Monday 08 April, 2013

GaryCon V


First off… my apologies on not keeping this blog updated.  Between my RL job and the Tales from the Fallen Empire project I have been busy.  So with that said, let me get on with today’s topic GaryCon V!

This has been the one event of the past few years that I have been dying to go to.  A lot of my industry friends and acquaintances are in attendance, and this is the place (next to North Texas RPG Con) for OSR gaming.  When I got to see the list of games available back in January, I felt like the sixteen year old me looking at the DundraCon line up in the 80’s.  For those of you not from Northern California; DundraCon is one of the coolest gaming conventions on the west coast.  Some of the well known industry folk used to haunt the ballrooms with games such as Cyberpunk 2020, Champions, and RuneQuest.  OK, back on the topic.  The flight to Milwaukee was pretty uneventful, if fact I loaded Conan on my iPad and by the time it was almost over we were landing.  I have to say Delta has pretty comfortable seats for the larger traveler. Even with someone sitting next to me I did not feel like I was squishing them (unlike other airlines **cough** United **cough**). Got to my rental car pretty quickly (Milwaukee is a very tiny airport), and off I went.  Note to self: The detour button on the GPS does not mean “I am getting off the road for gas”.  My GPS soon took me though the farmlands and back roads of Wisconsin.

Lake Geneva at Sunset

The Lake Geneva Ridge Resort was a beautiful venue, it felt somewhat like a hunting lodge with huge fireplaces and lots of places to flop down and relax.  My room was ready when I arrived and I headed upstairs to a gigantic room.  Hell I could have had three other roommates and would still had oodles of space.  I thought about taking a nap, but sleep was for the weak and decided to get my badge.  There were people all about, games running in almost all the rooms and the energy levels were high.  I ran into Mike Curtis and Doug Kovacs right off the bat (was a good sign) and promptly grabbed my badge, stadium cups, and some other registration line goodies and began to take in the gaming area.  There was no shared space here as the entire lodge belonged to the convention.  There were no bridal parties giving us funny looks or VW enthusiasts trying to run us over in the parking lots, the lodge was ours!  I played a very interesting Tower of Gygax ran by my good friend Jeff Talanian; no TPK, but my Paladin failed his saving throw and dust spores ended him quickly.  Other than the tower day one was pretty uneventful, I spent most of the time in the bar and hanging out with friends.  Drank a bunch with Doug K, finally got to meet the Troll Lord himself Steven C. and mellowed out in my room catching up on well deserved Zs.

Friday is when the good times rolled!  I got to play in Tim Kask’s “Curse of the Weaver Queen”.  Tim is very passionate about playing it old school.  During my session he put a 3.5 player into his place and I was told Tim almost had a fist fight on his hands from a Pathfinder player the night before.  These kids and their “Balanced Role-play” I tell ya.  I did however, survive a Tim Kask dungeon!  Honestly I think it was because Tim (and myself) had to rush off and sign 80 copies of Gygax Magazine right after the game.  Poor Tim was triple booked almost the entire weekend.  The price of fame I guess.  My DCC game “The Horror of Hod” was a nightmare getting together, only for the fact that some duche-wad Pathfinder Venture Captain had my assigned table and would not let it go.  We did end up moving the game in to the restaurant and playing there.  Just a side note, the resort let people game in the restaurant and they sent waitresses into the gaming areas to take orders.  You could have dinner while you gamed!  Something other conventions should take note of, it was pretty damn cool.  Anyway, this was the second time I ran the module and the party just saved the villagers and let the ancient evil go about his plans.  I think this means I need to put the villagers in the same room as the big bad.  I did get to meet Tim Snider of the Savage Afterworld blog and Tim Wadzinski (an editor who had worded on DCC for Goodman Games).  Great guys and now proofreaders and editors on the Tales project.  Again the rest of the evening was spent in the bar drinking Spotted Cow and watching the Gygax sisters partying like college kids.

The coolest game of D20 Cthulhu Ever!

Saturday went by pretty quickly. I was introduced to Maple-Bacon donuts and played in a very cool Star Frontiers game.  I got to be a Yazarian (coolest race ever!) marksman and went around blasting the hell out of everything around me.  After the game I wandered around for a bit, watched a panel, had a drink, and wondered some more.  My Saturday game almost did not go off, the other DCC game in that slot pulled most of the fan base, but I guess the gods felt sorry for me and I had a full table of players.  At the end of the session I gave the cool upstairs table to Tavis Allison and crew and went off to the bar.  Drank a few and headed off to bed.

Sunday was pretty uneventful for the most part.  Did my last trip around the dealers room.  Went into Lake Geneva proper and took pictures of the Gygax family house. Went to lunch with Susan Silver and checked out a few local shops.  Oddly enough Lake Geneva did not have a cheese shop that was open.  There was a cool place called the “Cheese Box”, but unfortunately the shop fell on hard times and closed.  Once back at the lodge I got to meet up with the Dead Games Society and talked with them about starting a New England Chapter.  The chat was positive and that made me pretty damn happy.  The rest of the day was pretty boring.  Went into town and had KFC for dinner and drank till the bar closed at 9:45.  This was remedied by Luke Gygax and the resort management kept the bar open until midnight.  I was invited to play in a very cool pathfinder game with Luke, Stefan Pokorny (of Dwarven Forge), and some other awesome people.  It was the first RPG that I have ever played in that had back and neck rubs.  Got to bed about 3:00 am and was up again at 6:00 to head back to the airport.

The coolest looking (out of business) cheese store in Lake Geneva


There was other great things about this trip including meeting Frank Mentzer’s beautiful bride, hanging out with Michael Curtis, and schmoozing with other industry folk .  Will I come back next year? Hell yes!  I will be booking my flight and room sometime in the late summer.

The Memorial Wall



  • James Lewis says:

    Great read, my fellow “James.” As one of the aforementioned “other awesome people” (thank you, sir!), it was very cool to get to meet you, get your sig on my copy of Gygax #1, and game with you!
    As a “by the way,” the fella running our PF game was August, hometown GM to Gene Drebenstedt (who was to August’s left), with whom Luke and I were stationed in Germany during the Desert Storm era. Dreb rightly insisted that August experience the greatness of Gary Con, so that was his first time attending – and there he is running a game for all of you V.I.P.s, which is pretty cool! A great guy by the name of Cliff was playing the russian’ish accented character. Clay also did a vastly better Sean Connery than I, so he probably should’ve played my character, haha!
    Then there was Ken (the “mountain of a man,” hahaha), whom I met a few Gary Cons back through Luke – and the reason that VERY last minute challenges still allowed me to attend (so of course, many thanks to him). His friend was the reason we also got to enjoy back and neck rubs, so double thanks are in order from me.
    At any rate, it was – and is always – a truly great time, and I enjoyed getting the flashback from reading about it here.

  • James says:

    James it was a pleasure to game with you at the convention. The late night Sunday gaming was the best way to end any convention. A very laid back session with everyone having a good time, drinking, and letting loose. August was an excellent GM, I tend to be wary of playing PF for the most part (sadly enough I love the game, but have not found many engaging GMs to run it here in NE), but August really made the game stand out. I hope to sit at his table once again in the future. GaryCOn was a great experience… there is only one convention here on the East coast that has the same vibe.
    Hope to see you again next year or on some of the gaming forums.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *