Monday, August 09, 2010

Hasta Siempre GenConista


After riding around in my ambulance all Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, asking myself 'Why in the world did I not take tonight off?', at 9:15 am, 4 Aug. 2010 Peryton and I were finally driving to Indianapolis and the mother of all events: GENCON. I was looking none-the-better awaiting for the trip over this last summer. I had been letting my hair get a little long, and even grown a beard, to reflect my feeling of being stranded in real life. The drive itself was wonderful, the wife and I were alternately chatting about the weird things that two people who play RPG games and read too much escapist literature do, you know like Red Shirts versus Stormtroopers (kidding, we didn't go that far), or just watching the miles move beneath our wheels-- just waiting and daydreaming.

At 2:30pm, we had arrived at the Looking Glass Inn, owned by our friends at the Stone Soup Inn, and started unpacking our luggage. On the last bag, Monk called me to ask me to guess where his lay-over was on his flight from Arizona. He was in Cleveland. Chagrin and chuckling aside, we hung up. It was about 3pm when I laid down to relax, maybe nap (I had been up since 7pm

the night before, and a little hung over even then). But then Southern Gentleman called, and his enthusiasm at his day's work at being a gamer geek, rekindled my steam-boiler, so it was time to get going. Grabbing Peryton, I insisted that we had to get there "to get things started and relax later." On the two mile walk from our bed and breakfast to the convention center, I saw a slow barber shop, and even haggled a decent price for a great haircut.

The line for the Will Call booth was amazingly long, I know that more and more ppl that attend GenCon do Will Call to avoid problems with the mail, or probably more often forgetting their badges at home on the coffee table in some other State; but this was amazing. We actually were only in the line for fifteen minutes or so. And so we were wandering around and kind of in awe at how busy the day before the convention was getting. In the mean time, Monk and
Kelly-Bell were making their way from the airport to the B&B. YogPohl and Caed were also on the phone to let me know that of course they had other events going on, but would be late to our scheduled meetings, or we'd have to try the next day. Ken St Andre, Trollgod, started sending smoke signals that I could see from the Dealers' Hall. Then Bruce Wayne called to check that we were in town. We started the Making Busy Lives Meet game that surrounds every GenCon-- our grouping's favorite game it seems. Peryton herself was a little distracted by awaiting MCLea, her brother, arrival from Arkansas.

At 7pm, though I was a little threadbare, and hadn't actually seen anyone, besides Peryton, that is mentioned above, it was time for the "Return to the Cthulhu Mansion" session. Good group of folks, and it didn't take long for us to get into a little Scooby Doo goofiness, that the Mansion is supposed to be about. Right after 8pm YogPohl popped in and the Terrible Two, meaning he and I, were wreaking havoc and tag-teaming the poor players mercilessly. They loved every second of it, except the old school player who was liking every ten out of fifteen minutes of the five and half hour long game. Afterward, Yoggy and I found the new gamers' joint Scottys, owned by a former RAM associate, still the gamers' central pub, it would seem from the crowd and overheating I saw in the doorway.

Scotty's Brewery was more to my tastes in general. A nice big place, made for people not hordes, with air conditioning not bad breath recycled. It has a huge patio, more like a plaza, for serious overfilling. More awesom was that there was enough waitstaff to get to customers every few minutes or so, not the hourly check-in received at the RAM by me in previous visits. Seriously, there were as many customers at Scotty's as any place else, but I was comfortable. Paul and I drank too many beers, admired our pretty bartender, joked with the other bartenders (the ones not so easy on the eyes... the dudes), and noticed that in-between baseball games, the movie the Fearless Vampire Hunters was playing on the many flat screen TV's throughout the place. Ah, being treated like a real person, with a dork gem thrown in. YogPohl and I swore a drunken blood oath to meet at the bar every night that week. I hiked it home, the thirty-six hours awake was hurting but I was feeling good.

Some stretching, a hot bath, and sleeping from about 2am until 5:30am, I was awake and restless. So I started geting prepped for my upcoming game at 10 pm that night and awaiting breakfast. At breakfast MCLea came down with me, and Monk and Kelly-Bell arrived moments later. Before the end of it, even Peryton pulled herself out of bed to join in. While we were there we meet the other GenCon guests, a couple from Israel and cluster from Sweden. A poor Army guy Shane was in the middle of all of this awaiting his G/F from Utah to show up. Rather hilarious morning.

