March 13, 2015

3DoGG lived up to the name!

Sorry for the lengthy silence.

February was something of a crazy month, and the first few days of March were spent trying (and to some extent failing) to get everything together for GamerNationCon 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Those who know me also know how crushed/pissed I was when my flight plans to go to the inaugural GamerNationCon in 2014 got squashed by the Albany area getting slammed with a massive snowstorm that pretty much shut down all flights leaving the Albany International Airport for the entire morning and probably well into the afternoon as well.

Well, luckily there was no report performance of that, and I was able to attend this year's GNCon.  And the tag of "3 Days of Gaming Goodness" lives up to the name, as I had an absolute blast.

Most of my time was spent playing various RPGs, including a couple that I'd never played before, such as ICONs run by my friend Eric "oghen" Brenders.  It was a fun system, and I felt kind of bad ditching them for a rare chance to play the Dragon Age RPG, but from what I'm told the ICONs session wrapped up pretty shortly after I left.  The Dragon Age game was fun, though sadly my dice couldn't roll for crap, which was a trend that also continued into the Feng Shui 2 session I participated in.  All three sessions were fun, but I think playing a Maverick Cop by the name of Jacob McFoley was probably the highlight of the non-Star Wars RPG sessions I played in.

I did get to play in 2 (well, technically 3) Star Wars sessions, all using the FFG system.  The first one was run by author Keven "Rikoshi" Frane, who I was glad to finally be able to meet and hang out with, even going so far as to having dinner with him and his friend Paul at Red Hot and Blue.  Rikoshi's adventure was fun, but needed some work as it probably could be run as two 3+ hour slots instead of trying to cram it into a single 4(ish) hour slot.  He did say this was his first time running it, and nobody really gets their written con modules right the first time out.  Even GM Chris makes used of "slot zero" to iron out the bugs in his assorted con modules.  It was also great to meet and game (even if briefly) with Wayne Basta, who I've also known through the d20 Radio forums for quite some time.  He did a bang-up job at making the Trandoshan Doctor PC be quite creepy, particularly with some of the wild facial expressions he did.  And Paul giving the female Twi'lek Politico the air of an uptight diva was also entertaining, but just not quite to the same extent.  I'd certainly play in a game run by Rikoshi again, as he's a fun GM and pretty good at keeping things moving; the only flaw with the adventure was that it was too ambitious for a 4 hour con slot.

The other Star Wars game I played in was Sunday, and that was probably the highlight of the whole convention for me.  Phil aka "DarthGM" is a great GM, even when (or perhaps especially when) he's sleep deprived from the shenanigans of the night before, particularly when combined with Daylight Savings Time pushing the clocks an hour ahead.  What made that session particularly cool was getting to share the gaming table with FFG Lead Developer and the con's Guest of Honor Sam Stewart.  I've played under Sam as a GM a few times at GenCon, and while those were fun, he really shined as a player, being quite entertaining and creative as the Duros Scholar/Saboteur.  I was playing the "lucky charm" build that Phil described on the Order 66 episode discussing the Force Sensitive Emergent, who was also a Soldier/Sharpshooter and a fun character to roleplay; I got to be annoyingly chipper around a bunch of people in various degrees of sleep deprivation :D  I am curious to see how my dice roll after sharing them with Sam and rolling them in Phil's dice tray.

Also, I got to make two trips (the second one being much shorter) to Plano's FLGS, Madness Games and Comics.  If you listen to the Order 66 podcast, then in the past you've heard Chris and Dave mention and rave about the place.  I think Eric put it best when said "it's not a gaming store, it's a geek hobby warehouse!"  Seriously, the place is HUGE, befitting as I believe it was a supermarket that got retrofitted into a game store.  Shelves upon shelves upon shelves of comics, RPG books, minis, dice, statues... I could have sworn I actually heard a choir of angels sing the first time I crossed the threshold, and were it not for packing concerns (I intentionally used a smaller suitcase), I could have easily spent a bunch of money I really didn't have to spend at that place.

The convention itself wrapped up with dinner at a Texas steakhouse, and man was that steak goooooood.  In fact, most of the food I had down there was good, ranging from a joint that was a combination BBQ pit and gas station to Red, Hot, and Blue (a small chain that also had yummy BBQ).  Sadly, I made the mistake at eating at a tex-mex buffet called Panchos, and I will never, ever make that mistake again.  Also ate at IHOP a couple times, which was good as usual (though I may have overdone it on Monday morning in terms of the amount of food I ate).

