Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Virtual" Gary Con Day 2: Dominated Dust Mites And A Kick In The Shins

And my last day of Virtual Gary Con has come to a close. This last-minute shift to an online event has worked out much, MUCH better than I expected, and I have had an absolute blast. I bought some awesome stuff from dealers, I chatted and drank with other attendees, I ran four games for more than 20 folks across the country....and I never left the chair in my basement. It's been fun, and I think I've overcome my online gaming shyness by leaping into the deep end this weekend. You can be sure I'll be running more (MANY MORE) online RPGs in the near future.

As usual with these little convention-related posts, I'll share what's been going on. Here we go:
  • My (admittedly cheap) earphone/mike started frizzing during my first game, so I had to use the laptop's built in camera and mike. Fortunately they worked well enough to get me through the last two games of the event. Note to self: Spend more than $5 for future headsets.
  • The first game was another return to the world of FORSOOTH! Today we had Jim, Laura, Burl, Jon, and Greg who took on the nefarious Baron Von Bludstayne! Highlights included the ranger splitting an arrow with another arrow then splitting THOSE arrows with another arrow; the bard who somehow charmed a wyvern with his melodious songs; and the fighter whose go-to move was to kick people in the shins. Once again, we laughed ourselves silly as the team rode into the sunset on their new dragon mount (and over the smoldering remains of the tavern they burned down earlier in the game). FORSOOTH! It was an adventure!
  • After a quick lunch of SPAM (my favorite cube-shaped meat-like product), it was onto the final event of Virtual Gary Con! I had another team of post-apocalyptic Seekers venture into the depths of "The Desk in Room 8-10"! After fending off an attack from a crazed former Seeker (driven quite mad from years of isolation), they made short work of the beastly pseudoscorpion guarding the entrance to The Underdrawer. At the end, the team's Manimal dominated a horde of Ravenous Ones, turning them upon each other and escaping the microworld! Thanks to Clayton, Laura, Matt (his first MCC game, in fact!), Dan, and Nathan!
  • And, as I shut down my "basement-run" convention center for the year, I discovered talk of Cyclops Con, a new online convention hosted by Goodman Games! Now that I have the whole online gaming thing down, I think I just may be up for some more virtual shenanigans in the very near future!
  • I admit - I was dubious going into Virtual Gary Con as I've never run a game online before and was unsure how I'd do. But Gary Con is an event I feel very attached to and, wanting to help in any way I could, I made the plunge to support the con. Today, after several days of online fun and friendship, I couldn't be more pleased with event. Thanks goes out to Luke and the team at Gary Con. It's not what you planned for, but it was an amazing event that I'm happy to have participated in!
And here are a few shots I took during the day:

Set up to play FORSOOTH! If we were playing in person, the character sheets are actually goldenrod in color. THE COLOR THAT ALL CHARACTER SHEETS SHOULD BE.

 FORSOOTH! had a team of five eager players who were able to thwart the evil Baron Von Bludstayne...who sadly was NOT the villain who needed thwartin'. However, good triumphed and we all had a good laugh and a good time. Thanks gang!

I was chugging a Maui Burst Mountain Dew during today's game. Pineapple flavor! (Which led to a lengthy discussion of Mt Dew flavors during my first game today. Lotsa Mt Dew fans out there!)

When the Seeker team first encountered The Ravenous Ones in "The Desk in Room 8-10"!

And Cyclops Con lurks on the near horizon!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Virtual" Gary Con Day 1: Chicken-On-A-Rope And A Paladin Who Fights Dirty

My first true day of Virtual Gary Con is coming to a close, and I gotta say, I'm having a blast. I ran my first two online games ever for 9 folks and had as much fun as if I were at a physical table gaming with them. I must say, this online gaming thing might catch on!

As usual with these little convention-related posts, I'll share what I've seen and done to give you a feel for what's going on each day. Although I'm basically in one room, the con runs globally, so there's lots to discuss! Here we go:
  • Because it's Saturday, it's traditionally Hawaiian shirt day at Gary Con. So I pulled on my treasured Dogs Playing Poker shirt and settled in to start the day. Sadly, it's very humid in Ohio today and wearing my 100% polyester shirt was like wearing a plastic garbage bag. I was sweating like a dog (ha! pun!) in moments, so I switched into my GC GM shirt for the day's events.
  • Well I've tested the system as much as I can, and I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Time to put my online game GMing ability to the test. And here we go...
  • I had 5 players join me for FORSOOTH!, my comedy-fantasy RPG at 10 a.m. Highlights included: the bard riding around in a bus-like carriage painted to look like The Partridge Family bus; a hobbit thief who successfully disguised himself as a 6-foot-tall guard ("A wizard shrunk me..."); a druid who swung into a cavern, landed with a superhero landing, and wacked a giant spider with surprise; a magic-user who changed into a centaur so he could be his own mount; and a paladin whose "go-to" combat maneuver was to kick people in the crotch. (All combatants would then complain how that was truly uncalled for.) At the end, they defeated Baron Von Bludstayne and flew off with his dragon mount. Huzzah! Zounds! FORSOOTH! It was a fine game! Thanks for playing Skyler, Ryan, Jacob, James, and Michael!
  • After lunch, I had an hour to kill before my next game, so I wandered into the GM's Lounge (the TV nearby) to watch some Dungeons and Dragons cartoons on the big screen. Later tonight, the GM's Lounge will feature Krull!
  • I had 4 folks ready to face the perils in "The Desk in Room 8-10", my Mutant Crawl Classics adventure (to be released on DCC Day in May)! A team of Seekers made up of Bjorn, Wendy, Kenneth, and Isaiah ventured into the Terran jungle only to find themselves trapped in a microscopic world! Among many "you gotta be KIDDING me" were Bjorn killing a giant scorpion by using a live chicken on a rope as a bolo (he said he was gonna, and damned if he didn't) and the team actually stopping a horde of ravenous carnivorous insects using only a roll of Scotch Tape. Yes, REALLY, that how they won! It was an amazing game with a group of amazing players. Thanks for the fun, gang!
  • Finally, to end the night, I stopped by the DCC Saturday Night Social where folks from across the country (and a few in the UK) were drinkin' drinks, swappin' stories, and tellin' jokes. It was a great way to unwind, blow off some steam, and meet some folks socially. Typically after a long day at Gary Con, it's nice to meet in the hotel lounge or at a local watering hole and throw back a few. This was a fine substitute, and thanks to Jen Brinkman for setting it up for everyone!
And here are a few shots I took during the day:
Even when at home, be sure to wear your ID for Gary Con!

One bonus for this year's con....I can wear my comfy Bigfoot slippers while I game!

Wearing my Dogs Playing Poker Hawaiian shirt as is tradition for Saturday's Gary Con!

FORSOOTH! in progress! Huzzah!

The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon is playing in the GM's Lounge!

Four MCC players find themselves trapped in the microscopic peril of The Desk in Room 8-10!

Play in my games, get some awesome swag!
The DCC Social Mixer had folks across the country and around the globe stopping by for drinks and general camaraderie!

And my Gary Con XII shirts are ready to wear tomorrow on the final day of Virtual Gary Con!

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!