In considering telling this story, I was looking into whether to put it on this blog or over on my gaming blog (which I use mostly for campaign notes in our home game). Understanding that many people that would read it on this one will have no connection to me in the gaming world, and likely have no idea about the community and pastime of Dungeons and Dragons. But when have I ever shied away from scaring the normals?
So this weekend was Gamehole Con. A “new” gaming convention in Wisconsin. (It is in it’s third year of operation.) And for my money, one of the best run events I have been at. Any problems we experienced had nothing to do with the convention. Like when a DM had a car breakdown on his multiple-state drive to get there. Nothing the convention could do about that. So we dealt with it.
If the worst problem you are facing is that your events were sold out (as Adventurers League was all day Saturday and Sunday), then count it a good day.
In an effort for full disclosure, that really wasn’t the worst problem we had. Technically one of the DMs lost his voice as he was still recovering from being sick. I jumped in and ran his next slot for him so that he could drink some tea and rest his voice. So by the end of the night I was losing my voice. It was a vicious circle that hit a good number of us. Even one of the players at my table had lost his voice. Not “con crud™” but definitely not the optimal situation.
Of course there were the instances of awesome. Like watching DMs jump in to help cover slots where they could. Not everyone can just wing it. But those that could were backed up by those willing to jump into slots that they could run. The “winging it” didn’t end there either. I watched one DM run a mod as a single player adventure to make sure the one person who showed up with a ticket to his game Friday night had fun. I even ran two players (both playing non-combative characters) through a challenging module to make sure they got their event in and had a good time.
Sunday, as we were all reeling from the lack of sleep, nursing raspy voices, I found evidence of the reason I not only volunteer at events, but often run more than I play (I played one 2 hour slot this past weekend). One of my players from a previous day bought me coffee for all the hours and work I put in to make their games go off. Another bought tea for me (and her husband as he was the previously mentioned player who lost his voice) so that we could make it through the last game of the weekend. And yet another came back for Sunday with the infamous “crit or shit” die from the Studio 6d6 booth even though he saw the horrible luck I was having with mine.
I also watched as a player took his Players Handbook around asking for the DMs that ran a particularly good game for him to sign his book. It was somewhere between the last day of high school and being a celebrity. It was also the first book I’ve signed where my son has signed it as well. In fact I think he was the player when I gave my name and DCI number at the beginning of the session for their logs said, “Oh, are you related to Nick?” (A running gag in my family, and the topic of another blog.
I also picked up a first for the convention in their first plushie. Other than food, it and their first adventure (signed and numbered by Ed Greenwood) were the only purchases I was able to make. In hindsight, I probably would have tried to fit in a demo and probable purchase of Three Pillars the ghost investigating card game from Scare TV. I am a fan of some of the ghost investigation shows, so it would have been a natural fit. Not to mention there was a promo card in our con bag offering Gamehole Con as a location. And after 30 hours of DMing (not to mention several of printing and prepping adventures on the fly), I felt like I was haunting the venue.
There were some interesting highlights from my games as well.
- A group of 4 players. Two guys and a husband and wife. The wife was playing a male drow and her husband a female drow. The characters were brother and sister as opposed to spouses. The other two guys were drow as well, one female and one male. (I accused them of trying to break my brain at 8 in the morning.)
- That night, for the final slot, they were back at my table only now the remaining male drow was female. I had my first character in a game that was a transgendered drow rogue.
- The Carnival. My mod I ran on the fly (read through it in about 15 minutes), was a carnival gone wrong. The table had 3 brand new players, including one kid who was probably around 10 years old – plus or minus. So I couldn’t go full American Horror Story. But it was pretty close. I even had one character trying to protect the villain as she had gained an infatuation with the ringmaster through a developed insanity effect. (Gotta love season 3 mods!)
- One of the Critter Community players jumped in on the one mod we were running with banshee in it. He was the player at the table to take the “token” which made him the primary target in the final fight. Dropped him and the cleric to 0 hit points with the banshee scream. Had I not been so tired, I might have consoled him with, “At least the door wasn’t locked.” (Inside joke for fans of Critical Role.)