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other cool people I got to hang out with, such as Adie/R2DToots all the way from the UK, who was a piggin' sweetheart of a person and newly-minted Queen of the Keg Stand.  I really do hope she can make it to GNCon next year, as I'd love a chance to game with her, though she seems to be more of a boardgame type of gal where I'm more of an RPG kind of bloke.  Also enjoyed getting to talk campaign ideas with Eric without having to deal with the hassle of us being on Skype at the same time.  And it was great to finally meet and talk to Doran "Doctor Xerox" in the flesh, and he's about as quiet in person as he is in Skype, though part of that might have to do with me and Eric being such boisterous personalities when it comes to gaming ideas.  It was great to see and talk with GM Chris, GM Dave, Brev, Krista, and Kat as well.  Didn't get a lot of time to hang/talk with Phil or Sterling Hershey, but that's how it goes, particularly since Phil seemed to do nothing but run Star Wars games, such as his "The Big Leagues" module or his newly-crafted "Guns of Nova Rain" (which is what I played on Sunday).  Sterling ran an adventure on Sunday morning, but I didn't get a chance to check that out due to being in Phil's game; maybe next year if Sterling can make it.

The "Yes, And..." panel was a lot more interesting than I'd though it'd be, with Sam, Sterling, Phil, and Keith Kappel discussing various ways that players aka "those jerks" can derail a pre-written adventure and how you as the GM can put things back on track without having to completely scrap what you've written.

The flight back home had a bit more drama than I would have liked, but I made it home safe and sound, with my luggage showing up the next morning equally safe and sound.  A big vote of thanks to the Gamer Nation folks that were willing to ferry me not only back and forth between the hotel and con site, but also pick up and drop off at the airport.

I won't go into too much more detail, but I have to say of all the various conventions that I've gone to, including GenCon, this one was by far the most fun.  GenCon has its perks (dealer hall for one), but in terms of things to do, GamerNationCon is one tough act to beat, and was far less expensive for me in terms of travel and hotel costs to boot. And truthfully, I didn't pre-reg for a single event at GNCon, and the only times I wasn't gaming was because I was eating or had removed myself from the hustle and bustle to give my social anxiety meter a chance to zero out.

Overall, it was one hell of a weekend, and I so can't wait to do it again next year.  Early word is that they're looking to move the con to April, which I think will go a long way towards alleviating some of the travel problems that a few folks had; a number of folks flying in from the northern parts of the country had weather-related delays.

Now, as to that "fail" part I mentioned earlier?  Well, I had initially planed to bring the materials to run three possible RPG modules.  The first of these was my Saga Edition version of Operation: Jailbreak, the second was Dragon Age's Duty Unto Death (as seen on TableTop), and an unspecified EotE module.  Sadly, I rolled a Despair at properly managing my time, and simply couldn't get the characters and core plot idea to properly gel for the EotE module in time for the con, so I wound up scrapping it entirely.  Which was probably just as well as enough folks were running EotE and AoR that anyone that needed their Star Wars fix wasn't hurting for options.  Next year, I'll probably just bring the stuff for Dragon Age (which folks seemed to enjoy even though I'm sure I forgot all sorts of rules and had to look up skill specializations to see what sort of check I should be asking for) and the FFG Star Wars module that I'm currently working on.  Said module should be good to go in time for GNCon3, as I've got the characters set and ready (just need to tweak one a bit and fine tune the stats for another) and a pretty solid plot layout that just needs some polish and embellishing; it likely won't be a formally written module (as dear gods do I suck at doing those) but will have enough structure that I'll know where it's going but flexible enough that I won't be at a loss for the palyers' inevitable right turn at Albuquerque.  It's a pretty fun cast of characters, or at least they look like a pretty fun cast of characters; I'll have to run the module first to see if that holds true.

Well, that's enough blabbering from me for one night.  If I don't stop now, I'm likely to keep going on and on about how fun this year's GNCon was.  Unless things go totally pear-shaped for me, I should be all set to attend next year's con, especially if it's being held in April due to a severe lack of weather-related shenanigans that frequently occur in March.  After all, there's plenty of shenanigans at GamerNationCon already.

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