Countdown to GenCon 2012

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gen Con - Day 3

Saturday was one of those days I could not just get up late. 8 am was Revenge of the Iron Lich with @MilwaukeeJoe DMing, and was one of the scheduled games I had that I was not going to miss. I spent the night at my home, rather than the hotel so I could shave off about 40 minutes in travel time in the morning. As normal, 6 am saw me up and taking care of the dogs.

I'd not had any games in the Crowne Plaza yet, so I was a little concerned about finding my room. Union Station and the Crowne Plaza hotel have always confused me for some reason. I was happy to have a few minutes to find where I needed to be, even though I ended up heading right to the room without getting lost.

I was really surprised by the group that showed up for Iron Lich. 2 kids, one with his dad, a player who hadn't played any 4E, a more experienced player, and me.  This could have worked out well, had everyone been ready for a challenge and ready to work together. That's not how it played out though. I had not played that much 4E, and the pregens for Iron Lich were the highest level characters I'd worked with. I had a lot to sort out, and I knew this coming in. I think I might have done well if I had been able to focus on just what I needed to do for the party. I ended up, however, needing to babysit and try to help with coordination. The group just did not gel, and aside from me and Joe, I don't think anyone had a clue what fourthcore was about.

Right from the start, one of the kids got onery and elected to not share his rumor card. He also decided that he was just going to do his own things...usually stuff he thought was funny, and not really be a part of the party. His dad could have set him straight, but chose not to be involved at all. The other youngster was better, but had no clue how to play his character and had an unending stream of questions, most of which were of the "oh...should I use this power" variety. Since I was sitting next to that one, I got to field the questions. Please don't get me wrong, I think playing with younger players can be great, and I fully encourage them. I started as a young player. What I don't like is younger players that aren't there to play, or are there to disrupt. That has no place at a convention where each game is paid for.

I almost got up and left. I know I had that choice. I also know from playing in The Grind 4E Play-by-Post that @MilwaukeeJoe runs that he's a good DM, and knows his stuff. After a few rooms, I decided that we were not going to get very far, and so I might as well try to make the best of things and help where I could. I did my best to lure the obnoxious child back into playing the game with everyone. A combination of excluding him when he was being a jerk, and giving him the attention he craved when he decided to play with everyone else seemed to work to get him in the game. Helping the boy who did want to play, but was completely overwhelmed with the number of things his character could do seemed to really get him back in to the group and he seemed to legitimately appreciate someone taking the time to help him make decisions. The more experienced player helped the new to 4E player, and the dad was left to fend for himself, which he did sometimes, and others he just went off on his own. The end result was getting the party back to some level of functionality and bringing the enjoyment back to the game.

Our DM did what he could to involve everyone and try to solve these problems too, but as DM he had more than enough to do already. Sometimes it's up to you as a player to just sacrifice a bit of your fun and help run the game and manage unruly players. The reward for you is you turn a possible disaster into something that's at least a little enjoyable. Joe did a great job running the game, and I managed to have a good time, even with all the obstacles. We, of course, failed miserably in terms of scoring points and completing the adventure, but there was no getting around that.

After the game, @MilwaukeeJoe was kind enough to invite me to an invite only game later that night with some friends of his. I had nothing planned, so now I had a 9 pm game to go to. 

When Iron Lich was out of time, it was about noon, and so I had a Met RX bar for lunch, and dropped my backpack off in my room. My next event was at 1:00 pm, and since it was TerrorKore, I didn't want to be carrying too much.

Showing up at TerrorKore on time, which is to say early, I went through the signing of the waivers and waited around as the rest of  my group arrived. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous as I didn't really know what to expect from this one. I was fairly tentative, since I had no idea what I was doing, and still felt a little lost after the "training" videos. I don't think that was at all the fault of the game, more just that I was feeling a little overwhelmed. This is one that probably would have been better had I gone with a friend or two. I was issued the job of being the second team demolitions expert. I got the standard pellet gun and a detonator for explosives. The scenario was we were recovering data from a facility where cyborg zombies had run amok and taken control. Team two was the rear guard, which made me more comfortable. Just keep the zombies off our rear..no problem. TerrorKore is billed as a live action FPS. That's an apt description. I have to admit my adrenaline was certainly ramped up, and when we started getting actors (read: targets) coming at us, I got into it. It was fairly chaotic as one might expect, and it was fun, but ultimately not for me..at least not  at the price. I know some will (and do) love it, but I far preferred True Dungeon. Maybe someday TerrorKore will have the same budget as True Dungeon and the immersion level will go up, but I just wasn't feeling like I was there..True Dungeon gave me far more of that.

