First and foremost, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that right from the start this dexcon was a wee bit different than any other double exposure event I've been to thus far. It was also sort of unique in that it was an anniversary of sorts. Dexcon was my first local con after all and it's been an interesting year.
I'm not sure if I've ever commented before about the inner workings of the whole 'double exposure family' but it often feels to me like some sort of giant highschool with cliques and near-invisible social machinations among the various members. Having been low on the totem pole and quite frankly, not looking to become more prominant, I was spared most of the behind the scenes angst and maneuverings. You'd always hear bits and pieces however in the form of rumor. Who's out to get who. Who's the informant. Who's unhappy and causing probelms. Who's the do-nothing sycophant. And so on and so on and so on. It's basically inevitable and I imagine pretty endemic to a lot of these sort of organizations. This became more of an issue this time around because for one reason or another there was a severe GM shortage. Eileen, who had run the BG room ever since I had joined up, was out and would not be running the event or pitching in. Also out was June, another longterm GM who had been there long before my time. Add in a few other no-run GMs among groups like the MiBs (Steve Jackson Games), and it was going to be tight as hell. This was despite the fact that Lori had made a call out to the boardgameNJ meetup for GMs and that we also pulled in the Bills and Kath to try to fill out the numbers.
So, basically going in things were looking pretty bleak. It only got worse when on the very opening day of the con, Ruth's father died. She and her husband Eddie were two of the few remaining old-school GMs and it made an already sort of problematic schedule completely insane. Now, you might ask why I even paid any attention to the overall ability of GMs to fill slots. After all, I simply signed up to run my events and that was more or less it, right? Not exactly. After Eileen left, Randy more or less got the nod and because he was a friend, all of us pitched in and went above and beyond in trying to help him hold the whole thing together. I can honestly say that this was the most 'hardcore' schedule I have ever attempted at any con, basically arriving before 9am each morning and not leaving until near 2am each night. There was not a single slot during that entire period where I didn't have a game scheduled of some sort and I really came to appreciate those time gaps in the schedule for meal breaks which became just about the only time I could get a liedown. Multiply that schedule by 4 and a half days and by the end, I think all of us GMs were walking corpses.
In the end though, we put the puppy to bed as a team and I didn't hear any complaints from the attendees so that's a plus. All I can say though is that there's no way this is going to be possible to do again. This was Ruth and Eddie's last con, and I've already been told by some of the newer GMs that there's no way they can pull a schedule like that again. If it weren't for the fact that it was Randy who got stuck with the job of organizing in the first place, a good chunk of people wouldn't have pulled out all the stops this time around.
Still, as of wednesday night last week, none of this was yet apparent. Spirits were high, the con was just starting, and everyone was looking forward to around 96 hours of gaming goodness.
I ended up getting to the hotel a bit later than I had planned. The banquet was due to start at 8pm with the opening ceremonies around a hour after that and I made it to the con with around 45 minutes to spare. It took a while to gather up all of the promo materials and games and everything else I had to haul along with me. The promo materials from playroom were ecspecially a pain in the ass. They were heavy as sin and a pain to maneuver around. I arrived only to then spend a good 10-15 minutes complaining about having to lug it around. I also was unpleased to discover that the envelope with my badge had apparently been misplaced, misfiled, or just simply lost. I ended up with a replacement badge and had to jump through a few hoops to get everything sorted out.
First things first. I put out around half of the promotional materials I had received on the table o' stuff. Over the course of the con I would pop back and refresh whatever had been taken and also see if anything interesting had been dropped off by the other companies.
Last year, the goodie bag for dexcon had included a complete boxset of Dune novels. I still have the thing sitting in my room as I type this and I keep telling myself that I'll eventually break the shrink wrap and actually read it. Despite the fact that I never got around to using the swag, it was still pretty sweet IMO. This year was quite a disapointment in comparrison because we basically got Bawls.
I really do have to go on a segway of sorts here and ponder what sort of moron decides to name a beverage they are selling Bawls. It hardly sounds appealing does it when someone walks up to you and asks if you would like a sip of their bawls? How does it taste? Why, like bawls of course. You can imagine the jokes that more or less ran all evening about our little inappropriately named beverage. The fact that it tasted like shit also did not endear any of us to it. Hey, there's an idea. Maybe the company could name their next product Pheesees. I can't imagine any demographic out there who wouldn't just love to have the taste of Bawls and Pheesees in their mouth.
Here's a bit of a flash forward in the evening during the banquet. You can see Stephen's reaction when Randy attempts to lick his Bawls.
So the buffet was pretty par for the course and well worth the $18 price of admission for the entertainment value if nothing else. I had skipped it the year before since I was flying solo and it was my first double exposure event. It was quite a barrel of monkeys this time as a bunch of us sat around and shot the breeze.
