Monday, March 11, 2019

GaryCon 2019 (part 1)

What a weekend!

Yes, I got back from GaryCon in one piece.  Was there all Thursday and Friday, but had to leave about 1pm on Saturday, after my last game.

There's almost too much to say, so I'm going to keep this kind of brief and condense it all into one blog post.  Wish me luck!  [edit: Nope, just couldn't do it.  This is going to be in two parts.  First, Cha'alt, and then Alpha Blue.]

Session 4

The final session of Cha'alt concerned exploring and looting the frozen insides of the gargantuan purple demon-worm Kra'adumek.  My family and I pre-rolled nearly 100 ability scores (strength, dexterity, etc.), all 3d6 in order, ahead of time.  That's going to come in real handy in the years to come... and will appear in Cha'alt.

As that game was "D&D 5e," there were numerous expectations.  When I told everyone that I wanted to keep it standard races, only one racial ability per character, just the main 4 classes, and you roll a % and what your ability scores turn out to be is what they are, save vs. death... well, some jaws dropped. 

The players were more than a little dismayed (one player's suggestion of pre-gens was solid and I probably should have done that, but also wanted to use my d100 ability score table), but kept their composure (no table flipping), which I appreciated.  After all, if a PC died, he could simply roll up a new one and keep going.  With this method, it wouldn't have taken more than 5 minutes to come up with a whole new character.

We played it old school - distance, movement, and perception checks were all but hand-waved.  And sure enough, just as I told them, once the adventure got underway, how strong or wise their characters were didn't matter as much as thinking things through, tactics, diplomacy, knowing when to step on the gas and when to break, and, of course, luck.

I didn't open any D&D books the entire game... in fact, I neglected to bring any D&D books to the convention - aside from my own scenarios and guidebooks.  To me, that's a sign of a qualified old school GM who's comfortable with his rulings.

This being a con game, they came up with an overarching desire (kill the demon-worm), and I presented them with a way to achieve that... the unexploded photon torpedo.

Several party members almost died, but no one actually bit the big one.  Some nice treasure was had, NPCs interacted with, weirdness encountered, and juicy combat to get the blood pumping... as well as spilling out all over the demon-worm floor.

By the game's end, everyone thanked me for the experience.  I appreciated their indulgence of my old school ways, and a few of them said they were glad that I stuck to my guns.  Overall, I think everyone had been temporarily transported to another world.  That kind of immersion is all the thanks I'll ever need. 

Session 2

The second session of GaryCon was Beneath Kra'adumek.  Since I designated that particular game Swords & Wizardry, the occasional shitty ability scores didn't raise an eyebrow.  This crowd was primed for vintage D&D escapades. 

While I unfortunately forgot to bring my copy of How To Game Master like a Fucking Boss to session 4, I had it with me during session 2.  So, each player rolled % to see what past experience they had. 

The wildest result was a gnome (complete with ridiculous hat) trying to get the PC and others to invest in some financial scheme, offering a transparent cube as some sort of proof-of-concept. 

That could have just been a throw-away idea forgotten as soon as it was said, but no.  The player who rolled that proudly talked about his cube and attempted to seek investors in his uncanny enterprise.  After swapping realities with a nearly identical party, that player decided his cube was now a sphere... and the roleplaying began anew.  By the session's end, his business' tagline was "It never ends."  Appropriate.  ;)

As has usually been the case, the PCs decided to convince several of the purple priests to join a new faction - one instituted by the PCs themselves.  After killing the Ipsissimus and mid-wife-ing a newly hatched demon-worm spawn, it wasn't too difficult to persuade some drugged-out cultists to worship Kra'adumek in an entirely new way. 

They played around with the fissure in time and space, experimented with mutated xoth, ate 67 omelets, and foiled the priest's plans to sacrifice a trio of virgins. 

Due to the freewheeling nature of this dungeon, the loose rules of early D&D, and player personalities, a lot of jokes were told and the table erupted in laughter about a dozen times in those 3 hours of weird retro-escapism. 

There was even a woman among the players, so of course I had to make my own saving throw to avoid chanting, "Old enough to bleed; old enough to play a human barbarian!"  Thankfully, I just made it when the die ricocheted off my slimy green tentacle, and old school grognards were saved having to excuse my toxic masculine diversions. 

Some great and/or hilarious quotes from that session...

  • The New God's name is "wormy"... it's a work in progress.
  • "He who slithers through our minds.  Praise be!"
  • Purple priest playboy mag stuck behind the library books.
  • "Spicy sriracha worms."
  • "May the violet be with you... always."
  • "GnomeSphere... it never ends [TM]."
  • "Obey the slither!"

All in all, both groups were fantastic!  I had a blast GMing for everyone, and I hope the memories of Cha'alt will live long and prosper in our collective imaginations.

Ok, part 2 should come tomorrow.


p.s. I managed to move all 4 sessions to a less noisy, less distracting area of the hotel so we could all enjoy the game without shouting, wondering if we actually heard the other person correctly, or daydreaming about the guy at the next table dressed as Gandalf being bludgeoned into unconsciousness with his own Dwarven Forge terrain.