OK, some may question why the Ides of March occurred on the 3rd through 5th of the month, rather than the proper 15th.
Well, this Ides of March is neither the Roman date nor the early '70's band. This was a game convention that has actually been held on or around the 15th, but the past couple of years has crept early in the month.
And I spent all weekend there, more or less.
OK, well the "less" part is that I skipped two slots. Ides, in an attempt to squeeze more gaming into a weekend, runs ten slots. That meant four slots on Saturday, starting at the ungodly (to this gamer) hour of 7:30 and ending Saturday actually in the wee hours of Sunday, at 1am. With the first Sunday slot at 8:00, that meant little time to sleep, especially since I had at least a half-hour drive each way from home.
So, I skipped the earliest slots on Saturday and Sunday. Ahhhh, sleep!
Anyway, of the eight remaining slots I was there, I judged in seven slots and played in the one remaining slot (Friday night).
Ah, I'd have been better off not playing, as my highest level character, "Joe", died.
Ah, but an adventurous death in D&D is a complication rather than a finality. If the body can be recovered and the proper fees paid, the character can be raised from the dead. Albeit at one level lower, but oh well. So "Joe" went from 9th level to 8th level, and a few thousand gold pieces poorer. It mainly just set his savings back in his quest to add the "holy" enhancement to his sword (to smack down evil creatures all the better).
The bigger obstacle was almost the "body recoverable" part, since of the six characters at the table, five of us died. Only the sixth (Ryan, as his sorceror, "Lucullan") was able to escape. That was facilitated by his recognition that a) he was pretty ineffective against the beasts we were fighting, so staying was futile, and b) he could take off at a full run while the rest of us kept the beasts busy (mainly ... chewing).
So, if you run into four spell-warped intelligent lions, in armor, remember you'd be best off running at first sight.
As for the rest of the convention, I had a blast judging. I started on Friday with a middle-level table of "Here Comes the Sun!", an investigative module which I'd run before. Then I had my first experience running "Minions of Shadow and Fire" for an APL 12 table, doing my best to scare them even through they had a PC with a very broken prestige class. I succeeded in scaring them a bit, too, since one of their characters was stunned for the entire final battle.
Saturday I ran the two-round module "Castle Estival", again at APL 12 (a bit higher level than I prefer). I'd played this module in a rush on Thursday night (played in two hours, perhaps a record!), but hadn't read it yet. It was fine to run that way, though, and supplied plenty of challenge for this higher-level group. They I ran the interactive "Dungeons of Castle Estival" for a low-level group (APL 2). I told them this was as close to an early first-edition dungeon crawl as anyone was likely to see -- it seemed to come straight from 1978 from the pen of Gygax. A lot of fun.
Sunday, I ran the other two modules that start the Verbobonc regional storyline for this year: "The Discontent of Our Winter" and "Delve the Wizard's Dungeon". I ran both at APL 2, the second one with a table that included Kalen, Kathy, and Ryan. Both are a lot of fun to run, especially the second one.
And that was it for the weekend. In addition to getting brought regular snacks at the table, all the judges were given nice new embroidered dice bags and a set of green dice (it's Ides of March, but they tend to have a leprechaun theme to their advertising even though both the Ides and St. Patrick's day are later in the month). So, in addition to the fun, I scored some nice swag. Oh, and a Red Bull vendor came and gave out free samples (my first taste of one -- yuck, the sugar-free Red Bull tastes like SweeTarts), and everyone on Sunday (that was there at the right time, anyway) got a free starter deck of "Hecatomb" cards and a Spider-man promo HeroClix.
And now, that's it!