Friday, March 27, 2020

"Virtual" Gary Con Day 0: "The Con In My Basement" And Joining The Online Community

 
With every game convention I've ever attended, I have filed a daily travelogue so folks who couldn't make it would be able to game vicariously through my thoughts, photos, and amusing anecdotes. It was to be no different when I attended Gary Con XII this weekend!

Or so I thought...

As you're probably aware (unless you're a basement-dwelling grognard, myself included), you're aware that the global coronavirus pandemic has run amok, shutting down pretty much all major gatherings, meetings, and conventions. This year, just a few weeks ago, Luke Gygax and his staff needed to cancel Gary Con XII. However, gamers are a resourceful resilient lot, and they turned their collective eyes toward Virtual Gary Con. Virtual Gary Con (VGC) was originally a handful of events to be run online for folks who couldn't attend the physical event. Once GC XII was cancelled, however, VCG mutated, grew, and exploded into a virtual online replacement for "Celebrating a Life Well-Played." In fact, as I write this post, VGC has one-third the number of gaming events, Q-and-As, and seminars as the actual convention, which is AWESOME. Extra-plus good is that folks can now attend anywhere in the world from March 26-29, making VGC a true "global" event. (Heck, it even got a nice article on the Forbe's website!)

And Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman is no exception to Gary Con's siren song!

As usual with these little travelogues, I'll share what I've seen and done to give you a feel for what's going on each day I attend. (And I'll try not to just show pictures of my home set-up for the virtual event, but I *am* proud of the Snider Cave so expect some show-off pix of some of my treasures.)

And here we go:
  • I had to cancel my vacation time when the event was cancelled. And because my place of employment was deemed "essential", we remained open. (Although we're a printer/publisher, we also have a distribution center that supplies other "essential" businesses.) So I was unable to truly "attend" Thursday. However tonight is Friday night, and once I get off work, I'm going to (Virtual) Gary Con!
  • When word came down that GC XII was cancelled, the GC Staff also pointed out that they had merchandise (lots and lots and LOTS of merchandise) they had specially ordered for the now-defunct event. All of the collected merch was speedily collected and placed on the Gary Con Bazaar to help offset the costs of the event's cancellation. I snatched up a Gary Con XII shirt (after all, I'm still attending, right?) and a GC Gamemaster shirt (after all, I'm still GMing, right?). I also added a GC shot glass to add to my collection. Finally, I dropped a little something extra into their tip jar to do what I could to ensure GC XIII next year. (And if you'd like to grab some sweet, sweet Gary Con swag as well as help them recover some costs, go check out their Bazaar while supplies last!)
  • Because the vendor and artists support themselves with convention sales, the cancellation was a blow. So the VGC Staff assembled a list of vendor and artist sites for a  "virtual" Dealer's Hall! Most of the vendors are offering discounts as well! I have inserted the current Vendor's Hall listing at the end of this post, so go buy some wares and help these folks out!
  • Speaking of the Vendor's Hall, I've thus far picked up the new "convention only" DCC adventure, "The Accursed Heart of the World-Ender" and the new pirate-oriented "Skull and Crossbones Classics"! (And I'm SURE I'll be picking up more over the weekend!)
  • At VGC, I'll be running my very first online games, and I must say I'm a bit nervous. Never played in one, let alone run one before. I'm an old grognard when it comes to running RPGs, and I like to keep things fast and loose -- more theater of the mind, with quick sketches drawn on a whiteboard. So I signed up a subscription to Zoom, which is an easy-to-use videoconferencing suite. Stephen Newton (of DCC fame amongst other creative endeavors) happens to work for Zoom, so he ran a few of us interested parties through the software. The fact it has an onscreen whiteboard I can sketch on during a game was a selling point for me, so this weekend, that's what I'll be firing up!
  •  Also, I had to upgrade my spotty-signal WiFi router, so I hope I'm not cutting in and out all weekend! (Apologies in advance to any players if this becomes an issue.)
  • Oh, and what games will I be running? First I'll be further playtesting my comedy-fantasy RPG FORSOOTH! My hope is to have this ready for release this summer. And I'll also be playtesting my upcoming MCC RPG adventure "The Desk in Room 8-10". That one is scheduled for release for DCC Day on May 16
  • Tonight I invited all of my weekend players to join me in a Zoom chat to shake out the system, get folks used to the interface, answer any last-minute questions, and just hang out and BS about All Things Gaming. Jon, Andy, Wendy, Jacob, Greg, and Bjorn dropped in to test the system and watch me flounder like a monkey as I tried to get the hang of sharing images. Nice to meet everyone and we'll be gaming in less than 14 hours from now!
  • Finally, one minus....NO SPOTTED COW IN OHIO! ARGH!!!!!
And here are a few images of today's "events":
Pirates in DCC? Yarrrr, me hearties! Sign me up fer the long haul!

A new DCC adventure is always a glorious discovery!

I picked up The Velour Palace of the Disco King last year, and Joe Stash reached out to sell me the follow-up adventure, which has gotta be OUTTA SIGHT! (And now I have the Rick Dees song in my head. Thanks for the earworm, Joe!)


And "Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman" joins the online community. See you on the Intertubes this weekend, folks!

VIRTUAL GARY CON DEALER'S HALL! SHOW SOME LOVE!

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