May 20th, 2016
I woke up this morning at my usual time, given that I had to be in at work by 7:00 am, and managed to get to work and then leave the office around 10:45 am, so I got home in time to clean up quickly, change into some weekend convention clothes, and then take care of the packing of my personal belongings bag and made some foodstuffs ready by the time spross arrived at my place around 11:45 am. The weather forecast called for a relatively warm day with some decent humidity and some rain, and in truth that was an augur for the conditions at the convention that day and evening.
spross and I left my house around noon, and I realised that the two bags of gaming stuff that I was taking were quite heavy (it was the Primeval RPG stuff), and I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to walk with that stuff. I was glad that I'd taken my airline carry-on bag with me to hold the personal stuff, as it was more distributed and didn't seem to weigh as much as the old Basilisk Dreams Books bag had last year.
We stopped off at the local Tim Horton's to eat some lunch, as I wanted to relax in the restaurant setting for this meal and just not think about too many things while we ate. I took my blood sugar, and it was a bit low. I had the bacon club sandwich, a bottle of water, and a chocolate donut for lunch, and felt somewhat better afterwards. When we finished lunch, we checked things out in the car, and then headed downtown for the Rideau Curling Club and the gaming venue.
We arrived at the Rideau Curling Club close to 2:00 pm, and as per usual, it was difficult to find a parking spot near the venue. This is typical of CanGames, and is one of those things that they need to get a better handle on. There's just not enough parking near the curling club for a convention of the size that it is. SteveR was eventually able to find a spot about two blocks away from the Rideau Curling Club, and I was a bit nervous about this. Rightly so, as the walk with all the gaming bags and miscellanea just about killed my left leg.
On entering the Rideau Curling Club, we saw that it was already busy, and there seemed to be around 150 people present. It was already pretty warm in the venue, a sign of things to come that night and the rest of the weekend, but I didn't pay it all that much attention. I needed to rest a bit, so after grabbing our registration packages at the Registration Desk, we went downstairs and found a pair of lockers and put all the gaming stuff in that, and then headed upstairs so I could sit for a bit. It was a bit noisy with some of the gaming, but it was a good kind of noise (if you take my meaning), and I just sat back with my bottle of water, took an Aleve, and then relaxed for about 15 minutes. One of the first people I met this day was Shannon Dickson, a good friend and a kind lady (her hubby, Raymond, was already playing his first game of the weekend), and we chatted for a bit about various stuff.
We chatted for a bit, and then I needed to go deal with some game issues at the Gaming section of the Registration Desk. I was pleased to learn that I had four players for the Friday night Primeval RPG session, two players for the Saturday afternoon DragonQuest game (unfortunately), three players registered for the Saturday night Chill 3rd Edition RPG one, and no one had signed up for Sunday afternoon's DragonQuest session. I was able to switch out the two DragonQuest "Herbquest" adventures for Polaris 3rd Edition RPG sessions of "Havoc on Irminger". The two players for the Saturday afternoon game were Raymond Dickson (Shannon's husband) and Jean-Yves (a couple of friends of mine), and they both agreed to keep with the time slot and play in the game - because I was the GM. I was rather flattered by that praise, to be honest. I also managed to convince Shannon to play in the Saturday afternoon game of Polaris, so already had three (3) players for that one, and the game wasn't even being advertised yet.
After taking care of the change in games, spross came with me and I headed for the back of the curling sheet part of the venue so that I could take care of the selling of the games I had with me at the CanGames booth in the Marketplace. That was the first real surprise, as I saw that the Marketplace was no longer at the back of the curling sheet, instead being along the length of the right hand wall (as one comes onto the curling sheet). I rather liked this change, and to be honest, it made the booths more accessible, gave folks a bigger area to spread out across, but also was concerned that it might be much noisier with games going on merely 30 feet away in some cases. I needn't have worried, as I was to see the area in action on the Saturday (more on that in a separate blog entry). Jeff Black was in charge of the CanGames booth, and he made the process quite easy and efficient, the whole thing taking about 20 minutes. While tagging each of the items I was selling, I noticed there wasn't a whole lot of other roleplaying stuff. A trend that was also found in other areas of the convention, too, unfortunately. I also saw in the CanGames booklet that the Marketplace hours had been extended, though (as I learned later) during a chat with Emily Griggs while she was setting up her Sweet Ingenuity booth area, I learned that the vendors could close shoppe in the evening when they felt like it. The Sweet Ingenuity booth had some good products again this year (some of which I purchased on Saturday, photos of which you'll be able to see in the loot entry some time this week), with a few new additions, and is well worth checking out at CanGames. I hope she'll continue to attend the convention.
