CategoryConventions

Gen Con 2015 Part 3

Saturday I had nothing until noon, so I actually got to sleep in. It was everything I had wanted and more. I was so tired and just wanting to rest for so long it was great to get those extra hours.

The noon event was a ShadowRun LARP, and it was fun. There are a few things I think they could do to tweak it. We had a lot of people who had never played before, which that in itself isn’t a bad thing, but they didn’t know it would be so physical. One of them had a heart issue and had to sit and rest several times because he had started to have heart pains. I think a quick disclaimer in the convention book would’ve been helpful.

Aside from that we had a great team. Our team made a lot of money because we had at least one really deadly person with each section when we split up. We covered more ground that way. The NPCs did amazing staying in character and they were helpful when it was obvious you didn’t know what you were doing. These people cared enough to try to make it a great event, and they listened to you, for the most part, when you talked to them about your concerns. There was one group of NPCs that made me angry.

The gentleman I mentioned before, with the heart condition, was taking it easy. Several times they saw him lagging behind (he insisted we go on ahead) and attacked his character. Despite knowing this they continually went for him, instead of letting him have a freaking breather.

The Cosplay Parade happened during our event, right in the middle of our area of the convention, and he got separated by a long line of cosplayers. We had to try and get back to him before they killed him. Eventually we got so sick of it we just killed those NPCs.

One of the NPCs made my brother do a Russian dance in order to get an item from her, but I didn’t get to see it because I was doing another mission for my team. The event was only $10, and I really think I got my money’s worth out of that. I will do it again next year, only this time I’m going to take some of my acting supplies and dress up.

After that I walked around the Circle Center Mall for a bit. Joey and Allen had a big board Power Grid game to do so I thought I had some free time. As it turns out it was cancelled, but Joey and Allen got a refund and some swag for their trouble. We went to Loughmiller’s for lunch where I tried one of their “Gen Con drinks” and let me tell you it was delicious! If they ever have the “green fairy” on the drinks menu again, or even just see if they have it regularly, try it! It is delicious! They had other neat drinks that were very tasty and worth a try too, including an alcoholic Butterbeer (from Harry Potter). I don’t even like butterscotch but that was very tasty.

By the time our last event was eminent on Saturday I was feeling pretty sick. Joey was so sweet and went to the shop in the hotel to get me some medicine. They didn’t sell chewable pain meds, so he walked across the street to a gas station to get me some children’s Motrin! I have such a considerate husband.

A little while later and I was feeling better. Allen, Joey and I decided to get to True Dungeon really early so we could get the classes we liked. Well, I got screwed out of being the bard, like I had last year. I was the druid again, so that was okay. I was feeling a little crappy still, and Bryan and Steve were really late so Bryan and I got into a little argument right before the game. I was very disappointed in not being able to be the bard because I had remembered my ukulele this time. At least this year the person who took it seemed to know what he was doing and didn’t become flaky. He sang some pretty funny songs too so at least there was that.

Out team did a good job, but it was more difficult this time. This session was called Sable Gauntlet. One of the DMs was the main boss from the day before. There was a room that seemed last minute and rather unnecessary. When you come in you had either a spider or larva attach to you and deal damage until you could get it off. That’s it. That was the purpose of the room.

One notable room had a large, person controlled spider. It was huge and he could control the back end, and the legs. He even had one bump my butt. I made a joke about it because I imagine he was trying to touch my leg to startle me, but it was hard to control. I ended up killing the thing in almost one shot with a boosted fireball spell.

The main issue we had with the boss this time was time. We got some solid hits against it, but we just couldn’t do the right amount of damage per turn. If we had one more round we could’ve probably killed the thing. It was undead so I used some amplified healing to do some major damage.

After the game we went back to Loughmiller’s to eat a bunch of mini corn dogs and drink more green fairies. It was Bryan’s suggestion. If you go there and want some really good food you’ll have to visit them during the day. Their evening menu is really trimmed down. No pepper jack cheese stuffed pretzels. Those are incredible.

Sunday, as has become our tradition, was reserved for walking around the vendor’s hall. We bought a few games for Ilaria, but when we tried them out at home it seems she not quite old enough for them. I would like to find some games for her to play with us because it is so great developmentally and socially.

When the convention was over for us we headed to Shapiro’s for some amazing food. We drove to my parents’ to pick up my daughter and then back to Cincinnati. Next year we’re going to see about some events for her. I’d like to start bringing her, if only for a day.

