Friday, November 1st
I woke up at 5:10 am, and I couldn't get back to sleep. I've had nightmares about the car, which woke me up several times. The bed was firm enough, quite comfy actually, but the bedding and cover was quite heavy, made of a coarse material. My ankle and leg hurt all night under the weight of the cover, and I thought that I might have to sleep in the lounge pants on top of the bed tonight. My eyes felt like fried eggs, and my head ached as well. My blood sugar was somewhat high when I checked it, but I figured I'd keep an eye on it as the day went on. Still, not good. I went and had a shower, and also gave myself a dry shave.
After finishing my morning exercises after showering I felt pretty good for the most part. The shower wasn't too bad, although there's no real force to it, but it was good and hot, and I felt quite refreshed. The real problem in that bathroom is that there's no real room to manoeuver around! I waited for spross to shower and dress, and then we headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. My blood sugar had dropped somewhat, so that was good. Though still not great.
We went to eat breakfast in the hotel. It was nothing special - two scrambled eggs with ham, spinach, and mushrooms along with whole wheat toast and decaf coffee. And my morning dose of pills. It was an average meal, though the decaf coffee was good. We sat around in the lobby for a bit, and I took some photos (see below). When we got back to the hotel room, the Canadian Tire garage called spross.
The car has been fixed up. It turned out all four of the wheels were loose! Sheesh! spross needs to talk to his dad about getting *real* car servicing and the like in future! It turned out that the right front wheel was the loosest of the lot, and I shuddered to think what might have happened while we were on the road going 120 kph in the rain on the drive down. Yikes! While spross went to pick up the car, I wanted to brush my teeth. Best laid plans, and all that... The spicy food from the night before at O'Neko came out of me. 'Nuff said. spross returned from getting the car back, and he grabbed some ice for me, and I put my leg up and put the ice on the ankle for a while. So I was sitting in one of the hotel room chairs with my leg elevated onto the bed, and a bag of ice on my ankle. By around 10:26 am, the leg felt a bit better and the ankle bruising and swelling had gone down somewhat. I planed to stay with the ice on the ankle for another 10 minutes or so.
At around 4:07 pm, HammerCon was now about an hour away. My leg was pretty bad at the moment, due to walking around the hotel a bit this afternoon. I couldn't go out, as the weather outside was quite cool and it was raining and extremely blustery. I figured that might be affecting my leg and ankle as well. spross and I went and had lunch in the hotel restaurant. We had mushroom soup and a grilled mozzarella cheese sandwich. That was really good, and seems to have gone down well. spross picked up an ice pack for me down the street at the local small Shopper's Drugstore, thank Goddess, though I felt guilty about his going out in that weather to do so, but he volunteered.
I spent the post-lunch period getting ready for the night's game, after checking out the convention rooms and facilities again. The central rooms, making up the Pavilion rooms are quite large, given that they are convention conference rooms or perhaps a ballroom split into several rooms by dividers, and there will be lots of gamers with lots of echoing around the room. The Victoria room, another convention conference room, is pretty large too, and will have nine or ten tables in it. I could lose my voice this weekend, gaming in these rooms, so hence grabbed the two things that will help with GMing this weekend (see the photo), and hoped to be able to get some hot water for decaf or herbal tea as well.
The floor in the hotel that we were on had an Executive Club Lounge, so I spent most of the afternoon in there with my foot up on a table (much better than the arrangement of putting my foot up on the bed from a chair in the hotel room) and the ice pack on my ankle, re-reading the "Peril Beneath the Streets" scenario for the Primeval RPG as well as some of the game system rules before the game that evening. While the game had three pre-registered folks, I just hoped that I could fill the game table tonight.
spross and I went back to the hotel room. I'm took a zitz bath and changed my t-shirt to one appropriate for the game tonight before we headed over to convention registration. From there, I figured we'd go downstairs and have an early steak dinner in the restaurant.
It turned out that convention registration was delayed by over 1/2 an hour, and I have to say that I was rather annoyed (for various reasons). (I later learned from Mikael Andersson, one of the convention organisers, that "real life" stuff as well as traffic was responsible for the delay. Understandable.) spross and I went down to dinner; well, he went to buy some stuff for making snacks first, since we forgot a few things when picking up groceries, and I went to order dinner. And that's when the diarrhea hit me from the spicy hot pot meal again. I had to go up to the second parking level (P-2) to use a bathroom, as the only one on the hotel main floor off the restaurant was busy and all the other lower floor lavatories were in use as well. Let's just say that I barely made it in time.
spross was sitting at the table in the restaurant by the time I got back, and supper was ready. We had a 10 oz. steak, market vegetables, and roast potatoes for dinner. The meat was a bit dry and overcooked, and the potatoes and the veggies (some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, such as they were) were all over-spiced with pepper. Not one of my favourite meals, to be sure.
After eating supper, we went up to the convention floor, and collected our badges and HammerCon V programme book. I got a pleasant surprise when I learned that I was also getting a HammerCon V t-shirt as well. The HammerCon V programme book was quite an attractive one, with a full colour cover, and after browsing through it for a couple of moments and circling all the games that I was running (see the two photos), I went around and tried to actively recruit some more gamers for the evening's session of the Primeval RPG.
