another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Gencon summary

The Gencon trip report:

Lessons learned:

  1. Don't volunteer to marshall

  2. (Possibly) Don't volunteer to judge

  3. Pre-arrange team for D&D Open, and maybe True Dungeon

  4. Buy a token pack for True Dungeon

  5. Kalen can take care of herself, and should be forced to.

I only ran the Living Kalamar module once, rather than the four time I was scheduled. Mostly because I volunteered to marshal those slots as well, and so to get things moving I sent out tables with judges earlier and then I stayed to deal with any stragglers. But there were no stragglers. So, the only table I judged was Thursday night when it was clear that there would only be one table, so I released my other judges as early as I could.

Sunday morning I was determined to judge the mod again and give other judges a break. Unfortunately, no players showed up in that slot for that module.

Next year I won't marshall, or if I do it will be for a larger event. Next year I may not judge at all for Gencon proper. The reward really isn't there to just judge four slots, and judging seven slots to get a room and more swag means that I would see or do little else.

On the other hand, I did quite enjoy judging for the Verbobonc Pre-Gencon Madness on Wednesday. I judged all three modules in the "Fools" series. The first two I had the same table and the players were great. We all stayed together so we could get through those two mods quickly, as one player needed to go help set up the Gencon RPGA area. That gave me a long break, from 4-8pm, and that worked out great as I could check in at RPGA headquarters, get my stuff moved into the hotel, have dinner with Matt at Hard Times Cafe, go to the boring RPGA meeting, stay for the marshall's meeting (stuff I already knew) and still get back just slightly late for the third Verbobonc slot.

Because I was slightly late for that third slot, Kalen stole my table of players and I got a table of lesser experienced players at APL 2. I could have been mean and wiped them all out in the first fight, but I didn't target two of them at the same time as I could have, and I didn't press every advantage, so they managed to survive that. Then actually did well in the final, supposedly tougher, fight. I did give them a bit of a break on that, though, too, as I gave them use of a couple Pearls of Power. Otherwise they went into the final battle with no spell abilty and I would have killed them all. Which isn't really all that cool when one of the players is a 12-year-old girl.

Then I started panicking, because Kalen was apparently done with her table. It was midnight, she hadn't gotten her stuff from my car, and she wasn't answering her phone. That persisted for about an hour, at which point I was really worried. Then she called -- she went for a beer with her table of player (which had been my table of players) and couldn't hear her phone in the bar. Which would all have been fine, except that she wouldn't have been able to get her suitcase out of my car without at least meeting up with me to get keys. If I'd know what was going on I could have a) given her my keys, b) stopped worrying, or/and c) joined them for a beer.

Thursday morning Matt and I played in the first round of the D&D Open tournament. We grabbed onto the first players that we came across to make a team, and we might have actually been a bit more selective, but we didn't care that much. The players we teamed with had played D&D a reasonable amount, it was clear, but weren't really great players and didn't know Eberron much at all (where the Open was set). We had a husband and wife from England, and a mother and her teenaged son. We also got a judge who was apparently an old hand at running the Open, but that was probably with 2nd edition or 3.0 rules as he didn't have the 3.5 rules down very well. If you don't understand the basic movement rules you really don't have any business judging the Open (or any RPGA event at Gencon, for that matter). He also didn't know the rules for poison, which is more understandable, but the way he was ruling was going to screw over Matt's character since Matt knew the rules and how he was going to resolve getting poisoned. Fortunately that got corrected, but it took a few minutes.

Anyway, we got our asses handed to us, as the first combat killed our Favored Soul (our main healer) about 10 minutes into the competition. Then, in the second battle, our party's sorceror (the only source of healing for my Warforged) dropped just before I did, leaving zero healing in the party except for what Matt's Kalashtar could do for himself. The third battle finished off the remainder of the group. We never even looked to see if we advanced, knowing we couldn't possibly have.

Then it was time for True Heroes. It was a decent game, but I wish they would change the combat system (not least of all because our best target thrower, Ryan, couldn't make it this year). The combat system is throwing magnetic balls at targets, with smaller targets for tougher opponents and three levels of distance based on the combat values of the characters. In the reduced light, though, the balls get lost after some throws, and not every on-target throw actually sticks. The story also wasn't quite as coherent as lst year, but they did throw in some interesting new puzzles and challenges.

Thursday night was the one time I ran the Kalamar mod. We got done early, so I could get to sleep early. Yay.

Friday morning: True Dungeon. Really good puzzles this year and good special effecnts, and the last puzzle was particularly tough. We got through to the last room, but couldn't actually solve the puzzle in time so we didn't win the challenge. Well worth the time, though. The other problem is that, even though I had treasure tokens from last year, the economy of the game was ramped up a bit so my old tokens didn't really get me what I needed to equip myself. Those who bought taken bags this year had an easier time bargaining in the town. Next year: buy a token bag for that year!

