Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Inevitable Post U Con 2015 Post

Since it's almost a month ago, I should probably finally talk about U Con 2015, right? Okay, here goes: U Con keeps getting better and better every year, despite some minor inconveniences that seem to get piled on top of it.

The plan for U Con worked like this: I wasn't going to register for any events as a player because I like to go where I'm needed, to play in games of awesome DMs that are lacking in players to help make sure those games go off. I registered to run one game each day, registering for the last time slot each day; I am not a morning person. I am, however, as listeners to the +Drink Spin Run - An RPG Talk Show Podcast know, a beer person, so part of the plan included meals at the hotel bar where I could get a decent drink. The con food last year was okay, but nothing to write home about. The bar food was much better.

Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

Thursday

The con was to officially start on Friday, but if GenCon and GaryCon have taught me anything, it's that you really need to be there the night before. Now, my wife and I have a five-month-old (then four-month-old) and Katie was working that night, meaning that I had to bring Stan with me. I knew that +Donn Stroud was going to meet me at the hotel and I knew I'd run into at least +R.J. Thompson in the process. Good. We have people we know we'll see. Stan and I packed up our gear and headed down to the Marriott to see who we could dig up.

Donn is the one with the tats
The first person I saw was +Bill Webb of Frog God Games. After greeting him (and reminding him that we'd met when he did the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day episode of DSR), he invited me to roll up a character and sit in on the game he was about to run for some of the assembled folks. I stalled for a moment, some line about having to check in with some folks or something, when I realized that +Tim Snider was one of those guys sitting on the couches around Bill. Oh, sweet! Good to see you, man! Okay, now I know I'll be back, but I've got to pop over to the bar real fast to get a drink and say howdy to Donn.

Meanwhile, over at the bar, Donn is talking to +Pete Schwab who had come all the way from Austin, TX for the con because he signed up to run events while he still lived in Chicago and is an Ypsi native, so it gave him the chance to see family (this becomes relevant on Saturday night). While catching up with Pete, we ran into R.J. (Ryan hereafter) and his lady Crystal (sp?), and +Clayton Williams and his lovely wife +Laura Rose Williams. All of them great folks. Some more stuff happened, then it was time for Bill's game. What the hell, why not?

Joining in on Bill's game with the Little Man in tow was a great idea. Not only were there tons of folks for him to meet (he loves meeting new people), but he melted more than a few hearts. Awww. So, Bill took a huge liking to Stan and kept calling him "Baby Frog" (he'd call me "Baby Daddy" for the next few days until he could remember my name), thinking that Stan's dinosaur/dragon hoodie was a frog (hard to tell in the picture above, I know). Bill held him for a while, as did his daughter Jillian, Donn, Crystal, Laura and probably some folks I can't remember. Don't tell Katie that last part.

As the game collapsed (like late night con games do 50% of the time), Stan was getting really tired, but we were supposed to (by wifely decree) wait until +Doug Kovacs & +Roy Snyder got to the hotel. Just as I was throwing in the towel and packing up el Hombrecillo, the guys walked in the front door. Literally. We were packed up and on our way out when they showed up. I let Stan spend a little time meeting his "punkfather" and Roy and then the Muszkiewicz boys had to turn in.

Super-pleased to meet Uncle Doug

Friday

I cannot remember how Friday started. I want to say that we tried to get an early start on the day, but something kept us from it. Some morning obligation that kept us busy much later than we had anticipated. Thus, we got to the convention at 2 or 3p when I'd hoped to get there sooner. We also arrived hungry, so we sat down at the bar to eat. This is probably where we met up with +Andrew Moss and it wasn't long before we were hanging out with Bill again. Doug was there, too, as was +Jim Wampler. This is a part I can't remember very well. I know we pretty much hung out here for awhile. I probably ducked into the vendor hall to check out Roy's booth, but I'll be honest, I didn't get anywhere near the amount of booth time I'm used to. The next thing I knew, it was time for the OSR Panel. You know, this thing: http://saveordie.info/?p=1412

The panel was fun, as usual. I forgot that Ryan "lovely co-hosted" me on this. Well played, sir. 

(Also, you can totally hear Bill talk about Stan at the beginning of the seminar.)