Something notable happened that wasn’t really an event. My friend Allen made a Mii last year of Wil Wheaton to see if he could troll people. This year Wil Wheaton mentioned it on his twitter! So that was pretty cool. I will tell you Allen is not the type with ill intent, and he was just having a bit of fun. He would never do anything to defame a person.

If you couldn’t tell I am very aware of how much things cost. And I think if you’re going to visit the vendor’s hall you should know too. It isn’t uncommon for games to be $45 or more, and t-shirts average about $20 a piece. You can find some very unique items there, but they can be very pricey so please keep that in mind. A great bonus for the people who hand make things is they often have business cards you can take and look them up later.

They have non-gaming related events too, like yoga classes and jewelry making. There are events where you can make your own foam weapon, writing workshops and film panels too! They do offer daycare, but you have to pay for it and I don’t remember how much it is.

Every year they do a large balloon statue for charity. One person is chosen out of the donors (I don’t know what the criteria are) and they get to pop the whole thing. If you back is hurting they have massage seats set up.

Well that is my 2015 Gen Con experience for you all. If you like board games, geeky things, RPGs or card games then you should consider going. Check out their website for a list of events. I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

Gen Con 2015 Part 2

My group began Friday with an amazing Q & A event with Trace Beaulieu (he pronounces is like bowl-you) of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame. He was incredibly funny and we got to see one of the puppets for an upcoming web series called Vermin. It looks interesting and funny so I’ll have to check that out later. Mr. Beaulieu was handing out items to people who had really good questions. They were typically DVDs of old MST3K episodes, but one person got a collection of illustrated poems, and Steve and I got the first issue of a short lived comic he wrote. I liked it and wish he would do some more. Later, while we were walking on the vendor’s floor we saw him again and I got my comic signed. Crow (the puppet) was there! It was awesome seeing it in person. If he comes again I’ll have to go.

If you’re going to be visiting downtown Indianapolis (IN) then it is worth it to go to Fogo De Chao. This meat chain is filled with delicious steaks, lamb and other meat wonderfully prepared and served to you from long skewers. They have delicious fried plantains, polenta and garlic mashed potatoes for each table, as well as an impressive salad bar area filled with meats and vegetables you wouldn’t really find at many other salad bars. They had smoked salmon and prosciutto there, as well as some vegetables I couldn’t really identify. But don’t fill up on the salad, because the meat is so worth it!

If you go in the evening it can get very pricey if you’re not used to spending nearly $50 per person, but the lunch is an okay price for what you’re getting. It is still kind of expensive, but this is a special treat so splurge.  I’m also not one for lime, but their Brazilian limeade drink is fantastic! Soda comes in a cute little bottle, but that’s expensive and does not have free refills like the limeade. Have some meat, it’s delicious!

After that was True Dungeon: Into the Underdark. This was a pretty good experience. I was the bard again, like I almost always am, but this time I forgot my ukulele so I had to just sing. I treated everyone to some Feist. The team we had was solid, and we did great up until the last room. This is a trend we’ve been noticing as of late. True Dungeon used to be more balanced, but the last few years they have some easy rooms and then kill you with a totally over powered boss at the end. So while we did awesome, the boss wasn’t able to be hit, and did almost 20 points of damage to players in a single hit. It also did a group attack against us for I think 10 damage so it killed most of our group pretty quickly.

I’m honestly getting sick of that. It isn’t fun when you have the DM be a dick at the very last second and screw you over and I hope they learn how to get that balance back. The costumes were quite the plus, and the backgrounds were interesting and well thought out.

After that Joey and I went to something called the Concert Against Humanity at the Murat Theater. We had to speed walk, in the humid summer heat, against a large crowd of One Direction fans. There was a concert at the same time, and a baseball game so down town Indy was packed. We were going to rent a few bikes from their bike-sharing program but man is that expensive. So instead I made myself sick because of the heat and walking so far, so fast. Joey seemed fine.

The swag, oh my God the swag! We got some really good gear, a cute collectible Nintendo figure, a 2 sided die, a Flux booster, some Sentinels of the Multiverse cards, a few mini games and some other things I can’t think of off the top of my head. When the concert ended they had exit swag too! It is a poster for the event with two raccoons rummaging through trash. The raccoons are…well, kind of anatomically correct, for some reason. I didn’t even notice it at first, but it does make it difficult for me to display the poster in my home so that aspect of the design is a little annoying. But overall it was still a pretty cool poster.

