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February 19, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Junkyard Cops and Ferret Abominations

I actually decided to get up at 8:30. My wrists were still troubling me, and the only way I can really get them to stop is to get on an exercise bike and get my circulation moving. So I went downstairs to the exercise room, got on a bicycle, and went at it for 30 minutes. They had some video ad for Tae Bo going on the TV, and the music was good enough to get me going steadily. Today was very sunny in the morning, and the warmth felt really good on my back as I rode. There was also a weight machine, so I took the chance and did a few upper body exercises. After finishing a set a man came into the exercise room and started fiddling with the very weights I was using. It turned out he couldn't figure out that the machine used one set of weights for all the configurations. I was, however, done, so I ceded the set to him.

In the exercise room there was a basket of fruit, the very same fruits that cost a dollar or two out in the main meal area. So I lifted a banana and a pear and took those with me upstairs. I gnawed on the pear as I got ready to shower, got a good and clean, put together all of my gaming stuff and then ran down the stairs to get to Carl's game on-time. Everybody else who had signed up showed up, and there were even four other people who wanted to play. One of the players had played in The Great Rescue, which Carl had run either last year or the year before, so wanted to play a game with Carl again. Someone else recognized me, but wasn't sure if it was from the convention or somewhere else and later realized that it was through the Web. He had stumbled upon my convention stories from the games I had played at DunDraCon. That was a very interesting thing to have happen, and I don't normally think people reading the stories.

The game itself was a Carl classic, starting with the noodle shop intro and slamming into full action immediately after. We were all playing Junkyard Cops, as that was the title of the game, misfits of the Hong Kong police department all about to celebrate their captain's wedding the next day. Everyone really got into the game and had a blast. Carl's handling of the Hong Kong movie knowledge everyone has, and how plots go for those kinds of movies and those characters really made the game fast, furious, and fun. There were sacrifices made, lives saved, and fabulous dying soliloquies. Thousands of bullets were fired, autos raced up twisting roads to meet impossible deadlines, and right in the middle of radio dead space all the action happened. It was wonderful. I'll leave the full plot out in case Carl actually wants to run this at another convention. I had a great time, and we even got a lunch break that was long enough to stand up and stretch and go get some food. The snack area had the usual hot dogs and hamburgers along with good things like fresh vegetables, fruit, and plenty of condiments for anything we might get. The hot dogs were even served on hard rolls rather than soft hot dog buns, which I really enjoyed.

The game ran until 4 p.m., and after that we wandered around convention together just relaxing and talking with various people. There were several members of the Horde that said that they might arrive at the convention this evening to share dinner with us. Carl had written everyone to say that we were having dinner around 4, because we were supposed to meet someone then and were likely to start gaming around 8 p.m.. No one wrote to say that they would make it, though it sounded like Gretchen was making noises about making it for the 8 p.m. game. Lucianus, it turned out, had arrived at the convention while Carl's game was running and had called everyone's rooms to find us. Sadly, that wasn't any way to find any of us, and he left before we were even finished.

Various people at the convention wanted to play in a Carl game, and as we wandered around we gathered more people and simply told most of them to meet us at Carl's room sometime before 8. Chrisber said that he would arrive around 5:30, so both Carl and I decided to eat at the snack area in order to meet him when he came. So we did that, I also called John immediately after dinner, and when he actually asked what I ate during the day I honestly couldn't remember whether I had the hot dog for lunch or for dinner though I knew I had the cheese burger the other time. At conventions food is normally nothing more than fuel, something to just keep going on. I did manage to sneak some lettuce and tomatoes into my diet along with the fruit that I'd had for breakfast, so I think I was doing well.

I got to see Bryant in the dealer's room and laugh at him trying to lure me into buying yet another game. Between Genevieve and Geoff I seem to be collecting quite a large number of gaming books that I don't use all that often. Carl and crew seem to have all the books that are really necessary, though I had brought my copy of Feng Shui to use during the morning's game and also for whatever games might break out as they normally seem to use that system.

