Decided that I better start writing up the reports on the weekend that was at CanGames 2010. These reports aren't going to be as detailed as I might normally write them, 'cause I was pretty under the weather with the bowel problems and all (although that may be resolving now due to the doctor's taking me off one of the meds I was on), and to be honest, I didn't take the heaping load of notes on stuff that I normally do. In any event, this first day of the con report goes behind a cut...
Friday, May 21st
I was fortunate in that I didn't have to work the entire morning today, so was up at the usual time and went to work. Got back to the house around 10:00 am or so and started to do the final packing of the stuff to take to the convention for the gaming purpose, but unfortunately spent a modicum of time on the loo dealing with ramifications of the medication. Also felt the coming on of a sore throat (possibly part of the allergies), and realized this could wreak havoc with the games, especially on Sunday when I had to...ah, but that's getting ahead of myself. :)
In any event, spross dropped by the house a touch after 1:15 pm, and helped me drag all the gaming stuff out to the car. While I was running "Keeping the Peace" (the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space scenario about whose playtest I've talked previously in my blog), I also had a bunch - and I mean *a lot*! - of gaming stuff that I wanted to sell at the convention this year. I needed to get rid of some of the stuff to make room for stuff that had to be moved around a bit, and then there's the fact that I wanted some cash out of this to pay off a few of the debts from when my house had the sewage flood back in October, so was hoping to get a decent price on some stuff. Anyway, spross was a huge help getting all the stuff out to the car, and then we packed up a bit of snackage (he hadn't brought stuff with him), and headed for downtown and the usual site for the gaming convention.
For some reason, spross seemed a bit out of it, and decided to take a rather circuitous, back-streets way of getting down there. By the time we got to CanGames and the Rideau Curling Club, it was well after 2:35 pm, and we couldn't find a spot to park for the rest of the day, having to settle for a 2-hour parking space. This is, by the way, one of the real flaws and true hassles with CanGames and its current location - parking in the curling club lot is limited, and side streets fill up with cars in the available spots unless you arrive at like 8:30 am. (I suspect this is why some folks run their games in the 9:00 am slots on Saturday and Sunday, just to get parking spots!) We entered the curling club venue and were greeted with...the humidity! This was to get under my skin (so to speak) quite a bit all weekend long. I took my basic gaming stuff into the venue, took one of the lockers on the lower level, and put things away, and then went back to registration to get my ID badges and CanGames registration packages. Then I checked to confirm the status of my games, and that's when I got the first shock of the convention. Both the Friday game of DW: AiTaS and the Saturday game of Desolation were pretty much full, with only a slot left in each!, and the Sunday game of DW: AiTaS was half-filled, pretty good for a game at the odd 12:30 pm time slot. I always worry at CanGames about filling the gaming slots for my games, because...well, I don't run the typical game systems out there. It's nice to know that I've got a few friends and folks out there who are interested in playing what I run year after year. :)
While I went to the loo, spross went back out to the car and undertook the herculean task of toting and carrying the boxes of items that we both wanted to sell at CanGames. We bought the sales slips (at $1.00 a slip) from the registration desk - I picked up 30 of them! - and then started the wrist and finger hurting task of filling in the forms for each item and bundle of items that we wanted to sell, and then lugging them over to the registration desk for processing. spross had to go out to find another place to move before either of us had finished off with the forms and stuff, and he still finished up with the forms before I did once he returned. I was just praying to the Goddess that some of the items would move, and that I'd make a bit of cash on them. At least enough to offset the cost of the sales vouchers.
By this time it was around 4:30 pm or so. I wandered around the convention facility a bit with spross, watching a few games here and there, and saying "hello" to various friends and folks I've met seemingly every year at the convention. Too many names that I've forgotten in the whirl of events the last couple of days, but they all know who they are! :) I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the nicest ladies around was running the Tales of the Arabian Nights board game for two tables. One of the guys who was going to play in the Desolation game on Saturday was playing in it. The only problem with the games was the fact that even though the CanGames board game area was almost empty still, the crowd noise around it made it very difficult for the players to listen in as other players read the Storytelling paragraphs and all to the active player. Very difficult. However, what I thought was quite neat about the game was that Jennifer, the lady running it, had picked up some stands (sort of like the types used for Scrabble, and the players used them for supporting their various Status cards and the like. May have to consider buying those myself. Hmmm... Around 6:15 or so, went to the Rideau Curling Club's Cafe, and took a look at what they had to eat. In order to keep the bowel stuff to a minimum (or so I hoped), I decided to keep supper simple - the Classic Club sandwich. Minus the bacon, with the tomato and lettuce on the side. After tax, that sucker ran me $11.50! :( Had a bottle of water, ate supper, and took my diabetes meds for the evening with the food, and then went downstairs and gathered up the DW: AiTaS rpg stuff that I needed to run the game from the locker.