As I didn't have a lot going on until 10pm, I spent most of the day trying to make "Old Home Day" happen. OHD is where I, and most often Peryton, make quality face time with our significant gamer/fantasy friends at GenCon. Then there is the nodding recognition to and from various others, whom we might not hang with too often but admire none the less. Caed and Trollgod showed up for lunch, along with Zack (Doug Jean, who probably hasn't been written about here yet). Later, I, by myself, ran into Rook in the hallway and we were both en route to elsewhere but chatted it up while our strides moved in the same direction. Throughout the day, off in the distance I saw Michael Stackpole and Ed Greenwood, two of the celebrities I always like to see at any con. Larry Elmore another big celebrity, who I look for, nodded at me crossing the street, we see each other a lot at Ohio Cons, he always has the prettiest women hanging around him. For some reason, I couldn't find the FBI booth in the Dealers' Hall the two times I looked. That many trips through the exhibitor's maze in one day had me drained. So Myth and I had a few pints at a local pub known as the Hyatt. JerryTel, from BASHCon, showed up for the tip-ups as well. Ah good times. Suddenly it was time for "Thursdays Evenings At Cladagh(sp?)," an Irish pub franchise, which I make more fun by calling the Klingon Bar. MCLea and Peryton, and Monk and Kelly-Bell joined me there after I cell phoned saying "KLAAAAHHHHH DAHHHHH!" After dinner we ran into the Trollgod, Rick Loomis, and Sligo, I was able to confirm a dinner date for the next evening.

By the time I slipped off from the gaggle, seeing them last busy taking pictures at the D&D exhibits on the 2nd story of the Convention Hall, I was limping and it was nearly time for my 10pm game. My 10 pm game table was taken up by a fan of Aces and Eights allowing too many people into his game and combining two tables together. I could tell right away that the guy was an asshole, he wouldn't make eye contact and turned his back to me when I approached him when I first walked into the room. I was about to go get one of the GenCon room monitors(?), when a guy from the Tower of Gygax event, seeing the situation, offered me a table. Seeing a smaller room free food and a particularly good looking chocolate pie, I thought it was an upgrade from the mass gaming room I was supposed to be in. Caed who had showed up for the game wanted to kick the guy's ass, but I was happy not to deal with an asshole to show him what a prick I could be.

To make things even better, a guy came in and offered to turn up the air conditioning while "Cthulhu Round Midnight" was in session. Great players as always and the mystery was foiled as the minions of evil actually killed themselves with a fumbled gunshot in a brief encounter. This wasn't meant to be an overly combat-oriented one, so I was happier to have played around with my mesmerism rules. Wayne swung in to buy me a beer and say "see ya soon." A psych student, Nick, played the best Parapsychologist that I had ever met. Caed and I found the bar closed so couldn't top the night off, but we hugged and promised to meet up on Saturday. Though limping, the walk home at 1:30am was invigorating. Yoggy texted me while walking, I had forgotten to swing by Scotty's for a night cap. He was cool with it though.

Though I stretched at night, I saved the bath until the morning, which was 6:26am. Confused as to why I couldn't much sleep, but hey I was up. When breakfast was done, it was time to get serious about some side work for the game marathon that would be starting at 11am. Due to an Event Submission item that I misread, I was not going to be doing after-11 Cthulhu events Wednesday through Saturday night, I was running one on Wednesday and Thrusday then two on Friday night. The last starting an hour before penultimate one should be ended-- But I would be free after 5pm on Saturday night then, so I was all game to make things work. Lemonaide with lemons anybody?

My first Spacers event had two people walk up and ask if my empty table had any slots. I respond, "yes." A third showed up, being killed early in a friend's game. And "The Wrong Side of Pluto" wrapped up the Spacers: Rocketmen Vs. the Saucers campaign, and the story-arc of the crew of the Rocketship U.S.S Venture. Monk and I had had an argument in April so he didn't show up to play Captain Kurt, so this was a dry victory to me. Peryton's game next to mine was making too much noise. Seriously my players were some quiet individuals, so we moved upstairs to a deserted room reserved for others who must've been sleeping it off.

