A less intense Dreamation 2008
Where to start in summing up my experience at this year’s Dreamation? The biggest change was that Kat and I weren’t in charge of anything other than running our own games. That was very, very nice. The second biggest was the new hotel. It had lots of pluses (easier to navigate the area; lots of little rooms; better in-hotel restaurants) and a few minuses (lack of focused central space, like the other place’s huge atriums; slow elevators; claustrophobic staff suite). I think I’d be perfectly happy if we ended up there again. But what did I do?
I had off the whole day, and spent most of it in convention prep, doing packing and printing out character sheets. We left once Dalys got out of school and arrived with plenty of time to check into the hotel and have a nice dinner w/ Bill Segulin.
Opening days are always cool because I can’t turn a corner without running into someone I’ve been missing for months, and this one was no different. Once gaming started, I leapt into Kat’s Everway game “Crisis on King’s Road.” I played The Sentinel who was bound to lop off the heads of 1,000 dishonest men in order for the dragon to give him the heart of his true love (which the dragon had stolen). Andrew played the bandit King of the Road who was bound to never leave the road as long as his love (an assassin) still lived. Bill played the King’s Guard, still serving the orders of the dead King, and dealing with a usurping Chancellor. Things got pleasantly convoluted, with my Sentinel cutting a swath through the dishonest folk of the road (including the bandit king’s assassin-love) and the rival for my love’s affections being revealed as the heir to the throne. It was a pretty good session, slightly complicated by Andrew thinking he had to leave at 10pm, and setting things up for that to be a decent point for him to drop out, and then Andrew learning that the other event didn’t start until midnight. Plus, it was uncommonly difficult to piece together the climax of our three tales. Perhaps it was just that we were all a little rusty. Maybe Kat or Bill or Andrew have better insight?
The Friday morning slot started off a little late, but once it got going, what a session it was! I played Serial (the game about the victims of serial killer and the police that hunt the killers down that Kat and I are developing) with Kat, Emily Care Boss, Nathan Paoletta, Alexander Newman, and Nicholas Marshall. We settled on the profile being “artists” and had great stories about finding lost parents, trying to get married or trying to keep the kids or the girlfriend while keeping an art career going. My potential victim was a J.D. Salinger-esque recluse who wanted his no-talent protege to win the Pulitzer Prize. When everyone voted that he didn’t, I described a vitriol-filled press conference in which he broke down and admitted that the protege was his illegitimate son.
After a good lunch in the hotel cafe, Friday afternoon found me in the wargame room for Mechaton. I had 6 players show up, two of them with their own mechs! One of them had a flower for 1 blue die worth of camoflage and became a favorite target. I split the table into two groups of three, and answered rules questions. Both sides played multiple games, and I was able to jump into one and win.
After a sandwich in the staff suite, Friday evening found me playing something I can’t tell you about. Someday the truth can be known, but not today…
Friday midnight was The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. If I have a regret all weekend, this was it. On the surface, it was *grand.* People had been asking me about it all through the weekend, checking to see how many people I could take. The description is so enticing, we had a number of folks I don’t normally see in the RPG room come out to give it a try. All told, there were 13 players, plus myself. Thus, I explained the rules of the game very briefly, and–since I had brought 2 copies–split things up into 2 tables and joined the smaller of the tables myself (mistake #1). Things started off very well with my tale of how I came to learn that apes and men were cousins (and then actually married one). In retrospect, perhaps this veiled implication of bestiality opened to floodgates to what came later. Alexander Newman told us of the little dog he met on the moon that spoke French. Jeff Lower told us how he became th king of Mbolo-Mbeleland by accident, and a player whose name I never learned wowed us all with a story of how he lost a week of his life building his own prision under the sea and was subsequently rescued by sea monkeys. Then things got highly uncomfortable, and I didn’t do a damned thing about it (mistake #2). There is MUCH matter there to be discussed, so I will move on with my con write-up and come back to the Munchausen game in an AP thread somewhere.
