Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Tale of Gencon 2011 -- Part the First.

It's taken a couple of days to process everything, but I'm finally in a mind to give my Gencon report. This was my first “real” Gencon (a couple years ago I went up there for about 18 hours—a total blur). I was there for four days, and the hardest part was adjusting my sleep schedule. I work third shift, so trying to run a game in the tie slot where I'm usually sound asleep was a tricky process.

So let's take it one day at a time. Wednesday night, I crash at my friend's place in Bowling Green. The plan is to leave at 4am, pick up some other guys, and truck on down to Indianapolis. We should arrive at 8am. Of course, I can't sleep. I try to go to crash out on the couch at about midnight, which is when I'm usually starting work. I also have this weird “Christmas Eve” excitement where I can't sleep because I'm all jazzed about the con the next day. After a few fitful hours of up-and-down sleep, I give up at about 2:30 AM. I've had one-and-a-half, maybe two hours of sleep and I know I'm not going to get more.

Despite a few delays, the whole ride goes pretty smooth. I get to the Airport Ramada just in time to hook up with Ian “Edison Force” Engle, deposit my luggage and make a mad dash to the Convention Center. We get to Gencon about 10 AM. Ian has a game to run, and my first game isn't until 2 PM. It's about this time that I run in to my friend Mark. Mark lives in the same town as I do, but we don't get to hang out unless we drive four hours out of state. It's frustrating.

Mark and I hit the Dealer's Room to kill time. I've been told that this year's Dealers' Room is a lot smaller than previous years', but I don't have any thing to compare it too. It's bigger than Origins', and that's plenty big by my standards. The Doctor Who booth is awesome with it's life-size Tardis. There's a huge arena full of children beating the crap out of each other with boffer swords. I am thrilled to discover that Steve Jackson's next Munchkin expansion is for Axe Cop. And I think I made an ass of myself to the guys at the Ennie booth. It's kind of a blur. The sleep toxins are seeping into my skull pretty badly at that point, and the “witty” part of my brain is the first to shut down.

2 PM rolls around and it's time for my first game. Why I chose to run two games my first day is a mystery. “Sindbad and Watwat King of Bats!” is my first game. I ranit previously this year at BASHcon, so I've got a pretty good handle on it. My friend J.J. Lanza has signed up to play the game along with his two sons (12 and 13, I think). It's J.J.'s first QAGS game, so I'm excited that he could play. The game went pretty smoothly. Some players were better than others, but none of them were terrible or were massively offensive (anyone who's run a game at a con knows what I'm talking about). I wish I could have focuses more on the younger Lanzas. They did quite well and have a promising future as gamers.

My next game was at 7PM. Somewhere in this haze I've run into Robert “Sex, Lies & Ultraspies” McCabe. He hands me a 5-hour-energy. I've already been hitting the Starbucks pretty heavy (there's a kiosok right at the end of our hall), so I'm feeling pretty loopy. Also I haven't eaten.

“Curse of the Alchemist” is my 6 o'clock game. It too has sold out. This is a sword & sorcery game in the vein of Conan or the Grey Mouser. I wrote and ran this game for my home group as a Barbarians of Lemuria adventure and converted it to QAGS. Again, I have a decent handle on the adventure, which is good because I'm pretty spazzed at this point. One of my players in this game is Revmindi, a fan/forum-poster of my podcast Monkeys Took My Jetpack. I didn't get too much of a chance to chat with him, unfortunately. “Curse,” too, went pretty smoothly. A few of my players were quite excited when they all got trapped in a room whose walls began to slowly move together to crush them. It's one of those classic traps that you very rarely actually see in games. It was edifying.

Finally, the day is done, and Ian and I go back to the hotel. Steve “Waxman's Warriors” John$on has come into town and checked himself into the room. He's got the air conditioning cranked and offers me a cold Corona almost as soon as I walk in. Let me tell you, happiness is Steve Johnson offering you beer.

There's some banter, I don't recall about what, and I finally get to sleep. The next morning I feel much better. I've slept like a rock, and our hotel has an awesome breakfast. I load up on sausage gravy and lots and lots of coffee. We three head back to Gencon for our 10 AM games.


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