spross and I wandered around the venue after that, checking out some of the gaming that was going on. Essentially, I spent the afternoon wandering around, sitting down and chatting with various people and several friends, making new friends, and generally relaxing. One of the really nice people that I know, Ray Regular (a fellow from PEI), surprised me by being at the convention and he told me that he came up only by chance and fortuitous circumstance. Unfortunately, one of my least favourite people was present at the convention as well, and I really hoped that he wasn't registered for and wouldn't sign up for any of my games. The afternoon's gaming was an interesting mix of games, from the Frostgrave miniatures game to the Tigris and Euphrates board game, Daniel Poulin's Spirit of 77 and Joshua John Kitz's Simple Superheroes game. There was an open gaming area out on the curling sheet that had some neat games available for play, so the afternoon didn't lack anything for folks to game.
Around 4:30 pm, Shannon and Raymond Dickson, along with spross, went out to grab us some food and went to a Peruvian place (whose name I can't remember for the life of me) and picked up supper. They came back with a beef, rice, plantains, potatoes, a fried egg, and a salad in lime juice dish for me. I skipped the plantains and fried egg, and ate little of the rice and potatoes (which weren't to my taste); the beef itself was interesting and nutritious. The meal had no real appeal to me, but it didn't taste half bad. After eating supper, it was time for me to get ready to run the evening's game of the Primeval RPG, and so I went down to the locker with spross and got the stuff that I needed to run the game, then headed back upstairs to my gaming table and started setting up before 6:30 pm, when the sign-up sheets were set out.
After we finished supper, since it was after 6:30 pm, I went over to look and see whether I needed to recruit any players for the Primeval RPG session, but it was already fully booked, two other players having joined up for the game. The power of dinosaurs and all that, I guess. :) Three of the pre-registered players - Emily, Raymond Dickson (RayD from this point), and Roddy! - were regulars in my games the last few years, and the three folks that I didn't know who had signed up were in for a treat, to be sure. It has been a couple of years since I ran the Primeval RPG (other than the playtest that I did with one of my gaming groups, and the Christmas scenario with the Friday night group), so I was a little bit nervous, but excited about running the game. I needn't have been nervous, of course. It was like riding a bicycle; it just comes back to you.
By this time, there were a lot more people at the convention, close to 200 I would say, and the air conditioning in the Curling Club (as I found out later) was set to 68oC on the curling sheet area and 76oC (!!) in the rest of the convention area. As I started the Primeval game, it felt like an oven, and the number of people was going to make it feel even hotter as the game went on, something that was going to cost me later.
The adventure I ran on Friday night is called "The Devil and Mr. Sutton", and revolves around an investigation into a ghost train and the source of that problem. The scenario was written for use with the ARC characters, but I decided I wanted to do something different, and used a different premise - a film crew for the tv show Peter Capaldi's Believe It or Not!. The player characters for the adventure are Genevia ("Gen") Beaulieu, television researcher; Anthony Joubert, supervising producer; Kent Mathis, hair and make-up man; Douglas Naylor, cameraman; Henry Stone, sound man; and Katherine ("Kate") Welby, television presenter. I'm not going into detail about the plot here (because other might run the adventure down the line, and I'd like to run the scenario again sometime!), but suffice to say that the adventure went very well, though I changed the plot ever so slightly in terms of how a murderer was dealt with and the final encounter with the *censored!* creatures. The backgrounds and write-ups for the film crew cast of characters had some lovely inside jokes and homages to them that several of the players caught on to, and that made the adventure really fun to run.
