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What Havoc Have I Wreaked? - Gen Con 2015, Days 3 & 4

Gen Con 2015, Day 3.
I don't know what time it is, but it's . . . late.

Today's activities centered around just one thing that I wanted to do.
Run a Mega-Fiasco for up to 10 players.

John, Bonnie's hand, and Lance in character.
When I was first approached about attending Gen Con by my friend Dan, I wasn't sure what to expect. You could submit events and games to run, and once they were up, you could buy tickets for whatever events you wanted to check out. I was told that some people, when they go as a group, just walk around and jump into games as they find the time. I found this tack a little hard to follow along with. Here's why . . .

I'm relatively new to this hobby, but it is something I've found that I'm passionate about. I don't consider myself a power gamer, but when I'm in the presence of games, I want to play. I want to jump in on a game that's about to start, start a game others can jump in on, or watch one unfold in an entertaining manner. And I want you to join me, but if you're not interested in this game, I may play the game while you do whatever it is you feel like doing. I do that because if it were me skipping out on a particular game, I would hope you'd be okay with me not spending valuable, precious, and very rare gaming time doing something I didn't want to do.

As I'd discovered the previous day, making a game happen on the fly only works when everybody you're asking is down with making it happen. Which is why the RPG I ran the day before turned out to be a short one with 4 other random strangers.

So I put the word out about the Mega-Fiasco, told everyone I already knew what was going to happen, and to meet me at this place at 1:00 p.m. Then I told as many people as I could think of, and quickly scoped out a place in the hallway of the JW Marriott, next to the walkway going towards the convention center, and texted & posted to Facebook the exact location. I made sure we had a flat gaming surface and enough room for 10 people, and then I sat and waited. This was about 10:00 a.m.

Funny thing about waiting 3 hours for 9 other people to show up in a space large enough for them . . . occasionally, you might be joined by someone who just wants to cool their heels. A man who introduced himself as David sat down and we began to make conversation. I told him what I was setting up for, and he sounded interested, so he asked if he could contact a couple buddies of his to see if they could join the game. I told him the more, the merrier.

Ryan, Mike, and Tim.
Eventually, people started showing up. John of Fear The Boot and Ryan, both of whom I was rooming with, were there. Bonnie and Lance from the podcast THE ESTABLiSHED FACTS joined us, and David roped his two buddies, Tim and Chuck, into playing with us. Earlier in the day, I had met a photographer named Mike who was helping to get shots to promote a game in the Playtest Lounge called The Coterie (I tried to get in on the 8:00 a.m. playtest slot, but they were all sold out and full up), and he seemed interested in the idea of a large-scale Fiasco game. I told him where we would be, and he said, "Well, at 1 o'clock, I'll be in the 2nd floor lobby of the JW Marriott looking for you." And sure enough, he found us.

So with 9 around the table, we settled on using the Reunion: Class of 1994 playset that I created and ran at Fear The Con 8, to great feedback, and we began rolling up our characters.

Now, I'll say this much. I love this game, because how realistic, convoluted, gonzo, and absurd it goes all depends on what the players bring to the table. We had some players that kept their motivations pretty grounded, and other players who took things to the extreme right away, and it was gloriously goofy.

I recorded the game, but after careful consideration, there is NO WAY I'm releasing it as a podcast. I'll produce it and pass it along to those who played so that they can enjoy it over and over again, but some of what was put out in that game was very . . . well, let's just say that The Back Burner Podcast is PG-13 rated, and much of what happened in the game was straight up rated R. Like, a very hard R. You know all those end-of-the-world scenarios you thought might happen in high school? Magnify some of those by 90, and you'll have an idea of what kind of carnage was wrought.

I will tell you that all of the 1994 graduating class of the Gary Busey Academy for the Gifted and Insane stayed true to their characters and motivations, seeing the consequences of their actions out to their logically illogical conclusions. I hate to say that you had to be there, but . . .

Yeah. You had to be there.

+ + +

Later that night, I wandered around, trying to find some decent food that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I called a Chinese place that said they delivered and asked for a delivery order. "What's your address?" came the reply.

"I'm staying at the JW Marriott."
"JW Marriott?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, I need an address."
"I don't have the address, I'm staying here as a guest."
"Okay, without an address, I can't put--"
*click*

THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT HAS BEEN PAID FOR BY THE BACK BURNER PODCAST:
If you're a restaurant that delivers to downtown Indianapolis, and there are more than 2 hotels in your delivery vicinity, you should probably have the precious addresses you so desperately need close to the phone so that you can save yourself from losing out on potentially THOUSANDS OF PAYING CUSTOMERS WHO CRAVE YOUR DELICIOUS CHINESE FOOD.

End rant.

I found a few food vendors in the convention center and settled on a grilled veggie sandwich, which featured veggies that were neither grilled nor hot, but did a great job filling the hunger void.

I then journeyed -- once again, without aim -- into the gaming hall and found a table where someone had a demo copy of Splendor, a game I'd heard a lot about but hadn't experienced. A few joined us, and pretty soon we were into a 4-player game (one great thing about Gen Con is that board games are often full to the maximum player count). I found it a great strategy game that's easy enough for novice gamers to pick up on right away, and it may find its way into my gaming closet one of these days.

King of Tokyo.
Afterwards, I met up with Bonnie again (along with Beth from Fear The Boot and a few other people) and eventually, we were joined by the rest of THE ESTABLiSHED FACTS crew for a few short tabletop games. Afterwards, most everyone went back home, but I was able to hang out just a little while longer with Big Don (Bonnie's husband) and one of his friends. We hoofed it over to White Castle for some late night food, as it was decidedly less crowded than Steak n' Shake. We talked, traded stories of what we'd experienced that week, and just enjoyed the company of fellow gamers.

Eventually, Don's friend took off, and Don had been put up in a hotel room by the company he was volunteering with, so when he retired for the evening, I had some time to relax and write on my own into more of the wee hours of the morning.

+ + +

The next morning, I woke early enough to grab a shower and get some breakfast from the Executive Lounge, then gathered my stuff together for the journey home. In the car, I got to know a little bit about Beth (from Fear The Boot) and Adam (published author and formerly of Kicked In the Dicebags) on the road, and I reflected on the weekend I'd had.

Once again, I was blown away by the passion for this hobby, and for others who share in this hobby, shown to me by everyone I came across. It wasn't the most well-rounded experience it could have been, but for my first time out, I was able to attend for three full days, and in that respect, it was very fulfilling.

Gen Con may not be an every year thing, because it's a significant cost, but the next time I go, I'm planning early, signing up for games, running a few myself, and making the most of my time out there. I may go by myself, or I may take a friend or two with me, but I'll for sure make the effort to get out there again, one way or another.

When I do, make sure you look me up. We'll get some Chinese food.

There Is No Box.
Zach

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