As I said in a comment to one of my own posts, reading my posts from when I was at the convention is a bit like reading something you wrote while drunk. I hope I wasn’t too overly critical of any of the games I played in. I do like to critique what I play, but that doesn’t mean I’m not having a great time playing. All in all I had an excellent time at the con, enough that the crazy level of sleep deprivation is not enough to scare me away from going again next year.
What really makes this con is the people. It’s just the right size — big enough that there’s always something interesting to play, and small enough that by the end of it you’ve seen the same faces enough times that you’re starting to feel like a member of unique little community. I played and DMed for a lot of really great guys. Tim, Frank, Travis, Bill, Ragnar, and pretty much everyone who played in my Sunday 8:00 AM game (sorry if I don’t remember everyone’s names), thanks for a great time!
Of course with the good comes the bad. At one of Tim’s games there was a guy who obviously suffered from some kind of physical condition. Tim said later that he was told as child to call someone like that an “interesting guy”. He did all right, even when he spent several minutes holding up the game while digging through his bag for a d20; everyone was very patient and understanding. The trouble was at the beginning of the game when he handed Tim a 3.5 character sheet and asked “Can you look over that?” Tim’s response: “Why?”
The guy clearly just didn’t get that there was a difference between OD&D and 3.5, despite a couple attempts to explain it. This same guy showed up at my 8:00 AM game, and though he said he was actually there to play Frank’s 10:00 AM, he attempted to sit in on my game anyway and gave me the same sad looking 3.5 character sheet. I tried to explain it to him, but he clearly just didn’t get it. Also it seems he had had enough of this treatment throughout the convention, as at this point he put his foot down and refused to play unless I allowed him to play his 3.5 character. He even wrote me a synopses of the character on a piece of paper and handed it to me while I was in the middle of running my game to try and convince me. I can’t say I was sad to see him go when Frank showed up at 10. I feel bad for the guy. I wish someone could sit down and explain to him that he was in the wrong room, and maybe lead him on over to the RPGA games where I’m sure they’d welcome his character. I just didn’t have the energy to do it, nor the time, as like I said I was in the middle of running a game for 7 other people.
Less severe is Mr. Jokey, whose antics made me unhappy last year. This year he seemed a bit more subdued. He played in my AD&D tournament, and I was quite surprised to find that contrary to being annoyed by his presence, I actually think he added quite a bit to the game. I suppose it could be that by DMing I was distracted more and thus didn’t have time to be annoyed by him. I think though it might also have been due to the nature of the game. Mr. Jokey seems to really dig the intricacies of AD&D minutiae. He’s a puzzle solver, the guy who wants to succeeded based on his ability to memorize every detail of the monster manual. The tournament I ran actually to some degree encourages this, or at least doesn’t look down on it. There’s even some points that could only possibly be awarded by the players knowing their AD&D monsters. Also we only had 5 people in my game, which I think meant that Mr. Jokey was more engaged, and thus didn’t have the idle time to make his awkward jokes. And that may be the crux of it. Mr. Jokey isn’t always Mr. Jokey, he just turns to that when bored and in a slightly socially awkward situation. A good DM (I flatter myself) can make Mr. Jokey into asset at the table, rather than an annoyance. So DMs, here’s the lesson: keep your players engaged. Fight lapses and down time. Keep your players on their toes all the time, and the social misfits will fall in line.
But I think I’m being overly critical. Like I said, I had a great time, even better than last year I think. I’m looking forward to next year already. And hopefully by then I’ll have learned to craft my own schedule more carefully, and maybe catch a little more sleep between games.