Overall, the players had a good time of it though they were a bit surprised to find themselves playing such a (motley) crew of characters in the film crew for the tv show. They all agreed afterwards that they liked the idea in a twisted sort of way, and they admitted to having a great deal of fun playing these characters, who really weren't fit for taking on dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. They were a bit disoriented and awestruck when the scenario started with a meeting where they were called onto the carpet with their executive producer and Peter Capaldi himself (and I thought I did a good job playing Capaldi). They each did a good job playing the various characters, though none stood out and outshone the others for the most part. Emily played Katie Welby really nicely as the vain tv presenter wanting a better gig in future, focusing on her appearance and making sure she looked good for the camera, but doing her job competently until they were thrown through an Anomaly and had to deal with life on the other side. She played well off Roddy's Kent Mathis, the hair and make-up fellow, whom he played distinctly as gay and obsessed with hair and make-up styles. Roddy gave him a neat twist, also making him somewhat subservient to the others at times to get his way, and that worked well. The fellow playing Gen Beaulieu, Tracy, wasnt used to playing female characters and it showed, but he did a pretty good job of it, using his research and people skills rather well, and the character's hobby of palaeontology serving the character well as they started to deal with the "weird shit...'cause there's no way that's a dinosaur!" The player got along well with Emily's Katie, but really took a dislike to Anthony Jobert. Chris played Anthony Jobert as a bossy, always-having-to-be-in-charge type of producer, who kept trying to manipulate Patrick's cameraman into getting lots of stock footage, and he kept the other players on their toes and united them in their dislike of Jobert. Jobert acted as their spokesman under a lot of situations, and kept alienating people with his smarmy, snobbish mannerisms. Lovely stuff. Patrick played Douglas Naylor as a cameraman obsessed with the perfect shot (which he was by design), but also level-headed and brave. He ignored Jobert's orders/commands as often as not, unless they jived with his own aesoteric views, and was supportive and heroic in all that he did during the course of the adventure. He was resourceful as well and came up with some very good ideas, even if the rest of the player characters chose not to implement them. Finally, RayD played Henry Stone, the sound man (who also had a big secret), and played him very well. He got along very well with Patrick's cameraman, kept flattering Emily's Katie, and did a good job pretending to be subservient to Jobert. There was very little interaction between him and Roddy's Kent Mathis, but when they did do so it was like watching Lester and Connor in the tv series at times.
For the most part, I had a lovely time running the scenario, but was feeling pretty ill by the time we finished (more on that later). Because of the whole business with Peter Capaldi's name being bandied about, there were a lot of Doctor Who jokes made during the course of the game (notably by one player, for the most part), and I decided to make use of that. The characters racked up 10 Temporal Damage and 8 Exposure points during the course of the adventure, and I...altered the timeline when they returned home through the Anomaly. They found themselves returned to the modern day near where they'd started, but there were some subtle differences... including a blue Police Box sitting in the middle of the railroad yard they found themselves in. In my somewhat altered mental state, I ended the scenario as the Police Box's door swings open, and out comes... who? Fade to Black. The players all loved the ending, and assumed that it was Peter Capaldi's Doctor who was going to step out of the TAR--er, Police Box, but I swear, I'll never tell Who it was going to be! hehe :)
I chatted with the players a bit after finishing the adventure with about 10 minutes to spare, despite how I was feeling. RayD told me that he had had a great time with the game, as did Roddy. He flattered me again about my gaming style, about how he loves how I run games, and about how much fun this game of Primeval had been. I was chuffed, but still sick. After chatting with the players for a bit longer, I gulped down half a bottle of water. Part of the problem was that I'd not drank enough water during the course of the day/night (and the heat in the venue wasn't helping any), hadn't had enough carbohydrate with the evening meal, and spross snarfed down all the carbohydrate snacks we'd brought with us. When I tested my blood sugar, it was down to 5.8, and that was before my insulin shot for the night. Staggering around, I gambled and took a shot of 22 units of Lantus (instead of the regular 36) before scarfing down my small plastic bowl of Cheerios with milk for the night. I was pretty snappish by that time, and took SteveR to task about the snack food, and he promised not to do this again, so I was content with that, but still somewhat ill. Seeing that I wasn't doing great, spross helped me pack up the gaming stuff for the night, and went down to the storage locker and collected everything we had left there, while I awarded first place for the game and took the sign-up sheet to the Game Registration desk. When spross returned, we headed out to the car.
I don't remember most of the trip home, but I was still feeling ill (though somewhat better after the bowl of Cheerios). I got home on Friday night around 11:40 pm, spross having to help me get into the house as well as having to bring all the gaming stuff and my other bag inside. I had to unpack all the gaming stuff before bed, and needed to get some of the stuff ready for the next day's two games (egads, I must have been crazy!), and I rehydrated myself somewhat as well. I managed to sleep for a good six (6) hours or so, but tossed and turned during the night, and still had the terrible headache. Ah well, it was going to be a new day tomorrow.
And there you have the write-up for the Friday of CanGames 2016. I hope it wasn't too long for folks, and those who've read this day's write-up enjoyed it. The write-up for Saturday at CanGames will have several photos as well, trust me. :)