Sligo and I hooked up when I finally found the FBI booth. We walked far and wide, had lunch, and then prepared to find out exactly where my T&T game "The Wisdom Goddess's Quest" was. This game went amazingly well. While there were two new players, Sligo was there to help me out, and three more players had played T&T before though were new to the 7.5 edition. So I had very little work to do, but GM. And most of the group having just read the rules made for some quick discussions but no rules lawyering and time-wasting tactics. This little tunnel-crawl got me flexing my GM skills, and I think the players exercised their humongous non-d20 minds a little to make things easier on me even further. John Bennet, "Cram" from Trollhalla, and his wonderfully wife, sister, friend, daughter or under-aged mistress, not sure which, was there which was great. And David, who played the living statue modeled after Michelangelo's little work, became a central fixture to the tale as well as later. Frankly, I hope to be doing more T&T with everyone at the table.

Next came dinner with the Trollgod and Rick Loomis. We ended up at the Marriott's restaurant, a part dedicated to GenCon called the Red Dragon Inn. Where I had been looking forward to some turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy since I had seen "the Bird" on the menu the night before. The dinner party stared out with nine ppl, then dropped down to seven. Myth, Wayne and son (the Boy Wonder), Sligo, myself, Rick, and Trollgod. Had a damn good time. So good, that when Peryton called me to remind me my 7pm Spacers game was coming up, I asked her to tell anyone showing up that I was going to be thirty minutes late. At 7:15, I called to see if anyone was waiting, hearing that she hadn't seen anyone, I wrote the game off and rocked on with the boys from Arizona.

Afterward, I slipped beneath an empty water table with a nice thick curtain around it and relaxed/napped for a bit.

My 10pm game for CoC was "In the Midnight Hour." I wanted to go into my occupation for the cultist, which I call "the Witch," but two out of the five players in front of me had a 9 month old hanging out with Gramma upstairs, and one wanted to play the Werewolf card/party game at 12:30. So I had all the excuses I needed for another favorite variation of COC often called "Cthulhu:Lethal" by its practioners, and get to my unforeseen midnight game thirty minutes late and still get off the next day. So the group followed Willy "NOT BILLY" Idol, to the Planetarium of the Greater Dayton Metropolis, to go pet some Hounds of Tindalos. The first guy killed, his character was hanging out by a doorway, with a whole lot angles, right ones even, around him, seemed rather miffed. A nice idea he even if I had to fold reality, fire door hinges are outside not inside, in the real world, bub. Still a nice start for a last desperate act by beaten up and terrified survivors later in the game. Luckily, he didn't stick around to watch the event, instead angry text messaging his wife from twenty meters away, one of the smart players, towards committing suicide instead of participating in the insult to his massiveness or something. So I hope I gave her a death scene worthy of her sacrifice, though I am sure her cause will not appreciate her for it, IT TOOK 17 MINUTES AFTER HE HAD LEFT THE ROOM. The rest of the party was a delight, the one woman who caught the image (gag) that I was tryig to create died to early to accomplish it doing acrobats with rather lethal shadows all around her FBI-trained judo kicks, so kept her mouth shut, while things rolled along. Her husband's character had internet access and was blogging about what a douche-bag Willy Idol was, you see his character had been a fan for 16 years, and recently shooed away by the 80's rocker newer, Black Lotus-smoking clique, the Brahmans. He made a new friend on Yahoo messenger named T.Indalos and that was pretty much it for him. The survivor refused to die while being dragged away from the PC keyboard, instead I let him live. From his padded cell, he could only realize that he was indeed alive, but he in a cell full of angles and night was coming. Wrapped the session up at ten minutes to midnight.

