Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Inevitable Post Marmalade Dog 2015 Post

Sadly, Marmalade Dog has been over for more than a week now. I say sadly not because I'm only now getting around to writing about it, but because this was a pretty hard con to leave, which is not what I expected at all. Here's my MarmaDog story.

Photo by Roy Snyder
I wasn't planning on hitting up Marmalade Dog, this year or ever. I had vague recollections of the con from when I lived in Kalamazoo in the 90's (which was a great time to live in K-town, by the way), and while I'm probably guilty of romanticizing many details of my early adulthood there, one that I cannot be called guilty of is overhyping the gaming scene there. Frankly, when I was in college, the gaming scene in Kalamazoo was one that I was not interested in being a part of, li'l gaming hipster me, what with its Magic: the Gathering and AD&D 2e (and 2.5e). The closest I got to being involved in the gaming scene was when I got into Warhammer 40k 4e, which meant I bummed around one of the hobby shops for spare lead.

Nowhere in that span of many years did Marmalade Dog ever make a splash in my consciousness.

I had expected, entirely unfairly and based on reports from friends and no first-hand experience, that the West Michigan Gamers Guild was a bunch of Dorito-stained neckbeards arguing over vagaries of rules loopholes in some basement somewhere.

In short, I had no fucking idea what shit was like and made up my mind how shit was based on rumor and speculation. That's bullshit.

However, that bullshit had some staying power, and somehow it lingered in my subconscious.

And then it blended with the general disregard I've seen for the old school at other small cons like MichiCon and WinterCon. Again, this is bullshit.

Going into winter, I had no intent on hitting up Marmalade Dog, despite the fact that it's in one of the coolest cities in Michigan (again, Kalamazoo and the me romanticizing it).

One fact and one fact alone changed my mind: Roy Goddamn Snyder.

All you need to know is ROY
I don't know if you know +Roy Snyder, but if you're in the DCC con crowd, chances are you've met him or will meet him sooner or later. Roy is the guy behind Goodman Games having a solid presence at a lot of northern cons like U Con, Marmalade Dog, Con on the Cob and GrandCon. He runs the booth, preaches the word and kicks a lot of ass for the game I love. He's kind of like the "Taco Jon" Hershberger of the north (Burrito Roy?).

Well, Roy lives in Kalamazoo (a fact which, I'll admit, endears him to me even further) and he decided to step up and run a bona fide OSR track at Marmalade Dog. So, when Roy asked me to run some events, there was no way I could say "no." Absolutely no way. Yes, Roy, I will be there and we will make this thing happen. I will bring my particular breed of DCC craziness to your backyard, my old stomping grounds, and tear shit up.

I packed up the truck, put Wu-Tang Clan on the Spotify, and took off for K-town.

Friday, I got there too late to participate in any games before my scheduled event, something that I hadn't bothered to name, so Roy did it for me (good job, Roy!). So, instead, I hung out with +Pete Schwab and just bummed around talking to folks like +Follow Me, And Die! Larry. When it came time to game, things got predictably crazy, but that's what happens when a group of vermen steal crates of telepathic sex dust in the Lucrewarren outside of Ur-Hadad. The crew did a great job of rolling with the crazy shit I threw at them and threw a healthy dose back at me. +Laura Rose Williams+Andrew Moss & +Jared Randall were a blast to game with, along with Pete, Larry & Roy, all of whom made their debut appearances in Ur-Hadad. Afterwards, we all tried to go out for beers, got confused as to which bar we were going to, then got stupid. Well, not all of us. Laura thought she wasn't invited for some reason.

L-R: Roy, Larry, Rob
Saturday, my old pals Rob "Lozareth" Askren (old school WoW players may recognize that name) and Georg Rumpf drove down and ended up playing in +Shane Harsch's Narosia 5e game, after which we played in Larry's 1e Village of Hommlet game (Larry's first con game as a DM!). Then Rob had to leave before I ran the second night of the ongoing DCC plotline that we were jiving on the night before.

It dawns on me that, at this time, I should call out the fact that, back in the 90's, Georg & Rob (as well as our friends Josh and Kevin and sometimes Aaron) were the dudes I wanted to game with. Having them back in the saddle for this con was badass on a personal level and reminded me of why the 90's were such a good decade for me, gaming-wise. Rob looks at everything with the mind of a fantastic DM and he picks apart everything to figure out how to make it better. Georg is quite simply one of the best players I've ever seen, and his ability to come up with a plan that should be common sense to everyone else at the table including me but isn't is astonishing. The dude has a serious facility for tearing a situation down to its raw parts and making sense out of the senseless. These are the dudes I was gaming with in the 90's. Man, I had it good.

Me (checking out Roy's ass), Roy, Shane, Larry, Jeremy, Jarod & Pete
Photo by Roy Snyder
So, the second night of my "A Night In Ur-Hadad" thing went really, really well. Roy was still playing his emaciated minotaur, we added Shane to the players as well as Georg and Chris whose last name I can never remember but I know he lives in the Ace-Deuce. Instead of being about vermen and eropathine, this night was about rugs, thugs and Rob Halford. Yep, it only makes sense if you were there. Afterwards, we hit up one of the bazillion local breweries in K'zoo ("something's" Bigg Dogg Brewery; it was pretty good) and the fun continued. In the end, the con's president stopped by and we jawed a bit about improving attendance (apparently, not everyone knows that G+ is a haven for gamers, wtf?) and the hurdles he has to jump through since the West Michigan Gamers Guild is a student organization. So far, the con hadn't ceased to be a blast for me.

But the next morning, Sunday, as I made my way into K'zoo (I was staying with my folks in South Haven, 1/2 hr west of Kalamazoo), I made some wrong turns and ended up too late to get into any games at the 11a Sunday slot. Rather than wait around to get into games, I decided to hit the road, if only because my beautiful (and pregnant! -- oh, yeah, I haven't said this over here on the blog: we're having a baby!) wife was at home and had the day off and I was getting really lonely for her. Yep, I'm a sap. Still, I'd had two great days of gaming, hanging out with awesome people (many for the first time, but I sure as hell hope not for the last!) and getting in a lot of good, satisfying gaming. It was great seeing friends old and new, and if the con will be something that brings these folks together again, then it's one I'll hit again and again.