Sunday, August 15, 2010

My First Gaming Convention - Day 3

Today was the third and final day of the Dragonflight XXXI convention. I had nothing scheduled to run today, and before Friday was not even sure I would bother attending. After all I wasn't sure I was going to even enjoy myself...which of course I did.

And Saturday night, I was even feeling a might angsty about the whole role-playing thing. I had called my buddy, Kris, that night to tell him some of the hinky feelings I was starting to get (on which I will elaborate in a future post)...not vibes given off by the con or the con-goers themselves, but negative feelings I was starting to have in reaction to some of the things I was seeing. Though it wasn't enough to deter me from going back after the fun I'd had. In fact, today I even showed up early (around 11:00).

All right, all right, I'll spare you the suspense: today was the best day yet.

Really. Perhaps not as many different subjects of blog posts came to mind, but that might be because I was too busy enjoying myself. After learning of the live auction that would be going on from nine to noon, I really wanted to get down there early, though I promised myself I would not buy anything. And I didn't, but oh man...they had this un-painted 1979 Ral Partha miniature set: an anatomically correct balrog with four nubile slave girls that I could've have for $10!...but I was light on cash today anyway and they weren't taking cards, so I was able to keep my vow. Oh...and the stack of 1st edition AD&D modules that were going as one lot got sold before I made it to the auction, which is the only serious temptation I saw.

Still, I love auctions (much to my wife's chagrin)...they bring out my competitive spirit something fierce...I want to win!...and it was fun to watch the collectors and the hoary old grognards and the dealers all compete with each other. Having a little knowledge of how Gary's buys and prices used games, I could see the vendors' minds working as they judged whether or not they could recover their money and net a profit...on eBay or on-line. Most of the stuff went for bargain basement prices. One lucky chap bought a bin of board games that got bid up to $70, I'm almost sure because of the 3rd edition Blood Bowl set that was included with it (I was tempted to bid myself). I snuck a peak in the box when he was perusing it and it turns out he got a score, as there were minis from not just the set but also several boxed teams (I saw undead and skaven) as well as multiple "big guy miniatures" (at least one ogre and a troll), all primed and un-painted. That's over $100 to a BB collector (like myself) right the other board games in the box.

Anyhoo, that was great fun but after realizing my resolve was strong enough to resist temptation (and thus I was just being gleefully masochistic hanging around) I decided to move down into the gaming depths.

Before I did, though, I found a whole ballroom of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K that I had completely missed prior. At the time, most appeared to be packing it up, but I spent several long minutes admiring the love and care the players had put into their armies for the convention. If I'd known about THAT, I may have been tempted to bring my own minis down...ah, well...

Today, I also brought the new digital camera and took a few (blurry) photos which I may post to the blog in the coming days. I loved the giant battlescapes and wargaming set-ups, the Circus Maximus chariot track someone had lovingly constructed, the huge ocean map that featured hundreds of miniature sailing ships in some sort of armada on armada action...

And then I got down to the nitty-gritty: gaming.

I went straight to the shadowy corner where the freakish role-players had been sequestered from the rest of the Con and went to the sign-in sheets to see what was being gamed and what was open for sign-ups. I was actually anticipating trying to get into a Savage Worlds games to see what all the freaking fuss was about. Yesterday it appeared that SW had sucked more than half the non-RPGA role-playing attendance into some huge-ass game, and while it hadn't looked very interesting to me, it might be worth learning about. I know next-to-nothing about Savage Worlds.

But there was no SW going on and nothing else really that interested my attention, save the "Story Lounge" running indie-games which had been on the agenda for every time slot of every day so far. This time I looked a little closer at the sign-up sheet and saw that Story Lounge was being presented by Emerald City Gamefest, those nice folks from Greenwood with whom I'd played PDQ on Saturday. I decided to give this a shot.

And promptly spent the next 20-30 minutes looking in vain for their table/room. Apparently, I thought, one must pass some sort of mandatory IQ test if you want to play indie games at the convention...those arrogant bastards!

Finally, I realized that the maps posted to the walls were not only NOT to scale, but were completely inaccurate. The Story Lounge was in one of the board rooms down a DIFFERENT shadowy hallway from the other RPG tables. Sequestered from the sequestered.