I was able to recruit one more player for the game session, and thus had four (out of six) players for the Primeval "Peril Beneath the Streets" adventure. Without going into any real detail about the scenario plot, "Peril Beneath the Streets" concerns an incursion of creatures into the London Underground, and the player characters' attempts to remedy the situation and deal with some unexpected events. The scenario was set up for the main Series 1 cast - Nick Cutter, Stephen Hart, Abby Maitland, Connor Temple, Claudia Brown, and Captain Tom Ryan - and the players chose to play Nick Cutter, Stephen Hart, Claudia Brown, and Tom Ryan. An interesting choice to be sure, leaving out the Abby and Connor characters. Of the players, only two of them had seen the show, and the other two had no experience or knowledge of it, having decided to play in the game because it sounded like an interesting take on dinosaurs.
In terms of the players and the characters, Jim, who was playing Nick Cutter, had a good handle on the character. He and Claudia Brown, as well as Stephen Hart, interacted well and played off each other quite nicely. They tried to keep control, notably of the trigger-happy Ryan, but with no luck. Tim, playing Stephen Hart, did a good job, and handled the survival and tracking aspects of the adventure in stride, though he and Nick just couldn't control the Ryan player/character too well at all. He made some intelligent decisions, deferred to the Nick player when the situation demanded, and had a good game of it, I thought. My favourite moment with him was when he rescued the mom and child on the tube car from the *censored!*s. Paul (the fellow whom I convinced to play just before the game) played Captain Ryan as the military man that he was, but went all aggressive. He desperately wanted to kill something, *anything*, during the scenario, and a couple of times the Nick and Stephen players talked him out of it, but not at the end. In the sequence with the people trapped on the tube cars, he tried a 1/2 kilometre shot at the creatures on the train car, using almost all of his Story Points. He didn't do what the other characters wanted of him for the most part, and played the "soldier killer". That's not Tom Ryan at all. Kevin, the fellow playing Claudia Brown, did a decent job at the role but was a bit passive for my taste, though he dealt with the relationship between Claudia and Nick rather well. He made some good choices in the role, worked with the civilians quite entertainingly, but was constantly undermined by the fellow playing Captain Ryan.
Some of the highlights of the session included: Claudia Brown setting up the story about Animal Control so that the players could gain access to the London Underground tunnels. The Ryan player argued with her about his SAS men wearing uniforms. There was a very neat pair of sequences involving Nick Cutter being protective of the animals and creatures, made more interesting by the fact that no one chose to play Abby Maitland. Some wonderful bits involving Stephen Hart trying to protect folks, and worrying about the civilians. He did a wonderful job using the hole created by Ryan's 1/2-kilometre shot that shattered the train window allowing another *censored!* into the train car, and in a great use of the game mechanics and Story Points, tranqed both of the *censored!*s attacking the mom and her young daughter in the train. Fortunately, he had a tranquiliser rifle that had two darts in it. :) Claudia did a great job using some terrific Presence + Convince rolls to cajole through terror and intimidation the workers out of the train tunnels. Great stuff!
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the game and how it went. There was some terrific roleplaying on the part of the players, they faced several major decisions that they handled well (until the events of the closing moments), and all seemed to have a good time with the game. It went swimmingly for the most part, until the gung-ho violent nature of the Ryan player derailed things when he killed all of the dinos in the final sequence, causing major Temporal Damage and destroying the timeline! I won't talk about what happened to the timeline; suffice it to say that things changed to the point where the team suddenly found themselves standing at Holborn Station about to go into the tunnels again, but they weren't quite the characters they used to be. After the game was over, I answered a few questions from two of the players about the game, showed one of the players some of the creature stats for the beasties they'd encountered during the adventure, and found that two of the players had been convinced to pick up copies of the game. A good night of gaming, overall.
The first night of HammerCon V was pretty good. I had decent players (for the most part), and it was a nice venue for the game. The noise level in the Victoria room was manageable for the most part, though I did take a Mentos or two and drank a bottle of water during the evening. If there was one problem with the venue it was that the game room was very hot and sticky, something that one encounters at gaming conventions held at hotels at this time of year. (I later learned the hotel was having problems with the air conditioning system on the third convention floor. Naturally.) There was also the issue that some gamers didn't get the 3-2-1 rule of gaming (something I've discussed in my blog here), and hadn't bathed.
After packing up the gaming stuff, I headed back to the room with spross for the night. After restocking my pill box for the breakfast doses and setting up the gaming material for Saturday afternoon's Primeval game, I washed up, took my Aleve, and crashed for the night. My ankle was pretty swollen and sore, and I literally took the bed apart, getting rid of the heavy part of the covering and made it looser all over, before crashing for the night.
Another day of gaming lay ahead of me. I was looking forward to it.
And there you have it, the first actual day of HammerCon 2013 (though the convention didn't actually start until 5:00 pm). For the most part, everything went pretty well, though I was disappointed with the food choices (but that's my own fault at the time, given my relative lack of mobility), but the convention staff and the folks that I met were pretty friendly. The first day's worth of gaming was quite a lot of fun, and Saturday promised to be an interesting day of gaming.