Now that CanGames for 2016 is a wrap, I thought that I would write a post with some thoughts and observations about the convention this year. I'll start this off by saying that without the assistance and help of spross, I could not have done what I did at the convention this year, heck, I might not have gone to the convention this year! Between the ankle/leg pain and some of the shakiness that I was wracked with, and having to deal with the insulin therapy in the warm conditions at the convention, I could not have managed at the convention without his help. The fact that I couldn't drive due to my personal complications from the diabetes... Anyway, I'm just grateful that spross was willing and able to give me a hand with everything he did for me at the convention.
I also want to thank the CanGames 2016 convention committee and staff for all their hard work and dedication in bringing us this installment of Ottawa's gaming convention. These folks work hard every year to make sure that the convention runs as smoothly as possible, and while there were a few glitches here and there, this year's convention went pretty smoothly.
As a general rule, I go to CanGames every year for a variety of reasons, the gaming of course being primary. It's fun to run and play rpgs with which you're familiar with strangers, as you get to see different ways of playing characters, views on the game in question and its world and mechanics, and I find it a challenge to play with people different from those that I game with in my Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday groups. Another reason I go to CanGames is to renew friendships and acquaintances, and to make new connections and ties to the gaming community. While I've known many of the CanGames organisers for at least a decade or three (and was really sorry to hear about the death of Vince Clancy, who had been a mainstay of CanGames for many moons), there were a few new faces this year, and that's always a good thing - gaming conventions and sf & fantasy conventions need new blood among the organisers to keep them fresh. Among the friends I met there this year, there was spross (of course), my friend knightbane from Smith Falls (who was only up for Saturday) with his band of cronies, Jean-Marc Comeau (whom I didn't get to chat with that much), Shannon and Ray Dickson, Ray Regular (whose appearance at CanGames was a nice surprise, Daniel Bouchard, Jean-Yves Bouchard (who was gracious enough to play in Saturday's Polaris 3rd Edition game), Eric Paquette, Jeff Black, Joshua John Kitz, Daniel Poulin, Roddy Turner, Emily Martineau, Norm Newton, Sean Migneault, Jason Pitre, Duncan Hayes, Tony Newton, John Swan, Amelia Hayes, Kyle Bentley, and several others, to name a few. (If I've forgotten you, please accept my apologies.) I saw a lot of other acquaintances at the convention and chatted with them, as well as a few new folks, and I want to say that if you're a LiveJournal subscriber or a Twitter frequenter please post a comment here (or there, in the case of Twitter) and say "Hi". I met and talked with a few new folks as well, including some who played in the four games that I ran this past weekend, and I hope to see more of them at future incarnations of CanGames. Overall, it was a pretty good weekend from a social viewpoint, as well as the gaming aspects of it.
From the perspective of the roleplaying games that I ran at the convention, I had a pretty good time. "The Devil and Mr. Sutton" was a pretty enjoyable evening of Primeval RPG gaming on Friday night with a bunch of atypical player characters (a film crew, no less! definitely not the ones from the tv series) that the players had a terrific time playing. "The Beast of Bytown" for the Chill 3rd Edition RPG was a fine night of gaming for all concerned that had some really intriguing differences (notably taking place in the past, without mobile phones, computers, and cars, and focusing on First Nations mythology) that had some really tense moments in it, and that the players quite enjoyed. So did I! Finally, "Havoc on Irminger" is a scenario for the yet-to-be released English version of the Polaris 3rd Edition game that had the players in knots given the search-and-retrieve mission that went totally pear-shaped. I don't know what I'll be running at CanGames 2017 yet, though I do hope I'll get to run Chill again and possibly Primeval (which I've missed after not running it for a while), but we'll see what we shall see. It's still another year or thereabouts until the next incarnation of CanGames.
One of the things that pleases me no end every CanGames is the sheer number of kids and youngsters that play in various games. While I didn't have any kids playing in the games that I ran this year, there was a good number of children's games including Fate Accelerated, and a few others, to name a few, but I actually thought that this year there were less Children's games than there have been in years past. I could be mistaken about this. And there was no certainly no lack of older children to be found in some of the more mainstream games as well. Perhaps this says something about CanGames' longevity and the ageing of gamers here! As per last year, the convention folks set up the games for the Children's gaming out on the curling sheet area in a central section that was walled off somewhat, surrounded by the various miniature games and other stuff going on out on the curling sheet surface. A good move again this year.
