Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Take care of the little things... GenCon 2011

Wednesday AM arrived finally and I wasn't over-worked the night before, nor were Peryton and I running late when we pulled out of the driveway to get to GenCon 2011. I was a little more than happy. To start the celebration, I asked Pery to text message CCrabb obscure quotes from 1930s spy novels, in German, to tell how close to the meeting point we were. Oh yeah, this year we were picking up our favorite and all powerful Editor, Christine Crabb. And after a stop at the Strongsville Mall, in front of an Applebees, all three of us were en route Indianapolis, while her family was en route back to Vermont. Everything was coming together nicely and it wasn't past 10am.

The drive from Cleveland area to Indianapolis was only a conversation in duration. We found a Mexican restaurant, as everyone knows, that is one of the joys, of the many, in my life. So I think we were in the car like 15 minutes. We pulled into the Stone Soup Inn at around 4pm. Pery and I then took CCrabb on her first road march from the B&B to the convention center. The two miles, mid-90s degree temperature and high humidity, I am sure the woman caught a glimpse of how insane we are.

A staged reenactment of before leaving Cleveland and arriving in Indianapolis
My Wednesday night game, "Cthulhu Mansion" (part III) was a wash. I was about five minutes late, having picked up my badge before walking over to the game. I think another GM might've scooped my players after speaking with the room monitor on the way out; but after two seconds of thinking about it, I gave less than a damn. I stopped into the cocktail bar called "Olives" at the Omni hotel, had a vodka tonic and cooled off. Pery and CCrabb were able to find me there. I even had a cigar. Throughout the night we were able to catch up with Yoggy, Caed and Brock and a host of others as well. It was an "Old Home Reunion" evening, the likes of which we hadn't had over the past years at our beloved Con. Of course, I was seen cavorting with two pitchers of Killians all over Scotty's that evening. I think I made about 67 new friends each trip to the bar. We didn't get back to the cottage until 1am.

Thursday AM, I had breakfast with Monk and K-Bell and the three of us walked down to the convention together. Pery was ill and had to cancel her morning session, which had a full table-- Steppenwulf, of Mandy and Steve Butka. I was amazed to find that I had three players to playtest my PowderPunk setting in "The Wrong Side of the Fuse" scenario. Met a Tuki and Trevor, along with CCrabb and Sligo. It went alright, all the rules are still a bunch of pages on my laptop computer, so things were pretty loose and freewheeling. The group were all pretty ready to be in the hip version of the year 1501 A.D. and in a port just this side of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. My cheesy accents just weren't up to snuff though.

At lunch, I called Pery to see how she was doing. I told her about the sold out table that she missed. When I mentioned that I was surprised that I had players for the PowderPunk session, she full-heartedly replied with, "Serves you damn right!"
I suppose she didn't expect staying out so late on Wednesday.

My afternoon session of PowderPunk was a wash. Monk was running his WHAP! "The Diary of Cassanova" steampunk session just a couple of tables over. Pery was on her way down for a 2pm game. I decided to head over to the Dealer's Hall and catch up with Looming Rick Loomis and Trollgod Ken St. Andre. This year Peryton Publishing, which Ken keeps calling "Peryton Press," bought a slot in the Flying Buffalo card deck, so our Sabriel-designed peryton is the two of diamonds, alongside with the Smiling Troll Joker and the Chaimail Chick Queen of Hearts; I picked up the cards from booth to lug around.

Trollgod swung me around to see the Exhibition Hall. Well mostly to bump into attractive women authors and artists, as well as find Liz Danforth and S.S. Crompton. Lordhead the man got me committed into buying about sixteen new books this year. The authors being V.J. Waks and a cast of thousands associated with the Dragon Roots magazine. Breaking free of the Trollgod, I bumped back into Sligo and we spent the afternoon lounging next to the troll statue just outside the hall. Got to know two kids in their 20s, one was the daughter of the guy behind Adamant Games. Sligo and I played up the age differences and kept having them explain this or that costume walking by. Jordan, Bruce Wayne, and his son, let's call him the Boy Wonder, caught up with us for a bit.

Around dinner time, we had a little private dinner planned. I figured no one was coming so I asked a couple more people with they would like to meet us at Acapulco Joe's. More than a dozen showed up, including Corencio, Ken St Andre's son James. The cozy little CoC session, "Cthulhu Dawn" after dinner planned just for Caed and about four other people, also burst its seams, where we had eleven players all hanging out in our cottage. I had a lethal plot worked out, where a couple of players would survive and I would have an "End of the World" themed scenario worked out, but the players did all "smart" things like stay in one place and stick together, so I had to kill them all. Of course, I did experiment with how to turn a PC into a flesh-eating zombie. As the climax of violence started, I had one player-character wield a shotgun so poorly that he killed more of the other PCs than my attacking zombies. Trollgod did try to get the gang to head to a bar, an impenetrable fortress if ever there was one.

Friday was Grind Day and Night. Sligo called to see if I needed a ride to the con, which I declined. I chatted with CCrabb while having a sandwich and coffee before rushing out the door to my T&T events. Pery was sleeping in, and she smartly would be starting later than me. The walk downtown did not get any shorter, nor did the rain relieve the heat and mugginess, but that just made the air conditioned Crowne Plaza that much nicer.

I really should follow Pery's example and start games later in the day, especially when I plan on running all night, but there is something about T&T games early in the morning at GenCon that rocks. The morning crowd that is looking for an "independent game" tend to be some of the better role-players and the like to keep to a schedule. Martin, Kat and Beau were no exception to this norm I discovered. They were new to T&T and Sligo and David, last year's Michelangelo Walking Statue, was the player coaches that helped me out immensely while they developed characters, while I could take a break to clean myself up from the walk. And the murder mystery that is "The Big Sky" worked out wonderfully. I really had a good time. It was better than coffee.

