Note to Self: Do Not Schedule 8AM games for Thursday at GaryCon.
Thursday morning did not creep up on me, it hit like a sledgehammer to the back of the head. It wasn't that I was gaming until the wee hours of the morning – we finished around 12:30 AM or so, if I recall correctly. No, it’s that I can’t fall asleep in hotel rooms, particularly not on the first night of a stay and certainly not without my wife and family. Add into that the fact I felt the need to get up by 7 AM and, well, it was only a few hours of sleep when all was said and done.
Why so early? Two reasons, the first of which is rather innocuous. I had an 8AM game to learn how to play Hackmaster. This would give me time to shower (first rule of gaming as my kids can recite – always shower) and grab a bite to eat before the game.
The second reason is something I really should talk to the Powers That Be about – souvenirs. You see, each Thursday morning of the convention, for the last four years, I've fretted about souvenirs. I want to make sure to, at the very least, get a t-shirt for myself and each of my kids. I also knew they had glass beer steins on sale and I could not remember if I pre-ordered that with my platinum badge. Some years they have these really sweet commemorative coins…like this…
GaryCon I and II:
GaryCon III and IV
In past years they've had commemorative dice and mini figures as well. And in past years, I was lucky/persistent enough to be around before they sold out of things in which I was interested…sometimes just barely.
So on Thursday morning, before the 8AM game, I wanted to be ready and in line just in case. Only, they didn't have any of it out an available. I understood – they wanted to sort through all of the pre-ordered stuff as well as anything that people were to receive as part of their badge purchase. I checked periodically in the first couple hours of Hackmaster to no avail. Of course, by the time my 8AM slot of Hackmaster ended, they were in full sales swing. Again, this year, I was lucky to get the shirts I wanted. Also, this year, they seemed to have a lot more of stuff so there were even coffee mugs available on the last day. So maybe it’s not something I should concern myself with…though I think I’ll offer to volunteer next year to help get that all going. Onto gaming…
My 8AM slot was, as I mentioned, Learn to Hack. I’d never played Hackmaster before, but was well aware of the system. One of the mantras for me, personally, at conventions like GaryCon or GenCon is to try at least a game or two of things with which I am not so familiar. So I did as the event catalog described – I brought my dice and no experience.
A gentleman named George Fields ran the slot and, as described, he walked us through the basics of character generation. It was complex, but with years of experience in the various forms of OD&D/AD&D/D&D it was pretty easy to pick up. Once we all had our characters, we ran through a couple of combats to get a feel for the system. It was fun and interesting, though I’m not sure I’m sold on Hackmaster as a system.
At noon I was originally scheduled to play in an AD&D game with one of my friends running it – a kind-of continuation of a game we play every year at GenCon. Unfortunately, he had to back out a few weeks before GaryCon, so I had an eight hour opening in my schedule. But this is GaryCon…no worries.
Just before I finished the Learn to Hack slot, Doug Kovacs came around and we decided we’d have lunch together when my slot was over. So after we finished the slaughter I went out and purchased my t-shirts (yay!), Doug and I went to his car (at this point I was without a car as my wife had not returned with the kids in tow) and drove into Lake Geneva proper. Again, one of the great things about GaryCon is an opportunity like this to just sit and talk with someone like Doug for an hour or so…about like, parents, siblings, and what make us tick.
When we returned, I went back to my room to gather myself. I returned to the restaurant to find Doug along with a couple of his friends already playing a board game….actually more of a card game. It is called TheRed Dragon Inn. I’d never played before (imagine that!), but it was a lot of fun. Essentially you are the adventuring group back from a successful plundering and you are sitting around the tavern in the midst of drinking and debauchery. You have an alcohol counter, a constitution counter, and some gold. The first two, alcohol and constitution, are on a circular track heading toward each other – so as you gain alcohol and or lose constitution, the two markers head towards each other, one clockwise, the other counter clockwise. When they meet, you’ve passed out and lost. All the while you are trying to keep the gold in your pocket from being taken in drinking contests, gambling contests, or the party illusionist tricking you out it…because if you are out of gold, you are out of the game.
I’m seriously going to be looking into this game. It was simple, fun, and could change each time you played depending on the character you chose and the luck of the cards. All in all it was a blast and I made it to the end, only to be beaten by Doug in the closing moments.
After The Red Dragon Inn, we decided to try a reprint of a game from, I believe, the 60’s – called NuclearWar. To be honest, I can’t really tell you much about this game. The rules were very difficult to follow so we just made stuff up for a while. Add to this the fact that about half way through the game, I got the call from my wife that she and the kids were pulling into the parking lot of the hotel.
By the time I unloaded the family and their stuff, it was about 7PM. I took the opportunity to grab a quick nap, and by 8PM my son, daughter and I were downstairs getting settled at our table for our first game of DCC – the Dungeon CrawlClassics Role Playing Game.
In the Court of Chaos is apparently a forthcoming DCC adventure written by Michael Curtis. You remember Michael – the GM for Day1’s impromptu Gamma World game. Oh, and he was running this game of DCC as well! Unfortunately, I don’t want to say too much about this adventure as it is still officially in development. But I can say this…
In a nicely written and well delivered opening scene, we the adventurers were swept into the courts of chaos. There were met several Lords of Chaos who “requested” our aid in retrieving an item from the Lords of Law. After giving us some time to consider their offer, and a moment to add a great little twist, we were on our way.
I can say one of my favorite moments was when my son, the wizard of the party, tried to cast a Comprehend Language and rolled a fumble on his spell check (the second fumble in row, the previous being a Color Spray that shot bursts all over the place). He then rolled to see the results of the fumble and got a misfire. For almost the rest the game, one of our party spoke in dragon tongue…completely incomprehensible to everyone else in the party….and the target played it to the hilt, doing nothing but grunting and gesticulating to communicate.
Oh…and I died!
Michael ran a great game. It was a bit loud in the room at the start, but we were the late game and the room cleared after a while. After, Michael handed out ribbons to both survivors and victims that were added to our convention badges. And we get to have our names as play-testers…even Colin!*
The kids and I stumbled back to the room and crashed at about 1 AM. We had to get our rest for Day 3…
*Harley, he literally crossed his name off the player list and wrote in Colin….I kid you not.