After my early August trip up to Gen Con and the record setting attendance that convention set, I was very curious as to how Dragon Con would end up feeling. After only going for one day last year, Courtney and I had our 4 day passes with a sure-fire plan in place on how to attack the convention.
Step 1 – Arrive around 11 AM on Friday and get our badges, praying that the lines were mercifully short.
Step 2 – Go see the Lucifer Panel, praying the lines were mercifully short.
Step 3 – Head over to the America’s Mart and venture into the Vendor’s Hall, praying the lines were mercifully short.
Step 4 – Make our way through the 4 floors while not going into too much debt… and praying any lines were mercifully short.
The first part went off without a hitch. I’ve mentioned it before that back in the day the badge pick-up line was insanely long. It didn’t matter when you showed up, you were going to be there for a solid 2 hours no matter what. However, at 11 on Friday morning we spent a total of maybe 5 minutes in total. Note, I still question why they can’t just send us our badges in the mail and cut out this step entirely (and before someone says “counterfeiting”, I’d argue that Gen Con has nearly as many people and still manages to do it).
The Lucifer Panel had a small line… so no real issues there. The panel itself was good, if a bit strange. With the Writers/Actors strike, the panelists can’t really talk about any shows they were on. Which makes it a bit of a word play dance when answering any questions about their lives. In a truly funny moment near the end of the panel, DB Woodside said the name “Lucifer” in a clear reference to the show. The entire room did an audible gasp. But Lauren German was quick on her feet “He meant from the Bible” which received a nice laugh.
The third part was our first experience with a line. It was wrapped around the building, in and out of the loading/unloading area… and while it was constantly moving, it was still 50 minutes of our lives we won’t get back. Luckily Atlanta’s weather was cooler than many other Labor Day weekends (I don’t think it got above the mid-80s on any day). Even so, that line kind of sapped us a bit immediately.
The Vendor Hall itself was full of the normal wares. Anything from Cosplay to comic books to loot boxes to artists wowing with their works. The majority of my purchases centered around half-off or $5 trades, and a number of reader copy comics from the late 70s (The Champions and What If) that I really had no choice on whether to purchase or not.
There were a handful of panels we had tagged to go and see, but we didn’t leave the Vendor’s Hall until around 6:30 and by that point Courtney’s back had enough (and my calves were barking as well).
This was the first year of a brand new plan. One I’d actually wanted to try last year and couldn’t execute because I only ended up going for one day. Egg, Lee, and myself (the Gen Con crew) would see how Dragon Con did their gaming. The thought was that this would keep us in one location, limiting not only our walking, but fighting any lines. Saturday normally has the most people anyway, so trying to deal with the extra people over the years has become less and less fun. Plus any opportunity to game is a good one.
I’ve never played Shadowrun in any edition, but it’s been one of those that I’ve been interested in. The Cyberpunk world with bits of magic thrown in for good measure is always intriguing. Egg summed it up – the more dice you roll, the more fun you are having. Shadowrun using d6 to resolve in game issues where you end up rolling as many dice as you can based on your various stats (a 5 or 6 are successes). I think I was rolling 8 dice at one point in assisting another character, whereby every success I had added a dice to his roll. Lee ended up with around 14 d6. However, in his typical “con game” mode, he would only have maybe 3 successes. Probability was not on his side.
The adventure was an extraction of a prisoner just outside of Savannah, Georgia. We then spent about 1/3 of the time meeting NPCs and leveraging those contacts to try and make things go as smoothly as we could during the mission itself. Of course, there was bound to be issues along the way, but overall our planning paid off and our target was delivered to a safe house for our client. It was a fun time.
I did have one critique of the pre-generated character sheet though. And this isn’t limited to Shadowrun, I’ve seen it in plenty of games. There were entirely too much going on. I was a Rigger, which means I dealt with Drones. But I probably had a dozen different ones listed on the page. Considering this is a one-shot adventure, I’m not sure I need all that extra stuff. I didn’t end up using most of it… and some of the time it felt like something I couldn’t be sure if it was more of a reconasance drone or a battle one.
In general, I think that character sheets should be fairly bare bones. The more “stuff” listed, the more potential for confusion.
That’s it for this week. Next week will be part 2 with Mothership and Firefly and… Escalator Safety.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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