While it's off-again, I figured I might as well get to recapping or I'd never get around to it. Besides, I've got some really spiffy pictures and everyone should get a chance to see them.
So the day before I left for gencon, I was in a bit of a panic. I had called Richard, my ride, around a dozen times that dya and received no response. After a while the damn phone didn't even ring and went straight to voicemail. You have to sort of know Richard to understand why this is sort of a frightening prospect. Melissa has often referred to him as being a drama queen, but it's not that he wallows in drama exactly, it's that unpleasant events always seem to find him and then set up shop in his spare bedroom. If Richard missed some event, you would always wonder if it was because he was dead in the street somewhere. I can't even begin to recount the number of times he seems to run headlong into god awful events like accidents or ex-wife hijinx or crap with his kids etc. So the fact that I couldn't reach him was _not_ a good sign as far as I was concerned.
I ended up getting a phone call from a quite inebriated richard around 1am the night before we were supposed to leave. It turns out that his brother was dying of liver failure due to hep C and alcoholism. He apparently had no interest in quitting his drinking and was on the express train to no good end and the family had more or less given up on the idea. Richard had been out at his place tying one on with him and his wife and had thus been indisposed. It took a while to sort out that he would try to pick me up the next morning on his way back south toward his house, we would stop at his place while he threw some clothes into a bag and picked up the cutout, and we would be off from there to gencon. I kept my fingers crossed and after a bit of worrying, went to bed.
The next morning I woke up early, packed up my things and went to the airport to return the mustang. I gave Richard his wakeup call and despite some delays, we actually managed to make it out of chicago by around 11:00am. Not as early as I might have liked, but given the circumstances, infinitely better than what I had been dreading. The whole lot of us had golden tickets for True Dungeon, meaning we had to arrive early enough for the VIP run that night.
The drive was pretty obnoxious with all the construction going on. It's always a wonder to me that there are always construction crews working but the roads never seem to get any better. Richard and I spent a good chunk of time chatting about various things and we found that we had actually beat Melissa and mock26 onto the road by at least half a hour. I'm happy to report that despite the traffic snafus, we all made it to Indy without any further problems.
After Richard dropped me off at the Embassy I checked into the room (a mess in and of itself since mock26 had left me off the registry which required a confirmation call) that I would be sharing with mock26 and Melissa. I then proceeded to try to manhandle the box with the cutout to The Ram, which was pretty fraking suckass, to meet p3rsp3ctive. The box was huge and had the aerodynamics of a sail. I had to stop every half block or so to rest cramped fingers as I tried to haul the thing along with my backpack, token case, token box, etc. I had been hoping to get to The Ram early enough to not only touch base with friends but perhaps snag a meal and my first ever Mile High Mud Pie. Alas, that was not to be. I did however grab some pictures of the cutout with various forumites.
So here's me with the cutout right after I managed to get it to The Ram and took a look at it for the first time. It freaked out a few members of the waitstaff as they mistook it for a patron a couple of times and, as you might imagine, I got quite a few strange looks from people in the resturant. I felt sorta bad for p3rsp3ctive since it ended up that our little meal and get together had little of either. I kept hoping that mock26 and Melissa would hit town and get there in time so I delayed ordering, and with hoopla with the cutout meant that we didn't chat much at all.
Here's the cutout with sherilyn70 who was around. It was a mash of bad timing but it looks like I got there right as the open gaming was ending. This meant that I got see a few of the people I wanted to chat with like Bubba from the forums, but by the time I had everything situated, most people had left already to get ready for the Stink or whatever else they were planning to do.
Here's a shot of the cutout with MikeB who stuck around for a few extra minutes before clearing out. I think he had been running a RPG of some sort which had just ended. It would have been nice to have gotten in on some of the early gaming, but things just didn't work out that way this year. You can't expect complete control over your schedule when you're asking other people for a favor and in the end, I was just happy that we got down there with plenty of time for the TD run.
After not see jirel, I decided to give her a ring. I had been hoping to touch base with her before I had to leave for TD and had wanted her to get a look at the cutout. I had told her a few days before that I didn't think it was a good idea to go through the whole carting the cutout to the stink idea. My reasoning was pretty simple. There are obviously crazy fucking nutjobs among the mods or admins for gencon and you can't predict what a crazy fucking nutjob will do in any particular situation. Their responses so far had made no sense whatsoever to me, and it was unlikely I could predict their path of escalation. jirel had remained sort gungho about the whole thing, I think they got her irish up, but without a good idea of how the whole mess would unfold, it would have been reckless to go ahead with it.
When jirel arrived I of course got a picture of her with the thing. It turns out that no one had showed for her (serenity?) game and she had popped back over to her hotel for some rest. It was then that I found out from her that the latest rumor going around the mill was that the mods had actually been working up a contingency plan to call the cops if she had showed up with the cutout. Remember what I said about not being able to judge the actions of crazy fucking nutjobs? It's just as well I decided to pull the plug after the sort of veiled threats came through. You can only hear things like 'It'd be a shame if something happened to the cutout or jirel' so many times before it starts sounding like the pitch line of a mob extortion agent. jirel did think it would be entertaining to see what cops would actually do with the cutout, and I have to say I mirrored her sentiment there. The idea of see the cutout in handcuffs sounds pretty amusing to me quite frankly.
So here's a picture of me and the indomitable jirel. I will say one thing about conflict and strife and that it's like a crucible where in the end, you really get to find out who your friends are. I certainly would never have expected jirel to have had my back on this whole mess to the degree she did and it's always nice to know that some people are on your side. Though if the alternative is backing crazy fucking nutjobs, maybe you're just the lesser of two evils.