The concert itself was amazing. There were comedians like Kumail Nanjiani, Cameron Esposito, and musicians like Molly Lewis, Paul and Storm and the Doubleclicks! All of them did fantastic and it was a wonderful evening, despite the fact that 1 Mountain Dew and 2 nachos cost me nearly $20. Dang inflated prices. During the concert Joey started to feel sick and ate the last of my chew able aspirin. We actually had another Here At The End event scheduled but we decided to stay at the concert. From what our friends told us we made the right choice.

Now this part is hearsay, but this is what the second Here At The End was like. The people who were running it stopped caring. The teams were not evenly divided, among the four factions it ended up being roughly 18 versus 4. So the teams my friends were on were constantly being bombarded by the other larger teams, and their captain NPC, the cat girl and her boyfriend, refused to talk to anyone or do their jobs and just meowed at people. I don’t mind couples being a part of events, but take the damn thing seriously. People paid good money and you sit on your duff necking with your significant other the whole time? At least they didn’t hiss or anything. I would’ve said something if I were there. I have no problem registering my displeasure when people take my money and then give me sub par crap in return.

Steve figured out how to reset the weapons so at least they had that. The quality of the event had seriously deteriorated since we had been there the day before and given that experience and the one my friends had we will not be doing another Here At The End event.

The last Whose Line of the con was wonderful. We had so many people and they were very brave! Lots of new faces joined us and seemed to have a great time. I went up a few more times and it was a blast.

Gen Con 2015 Part 1

As a side note, as I uploading these I’m also struggling with a bad cold. I will make them prettier with images later.

 

I’ve been attending Gen Con every year for the past 5 or so years. Every year I do more and more activities and I can honestly say it is something that I really look forward to each summer. I consider this to be my family’s vacation too. My daughter is only 3, so far there is not a lot she can do. There are events for children but most of them start at age 6. We usually have her spend the four days with her grandparents. She has a lot of fun with them, and this year Joey’s dad got to play with her all Saturday. She has a blast so it works out great.

This year it was held a bit earlier than normal. It is typically in late August, and I’m not entirely sure why it was so early. I could look into it, but I’m not that interested. I don’t really care when it is held, as long as I get to go.

So our trip started in Cincinnati. We drove the long 3 hour trip to my parent’s house to drop off our daughter and spend the night there. Technically the Wednesday before Gen Con is “open” but there are no events and you can’t buy anything so it’s just a way to pick up your badge and tickets at the will call line.

On Thursday morning we headed down to Indy and started off with a game of laser tag called Here At The End. There are four factions vying for dominance in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Our team had a wonderful NPC that did a great job explaining all the rules, “repairing” our weapons and just troubleshooting things in general.

This event had the potential to be awesome. They were supposed to divide the teams evenly (more on that later) and the NPCs were to help their respective teams to either complete their goal, form alliances, or maintain the weapons.

Our team was the Old Guard. The Old Guard is the remainder of the industrial military complex from before civilization was forced underground. It was me, my friends Steve and Allen, my husband Joey and two more people whose names I can’t remember.  It really is unfortunate I can’t remember their names because they were excellent teammates. They were both enthusiastic and competent, which, let’s be honest, can be hard to find in an event like this.

There were three other teams. Elysium (super hippies), One that is made up of Dr. Who fans (essentially), and the mutated Animorphs. I didn’t see the NPCs for Elysium or Dr. Who Fans but I did see the Mutants and they were dressed as cat people. Apparently they are boyfriend and girlfriend in real life.

The goal was to find clues to help us figure out the combination to a safe in the center of the room, and/or find keys to unlock a bomb that was right above the safe on a pedestal. There were some cardboard walls and some boxes we could use for cover but other than that the environment was pretty sparse.

Everything at the center of the room, the bomb and the safe, were both not working properly so it was basically a game of Shoot ‘Em Up with little to no strategy. Overall the game had potential, but due to the lack of planning and only one NPC (our guy) who seemed like he cared the game suffered and was not worth the price of the ticket. But, hey, we got a pretty cool looking button from it so at least there’s that.

My second event was with Steve, but Joey and Allen spent time walking around the convention halls doing who knows what. I certainly don’t, I forgot to ask. It was an interesting event and quite honestly an amazing experience. Considering it was my first time playing at a convention it left a really good impression. I will definitely be doing it again next year.

As a quick note the only reason I did this in the first place is because my brother Bryan (who’ll show up later) got a new job and he couldn’t get the time off so I played instead.

