Friday, May 17th
The morning dawned pretty cool, but clear, with lots of sun, though the weather was expected to be around 250C. A relatively comfortable summer day in the Ottawa valley for this time of year. I really hoped that the convention facility at the Rideau Curling Club would be fully functional. I was up very early, around 6:30 am, as I couldn't sleep due to some of the pain in my neck and ear, but I was feeling somewhat better than I have been for a bit. spross and I had agreed that we would leave my place around 11:45 am or so and go to Dunn's Famous Deli for lunch before heading over to the Curling Club and CanGames 2013. Since I had taken care of setting up the items that I planned to sell at the convention using the new, on-line system, I figured that I didn't have that much work to do in terms of writing forms and the like, so figured I could get there a bit later in the early afternoon than usual. After breakfast and a leisurely shower (as hot as I could take it), I started packing up the gaming stuff that I needed to run the evening game of Primeval RPG as well as taking all the basic stuff that I needed (diabetes meter, mug and packets of herbal and decaf tea, some snackage, and a few other items that I won't go into here). spross arrived at my place around 11:30 am, and after he packed the car with the box of gaming stuff that I was going to sell and I had loaded the three totes bags that I had for the convention (my personal stuff, the gaming stuff, and counters and dice and Threat markers), we headed off just after noon for Dunn's.
We made good time getting to Dunn's Famous Deli for lunch, and as it was just after noon the restaurant wasn't too crowded. I'd had the smoked meat on my last vist there (see this entry), so for a change of pace I had the hamburger with an order of the soup of the day (split pea with smoked meat). The soup was terrific, and I really enjoyed that meal. From the restaurant, we headed downtown to the curling club venue that hosts CanGames.
We arrived at the Rideau Curling Club around 1:35 pm or so, and spross had a relatively easy time parking the car, pretty close to the Curling Club, less than two blocks away. I took the gaming stuff and my personal stuff from the car, and proceeded into the venue, and took care of registration. It was a simple process of going over to the Events section of the main desk (as I was a GM, so my registration packet was there, rather than at the regular Registration area), and picking up the registration package for the convention. I was somewhat disappointed on taking out the badge to find that it wasn't done up on cardstock this year, but printed on thin paper with adhesive backing, though the printing on the front of each badge (my attendance badge and my GM badge) were the usual standard. And it had the 2012 date on it, not the 2013 one (when I asked the staff about this, one of the registration organisers told me that it was "to prevent the Apocalyse", tying in to the convention's theme), but I noticed that most of the folks who hadn't registered on-line had the normal cardstock badges. I can't say I was thrilled about this, and wondered whether the convention was trying to cut costs to some degree. It made me wonder whether Ottawa ComicCon the week before was starting to cut into the convention's money making ability, but that's another matter.
While the convention was just getting ready for the first games at 2:00 pm, it wasn't overly packed with people, and things looked and felt a bit quiet.
After going down to the lower level of the Curling Club and claiming a locker and leaving the gaming stuff for the evening there, we went back upstairs and I sat down for five minutes leafing and checking through the CanGames Program Guide. I made a few notes about some events, and while spross went back to the car to get the boxes of games and stuff that we were both selling at the convention, I headed over to the Events desk and checked out how the pre-registration for my games was going. I was dismayed to learn that I had only one (1) person pre-registered in total for the four games that I was running at the convention, that being for Saturday night's Primeval RPG game, "Earth Serpent". Not a very good start to the convention, and I was worried that I might not get a lot, if enough, players for the games I was running over the weekend. As it turned out, I needn't have worried (but I'll talk about that in due course with each of the events as they occurred during the convention).
Once spross returned from the car with the trolley with the two boxes of games to be sold at the convention, we went up to the usual part of the Registration Desk where the forms and the like for items being sold at the CanGames Booth in the Marketplace were usually handled. I found out that since I had taken care of this using the on-line system (as did SteveR), I needed to take the items directly to the entrance to the Marketplace and have them processed there. The process was relatively simple, and spross and I proceeded to cut the pre-printed tags for the items being sold out off the sheets, and then affixing them with tape to the correct items, and handing them over to the folks at the booth. I was done with this within about half an hour, and the process was relatively painless, though I felt like I hurt my back with all the bending and lifting up of the items to be sold. A much easier and simple process than in years past, and if I decide to sell items again at CanGames 2014, this is how I'll handle it. There are still a few glitches to be worked out in the new process, but matters went pretty smoothly for the most part. When we were done with this, my lower right back was hurting somewhat, so I went to sit again in the chairs near the Registration desk for about ten minutes, and had some bottled water to quench my thirst while I was at it.