Also, at 6:00 there was a panel on how and why to use Lightning Press to publish gaming books. Bryant said he wanted to go, but he never made it. Carl, however, asked all the questions I might have and more. The three things I learned were that the quality of print on demand was far lower than that of a normal publication run, that the breakeven point was around 1000 books, but the costs were far cheaper and, better yet, nearly no money had to be put down upfront. That means that all costs for printing a book would be covered when it was ordered, and if all authors and artists were only paid on royalties, maybe with some upfront advances, then the biggest costs could, conceivably, all be loaded to the back end. There were some interesting conclusions that could be made and some interesting thoughts about how to encourage gamers to buy books upfront and quickly in order to get a better quality product. It also reinforced my feeling the gaming authors really ought to be paid on royalty rather than by the word.

The lobby scene was really funny as we all gathered down there after the panel, first, with stories, laughter, and hugs and greetings of all types for all people. Bruce and Bryant did a frighteningly smooth, off-the-cuff rendition of an informercial for a pair of media characters from the Bureau, which is the Big Brother society of the future in Feng Shui. Everyone nearly died laughing, and Carl just shook his head. Asking for the elephant so that they could get the kitten.

So by evening we had Earl, Chrisber, Bryant, Bruce, Marc, Donji, and Chris all in Carl's room. We made up characters on the spot and were a multi-sourced party from various timelines and factions of the Feng Shui universe and since there were no Jammers (the intrepid rebels against the Bureau) our assignment was to trash some Jammer stuff.

Most of the party was from the Darkness Pagoda. Both Earl and Chrisber played old masters from the pagoda. Bryant played a technician that was in charge of twin ferret abominations, which were both derived from the ferret abomination I had played a few years ago, though the storyline went that my abomination had been captured and cloned to make Donji's abomination. Both of us knew how ferrets behaved, so had a blast copying each other and generally running rampant. Bryant had a deliciously bitter rant about how the phrase 'ferret wrangler' just wasn't a part of his job description. Bruce and Marc played a really hilarious pair from the Fire Pagoda. Marc played a giant, burning skull named Fire Skull, was the bodyguard of Bruce's Fire Prince. Bruce's falsetto was just astonishing. Chris played, as Carl put it, the unluckiest Pledged special forces soldier in the world to guide the Pagoda folks to some Jammer locations, so the Pagoda folks could do some destruction.

We never got past the Jammer bar, before everything blew up in one way or another. All the players were on the floor at various points as well, and there was much laughter at the various roles everyone was playing. Donji and I had a blast being extremely curious, extremely fast, and nearly without brain. At one point the two ferrets were fighting over a homing device that was going to bring a warhead down on our heads, mostly because it was shiny. Mmmmmm... shiny... The conversations with the Fire folks was really funny, and the whole crew first made the bar wary and then brought the Bureau down on the bar. We had much fun beating up on the Bureau before wandering out the back door. Bryant desperately tried to get the homing beacon off of us and disabled before the bomb hit us and there was this moment when Carl shook his head and said, "Bryant, you know your dying words are going to be, 'Hold still!'"

Long, long ago Carl used to run a Shadowrun game for Bruce, where Bruce played a mage. One of the strictures Carl had included the banning of all fire balls. He wouldn't let any of the magicians use that blatant a form of magic, and part of the lure for tonight's game was that Bruce would get to use a fireball. Bruce enabled much of this by playing the Fire Prince, and as the warhead started to home in on us and we could see the fire trail in the night sky, the Fire Prince got to throw an enormous fireball that took care of the warhead. KABoooooooom!

The game ended around midnight, a bare hour after Gretchen arrived from work. She got to see the ending, but everyone who was left had plans for early in the morning, so we wound up the game at midnight. Earl wandered down to find out if I had made his game, and I hadn't. Early Sunday morning would be an okay time for me to try to get into looking where someone didn't show up, but part of my brain was wondering I really wanted to get up that early. Also, I wasn't sure if I would be to talk with Gretchen or Chrisber or Bryant after tonight, because Bryant had to work tomorrow and Chrisber was going home as well tonight. So I stayed up until 2 a.m. talking with everyone, until Gretchen went out with Bryant to see him off. There was only Carl and I left, so I decided to go and get some sleep. It couldn't hurt.

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