Well, at least I didn't have to go play in the parking garage like the LARP people.

Having finally found the board room that was the "Story Lounge" (a very nice, private room with a long wooden table and plush office chairs...a real lounge, completely unlike any of the other RPG tables), I was able to observe the end of some crazy-ass RPG about insane people fighting their own dementia and inner demons (or something). It was the type of weirdness one might expect.

After they finished, the two players went back to working the convention (they were Con volunteers) and I and two new people settled in to play Spirit of the Century...a game I HAVE heard a lot about, but have neither owned nor played. It's one of those games where availability of money and availability of product have yet to coincide for Yours Truly. Needless to say, I was stoked and the game was a blast...the best time yet.

I'll write up a full game report review later.

While the guy running the indie demos was not a member of the EC Gamefest, it does turn out that he lives in Greenwood as well AND lives about 2 blocks from me (!!) AND he's unemployed...which means he's available for gaming on Fridays. Sweet.

He gave me his email address...he seemed very normal.

Finally, one of the other players in the game, a nice young lady from a different indie-type gaming group told me that her group runs a game at the same Greenwood coffee shop as ECG every other Saturday...why the hell have I not met any of these people before?! However, the name of her group (she's from the Capitol Hill neighborhood) completely slips my memory at this time.

Still, that's plenty of contacts made for this weekend. And they all seemed like very nice, very happy people.

As for me...well, I went home after that. I do hope to see these folks again, if only to get my game on. It's funny that I seem to live smack-dab in the middle of some sort of Seattle Gaming Mecca...completely un-wittingly. These are not youngsters, nor are they aging grognards, but rather folks about my own age, give-or-take a decade. I suppose I've just had my head buried in the sand...or buried in the blog, perhaps.

Which reminds me...I did absolutely no self-promotion at the convention. Whether this was due to bashfulness or distraction...well, who knows. However, while I had my B/X Companion on display at the table when I was hoping to run a game (Friday and Saturday) I did no hawking of my goods while playing...hell, I didn't even mention I'd recently completed work on a game book. And, no, I did not mention I have been blogging for fifteen months and over 600 posts, either. What am I...some kind of narcissist?
; )

Mmmm...anyway, it's getting close to midnight and I'm well enough to go back to work tomorrow which means I need to be hitting the hay. I'll write more later this week...well, probably tomorrow. So stay tuned.


  1. Savage Worlds is a good generic system. There's enough crunch to it to handle most things, but it's also fairly rules-light, so it gets out of the way of the stories and settings.

    I wouldn't say that there's anything specific about the game which makes me think "Wow!", and to be honest, taken in isolation it's a bit of a dry system, but its flexibility is very impressive.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I ran an Eberron game with it, and it worked very well. The only modifications I had to make were in creating some races, and those were more like additions than changes.

    I'm sure there are people out there who love the system for itself, but I like it mainly for the ease in which it can emulate a variety of settings.

  2. Sorry to hear about the lack of players for B/X... It is my favorite version as well and I certainly would have played if I were closer.

    I cant help but feel; though - you may have has more luck with Labyrinth Lord.

  3. So you got the copies of the Companion from the printer? When will we internet-types see info about ordering a copy? =)

  4. @ Kelvin: I'm not generally in favor of generic systems...I like games with fiddly mechanics specific to their "game setting." It would have to be something pretty slick to make me want to play it.

    @ BD: My game system was advertised as "B/X D&D or Labyrinth Lord" and the LL book was featured prominently at my station alongside the Basic redbook. No one seemed to notice it or care enough to ask about it, even when they stopped to talk.

    @ Bighara: The printer needed a piece (to his machine) that wasn't going to be available till today. When I spoke to him Friday, the ETA for my Companion was this Thursday.

  5. Savage Worlds is generic in the same way that Chaosium's system is, I think it'd be fair to say. It's good at emulating lots of things, and great at emulating some things. I like Chaosium's more, but probably only because I "grew up" on it.

    Still, that's a good way to think about it. Also, you can download a free version of the rules from here so you can see what it's like.

  6. @ Kelvin: Thanks man! I'll check it out!

  7. Oh man. For that balrog I might have paid you a 100% commission ...