Monday, March 31, 2014

Gary Con Report

I found it interesting that they used this image
for the t-shirts and promotion, considering that
Dave Trampier, the artist, had just passed away
the Monday before...
This past weekend was my first Gary Con. My wife went with me, and we spent three days there. Well, technically only two, as our Sunday event got cancelled, and we didn’t have time to jump in a game or anything. But, aside from that, we had a blast, and are planning on making this an annual thing. Between Gary Con in the Spring, and Gamehole Con in the fall, we should be good on Con-going and getting our game on.

We weren’t able to get out on Thursday (though we plan to next year), so our weekend started by driving out to Lake Geneva on Friday morning. We had a game scheduled for 1:00 pm, and we got there at about 10:30. This gave us time to look around, check out the dealer room, and generally just get our bearings. Even though the vendors were limited, there was a bunch of neat stuff, and it was all I could do to not hand my small credit card to everyone. That said, we did walk away with some cool loot (more on that later).

Our 1:00 game was Dragon Age, the RPG. My wife has played quite a bit of DAII on her computer, so she was jazzed for this one. For me, it was a fantasy RPG, so I was sold. We both liked the system a lit. 3d6 task resolution, with a “dragon dice” mechanic to add some extra flavor. There were supposed to be pregen characters, but the GM kinda dropped the ball. I didn’t mind that, as I like making character. The only downside was that it bit heavily in play time, which almost ruined the end of the session.

All in all, a good experience for me. And my wife’s only disappointment was that it didn’t delve too much into what separates Dragon Age from any other D&D world. However, it did inspire her, and now we are buying her the game, and she plans on running an event herself at Gamehole in November.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the game, I started feeling ill. And by the time we were done I was running a low-grade fever, and having stomach issues. We were planning on partying with our friends that night in celebration of my wife’s birthday this month, so we went back to the hotel and I napped. Woke up feeling a bit better, but not perfect. However, I muscled through it, and my wife had a great time, which was all that was important. The only down side was that I got a nice New York Steak that ended up going to waste because the fridge in our hotel was broken. I almost cried.

Saturday morning I awoke feeling rested, hungry, and much better. After a nice breakfast, we hit the Con again. We hit the dealer room first, and found Larry Elmore there, signing prints. So, we each picked out a print for him to sign. My wife bought one of the Dragons of Spring Dawning cover, and I bought one of The Crystal Shard cover, and he signed and personalized them both. SQUEE!!!

We had a noon game of Star Frontiers, and I was super-excited for it. I hadn’t played since high school, but have been jonesing to try it again for about the past year. My wife had never played, and knew nothing about the setting or system. But, with some coaching, and a really good GM, we had a blast. Even with the failed rolls and mishaps. This was probably my favorite game of the weekend, though not by much, as you’ll soon see.

After Star Frontiers, we had a couple of hours, so we grabbed some dinner in the restaurant, while watching the charity auction. I was so envious of the guys who could drop hundreds of dollars on some really cool collectibles. Then it was time for our evening game at 6:00 pm: Castles & Crusades.

I recalled trying it out when it first came out years ago, but never since. So, wanting something from the Con, I bought a copy of the Player’s Handbook before the game. Turned out it was the last unsold copy of the 5th printing. I thought that was kind of cool.

The game was run by one of the developers, Steve Chenault, who ended up signing my book afterwards. The party consisted of 16 people! And he handled it all like a champ. He kept the pace going, the simple story was fun, and I liked my half-orc ranger. The game itself was very cool, too. I liked the simplified mechanics, and it really did feel like the Old School games I have recently become so interested in. Character deaths happened, but they were expected, and we even all cheered when the barbarian was the first to die. Over all, it was a really fun game. We had a bit of a break in the middle, as four of us got separated from the other 12, and they got into a big fight. But we had a good RP encounter with a stone giant, who ended up being a jerk. In the end, I think only three characters died, and the rest of us made it out. Had a blast, and I really want to play C&C some more.

Sunday morning we were supposed to sit in on a panel with some game designers and publishers (including Steve from the night before), but it obviously got cancelled as they were filming some kind of special interview with Margaret Weis in the bar area where our event was to take place. I was a little bummed, but not much. We lingered for bit, then headed home on a leisurely route through the countryside, stopping at a roadside diner for elevensies. We hit the local game store on the way home for Dragon Age, since no one had it at the Con. The store didn’t have it in stock either, so we ordered it, and it should be here tomorrow.

All-in-all, it was a great time. And we were both bummed to have to leave. Last night I found myself wishing we were still there and had a game scheduled for the evening again. Ah, well. Gamehole is only about eight months away…

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