Friday, April 8, 2011

Transmitting LIVE from GaryCon… OK, not really.

I'm posting this a lot later than I wanted to, but I do have real life concerns (e.g. school, internship, back shaving) to deal with. So here it is: my recollections of GaryCon III!


The trip was long, tiring, and arduous. I lost an ox while fording the Missouri River. I had to shoot a buffalo but could only take 100 lbs of meat back to the wagon. Mary Jane and Cornelius died of typhoid fever and I buried them somewhere in Utah Territory…

OK, OK, Lake Geneva was only 35 minutes away from my home in Muskego. I probably drive further to go to school each week. Still, I couldn't pass up the chance to make an Oregon Trail reference.

I arrived at the Ledge at Grand Geneva Resort early Friday morning and checked into a rather comfy looking room. Like the previous year, the main part of this mini-convention was held at the lower level of the resort's main building. I got my badge, my event's guide, and a swag bag full of back issues of Knights of the Dinner Table. Since this the first time I had come for the full weekend, I didn't know that you had to pre-register for any of my event. Therefore, if I wanted to play in any games, I was going to have to hope they had openings.

It was rather quiet this time of day with only a few games being run. I spotted Jeff Dee at a table playing Villains & Vigilantes. Since I was on his Facebook friends list and admired his Tékumel-related artwork as well as his work with the Atheist Community of Austin, I decided to briefly say "hi" and introduce myself. Besides V&V, I spotted a few D&D/AD&D games, a 1st Edition Gamma World game, Kenzer & Co. was there running Hackmaster Basic games, and one rather enthuastic fellow was running a Star Wars D20 game while wearing an Imperial officer's uniform. (This GM ran two other games during the con, each time dressing in a theme appropriate costume: Saturday, he ran the classic TSR Marvel Superheroes game dressed up as Bronze Age Tony Stark complete with dyed hair, fake moustache, 1970's-era tux open at the chest to reveal a plastic Iron Man chest plate, and a glass decanter of "whiskey." Sunday, he ran a D20 Call of Cthulhu game where he wore late 19th/early 20th Century attire. Now THAT'S dedication.)

Later that morning, I was able to get in on a game of  Mutant Future titled "Bring Me The Head Of Frank Sinatra." I played a mutated Badger with the ability to mentally project ice rays at its target. After being charged by a New Jersey warlord to bring back the head of the famed Rat Pack leader, our party quested to legendary Las Vegas fighting plant men, robot cops, and Elvis impersonators along the way.

After that, I did a little more work on my Humanspace Empires playtest game. I worked until evening when I decided to get involved a Hackmaster Basic demo. I had played the "original" AD&D-parody version, and I was curious on how this version differed from the first. With some help from the GM, I created a Dwarf Fighter and we had a brief combat session featuring a pack of kobolds. I found the game a little clunkier than what I'd expect from an "old-school" style game, but it was fun. Best of all, the GM gave out free copies of the game! Bonus!

About that time I was after 11 pm and I was feeling really tired. I went up to the hotel bar for a rum and Coke nightcap and slumped off to my room to sleep. The only thing that would made my day perfect was to find the gamer-girl of my dreams to share my bed with me.

Yeah, as if that was EVER going to happen.


When I woke up the next day, I noticed that a 1/4 inch of snow had been dumped on the area overnight. Ah! "Springtime" in Wisconsin!

Never mind that! Today was the big day: the Humanspace Empires Playtest! I got up, showered, checked out of my room ($100 a night!? Yeah, some "special convention room rate" you've got there. Next year, I'll just burn the gas and sleep at home!), drove into town for breakfast, drove back to hotel and found a nice quiet corner to sit down to put the finishing touches on my scenario. Somewhere along the way I ran into Victor Raymond, who was playing in a Moldvay game, while I was taking a break to stretch my legs. I told him about the game and, as president of the Tékumel Foundation, he was very interested in the project. We talked EPT for a while, and then I went back to work.

As is the case of most weekend events, there were far more people attending the con that day than there had been the day before. However, as the start time for my game drew nigh, I was worried that I wouldn't have enough players to be run a decent game. Well, Victor was good enough to send some players my way. With five eager gamers, most of who had never heard of Empire of the Petal Throne, we delved into the mystery and weirdness of the far future.

I posted a full report of my game here at the Ix blog.


I didn't intend to come back for Sunday. There wasn't anything on the events schedule that really interested me, so I thought I'd spend the last day of the convention at home. However, just before I left Saturday night, I ran into Victor Raymond again while he was playing one of Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha games and had one last to tell me: "EPT, Sunday. Noon."

Of course, I had to come back. I NEVER pass up a chance to game in Tékumel, especially with Victor behind the screen.

I arrived just before Noon and found Victor chatting with Jeff Dee about things Tékumelyani. After they finished we set up in an adjoining room where myself and a few other EPT fans rolled up some high-level characters for a trip through the Jakállan underworld.

I created an Avánthe-worshipping human Aridáni fighter with a sea-faring background from the Ilse of Ganga who had in her procession a sentient magic sword. Our party included another fighter (actually he started as an NPC guard but was picked up by a new player who joined later in the game), a magic-user who worshipped Lord Belkhánu, and a priest of Thúmis (I think) who just so happened to be a Mihálli. We were charged by Prince Rereshqála to find the Garden of Weeping Snows and deliver a query to the undying wizard Nyélmu regarding the mysterious, magic-dampening Black Stones the Mu'ugalavyáni used in their conquest of Livyánu.

We wandered about the dark catacomps of the deep, deep underworld working off only the vaguest of directions. Due to some fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) random encounter roles, we only ran into a single underworld monster, a dread Nshé. We soon discovered Nyelmu's strange abode and was given an audience with the esteemed wizard. After enduring his condescending insults and thinly veiled threats to make us part of his "collection" (i.e. tortured beings, frozen in time at the height of their torment vis-à-vis Nylelmu's Excellent Ruby Eye) he opened a nexus point and told us that the answer to Prince's query lay within. Our party gathered it's equipment and nobly marched into the point to…

At that point, Raymond closed the game on a cliffhanger, promising to pick it up again next year.

That's a game I dare not miss.

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