I have been playing ShadowRun for a good number of years now with a group of friends. We do it primarily online through Ventrilo and Maptools because our group is either in Ohio, Indiana or California, so it’s not like I’ve never played before. I enjoy my group because we’re all pretty laid back and no one takes the game too seriously. I don’t like it when people are too serious. This is why I have always been so reluctant to play ShadowRun at Gen Con. I figured that the people who play have more…I don’t know but I was worried I would have horrible people to play with. That still may happen, but it didn’t this time. The people we played with, except Steve and one other, had not played before. Our GM was very easy to talk to and explained things very patiently.

Our game was a continuation of a campaign that’s been going for the past several cons. In fact I think it might be towards the end of it, and I think it would’ve been slightly more helpful to have that previous experience just for the karma and contacts earned alone. For this particular run I dusted off an old character of mine, Nurse Killshot, because Steve was being Dr. Roberts and we thought it would pair nicely. The GM loved the concept of our little duo too.

We got a call from a woman’s sprite, if you don’t play ShadowRun think of it like a more personalized Siri or Cortana, telling us that she’d gone missing. It hired us to retrieve information about her last known whereabouts from a man who worked for one of the big corporations, Shiawase I think. The man is already dead, so we just need to get the info from his gadgets. For clarification purposes we’ll call him John. He had an actual name but I don’t remember it.

So when we arrive at the dead man’s location there’s a big fire fight happening between three corporate Shiawase men and a group of elven gangers. We help the gangers by basically killing all the Shiawase men. After, Dr. Roberts removes the pertinent information from John’s body but there’s a slight problem and I accidentally cause the little bomb that was implanted in John’s head to explode. Thankfully we got everything in time, and managed to make a good impression on the gangers.

We find out that the gangers were there on orders to retrieve the same body, but didn’t have the detail of getting the information. They were hired by a child known as the “Altar Boy”. He gave them a terrible feeling but he paid well. After some leg work we found out where Altar Boy was staying and decided to pay him a visit. We figured he knew a little something about our missing woman.

The elf gangers all like to visit a bar called Toll House (haha) and we find out while there, buying drinks for everyone, that the Altar Boy works for a man called the Bishop. We get to his location and find two guards in front of the place. While Dr. Roberts distracts them two other members of our team sneak into our house and find a priest chained up in the basement. His name is Father Sarducci (yes, indeed), and he helps us figure out where to go. I stayed in the background with my sniper rifle ready.

We go to St. Hyacinth cathedral to find the Altar Boy, the Bishop, our missing woman and a group of the elf gangers all inside a mostly empty main room. The background count is high inside, less so out, so I stay by the front entrance to snipe from a distance while the rest of our group go inside to speak to the Bishop.

Dr. Roberts tricks him into monologue for a while as we wait for backup. Apparently, in a previous mission Dr. Roberts had made friends with an orc gang leader and she was coming to our aid.

A fight breaks out and we find out that our missing woman has been possessed by Shedim (think of a terrible, nasty bug thing controlling a person) and she is tough. She has stats far above ours and is an incredible fighter. She rolled 20+ dice for everything. Everything! The Altar Boy and the Bishop are both powerful Shedim as well, and they have a high force spirit that uses its fear power to disable one of our team members. Unfortunately the Bishop takes this opportunity to kill our team member. I was able to pull off two shots, one against the Altar Boy and one against the Bishop and almost killed both of them. Even with our team and back up we couldn’t rescue our target or kill the two horrible Shedim. We ran, and ran quickly. Our overall mission was a failure but we lived!  They were force 7 and 9 master Shedims. Holy crap it was a difficult fight!

Because of my awesome shots I got MVP and a cool magnet to signify that. If you don’t know, the Shedim were basically using the bodies of the actual altar boy and Bishop to gain power and work without being suspected. The two people they took over are unfortunately dead. Remember the bug guy from Men in Black? That’s pretty close. We were so close to ridding the ShadowRun Chicago of their presence, but without a powerful mage on our side there wasn’t much we could actually do. The orc leader was a mage, but it just wasn’t enough.

We stopped at Pearl Street Pizza for some delicious food. It was very crowded, but tasty. The food was rather filling and I would highly recommend their mini calzones.

Rounding out the evening was a nice game of Whose Line Is It Anyway? The room we were in this year was spacious, but had some support pillars in it that obstructed the view of some of the contestants. I don’t recall how many times I went up but it was at least once. The running joke for this particular session was “I’m a Republican Presidential nominee” or something like that. A few of those placed well were quite funny.

 

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