So I just got done spending my Thursday, Friday, and Saturday up at GaryCon V. It just keeps getting better and better, but this year the hotel was busting at the seams with nerds, so my fear is that they will move it somewhere else. Sure, that somewhere else could end up being better, but I really like the venue they've been having it at, and I don't deal well with change. Anyhow, I digress.
So this was my third year there, and it was really cool to see so many people who I pretty much only know through the con. This was also the first year I bothered to register for any events beforehand, so I got to get into some really neat games. Here's the rundown:
On Thursday, I played Lost City of the Elders with Rob Kuntz. I could write volumes about this game alone. It was a really interesting and creative adventure. If you enjoy exploring a very unique setting, performing lots of tests to figure out how everyday things we take for granted work differently (such as gravity and time), while taking in the scenery and avoiding things that will annihilate you in the blink of an eye, you would love Rob's game. On top of it all, he has a pretty good sense of humor and is fun to be around. I can say with certainty that his game is not for everyone, but I enjoyed it very much. We all had a good laugh when everyone got teleported to this giant flaming black-hole-thing in a fiery-hot cavern, likely in space or something, and Rob said, "I hope you brought your asbestos suits!" What makes this funny is that I was playing this character, which had been pre-approved by Rob a few days beforehand. Apparently he just skimmed over it and didn't realize that I had asbestos armor and a blaster rifle.
On Friday I had two games, the first of which was Return to Ram's Horn Castle with Mike Mornard. I'll be perfectly honest, in the first five minutes I thought Mr. Mornard was sort of a dick. There are any number of feasible explanations for this first impression, but it's all academic, because once we hunkered down and got to playing, all that melted away and we had an awesome time. This was an old-fashioned dungeon crawl in stark contrast to the previous game I had played in. We rolled up characters 3d6 in order, 3d6 x 10 gold pieces, bought equipment and set out. No character sheets. Everyone just used little scratch pads or whatever was available - borrowing pencils from each other, passing around the single copy of Men & Magic I had brought with... it was glorious. I had never played in an OD&D game that hewed so closely to the rules as written. As far as I could tell, the only house rule that was in use was crits and fumbles. He even rolled wandering monsters on those shitty OD&D charts! Afterwards, Mike allowed me to take a photo of his dungeon map, which was originally drawn in the early to mid-seventies. I wish I could post it, but he asked that I not post it on the web, so I will honor his wishes. The only thing I will say is that there is a series of corridors that spells out the word "BARF". Sorry, but that's fucking awesome. It was amazing to me at this point that I was able to play in two games so starkly different, yet both very enjoyable. On the following night, I got the opportunity to buy Mike a beer and bullshit with him and another gentlemen for about an hour. I really love hearing stories, and no one can tell a story quite like a long-time gamer.
My Friday late game was Jakallan Underworld (EPT) with Victor Raymond. This was my first chance ever getting to play EPT, and it didn't disappoint. I guess there was a bit of a kerfuffle about our assigned table not being available, but we ended up at a different table in a quieter room, so I consider it a win. We started out naked and imprisoned by some weird death cult (there's a fancy Tekumel name for them, but I don't recall). One guy had an intelligent demon-sword that was able to make itself invisible, so at least we had that. Anyways, figuring how to get out of the place was really challenging, and I was still naked by the time the adventure was over. I "won" a copy of Professor Barker's Man of Gold, and I am very excited to read it. Honestly, I think one of the other players was just as deserving if not more so, so I think I'll mail it to him once I've read it. The game did get rather crazy, and many of us were spread out all over the place. I really did have that sinking feeling of "Oh shit we're totally fucked!" throughout the game, so Mr. Raymond gets big points for conveying the atmosphere. Afterwards, Victor shared stories with us about his many years of gaming. He is a very interesting fellow and has a lot to talk about, so if you are ever able to catch him at a con, I highly recommend signing up for one of his games.
My Saturday kicked off with a short seminar about Castle Greyhawk that was run by Paul Stormberg, Jeff Talanian, and Allan Grohe. This was a new thing they did this year at the con, and I hope to see more of these panels in the future. It was really interesting, even for someone like myself who isn't much of a Greyhawk nerd. My favorite thing about it was of course the many and varied stories that were shared about play in Greyhawk, anecdotes about Gary, and that sort of stuff.
My last scheduled game was to be DCC with Michael Curtis, but due to an unfortunate series of events, he was not able to run the game. As a consolation prize, we played some off-the-cuff DCC with Doug Kovacs, the DCC cover artist. This turned out to be a bat-shit crazy murderhobo game set in the streets of Punjar, where our objective was simply to commit a crime so that we could eat. The game featured a Dave Mustaine bartender, a Christopher Walken necromancer, a pick pockets roll that resulted in the acquisition and later consumption of illicit drugs, the attempted burglarization of a brothel, and an unprovoked backstabbing of a grossly overweight john that was in the midst of being serviced. This was a junior high D&D game on acid. I can take the lion's share of credit/blame for it turning out that way, but I do hope the other players had fun. I certainly did, but I could see certain straight-laced gamer types perhaps being a bit weirded out by the whole thing. It all ended in a betrayal by one of the PCs, followed shortly thereafter by a glorious battle in the upstairs hallway of the brothel, with the end result being a well-deserved TPK. It was sort of poetic.
|Hi, I'm Dave Mustaine. Can I get you a beverage?|
Finally, I played my last game, which was an event called The Tower of Gygax, where you are put in a dungeon for being a criminal of some sort and have to find your way out to gain your freedom, or die horribly while trying. There was a handful of young boys playing in this game - perhaps 10-13 or somewhere thereabouts - and they were doing shots of 5-hour energy and doing the math like, "I got 20 hours of energy!" There was definitely more profanity in this hour-long game than I had otherwise heard all weekend, so it was pretty hilarious. There was a dad there with his younger son (maybe 8?) as well, and I was amazed that he kept his wits about him throughout the whole thing. The place was full of guess-what-I'm-thinking challenges and Tomb of Horrors-style gotcha traps, but was enjoyable nonetheless. I ended up dying by going blindly into a portal because I didn't want to take a leap of faith into some cleric/paladin fire thingy, and that was the solution the room's key called for. Whatevs!
I could go on and on about the event, the fascinating (sometimes fascinatingly weird) people, the hilarious shit that happens, but it's getting late and I must get to bed. So here, have a few pictures at least.
GaryCon V Photo Album