At midnight, COC's "Cthulhu Over the Top" ensued with only the slightest of delays as the last group and exchanged emails. A band of young men who were doing the con together. Their tightness and cohesiveness had me thinking that they were military friends, but alas I was wrong, they "were from around Chicago. " They took to their infantry squad stuck in the Great War roles rather well, they had heard of COC, but for the most part wanted war-porn and Cthulhu death. Easily delivered, but I had to sort out my particular rules for getting to the Dreamlands, before I could get explicit. So the squad crawled over the muddy trenches just after sunset to save the crashed biplane pilot stuck in No-Man's land, suffering snipers and mortars, to catch a glimpse of the plane and then with some appropriate confusion at finding themselves sixty miles of France on a warm summer's day. They avoided my "sexy woman trap," like smart young men should,
BUT they avoided its clues as well. The sanity flowed like sipped martinis from this point one. A land mine, a Gug, and the Dark Spawn of Shub Nigureth we were done by 2:25am.

Heading out of the hotel is worthy of mention. I saw a smoker that I had chatted up the night before, we joked about something, then I went for my cell-phone. Two hookers or desperate gamer chicks came up and wanted to get to know me. Seeing me on the cell phone and saying "Luv yu." to Peryton, they were insulted and scurried away. I suspect that these women were just there for the con because prostitutes would've been more patient. A taxi nearly slid sideways seeing a 40 year-old man with KMart clothes and yuppy sandals alone with a cell phone pressed to his ear, at the same time. I tried to decline the ride, showing that I had no cash. He insisted that he had credit. On the way, I asked where he was from and he was from Kenya. Being familiar with his neck of the woods, he liked me and would only charge me $5 for the ride. Well I am not going to argue, but when I showed him how to use his credit card machine, I added $6, it seemed a fair price for the length of the trip.

I was downstairs at breakfast at 7:46am. A little tighter than I would've been if I had only walked home hours before. I shaved my mustache and hopefully trimmed my ragged beard into a Youth's Beard. I felt more like an Amish poser instead, but hey. I didn't have long to tarry, but I did meet Shane's g/f, and Monk and Kelly-Bell walked with me. I ran into the Trollgod at the Hyatt and convinced him to jump into my second T&T, which started at 9am.

"Trouble In the Waterfront" at 9am, David, the living statue, and Sligo were there. Jim, from previous years, showed up as well. I am always so happy when he is there. He either helps with rules, or gets the plot moving. All and all, it was a full crowd. I think we might've won a couple more full-timer Delvers to T&T. For my sake, I ran a "Who-Dun-It" rather than a tunnel-crawl. Still everyone seemed to like it.

Lunchtime was splendid, Peryton, her brother and I met at Acapulco Joe's for lunch. We had a great time and the meal was to die for.

I got a text message from Monk, that while he smoking a cigarette outside, he overheard "an elderly gentlemen who totally hated you." He described the fellow and the first death scene from "In the Midnight Hour." I chuckled and replied, "He was the first to die." A bit later the response was, "Someone dying in Call of Cthulhu, who would've thought it? You should write that down and sell it. It'll take the geriatrics by surprise everytime." I mentioned that the guy is as old as I am so he dropped it. Still, rather humorous.

My next game, I had a great group of players. I was running "Wrestlers versus Dracula" using Jefry Freel's Uncle Cuycuy's Lucha Libra T&T-derived rules and elements of my own WHAP!. The sold out six players rather surprised me, and I allowed Wayne's son, the Boy Wonder to drop into the game. Working out the details in my head, as well as suddenly dealing with spurts of pain in my good ear (I am literally deaf in one) got me a little distracted during the rather massive Cup-Qualifying Match. I was able to hold it together enough to get the dramatic precedents established and asked for help from the players, which they took on whole-heartedly. Rules and format ideas came freely, one of the players mentioned a family emergency and didn't reappear but the remaining made this session rule the cosmos. When we finished the competition Pay-For-View event, we got into my Dracula plot, and I was able to show some skills. We wrapped up a little late, but the movie we made rocked.

The Boy Wonder got a ride back home, and dinner was with MCLea, Peryton and Wayne at where else but Champions. Rook called looking for D&D players, which meant the wife
and brother-in-law were on the way. Truth be told my ear was hurting too much, and Rook sees me invalid enough (broken foot, et al). There is that little bit of me of D&D making my head hurt as well. Jordan nursed me back to health with a walk over to the Indianapolis Riverfront and then the mall, discussions on real life, staring at women, and a bit of beer. Next thing anyone knew Monk and Kelly-Bell showed up and we were catching up with Caed's "UNGenCon's Pubcrawl." Yoggy showed up around 10:30pm, the third pub I think so it was a good party. I think in an unspoken way, Monk and I closed the door on our April argument. So there I was with the Crew, including Caed, and in a rather good place.

