This is going to be a series because there's just too much material for one blog post. Today's post will focus on my first impressions.
Before I get to anything else, let's talk about the mask issue. Dane county is progressive as fuck (unfortunately), so I knew they were going to keep extending the mask mandate. The mandate lasts for a few weeks and then right before it expires, they renew it. 15 days to slow the spread!
Personally, I strongly believe masks should be optional - especially when you're attending a convention where vaccines are mandatory. I know that getting a covid-19 vaccine means you can still spread it and transmit the virus, but that's just life now. We're never getting to zero covid. Take whatever precautions you want based on individual risk assessment and let other people live their own lives.
Didn't know how religious people would be about masks when I got there, some places in the country, even mandates seem optional. Well, everyone was wearing them pretty much all the time, except for eating and drinking. Not wanting to cause a scene or get kicked out, I wore mine, as well. Even during the majority of Game Mastering for the first two days (more on that tomorrow or the next day).
Putting it succinctly, it sucked. I had a feeling it would, and I was right. Not only is it slightly uncomfortable and annoying, it's difficult to communicate when everyone is masked. I had to ask people to repeat themselves probably 15-20 times per three-hour session. And I wasn't the only one.
You'd think all the masks would have kept the noise down. Nope. Everyone had to speak louder to be heard while wearing their nose/mouth hijab, so there was just as much noise (if not more) than an ordinary convention game room.
Regarding the Dealer's Room, I didn't see anything I had to have... except for dice, but I'll save that for later. I saw some neat Call of Cthulhu books, rules and adventures, but thumbing through multi-volume sets and 300+ page books just reminded me of the precious time and energy I have leftover for gaming. Seeing all those words, all those pages that I now consciously know I have no intention of ever reading made my wallet sigh with relief.
A couple decades ago? Yeah, I probably would have gotten some CoC books, spent the time to read and absorb the content and try to run some sessions or even a campaign. But that's so far from where I am currently, another lifetime. At the moment, only the lightest of rules-light and most awesome of ideas packed into a tight place (like the back of a volkswagon) will do.
I remember seeing a poster for Skullcano Island. That's something I would pick up and run. Short, sweet, to the point, high intensity, great concept, I already know the mechanics (it's OSR, right?), and go. But I didn't actually see the adventure being sold anywhere, just noticed the poster with that artwork a couple times.
What else was in the Dealer's Room? Miniatures, legos (not sure what that was about), computer / virtual / app / tech stuff, and a whole bunch of fancy lifestyle extras that I have no interest in - like custom tables, dice made out of precious stones, leatherwork stuff, foam weapons, LARP costumes, etc.
GameHole Con isn't the place to debut your new RPG, which is understandable. Both major and indie RPG companies probably wait for GenCon or Origins.
I did take a look at a couple smaller bite-sized gaming books. One was Mothership because half of everyone into RPGs talks about that online. The second was a Mork Borg supplement because the other half of everyone into RPGs talks about that online.
Mothership didn't look too impressive as I flipped through it, but the panic mechanic is probably worth borrowing and tweaking for the right adventure. The Mork Borg supplement came with some neat looking artwork and cards that could be combined to create an assortment of creatures. While that really appealed to me (I still fondly remember the 1979 Monster Maker toy), Mork Borg itself turns me off because it's the new hotness and I get the impression the makers are woke SJWs (though I could be wrong about that).
The games I ran over those three days were just as weird and wild as you'd expect. Maybe not the best sessions I've ever run, but definitely solid and emblematic of my particular eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic style with humor, sleaze, and pop-culture references galore!
That particular vibe isn't to everyone's liking, of course, but that's why there are game descriptions and sign-up sheets. ;)
Ok, part 2 should be up by tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for reading!
p.s. I've got another Kickstarter, hoss. I'm trying to fund book three of the Cha'alt trilogy. So, check out Cha'alt: Chartreuse Shadows!