After the panel, it was time for me to run DCC, one of my "A Night In Ur-Hadad" games, continuing the story started at Marmalade Dog 2015. Some folks in on the session (like Andrew Moss) were veterans of my "invent what you need as you need it" sort of improv and didn't skip a beat. Folks who were new to the format were, predictably, really good at it. It seems that when I ask folks to make stuff based on facts A, B & C and they're not used to it, their answers are wilder and weirder than the folks who are used to it, WHICH I FUCKING LOVE! All in all, it was a good game that involved each player going off in his own direction, shooting cannon into the crowd and ultimately resulting in the death of yet another Grand Vizier of Ur-Hadad. 

I should really start keeping track of the Grand Viziers.

Saturday

Saturday is going to read a lot like Friday but there were some notable exceptions. First, it snowed, which isn't too strange, since it's goddamn Michigan, but it was Stan's first snow. Ever. Here's what happened: 


He didn't exactly know what to do with it. That's great. 

Second, once we got there, we met up with +Cory Gahsman and his son Chase right away. I'm currently working on a project with these gents, and we had planned to talk business, so we went looking for a quiet place to talk. That ended up being the bar. We talked some business, somewhat renegotiated some terms of our project licensing contract and showed off a lot of Chase's work to some of the folks around. That's when things got really cool.

First, Bill Webb ended up joining up with us, hanging out and drinking Bloody Marys while we talked shop, which, of course, he joined in on. And that's when the artists started showing up. 

First, Chase got an art lesson from Doug. Down to "these are the kind of the pens you need to use." Then +Del Teigeler showed up and Chase got another art lesson. Art lesson number three came from +Stefan Poag who got there as the snows really started to intensify. 

Can you imagine being a 9 year old gamer, working on becoming a games industry artist and three known industry artists gave you advice? So cool. 

In the mean time, the snow had gotten completely out of control. 

The assembled personages at the bar shuffled a bit from hour to hour, but most of the time, it came down to me and Bill, until it was time for me to run my 7pm game. I spent about 7 hours (less the time it took to bring Katie & Stan home when they got tired) just chilling with Bill. Good times.

Saturday night, I ran the old Victory Games James Bond: 007 RPG for the first time ever. I had a great group of players (3 in number) including Del Teigler and Andrew Moss. Our 3rd player was a guy (whose name I sadly cannot remember but will insert if Del reminds me) who had come all the way from England to participate in U Con's Tekumel track (U Con's old school cred goes waaaay back!) and had seen my 007 game in the program and had to sign up! Pete Schwab would have been there for this session, but he ended up meeting with some family and with the aforementioned insane amount of snow, he didn't make it. Despite no Pete, we had a blast and would have saved the western world from the threat of a 3rd super power if the players hadn't ended up blowing up a uranium enrichment facility beneath the ruins of Carthage. Good times! 

Sunday

Katie & Stan showed up on Sunday mostly just to show up. We'd had a nice breakfast at the Wolverine in downtown Ypsi (which has sadly now closed its doors) and took our time getting there. By the time we were there, it was time for me to run "In Search of the Unknowable," aka Quasquetherion, my take on B1: In Search of the Unknown using Delving Deeper and some houserules designed for ease/speed of play. I had a really full table (8 players, I think) including a bunch of friends like Pete Schwab, Andrew Moss, Laura Williams, Stefan Poag (it's the second year in a row he's showed up to my games, so I must be doing something he enjoys), +James DeYonke, and other folks I can't remember right now (don't hold it against me!). The players explored Quasquetherion and plundered some riches, fought crazed cannibal halflings and zombie animals in clothes, had strange hallucinations caused by the echoed memories of a nigh-forgotten spell, had a few close brushes with things that freaked them out, wasted some time playing with curtains and managed to survive sleeping in the dungeon. Somehow. We had a good enough time that I agreed to run the group (or whoever could make it) through Quasquetherion again next year, which folks seemed to be pretty jazzed about.

At the end, I don't feel like I left U Con 2015. In many ways, it feels like U Con left me. I got to spent a weekend with so many great folks who I love spending time with, engaging in our favorite communal hobby, but in the end, they had to leave, and I stayed here in Ypsi. Thanks for coming, folks, I can't wait for you all to come back again. You're welcome any time.