Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What happens at the Con...

...stays at the con.

Not really.

We left Friday morning at about 10 o'clock. I was pleased that I had found a friend who could drive, since that meant we didn't have to take the Greyhound bus. Me and my girl had done that for a few years and found it remarkably inconvenient, but had no real way around it until now.

It was about a 7 hour drive, which would have been a bit shorter if it weren't for the snow we encountered near Legget.

We arrived at the hotel at about 5 PM only to discover the power was out. Thankfully, this being a Marriott, they were prepared and had emergency power to run elevators and get everyone checked in. However, since we arrived so late in the day, we did not get the two bed room that we had requested (1 bed for me and the lovely lady, the other for our driving companion). We were able to get a cot brought to the room for the driver, but for the most part, it seemed like we traded one set of inconveniences for another. I'm working on figuring out a more optimal scheme for next year.

Saturday morning, I was up with the dawn to run "TransFormers: Attack of the Retcons."

It went well overall, since the majority of the players were Transformers fans of old, who got all of my references. They really liked the "retcon" mechanics I had devised, especially when one character got "killed" by the Retcons. Since the character was wiped out of existence, Optimus Prime instead sent someone else on the mission, meaning he got a different character. It took a few minutes for the group to get back to playing because they were stunned by the awesome.

For the record, the little girl in the picture is a Dorothy.

I spent Sunday morning in a seminar entitled "Ain't it cool?" in which the inestimable Ken Hite (and Darren Watts of Hero Games) gave their recommendations on hot new games. I then spent the afternoon picking up some of their recommendations from the dealer room.

Then, Sunday afternoon, I got ready to run my new "Magic Belt of Oz" adventure. As it was part of their kid's program, kids were encouraged to simply drop in to play. No kids came.

After 30 minutes, two grownups walked in and asked "Is this the Oz game?" I was a little leery of running a game with only 2 players, but I decided to give it a try. It did not go well. It actually helped me realize a mistake I had made with both adventures that I had prepared.

In both cases, I assumed that the players would be familiar with the background. The Transformers players had more fun if they knew about the planet Junk and the Quintessons. The Oz player that knew some of the background had more fun than the one that didn't. So next year, my plan is to build adventures that do not require background knowledge from the start. If there's background involved, let it be revealed by the story, not assumed in order to make the story work.

Miscellaneous pictures:
This is that Ken Hite guy I keep talking about. I own and enjoy a number of the books that he has written and I was quite pleased to discover that he is a regular attendee at DunDraCon and gives wonderful seminars. As well as the "Ain't it cool?"
seminar, I was also able to attend a seminar with him on city-building for RPGs. He also did a few I was unable to attend because of the time-slots for my games.

I must also now tell the story of how I met Ken Hite in an elevator last year. We both wound up in the same elevator along with one of my con-friends, Melissa. When I realized who it was, I said "WOW! You're Ken Hite! I really enjoy your work" (Or something similar). Melissa said, "I'm not nerdy enough to know who you are."

Ken's response to this was simply priceless: "Treasure that."

He was also a great sport in allowing me to get this picture of him. I'm not in the picture with him for the main reason that I am badly in need of a haircut and do not need that immortalized, thank you very much.
This is one of the few cos-players to attend the con. Other cons have much more extensive costuming, going so far as to have seminars and fashion shows and masquerade balls. If you can't tell, she's dressed as Mara Jade from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Then I had to go and take pictures of dice. Most of these items were intended to be used for the Oz game. The tubes are full of green glass beads to represent Oz Points for the game, and the plastic box on the left is full of 6-sided dice to be rolled during play, green with gold pips. The plastic box in the right is a standard polyhedral dice set (1 4-sided, 1 6-sided, 1 8-sided, 2 10-sided, a 12-sided and a 20-sided die) in the same green with gold markings. That one I bought just for me. This is the first chance I've had to buy dice since most of my gaming gear got stolen several months ago.

This was a Star Trek tactical simulator game that was being run by the fellow in uniform. You can't really see it, but the display and the consoles were full of blinking and flashing lights. The "main screen" on the wall panel was the "game board" with playing pieces representing ships that were stuck to it. If I wasn't so busy with my seminars and role-playing games, I might have given this one a try.

This is another one of his consoles, featuring a Borg Cube ship model.

The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) has an active presence at DunDraCon every year, with a display table featuring their as-authentic-as-possible medieval props and combat demos with simulated weapons. Although the weapons are not deadly, they do have the ability to hurt you. The armor that their fighters wear is not simply for show.

There is also a "boffer LARP" group called Amtgard that does combat demos and such at the con as well, but I wasn't able to get pictures of them.

The primary difference between the SCA combat demos and boffer LARP combat demos is the weapons and armor. In the SCA, the swords are made of metal pipe to give them a realistic heft. In that case, you need realistic armor to protect yourself from being hit by a metal pipe. In a boffer LARP, the weapons are made of plastic pipe wrapped in layers of foam padding. Any armor you wear is largely for show, but can affect how damage is "called" during a fight.

This is just a nice little panorama I saw there. In the foreground is the shopping center right by the hotel. The background, though, was just such a lovely view that I felt the need to take a picture of it

Speaking of lovely views, I tried to get a picture of my girl, but it just didn't capture her at her best. I didn't realize that I didn't have a picture of her until the drive home, so what I did get is her looking pretty, but road-weary.

Maybe I'll post a picture of us once I get my hair cut and she's a bit more rested.


librarian said...

Ok, the picture of Mara Jade is just hilarious - because of the guy behind her staring at her butt!!

So in that one picture with Dorothy, which one is you?

F. Douglas Wall said...

None of them is me, actually. I'm the one who took that picture.

And yes, she did have a nice butt.

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