There was a plan. The plan involved having both games we were running at GenCon (one on Friday afternoon, one on Saturday afternoon) written and printed off before we travelled down to Minehead.
This plan didn't survive first contact with (a) the enemy, in the form of my customers who all suddenly wanted stuff done in a hurry; (b) the friends, in the form of a family bereavement; (c) the hardware, as the laser printer chose that moment to start bitching and moaning (and jamming) when asked to print out several sheets at a time; or (d) my renowned propensity for leaving things until the last minute. So, much as usual then (well, possibly apart from the bereavement). I am considering adding a comment to next year's scenario: Powered by Lipton's Lemon Ice Tea and Montezuma's Chocolates. (Yes, simonb, you have a lot to answer for.)
In the end there was a lot of running around, getting more and more stressed, and packing rotwang's laptop to take with us. Oh well. At least one of them was done and ready to go by the time we left.
The car was a little crowded, as neither I nor rotwang are renowned for our ability to pack light -- especially not when I had sent rotwang to acquire nibbles and other foodstuffs to take with us. Add to that two further passengers -- the lovely thalinoviel and our fellow GM M WINOLJ -- and their stuff, and it was definitely on the cosy side.
We made the journey down to Minehead without significant incident, stopping for the first of many healthy meals (double Whopper with cheese, no onion, no mayonnaise) en route. The sign directing us toward the Bakelite Museum and the notice telling us that we were passing Wibble Farm were indications that we were not in Kansas any more -- inasmuch as our trip had ever included Kansas. Yes, we were in deepest, darkest, Zummerset.
Arriving around 11pm, we managed to find the friends with whom thalinoviel was sharing a chalet, and also picked up our chalet key. Those same friends helped us cart the majority of our
rotwang and I were booked in to play some Call of Cthulhu in the first session on Thursday morning (starting at 9am, urgh). We queued to pick up our tickets (handily including, for myself and M, our free passes for our GMing efforts). Unfortunately the session was suffering from the Curse of Tabletop, that being the lack of our GM, so we sat around and chatted with various con-goers a while until they found someone who was able to run the adventure (the first of two parts).
The GM was very good but the adventure wasn't great; very linear, somewhat as one might expect from a tournament scenario, but also not very Cthulhoid; not a very usual era (early 18th century), nothing particularly horrifying happened in the first session at all, and it was also very short. Even starting late, we finished about half an hour before the nominal end of session. (Not that I was complaining; more game-writing time.)
We'd booked in to play a freeform Thursday afternoon which had, unfortunately, been cancelled and replaced by something neither of us were especially worried about, so we hacked on with the game stuff, stopping for more lovely nutritious food (Pizza Hut, this time). Not a wildly exciting day, really.
Megadungeon, in the first slot on Friday morning. It wasn't worth it. Again we had to wait for a GM, and this one wasn't great; the table was crowded, one or two of the players were very irritating, and the scenario was crap. (I surmise that some of my negative attitude was due to stress and lack of sleep.)
At last, we got to the Friday afternoon slot, and the first of our games, Winter of Discontent. Time was, when we wrote one game a year and had three main people in the writing team, that we tended to split the characters fairly evenly among us. These days, writing two games a year and having two main people on the writing team, what usually happens is that M writes the vast majority of one game and I write the vast majority of the other, with help for M from caffeine_fairy and for me from rotwang. Winter of Discontent was Mo's baby, while the game we ran on Saturday, Pearls Before Swine, was mine.
The game, I thought, went very well; people certainly seemed to have a good time, though (somewhat to my surprise) with a bit more character death than usual. We had a couple of spare characters, one of which wound up being played by someone whose character had met an untimely end, one of whom was NPCed by me, and we brought in a replacement for one more. There were strange goings-on in the woods (of various different varieties), arcane rituals including the Ferret-Rolling Contest, and generally it all worked. (Yes, I am being vague; we might want to run this again sometime!)
We adjourned to Pizza Hut again for food, and then I put the final touches to Saturday's game before retiring to bed.
I had volunteered to man the LARP desk on Saturday morning, which turned out to be very easy duty. Various and sundry of the Millennium Moon folks, plus Karim The Indefatigable (LARP organiser), were also kicking around, so we got to chat and abuse the local laser printer.
There was much stuffing of envelopes ahead of the run of Pearls Before Swine that afternoon. Again we were a couple of players short of full, but once more it didn't matter too much as we could NPC them easily enough. People didn't seem to get too confused by the character names, as rotwang had feared they might. The highlight of the game was the martial arts contest between a practitioner of the Way of the Eagle's Cry and the Way of the Ferret, in which it was conclusively proved that the latter could not punch his way out of a wet paper bag. The other highlight, for me, was when queenortart's bloke (not, as far as I know, on LJ), who reads Japanese, correctly noted that the game's map had its provinces labelled as "Earth Dragon", "Fire Dragon", "Water Dragon" in Chinese (katakana symbols -- am I right on which set that is? -- being the same in both). Yes! My displacement activity paid off! (I'd spent time Googling for the right symbols and rotwang did a lovely map in Campaign Cartographer for me.)
By this time I was basically brain-dead. We ate at one of the pubs (as a change from Pizza Hut) and talked bollocks for a bit, then M retired to our chalet with an impending migraine and G and I cast about a bit for things to do. Eventually we wound up playing Nice One Squirrel with thalinoviel until it was time for her to go and play Are You A Werewolf? with the Looney Labs mob, whereupon we headed back to the chalet to bed. (Memo to self: get more people's mobile numbers so you can find out where they're hanging out next year.)
Ahh, it's GenCon, it's Sunday morning... that means it must be time for Paranoia!
"Lasers and missions, here's what we all wait for,
R & D items and shooting the traitor,
Wince as the Computer makes us all sing,
These are a few of my favourite things..."
Only two of the party managed to get through more than ten clones (new system; you can have more than six, but after six they start becoming a little less than perfect copies). And our team of Troubleshooters won the talent contest with our rendition of You're The Commies We Hunt (quite possibly because we were the only team of three who didn't try to do anything painful with Bohemian Rhapsody)
Sunday afternoon was spent relaxing in pleasant company with assorted beverages. This is what GenCon ought to be. The fact that all of the accommodation packages included Sunday night meant nobody was rushing off (and also that we hadn't had to try to check out of the chalet before our 9am game that morning).
Overall it was a nice social con, back to the Camber Sands/Loughborough atmosphere when we had everyone on one site. Much better than Olympia (most especially last year at Olympia).
I have some comments on the economics of conventions, which I'll save for another post (and maybe another night)