Wow. That … that was something. The big summer conventions are always exciting, with the chance to see old friends, play games, check in on a room full of people playing Shadowrun, or see the gleam in a young child’s eye as they pick up a Shadowrun book, gaze on the art, and realize that someday they, too, may have the chance to shoot someone in the face for money. But this one was determined to add a little extra oomph to the proceedings, and boy did it come through. To explain why, I have to tell a story, so here goes.
For me personally, the convention hit its highest high on Saturday night, and it involved possibly the rudest behavior at an awards ceremony that I will ever display. This is how it came to pass: Around six, the exhibit hall closed. We did our normal close-up stuff, then focused on the special guest Shadowrun was going to have that night. GAMA had been kind enough to arrange for actress, producer/star of The Guild, and Geek and Sundry notable Felicia Day to play a game of Shadowrun. We were shown where the game was going to be and had the logistics of the event explained to us. Then, since it was the only window for food I was going to have for a while, I ate, feeling excited and ignoring any doing my best to quell any worries that popped up.
Besides the special guest, I had another item on my agenda for the night–the Origins Awards. There had been some confusion that day about the start time of the award ceremony, and I still didn’t know if they started at seven or eight. So, we’re eating and Catalyst head honcho Loren Coleman gets a text from author-of-Origins-Award-nominated-Wars-of-Reaving Ben Rome that the awards are starting. So I thought I’d run down there and ask Ben to accept the award for us in case Runner’s Toolkit won in its category.
So I booked across the entire convention hall, went up the escalator to where the ceremony was, and poked my head in the door. I saw Ben, and he motioned to me. I walked over to where he was sitting, and he whispered “Congratulations–the Toolkit won.” Then he handed me the trophy and certificate. He also told me he accepted the award on Catalyst’s behalf, and told everyone that I was a doofus or some such. It’s possible that he didn’t really do that, but if he did, it was totally justified. Since my business was taken care of, I took the trophy and left.
So I was walking through the hall, and I was thinking how that all must have looked to people in the ceremony. Some guy comes in during an in-progress ceremony, walks up to another person, takes a trophy, and then walks out. I think the only way I could have appeared ruder would have been to have stopped at the exit door, turned around, looked at the presenters, dropped the trophy on the floor, and walked out. But I wanted the thing, so I didn’t do that.
I apologize to the fine Origins Awards people for that, but this is what conventions are–events piling on each other. I then dashed to the room where Shadowrun gaming was happening, escorted the people who would be running the game for Felicia Day to the room where it would be happening, came back, and waited for the other participants to arrive, then had the pleasure of telling them their event had been upgraded. I strolled with them to the designated area, where they walked in so they could have their private game.
And this is the part where I have to praise all the people who made that event go as well as it did. There are a ton of shout-outs here. First, to the GAMA staff for making it happen. Then to our fearless but stressed-out Missions developer and event coordinator Steven “Bull” Ratkovich, who picked out the Mission for the event, selected a great GM for the event, and stayed up until 2 AM the night before making a few characters for Felicia to choose from. His task was made easier by the awesome Hero Lab for Shadowrun software, and the detailed character sheet that program offers made it so a new player has all the information they need right in front of them. Brent Evans, art dude extraordinaire, whipped together the character art seen below in an amazingly short time. Steven A. Tinner was an excellent choice for gamemaster; I listened in on the session, and his storytelling and characterizations drew people into the story and provided a sense of urgency. He controlled the story with his skill and didn’t have to be at all domineering. The players were also great–the give and take at the table was really fun to listen to. Bob Loper pulled double duty–he wrote the Mission for the session, and he also played a spirit bound to Felicia’s character, which enabled him to be there with any rules help that might be needed. It was a great group effort, and I am completely thrilled to be associated with all these people that can come together like they did and make an event work so well (it was, quoth Ms. Day on the Shadowrun Missions Facebook page, “SO FUN!”)
So it was a crazy evening, and I decompressed the only way I know how at a con–by diving into a massive game. Arkham Horror was the choice this time, and we played on the beautiful tables set up by the craftsmen of Geek Chic. Then it started to be kinda late (or early, depending on your perspective), so I slept. A little.
And that was just Saturday night. It was exciting and busy, but it was not all the good stuff the con had. Besides that, we had the Scramble on Saturday afternoon, which featured a team throwing a flash-bang at an ork and managing to knock out each member of their team–but not the target, and a few teams of runners working together to take out a blood mage. And me totally selling out a team because I couldn’t remember who I had given what. We also had tons of full Shadowrun games (nearly 300 people played!), a few added games, and a brief Shadowrun chat with Patrick Rothfuss. With all that awesomeness, we need a h/t to the volunteer crew, so here they are: Ray Rigel, Dan Wlodarski, Geoff Raye, Mike Messmer, Shaun Burton, Rob Thomas, Bob Loper, Joe King, Nick Van, Galen Winkler, Robin Sheldrake, Steven Tinner, Tim Patrick, Abraham Isgur, Stephen Giffen, and Andrew Coen (whose name will be deleted from this list if he ever sends out the pictures of his he-knows-what).
Despite my occasional assertions to the contrary, there were other things going on at Catalyst besides Shadowrun. About forty copies of Leviathans showed up, were put on sale, and disappeared in under an hour (I also got to play in a massive Leviathans game that had about a dozen ships per side). Balance of Power, the game that Risk should have been since it focuses on diplomacy and tactics instead of dice-based luck, premiered and also sold out. Battletech won an Origins Award of its own (for the product Ben Rome wrote, Wars of Reaving), and together with Shadowrun had strong sales. I played our new game, The Duke, and am already pretty sure I like it better than chess.
So–totally great time. I’m tired, I want to sleep more, and I’m happy to be home with my family, but I already miss all the friends I got to hang out with the week of the con, and the knowledge that once dinner was over, we’d be gaming until we collapsed.
P.S. Want more pictures? The aforementioned Ben Rome has a camera and knows how to use it, and he put a bunch of Origins pics here. Check it out!