May 21st, 2016
I can't say that I slept well on the Friday night, though I got a few hours of sleep in. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling like I'd been dragged under a mack truck. To put it bluntly, I was very tired, somewhat shaky, and had a headache to wake the dead, not to mention my abdominal area was hurting quite a bit. I went upstairs and made some breakfast, and felt somewhat better afterwards. I went downstairs and took my shower, dragging it out somewhat and just luxuriating in the relatively hot water. It felt good, and my spirits perked up somewhat and my headache disappeared, which was a good feeling. I started to think that I'd be able to function pretty well at the convention for the day.
I spoke to knightbane on the phone around 9:00 am, and learned he was in Ottawa and present at CanGames. I told him that I'd see him there later, and that I hoped we'd get a chance to have a good convo there in person for a change. I finished packing the gaming stuff up for the day, as I was running two games at the convention, Polaris 3rd Edition and Chill 3rd Edition, and then started getting the snack food for the day ready, and then made sure the diabetes medications and the insulin were all set to go. Cut some fresh French bread and chunks of gouda for my afternoon and evening snacks, and made sure I had a teabag or two in the carry-on bag that I was using. Then I sat back on the couch, and waited for the arrival of spross. The weather outside was already warm, and this augured for a hot day at the convention site once again.
spross arrived at my place around 10:45 am, and I was feeling rather good at that point, and looking forward to the games of the day. We packed the car with the gaming stuff and took the food in the decent size cooler that he brought, and then headed over to Subway. I picked up a turkey club sandwich for lunch, with a bag of Lay's baked crisps. (As a precautionary measure, of course, but I'd also packed one of the Nature Valley granola bars as well.) Then it was off to the convention. We arrived at the Rideau Curling Club around 11:30 am. Lo and behold, spross found a parking space right across the street from the Rideau Curling Club entrance. The Gods were obviously smiling on us this morning! :)
spross and I unpacked the car, took everything into the Rideau Curling Club, and put all the food and gaming stuff into one of the storage lockers on the lower level of the club. I went upstairs, and checked on the number of gamers for the two games I was running this day. No surprises. The Polaris 3rd Edition game that I was going to run still had just the three players pre-registered for it, and the evening's Chill 3rd Edition game had three players pre-registered for it, and the Sunday game of Polaris still had no players signed up for it. I saw knightbane and his crew of gamers sitting at one of the tables, and went over and chatted with him and his friends/family members a bit. He's looking pretty good these days, and is doing well.
After chatting with Tim and catching up for a little bit, spross returned from wherever he'd been, and he and I wandered through the Marketplace, but I didn't see a lot of stuff that I wanted to buy. I decided in retrospect that I really did like the new set-up for the Marketplace at the convention (and snapped a photo later on during the day of the Marketplace, but it came out somewhat blurry; I present it below).
I went to the CanGames booth, and saw that the booth had mostly board games this year, with something like three or four boxes of roleplaying games under one of the main tables that held board games. All of my stuff that I was hoping to sell was still in the boxes down below. Nuts! :( spross let me know he'd seen a copy of the Witch: Fated Souls game from my friend Liz at Angry Hamster Publishing, being sold at a small booth run by Jason Pitre in the middle of the floor at the far end of the curling sheet. I went to the table, and snagged the copy of the book for $50.00 - a total steal, given the cost to order said book from Liz in Belgium! Jason told me that was the last copy of the book he had, and my friend knightbane came up to the table and was somewhat annoyed disappointed that he'd not seen the book there earlier, or he would have tried to buy it. I also managed to find a copy with spross's help of the Blue Planet v2 Player's Guide in hardcover, which I got for a nice $17.00, and also picked up a few other things at the Sweet Ingenuity booth from Emily Griggs. I managed to chat with Emily for a bit, and that was pleasant; she's a really nice, kind woman, and she told me some more about her plans for Sweet Ingenuity over the next little while. I gave her my business card, so we'll see if anything comes of that. It was a good haul of stuff, though I didn't find a copy of Ancient Echoes for Blue Planet v2, but I spent a bit more money than I had expected (because I didn't plan on buying the extra copy of Witch: Fated Souls. (You can see my game haul of stuff, such as it was, in the photos in one of the later posts.)