I went to the assigned gaming table on the intermediate level of the curling club venue, and got hit with the major *layer* of humidity up there, and the smell of food from the cafeteria area. It was going to be a sweaty, stick-to-your-skin evening of gaming. The final spot for the DW: AiTaS game was quickly filled, so I had a full table for the running of the first of the two scenarios, "Keeping the Peace". The game itself went very well, I thought, even though it had some unexpected moments. The six players were taking on the role of a small United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) group in Jerusalem, 1997, during the changeover in power to the minority Palestinian government. The player characters for the game were Captain Michel Laflamme (the patriotic leader of the group with an intense loyalty to UNIT and his mission in the city), Sergeant Rebecca Eisenberg (the sabra second-in-command of the team, with an interest in archaeology), Captain (Doctor) Helen Karlsson (a doctor who signed up with UNIT, who takes her Hippocratic oath seriously), Corporal Robert Faruq (a devoted family man and people expert who knows naught of technology), Corporal Kenji Hotaru (a technican specializing in electronics), and Corporal Frederick Schulte (a neo-Nazi chemical engineer). It was great having two female players at the table to take on the roles of Dr. Helen and Sgt. Eisenberg. After I went through the rules for the game with them, the players were quite surprised at how simple and workable the rules were, although the concept of Story Points eluded them a bit until they got some experience in the game system under their belts. The six players at the table really got into the roles that they were given, and the conflict in the UNIT party itself was something to behold, especially given the mirror-like aspects of their own conflicts somewhat reflecting the powder keg situation in Jerusalem itself. When one added the discovery of the alien artefact, the various factions in the city that wanted the artefact, and the arrival of the hostile aliens once the second artefact showed up, it added up to a really great scenario. The revelation of the arriving aliens being classic Sontarans was reflected in the reactions of the player characters, and there was some terrific stuff in the second half of the adventure. The first half of the adventure was pretty much the player characters having to protect the dig site from all the factions, and the final third of the adventure was the action/combat scenes that one expects when UNIT is around, but without a Time Lord to help them deal with the aliens. The players loved the Talkers/Runners/Doers/Fighters combat Initiative sequence (I was tempted to alter it somewhat for the scenario, but had found that didn't work in the playtests), and the scenario ended on a high when Robert Faruq, aided by two of his companions, was able to destroy the Sontarans and shut down the temporal portal at the cost of his own life. Brilliant stuff! :)
Some of the highlights of the game that stand out in my mind involve Captain Laflamme engaging in a blustering argument with the three religious leaders of Jerusalem and the dig archaeologists over the disposition of the artefact, and being told that UNIT was going to have to protect it from all sides. He was even more irritated when the Brigadier, Bambera, assigned him and his team to protect it. Laflamme's player also did a good job first verbally sparring with the leader of the Palestinian police and then calming him down to get him to work with the UNIT personnel to prevent any violent outbreaks at the dig site. The dislike and sheer malevolence towards each other on the part of Sgt. Eisenberg (the Jewish sabra) and Cpl. Schulte (the card carrying neo-Nazi) was palpable, and there was some great roleplay (and lots of Story Points given out!) between them. Schulte insulting and rejecting Dr. Karlsson because of her being Swedish was taken out on him by a *very* thorough physical when Laflamme thought that he might be under the alien influence, and Dr. Helen's player had Schulte's player squirming; heck, some of the other players looked...uncomfortable. The relationship between the two technical types, Cpl. Kenji Hotaru and Cpl. Schulte, was also very nicely played by the two players, and they teamed up for some good task resolution as the adventure progressed. I also was taken by surprise when Captain Laflamme tried to take on the Sontaran commander in single combat, only to try and blow his head away with his weapon (thank Goddess for Story Points!). The final sequence, where Faruq sacrificed his life to save them all from the Sontarans, was wonderfully played by the players, and had the lovely pathos and tragedy that such a sequence would have in Doctor Who. The group was devastated by his loss afterwards, but soldiered on and kept order in the aftermath of the repulsion of the Sontaran invasion.
In the meantime, spross had spent the evening playing a game of Mhar, so he joined me after I had finished running the game, and we packed up and prepared to head out into the Ottawa night. I was drenched with sweat from the heat and humidity on the level where I had to run the game, so before heading out into the night, I went downstairs and washed my face and hands. It was blessedly cool outside by this time, so we headed for home. spross dropped me off at my place about 11:35 pm, and we agreed to meet there the next morning around 10:00 am or so. I had half a small sandwich and a cup of tea, and then proceeded to repack the game bags for the next day's game of Desolation. I crashed for the night, but had a bit of a difficult time getting to sleep sometime after 12:15 am.
So there you have it, the Friday at CanGames. Hope folks enjoyed the read. Saturday will be covered in one of the next posts.