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GenCon Day 2 Report

Here is the report of the third day of the trip to GenCon Indy, which was the actual second day of the convention proper. The report on the third day can be found in this journal entry.


August 15th, 2008

This was definitely a day of ups and downs, for sure. I was up bright and early once more; couldn't sleep, as I had too many thoughts going on in my head, and the day before had been really wonderful for the most part. After spross and I had breakfast very early, I went over to the Exile booth very early that day, since I was going to run booth demos for the Exile Games folks, figuring I could get into the Exhibitor's Hall and find out what I was actually supposed to be doing, and what sample demos of HEX I was going to be running. I should have known better; the guys at the front doors wouldn't let me in since I didn't have an Exhibitor's badge, so I had to wait until the doors opened at 10:00 am. The area was packed with people trying to get in, and once more I was glad that I had not worn a pair of sandals. Finally got into the Exhibit Hall, and went over to the Exile Games booth. I was able to chat with Jeff, banished_babe (Melissa), and lena_of_fargo (Katie), and learned what my job for the two hour stint was. Since I was going to be running the HEX scenario "Conquest of the Surface World" later in the day, I was glad that I went early, as when I reminded Jeff that I was running that game at 4:00 pm, he was kind enough to give me the copy of the scenario and the player characters right away.

I took a couple of minutes to familiarize myself with the booth area where I was going to be running the demo, and checked out the encounter that I was to run. It was the sequence from the Free RPG Day scenario, "Stranded in the Hollow Earth", where the characters wake up on the boat, and have to face the plesiosaur. Not my favourite game sequence by far, but one I could handle well enough as I had run it several times (the module, that is). One of the neat parts was that supersech (Sechin, Katie's fella) had provided a small, plastic plesiosaur dinosaur for use with the demos. I liked him; he was cute, and I nicknamed him "Plexo the Plesiosaur". It was a hectic two hours from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the booth, and I gave folks the five-minute HEX rules summary. There were seven or eight groups of folks that I spoke to over the two hours, and I went through the rules summary, and ran four 20-minute demos of the game using the encounter. One of my favourite demos was the one I ran where we had a mother and father with their two little children, a boy and a girl, both around 8 to 10 years old. They originally stopped at the demo table because the boy saw the HEX GM Screen, with the dinosaurs on it, and told his dad that he wanted to see what it was all about. I gave them the 5-minute rule schpiel, and when I was done, the little boy and girl wanted to play the 15-minute demo. The demo went really well, and when I used the plastic plesiosaur and had it rise out of the water from behind the GM Screen, the little boy and girl were delighted, the little girl shrieking somewhat. After the game, the two children begged the parents to buy a copy of the game so they could all roleplay, and I was pleased to see that the dad, Peter, went and picked up a copy of the game. Lovely stuff! :) I was hoping that some of the other folks that I had chatted with would pick up copies of the game, or some of the products that go along with it, but was too busy during the weekend to find out, although Jeff and banished_babe told me that I had an effective selling style. I should hope so, after the 9 years or so selling books in the bookstore!

After chatting a bit longer with Jeff and the others at the booth before my shift ended at noon, Linwood (MikeD) arrived at the booth. He and I had plans to go out and eat, and talk about a scenario that we would design together. While I really enjoyed working at the booth and running the demos, I have to say that my feet were a bit sore by the time the 2 hours were over. I was very glad to be wearing comfortable shoes! spross joined us, and we went to eat lunch at Nordstrom's. The meal was really good, and I had an oriental stir fry dish. Mike and I started to collaborate on a HEX scenario (tentatively called "Midnight in the Hollow Earth"), but that's all I'm really going to say about that here. Suffice it to say, the scenario plot is looking really good.

spross and I returned to the Omni Severin hotel around 2:15 pm, so that I could have a bit of time to read over and prepare for the "Conquest of the Surface World" scenario. My first thought was that it was going to be a bitch to run - sorcery, weird science, psychic abilities, massive vehicle chase, and all sorts of stuff that I don't normally use out of the Secrets of the Surface World sourcebook. I was going to need a copy of SotSW to read up on some of the stuff before running it. I was really quite nervous about running the game as it was going to be a serious test of my GMing skills with game material that I hadn't used a lot. And then spross told me that he was going to use the ticket for the game that Rbree (Rob, one of my HEX forum friends)...well, let's just say "butterflies" and leave it at that.