The convention looked pretty empty, though there were quite a few roleplaying games going on as well as some board and miniature games, and I wandered around the convention site for the next few hours, checking things out, taking a few photos here and there of stuff that intrigued me, and meeting up with old friends and chatting about various things for a bit. I actually found that there was an open game of (a href="http://www.zmangames.com/boardgames/pandemic.htm">Pandemic</a> getting started, and was able to play the game in about 30 minutes. I and the other three players managed to contain three of the four diseases, but we lost when the Draw pile of cards ran out. Nice diversion for the afternoon. (I got so involved in the game, I forgot to take any photos!) Around 4:00 pm, I took my snack break, and had some bottled water, crackers, Edam cheese, and a few celery sticks and cucumbers. During the course of the afternoon, while continuing to wander around a bit more, I learned (as did everyone else at the convention for Friday) that there had been a snafu with the kitchen staff of the Curling Club, and as a result, no evening food service would be available. The convention had arranged with the Curling Club to bring in pizza (pepperoni or fully dressed) from one of the local pizza places, and would charge $3.00 a slice, plus a soda. A pretty good deal for the most part, but not one that appealed to me. Furthermore, the Curling Club manager (whom I had talked to about this stuff last year as well) and I had a chat, and he told me that the CanGames weekend menu had the usual stuff, at reduced prices, but there were no real healthy food choices (other than the garden salad). The convention committee was more interested in keeping costs down on food than on healthy choices (which usually cost more), and I was extremely disappointed, especially after he showed me on the computer the usual Curling Club menu for the regular curling season. Nuts! :( I was disappointed, but more annoyed about this than anything else. So I convinced spross to order out from Swiss Chalet (1/4 chicken dinner with baked potato and side salad for me), which he did my mobile phone, but only after I had to find the local number for Swiss Chalet in Ottawa.
In the meantime, by 5:30 pm I had to start thinking about running the evening game that I was scheduled to host for the convention, and needed to get back to the locker downstairs and bring up the bags of gaming equipment. I was going to run my games on the ground floor near the Registration desk at the far end by the bar. This worked out well, as the table was near the area where the kettle was going to be (though it wasn't available on Friday at all), and was a bit alcoved, so it was somewhat quieter. That was nice, as it would help me save my voice, or so I hoped, though I had to wait until just after 6 o'clock to sit down as the table was in use for a game until then. I stopped by the Events desk, and to my pleasure found that I had a couple of players now registered for the Primeval RPG Friday night game. Things were looking up, though I figured I needed to be able to eat quickly so as to do some recruiting for the game.
I went back to the table where I'd be running the game, and when the Swiss Chalet food arrived around 6:15 pm, spross paid for that and brought the food to the table so we could eat. The CanGames folks put out the sign-up sheets for the 7:00 pm games, and there was a huge mob of folks eager to get into some of the games for the evening at the long table where the sheets go. I felt a bit rushed, and around 6:35 pm or so I took a break from eating and went to check out the sign-up sheet. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to find that not only had the sheet for the game filled up, but it was over-booked by four potential players. Feeling relieved and pleased that I would have a full table of players for the night, I went back to the table in question and finished eating my food. Fortunately, all four of my games were going to be at the same table over the weekend. Makes it easier for me to remember these things. :)
After eating and then cleaning away the food stuff from the table, I started to set up for the Primeval game that I was running (you can catch a few photos below that spross took). A couple of the players arrived at the table early, and I continued to set up things (taking out the poker chips I used as Story Points, unpacking my dice tray loaded with d6s, and taking out the little red beads I use for Threat markers) while we talked for a bit. I was pleased to see that Shannon Dickson, a regular at my CanGames tables the last few years, was back to play again, and had two players, Alexandra and Janna, who had never roleplayed before. They'd been convinced by their boyfriends, who have played with me before, that the game would be fun and they were fans of dinosaurs so felt that they couldn't go wrong with the game, though they knew nothing about the tv series.
While I was a bit nervous about running the scenario, opening night jitters I guess, I was looking forward to the game. This Friday night game was going to be "The Infection Factor", the Primeval RPG scenario that debuted at GenCon 2012, which is problematic at times as it's somewhat overloaded with lots of encounters in it. With the two newbies to roleplaying involved I wasn't sure how things would work out. While the sign-up sheet was set up for five players, I can actually accommodate six players in the scenario, so I wasn't worried about that, but more about the time and all for the adventure. The scenario has Nick Cutter, Connor Temple, Abby Maitland, Jenny Lewis, Captain Becker, and Sarah Page as the characters for it, so it's a good mix of characters as well. When the rest of the six players showed up (several never bothered, figuring I guess that the game was full already), I found it interesting to see that four of the six players were female. One of the interesting elements was that two of the players were a father and very young daughter, Cameron and Elena, and that with the exception of Shannon and Jonathan, none of the players had seen the tv series nor were they familiar with the game system. Made for an interesting night of gaming, let me tell you.
