Garycon V: Report from the Hinterland
My observations/experiences from the convention follow. I’m going to give snap-shots of what I was involved in, etc. and then go into some details. They are a mix of many things, and since I was so busy, and scored as much as 2-4 hours sleep per day during the convention, these will not be listed as day-by-day. The whole experience was a whirlwind for me as there were so many things personal, professional and unexpected going on.
Personal Highlights: Speaking at length with Ernie, Luke and Alex Gygax; my long-time best friend, Allan Grohe (who I roomed with); cavorting, talking, and gaming with my good friend Guy Fullerton (Chaotic Henchmen and Apple employee extraordinaire; and accompanied by Josh, his friend and gaming buddy) who surprised me by showing up at the convention; and, as a huge additional bump to the surprise meter, reuniting with long-time friend Mike Reese (Tractics, Fast Rules); talking with long-time buddy Michael “Gronan” Mornard; and being befriended and interviewed by, and having many long conversations with, the D&D Documentary team lead by the engaging Anthony Savini and James Sprattley (see pictures, below).
More… Conversing with my old friend John Bobek (The Games of War, International Wargamer Editor bitd, and long-time educator); Jon Peterson (Playing at the World); Zach Glazar (Lesser Gnome Games); Bill Hoyer (IFW President/TSR Alumnus bitd); Mike Carr, David LaForce & David Megarry (all three TSR Alumni; and the latter two present with their charming wives); Paul Burdick; Mark from Creative Mountain Games; the “Three Amigos” from Eldritch Enterprises (w/Frank Mentzer accompanied by his charming wife); Dale Leonard (and his future wife-to-be); the ever-industrious Paul Stormberg (the Collector’s Trove); and two ex-TSR stalwarts, Harrold Johnson and the irrepressible Bruce Heard.
This is a list of friends, ex-IFW members, associates and pre- and post-TSR professionals that could only have been exceeded by the additional appearances of Len Lakofka, Don Lowry, Darlene, Lou Zocchi and others of similar stature from back-in-the-day.
Lost City of the Elders. I DMed LCotE 3 times. The overall reaction was very good. Some parties got into more combat situations than others did; but all of them experienced the same strange dimensional environment; and in doing so they had to contend with many out-of-the-box situations that at once challenged their acclimating to it in order to become fully operable as a party thereafter. Key phrases that describe these challenges: time compression; gravity change; ultra-magical complications.
Every party rose to the challenges; and it was interesting to note how the reactions came down and set the tone each time for dealing with more OotB thinking regarding this ultra-fantastical place that challenged Gary Gygax back in 1973.
When I DM it at conventions again I will do so in open gaming where the adventures continue over days, thus allowing the explorations to build as its many mysteries are uncovered. The sessions were 6 hours in length; and it is noteworthy that at LGGC #2 the adventure went to ten hours, thus allowing for the adjustments and more exploration/encounters to occur.
Play, Design and Form (seminar): Inspirations from the Playtest of D&D: Though it had a rough start with the listing being accidently dropped from the convention program, it finished strong, with good attendance and many thoughtful questions, especially those posed by veteran ex-TSR Games designer, Harrold Johnson.
This followed up in medium strides on open form, models in the RPG industry and entrenched formats, all of which was juxtaposed with those we adopted in the playtests and that were inherent to the game, 1974-1977. This had a direct relation, in parts, to what I had touched upon in my recent GrognardGames interview as posted on Youtube.
The Dungeons & Dragons Documentary Interviews (2 of 4): This was part of the unexpected. I was not aware that these folks were present until they approached me and we started a discourse. What a crack group of professionals! Anthony Savini (Director) took the lead and I became instant friends with all of the team members.
The interviews took place Saturday and Sunday; and with my lack of sleep, I was on overdrive by Sunday, but they were ultra-pleased, stating (on their Facebook page) that I gave them one of the best interviews to date.
There was a sort of reticence on both sides at parting the ways, in fact. And I was recently appraised by phone that they wish to follow-up with two additional post-convention shoots, which are scheduled for April. I will post more when we solidify the actual dates. In between, enjoy the pictures, below.
Overall Reaction to the Convention: I will state it simply. It was one of the best conventions I had been to in a while. Garycon is a definite hit! A hit, if you are more than an Internet-only presence gamer, that you should not miss!