By that point, it was around 12:30 pm and time for lunch. Over the next little while, knightbane kept trying to sneak/filch the copy of Witch: Fated Souls from me, all in good fun (at least I hope it was). He gave up when spross took the purchases I'd made down to the lockers. SteveR and I found one of the tables, the one that I'd be running the afternoon game at, and sat back and ate our Subway sandwiches and crisps, washed down with a bottle of water, and he then went down and grabbed the game stuff for the afternoon (he was running Tenra Bansho, and I was running my Polaris 3rd Edition game). I took out the little booklet for Polaris that I had got at GenCon in 2015 in the hopes that I could use it to hype Polaris 3rd Edition and the scenario that I was running, in the hopes of filling the table. I didn't have a problem filling out the two vacant slots for the game, and was even able to convince another player, a sixth, to come into the game. The little booklet illustrations did it for me, so the adage is true that a picture speaks a thousand words. :)
The game of Polaris 3rd Edition RPG was very good. The scenario that I ran is called "Havoc on Irminger", and while I'm not going to give away details of the plot here, suffice to say that the adventure is a neat little piece of search-and-retrieval at an outer station that goes horribly pear-shaped, and is quite challenging to run - or perhaps that was because I'd only run the game once before (the English edition of Polaris isn't out yet, but PDFs are due any day now as of this typing). The player characters for the scenario are Archetypes - Diplomat, Marine Commando, Pilot, Pirate, Surgeon, and Technician - and the players got to name their characters at the start of the adventure. They certainly got creative with character names, and the personalities of the characters were partially reflected in the character names. RayD called the Pilot character Terrel; Shannon called the Surgeon Dr. Markie; Jean-Yves called the Diplomat Amidalya; Raymond Regular (RayR from here on out) called the Marine Commando Bilko; Ken called the Technician Sparks; and Lily called the Pirate Xipal. Here's a photo of me running the game session.
Photo courtesy of knightbane
The game went swimmingly (no pun intended!) well, and the players really liked the game mechanics and the twists and turns in the adventure that I ran. Some of the highlights include: the fact that the players didn't try to learn more about the situation they were going into, and they didn't do any research on the person they were sent to retrieve. Ken and RayD (Sparks and Terrel) obsessed a bit about what the strange underwater weather effects meant during the scenario, but never put the matters together. RayR (Bilko) forced the other characters to take action by moving forward through the events on the station, forcing the others to catch up to him, if possible. Lily (Xipal) played a very laid back pirate, but she got aggressive in the final analysis when she had to. Everyone at the gaming table told me they had a lot of fun with the adventure, liked the characters and the simple way they were presented, though they had a few problems with the colours on the character sheets. The plot is one that is tough to run, as the player characters have to deal with a situation that is out of their control, and a rather dangerous set of circumstances on the station. While in a lot of ways "Havoc on Irminger" is a very good scenario, it's not the type of scenario that is to my taste. I prefer my convention scenarios to focus on some of the highlights of the game world, and while the central game aspect of the scenario makes sense to introduce so quickly, it won't be a focus for any game adventures that I write in future. But it did give me an idea for a scenario (sequel, sort of) down the road. Perhaps next CanGames, who knows?
After wrapping up the scenario and chatting with several players for a few minutes, I started packing up the Polaris game material as I had another game to run in slightly less than an hour. spross's afternoon game of Tenra Bansho had gotten no players, and so he had played in a game with Norm of Rail Baron. He finally went out to pick up some food for supper, and RayR from PEI was going to join us for the evening meal. I went down to the lower level and put the Polaris stuff in the locker, and retrieved the Chill 3rd Edition RPG material for the evening game, and then headed back upstairs with that material. My left leg was hurting quite a bit by that time. spross returned with supper, having taken me literally - he picked up a Chinese beef dish, a bok choy and broccoli dish, a chicken with noodles dish, and egg rolls. It was a perfectly lovely supper, and just what I was looking for and craving. When 6:30 pm rolled around and the convention folks put out the sign-up sheets for the games, we were still eating the meal, but I actually managed to recruit another couple of players to fill out the Chill game. So all was good with the world. :)
Most of the players had arrived for the Chill 3rd Edition game by the time we finished eating supper, so I started to set up the gaming stuff for the game. As with the day before, the Rideau Curling Club was pretty warm, and the place was crowded for the night games that were being run, and there was a lot of other traffic just sitting around and chatting. So pretty noisy as well. Once all the players had arrived and I'd checked them in, I started the game of Chill for the evening. As for the scenario, well... "The Beast of Bytown" is a home-made scenario set in 1850s Bytown (which would become Ottawa), about a group of non-SAVE folks investigating a construction accident in the town and the release of some supernatural creatures. The five player characters are Anna Goodwin, the town librarian; Dr. Jane McCarthy, one of the two doctors in Bytown; Richard Swift Cloud, a Native American medicine man who's just arrived in Bytown; William "Bill" Carrigan, a lumberjack and hunter; and Jacques Lariviere, a travelling salesman from Montreal with another secret. Let me tell you, the players were quite surprised at the types of characters and the setting of the game, but they all seemed to relish the idea of playing in the time period and with such an interesting crew of characters.