As for the players and the characters that they chose... Cameron did a really good job as Nick. He played the character with authority, had a good feel for keeping the rest of the team under control, notably the Becker player and character, and came up with some pretty good ideas. The fact that he encouraged Abby to shoot the Paronychodons kind of surprised me, but still... Cameron's daughter, Elena, did a really good job of playing Abby, though she was a bit more bloodthirsty than one might expect. She played the character well when dealing with animals, kept to the spirit of Abby (except when she was trying to kill the Paronychodon after it had attacked her), and played well off the girls playing the Connor and the Sarah characters. If I had one gripe about her, she definitely had a shrill, loud voice at times, and was not averse to interrupting the other players at times, at times talking over them. The girl playing Connor, Alexandra, was overly forceful in the role of Connor, and struggled to come to grips with the character at times. She kept spouting conspiracy theory data at random during the adventure, and didn't seem to be able to "fit" the character into the group. She did manage to play the Connor/Abby romance well, but the young girl, Elena, just couldn't handle the romantic aspects of it all. She was new to roleplaying and did an adequate job for her first time. Jonathan played Jenny Lewis, and really did a good job with her, having to come up with all sorts of cover stories for what the other players were doing. He had a good understanding of the series, and that made his playing Jenny easy. He did a good job in terms of having Jenny deal with the others when their plans would make the cover story fall apart, but he was a little (overly) violent at times for Jenny. Janna was playing Becker, and she's another newbie to roleplaying games. She really played Becker well, understanding the need to kill the creatures as they were a threat to her charges, and had a good time playing off Nick and Abby's desire to keep them alive. She took charge of her squad of twelve (12) men well, kept control of her men and their guns, and was there to back up and support the civilians when they put themselves in danger. Good, basic roleplaying. Shannon took on the role of Sarah Page, and really did a terrific job with Sarah, attempting to bring Sarah's myth and legend knowledge to the forefront somewhat. She got a bit long-winded about a couple of things, played well off the Abby and Nick players, did some good stuff with Jenny, and looked seriously annoyed and frustrated with the Connor player as she rambled on at times about her conspiracies.
I can't honestly say that there were a large number of highlights in the game, although some do come to mind. First off, the players and their characters took an inordinate amount of interest in the cow issues, including one comment about the cow in question being autistic! Another moment that leaps out is Becker and Abby teaming up to take out one of the creatures, with Jenny all the time actually crying as she was aiming to shoot the one charging towards her across the dairy farm meadow. The moment when the characters realised the commonality of the cow and the raptor. The shock and horror on the faces of the players when they finally saw what was going on. Some really good emotional moments in the game. Becker's constantly wanting to kill dinosaurs, and Cutter and Abby's preventing him from doing so. Good roleplaying moments.
Overall, the scenario went very well, though it got bogged down in the rules a little bit with the players new to roleplaying needing a bit more of a guiding hand than most players. That said, the six players told me they had a terrific time when it was over, and that the Primeval RPG system was very easy to learn and work with. Alexandra and Janna said they were happy to have played the game, and that they really enjoyed the adventure and the dealing with dinosaurs. Once the players left the table around 11:00 pm, I packed up the gaming stuff that I had, and then went to deliver the sign-up sheet with the winner and runners up recorded to the Events desk, but they were already closed for the night. I returned to the table and sat down and relaxed for a few moments, finally having my evening snack, a bagel with lox and cream cheese. Yummy! Made the evening complete.
Once spross joined me at the table, we went down to the lockers and collected the rest of our belongings. I felt pretty good, though somewhat tired, and my back was hurting somewhat. I said goodnight to some of the CanGames staff still around, and went back to the car with spross. It was a pleasant, somewhat cool evening out, and the walk in the fresh air woke me up somewhat. SteveR dropped me off at the house sometime around 11:40 pm or so. I had a cup of peppermint tea before bed, then went downstairs and prepped for the two games that I would run on Saturday, but by the time I got to bed it was close to 12:40 am.
And there you have the write-up for the Friday of CanGames 2013. I hope it wasn't too long for folks, and those who've read this day's write-up enjoyed it. The write-up for Saturday at CanGames will have several photos as well, trust me. :)