I had expected my Thursday to be very boring. Our transportation would be leaving Thursday night rather than the Friday morning I had rather hoped for, but I had all day to prepare, right? Wrong.
I woke up at 10:30 that morning (I slept in) to find a message on my answering machine that I was due to work at 8. Which was a surprise, since I had believed that I had the day off. I usually get Thursdays off because it's my game night with my friends. Quickly throwing my uniform on, I hurried in to work. They let me finish out my shift (very nice of them) and I was back home by about 5. I expected my friend Mike to come pick up me and my fiancee at around 7, so I still had time, right? Wrong again.
Shortly after I got home, I got a call from Mike warning me that his sister (who was tagging along for something else) was in a bit of a hurry and they would be leaving just as soon as she was ready. So now we had no real idea when we would be leaving, so we had to hurry on our final packing (and wound up forgetting a few things). We still wound up leaving around 7 PM, but we did it with more adrenalin and less done than we had originally intended.
We were traveling in the dead of night, so I don't have any traveling pictures this time. We did wind up seeing a little bit of snow, but it was too dark to consider getting a shot of it. Since our hotel reservation didn't cover Thursday night (and I'm not sure I want to consider paying full price for a room there), our friend arranged for us to sleep on his parent's couch. (He didn't have the money to attend the con himself, but he did have family business to take care of).
We arrived on Friday rather early, which is good, since we had been warned that the hotel had overbooked and we might have to be accommodated at another hotel. I much prefer it when my commute to convention activities is simply the elevator.
It wound up being a pretty boring day, all around. I wasn't running a game, there weren't any games that I was particularly interested in playing, and the Dealers Room didn't open until Saturday. My fiancee and I attended part of one seminar on online resources for RPGs, but found it rather dry and wound up leaving early.
We also managed to replace some of the items we had left behind, like a digital camera, at the local Target. Hey, if the Nikon Coolpix is good enough for Ashton Kutcher, then it's certainly good enough for me. (And thanks to the nearby Borders going out of business, I picked up inexpensive copies of Son of a Witch and Lion Among Men.)
Saturday was a bit more exciting for me, as I was scheduled to run "The Jaded City of Oz" as part of the convention's Kid's Room. Thankfully, I had time to visit the Dealers Room beforehand, because I wasn't fully set on six-siders and gaming stones (I know I bought them years ago, but those wound up buried in the boxes during the move and we haven't had time for archeology).
I was a little worried, because nobody had showed up by the time my game was scheduled to run at 10 AM. It took a while, but I did get a pretty full group for the game. Check them out!
And yes, I was pretty impressed that I had so many grownups show up for a kid's game. Though that might have been because the con organizers decided to double-bill it as a "Demo game" in a separate part of the program. Either way, I had players and they had fun.
I spent most of the rest of the day shopping in the Dealers Room and the Buyers Bazaar. The Buyers Bazaar is more of a swap meet with individuals selling off their old games. I found a significant deal on a lot of old Talislanta stuff (It's a very cool setting. Check it out!) including some stuff that isn't available on that site.
That night was a city-building seminar which I was very happy I didn't miss, what with me being a Ken Hite fanboy and all. While I had been hoping for a chance to say hi to him this con, things wound up taking an interesting turn. My fiancee and I wound up chatting (and eventually having dinner with) Kevin Andrew Murphy, who was another panelist.
I even wound up giving him a print copy of AiO that I had been planning to give to Ken Hite. He seemed to like the idea of the game, and I'm hopeful he likes the implementation. He was good enough to let us get pictures with him. My fiancee took this one, and I took one with Kevin and her. (If you're a fan on Facebook, you can see that shot, as well as several others that won't make it here.)
The next morning was another game of Oz. The amazing thing was that people actually signed up to play. Though before we settled in, one of the players bowed out. So another player volunteered to call in a friend (on his phone, not by using an Oz Point) to round out the group.
In general, the players liked the scenario. There was some disappointment that the final scene wasn't as awesome as I had pitched it. You see, the final scene is the Jaded City of Oz, a place so magical that its inhabitants have literally seen everything. The challenge of the scene is very much about lateral thinking, as you must show these people something that they haven't seen before.
It can be easy for a Narrator to make this scene too hard, by countering everything the players propose with something wonderful and magical from the city itself. This group only stumbled for a little bit before a player decided to present their unique and interesting character, Bungle the Glass Cat for inspection. I couldn't come up with a good counter to that. So things were over rather quickly in what was supposed to be the "boss fight" of the adventure (although I've never had to use the combat rules in one of these games)
I sat in on two rather boring seminars on designing and publishing RPGs. They were very broad overviews of the process, with no real meat.
That evening, I wound up signing up for the one game that I played in: Spaceballs Back in Action. It was a lot of fun and everyone got a kick out of recreating roles from that classic film. I was Yogurt the Wise, who I played as this kind of dirty old man character with plenty of merchandising jokes. To the point of hitting a bad guy upside the head with Spaceballs: The Frying Pan. I don't know if I would play with the rules they were using again, but there was some fun to be had.
And of course, I spend a good chunk of money every year on all of that stuff that I've been holding out on for the whole year. Like Volume 2 of the Dresden Files RPG. And before you start dissing me for being an emo teen and picking up the Smallville RPG, I actually heard very good things about it on RPG.net. In order to make super-powered characters compare favorably with normals, they shift the balance point of the game to focusing on the relationship drama. Which is exactly the same as what I did in Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.
The other major item of note (I mentioned Talislanta earlier) is FantasyCraft, a d20 successor system, of which Pathfinder is the most successful. It does have the advantage of a lot more flexibility in terms of characters and campaign options than Pathfinder, but it looks like the d20 audience is mostly crying for their D&D fix.