Once I got out of TerrorKore, I had some time on my hands. I also had a very old collection of M:tG cards that I'd been wanting to sell forever. What better place and time than GenCon in the dealer hall?  I hoofed back to my room, grabbed my collection, and headed in to see what I could do. Of course I wasn't going to be single minded about this..it's the dealer hall. I was also going to be doing recon so I knew where I most wanted to go when I got the chance to spend more time there.

Again..I can't express how huge and overwhelming the dealer hall can be. It's truly enormous, and stuffed to the gills with gaming goodness. You could easily spend all your time there and still miss out on many, many things that the hall has to offer. Walking in there, you pretty much have to stop, look around, and get your bearings before setting off in a direction. I did just that, concentrating on collectible card game vendors. Sure..there were many, many of them. I'm sure I missed a good deal, but really I just wanted to get some cash back. I had a non-sorted collection, and I knew that I couldn't really expect to get anything like maximum value since I had no idea what anything was worth. What took me by surprise was a lot of the vendors, after I patiently waited in line for my turn, looked through my cards and pronounced them "Too old."  Not in bad shape..just so old that they were irrelevant to the current players. Made sense when I thought about it for a second, but man it sucked. I finally did find a place that was happy to buy my cards. They very quickly sorted out the valuable ones, checked the condition thoroughly, and made me what seemed a very fair offer. I wish I remembered who I sold them to. They went so far as to let me know what they were going to sell the valuable cards for so I could see the markup. I had one card that was worth most of my collection. That one card got me $120. They offered me much smaller amounts on some less valuable cards, and then made a bulk offer on the remainder of the collection. $273 in total. I was more than happy with that and felt fairly treated. To be honest, I had expected to feel taken advantage of, but the dealers generally seemed to be very fair and forthright about how they did their business. I left the hall feeling good about my transaction, and having scoped out some booths I wanted to spend more time at.

At this point, it was time to drop my bag off and head over to the Westin for Obsidian Portal's panel. I had something I needed to get to @DreadGazeebo for all his help and encouragement in the past year. He hooked me up with one of those cool Obsidian portal badge ribbons and an action point counter. We agreed to meet for dinner later, and I headed out to wander around a bit. My girlfriend was going to come for dinner too, but got tied up, so she never made it. We ended up at Noodles and Company because downtown was totally jam packed with gamers, but we could get in after a reasonable wait. @Dreadpixee and @micahwedemeyer joined us as well, and it was a very pleasant meal. My dinner companions were headed off to the media party that evening, so I headed back over to the Crowne Plaza for my 9 pm game with @MilwaukeeJoe.

This proved to be a very enjoyable game. It was me and a very nice married couple that had been friends with Joe for a long time. The wife was very much a role player, so Joe ran Crucible of the Gods without the time limit for us. It was a very different experience, and we did manage to complete the adventure...barely. It wasn't like we did it fairly...our DM was very easy on us once or twice to keep this going as a very casual, fun game. It was an entirely different perspective on the adventure as well. One of the hallmarks of the fourthcore games I'd been in (very few) was the time limit. This makes for a high degree of challenge, but does tend to preclude role playing since there just isn't time. Playing the same adventure at a more casual pace was a very cool way to experience it, and my fellow players made this a very enjoyable game. Really, I have to hand it to @MilwaukeeJoe for being such a flexible DM. He can just go with events as they happen, and reacts on the fly really well. Versatility is a great boon for a DM.

We got out at some silly hour like 2 am. I hoofed it the few short blocks back to my room at the Westin, and crashed almost instantly. This had been a very full day.