another misAdventure

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't Bring it to a Gnu Fight?

The cafeteria at work has a new utensil for us to use. There are bins at each station labeled "KINFE".

There's some comments on the past couple of Cubs games after the break.
Wrigley was really loud Thursday night, and it was that way even before the late rally. I wasn't counting on the big rally, but Fontenot's lead-off homerun made me think it was possible, if maybe not likely. Aramis Ramirez's grand slam was just majestic -- and the Philly outfielders didn't even bother turning around to give chase. At that point, Wrigley just got insane. It's just going to be more and more that way as the season progresses and we get into the playoffs. I can start saying that without thinking I'm going to jinx anything now -- even if they fall behind the Brewers somehow the Cubs still have an 11 game lead on whoever could challenge for the wildcard.

Thursday night I was sitting by a drunk-ish guy from Minneapolis (and by Bob, but that was the other side). He kept asking me if this was in the top ten most important games for the Cubs this year (I think so he could validate his trip), and ... I didn't think so. The game was way more important for the Phillies. The Cubs had more important games in the series that they swept from the Brewers, and several others earlier in the season where they proved that they could come from behind to win. They had that stretch of home wins where they were coming from behind every game -- I think at least 7 games straight winning like that.

However, that game on Thursday may energize them for this home stretch, and for the final push toward clinching the division. It certainly energized the fans.

I'm certainly enjoying the SportsCenter guys wondering if the Cubs will ever lose again.

I was Googling the phrase for the title of this entry ("Bring a knife to a gun fight"), and the third entry, by coincidence, was a chat log from a Phillies fan site talking about Thursday's game. It was fun to read, as they thought they had the game in hand and then suddenly the tone turned. They were getting near suicidal at the end. I could empathize.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Gencon 2008

Here's the report of my Gencon - 2008 version. Your Gencon may vary!

Tuesday, August 12 - Gencon Day -1: I took the day off from work, having completed packing up my office for its move that would happen the next weekend. So, I could spend the day getting things packed for Gencon, finishing preparation of materials for judging, and getting housework done (lawn, dishes, laundry). For once, I got everything done before I wanted to start driving. Kathy and Ryan and I got the car loaded and left for Indy a bit before 4pm. I was all set to listen to the Cubs on the drive down, but the game was rained out! We wound up getting into Indy a bit before 9pm, met Cody in the hotel lobby, and got checked into our room. Ellen and Kalen got in later that night, since they didn't leave until they were both off work, around 6:30pm.

Wednesday, August 13 - Gencon Day 0: I'd originally reserved the hotel for Tuesday night so that I could set aside the whole day Wednesday for Verbobonc Pre-Gencon Madness, as I had the previous 3 years. I'd put my name in as willing to run some Verbobonc mods, but there was no VPGM this year, and the meager amount of organization that was offered apparently either got few takers, or the orginizers lost interest. Anyway, no Greyhawk to judge. So, instead, I tried to use the time to play -- trying to get in a couple of Living Forgotten Realms zeroes. I went to the designated spot at 9am and met with several prospective players. Unfortunately, the judge we thought we had never showed up. Instead, I re-read yet again the D&D championship preliminary round module, and then met Ellen for lunch.

At 2pm, I again went to the designated spot and, yay!, we had players and judge for a zero. So, I played the first East Rift module with my now-second-level dwarf cleric, Durgrum Stoneshield.

We got done with the adventure in a timely fashion (and I enjoyed it a lot), and went directly from there to RPGA judge check-in. That was quick and easy, and I got my spiffy new judge shirt and DM shield (much heavier duty than older ones, and it had the one table I really thought it should have - the conditions chart). Then, just hung around until the judge's meeting, which was brief (yay!).

Then, an Adventure Hooks dinner, at least sort of. We met with Rob and his friend Ralph, and they and I joined Ellen, Kalen, Cody, and Ryan for dinner at Champions. Kathy was doing a volunteer meeting for True Dungeon and wound up joining us a bit late (and finishing Kalen's french fries).

Thursday, August 14 - Gencon Day 1: Thursday was judging day. I tried to keep my volunteering this year to all day Thursday plus Sunday morning. That gave me four slots of volunteering, and left two full days to enjoy everything else at the con. So, Thursday I judged three slots of the Dungeons & Dragons Championship, entry round. I had all the maps pre-drawn, figures picked out that were good-enough, and my scheme for tracking initiative and conditions set out. Everything worked very well. The first team that I had was more concerned with bickering among themselves, second-guessing their teammates. I'm not sure if they were a pre-formed team or they got thrown together that morning from the people without a previous team. Anyway, they didn't work well together and it wasn't surprising that they barely even got to the third encounter.

The second team I judged was very much together, and knew the characters they were playing. I gave them good marks for teamwork, and if they'd had a little bit more time they probably would have even finished the third encounter, something few teams did. I wasn't too surprised when I saw them again on Sunday in the final round.

The thrid team I judged had not read any of the 4th edition rules before sitting down at the championship table. On one hand I could have been, and maybe should have been, ruthless. On the other hand, why make their first experience with 4e a bad one? I'd gotten used to running extended demos of 4e in the delve at Wizard World, so this was just another example. I explained to them the action types, and the power types, so that they could make some basic use of their characters. On the other hand, I didn't try to explain every power they had -- because I didn't know their characters that well. So, I didn't explain the Warlock's curse to the Warlock -- and he never found it on the sheet so never used it. This was the only table where I killed a character (the Warlord). I did point out the healing that one character had, but he used it before I dropped the Warlord, and the Warlord counted make a saving throw to hold on until the encounter was over. The team (sans the Warlord) just barely began the third encounter, enough to see that it was going to tear the rest of them apart. The "time's up" signal was more of a relief for those guys. They had the nerve to then ask me if I thought they would advance (um ... no, but I didn't tell them).