By 1am or so, Peryton kept promising to show up, but of course her D&D session went over, and over, and over, and over that timeframe. The rest of us were at Scottys watching HellBoy, and I decided I would call it an early night. Leaving Yoggy with the tab, Monk and Kelly-Bell accompanied me for the walk back to the B&B. I said hi to the 'Over the Top' players from the night before on the way out.

Back at our Hideaway apartment, Peryton and MCLea were reading Eclipse Phase and V&V respectively. I suddenly realized why I hadn't able to do much more than nap in the room, it was "Arkansas Cool." Similar to great atmosphere at the Ram, known for its lack of moving air and warmer than a fried egg texture. That phrase means that my wife and brother-in-law have steadily been turning up our abode's temperature to about 87-90 degrees from its original 77. Why? Because the A/C in the taxi rides and hotels then taxi rides back. You see it wasn't hot enough for them, they wanted to warm up, or something. I told them to go outside, then grabbed a beer and turned the A/C up. Still on a roll, I rambled about my misgivings at Guillermo del Toro, acting speaking more to George Lucas, Stan Lee and Peter Jackson, then fell asleep in my chair not opening my beer. Robin saw me to bed later, griping about having to sleep beneath the covers or something.

At 7:37 I shaved off the rest of my beard. I had been in touch with civilized society again. Peryton and MClea were crashed out sleeping better than they have all week for some unbeknown reason. Maybe because the heat from the sun wasn't waking them up? Who knows? At breakfast, Shane told Monk, Kelly-Bell and me, "I heard when you guys came in last night. Ninjas you're not."

I was overjoyed at the non-gamers allusion in our own jargon when I replied, "We're more pirates than ninjas in this bunch."

More than a few laughs were shared throughout the morning.

By 9:45am, my own luggage was in the car and I was walking down to the convention center with Monk and Kelly-Bell. I hadn't prepped my characters for the third of my CoC "the Rat Pack versus Cthulhu" trilogy. At 10am, I saw all the loafers at the Hyatt are being booted out of their rooms where so the hotel can fit in some guests that don't fit twelve people into a two bed-sized room. From the line, I could tell that no quick measly four copies coming from those overworked desk clerks for sure. I was able to finagle my way into the hotel's customer only the Business area by the copier. Of course there was no paper, so I had to use the backs of four other character sheets, relatively free of player notes. Working feverishly I scrawled out notes for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin the ghost, Sammy Davis Jr, Jerry Lewis, Lauren Bacall, and a Chicago thug by the name of Ratchet. I looked up and I had fifteen minutes to spare.

"Fly Me To the Moon" was more than an appropriate conclusion to the trilogy that I started back in '08. The players were wonderful. The Frank Sinatra from "Cthulhu at the Sands" was recast into the role, and the rest of the players were fluent in role-playing, the characters and Lovecraft's writing , it was a great time. On top of that, I was at where I should be running games, on top of everything. The woman who played Lauren Bacall told me at the end of the game, "That was perfect. Tight. Tight, sweet, and shorter than boring. I especially liked the tight bit." I couldn't reply beyond, "That's the way I like it too." But I have to admit, the scenes worked out nicely, the images in the re-telling will convey mood (or punchline) of the work; all in all, I am happy with the results as well. I had forgotten a bit of combat, so the whole thing wasn't perfect.

My Dealers' Hall trundle was quick, not a lot of games struck my eye. But Delta Green products are out there, Michael Stackpole has a trilogy available through FBI, and Lucha Libre: the Way of the Mask is out by Spartacus Publishing. The 6th annual PeryPub Champion's "Victory Dinner" was held at 4pm, or so. We met (spelling based off of my bad hearing) Dioga(?) from Brazil, who needs to get in touch by email. This guy is an uber-gamer that has become part of the Crew. Yoggy called as we were pulling out of Indiana, he was cool with it once again.

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