What made "The Beast of Bytown" so different in some ways is the fact that the player characters are required to engage in old-fashioned investigation (since there are no mobile phones or internet back then), and the scenario deals with a potential menace on two fronts from Native American mythology. The adventure was one I was looking forward to running, as it has some interesting twists and turns and some hard choices to be made at times. The scenario played well, and I could see the players were having a terrific time of it. Thierry played Anna Goodwin, the librarian, and did a great job with her. He played the character well, and realised early on that she'd have to be a font of information for the player characters. Great job. Ken (who had played in the Polaris game immediately before) took the role of William Carrigan, and played the character very outdoorsy and with a good deal of common sense. He was quieter for the most part, but when he acted his impact was huge. Ken's character got temporarily possessed, and he actually tried to kill the doctor with his rifle, using it as a tomahawk! Quite memorable. spross played Jacques Lariviere, and did a surprisingly good job with him, though his secret was revealed a bit too early for my taste. He tried to dictate the pace at a couple of points, but that didn't work out all that well. More than that, he was active in the game and he and Richard Swift Cloud were the ones who cracked the case open at the construction site. Kyle (another fellow who plays regularly in my games at CanGames) played Dr. Jane McCarthy, and did a wonderful job of playing the sort of frontier medicine woman (Dr. Quinn, anyone?) that I was hoping for when I created the character. He played her as a force to be reckoned with during the adventure, but she was really the nurturer. There was some wonderful interaction between her and Ken's character when the lumberjack attacked her with the rifle-cum-tomahawk! Fun sequence, to be sure. Finally, my friend Scott (whom I failed to recognise ::embarrassed look::) played the medicine man, Richard Swift Cloud. Scott did a fabulous job playing the medicine man and mystic, and made the North American mythology connections of the plot come to life. He was also relatively active, climbing into the *censored!!* with SteveR's Jacques, and putting 2 and 2 together to get 5. The real highlight of the session was when Ken's William Carrigan got possessed, and the look of consternation on the players' faces was mitigated when I flipped three Tokens Light in the process.
I didn't feel too bad after the game ended, having had some celery, gouda in cubes, and some melba toast and a couple of chocolate chip cookies for my snack during the evening. After the game ended, I chatted with several players for a few minutes, including Scott, all of whom commented on how they really liked the game system, finding it relativey simple, and how much they liked the Light/Dark Token mechanics. It was around 11:15 pm by that time. I excused myself, and went downstairs and took my insulin shot and then ate my Cheerios. spross had started to pack up the gaming stuff for me, having returned his Tenra Bansho stuff to the car earlier in the day, so I helped him finish that up when I got back upstairs. I said goodnight to several folks present, and then SteveR and I headed for home after (what seemed like) a very long day at the convention.
I got back to the house around 11:50 pm, and after spross left for home, I started to unpack the gaming stuff, and got things ready for the next day's game of Polaris. I had a cup of tea, and then went to bed. I was pretty tired by this time, and don't even remember my head hitting the pillow.
And that's the wrap-up of Saturday at CanGames 2016. As you can see this entry was a long one, and had only a couple of photos for the enjoyment of those reading the blog entry. Hope folks enjoyed this journal entry, and if so, please comment with any thoughts you might have on the entry. All I know is I'm just tired from typing this up! :)