Monday, March 30, 2015

Gary Con 2015

Now this was a fine vintage!


Although I attended in a most relaxed fashion, I spent more time at the convention than I ever did.  Then again, it was the first year that I hosted events.  I showed up Thursday and played a. . . game.  Imagine that!  (I forgot the title of course).  Sitting in the open gaming area, facing toward the lake  in back of the resort, I enjoyed the mist-shrouded landscape as much as the game itself.  We all finished within one victory point of each other.  I was brave enough then to drive away for lunch, leaving my parking spot open some someone else (yes, good parking space comes at a premium at Geneva Ridge).  The resort isn't really designed for a convention, but it's part of its charm.  I headed over to the Delavan inlet, and grabbed a giant calzone at Jojo's.  No way I could eat all of that, so half ended up in the styrofoam doggie box.  It was cold enough outside I didn't worry about the food going bad.  Miraculously, I found another parking spot when I returned.

After a quick chat with Dale Leonard, I received a much desired pass for a VIP parking slot in front of the entrance.  That was a nice touch.  While taking many pictures, I bumped into many old friends.  Time for my seminar came around very quickly.  With convention success come greater challenges: due to lack of space, seminars had been relegated to. . . the bar.  Ouch.  Between 6 and 8 pm, it was pretty noisy there.  And, I managed to misplace my reading glasses.  Great.  Without them, there was no way I could decipher my notes.  A fellow attendee kindly loaned me his.  That made for a rather bumpy seminar.  I'm told seminars will be handled at another location next year, but the exact place remains up in the air, since that's still being negotiated.  I believe seminars will end up in downtown Lake Geneva.  There already is a shuttle service to The Cove, where many participants have their rooms, since not everyone can stay at the Geneva Ridge resort (it is hopelessly full!)  It would make sense therefore that seminars be held nearby, Lake Geneva being a conveniently small town.

Staggering away from the bar (boy, that seminar sure was tiring), I then discovered that the Gary Con office was closed.  Silly me.  I'd forgotten that they lock up that room at 7 pm.  And my coat and car keys were inside.  Scott Douglas was there and told me where to find Dale Leonard (who had the key).  As it were, he sat in a suite with Luke Gygax, Peter Adkison, and a slew of other people feverishly playing a game under the watchful eyes of a camera crew.  I managed to sneak in and ask for the key to the office.  Fortunately, their game was ending (the first one Dale ever played in seven years while at Gary Con.)  I picked up my stuff soon afterward, and on the way out, recovered my reading glasses at the hotel front desk.  Phew!  

On Friday I ran my D&D game, based on a Calidar plot.  That was fun.  I had scheduled 5 hours to complete this "dungeon crawl."  We actually played a little over six.  Realistically, the game could have taken as much as 7 or 8 hours.  I had to fast forward the end to provide some closure.  There was a lot of good thinking among the players.  These were definitely experienced and strategically-minded participants.  They needed a knock spell to get in (which they had, since I'd provided one of the player characters with that spell), but that player decided to stay quiet about it for whatever strange reason.  So the party of heroes ended up scaling a cliff instead and exploring the area on top of the "dungeon."  Sure enough, they fell into a pit trap, which was in fact a back door entrance with a nasty monster.  The party dodged the encounter and finally found their way in.  There was an awfully long chat about their tactical approach (it worked) but it took nearly an hour to resolve that one encounter.  They later spotted the "ominous double-door at the end of the hallway" and headed that way PDQ.  Half the party got paralyzed and one was at death's door, but the valiant heroes dispatched the bad guys and captured their commander, leaving behind his pet rust-monster chomping on leftover swords.  The surviving villains from the rest of the dungeon fled into the jungle where they mounted a large-scale ambush with the help of natives. . .  The rest of the story is secret since this adventure will probably become a mini-module under the Calidar brand much later this year when I'm done with CC1 "Beyond the Skies."

Saturday morning came around.  It was a bright and sunny day and, along with it, followed my Calidar presentation.  At least the bar wasn't quite as noisy for the first hour.  The last 30mn weren't so good, with people streaming in for a drink.  Ya hey dere, that's 'scansin for ya.  Fortunately, I had a mike so I leaned closer to the contraption and grew conveniently louder.  It turned out for the best since it made it so much easier for me to impersonate a Klingon-like dwarf's guttural and gravelly voice during two live readings without permanent damage to my vocal cords.  For those of you who have Calidar's Kickstarter promotional stories, you may recall the episode when Melchia, the gnomish spy, is captured by the dwarves.  The ensuing encounter with their ship's captain was a fun section to read.  I handed over freebies with a preview of "Beyond the Skies" and a free poster map.