Since we were heading out to True Dungeon in a bit, I decided to put the token box on the cutout and see how he would look in all his TD finery. I would only be able to leave the thing there for part of that night and then saturday after KB because no one there could be expected to guarentee its safety. Can you believe that? Actually having to worry about threats of violence and damage against a cardboard cutout. Sheesh...crazy fucking nutjobs.
Psst, hey nutjobs.
After a time, mock26 and Melissa finally arrived and while it was too late for food, it was however time to set off fof the True Dungeon VIP run. mock26 offered to manfully carry the cutout in its box, and flashed upon a much better method than the one I had been struggling with. He simply balanced the thing on his head and toted it along like he was one of those national geographic villagers with a vase full of water. I spent a few moments pondering if he would actually lift off if a stiff breeze hit him, but luckily none was to be found.
We got to true dungeon with relatively little time to spare and after I had set up the cutout with his token box, it was time for the group huddle. mock26 and I were going through with a bunch of people from the TD forums, having joined the group before Richard and Melissa had picked up golden tickets. I played the barbarian for the first time and overall the class was a pretty good fit.
Here's a picture of the training room. You can see the bookshelf of titles in the background and of course there's the bardic symbol whozit up against it. You can also just make out the wizard's planes of existance chart and the cleric's prayer beads. This was obviously the study section of the room.
Here was our lovely bar owner/token trader who not only fed us the initial plot of the adventure but handled any trades we had to make. Since I had left all of my trade tokens back in the hotel room, I decided to pass figuring there was more than enough time for that later. Our group was told that we would be payed 80 gold if we went down into the basement of the bar and cleaned out the nest of rats that were below and eating all the provisions. My cries of 'Save vs cliched plot, DC 25!' went unheeded I'm afraid. We missed our saving throws and ventured deep into the dark pits below.
Overall, I had a great time in the dungeon. I thought everything was much improved over last year and if I end up going to socal, I would want to run through it yet again. Such enthusiasm however did not increase our odds of survival as we died in the final room. We also has a small amount of intra-party conflict along with some petulance. I had never run through with any of these guys before so I wasn't sure if that sort of back and forth was the norm for their group.
Afterwards we ventured out to divide the loot (which as I recall, I never did end up getting a split of the gold that the armor was supposed to be sold for....hmmm) and talk about what might have beens. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see Curt from Smirk and Dagger before the run, and I could only assume that he was in the dungeon by the time I got out of it. I had offered him up my spare golden ticket instead of selling it, and Lori had found one for his son so they could go through together. I found out latter that while his son had to bail, a friend jumped in and those two had managed to actually win the event. AHHHH. They ended up getting, from what I hear, a really nice plaque to immortalize their fame.
So after all the death, our little group gathered back up and decided to head over to the ram for dinner. This ended up being a poor idea since the wait at that point was out the door and spanned at least a hour. We chatted with some people outside before Richard, starving, dragged us all across the street to St. Elmo's a steakhouse where he treated us all to a gigantic meal. That steak sat in the pit of my stomach all night like a stone.
After dinner, mock26 and I wandered over to the Ram to snag a few more cutout related pictures while Richard and Melissa did the sensible thing and went back to the hotel rooms to digest and sleep. When we got there there stink afterparty was still going strong and I got to chat with a lot of the people I had been hoping to get together with.
I snagged a seat with sherilyn70 and Madcity at first. I wouldn't have recognized madcity at all if it weren't for her shirt which had some duct tape related message on it. It's sort of interesting how we all become sort of cliches online, known for one thing or another by which we're recognized. It's like how I used to go to sissymeets in those domo-kun shirts so I could be sure that people would recognize me if they saw me. After that, it was a pretty constant flow of people over to the table with plenty of people coming over to say hi.
Here's nzknight, obviously mistaking the cutout for a sheep he left back home. This might have been the first time the cutout was sexually harassed during gencon, but it certainly wasn't the last. It's pretty amazing how much play it go through the con considering that, well, it's flat and made out of plastic.
Here's balkin who not only came to bring greetings but brought gifts as well. That's the best kind of visitor as far as I'm concerned. He had a stink bag for me loaded up with assorted CCG packs and boxes that now sit prominantly on my altar to dead CCGs. I dunno what it is about collecting CCG packs but I love doing it. I don't dare open any of them for fear that I might become addicted to them, but I love the idea of them sitting up there in neat little stacks. The fact that each one holds the possibility for containing some super-ultra rare just sets my heart aflutter. It makes me wonder if there's some sort of 12-step program for that sort of thing.
And here's the cutout with Lord Ackbar, the calamari commando. I would see him later during the BYOV harry potter larp. I also caught site of a lot of other people and otherwise received greetings and salutations, but frankly, I can't remember who's who in general. I usually just try to fake it until I can try to puzzle things out. When it comes to most forum members, I'm just completely in the dark because I've never associated their names online with pictures.
By that point it was getting pretty late and so mock26 headed back to the hotel with cutout in tow. I managed to not barf in the bushes on the way back, quite an accomplishment at that point since I had injested about enough food and liquid to float a battleship. The two large glasses of iced tea at the ram had certainly been a mistake.
Anyway, tommorrow was a new day and would be chock full of excitement. Who knew what the future would hold for our brave explorers and their 2-D companion. Be sure to tune in for the next installment of gencon recaps to find out.