The aggravation was enhanced by the fact that when I arrived at the table to start setting up, there were no copies of the rulebook, no dice, no dice, and no Style chips. Luckily, I was able to convince Rabbit in the Moon (Kate) to split the stuff she had at her table. She's a terrific lady, and a good friend. Naturally, I needn't have worried. At around 4:00, the various players showed up at the table to play in Illinois Central at Union Station. The other five players showed up for the game, and it turned out that four of them were friends. They told me that they had another game to get to at 8:00 pm, and that they were going to have to leave by 7:00 pm so they could grab supper before playing the later game. I decided to cut a few scenes and make the various sequences go a bit faster, as I thought that I could wrap up the scenario by 7:00 pm, and have the players be satisfied with the game. The game went swimmingly well, except the guy who was playing the weird scientist decided to play him as an enigmatic Rorschach (of Watchmen fame)! And some of the names the players choose. Less creative than I would have liked, and some downright...pun-like and bland. The highlights of this particular game were few and fear between. The fight against the animated mummies was really neat; the guy playing the Captain had a mummy explode out of the coffin in front of him as he was chasing a cultist, and he pumped 6 Style points into a shot from the Colt .45 and took the mummy down in one shot. Absolutely brilliant! During the sequence where the characters chased the cultists through the streets of London, the engineer, who couldn't drive, was the one to hotwire one of the cars parked on the street, and then attempt to take off in the car after the cultists. The guy playing the Captain suddenly says that it's *his* car, and blames them all for breaking into it and hotwiring it - when he had the car key all the time! Lovely stuff.

And then...an hour earlier than they stated, at 6:00 pm, the four players who were going to be playing in the other game later decide that they are going to leave at that point. The scenario is finally at the critical stage, where the characters are about to engage in a simply hare-brained chase scene with some terrific stuff going on (a Nazi flying saucer, inside a gigantic flying fortress, being pursued by Nazis in small aircraft!) - and these guys take off at the climactic moments of the scenario! Well, I couldn't finish the scenario with only two players. I had been stressed about running the scenario to begin with, and was now seriously annoyed at these folks for walking out early like this, and was actually quite depressed about the whole business. Needless to say, I experienced another minor crisis when I realized that I had forgotten the arrangements for getting the "Conquest" scenario to animadversio (Tom) for his running of the scenario the next day. I panicked, and kept interrupting Kate in her running of her game of "Burt Fedora" - I felt really guilty about this afterwards, so I took her to dinner that night at the Old Spaghetti Factory. However, I'm getting ahead of the story here... spross and I went back to the hotel, and I was really feeling depressed about how the game had gone, and the fact that I had bothered Kate so much during her running of the game. I dropped off my stuff, and then eventually SteveR and I went back to the Union Station gaming area as Kate was finishing her game, and we managed to convince her to come and eat with us. Kate dropped off her stuff at our hotel room in the Omni, and then we headed out.

Kate, spross, and I had a terrific dinner together at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I had pasta with a mushroom marinara sauce that was out of this world, and a fresh salad. We ordered a plate of garlic cheese bread, and I had a couple of slices of that as well. Mmmm, good! :) We talked about a variety of subjects and all sorts of stuff - both personal and professional - and it was a pleasant, relaxed dinner. I wish I could have done this sort of dinner with a few other folks, notably Jeff, banished_babe, supersech, lena_of_fargo, and some of the other HEX forums people, but it just didn't seem to happen that way. After dinner, we went back to the Omni with Kate to find her friend, Charles, and got her stuff from our room (she had taken the HEX dice and Style chips from the game room in Union Station to keep them safe). So there was a lot of stuff to take.

