CanGames is the local Ottawa gaming convention here in the city that takes place pretty much every Victoria Day weekend. The convention is held these days at the Rideau Curling Club, a pretty good venue that has good facilities (for a convention of this size), is centrally located, and within easy access of hotels and restaurants.
spross and I arrived at CanGames around 1:30 on Friday afternoon, and things were already underway at the con, the first tournaments starting at 2:00 pm. Steve ended up parking the car across the street from the convention, but only because we got there relatively early for the Friday events. While the curling club has a parking lot, it's not designed for the sheer amount of gamers that show up for the convention, and it can be a bit of a bugbear parking later in the day. Saturday is especially chaotic in that regards, since it's the busiest day of the convention.
As per usual, the convention had about 1/5 of the space devoted to roleplaying games, the rest of the convention areas being set up for board games and miniature gaming, and other stuff as well. There was a lot of board gaming going on on the upper level of the site, but I was surprised to see there were a lot of empty tables during the course of each day's games in the main area used for miniatures (the section where the curling sheets normally are). The Marketplace only had some eight or so dealers, good for a convention of this size, and there was an interesting selection of goods for all tastes. From what I could tell, there were a good 400 to 500 people in attendance at the convention over the three days, and there didn't seem to be any hitches. An overhead projector was hooked to a laptop and kept flashing an updated list of the various games that had been cancelled and added for the weekend. The section devoted to the laying out of sign-up sheets for games 1/2 an hour before game time was well organized and never seemed to be problematic.
I was kept pretty busy during the course of the weekend, running the Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) scenario, "The Pyramid of Doom", and the Desolation scenario, "A Few Good Men", twice each during the weekend. "The Pyramid of Doom" is the sequel to last year's scenario, "The Secret of Lake Qechacua" (you can read about that in this entry, and both sessions of that went very well, and were bursting at the seems with players wanting to get into the sittings (twenty-six people signed up for twelve slots over the two runnings). Both games of HEX had people sticking around to watch the goings on, no doubt due to the attractive HEX GM Screen that the folks at Exile Games put together! LOL! Desolation, the post-apocalyptic fantasy rpg that uses the Ubiquity mechanics of the HEX system, is a game that will come out at GenCon, Indy this year, so I had no expectations of players for that one at all. Things turned out very well, with full tables for both games; I did do a bit of recruiting for that one for the Friday night game (since Friday nights are not necessarily good for getting gamers to play), but I had some folks express interest in that because I was running it and because it used the same mechanics as HEX. You can read more about the two sessions of HEX and Desolation in the next couple of journal entries.
The biggest problem I had during the course of the weekend was the noise factor. Roleplaying tournaments are specifically set up on the ground floor (5 tables near the glass that looks out onto the curling sheet area), the observation floor of the curling club (the floor between the upper floor and the ground level (another 5 tables that look out onto the curling sheets area from above), and a few on the third floor itself (where the curling club cafeteria is, and where most of the board gaming goes on). The noise on the observation floor is extreme, from both the games going on there and the racket coming from the upper floor which is open at the one end onto the observation level and has a six-step staircase leading down to it. Guess what floor I had to run my games on? Yep, the observation level. *sigh* By the time I finished running the HEX game there on Saturday afternoon, I knew I wasn't going to have much voice left for the evening game of Desolation, but I managed to make it through Saturday night's game with the benefit of four cups of hot herbal tea. I was afraid I wouldn't be up for the HEX scenario on Sunday afternoon, but got through that too with some hot herbal tea - and the patience of all of the players (for which I want to thank them!).
One of the things that really annoyed me at the convention was the fact that folks were drinking a lot of booze. The evening sessions of Desolation had players tanking up on beer, as the curling club makes some additional money at the convention by serving beer and spirits. All I have to say is that frankly, roleplaying and any other type of gaming are not enhanced by the imbibing of alcohol. Most rpgs are not beer 'n pretzels games, after all.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to play in any games this year at the convention. There were a couple of games that I really wanted to play, notably the new Borderlands demo game by Christopher LaHaise (he was running this at the demo table area that the folks from Fool's Moon Entertainment had at the near end of the miniatures gaming area), and "Night of Long Knives" for the Mhar fantasy rpg. I didn't get to play in the former just because I was so exhausted after every session I ran that I didn't feel like doing much else at the time, and the latter were both being run in the evening slots when I was running HEX and Desolation. I know that spross got to play Friday night in the Mhar game, and that he had fun with it. Wanted to play in some Ticket to Ride stuff as well, but couldn't. I took a whole bunch of gaming stuff to sell at CanGames, and managed to sell off some of it and donated the rest of it to CanGames, for use in the various gaming clubs around the city and for prizes and the like. I also wanted to buy a copy of a relatively new game called Emira by Paul Van Hove and Liesbeth Vanzeir (well, new at least to me!), published by Mayfair Games, but the various hucksters were out of stock at the convention. I did make a deal with one of the Marketplace vendors, Toys on Fire, to get a copy of the game afterwards, using my GM Vouchers to give them a deposit for it. Thanks, Alex (if you're reading this)!
The diabetes, of course, presented its usual food challenges for me this CanGames weekend, especially when one considers that I had to take a Lopid tablet half an hour before eating supper. While I did the best that I could food-wise for the most part, and drank plenty of water, I couldn't get food that would help me out, but I did stay away from the junk food. I thought I was sick or that my diabetes was out of control (aside from the vocal problems) at times during the weekend, as my bowels went crazy on Saturday and Sunday during the mornings and early afternoon). I've been feeling like I've come down with a bug or some such, possibly stomach related, but have felt a little bit better today. Fortunately, my blood sugars stayed pretty good for me during the weekend, although spross and I went to Lai Lai for dinner on Sunday evening before going back to the convention. I got home during the evening, and got to sleep relatively early for me. :)
I'm hoping that spross and any of the other folks who might have gone to CanGames post up some reports and fill in a few of the gaps and the like.
Overall, I had a pretty good time at the convention, and the CanGames staff were terrific as usual. I want to thank them for doing the superb job that they did with the positive attitude they all had, as they are all volunteering their time and effort to put the convention on. I didn't really pace myself as well as I did last year at the convention, maybe, but you learn from what you do at these things. I'm looking forward to running stuff again next year, but may cut down on the number of games I run.
The actual game reports about the convention will follow in separate posts.
And yes, for those who want to know, I *will* be running HEX again next year, Goddess willing! :)