigfried, Ken and myself.

Along with Jherri.

And Saturday went by in such a blur.

Getting to Jherri's "Darkshade Chronicles: Another Fine Mess" was a bit more fun for sure. I wasn't exactly ready for it. I was tired and kind of in a haze. But Sigfried poked me for a few minutes. Besides him, JerryTel and the Boy was there. As well as Gary, Peryton, and, introducing, The Girl.  Now the Girl, who proved to be very young for table-topping, actually hid one of JerryTel's best designed adventures for That Other Game ever. Really. I am suddenly trying to remember the previous games and come out with a "D&D PG13" campaign, with this one as the near climax. Really. It was that good of a game. And as for JerryTel's insecurities about his performance, everyone was amazed at how well he handled things.

Ken came over before he was driven to the airport so I insisted on a photo. And then as "Another Fine Mess" concluded I insisted on more.

Peryton and I drove home. This year's Hardee's lunch sucked, but onion rings were great. The house was cold upon our return, and I set about to write this blog entry.

This was my first vacation of the 2013 year. It was both humbling and awesome. I know about what most people can have and what any man can really do. And I have the most rewards that a hobby can grant to an individual. After this only law suits could justify any more fun.

Let's see what comes about with more special events at BASHCon.

After business expenses, I spent $1 for a personal victory lap. Thank one and all.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BASHCon 2013 pt 3: Twilight of the Gods Mis En Place

Just before dinner, or "cake and coffee" as I was calling it, on Saturday, Ken,  then G'noll, then JerryTel found Peryton and me sitting down in a rest area just off the massive ramps that make up the central area of the Student Union building. We lounged about for a bit. Ken taught us to play "Cthulhu Dice." When Jerry  showed up we talked a bit about zombie awareness levels for his T&T: Stay Alive. And then right at 5pm, I announced that I was buying drinks, my way of ringing the dinner bell. During dinner, Ken and G'noll were going in and out at separate times. Ken had started to get worried about his return flight out of Detroit on Sunday. We started talking about the weirder facts of 1945 through the mid 50s. This prompted a fellow sitting at the table to mention that he liked that period of history as well, so of course we invited him over. And we got to know Max, currently a philosophy student and a fan of Kurt Vonnegut. Really up on his Russian and Baltic history. He and I went pretty loopy.

At 6pm, Ken had a "How to T&T" panel, which JerryTel and I had been edited out of the description in the event program. Once again I didn't mind. But I came in to watch the festivities just in case I was needed. The Trollgod had things very well in hand, so while sitting in the back, I started thinking about the upcoming T&T supposedly mega-event "Ragnarok." You see, while I have a pretty good outline of the structure of "how to run" for about 12-20 ppl, and a pretty good knowledge of the Eddas, I hadn't really been working on it since I wasn't sure if Ken was going to be at BASHCon or not until a week before. My co-GM and scripter, that's Jerry, was getting sick with nervousness. G'noll, jumped in to play the third GM or the Death God. Providence snuck a peek into the room...

A fellow, an avid Pathfinder player, named Chris, that I had gotten to know the day before popped his head through the door for a second. I went out of the room and started kidding about d20-heads spying on six-sider meetings. He and his friend asked if I had heard anything about this Ragnarok thingy coming up. They heard that Ken was going to run it. I mentioned that I was helping out there.  I then described to them the theatrical structure, and mentioned Nordic villains like dark elves, fire giants, and gnomes that could turn into mist. Listening to myself, I not only sold them on it, I sold myself. Going back to the room, I alternately pulled G'noll and Jerry aside and threw out details that they'd could use. I slipped out and went to the room where the game was to take place.

Sigfried was already there, testing a solo scenario out of his new Level 7: Escape game.  And he was ready for the Ragnarok session as well, not knowing that I it was even a T&T thing or that I was involved. G'noll came in and set up his area as well, and started making notes. I was about finished with about 3/4 a page of notes myself when people started arriving. Becket from four years ago showed up. And a whole slough of other folk as well. A fellow, named Alex, who proved to be quite up on Norse mythology, mentioned that the description in the program, once again where I wasn't mentioned, had a lot of "key words" that told him it was going to be good. By 8:02pm I was up to my neck in having folk develop player-characters. Luckily we short of the 12-20 mark. Gnoll started helping out. Sigfried jumped in as a "Coach." I ended up having to send a messenger to JerryTel to get his butt over to the event, meaning that Ken's "How to T&T" was going awesome. About 9pm, JerryTel had a group of players off in Elfheim. I had a gaggle in the Middle Realms. And G'noll was quietly waiting for bodies to start coming in. I had a player assigned to be the World-Hopper, the reincarnation of Baldur with amnesia. I started the stop watch.