By this time, it was around 10:15 pm or so, and we decided to check out the ENnies. The four of us (we had retrieved Charles) walked over to the Westin Hotel, a good walk and enough exercise to make up for dinner, but I wished I had taken a coat. There was a brisk breeze, and it was rather cool. When we got there, we found the ENnies had ended, and no one at the hotel could even tell us who had won what! Idiots! The four of us went and took a look at the Artists Row on the lower level of the hotel. Most of it was anime based, and they had anime films showing there as well. Kate is really educated when it comes to the art and stuff, and had some interesting comments and observations about stuff there. We headed back to the Omni, though I couldn't help but wonder where Jeff, banished_babe, and the others were celebrating the ENnie awards. Kate made a few calls on her cell, but got nothing until rev (Nich) called her to say that the gang was at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. spross, Kate, Charles, and I went over there, getting the assistance of one of the local Indianapolis police officers, a nice dark-skinned lady with an appreciation of GenCon, and we arrived there safely. We found Jeff, banished_babe, lena_of_fargo, supersech, Matt from the Greymalkin Designs folks, animadversio, obnoxiad (Shawn), and a whole bunch of other folks. Many of the folks there were tipsy, having engaged in a Drinks Sampler, but I did get to talk to some of the folks there and we got around to the Danger Magnet magazine, scenario ideas for all sorts of stuff, among other things. It turned out that Secrets of the Surface World had won a Silver ENnie in its category, but that the HEX GM Screen, which should have won in its category, lost. A lot of the folks at the ENnie Awards were also surprised by that. I had a pretty good time, but was feeling tired by then, as it was close to 12:45 am, so spross and I walked back to the Omni, as I was running "Lake Qechacua" the next morning again. By the time I finished taking notes about the stuff, it was around 2:00 am, so it was time to sleep. And Saturday promised to be an even longer day...


Like I said, a day with some ups and downs. That pretty much wraps up the second actual day of GenCon Indy. I'll post up Saturday's report on the games and stuff when I have a bit more time. For now, off to have a cup of Chai tea.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lena_of_fargo
Sep. 9th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
I remember that family. They did come back and buy more style chips. Way to sell the game!! :D

And I think you were seeing things on Friday night. Sechin and I did not go with the other to Rock Bottom. Sechin had an early game the next morning, so he needed his sleep. No partying for us. :(
jkahane
Sep. 10th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
That family were so nice, and it was one of the most enjoyable games (short as it was) that I ran. Of course, the kids were just so cute and all, and they really had fun with the game and all. Of course, that was all tempered by the poor experience I had with the "Conquest" scenario that afternoon, so I guess everything balances out.

As for the business at the Rock Bottom, I just wrote down what my journal said, but I did write that part about the Rock Bottom in the early hours of the morning (so I probably wasn't remembering everyone who was there properly). It was late, or early rather, so that's my excuse! :)
lena_of_fargo
Sep. 10th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Maybe you saw us because we were there in spirit. ;)
jkahane
Sep. 10th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
Could be,could be. Or perhaps I was just tired to the point of seeing things? :)
waiwode
Sep. 10th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Well, no one can fault you on details, John! My whirlwind exposes seem like mere bullet points in comparison.

Doug.
jkahane
Sep. 10th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Well, as long as you're enjoying my ramblings and recollections of the convention, that's all that really counts. :)
doc_mystery
Sep. 10th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
That's one big and juicy write-up. Thanks for taking the time to transcribe your notes and post such a detailed account.

And those four gamers who bailed out on you at the climax of your session? Knobs.

You really ought to make it down here to the Hamilton and St. Catherine's area to game for a few *real* pulp fans here who would appreciate such a glorious session, like Waiwode and myself.

::B::
jkahane
Sep. 10th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the compliments on the blog reports on GenCon, Brian. Much appreciated. :) As you said, the real thing about this that takes so long is the transcription, and editing the content for stuff that I can't really talk about.

As for the four gamers in question at the HEX game on that late Friday afternoon, well... jerks, for sure. (I don't even know whether they really did have another game that night or what it was, to be honest.)

While I would love to come down to the Hamilton and St. Catherine area to run a game of HEX and/or Desolation for the fans down there, I don't know whether I can. How far is it to that area from Ottawa? But, in the meantime, as I've told waiwode several times, there's always CanGames 2009 in May of this coming year! :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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