This day started off as a cock-up all around. I woke up at 2:30 am in terrible pain, and knew that I was in trouble, since I couldn't take any more pills for around five hours. Got out of bed, and walked around the house a bit, as this seems to ease the pain somewhat. It worked to some extent, but by the time I fell back into sleep, it was close to 4:30 am. Woke up again at 6:30 am, the bladder insisting that I deal with it. I puttered around the house for a while after that, finally making breakfast, taking my shower, and getting some of the gaming stuff that I needed for the day's run of Desolation sorted. spross arrived at my place around 10:00 am to pick me up, and took my gaming things and other stuff out to the car. It looked like a rainy day, so we both had brollies with us. I had this nagging feeling that I had forgotten stuff, but couldn't remember what.
We drove over to the Subway that we'd been visiting all week, and picked up the lunch sandwiches there, and then headed to the Rideau Curling Club. As we neared the convention site, it suddenly clicked with me - I had forgotten my receipt tickets for the stuff that I was selling at the CanGames booth! Picking from the options available to us, spross drove back to my place, and retrieved the tickets from exactly where I told him they were sitting. I felt so guilty about the whole business that it gnawed at me all day, especially considering that gas prices are up and all, and that we had wanted to be at the convention early to check things out. As it was, we didn't arrive at the CanGames site until around 11:30 am. spross dropped me off with some of the stuff at the door, while he went to park the car, and when I went in to put the stuff in a locker, realised that I couldn't, as the lock wasn't there! By the time spross came in, I was panicking somewhat, but he reassured me that the lock was in the bag with the gaming stuff, and he was right. Between the panic and the guilt, well...
After depositing stuff in the lockers, spross and I went to check the status of the games we were running this day. I was disappointed to see that I still only had the two players signed up for the Desolation game, but spross even more so, as he learned he still only had one player signed up for his game. We went into the Marketplace once again to see what was going on with our CanGames booth sales. I was pleased to see that some more of my stuff had sold, but was disappointed at how much still remained, although I can't say I was surprised given the finicky nature of gamers these days, and some of the prices I saw in the Marketplace. After figuring out a few money matters and how I was going to handle the purchase of it, I went back to the booth and picked up the copy of Dominant Species that was on hold for me (see the report on CanGames, Day 2 for more). The game is quite beautiful, but very heavy, and I had spross take it back to the locker, and then he returned and we looked around at a few other things for a bit, before heading back out so we could think about lunch and getting ready to run the games of the day (he was running Colonial Gothic while I was running a second Desolation game, as mentioned earlier). Fortunately, the table that I was running the game at (the same table that I ran all four games at this weekend) was free, so we were able to eat lunch there.
We sat back and ate lunch, relaxing with the food and a few friends dropping by, and I was feeling a lot more relaxed, though not pain-free, than I had been earlier. Stress doesn't help the sciatica any, of course. spross learned that the guy sitting at a chair close to the table was the player he had for his game. Finishing lunch, I started to set up the table for the Desolation game, and then went over to the sign-up tables to see what was going on after the crowd thinned a little bit. I was delighted to see that I suddenly had two more players, for a total of four, and immediately started recruiting gamers for the table. Since I was wearing my "Have you spit on an elf today? Desolation t-shirt, I decided to do so by talking to likely prospects and start off saying, "So, have *you* spit on an elf today?" It actually worked like a charm, and I was able to convince another couple of players to join the game, for a full table of six. Another fellow asked if he could join the table as the game sounded interesting, and since I always have seven pre-generated characters for the Desolation games, I had no problem with this. So I had a full table, plus one, for the game.
The scenario that I was running for the game on the Sunday afternoon was originally a convention scenario that had been altered somewhat and added to the Journeys, Before and After supplement for the game, "Any Port in a Storm". Again, I'm not going to go into details about the plot of "Any Port in a Storm", since the scenario can still be run at conventions and the like by the folks from Greymalkin Designs, and don't want to spoil it for those who might play the game in campaign. I didn't have to make any real alterations to the scenario to run it though some scenes got omitted and others were expanded as the players decided to do some roleplaying, thus eating up a bit of time.