Here's a picture of Lori and Matt. Matt just got married and moved up to conneticut. I'm not sure which of those prospects is more terrifying in and of itself. Still, he managed to make it back down for the con which is spiffy. He's on the demo team for both Days of Wonder and Steve Jackson Games and is in the process of trying to link me up with the former. Lori of course is the head of the BoardgamesNJ meetup group.
June, Stephen, and Randy. June is an ex-GM who left the same time that Eileen did. Evil Stephen runs a gaming/poker day at his gargantuan house once every few months. If there ever was an incentive to sell out to corporate america, seeing the setup in the basement of his house is a good one. The movie room alone is just amazing.
Me and June.
Lori and Madelaine. I must've missed snapping a picture of Madelaine's mother somehow in the middle of this. Sharon had agreed to run some board games as a GM and we met her and her daughter through the boardgameNJ meetup. Don't let the innoculous pixie look fool you either. She's usually out for blood in the various games that we play.
Another shot of June and Stephen.
Matt and Randy being coy.
There was nothing all that interesting or spectacular about the buffet other than the unbelievable line that formed up behind it. But then again, even that's not very surprising. You line up maybe a hundred gamers and set them to gorge mode and you're going to see a pretty good stampede for the food. I spent a good chunk of time scarfing cookies at the table and refusing to join the line but contrary to what you might believe, instead of shrinking the damn thing just kept growing with time.
The time also game me an oppertunity to engage in what must be the most popular pasttime at the con, rumor mongering. I was caught up on the news that Ruth's father had died and she and Eddie would not be running games until Saturday. Frankly, I was surprised they even wanted to come at all given the circumstance but Ruth later said she needed a distraction anyway. It also turned out that Randy had bumped into Kath and she was having problems with the hotel. She had been told it was pet friendly and so had booked herself in and brought along her dog, Sapphire. Upon arriving however, she was told that the hotel was not pet friendly and that the pooch could not stay. (Sorta ironic really since there was a cat roaming around the staff suite at the con but I assume that it's easier to sneak a cat in than a dog. I did suggest to kath she just do the dog in the big box trick and hang the do not disturb sign on the door but she passed on the idea.) Lastly, we all found out just how much of a doormat Randy is. It turns out that someone had screwed up and he didn't have crash space at the con. Despite the fact that he was running the BG room in everything but name, somehow he had been overlooked. The saddest part is out of all of us there, he was the only one who really needed the room since otherwise he would have to make a 30+ minute drive to get home each day. He was actually forced to give Lori a ring and find a spot in her room. Almost everyone agreed that he should go talk to Vinnie or someone in charge and figure something out and get a bed somewhere and his response was, 'They're all very busy. I'll talk to them about it after the con.' Eh...that about says it all, no?
So after dinner, they raised the gamer flag and thus began the opening ceremonies. It mostly consisted of a video montage of last year's dexcon set to music with assorted cheering of support from the various genres represented. Boardgaming, wargaming, roleplaying, larping, video gaming, etc. Then there were the raffle prizes to give out and I'm sorry to say that I didn't win diddily squat crap. I was close as hell on a couple of them, but nothing panned out.
Madelaine however made out like a farking bandit. She got an iPod Nano out of the deal and so did Matt as I recall. It would have been nice to have walked out of there with something but I've gotten used to disapointment when it comes to raffles and lotteries and assorted random things. My 8 month streak of never winning a killer bunnies game taught me that in spades.
And then it was time for the entertainment. They had this poor rat bastard get up and sing for us. I don't think a single person was listening to any of it and the way the sound system was, you had to really strain or move up close to catch the words anyway. He didn't seem to be all that spectacular, but again, I wasn't paying all that much attention. No matter where he is at in his career, I'm sure that closing for the opening ceremonies of a game convention probaly isn't in the career highlight reel.
And that was more or less it. The gaming started up at 10pm and we ran a couple of slots before the night ended. Right before the gaming started I checked my cell phone to notice it said 9 missed calls. The phone bites. I don't understand why it always fails to fraking ring even when it has a signal. Anyway, I called the voicemail which had a moderately unpleasant message on it. I think the exact words were 'Henry, pick up your fucking phone!'. Now, imagine that was being said in snarl and then double or treble that and you get an idea of what the message was like. I gave her a ring back and frankly, I was quite relieved that she didn't answer.
I had been planning to do this recap in two parts, but the huge exposition at the beginning made the entry a lot longer than I wanted. I'll probaly have to break it down into smaller pieces. I'm hoping to be able to wrap this whole thing up in the next few days and move off the recap cycle.