Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GenCon 2009!

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Yes, I'm back. I'm not going to go into the whole tired monologue of why I haven't posted in five months. Just be glad that Gencon 2009 supplied the activation energy needed to kick one geek butt into nerd gear again.


Wednesday morning, Mary packed me up and sent me off to GenCon at the crack of 9am.

My travel companions from Madison were my IT buddy from work, Steve, and two of his faithful companions, Jason and Nick.

Upon arriving in Indianapolis, I met up with Delp and Paul in our room at the Marriott to form the "GenCon Triad." (those of us who have been to Gencon three years in a row)

Later that evening, Brando arrived in Indy to complete the adventuring party and there was much rejoicing. GenCon could officially commence!

First, a beer was had at the local microbrewery that caters to nerds during Gencon, the RAM. The RAM produces a new beer specifically for Gencon every year. This year it was a Honey Brown Ale, which we drank plenty of.

Then we talked the talk of nerdyness well into the wee hours of the night, ready to face dangers and adventure galore for the next four days of gaming.


First thing Thursday was True Dungeon! After getting a filling breakfast in the concierge lounge, we headed downstairs to face the horrors of True Dungeon.

Sadly, Devin was abruptly unable to attend GenCon this year, and so we had an extra ticket to True Dungeon. Requiring a Cleric, we found this guy in the hallway to fill in.

He did his part acting as the cleric, but its difficult to compete with the awesome that is Devin. Devin, you were missed, especially your puzzle-solving skillz.

We stumbled through the puzzle rooms with all the skill of first-level morons, but gritted our teeth and took the auto-damage as we kept on going to the next extremely dangerous hit-point sapping room. Of course, with an adventuring party so resplendent and powerful, we were still victorious in the end and overcame "Scumfang," the Troll Mage King of the Cursed Bog of Deadliness and Neverending Peril.

This is when Delp left the party to assume his duties as a volunteer for True Dungeon, and I only saw him once or twice afterward due to his busy volunteering schedule.

As Paul went to run through True Dungeon a second time, Brando and I tried to get to one of the Hollow Earth Expedition games I had singed up for with the excellent title of "Burt Fedora and the Warmaidens of Mars." Unfortunately due to a last-minute renovation in the Crowne Plaza hotel, the game was moved to another room which the info booth was not updated on. Alas, we searched and searched, but by the time we did find the game it was already 20-minutes in and we'd be interrupting, so we didn't bother them. Instead, Brando and I wandered the exhibition hall for a few hours, and Brando got his picture taken with some of his favorite characters.

Plenty of good ol' fashioned representatives from the Empire were there too.

Of course there were Ren-faire bands and whatnot selling their lute-music CDs.

There were a ton of very cool minis to be seen and we both took pics of sweet 28mm pewter mini setups. Brando took like 600 pictures of them.

There's also an art show at GenCon for fantasy art, and one guy brought along his wizard-ified motorcycle. Now with 30% more skulls!

Later that night, I ditched the crew and went on a solo adventure to go play a 6-hour marathon of 1st edition AD&D's original RAVENLOFT Adventure (I6)! The GM was excellent and clearly loved the source material. Unfortunately it started out a little slow because the guy couldn't bring himself to turn away all the people who showed up with generic tickets to play, resulting in 11 PCs to deal with. Fortunately, it got a lot better when a Banshee on the second floor of Castle Ravenloft screamed and 6 PCs died after failing their saves vs. death magic, leaving the remaining 5 of us to mop up Strahd.

My character, Connor Macgregor: Cleric of Lathander held his own against the minions of evil with his holy spellcasting and richeous silver flailery. Each time he defeated an enemy or did something even remotely noteworthy it was recorded in his Great Book of Good Deeds.

He even managed to find the Holy Symbol of Barovia and with it actually stunned the Vampire Lord for one round!

That's right, that's Connor within 5 feet of Strahd Von Zarovich. How's that for some iron balls? Strahd was aghast at Connor's clerical abilities and fled for one round, leaving us to be level-drained by his nearly-endless Wraith minions (of which Connor single-handedly destroyed two). The party was level-drained and their souls were eventually imprisoned forever but the legend of Connor Macgregor, stunner of Strahd, will haunt Strahd forever!

Arriving back at the room well after midnight, I collapsed in hopes of actually making Friday's Hollow Earth game I had signed up for.


Friday morning I got up chipper as can be for the Hollow Earth game "Lost City of Crystal Graveyards," and tried to awaken Brando to attend with me. Unfortunately, he and Paul had gone out and gotten uber-hammered the night before, so he had an epic hangover and did not attend the morning game with me. Furthermore in my haste to get to the game I neglected to take my camera, so got no live-action pics, but this illustration does a good job representing the great adventure that I had.

After Hollow Earth, I did some more exhibition hall shopping and picked up all the sweet new release books I wanted, including Mysteries of the Hollow Earth, Strange Aeons, Star Wars Guide to the Rebellion, and the Desolation rpg.

Then after dinner we finally got to hang out with Delp for more than five minutes and for the rest of the night Brando ran a game of Dark Heresy (note: link may have music) for the three of us. We killed a number of cultists AND innocent bystanders, and succeeded in sending the cult leader to his well-deserved judgement. Unfortunately we each died horrible deaths at the hands of a Daemonhost and his fervent followers, but that's a small price to pay for furthering the God-Emperor's glory.


On Saturday morning, Delp once again disappeared to True Dungeon land and Brando, Paul and I went to the Hyatt to play in Brando's 8-10 am spider-infested game of Return to the Tower of Gygax. RttToG is a fairly new addition to GenCon, and is a continuous highly-deadly game of 1st edition AD&D in a magical tower of traps and wizardry, where DMs run two-hour shifts for any players that showup. Immediately upon entering the game I was passed a note from good old Brando letting me know I was possessed by a malevolent daemon and forced to kill my fellow PCs. I personally kicked an unsuspecting Paul the Elf into a pit of acid and held the door shut on him. I still kind of feel bad about that Paul.

Later my shift started and I ran the Tower of Gygax from 11am-1pm, wherein I could exact my revenge upon Brando, who's gnome illusionist I suffocated in a sea of shifting quicksand. Later I forced everybody to jump from pillar-to-pillar over a bottomless chasm, and each pillar was trapped such that it would randomly kill or imperil the person on the pillar behind it. Everybody had a grand ol' time, and one player actually escaped the Tower!

Having geeked out to the max at Tower of Gygax on Saturday, Brando, Paul and I then went back to the room to change into our Green Lantern shirts, and proudly walked around the convention center as the three coolest dudes in the hall.

Oh yeah, and the three of us ate dinner at the RAM.

That night, I taught Paul and Brando how to play Lord of the Rings strategy battle game with my Rohan guys and Goblins on some of the new terrain I picked up, and there was much battle to be had.


We all said our farewells and started the long trip home. Thus ends another epic tale of The Lords of the GenCon, Nerds of the West!

Now its time to deal with the inevitable post-GenCon sickness from swimming around in that petri dish of nerd funk. I can already feel my throat getting sore and my nose getting stuffed as we speak...

Oh well, good thing its totally worth it! Now where's that Dayquil?