Gamehole Con IV

I built the skeletons for four posts about my experience at Gamehole Con IV last year, but I never posted it. Rather than trash all the posts, I consolidated them into one post. I wanted to post it for memories to look back on.

I highly recommend Gamehole Con. It is well organized and well ran. the staff is very helpful. The venue is laid out and that was used in a way that made sense.

I only had minor niggles for complaints, none of which caused any problems.

I am signed up to run games at Gamehole Con V, November 2-5, 2017 in Madison, WI.

So now let’s get to my write up for last year’s GHC:

Day 0

I arrived, checked out the venue, found will call and picked up my stuff, and got settled at my hotel. I didn’t get the hotel on site, but the next nearest hotel. It was quite a distance, too far to walk with all the books I brought to get signed.

Day 1

I had 3 games:

  • Fri 10 AM – A Stay at the Warden Hotel x 1 Metamorphosis Alpha with Jim Ward himself!
  • Fri 02 PM – DGS Presents: One In the Gun, Four On the Floor x 1
  • Fri 08 PM – Mythus Tower with Bill Webb x 1 Swords & Wizardry

A Stay at the Warden Hotel – Jim Ward This was AWESOME! Jim is a quiet and easy going guy. However, he is not a GM to challenge. He tells you what you can do, and if you try to push it, you can do one or more less than the first thing he said. Erol Otus showed up and Jim said, “Ah yes, Mr. Otus will be your illustrious captain!” Erols eyes got big, he was hoping to show up and just play. He did fine, but alas, died. He is very cool! (I didn’t have the books with me I wanted him to sign! I didn’t realize there was an autograph table with a schedule until the last day when I had walked by the sign multiple times. I just had too much to take in, and kept running into friends to catch up with.)

Of course most of us died, including me. Here’s a picture of Jim tearing up my character sheet. Two players made it to the end and got limited edition MA minis.

DGS Presents: One In the Gun, Four On the FloorDead Games Society

This was a Gamma World 2e game ran by +Chad Parish himself. I had met Chad at Gary Con 8 in the spring, so we knew each other a bit. It was a fun game. During a brake we got to talking and he mentioned that he was from a small town in Missouri. I asked the name, he said, “Oh, you’ve never heard of it, it’s really small.” I said, “I grew up in Missouri and know a lot of people from all over Missouri, and know a lot of places.” He humored me, and said the name of the town. I rattled off the zip code, (There are actually four towns in Missouri with that name, but the one where I grew up is the one with a zip code.) He said, “Panther?” I said, “Orange & Black?” He then said, “Do you know Robert Hamilton?” I held up my name tag. “Are you related to Robert Hamilton?” “He’s my brother.” “He;s like the best DM ever!” I said, “I know right?” It turns out that I was about 7 years ahead of him in school, thus the reason I didn’t know him. That was very odd.

Chad and I were telling that story the rest of the con and for a while after. Chad even shared it on an episode of the DGS Podcast.

Chad had another interesting encounter, it turns out his father is from the same town +Stephen Chenault is from in Arkansas.

Mythus Tower with +Bill Webb – Swords & Wizardry – I played in a Day 0 pick up game and a regular game with Bill at Ucon last year, and had a lot of fun. I have a dwarf character that survived that session that he said I can use in any game he runs. (He might get tired of me, since next weekend at UCon, I signed up for another of his games.) Unfortunately, that dwarf died so the next game I play will be a new 1st level character.

Day 2

I had two games I signed up for:

Sat 10 AM – The Cave of Wisdom AD&D 1e with +Luke Gygax as DM. This was a great game. A player not knowing to not throw fireball underground killed half the party, so we had a delay while some new characters were rolled.

The only thing I didn’t like about this game is that autograph seekers came up and interrupted the game. The same thing happened in Jim Ward’s MA game. I wait for a break or between game time to get autographs. I don’t care if the GM says it’s OK. I will NOT be one of those who interferes with the fun of others.

Sat 06 PM – Gaming & BS Presents: Relagul’s Quest & The Secret Temple of Bast This was an AD&D game ran by +Nicholas Abruzzo. It was an interesting game with higher level pre-gens. A few interesting concepts. There was a castle model that involved a sheet to hide an interesting secret. I’m not much for terrain and models, but this fit the GM’s style and the tone of the game. He also had some assistants portray some NPC wererats in full costume.

Day 3

I had signed up for two games on Sunday, but one got cancelled.

Sun 10 AM – Escape From The Purple Planet. It was supposed to be ran by Jon Hershberger, but we had a woman, whose name I can’t find. She did a great job running the game. The players came together, and none of us had played this one, but we managed to make the right decisions and got done an hour early. I know I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think anyone else was either.

The cancelled game was one by Venger Satanis, but his twins are due about this time. I had a credit for that, but before the con did not find anything at the available time. I got to meet him in 2017 at Gary Con IX.

Mini Reviews vs. Reviews

When I do a review, I indicate on my post if it is a mini-review, meaning I skimmed the material and highlighted what jumped out at me. When it just says review, it means I read the whole thing and took lots of notes.

I have a long list of things I have on my personal review list – all the Kickstarters I have backed. I also have a few things in the pipeline that include D&D 5e modules and resources.

A few month ago, I added a page on my review policy since I am being approached by more and more people to do reviews. Please see that link if you are interested in having me review your RPG product.

 

 

 

Old School Gamer Radio: A D&D Resource

Old School Gamer Radio: A D&D Resource has a Kickstarter to help fund a new website described as an index for the OSR. It won’t host the content of others, but point to cool OSR goodness in all the corners of the web, whether blogs, G+, FB, and so forth. There will also be new content on the site.

+Matt Finch of OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry fame, along with Zach Glazer are behind this. Matt has started a new You Tube channel, Uncle Matt’s D&D Studio. He asks that subscribers to his old channel subscribe to the new one.

This sub-heading from the Kickstarter page lays it out: “A unified website for old school D&D, with searchable links to the old school community’s locations, plus content from Matt and others.”

While the Kickstarter hit its initial goal quickly, they would like to reach the $7,500 stretch goal to ramp up the website and You Tube efforts to their maximum potential. This is a shorter run Kickstarter with just 9 days left to go. If you like the OSR and like the idea of having a central place to find the stuff you don’t yet know about, consider backing this. This update video explains it a bit more.

I went crazy and backed at the highest tier to sponsor a video. I can’t stretch beyond that with cash, so I’ll back it with my online efforts.

We had a website a bit like that with the former OSR Today, but its creator had health issues limit his ability to continue that project.

D&D 5e is seen as OSR like by many, so this isn’t a Kickstarter just for grognards from back in the day, or those who like OSR style play.

While Matt and Zach are both connected to Frog God Games, this is an independent effort, although personally supported by +Bill Webb.

Thoughts on Character Death

Yesterday I uploaded a YouTube video on the death of the character in my weekly Wednesday night AD&D game I play in on Roll20. You can read the other posts I have about the game here. There is a companion video to this article here.

One of the other players in the game commented on the G+ posting for the video. As I answered him, it hit me that it didn’t bother me about the character’s demise, as I am not really in the same place in my life to play a taciturn dwarf. While I can easily play a dwarf fighter, there is something about it that I am not in a head space that it feels like a go to character. It just isn’t the specific character.

In the last few months and especially the last few weeks, I have had a realization that I am not in the dark and cloudy haze it is too easy for me to fall into. I am generally more happy and satisfied with life, and far more productive personally and professionally than I have been for some time. I have made progress on other things, and not used my need to write for one blog or another or make a new video as a reason to avoid other things.

I am downsizing my stuff. Things I haven’t touched in years, and most likely will never touch except to move them out of this house. I’ve been divorced about eight years, had one relationship since, and a few dates via online sites. I don’t need that. I’m OK with being single (but still open to the right person). So much so, that I deleted my online dating profile.

I have greatly limited my watching of shows through the summer, and only watched a few movies on Netflix here and there, with only an occasional binge, instead of most weekends. It is AMAZING how much one can get done when cutting out shows.

While in the process of reducing the cruft in my life, I am focused on defining what it is I want and what personal projects really matter to me. I find that as I let go, that I am more at peace. In some ways, I would make a good dwarf or dragon hoarding stuff. It’s not like I can’t get in or out of my house, but I have so much stuff I haven’t really touched since my divorce, and some before.

This new perspective and attitude has subconsciously affected the type of characters I want to play. Part of it is my age. I’m in my early 50’s and my life-long worrying about what others think seems to be nearly gone. The, I’m not taking crap off anybody mentality – “Get off my lawn!”