Saturday began with the game I was most nervous about all weekend. I ran a new With Great Power… event called “The Monster Squad.” The sign-up sheet was full, and all the players (Judd Karlman, Paul Tevis, Remi Treuer, Joe [of the Durham 3], and Mark Causey) had previously sought me out to mention they were looking forward to it. It’s very got very strange, very comic-booky characters, plus I was testing out a few tweaks to the conflict system at the same time. I was less than 100% confident that we’d have a good time. With the players I had, I should not have been worried. Everyone sank their teeth into the angst of their roles and ran with it. There is also the fixings of an AP post there, I think. So, on we move.
Saturday afternoon saw family come to the fore, as my sister-in-law and her boyfriend had come out for the day to check out the con. After deciding that they hadn’t alotted themselves enough time to do it justice, we went for an extended lunch at Harold’s Deli with them, Michele, Bill & his daughter Casandra. I didn’t intend to bail out on Ryan Macklin’s A Penny for My Thoughts game, but priorities happen.
Saturday evening was the now-traditional Indie Party. My commendations again to Rob & Emily for a great recovery to a most unfortunate setback. It was great to see so many great people in one place.
Saturday evening gaming had me back in the wargames room, scheduled to run Mechaton. However, nobody showed. I suspect that by Saturday, most people apt to look into the wargame room are not looking for something casual like Mechaton. All the wargamers around me as I waited seemed gleefully immersed in their discussions of fields-of-fire, lines-of-sight and the like.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to jump into anything at 8pm due to waiting at the table until 8:15 to officially cancel the game. There was the possibility of playtesting Jason Morningstar’s new historical game, but the stars didn’t quite align. I ended up playing some board games with Kat, Michele, Dalys, Bill & Casandra.
Midnight was time for the Master. Master Alexander Newman, that is. Alexander wanted to demonstrate MLwM to Katie (whose last name I can’t recall). He invited myself, Kat, and Tobias to minion for him. We created a psychologist, Dr. Schliemann, who wanted to prove to Freud that lesser men don’t actually possess free will. As one of the Great Men with free will, the master was going to condition the entire town to ritually mutilate themselves on command. My minion was the Master’s blacksmith, who forged the implements the villagers used in their horrific actions. We had some good scenes, and Katie’s Horror Revealed about sleep-conditioning an orphanage full of children to drown themselves in the river was particularly chilling. Alexander admitted to being at less than his peak, and we all agreed that the session was only “okay.” There’s certainly some AP-meat there, but I know I won’t have the time to start it.
After that, I chatted with Luke, Clyde, Alexander & Katie about the possible production of Serial and got some great, great ideas. And I got to bed slightly after 4:00am.
I was two minutes late to my Sunday morning game! It was due to the clunky elevators and not over-sleeping. I figured that it wouldn’t matter much, since the Sunday morning slot traditionally starts a bit late. Imagine my surprise to find that all my players (save one) were already waiting for me and afraid that I’d bailed on them! I don’t have the notebook with me with everyone’s name in it, but we had a full six players, so I simply facilitated things without a character. They chose “College Scholarship Students” as the Profile, and we focused on hopes like “I hope I make it to the NFL,” “I hope I pass my classes and don’t lose my scholarship,” “I hope I can still support my family,” “I hope I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college,” “I hope my dad doesn’t cut me off,” and “I hope my mom doesn’t end up teaching my class.” Things could have gone much better if I had simply read from a well-written script, as post-game chatter revealed that some of the unevenness in play was actually covered in the game text, but I had not explained it clearly in my sleep-deprived state.
A lot of the convention was like that for me–not quite firing on all cylinders. But, I got to say that if this weekend was me not at my best, then that’s saying quite a bit about where my best could be, since it was still such a positive experience. Thanks so much to everyone for a great con. Your enthusiasm is an inspiration!
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Tags: cons, Conventions, dreamation, serial, wgp