The scenario is always a fun one to run, especially with the full complement of characters - Menelaris Covalanar, Tarl Ishrak, Krek of Kharhut, Denner Khent, Esther LaVore, Lem Ollender, and Sasha Veng. The roleplaying becomes more dominant and special when the group of seven is used (though some GMs can't handle player groups that size in convention play), and this was something that I was pleased to see in this running of the game (as compared to the game that I ran Friday evening, with some exceptions). Note that SPOILER WARNINGS for the adventure can be found below.
The folks playing Lem and Esther did a very good job handling them. Lem played it very protective of her, and while she reciprocated this somewhat, the failure on the part of the Esther player was not having a good handle on her magic and what it could do. I think this was partially due to the fact that the player (and his friend who played Krek) both came from a more traditional kind of fantasy magic background, and had some difficulty with this. Lem also was pretty morally inclined, refusing to leave the body of their charge behind, and hauled him all the way to the wine cellar that they called home for part of the storm. He and Tarl (see stuff below) insisted on burying him, and eventually convinced their charge's fellow dwarf, Denner, to also help them and say a few dwarven words on his passing. Esther's player had some difficulty with the character also because the player wasn't really used to playing female characters, and this was problematic for him. The fellow who played Menelaris did something with the character that I didn't expect. He played Menelaris in a disinterested manner, condescending and aloof, not really caring about other people, except how they will affect him. The emphasis was not on the condescending aspects of the character, but more on the aloofness, and this made the character more interesting. The fellow playing Tarl Ishrak did an excellent job with the character, coming across extremely morally centred. He played the religious elements very well, and did a superb job of making sure that the characters as a group remained relatively morally straight. (Except for Lem and Menelaris and the wine, of course!) The gentleman who came in last, missing the beginning of the intro and stuff, played Denner, the dwarf, and did a decent job as far as he could. He never really played Denner fear of the apocalypse returning aspects and phobia, and missed out on quite a few Style points I thought, and suffered a bit from uncertainty. Both Denner and the Krek character were played somewhat utilitarianly, I thought, but the two players did have some good moments as well. The fellow playing Krek of Kharhut had a good deal of trouble getting into the Mongrel's mindset, and the character suffered from an uncertainty in this regard, and didn't really take on much of a role in the game as he could have. Finally, the fellow playing Sasha, Ron, did a *brilliant* job with the character, making her somewhat over-the-top and foppish in manner with a slightly camp feel. He did a masterful roleplaying experience in this game, one of the best I've seen with Sasha Veng, and made the character truly memorable.
This game had some definitely interesting moments to it. Some of the highlights that I remember were bits where Doug, playing Menelaris, tried to harness the energy of the Weave storm and got badly...Burned. (However, he spent a ton of Style points and actually survived, though he was unconscious for a bit). The fight with the cliff fishers was very good, and went surprisingly well. The players were taken totally off guard by their appearance and attack, and this and the Weave storm set the stage for some of the "this is how the world of Desolation is seriously different than other fantasy rpgs" object lessons. The characters of Lem and Menelaris scavenged a huge amount of wine - Lem's player taking five bottles of good red stuff, while Menelaris only took one bottle, but he was drinking the wine immediately after he took the bottle, despite the situation the player characters found themselves in. Rick, playing Lem, actually got into a confrontation with Ron's Sasha Veng about his treatment and lack of respect for Lady Esther, and insisted that he call her "Lady LaVore". And finally, in the sub-ocean tunnels, when Tarl realised that the others had all fled back the way they came when confronted with the *censored for playability sake!*, the look on his face was priceless as he realised that discretion was the better part of valour! Other good stuff that I can't remember right now, and didn't note at the time of the game.
