What would possess a seemingly rational girl to spend a long weekend in one hotel room with three gamer geeks? Love of games. Get your mind out of the gutter!!!
My brother and Mike arrived on Thursday, like a good gamer should; Oz and I couldn't spare a square of vacation so joined the crew Friday night. I had to go to work insanely early- so early that I almost
beat the Evil Day Star out of bed- so we could leave in time to make it to a Firefly LARP on Friday. What's a LARP, you say? Well, congratulations: society considers you normal. For the rest of us, Live-Action Role Playing is the ultimate in nerdliness. Instead of sitting at a table to game, we trot out our poor acting skills- and sometimes our costumes- and play our games in person. I have only been in one other LARP and I hated it. But I love Firefly, I'm up for a challenge, and hey, what else am I gonna do at the Con?
I was not sorry. We had so much fun Friday night that agreed to return Saturday. Good thing, because as you can see from this picture on the right *editor's note: photo removed*, my brother was in a Mood after not doing well in the Magic tournament. We headed to the streets of Columbus, Ohio in search of hopped beverages. Being lazy gamers, we chose the place closest to our hotel- Barley's . There we shared a brew and Mike and my brother regaled their wins and losses in Magic. Apparently the folks for whom they metagamed did not show. WoTC had almost zero presence at Origins, so many teams opted to unveil their new decks at GenCon instead. Barley's had very good beers , but poor service for a place only half full. They also had a menu of 20 homebrews, to which our server hastily pointed and said these seven were the only ones on tap. She walked away and we couldn't remember which ones they had! When her shift ended, she was replaced by a guy who forgot they had a brown ale, so they need a better system for knowing what's in stock. The tin ceiling made it awfully loud also.
We started the next day Elevensies and a quick shopping tour of the main floor. I've never been to Origins, so I didn't know what it would be like. It seemed like the vendors were very similar to GenCon, but where Origins would have one custom corset vendor, GenCon would have five. I didn't see anything to distinguish the Origins floor from GenCon. Being smaller, Origins should IMHO do something to personalize and/or specialize to attract a certain segment. We made mental shopping lists for Sunday and headed to our D&D game.
We bought our way in with generics and I was worried that we would dilute the game too much. However, our GM Daniel kept eleven players engaged in a very interesting module. I have not played D&D for 15 years or so, but Daniel was good at explaining. We had a good mix of personalities in the mix and lots of quick wit. The gnome bard was hilarious- my character miserably failed a movement roll, then did well on silent movement. She instantly began singing a "Silent and Flailing" ode- to the tune of Pink's "God is a DJ!" It was a great mix of fun, polite players fighting battles and solving puzzles.
We had dinner at some random bar. I would love to review it for you, but it left no impression on me so I can't remember the name or what I had to eat!! We spent the meal talking about games and preparing for Part II of our Firefly LARP.
The great thing about the LARP style is that the FF format means we formed a ship crew and worked together. The GM, Karen, had a pretty good gaming system and I was really impressed by her ability to smile so much through the frenetic pace of the scenarios piling up. Our crew were so innovative in gathering information that we ended up doing very well. We fed the info to our captain- Oz- and he made great decisions. My brother wins the acting award, not only for how he played his character's stats, but his Firefly 'verse speech patterns and clever comebacks. We knew we were on track when GM Karen radioed for some ship stats and said to her crew- "you know, the Thing with the People- in the DESERT…the MEGAPLOT!" We did very well and our crew was not injured. After a major revelation, she asked what we would do next. Oz said, "we'll see you at GenCON!" and we "flew" into the black. The developers are planning to have a MUSH for us between now and GenCon. I can't believe I'm about to say this: I enjoyed the LARP so much I'll do it again!
We decided to celebrate our clever gaming with martinis at MoJoe's, a bar my brother had found. The drinks were delicious and the outdoor seating was great for people-watching. Indoors was a modern-ish bar with the requisite Techno Mood music that every martini bar must have. I would recommend it, but the restroom was the dirtiest one I've seen in a long time (please recall that I've been on a nine hour plane ride recently). Paper towels overflowing, half empty soda bottle on the floor, trash… very unpleasant. The kind that makes one wonder is staying to wash one's hands will make them cleaner or dirtier. So back to a fun topic- our conversation. The four of us had a drink or two and enjoyed the evening. The conversation was fantastic. All four of us are vastly different people with different backgrounds so the conversation was heated on occasion. But deipnosophy is my passion, so the wide variety of topics was incredibly enjoyable. We all had something different and interesting to contribute.
Sunday morning, Mike and my brother left early to return to their spouses/kids after three long days of gaming with only a few hours of sleep. Oz and I did our shopping. Even for the non-gamer, the wares are really interesting. I love all of the funny T-shirts and clever logos. This picture reminds me of a fellow gamer…you know who you are, you button-pusher…
As much as I dislike being a walking billboard, this shirt was so poignant that I almost bought it. I do feel like God delivered the message to each culture uniquely and that we have more in common than we think. At the very least, we all need to learn to respect each other more. Ahem, pardon me as I stable my high horse :p
There was some live-action fighting from Edhellen Armoury , The same people who were doing it last year at GenCon. Sadly, this year, the pros were not fighting, it was gamer y gamer, and the fights were not as good. I don't know why they opted out. Liability? Strain? I remember the guy who does the most fighting (King Arthur dude) was dripping with sweat last year, and some of the gamers did some bad illegal hits. Anyway, it's fun to watch the combat.
I would be remiss to pretend that the only interesting thing Edhellen is the fine boffer swords and larp props. One of the young men who works there has the bluest eyes I've ever seen. I get Barbara Mandrell-style togue-tiedand embarrassed around him and won't look at him. Oz uses this for his amusement and points the guy out to me. Here is the e-vile picture Oz took of the two Armory guys in costume. The guy on the left is the one who belongs in a King Arthur movie; Blue Eyes is on the right. Enough said.
Oz and I both bought a few things we'd scoped on Saturday, but found ourselves saying "I'll find that on the internet" or "it's cheaper at GenCon" or "I'll wait until GenCon." In fact, I've mentioned GenCon in every paragraph of this post. Here's how I see Origins: First, it's only 38 days apart from GenCon. Second, it's smaller. Third, it offered nothing to me I can't have at GenCon (and more of it too). The small size made it no more personal and no more unique. I love games, but I can't afford the time nor the money to invest in two Cons so similar. I was appreciative of what Origins was, but there was not enough to keep me going there every year. See Oz's blog entry for his take on all of this.
I arrived home tired, happy, and happy to see Carlton. I am so very lucky to have a spouse who lets me do all of this with my brother and our other nerdy friends. The amazing part to me is that it's not something he understands. All he knows is how happy it makes me, and he listens patiently to my stories of winning a saving roll like I'm regaling my latest gold game to a non-golfer.
Why am I awake at two in the morning? Because I am too stoked about playing FF at GenCon! See you there!!!!!!!