You Win This Round TotalCon

Let me start off by saying, lest it appear otherwise, that TotalCon was a great success this year.  I had a really great time.  That said, you may be wondering why I’m posting this on Sunday afternoon when I should still be there.  Well, for a variety of reasons this year the convention totally kicked my ass.  The thought of being there all day today and then going right back to work tomorrow was just too exhausting to contemplate.  As I was only signed up to play one game today and wasn’t running anything, I decided to just throw in the towel a day early.

I may post more details about certain parts of the convention later, but let me start with just some quick highlights, lowlights, and observations about my time at the con:

  • Ran three good runs of the Slavers modules.  Pretty much stuck to either half of A1 as I got a unique set of players for each game (no repeats).  I’ve posted their scores to my collected scores here.  I will undoubtedly have more to say about these games later.
  • Arrived first thing Thursday an hour ahead of time and was sitting all by myself in the old school room waiting to play when Tim Kask popped his head in and chided me for being an hour early.  We then chatted for a bit, which lead to him inviting me up to his room to see some material he’s working on, and then my only barely making it back down in time for my game.  Kind of pleased with myself for having a rapport with Tim, who is a genuinely nice guy and a very fun DM to play with, tinged with a  slight disappointment that he keeps showing me material before I get a chance to play it!
  • The Friday group I DMed for really hit the module hard and had a great time doing it.  They were just 1 character death short of a perfect score.  Everyone looked really engaged, and at the end two of the players turned out to be the hosts of Not Just Another Gaming Podcast, which may include in a future episode an interview with yours truly.
  • Some players in my Saturday game turned out to be organizers of a convention in NY, and were interested in recruiting me as a DM for that convention.  I know very few details about their con but have a business card and intend to email them and at least hear their pitch.  I guess this was the convention for gamer-networking!
  • My 10-2 time slot was very awkward, and though I never had too few players, I think I may have lost some due to it.  Also, it left me with funny time-gaps between 3-5 PM each afternoon with nothing to do.  In two cases I filled my time playing some pick-up board games (Cosmic Encounters on Thursday, demo of the yet-to-be-published ZPocalypse on Friday).  Also it totally screwed up my eating schedule with very late lunches, or skipped lunches.  Next year I think I will just run afternoon/evening games and leave the mornings for sleeping in or light board gaming.
  • Speaking of sleep, yeah my plan of getting “good sleep” at home did not pan out.  Had nasty insomnia Thursday night, and then never really recovered from that.  Even though I live less than 30 minutes from the convention, driving to and from definitely gave the whole thing a weird vibe, and was not fun to do when suffering from sleep deprivation.  Also I felt a bit like a hobo living out of my car, it sure would have been nice to have a hotel room to sneak back to for an hour of TV watching or a quick nap during some of those time gaps.  Next year, I think I will definitely opt for getting a room at the convention.
  • Played in three games as well, two AD&D and one OD&D.  Two were excellent, one was not bad.  Will likely post about these as I try to put my finger on what exactly makes for a good vs. bad con game for me as a player.  Kudos to Tim and Travis, who ran my favorites and will remain on my list of DMs to make every effort to play with next year.
  • Pretty much every game I ran or played in included one or two people who had never played old school games of any type.  Typically their only experience was with 3rd edition or later.  I was gratified to hear pretty much in every case they always seemed very pleased with the outcome, enjoying how “fast” or “open” the game felt.  Perhaps they were just being polite to the DMs in some cases, and I’m not sure how many of these will become real old school converts, but it gladdens me to see people getting exposed to the old styles and discovering the exact qualities that I love so much about them.
  • The dealer’s room has one booth there every year held by a merchant called “Old Fart Games”, which I can simply not find any reference to outside of TotalCon.  Is it a store?  Is it just some dude’s old collection being personally sold?  I have no idea, but I always find good stuff there.  This year’s purchase included a copy of Outdoor Survival in excellent condition (not even punched!) for $13, and another Avalon Hill game from the late 70’s (already forgotten the name) for $20.  The proprietor even then knocked the whole purchase down to an even $30 for me, what a steal.

That’s all that’s in my head right off the bat.  Will try to post more details later, but right about now I think I could use a nap.

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