I just got back from TotalCon, and I have to say I had a pretty good time. Way back at the start of the winter I knew I wanted to check out some local conventions, and I landed on TotalCon as the one I would really go to in earnest. While I ended up casually stopping by at Open Gaming Con and TempleCon, without really devoting myself to being there for at least a full day and sitting down to a couple of games I can’t say I really attended either convention.
TotalCon is four days long, and claims to be the biggest gaming convention in New England. Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t want to devote myself to going to the entire thing. It’s only an hour away, so I figured I could just go for a day and if it was really awesome there’s always next year. I sent email around Helga’s but nobody seemed interested in going, not even Jenn. Thus up until the last minute I was really only intending to go down for the afternoon or evening on Saturday. I figured I would at least get into one game, and otherwise just scope out the convention as I had the others.
But at the last minute I noticed they still had hotel rooms, and as Jenn didn’t have much planned other than reading and watching TV while I was gone, we decided to go down for the whole day Saturday, stay at the hotel Saturday night, and come back Sunday morning. At least Jenn could take a dip in the indoor pool as well as watch TV and read while I was gone. The hotel room was pretty cheap, and despite the fact that we arrived way too early, they let us check in right away. For throwing things together last minute, it really went rather swimmingly.
And I got to play two games yesterday, both GMed by none other than Frank Mentzer. The first was a high level AD&D 1e game (15th-18th level), and the second was an OD&D game, actually the first D&D module ever printed: Palace of the Vampire Queen. I will post more details about each game later, for now I just want to talk about the convention in general.
It’s held in the Mansfield Holiday Inn, which actually is a pretty lovely space. The rooms are arranged in a large circle which surround an indoor area that tries very hard to look like a charming piazza of sorts. The front half includes a frontage to their restaurant, an eating area, and space for a good number of tables, which the con naturally uses for gaming. The back half, separated by a wall, is where the pool is. Off this central area are several more good sized meeting rooms and one very large ball room. TotalCon uses the meeting rooms mostly for more gaming space, though one is devoted to being the dealers room, and the large ballroom is used for miniatures gaming.
All in all I’d say the effect is very good and makes a great place to game. It feels much more cohesive than the space TempleCon has, and I really appreciated the dealers all being in one easy to browse area. I never felt like I was intruding on anyone. The only downside was the ridiculously loud HVAC unit in our room, which insisted on turning itself on for about 30 seconds every 15 minutes throughout the night, despite the fact that we had turned it off. I suppose it was trying to maintain a minimally comfortable temperature, but it had a knack for switching on just as I was about to fall asleep. So much like GenCon, TotalCon was an exercise in sleep deprivation. I must remember to invest in some good ear plugs soon.
Anyway, let me close out this rambling by saying I had a very good time, and I certainly hope to attend more of the convention next year. But now I’m really looking forward to HelgaCon in April, and GenCon in August.