Sunday, August 16, 2009

GenCon -- Day Two

On Friday morning, I awoke with Chip to grab breakfast at about 6:30am. We headed downstairs where we eventually met up with Michael at the breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant. Fresh fruit, omelettes made to order, and a bottomless tureen of bacon proved to be the perfect way to start a gaming day, and the others headed off to participate in one of the more highly-anticipated events of the con, at least for the larger group we'd gone through Paragon by GenCon with -- the adventuring company adventure called Jungle Hunt.

The adventuring company concept is one that encourages folks to play in consistent parties, even across convention play and other long-duration breaks between times that players are able to meet. In our case, the whole crowd had gathered together into an adventuring company called 'Force of Personality', who planned to tackle the jungle hunt in a single large group of six. Unfortunately, when we all arrived at the mustering point, we discovered that there was a 13th player who wanted to participate in the adventure, meaning that the group was going to be broken up to make space for the third table -- there's a maximum of six players allowed in an RPGA adventure (the adventures are balanced in such a way as to allow 4-6 players), so the 13th warrior, so to speak, required a third table to be formed to fit this requirement.

I hadn't planned to play in the adventuring company adventure, but decided to skip my scheduled LARP to join in, and Chip and I ended up at the same table with some very power-gamed fellow-players: a ranger who lived up to the striker reputation (lots of damage, little else going on), and a cleric who far exceeded it (even more damage, plus healing, plus the occasional buff). It's ironic, but playing the adventure with these two guys made it somewhat less enjoyable, since the rest of us felt as though our only roles in the adventure were to help the two 'stars' do their damage and defeat the monsters. On the other hand, we did successfully complete the adventure, even before the scheduled end of the four-hour block of time allowed.

With plenty of time before a scheduled group gathering for dinner, we headed over to the delve table to play some more delve, letting us show how well our PbG training has helped our speed of decision and execution when running even relatively unfamiliar characters. I was really pleased with my tablemates as we motored through the adventure; only a somewhat pokey DM prevented us from completing the final encounter.

Chip and I also got the chance to partake in another VIG perk -- Wizards of the Coast sent Steven Schubert, former head of D&D Minis development when Wizards still organized the skirmish game, to run VIGs through a one-hour dungeon delve that WotC had considered releasing as a new Organized Play event, but decided to hold back on, at least for the moment. Catching up with Shoe was a blast, as was seeing that he tends to run games similarly to the way I run games, complete with monster responses to attacks and the occasional in-game smack talk when a player character rolls particularly poorly. It was a great experience that I hope to have the chance to do again.

We then gathered at Champions, a sports bar/restaurant attached to the Marriott, to share what we'd done thus far in the convention. In a sense, this was really the most fun I'd had all day, sharing stories with friends, eating like a maniac (I'd ordered the Champion burger, because I'd remembered that item from last year without remembering that it was a humungous two-patty burger far too large to finish after snacking on numerous appetizers), and basically enjoying myself and the folks with me.

After dinner, it was off for my first visit of the con to the ICC Ballroom, home of board gaming at GenCon. I was to play in a game of Illuminati, a humorous game featuring secret societies published by Steve Jackson Games. The last time I played Illuminati at a convention, I'd won a trophy as Most Illuminated, beating the field in an eight-player game at Con of the North in St. Paul back in 2002 or so. This time, I thought I might have some trouble, as the judge running the game ended up with too many players to seat one table, and so broke us up into 'newbie friendly' and 'cutthroat' tables, and I ended up at the cutthroat table. Still, my practice being blitzed by Ben paid off yet again, and though the prize was less impressive this time around (a copy of the Bavarian Fire Drill expansion set), the victory tasted no less sweet.

The game wrapped up near midnight, and I returned to the room to find that Chip had already turned in, so I crashed myself. Tomorrow would be a big day.

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