Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DunDraCon wrap-up report

After missing the last three years, I finally made it back to DunDraCon (DDC for short) this past weekend. I had a blast. The con is very well run and even after three years away, it was easy to get back in the groove. Having said that, the biggest disappointment was the game masters, though I still had a great time.

Friday I arrived way early and got the room and into my first game choice. I think it was Echoes of the Past, a 5th level D&D 3.5 game. I will now know to avoid "DM may provide characters" games all together. I had made a special version of Renz, my favorite sorceress, for the game, as well as a sheet for Svanhilde, a rogue from WoW. No one else brought a character. I heard several people complain about the time it takes to make characters. Doesn't anyone else own a computer? Gods, it takes like 15 minutes with any one of a number of free online generators, let alone things like Character Gen or Crystal Ball. Anyway, the DM didn't have any characters made either so we spent the first 90 minutes getting characters. Then there was the 13 year old who sat next to me and was a total spaz, in spite of it being a "mature themes" game. The DM took NO steps to keep the kid in line or help him wiht his character. So who is the nice person to help out with that? Me, of course.

Note to DMs: Please please please do not allow the loudest, most obnoxious players to monopolize your time and attention. It's called Everybody gets a Turn! Really easy. I use Social Initiative and let everyone roll using their Charisma bonus, then take turns in that order. Really easy and it actually helps build tension and keep the timing straight.

I almost walked out of this game a couple of times, but I didn't want to be a dick. I had some fun. It was great to play Renz and as usual, kind of get my own story going on the side. There was this cute bard, see... lol And the player had no problem RPing in spite of the fact that I am the polar opposite, physically, of Renz. That was fun.

Saturday I got to run Cauldron of Shadows, the game I ran for my friends and novelized for Nanowrimo. It was a great time. No women players, but the guys I had were great sports about the whole thing. The power gamer from Friday's game even showed up and seemed to have a fun time with the roleplaying. Everyone stayed to the end at 3am, and everyone lived. I will have to do something about that. I think giving the Strega each a level of Witch is a good direction for that. Otherwise the feedback from my home team was very effective in moving the story along and plugging some of the holes. I was very well prepared and surprise surprise! the game was done in under the scheduled time and everyone had fun. Imagine that.

Several games of Magic and a few hours of fitful sleep later I played in a game of Amber for the first time. Amber is a diceless system based on the works of Roger Zelazny, who is one of my all time favorite writers EVAR! This was more of a LARP than and rpg. Two experienced players came in fabulous costumes that made me feel even grungier and lumpier than usual, but they were beautiful, especially the lady, and played the game like true Amberites. It was fun to play with my friend Sean on the other team. However, the GM was less than fully prepared and much of the time was spend sitting around waiting to speak with him. I think another GM would have helped. IT was still a fun experience, but it went 2+ hours past the alloted time and generally felt pretty disorganized. Having said that, I intend to play Amber again, and come in costume next time, if it is appropriate.

As a further boon, the game re-awakened my love for the Amber novels. I am looking forward to reading them again and then learning more about the RPG.

All in all, a great time and another invaluable learning experience as a GM and player. But geez, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, GAME MASTERS! There is just no excuse to not be ready. If life is that rough, cancel your game. I would.
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