I got back from Gary Con VI just a few days ago and I have to say, it was an absolutely amazing Con and experience.
I left Connecticut in the morning on Tuesday March 25, 2014. We drove up to I-84 to cross New York State near Newburgh and the Hamilton Fish, it’s then a nice, pleasant drive down to Scranton and then to I-80. We stopped for the night near Toledo, OH, which was my goal for a solid day of driving. The next day, it was wake up and drive the 4 or so short hours to the Lake Geneva Ridge Resort and Gary Con VI!
We got there around 1 p.m. on Wednesday and settled in our Lake-View room. Great room, lovely view and overall, a very, very nice place to stay (great bathrooms!). After a quick nap, we went to get some food from the bar. I can’t say how amazing it was for me to sit in this hallowed hall and stare out at the Lake while having some bourbon. I ordered a fantastic grilled cheese and some beer and cheese soup made with a local brew, Spotted Cow. Both were glorious to behold and ingest. (Next time I bring back some Spotted Cow!) That evening, I was scheduled to play a Newbie Night game of Star Frontiers, which was cool as it was all people playing and running it who were making this their first trip to Gary Con.
It was nice to finally be able to play Star Frontiers, as I have never played nor owned it and it’s one of my “gotta own it someday” games. We played the classic scenario Crash on Volturnus. I played a human military guy and was able to take out a few baddies. Driving/travel fatigue got to a few of us while we were doing the Hex-Crawl portion of the module (nice to refresh myself on Hex-Crawls) and when I got back from bringing the wife some food, the game had disbanded. Our generous GM offered to give the box set he used for the adventure to one of us. It was down to two of us who wanted it. An epic percentile roll-off ensued with my opponent rolling a 47, which I then promptly followed up with a 46! Only at Gary Con. There was no other way this could/should have gone down, other than me actually winning of course. I was *this* close!
I got settled for bed because I knew the next day was the start of the Con itself and my game of the Hobby Shop Dungeon with Ernie Gygax DMing was at Noon!
Thursday. After waking up and hitting the modest Dealer’s Room, I was able to procure my copy of the Whisper and Venom Compendium Hardcover from Lesser Gnome’s Zach Glazar and I finally met Thopas himself, John Hammerle! Both great guys with an excellent product that you should give them money for. Also in the Dealer’s Room were Jeff Easley and Larry Elmore, amazing artists I don’t need to tell you about, it was great to see their paintings and prints. I was able to snag a copy of the 1981 AD & D DM Screen that I have been wanting to replace for years, the one with the Dave A. Trampier art adorning it. Later in the day the news broke of his death at the Con, I’ll cherish this screen even more now.
After a bit more poking around, I set off for my Hobby Shop Dungeon game. We assembled in the VIP room and quickly found out the game had been moved upstairs. With 12 people playing, my table space was at a minimum (none of that stuff was even mine!) so I kept my books and dice on the TV stand next to me.
It was refreshing to have a DM ask who the Caller would be and who would be the Mapper. We were all admonished when Ernie realized none of us brought graph paper to the table. I was going to pack some too, dang-it!
I chose to play with a Gnome Illusionist/Thief and we decided to start on Level 6 and work our way up and out of the Dungeon. The very first room we walked into, we encountered a Basilisk, which promptly turned two of our party to stone (one poor fellow was never revived from his statue state). I luckily had memorized Gaze Reflection, so I figured I was going to be the Hero of the Day. I walked into the room with confidence and threw my spell, only to have it essentially miss the Basilisk’s gaze and dissipate in one round. Oh well, time to try a Wall of Fog on my next turn, which was much more effective, allowing us to slay the beast with no more players being tuned to stone. The beast was slain but I was able to get one final attack on its corpse, digging my blade into the vile creature, I declared that I had in fact slain the beast, even though it was already dead. Gnome technicality.
During the game, I kept freaking out because I wanted a Gary Con Challenge Coin and I was worried I would miss out on them since I was playing in this game until after the Dealer’s Room closed. My stupendous wife went down and got me one during the game. I love it sooo much!