Friday afternoon: marshalled Kalamar then was released and played a Mark of Heroes module with Matt. It was a good time and suited my character. I got to escape with the item we were after while most of the others tried to explain themselves away. The only problem with that slot was we had a couple guys that constantly second and third guessed the team strategy, so it took forever to just say "OK, we're doing this ...". I'll try to avoid them in the future.

Friday evening: Matt and I played the Mark of Heroes special. It was a well written module and we had a good group. We survived, but just barely, mostly because the final battle allowed Matt's character to do what it was built to do best.

Saturday morning: marshalled another Kalamar module, then helped a father and daughter get set up to play a Living Geyhawk module. I don't think they knew what they were getting into, but I got them set up with characters to play and then made sure the rest of the table knew they were beginners and just make sure they had a good time. Then I wandered the dealer hall for the remainder of that slot and the next, in which I had nothing scheduled.

Saturday evening: marshalled Kalamar again, but I wasn't signed up to judge that slot so was able to leave quickly. Matt and I grabbed dinner at a little place on the ground floor of the Hyatt which had good food and not many customer (as opposed to the nearby McDonalds, where there was a line for their crap). Where we ate was more like a diner, and I got a Pork Tenderloin sandwhich (always a good choice) and Matt had a Chili Burger that was swimming in chili. Place noted and recommended for next year.

Then, Matt, Kalen and I went to the "Knights of the Dinner Table" live reading. I got to read for one of the strips, and Brian Jelke even gave me some props as I was reading B.A.'s part (the DM in the comic strip) and Brian noted that it was appropriate as I DM a lot of Living Kalamar. He did butcher my name, though, and I gave him a had time about that (we joked about it a bit the next day at the Kenzer booth). The strip I read, though, had a lot of dialog for B.A., so it worked out real well for me.

(Brian, by the way, is V.P. at Kenzer, the publisher of "KoDT" and also the Kalamar campaign setting, and he was emcee that night for the reading. We've met a few times before, including a couple of mods I judged that he played).

The KoDT live reading is supposed to become available as a podcast sometime, maybe it already is. I'll link when I find out.

LATE Saturday night (aka Sunday early morning) we played the other True Dungeon adventure that they had (they had "Battle Beneath Castle Greyhawk" and "Assault Atop Castle Greyhawk", with the teams from each adventure actually co-operating at the end. The late night version was a hard-core version, with damage from monsters and traps amped way up and puzzles a bit harder (or fewer clues). In this one I only made it into the fourth room and was killed by the puzzle/trap. Matt cheated death by tossing a natural 20 against Death himself, then returned to Kalen and a couple others from our group to get two rooms further along (out of the eight, so none of us could finish this one).

Sunday morning I marshalled Kalamar one more time and failed to have any players when I wanted to judge. I wound up doing some clean up in the RPGA hall, collecting some swag as a reward for volunteering, then wandered the dealer hall again. Matt, Kalen and I got lunch, then got a call from the Gencon information booth that Kathy had lost Kalen's phone and that they had it. It turned out that Kathy figured that out and was able to claim it before I got over there. We all then went to the True Heroes riddle reveal, and then drove home. End of weekend. End of freakishly long blogpost. Collapse.

Kalen and Kathy will probably tell about their version of Gencon in their Livejournals. Matt will probably neglect to do so entirely.


  • Matt was always the smart one, though... ;)

    It's always interesting getting a view inside these events. The time seemed packed as it was, I can't blame you for not wanting to be tied to as much next time, much less consider expanding it to more events for the comps.

    Despite you being spread out over the event, it's still very cool for the group to be able to go and each enjoy it in his or her own way.

    By Blogger MJ Norton, at 8/24/2005 8:00 PM  

  • Cool, a GenCon report from a non-celebrity that can write. Very enjoyable.

    Of course, your zines in Legends were always interesting to read, so I'm not suprised about the quality of your blog.

    Hey, guy, I've put a link on my blogsite to your blog. And it's not buried under a hundred other links. Feel free to check it out. I'll have to write an entry about my days at Legends APA.

    By Anonymous Mike Leuszler, at 8/25/2005 10:39 AM  

  • Good to see you, at least through electrons and phosphor, Mike! Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure that I find much evidence that I can write in that Gencon post, though. The blog tends to be targeted to my family and a few friends who are actually blog-cognizant, so entires tend to be slapped together.

    Anyway, I'll be sure to check in on your blog periodically. Sometime soon I'll add it to the roll when I update the template next!

    By Blogger Tim Tjarks, at 8/25/2005 12:49 PM  

  • Hi I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know I really enjoyed

    By Blogger Beach Raceway, at 10/14/2005 5:57 PM  

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