Friday, May 20th
Friday dawned crisp and clear, still pretty cold and wet, and that made the sciatica act up for most of the day. After breakfast and showering, I took care of a few things around the house that needed doing, and packed up what I could for the game of Desolation that I was to run that night. spross arrived around 12:00 or so to help me out, and after packing the Desolation stuff and getting everything else ready to go (he had taken the two boxes of stuff I wanted to sell the night before out to the car), we trundled off for CanGames. Remembered to take the pillow, thank Goddess. Stopped off at the Subway sandwich shoppe off near Bronson and the highway, and picked up lunch. The sciatica was pretty bad from the drive, but I was also somewhat worried about spross's torn muscle that was healing still. We actually talked about skipping the convention and going to the Museum of Civilization instead, but he drove us to the Rideau Curling Club where the convention was being held.
We arrived at the Rideau Curling Club building and, as usual, there was no place to park. spross dropped me off at the entrance to the building, and he went off to park the car and then bring all the stuff in. I went to pick up my registration package while I waited for him to bring the rest of the stuff, and learned that I had three people pre-registered for each of the games, except the Sunday Desolation game, where I only had two folks pre-signed up. Not a good start, I thought. Once spross came in with the goods, he picked up his registration stuff, and then we went and put most of the stuff we didn't need right away into the lockers on the lower level of the Curling club. We then took our stuff that we wanted to sell (and I thought spross looked a bit pale from his exertions, even with the dolly that he brought for the purpose, to bring in the boxes of sellable games. I purchased 40 tickets (at $1.00 each) to sell the stuff, and then found that we couldn't do the filling out of forms and attaching them to the items to take back to the Cash Desk in the lobby area because the staff needed the near empty tables for other stuff. We had to take the stuff out to the curling rink sheet area, and once again spross had to take the dolly loaded with them out there. Ouch! I filled in the tickets, and managed to use only 38 of them for all the items I wanted to sell. There was a large amount of Tekumel gaming material, some of the duplicates of Hollow Earth Expedition books that I have, and a whole batch of other stuff. Then we (well, spross actually) had to put the ticketed items back on the dolly and get them out to the Cash Desk again. We ended up eating lunch quite late, around 2:30 pm or so, but the turkey sandwich from Subway tasted so good... spross actually lent the dolly to the convention staff, as they needed it for some stuff, and then he returned it to the car. By the time that was done, I needed to walk around a bit, and so that's what we did. A few rpgs were already going, having started at 2:00 pm, and there was some board gaming on the second floor, but nothing inspiring yet. Naturally, the stuff I might have wanted to play in was going on during the evening when I was running Desolation. *sigh*
spross and I both saw a woman at the convention wearing a t-shirt that read, "When I Snap, you're the first to go." I knew exactly how she felt, and wanted that tee. The pain from the sciatica was pretty bad by that time, but I was choosing to ignore it. (I did take a couple of pills with supper.) By the time we were ready to eat an early supper, since I need to get ready to the Desolation game that night, we decided to get something from the Curling club cafeteria on the upper floor. Making the trek up there was *not* fun, let me tell you. I had a rather bland chicken burger (well, actually strips of chicken on a burger bun) and a salad with a lovely Greek dressing, and then got down to gettting ready to set-up and run the game.
The biggest mistake I made this year at CanGames for the Desolation games was that I shouldn't have taken the fancy case that I keep the Style Chips in, as it weighed quite a bit. In any event, I ran the first game session that I had planned, the Desolation scenario called "Dead or Alive". I had three players registered for the game, so when the sign-up sheet was put out half an hour before game time, I went over, sore back and leg and all, and started recruiting a few gamers to play in the game. Two other people had pre-registered for the game, so I only needed to recruit one other, which I did, and spross decided to play in the game. While I'm not going to go into details about the plot of "Dead or Alive", since the scenario is being run at conventions and the like still by the folks from Greymalkin Designs, the adventure took a turn into left field, and I had to improvise part of the ending of the adventure, although I fortunately had the alternate location written up so had some guidelines on how to handle it.
