Monday, September 3, 2012

GenCon 2008 - The Memories are Fading

Continuing my series of GenCon reviews, I reach back into the deep cobweb filled archives of my hippocampus and cortex to bring you the memories of GenCon 2008. A whole four years ago, and with the impressions of the conventions between then and now, my recollection of the events that took place at that convention are hazy at best. The good news is, there were some things that happened there which are indelibly marked into my memory forever, so I can at least faithfully retell those stories, even if the bits in between are clouded and sparse.

Mastering Your GM-Fu: Session Prep
Type: Seminar
Memory of Event: Good
This seminar and group workshop was put on by Phil Vecchione (@DNAphil), Vicki Potter, and Phil Menard (@chattyDM) They  discussed session prep, adventure ideas, and worked in small groups to develop a quick series of encounters and a short story line. The lecturers were great, and the overall experience was well worth the 4 dollar fee. We all got to have small booklets covering the session, filled with ideas and exercises to develop a prep and writing cycle for your game sessions, which I even still have.
Grade: A

Instant GM
Type: Seminar
Memory of Event: Excellent (This is not a good thing. I would love to forget that this event ever happened)
This seminar will go down in the annals of GenCon as the greatest trainwreck to ever have been seen by mortal eyes. My wife and 2 of my group's regulars came to this lecture, which was allegedly about how to improvise as a GM. What actually happened was a case study in awkward human behavior in front of a large audience. The lecturer, who shall remain nameless here (There is no need to be cruel) may actually be a great improvisational GM. He may also know everything there is to know about GMing and improvising. His inability to express himself and communicate in front of a crowd unfortunately presents an obstacle to showing you those skills that might as well be Mt. Everest to an inchworm. I have never felt bad for someone in the same way I did for this guy. But it went beyond that, as there was a strange feeling of arrogance coming from him that prevented me from actually feeling bad. Instead I had to sit there and watch as he went on a 20 minute tangent about the uses of a jacket while GMing.
You really have to have seen it to truly understand what I'm talking about. It is a sight to behold, I promise you. A great example of this is the fact that the presenter also wrote a book on the subject, but had no copies to sell, nor could it be found anywhere on the convention floor. Manwhat?!
Grade: WTF?

Walking around Hijinx
Type: None
Memory of Event: Scattered
Its Wednesday, and nothing much is going on yet.The group, about 8 of us, are seated over near the Serpentine Hallway at the ICC, playing Magic (remember the days when you'd get a free mini-starter deck in the swag bag?) and making characters for some D&D games. There are a couple of foam sword fighter types practicing and dueling nearby. They are pretty good at it, and putting on a good show. It was fun to half watch while we did other things of the pre convention variety. Some girls come over and ask if they can try. The swordsmen are friendly, and offer up their weapons for the ladies to try out. These girls had obviously never done this before, but go at each other with gusto. At one point, one has the other spun around and begins to spank her friend with the sword over and over, in a funny sophomoric way. Out of nowhere, some trolling looking dude springs up, and in the creepiest vocal tone I have ever heard, sort of mumbles " yeah..yes...spank her backside".
The entire group more or less halted in mid conversation or pencil stroke at this uttering. We were completely blown away by the creepiness and general uncomfortable atmosphere to the point of being unable to suppress giggles, horror, and general shame on ourselves for being part of this guy's gender. With all of the "boundaries" and appropriate behavior conversations going on nowadays, I can't help but wonder about the nerd rage that would be flung across the web if this guy had done that today. At any rate, he has become famous in my group as "spank her backside guy", and each of us has done our best to come up with a creepy voice with which to say it.
Grade: Creeptastic

RPGA Eberron Game
Type: RPG
Memory of Event: Mixed.
This started off as what would become my typical RPGA experience. A crappy game with a crappy GM running a crappy scenario. Negative opinion? Yes. But not without merit. On the up side, I sat down to this table of 6 with 4 friends, so at least we all knew each other. I ended up with a pre gen character (that I had to pay .99 for by the way) that was a goblin rogue. I'm not an Eberron guy, but apparently that's not far fetched for that world. That didn't bother me at all though, and I quickly whipped up a personality idea. The general gist of the adventure was that we were a special operations team of sorts, sent on a mission to kill somebody or retrieve something or maybe something else. I can't remember. It probably had something to do with the fact that the GM read up boxed text for a good 10 minutes of the introduction. I don't think that a meth head pumped up on Aderol could have stayed alert through his monotone reading of the pages. This was not a good start.
Queue the first encounter. We end up fighting an arrow demon or something like that which was apparently CR 435. It proceeded to wipe the floor with us up one side of the battlefield and then down the other. This might have been the most insanely overpowered encounter I have ever seen in a 3.x edition game of D&D. It wasn't something that was meant to be run from either, as we more or less Air-Assaulted in, as per the railroading of the boxed opening. We had no choice, nowhere to run or retreat.
The game more or less continued like this, and we rapidly lost all interest in the actual game. Queue lunatic role playing in which the party's Warforged decided it was female and had an interest in my male goblin. Queue hijinx....
Grade: D

Things that I Bought
RPGs: Alpha Omega, Eclipse Phase, Obsidian, Eoris Essence

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