Sigfried was playing an elf Wizard, who had some awesome stats because of awesome rolls. He had a couple kindreds (species) of troll, a minotaur, and a dark elf in his group, so I went with Brother-Versus Brother for the Crown trope. After a bloody reception upon his homecoming, Sigfried's Character and his brother were told to knock it off with the feud by the island's elders. Instead the Characters were told about a giant monstrous goat that had fallen from the sky and was ravaging the elves' holy forests in the high mountain valley. Using some "lore" the party believed it was Tanngrisnir, one of Thor's goats, because it liked to bare its teeth by all accounts. What they didn't know was that it was GOATERDAMMUNG, and that it was accompanied by a horde of broos... err goat-heads (Sigfried is a fan of old school  Runequest). G'noll got some business in short order.

At 10:10pm, no matter where anybody was in the room, I sang, poorly, the Act's closing scene, Fenris devouring the sun and gulping down the moon.

Act Two began, with a back from death Sigfried rather smartly deciding that with the sky falling, the monster quest was over and that they should head back to his hometown. Of course that didn't stop the Shadow Kin from giving Gnoll some company. A Nissie in a stream tried to help out as well, but the remaining Characters got lucky. Back at home the elf was able to prove his brother's complicity in the eve of destruction, and was granted his place on his throne of his homeland. And with that, he went forth with the remaining armies of light to face the oncoming of invaders. What he didn't figure on was that Goaterdammung and his goat-heads would be waiting for them as well.

Because of a miscommunication between G'noll and myself, Hel was not opening the doors of the underworld any longer. So none of the Middle Worlders were coming back to my table. Sigfried and a wolf-troll, both champions of light mind you, and an army of elves were getting pretty tore up. But with luck, I drew the right card, I was able to pull the World-Hopper into the fray. And Becket, playing Baldur's reincarnation, was actually a champion of darkness, so he basically stabbed Sigfried in the back-- hence my nickname for Alex from MI. And so the wolf-troll, played by a fellow named Rob, had to rally the forces of goodness and milk, after killing the reborn Baldur of course, to fight on. The High Worlders, off in Elfheim, were a little bogged down themselves, so couldn't come help.

At 11:11pm, I sang the second Act's closing scene. The mutual killing of Loki and Heimdal as the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, collapsed. The two gods' blood rained down over what was left of creation, hitting players here and there for both good and bad consequences.

I then brought the worlds together, even those in Hel's realm, as the wolf-headed Garm is unable to stop them in the end of times. And since it was late, I had the ghost of Sigfried battle the ghost of his brother Lohr, using only their Luck attributes. Light prevailed, and the world was reborn. Becket became the moon, and Sigfried the sun. While the valkyries cleaned up the place, while Lif and Lyfvrasis, come out of the woods where the last two beings alive had been hiding.

Peryton and Ken strolled around the corner as everybody was clearing out. It was a good run for sure. We had a nice group of folk walking back to ours, and a lot of laughing. Ken, Peryton and I stopped at Del Taco, Pery and my Saturday night in Toledo tradition, for some take out back in the motel rooms before bed.

BASHCon 2013 pt 2: "The Only Game With an Attribute Without a Name"

Saturday morning, I rode into the convention with Sigfried. I had imposed a "Sleeping in at BASHCon" rule on Peryton and Ken a few months earlier. Knowing them as individuals, and for differing reasons, both of them coming in late to work at a convention would ' make my day a bit easier,' I had thought back in August. Well, they weren't exactly coming in late to work so to speak. Now, though, that things were rolling, a Saturday AM spent luxuriating wouldn't hurt either of them. And without having a booth to run, I had the morning free. And I happened to have a ticket for JerryTel's "T&T: Stay Alive "Out of the Frying Pan" worth $1 whole dollar burning a hole in my pocket.

JerryTel's still having fun with working out player-character generation for his horror rules. I think he's trying to it both realistic (as real as Art-Portraying-Life gets that is) and random. This year he let the players each roll a set of 8 unassigned stats and then the person across the table assign those stats. Sitting across from was G'noll. I assigned his Attributes as I saw fit, but in the "Occupation" slot I penciled in "porn film stunt man" before handing it back. During this time I got to know Mitch and Suzie from my area of Cleveland and also healthcare providers, like me. I hope to get to know them better, they jumped right into the game feet first and hit the ground running. Of course, I was kind of running rampant this AM so maybe they just coped _really_ well.

Shadows did appear just before noon. Those did not come from Ken and Peryton showing up all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Nor while spending time with those two as well Sigfried, G'noll, and Mutant (John of "John and Alan from Michigan" in year's past), a bit of the ties that bind us started to set in. Ken was a bit out of sorts. Peryton was mildly bored though glowing. Back in August, Ken was supposed to be able to sell some hand-carried wares from the PeryPub table, and Pery was supposed to be running that table from noon until 8 on Saturday, and 10-4(?) the next day.  Peryton had only scheduled one game to run of her Peryton RPG and that was after 8pm. While at 5:17 pm the day before, I had daydreamed of bucolic scenes of the three of us watching the zombie walk-thru LARP "Eaten Alive"  and eating ice cream cones while kicking sun-drenched beach sand at each other, consensual reality had other ideas. It was snowing outside, I teased Ken saying, "You're in luck, we'll get at least an inch before you fly home!"