There was some interesting stuff during this game. For starters, other than spross and Douglas (the new gamer in my Sunday gaming group), the other five players were all newbies to Desolation. I was pleased that they found the game rules easy to learn, and the world one that was interesting to play in, and from what they said when the game was over, they had a very good time with it. With an all-male player group of seven players, it made things interesting to see two of the guys playing Sasha Veng, the Rover entertainer, and Esther LaVore, the noble sorceress. The fellow playing Esther LaVore did so with a high falsetto voice all night long, giving the other players fits of laughter at times. Priceless. He did a good job of playing the character off the Lem Ollender character, and the two of them interacted really well.
The fellow playing Lem Ollender, the Legionnaire, did a really good job of roleplaying the character, handling the leadership of the party (since the fellow playing Esther took a slightly less active role), and he kept the rest of the player characters focused on what they wee supposed to be doing. He also did a marvellous job keeping the guy playing the elf, Menelaris Covalanar, in check and under control. Speaking of which, the fellow playing Menelaris actually came up with an interesting variation on the character, making him likeable. After all, Menelaris should be dead three times over - he's an Elf, he's a spellcaster, and he's condescending. <g> He also really went to town with the magic; he was suffering from some sort of Burn damage for most of the evening, and I thought he gave Menelaris an almost gay quality in his tone and voice while playing the character.
The two players who played Menelaris and Esther did a great job of handling magic in the game, and got quite creative - levitating and then flying over a field of bones, casting an earth and dust whirlwind at the villain of the piece, etc. - which can be quite difficult with the Desolation magic system, given the free-form nature of the spell system. They both told me they didn't like the Burn business, but admitted that it fit the game really well.
The fellow playing Tarl Ishrak, the farmer with faith, did a marvellous job emphasising the religious elements of the Two Above, and worked a lot with his Blessing and True Faith abilities. I thought that he was marvellous in the manner in which he played the character, and he told me when the game ended that he really enjoyed the religious aspects and elements of the game and his character, and that the style and feel of it made for a nice change from the clerical types of priestly folk found in other fantasy rpgs.
Several notable things occurred. Krek of Kharhut saved the day by attaching a rope to an arrow, firing the arrow at the villain, and then pulling on the rope, causing the villain to topple into the pool containing liquid blessed by the Two Above. At another point, the characters had to cross a field of bones, that started to animate. Several fun moments occurred during this sequence, with the player characters racing across it pell mell. Another memorable moment was spross, playing Sasha Veng, had to make an Acrobatics roll on 7 dice, to flip over the undead trying to attack him, and botched! I've never seen a roll with that many dice, where he rolled 2 reds and 3 whites, botch.
When the scenario was finished for the evening, the players commented that one of the things they really liked was the mist that was all-pervasive throughout the scenario, as it came across as suitably creepy, and almost redirected suspicion from the villagers and the Necromancer. All of the players stated that they had really enjoyed the game, and were quite surprised by the simplicity of the game mechanics, and the non-typical feel of the game world, even though it was "sort of" fantasy. There were several players who came into the Desolation game from a D&D background, and rather enjoyed themselves, both in terms of the system (especially the free-form magic system), and the different feel of the game world.
By the time the evening was over, I was not only exhausted but in some serious pain in the back. spross helped me pack up the gaming material used for the game, and then we both hobbled back to the car (I figured he was hurting in the back by the time we took off for home) with the stuff that we had with us. He dropped me off at the house, and helped me take the gaming stuff inside, by which time it was around 11:45 pm. We talked, and agreed to go in to the convention at around 10:00 the next morning. After spross left for the trip home, I had a cup of tea, a small fish sandwich, and swallowed two more painkiller/muscle relaxants with a glass of water. After getting the stuff ready for the Primeval games that I was to run the next day, I hauled my aching, hurting body to bed, and tried to go to sleep. It was close to 12:15 am by that point.
And there's Friday at CanGames. Hope folks enjoyed the read. Saturday will be covered in one of the next posts.