As per usual, there were a lot of assorted games going on at the convention this year, and while the gaming tables away from the curling surface were put to good use this time out, I found that given the sheer size of the curling sheet surface (see below for the talk of the Marketplace), there didn't seem to be as much gaming out there, as plenty of tables seemed empty through the less busy time slots at the convention. Part of that was the fact that most of the Pathfinder gaming was being done on the lower level of the upper floor of the Curling Club. From a gaming point of view, there were a lot of games beings played, quite diverse in their subject matter. As usual, I can't discuss the miniatures games (not being that up on them), and there were lots of board games, roleplaying games, and miniature games on display this year, as well as several card games. While there was the usual D&D and Pathfinder stuff going on, there was something to play for everyone. I was pleasantly surprised once more to see the willingness on the part of some folks to play new games and to try new things this year. My own games of the Polaris 3rd Edition were good examples of that, with folks with no experience with the system (since the English version of the game hasn't come out yet) - and in some cases, no experience roleplaying at all! - playing in both games. Of course, there were the players who stuck to the rpgs that they knew and GMs with whom they felt comfortable. The main rpg area on the main floor near the convention Registration area was full of games. One observation that I will make is that either there were less roleplaying games this year at CanGames or that there were less attendees at the convention this year. While the D&D, Pathfinder, and a couple of the other mainstream rpgs were booked or over-booked, there were quite a few other rpg game sessions that were full of pre-registrations well in advance and that filled in and over-booked when the sign-up sheets were put out 1/2 an hour in advance of play. But there were some games (such as spross's Tenra Bansho) that didn't get any players at all. While I didn't have to work too hard in recruiting players to fill the Primeval and Chill 3rd Edition games, it took me a bit of effort finding players for the Polaris 3rd Edition games, but these were last minute change/add-on games, to that was understandable. I also saw several other gamers who were put to the test filling their game tables, but most of them managed this year.
The CanGames Marketplace was quite an interesting experience this year, and somewhat refreshing. Rather than being in a dedicated area at the back of the curling sheet near the delivery area for the Curling Club, this year the Marketplace was on the entire right wall of the curling sheet area as one comes in from the main Registration area. It was much more open and accessible, and from what I saw had much more trade as people were constantly able to walk into and out of the area. I expected it to be noiser than the usual area for the Marketplace, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the din wasn't too bad due to the walls erected between the booths serving to dampen the sound somewhat.
The Marketplace content was somewhat disappointing, though I did manage to find a couple of items I was looking for - Angry Hamster Games' Witch: Fated Souls and a copy of the hardcover of the Blue Planet v2 Player's Guide. I also picked up a few items from Emily Griggs and the Sweet Ingenuity booth that I was rather pleased with as well. Since I didn't go into the Marketplace with a big budget, I was even more pleased. Here's a photo of my two main purchases.
I took a modicum of stuff to sell at the CanGames booth this year (I wrote a separate journal entry about this before the convention, several actually), but I didn't sell as much stuff as I had hoped. Ah well. :(
Like the last few years, I still have a few gripes about CanGames 2016. The biggest complaint that I have has to be about the food on offer at the convention. While the prices on the food did go up this year ever so slightly, the convention committee seems to think that if they offer salads, that's healthy eating. This year, I didn't eat a single meal from the Rideau Curling Club cafeteria during the convention. There's nothing really healthy to eat on the menu at the Rideau Curling Club during the convention, and being diabetic just makes it worse. I'm sure that there are others with health conditions at the convention (such as the two diabetics other than myself that I know of) who would love to see the menu changed to something more healthy. To add insult to injury, if the convention would open their pocketbooks a bit more and offer some of the usual fare that curlers at the Rideau Curling Club eat during the Curling season, we'd be much better off. I think the CanGames committee really need to provide a few more choices, make the food fresh and provide healthy choices. The Rideau Curling Club regular season menu would be a good place to start, because I suspect that other folks besides myself wouldn't mind paying $14 or $15 for a decent, healthy meal. Or maybe not, given the nature of gamers. :)
The other big problem that reared its ugly head this year was the temperature in the Curling Club. While the curling sheet area was relatively cool all weekend long, the other gaming areas (notably on the main floor) were like saunas/ovens for the weekend. This does not make for good gaming, as gamers get squirrely and hot-tempered in hot conditions and some of them can go to sleep. Not to mention the health concerns that such high temperatures in close quarters present. I was definitely almost a victim of this on Friday night during the Primeval RPG session, but that was also due to a couple of other things. I got smart on Saturday morning, and managed to hydrate myself pretty well for the rest of the weekend, but it was still a hot, sweaty, sticky gamer who went home to Casa Kahane on the Friday and Saturday night.
Overall, I have to say that I was pretty happy with this year's incarnation of CanGames. I saw friends and acquaintances, and made new ones; I ran four games (two Polaris 3rd Edition, one Primeval, and one Chill 3rd Edition) that went very well for the most part, and had full tables for them, and hopefully will see some of these gamers at my tables next year; I took care of my health as best I could, with one major glitch along the way on Friday night; and had a good time in the Ottawa gaming environment that is this convention. I mean, yes, there were some minor glitches and a headache or two, and I had some health problems that were a bit disconcerting at times, but such is normal for the convention (at least for me).
Heck, I'm already looking forward to CanGames 2017! :) And I hope that some of the folks reading this journal are already planning for the convention, and I'll see you there! :)
And that's it. The final post about this year's CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa. Hope everyone enjoyed these four journal entries about the convention, and please remember that comments are welcome. :)