Friday, August 15 - Gencon Day 2: Slept in a bit on Friday and let others get through the shower first. I also logged in to work as I got a call that said one of the things I support had stopped working. That was quick enough to fix (though that reminds me I should charge work for the hotel internet fee).

At 10am I went over to the Ram (restaurant/microbrewery) for a beer tasting event they offered through the Gencon spa program. I got a chance to sample their entire stock of beers they were currently offering. They poured about four ounces of each beer, but I think I only drank about 2 ounces of most of them (a bit more of some of them). 20+ ounces of beer was probably still plenty before noon! Anyway, I didn't care much for the two special beers that they had brewed for Gencon - the Apocalyse Ale was a Scottish style that I thought was too yeasty, while the Underdark Stout had way too heavy a coffee taste. The ones I really liked (and finished!) were their amber ale (Buttface Amber) and their porter (Total Disorder Porter), but I tend to like more malty beers like these anyway. I also liked their India Pale Ale, which was much more balanced than most IPAs I've tried. Really, I liked their whole selection other than the con specials! After the tasting we got a tour of the brewery, which was really only a couple of rooms, but both rooms were bit enough for about a dozen vats. We also saw the kegs that were tapped for the restaurant, and saw that they were more than halfway through their supply of the con specials even though the con was just over 1/4th done.

I then toured the dealers hall, including getting a brief demos of Hollow Earth Expeditions (HEX) from Cody (so I could harrass him a bit). I walked the entire hall, back and fourth, and didn't find anything too exciting. The Wizards of the Coast area was maybe a tenth of the space they would normally have, and they had very little going on in the way of demos -- nothing like previous years.

After relaxing in the room for a while I went over to the True Dungeon area for the bard's contest. Cody was the emcee/guildmaster of the bards, and Kalen and Kathy were both judging the contest. I wasn't really all that interested in the contest, but I knew what was coming -- at the end of the contest, after the prizes were awarded, Cody upstaged them all by proposing to Kalen. Everyone in the family knew this was going to happen except for Kalen. She should have been tipped off by the fact that Ellen and Ryan and I were all there, but I guess we managed to convince her that we were all very interested in the amateur bards.

Afterward, Ellen, Ryan, Kalen, Cody and I went to Houlihan's for dinner, and experienced some truly bad waitservice. They guy never came back to the table after the first round of drinks was delivered (other servers brought the food), and Ellen practically had to tackle him to finally get some drink refills. Then he was very apologetic as he brought the bill, so we would be sure to not hold it against him when I calculated the tip (to no avail, I already knew how bad I tip I was leaving).

Saturday, August 16 - Gencon Day 3: I was able to sleep in a bit again. Tony and I then cruised the dealer hall again for a while, but I was only sort of into it, mostly just showing Tony where some things were. I met Ellen for lunch, and then we all headed back to the True Dungeon area for our True Dungeon run. Team was me, Ryan, Ellen, Kalen, Kathy, Cody, Tony, and Rob. We did quite well I thought, with only one puzzle stumping us (and that was a bit of a stretch to put together the clues we had). We did our part through the last room, but in the end we did not survive because we were dependent on the combat-side team beating the last creature, and they were playing at nightmare-level, and had four fatalities before getting to the last room. Since they couldn't beat the creature, and we then only had one round to attack (after we finished the puzzle part) we all died in that last room.

We did some hanging around in the tavern, and another quick trip to the dealers room, and then decided to head to dinner. Ellen, Ryan, Tony and I went to dinner at Buca di Beppo and had a very nice meal, even though we had to wait around nearly an hour for a table (not their fault - I hear there was a convention in town).

Finally Saturday, I went back to the RPGA hall to collect my judge rewards (mmmm - Forgotten Realms Campaign Book), and then went to the Knights of the Dinner Table Live Reading for a bit (about 45 minutes). I sat with Amber #2, and then Tony joined us for a bit, and we got to see both Amber and her fiance get a chance to read. I then went back to the room to finish drawing my last map for the D&D Championship final the next day, pack, and get to bed as early as I could manage.

Sunday, August 17 - Gencon Day 4 plus post-Gencon: This was an early day as I needed to be in the RPGA hall about 7:30am. I showered, got the rest of my stuff packed so the others could check out of the hotel and load the car, then headed over for my game. The championship ran fairly smoothly for my table, although I had to switch at the beginning as I initially was assigned to judge the team that I had in the second slot for the entry round on Thursday. The table that I switched to was very organized and worked well together, and my dicen were incredibly cold. Also, my tactics were a bit lacking a few times -- I should have better studied the player characters rather than just study my "monsters", as the PCs had some powers I should have anticipated, and some things I would have known had I played some 4e at a higher level (paragon level) beforehand. They managed to get a good way into the last encounter (though they still had a ways to go before bloodying the final bad-guy). Their team managed to get 2nd place overall. The first place team was one I'd judged last year in the entry round (when I was judging the D&D Open with zero preparation -- see last years blog entry for the story of that debacle).

Ellen met me in the hall when my slot ended, and we waited around for the Championship award ceremony (well, winner announcement). We then took my stuff back to the car and we went to meet the others at Victory Field, the AAA ballpark next to the convention center. We all watched the ballgame (Indianapolis Indians handily beat the Durham Bulls), then divided into our respective cars (Ryan with Ellen and I, Kalen and Kathy taking Cody home, and Tony off by himself), and drove home.

I took the next day off, slept in for quite a while, and worked on getting our laundry through from the previous week. I was still feeling convention fatigue for pretty much that whole day.

So, a good Gencon overall!

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