I ended up having to rush the finish of the scenario somewhat, as the CanGames Presentation Ceremony was due to start around 6:00 pm or so. Part of this was due to a couple of extended scenes of roleplaying on the part of the players, as well as two short breaks that I had to take because of the sciatica pains (though I didn't take any pills for that at the time). The scenario came to a close with the player characters having won the day, but it could have been at a perilous cost, as several characters really did take their lives into their own hands. spross had finished his game about an hour early, and thus came down and took the two photos that you see with this post. Kind of cool of him to do that. And I'm grateful to him for that. He watched part of the last hour of the game, and wandered around a bit as well (far as I could tell). The players all told me that they had a pretty good time, and that they liked the game system and the mechanics. Ron and Rick both commented that they thought the game mechanics could be adapted to other games as well, and I told them that they were attached to two other Ubiquity licences. Everyone liked the post-apocalyptic fantasy setting, and found the dice mechanics easy to learn and pick up, and commented that it was really neat to see a game set itself only a few years after the apocalypse, rather than 500 years later and so forth. They found this brought home the survival aspects of the game in the post-apocalyptic setting, and felt the game offered a lot of scope for the types of fantasy campaigns that could be used with it. They also loved the Nutrition Value (NV) thing, too. :) Overall, it was a very successful run of the Desolation game system, and used a scenario that was really pleasing to run and enjoyable by the players, with all its twists and plot machinations.
Once the players had for the most part taken off, spross started to help me with the clean-up and packing of the gaming stuff. I took the last game sheet to the game registration desk, and got my last voucher for the convention, while spross went out and started loading the car. We stuck around for the CanGames Ceremony, where the various awards for the games run were handed out to those still there in attendance, and then proceeded to the CanGames desk to find out how much money I'd made selling the various stuff I had put up. I didn't do too badly this year, and recouped almost all the money that I'd spent at the convention on stuff. I guess spross did all right in this regard, as he didn't complain about stuff. I wasn't about to schlep home with him the various stuff that didn't sell, so we left it for CanGames to sell next year and put into their own kitty. I wanted to recover some of the stuff that had not sold, including the two copies of Savage Mars and the Tekumel rulebook from Guardians of Order. He found the first two, but not the latter, no idea what had happened to it.
With the car packed and all, I said my goodbyes to several friends and new acquaintances at the convention, and then headed out to find some dinner. spross and I went out to Swiss Chalet to eat supper, and had a decent meal, with some chicken soup, a plate of cheese-filled perogies, salad, and the quarter-chicken dinner with French fries on the side. I was actually feeling peckish, so thought this might be a good sign. I was still feeling guilty about the morning business with the booth tickets, and gave spross some cash to cover part of the gas for the day. spross dropped me off at the house, and helped me take all the stuff inside and down to the den (and in a couple of cases the storage room) before he took off for home himself. After about half an hour, I realised that despite all the cautions and care I'd taken all weekend, I had tweaked my back somewhat, and was in terrific pain. I'd been hiding it pretty well for most of the convention, but now that I was on my own, it started to get to me quite a bit. My mother dropped by the house, and stayed with me a while. Meanwhile, spross had left my place about 9:30 pm or so, and realised he was still carrying around my loose change. So he turned around and showed up at my place around 10:00 pm, and found that I was in considerable pain, and realised what I had done. After he took off, I had a cup of tea with my mother, and she asked me about the convention to distract me somewhat. I was starting to falter by that time, and she left for her place while I nibbled some almonds and yogurt before heading for bed after taking two pills. As per usual, I didn't sleep all that much again on Sunday night.
There you have it - my three-post report on CanGames 2011, and my own rpgs run at the convention. It was a pretty good convention for the most part, tiring as usual, and definitely a painful ordeal for me. Even though I tried to take care of myself, I don't seem to have succeeded all that well (see my recent blog entries for stuff going on) and the pain was pretty...intense...for most of the weekend. (I may write an impressions of the con post as well, but we'll see). I think I had a pretty good time at the convention, regardless, and it was nice to get out of the house for a change, certainly.
Hope folks enjoyed these reports of the convention. :) Comments, thoughts, and questions would be welcome. :)