"The Bubble Pit" T&T scenario in the afternoon would turn out to be a surprise for me. I show up after lunch with Sligo and David, to meet Mike Siegel and Kevin already working on their PCs, with T&T books and no other dice but six-sided ones. Mike is Mrrrik at the Halls, err Trollhalla, to the uninitiated. David and Sligo's characters were already ready to go. So instead of spending the first hour of the game teaching people how to roll up characters for the first hour, which is essential to illustrate certain conventions that T&T has, like DARO and TARO, we were ready to jump right into the story from get go. There was the PCs getting to know one another. I was able to throw in the wandering monster with a serious ambush. Then there was a bit of a tunnel-crawl, one of the joys, of many, in life. The story twist occurred. We as a group were able to get into some advanced "rules discussion," which meant interpreting rules among well-read and already competent T&T players-- Yes Sligo and I had to work something out. All without arguing because of the T&T directive that the GM running the game is right. Mrrrik is an Army man, so my love a break every 50 minutes to an hour, didn't surprise him and Kevin one bit.

Heading into the evening, I was able to hang out with Monk and K-Bell, and even my wife for a bit. Friday night was upon us, and the Peryton Gamer's Apocalypse All-Nighter was about to take place. At 7pm Monk ran his RocknRole-Playing scenario "Drag Racing Zombies From Beyond The Moon." Not too far from him, I was running CoC, well my version of it at least, "Cthulhu Over Casablanca." I couldn't pay too much attention because I had a fantastically talented group of role-players in front of me, with Dan, my most recurring Frank Sinatra player, leading the party as Humphrey Bogart. Dan of course did a wonderful impression of Bogart. The group overall was wonderful. The fellows playing Paul Henreid and Conrad Veidt played into Humphrey's "the nicest Nazi I know" jokes very nicely. And I've never seen a role-playing table so full of alcoholic beverages in all my life, usually there is only mine and Dan's.

Caed promised a little zombie attack during at least one of the All-Nighter's games. She mentioned that she had two people willing to show up. At 11pm, the Zombie Walk produced about 20 attackers. We had a little LARP planned out, but it turned into a break. And despite our best eforts, we couldn't get the nurse zombie to stick around for drinks. Peryton's Doctor Who "The Web of Light" scenario started at that time during the break, so she couldn't yell at me for hitting on the undead, again.

My midnight game, CoC "The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters" player's showed up on. time. Monk's Toon horror scenario with Beavis and Butthead as other characters started as well. Once again, I had a full house, and Caed. "The Haunted House Hunters" is a tricky game to run. Mix up a police procedure, with a reality-TV satire and add copious amounts of Scooby Doo, and the GM has my influences down pat. Mind you, this is one of my scary ones, so the comedy isn't built in. Well Micha, Austin, Dallas, Jason, Caed and Diane worked in the comedy very well. What was nice as well, they took their pre-generated characters and worked from there, so to speak. As the guy having to play various NPC's I forgot I regularly forgot I was the GM, the PCs were that strong. Though we were supposed to wrap up at 3am, we went over anyway.

Luckily no one showed up for my CoC "Cthulhu Dawn" session, at 3:30am the "Haunted House Hunters" and I relaxed and got in-depth. The comedy schticks were played out earlier, and the PCs got down to the mystery(s) in front of them. Calls were made to fathers who were retired cops, and family problems role-played out. The players started checking out historical information. As the right questions were being asked, I dropped more and more of the clues. The bigger picture came together. And the sanity started ebbing away one or two points at a time. When the twist to the tale came, I had one PC this close to being committed. Despite a shot-gun mass murder attempt at the end, I think everyone survived, and the main PC, a retired wrestler turned paranormal investigator, redeemed his heroic heritage.

Peryton's 3am game BEAN "Aqua Teen Hunger Force and the Book of Beards" had a group of six or seven people come in punctually and abruptly drop their belongings on her table. Apparently about four of them were members of a cult dedicated to her ATHF games with a couple of indoctrinated converts in tow already. My and Monk's gregarious groups weren't even noticed as the Pery-Pod People began their game. As I was so wrapped up in my game, I didn't know that Pery finished her last session in less than 90 minutes. Her and her minions then worked out a sequel adventure, to fill the rest of candle burning until sunrise.

The Apocalypse All-Nighter wrapped up officially at 5:42 AM. My players, incited by Caed, were all about breakfast at Steak and Shake. I had planned on Acapulco Joe's, but couldn't resist the pull. Peryton came along as well, sated by her cultists worship, yet hungering for something more. At Steak and Shake, I wasn't sure which made the breakfast, the lack of taste in the food or the really bad service, but I was so drained at this point I was punch-drunk amazed at my own ability to smile. Peryton was pretty wiped out as well, after she ate her baby cup full of yogurt she taped her fingers and glowered at me as we awaited my apparently hard to prepare breakfast. I said, "Hey, we just pulled off an apocalyptic all-night gaming session."
She smiled.
And we used our smiles to get us back to our B&B cottage. I had even mustered up enough strength to compose a little poem to "my", I felt familiar enough now to refer to them as intimates, Haunted House Hunters, before I exited stage behind me out the door.

"Fair gents and fine ladies,
I pray thee to grant your ears.
I doth think, that tonight,
Thee have grown me dears.

Still I am weary,
Upon this morn of heat dreary.
For time beneath our willow,
I must find my pillow.

So alas, allow me my due.
To bid you, you, you, you, you
And you Caed,

I almost forgot to pay, and had to come back rushing in to the cash register before the cops jumped me.

The wind was blowing, but it was full of steamy humidity and not many degrees below our skin's temperature. When we hit the apartment, we were sapped.

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