The last time I attended a convention, was a long time ago. It was Rivercon down in Kentucky, a small convention that we decided to drive down to at the last moment. I didn't register to play in any organized games, but did get in on a few pickups. We also got in on a test game. It turned out to be what might have eventually become the Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. I had a blast.
I don't get a lot of days off. I work 7 days a week, with some time to do my own thing once every 4 weekends. This is because I cover weekend support for my weekday job once a month, but they almost never need anything. As it turned out, Who's Yer Con fell on one of these weekends this year. Who's Yer Con is an annual free convention put on by Who's Yer Gamers in Indianapolis. The location was about 35 minutes from my house, so free + short drive made this a fairly easy decision for me.
As things go, it turned out the there would be a group working on Saturday at my weekday job, so I could not go to Friday or Saturday events. I was still determined to press on, and signed up for a Gamma World game on Sunday because @serok42 was one of the GMs. This was a good excuse to meet someone I follow on Twitter, and I was comfortable because he assured me if I knew D&D 4E, I would be OK for GW even though I had never played. I also wanted to try some Pathfinder Society play, and there were a lot of these games at Who's Yer Con. The final batch of adventures started just as the GW game was scheduled to end, so I tried to sign up for this too, but missed the online deadline. No worries, I figured I'd show up and see if I could play, since registration was technically open until the game started.
At some ungodly hour Sunday morning (because we lost an hour sleep thanks to the "spring forward" portion of daylight saving time) I dragged my carcass out of bed and headed out. Checking the registrations when I got there, there was one person signed up to play Gamma World at 8 am Sunday morning: me. This did not look good, but I stuck around to see what would happen. The event was a GMing competition, and there were suppose to be 3 GMs each with a full adventure of several encounters based on their home towns in the future of Gamma World. Clearly, there were not near enough players to do this, so it was decided that we would each play one encounter from each GM, then have them describe the remainder of their adventure and vote based on the info and ideas. With the GMs playing each other's adventures, and the help of one of the GM's kids we had a full party and had a good 4 hours of fun hopping from adventure to adventure. I really felt like I got a good feel for Gamma World playing this way, and got to see some really creative work. The prize went to a GM who had modeled an encounter on the Indianapolis 500 ala multiple person crewed pod racing. It was a little too complex to run easily in my opinion, but everyone had fun and it was certainly very creative. If there was another event like this at a different Con, I'd play it again. Seeing how people took very familiar settings to them, and twisted them to fit into Gamma World was a real treat on top of just playing the encounters. I played a sentient female parasitic mold controlling a male zombie body, an old, grumpy man turned into a cyborg, and a swarm character.
After this was over (and kept on time by the judges I might add), I stopped by the Pathfinder room to see if I could get in on a game there. I let them know that I'd never played PF before, but was familiar with the rules and had played a lot of D&D. There was no problem at all getting into a game with the PF Society character I had registered earlier in the week, and I was soon playing at a table of other new players with a very patient DM. While this wasn't the adventure I really wanted to play, I still had a great time, and got a good look at how Society play works. I have to say, Paizo has a really nice system for organized Pathfinder games. It's well thought out, and makes for great Con play. I suppose it helped that by pure chance, I had the character that eliminated 80% of our foes. Sleep is a very powerful tool for the first level Sorcerer when used right. Daze makes a wonderful cantrip too. Had this been 4E, I would say I played a very successful controller.
One of the really neat things for me was the fact that hopping into 2 games, picked from descriptions, I had females playing with me or GMing each time. I grew up when gaming was an almost exclusively male hobby, and was too geeky for girls to consider. Thankfully the times have changed in many ways. The women I played with at this con were not treated any differently because they were women. Guys played female characters and the women played male characters and no one blinked twice. It was great to see real gender equity at the table...so much so that I didn't even think about how nice it was to play in mixed games until I left the con. I'm really glad this hobby has come that far, even if it doesn't always make it to the level of integration I experienced.
I had a great time at Who's Yer Con, and I'd recommend it for those in the Midwest who would like to attend a con without breaking the bank. Everyone was really nice, and the game play was awesome. In reality, this is the first time I've really experienced convention games, and now I'm counting the days to Gen Con again. I also have added things to my "To Do At Gen Con" list, based on my single day experience at Who's Yer Con. Thanks to all the players and organizers of this wonderful event. I'll be back next year for sure.