I later connected with Jeff Easley and Jeff Butler in the exhibitors' hall.  We chatted about Calidar and perhaps there will be some artistic involvement here.  Maybe. . . Hopefully. . .  This all depends on the success of CC1's Kickstarter later this year.  Saturday was really busy.  I decided to take a break and headed home (about 25mn away) for a snack and some peace and quiet.  A few hours later, it was time to return to the convention grounds, just in time for the TSR gathering at the bar.  As always, this is an extremely pleasing event (for us old-timers at least) where 20+ year-old connections are rekindled.  I didn't leave until after 10:30pm.  Did so, reluctantly I might add.

Already Sunday!

Hey, I had no other scheduled event to host.  Gaming time!  I thusly had the pleasure of sitting with Bill and Kathy Connors, as well as Julie Mazurek and her daughter Megan, for a superhero card game.  I'm not usually much of a fan for card games, but I must admit I had fun with this one.  I made one last visit to the various halls to shoot a few more pictures, and I drove off into a cold, gloomy, and windy Wisconsin March day.

I hate the day after.  Once done with this article, I have to do my taxes.  Boo, hiss.  That makes it all so much worse.  I hate paperwork.  After that, I'm back working on CC1.  Until then, I hope you'll enjoy the pictures (for a sharper image, click on a picture).

The gaming area by the front desk

Dave Megarry, creator of the Dungeon! boardgame.

The Dungeon! display area


Jolly Blackburn's Hackmaster port diorama.  How awesome is that?










Mr. Wham teaching "Dragon Lairds."

Mr. Mentzer, pretending he didn't see me.

Mr. Gygax (in spirit), who most definitely saw me.

Oh, look!  Another Gygax having fun, as he should!

That's right, Luke.  Don't let 'em get away with anything!

Registration area, early on Thursday

A cozy spot upstairs

Thursday morning, 830 BC (Before Crowd)

Fuzzy evidence of Mark CMG bribing me with donuts


Part of the game I played Thursday morning


Here's an interesting anecdote. I was relaxing in back of the registration office, sipping on some much-needed steaming-hot coffee, when the resort staff dropped off this enormous cake. It was somewhere between 1-2 feet across.  Look at the last line at the bottom of the cake.  What's interesting here is that it had been offered by Milwaukee's Hyatt Regency. Guess they are looking at Gary Con's business with unmitigated interest (as far as I know, the convention isn't about to move out of the Lake Geneva area).

Catching some peace and quiet in the registration office

The main resort building facing toward the lake

The fire pit (aka smokers area) facing the lake

Inside the heated tent--actually rather pleasant

The exhibitors hall

Tim "Ollie" Cahoon  (right)  pondering his next "Dawn Patrol" move

Jon Pickens's "Remagen Bridge" scenario


"Lord of the Rings" battle area




Merle Rasmussen on a "Top Secret" assignment

Emily and Wendy getting ready for another game

Missed Jeff.  Will catch him later.
In the exhibitors hall

Have you got any pins?

Jeff Easley's table.  I'll catch up with him later as well...

The traditional auction, upstairs in the open gaming area


Getting ready for another battle at the sand table

Darlene!

Mike Carr adjudicating a situation with "Dawn Patrol"

One more autograph along the way

Happy Moment at the registration desk

Way-too-serious DM

Much more fun here!


More "Top Secret" with Merle Rasmussen

Neat gaming table for sale at Gary Con

Demona in her steampunk outfit

Our man, Dale Leonard, hard at work in the registration office

Space Hulk!

With a side order of crunchy librarian, if you please

Gaming with Bill & Kathy Connors

Bill explaining the game to Julie Mazurek

The game in question--I killed the bad guy anyway when my equipment went haywire

Julie pleading her case

Jovial Kathy

Hey, look!  Both Jeffs together!  (Easley, left, and Butler, on right)

Diesel's fine handiwork




Jeff Butler's handiwork




Closeup of Jeff Butler's line art

Jim Ward miscellaneous gabbing.  Lookin' good, dude!

Possibly Frank Mentzer's last event for this very fine convention

Harold "Indiana" Johnson

Greetings from Thomas "The Dwarf"

So long,  folks!