I was not able to secure any booth that a more established vendor that had not shown up had left vacant. My morning was not all flowers and zombie movie enacting. Even while goofing off,  I was trying to be a good group organizer as well.

Ken had an impromptu workshop meeting with a handful of the more thought-filled gamers of UofT, with G'noll and myself only walking in to bear witness. I had to show up, as I heard that everyone had thought the T&T game on Friday night, the night before, was supposed to have been ran by Ken. Much later, I stood up to go for some walking about. Before I could do anything,  G'noll leaned over. I thought he was going to chide to me about talking too much the couple of times that I did-- nothing to dispel the rumor about Friday night, mind you. But what he said was "Porn Star: the RPG With an Attribute that Cannot Have a Name."

BASHCon 2013 pt 1: Stomach Knots and the Ties of Our Lives

By the title I mean Peryton Publishing not the gaming convention BASHCon. The folks who run that convention have their strategies of running the weekend-long adventure gaming festival in the middle of February each year, and that is that. The University keeps the staffers for it strictly students so institutional memory gets replaced with fresh approaches and mostly fresh faces each year. These approaches can have inconveniences but never much more than minor problems. This year it was the getting to the convention that was hardest on me.

Things started to get a little hairy right after the summer. JerryTel was going to be the front man on this one as the guy who lived closest. Peryton who was politely enthusiastic towards my proposals for the gathering in Toledo back in August, drank some Draft of Forgetfulness and Antipathy or something. Just after a couple weeks of having gotten serious, JerryTel told me he was getting no response to his queries. So I took the lead. Not sure how I did it, but someone responded to me. After speaking for a couple more weeks with a fellow named Jared Hightower, the overall coordinator of the convention, about my proposal, things worked better than I expected. The organization offered to go ahead and just cover everything to have Ken as a special guests. I then started using the money I had saved for travel costs for the superstar Trollgod on my would-be awesome Exhibitor Booth and physical books.

Problems came up with getting Ken to Ohio, then they went away. Then potential problems and technical difficulties crept into the equations. Ken kept getting worried about getting his tickets. And then if anybody loved him enough to pick him up from the airport. And then the flight was delayed three times on departure night. Once again Ken started wondering if anybody loved him enough to pick him up from the airport. Once all that was taken care of and resolved, the BASHCon coordinators did everything they had promised that they were going to do, I found out PeryPub didn't have a booth at the convention. I found out on speaker phone, while carrying a box full of books on my head, an industrial-sized poster holder in one hand, and wearing backpack full of more books walking across a bridge over half-frozen creek from the car towards the UT Student Union building, with the chilling wind in may face... Awkward.

Still I wasn't upset. Ken was there in Toledo as a special guest. My favorite FRPG T&T was prominently featured throughout the program. And I didn't have to carry even more boxes from the car in a second trip and hurriedly set up the booth, as we were on Peryton Time on arrival (Later than already being LATE). There was the issue of refunding my down payment for the slot, but BASHConners have never been coy or opaque when it comes to money. There were more Exhibitor Booths than I have ever seen at the small convention. I didn't mind not having a spot, the last couple places were in very low traffic areas.

I couldn't even steal Pery's line "One does not simply walk into BASHCon." Even getting in through regular means took less time in previous years, and I waited in line twice. Once with Peryton who hadn't pre-registered and a second time to get my badge which I pre-registered. Ken kept us company and was chatty about history which was awesome. Meanwhile JerryTel, The Boy, and G'noll arrived. Alex, hereby known as Sigfried, a gamer from Michigan, who has just started coming to BASHCon last year, but has played with Pery and me at GenCon a decade ago, was there as well. Sigfried and I had a beverage at the Phoenician restaurant inside the Student Union center by ourselves and caught up before the start of the night's events.

The "traditional" Friday night T&T scenario had all experienced BASHCon Delvers, with Ken being the only newcomer. No newcomers to Our Game, but it was an awesome game.  Road Warrior-esque leprechauns living in a giant hoodoo in a desert valley full of warped magic. JerryTel's Jherri the Great Nee Good, the dwarf, flying around a cavern with desert fairies fluttering around him. Sigfried's 4'9" bald human fighter, Dvarik, and Ken's shady elven Rogue, Primamoon(sp?) arguing as a hungry dragon flew at them. Jherri TGNG's cousin, Allgeese(sp?), G'noll's PC, and Peryton's Alanthea (elven Wizard)interjected themselves in the game mostly very humorous one-liners. While The Boy played his spoiled noble, second child, Curly, a human rogue, with very polished flare.

The night ended up at Applebees around midnight. Ken's welcome party with almost everybody mentioned above was a ton of fun. The Boy was falling asleep, but hey he was hanging with the big dogs now.

I couldn't fall asleep, so I entertained myself with recalling the shared story of "The Lair of the Snow Dragon" from a couple hours earlier. It was really a great brain-animated blockbuster to view for this old GM. I woke up a few hours later very happy and "dancey". The morning's push-ups went on for a long time.