We ended up with a bit over 20,000 Victory Points, as we only made it up to the 5th Level. All in all a great game I was honored to be a part of.
Things I learned during this session: Bring graph and hex paper. We fought a monster that Ernie said he has never fought in all his years of playing, and I forgot to ask what it was Edit: From Ernie “Wind Walkers a mated pair!” When faced with a task that seemed we would not accomplish, opening a door, Ernie said “It must be insurmountable!” Then, someone promptly made the roll and we succeeded. What a great line. There is nothing like old-school playing. Paladins need to take off their helmets when Detecting Evil. ALWAYS take Read Magic. Ernie missed a door in describing a room, instead of backpedaling, he just said the door was covered in cobwebs in a dark corner of the room so we must have missed it. Great save. When using a shield to block falling debris, the DM rolls damage as normal and then the player gets to roll a d6 for each die the DM rolled. A player getting a 5 or 6 on the roll meant 1 or 2 points of damage were negated by the shield. Good call.
Friday: Goodman Games Seminar, The Ride of the Black Eagle with Doug Kovacs, Whisper and Venom with Zach Glazar.
The “What’s New with Goodman Games” Seminar ended up being quite the forum for announcements. New DCC DPG module Kickstarters, a Judges Screen and the big news: The Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition Kickstarter. It’s always great to see Doug Kovacs art upclose as well.
The Ride of the Black Eagle DCC RPG game with Doug Kovacs as Judge was really fun. We were a little slow to get started as we were eating and chatting, but once we got rolling, it was a blast. Doug blew my mind with a creature he had created (which I won’t spoil here) that was really a treat to interact with. I played a cleric of Ronnie James Dio and my wife played a fortune teller thief. Great game with great people. It was a pleasure to meet them all.
Friday Night it was time for Whisper and Venom. It’s no secret I love this setting, also I’m running Labyrinth Lord for my weekly group, so this was a perfect fit. This was another fun game with a light-hearted group of players. It turns out Thopas is exactly the kind of jerk I expected him to be, so I have plenty of first hand knowledge to use against my players as we enter Whisper and Venom in the next week or so. I was excited to meet and play with the guys from Lesser Gnome, hanging out with them was a highlight of the Con for me.
Saturday, I was booked for a game of DCC RPG at 10a.m. (The Second Phantasmagoria) with Michael Curtis Judging, but I awoke with a pounder of a headache and decided to just take it easy for my last day of the Con, as I was going to be driving another 12 hours the next day and I didn’t want to be a less than decent player. We spent some time walking around the Resort and grabbing photos.
I enjoyed a nice Maduro Padron outside by the fire. My wife bought me a piece of original art from Pete, of a really cool Dwarf (Hammerfist the Rightous), which she said reminded her of me. It will look great on our wall! We also went to Anthony’s Steak & Seafood House so we could branch away from the Gary Con menu and get a nice steak.
Got in a game of Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype as well.
Sunday morning, we checked out and I had my last walk around the Resort. I’ll tell you this, I’ll take Gary Con any day over Gen Con at this point. It’s like the Four Best Days in Shopping Vs. The Four Best Days in Gaming…guess which is which.
Monday, on the way home, I decided we would stop off in Orange County, New York and see the Orange County Choppers building and get some lunch at the OCC Cafe. I watched the show for years and never made the one-hour trip to check it out, so we went for it on Monday. We also stopped by Paul Jr. Designs, but a cop was busting someone right in front of the entrance, so we kept on driving by.
I WILL see you next year!
I think I’ll shoot for NTRPG Con as well next year, we’ll see…
Things to do next year: Try to get in on Circus Maximus somehow, play a game of Dungeon! on Dave Arneson’s ping pong table, drink more Spotted Cow, remember my business cards so I can promote my dang blog.
Disclaimer: Some photos were taken by Mark CMG of Creative Mountain Games, and borrowed from his postings in the GaryCon Facebook Group (these photos say “Photo by Mark CMG.” in the comments of the appropriate photos). Please purchase the module Fighting Fire, the proceeds go towards helping Ernie Gygax recover from a devastating fire earlier last year. I proudly own a copy, you should too. 🙂