I’ve also always wanted a long beard, so I quit cutting my hair and beard in late April/Early May. It was a lot of fun to see the reactions of people at Grand Con who hadn’t seen me in several months. If it weren’t for arthritis, I’d be braiding it. Perhaps once it’s longer I can manage it.

My demeanor and disposition is noticeably different and others at work and home have commented on it.

I’m just curious if others find this in their own roleplaying, if their head space nudges them towards certain character concepts, i.e. race, class, background, and actual presentation of the character via roleplay.

I’m avoiding adding a lot of new stuff to my plate. However, I have plans to add a planned amount of things, like playing in and later running a 5e game and running something at my FLGS. Before that, I will be adding more content to the blog and more videos to my You Tube channel. I got more memory for my computer so videos render faster, but my upload speed is now the bottleneck. My new video editing software defaults results in huge files, so I’ve got to get a better handle on the settings so I’m not spending two plus hours uploading a five minute video.

I’ve got opportunities to really grow my blog and YouTube channel and other social media. Getting my stuff “right-sized” for the life I choose to live will really make a difference.

I’ve got it figured out how to get out of debt and still go to the cons I want. Things are coming together quite nicely.

 

Grand Con 2017

I attended two events at Grand Con, visited with friends, and spent a bit of time in the vendor hall.

Grand Con is in Grand Rapids, Michigan which is about an hour away from where I live near Kalamazoo. I elected to drive back and forth each day, as time and cost of gas seemed worth it to me vs. a hotel nearby.

I signed up for one game each day, with the plan of lots of visiting or perhaps running or playing pick up games. A few weeks ago, I got an email that the Saturday game was cancelled. Plans changed as my son’s car has issues and he has been borrowing my car to get to work.  He works nights and this particular weekend, he worked all three evenings of the con.

Friday I took him to work, played in a game from 7 to 11 pm, I didn’t get home until about 12:20 and bed about 1 am. Getting up to get him from work before 6 am meant that I was just too tired to safely drive. Having tried sleeping and driving about 25 years ago, I don’t recommend it, and definitely don’t wish to repeat it. I took a nap for the first time in I can’t recall, and spent Saturday doing very little. Sunday I drove up for the 9 am game and was delayed by a 5K run that held me up for 10 minutes a mere 100 yards from the site and parking garage. I was nearly an hour early, so it was not a problem. I learned that those in the con had no idea about it.

Don't Sleep & Drive
Don’t Sleep & Drive – I choose not to do a repeat.

Friday’s Game

The Friday game was one hosted by the group, We Hate Bards. I’m sure there’s a story behind that name. The GM was Raven, the 4th or 5th female GM I have had. (I am glad that there is more variety in GMs in my experience. Even better that I am loosing track of just how many it has been.) It was D&D 5e and the session was called, Welcome to the Iron Realms: Play Smarter, Not Harder.

There was only one other player, so I am glad that I ignored my thoughts of not going Friday night. She had a neat hand drawn map in her GM notebook to show us the layout of her campaign world. We had to find out why the trolls were interrupting the iron trade, which gives the name of Iron Realms. Each character has 5 “minions” to help us. They dwindled to one each by the end of the session.

We avoided an unnecessary combat and gained allies to help us deal with our first fight and guided us into the swamp. We also avoided fighting a giant frog that probably would have smoked us. By playing smart and gaining allies and avoiding a fight with the frog, she awarded us 2nd and 3rd levels.

We took a moment to note out new hit points and new feats/abilities/paths. I chose a dwarf barbarian. I got to roll the abilities and create my character. She had a few pre-gens, but had not completed that process yet.

I specifically chose a 5e game, as I need to play it more to get familiar with the specifics of its rules. Even though I leveled up this character, I did not catch that he was resistant to bludgeoning damage until after the consequences of being knocked out were resolved. Even with a fancy printed character sheet, it was a general sheet and not optimized for the class. There was just too much to look at to find the option, and I wrote it in a corner of the sheet in a way that it did not stand out.

I am not used to there being different categories of damage and having the ability to resist different types. I skipped 3e, 3.5e, and 4e, so it is a new concept to me. This is similar to when I played in +Satine Phoenix’s game at Gary Con 9 that not until the last initiative of the game did I roll with advantage like I should have all session.

For me, I can handle a lot of options once I am familiar with them all, but with as many options as a 3rd level character has, I need a character sheet that is not “busy” with bits I don’t need, and all that I do need is on one side of the page. Combat related things need to all be on one page. Surprise, initiative, resistances, and anything that aids combat (melee or ranged). Spells are a different matter.

It was a great game with an interesting puzzle that took us a while to figure out, but we did it.

I am used to the rules being easy enough that I have a pretty good idea of what a character can do. Granted AD&D is not rules light, but there are not so many races and classes in the core rules that one can’t easily have at least a general idea of what they can do. With 5e, even though I have the core books and have read them, there is so much to them, that for even an experienced player, with out regular sessions to keep up with the details, one can quickly become overwhelmed. With that much involved with a character, character death would definitely suck. I can see why many prefer to always play the same class and race in 5e, as they have that one figured out.

The Iron Kingdoms
The Iron Kingdoms

Sunday’s Game

I played DCC with +Brendan LaSalle on his birthday! The Inn At Five Points. We were all second level. I elected to play a wizard. There were only a few first level spells. The only spells that I was able to put to use in the situations we found ourselves, was flaming hands and invoke patron.

Brendan used his d50 for the Minor Mercurial Effects table from his contribution to 50 uses for a d50. I left mine at home. I need to add it to my dice bag (I think it will fit).

I asked about invoke patron, and as my character is neutral, I ended up with some nondescript entity best described as “Mehhhhh” (be sure to emphasize the shrug). I wish I had a recording of the way Brendan said it.

In short, the neutral cleric in the party did something and rolled a crit that changed the whole nature of the scenario. Instead of fighting for our lives, we were taunting the bad guys. The two clerics, one neutral and one chaotic, an elf, and my wizard all invoked their deities and patrons. The chaotic cleric was able to spell burn in this situation. The neutral cleric got a lot of help from fleeting luck and halfling luck, and the elf and I spell burned for 20s. Once we all had 4 20’s our dieties and patrons helped us out and got us to the ultimate destination for the evening. We were set upon by beasts  that nearly killed us while we were still in need of 3 weeks of rest to recover from so much spell burn. We managed to beat the beasts and find a safe place to hold up and rest.

Finally, we encountered some sprites that would help us if we took out their greatest nemesis. We managed to find this creature and our dwarf stonemason who rolled poorly to OK rolled a 20 to set the trap to destroy the creature. The one to trigger it rolled really well and luck boosted the efforts to smear the beast into a stain.

It is great how spectacular rolls make for a game unlike any other. Brendan did a great job of rolling with the flow of our rolls and choices, and he had as much fun as the rest of us. I’m glad I got to help give him that present.

The Inn At Five Points
The Inn At Five Points

Vendor Hall

The room with the vendor hall was a huge cavernous room. The vendors were along two sides with the board game tables in the middle.

I visited with +John Reyst of Open Gaming Store and James Means of Game Science.

Open Gaming Booth
Open Gaming Booth

Game Science has plans for a new d100 with an improved braking system. It is manufactured in Adrian, Michigan, and will be available soon. I bought the last of the prior version of the d100 they had, as I had not yet acquired one.

They also plan to have a d30 in 2018 and a d7 in late 2018 or early 2019. I confirmed that it is OK for me to share that on the blog.

Game Science Dice
Game Science Dice

 

Final Thoughts

Grand Con celebrated its fifth year. The location at the DeVos Place was bigger than they needed. Without a contiguous allocation of space, there was a lot of confusion. My arrival Friday evening was after they got the kinks worked out and I had no difficulty finding the RPG space. However, the RPG space was well separated from the vendor hall and board game area.

They do a good job with their online registration system, and picking up my pre-registration items was easy.

Grand Rapids doesn’t like giving you free parking close to downtown sites, $10 a day! Also the DeVos Place didn’t have a sign that I could see, so people who don’t spend a lot of time in Grand Rapids would have a frustrating time figuring out what building it is, when Google Maps doesn’t tell you you’re there until you are past the parking entrance and showed me that I should cross the street to the government building. Also, the city communicating with the venue and the venue management passing that on to the con would have helped with the confusion Sunday morning with the 5K shutting down traffic.

Other than getting to the con location, I really didn’t have any problems. I had a good time in my events, and didn’t stay long enough to partake of the limited on-site food.

You can read +Clayton Williams’ con report here with details of the entire con.