The Illiad and Zombie Cops
I made it.
It helped that Earl got up early to get ready. I napped while he showered, and then put myself together when he was done. We got down to the game room and there was one guy in there. Soon after, a lady limped into the room with a giant stuffed raccoon in a Hawaiian shirt. She set the animal in one of the chairs and then limped off to get breakfast. I stayed in the room, as common convention protocol is that whoever gets in the room first is first on the waiting list. It turned out that the guy that was already there was on the waiting list, so I was the second.
A couple came in about 10 minutes before the game was supposed to start, and the guy was in the game and wanted to wait to see if his girlfriend could get into the game as well. Right at 8 a.m. the fourth signed-in player arrived, which meant that only two of three people waiting to get in; however, the woman who had left the raccoon hadn't come back yet. We waited 15 minutes for her, then another 5 and she still had shown up. So the girlfriend took the place of the raccoon while Earl did introductions to the characters. She did say that she would cede her place if the woman showed up, and another five minutes later she did. The woman was limping from ankle surgery, and she had given up her 'I ran a game' precedence in order to get into Earl's game, so she really deserved to be in it; but it was somewhat rude to be so late when so many people were waiting.
Anyway, I did make it into the game, and it turned out to be just gorgeous. Earl always does a really good job of preparing his characters for a game, usually two sets of three people that are in obvious camp splits and then each person usually has more solid social ties with at least two of the other characters, one in the set and one out. He also had three of each gender, and turned out to have three of each gender for his players and better yet, with the older limping woman, myself, and a teenage girl we actually covered the crone, the mother, and the maiden, which were the three female characters in the game and matched up character to reality, in some ways. The boys didn't quite work out as neatly, but it was close enough to make it interesting.
The game was Call of Cthullu, which is a horror game, and not one that I would normally play; but I had such fun with Earl's game last year, which was also supposed to be horror, that I decided it would be much fun to play this year as well. Just like last year, this year's game was a very interesting web of relationships between all the characters that only made the target mystery all the more intriguing. He really gave a lot of room for character interaction, surprise, and interesting assumptions about each other as well as many possible ways for the plot to turn out. Yes, it was actually a Call of Cthullu adventure where the characters actually succeeded in their goal. The whole sense of exploration in an environment that was not our own was really well done, and the various clues Earl had left scattered everywhere were really fun to work through. I had a great time, and we even had time for a lunch break. I wandered off to find food for Earl as well as myself, as he bought me breakfast.
Earl also did an exquisit job of bringing the beauty and horror of the Illiad into actual play, the prose in certain sections of the epic tale are perfect Call of Cthullu materia. Descriptive, spooky and rich.
We actually finished the game at 4 p.m., with a little time to spare. I called Carl using his cell phone number because I didn't know if he was in a game or not. It turned out that he was in his room, and Gretchen was still here. The four of us had fun wandering around the convention, going through the dealers room looking at all the cool dice. It turns out that there are new four sided dice, that look more like bones than the old pyramids that four-siders used to be and they had them in beautiful tortoise shell colors. Gretchen was lured first, while I decided I needed a pair of Feng Shui dice because the ones Carl gave me always seem to roll more negative than positive. I then went back later for four of the tortoise shell four-siders. There really isn't a game that we use four-siders in, but the dice were just so pretty that I couldn't resist. A two dollar purchase isn't too bad for an impulse buy.
The four of us finally settled on dinner in the restaurant at the hotel. The restaurant is actually very good, and the staff there is actually much more friendly than I have seen restaurant staff be to any convention of the SF or gaming type. They really seem to like us and our waiter was a very patient man with a good sense of humor, so we did well. I ordered a Tuscan bread salad with grilled chicken, and it was wonderful to put that much vegetable matter into my body. The Basalmic vinaigrette was really tasty on the wild greens, and the chicken was cooked perfection, smoky with the grilling. The toasted bread lent body to the salad and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
We wandered around some more, and I got to see Gwen, who is one of Geoff's friends from Pittsburgh. She now lives in the Bay Area, and I talk with her online in the same places Geoff haunts. It was very keen to see the real person behind the personality projected through words. I always enjoy that kind of thing, as I usually make some connections to people's attitudes. I've been meeting Net people for 15 years now, and no longer seem to make assumptions about physical appearances or have expectations other than in how they carry themselves or what interests they have when we talk in full-parallel. Gwen was very cute, very interesting, and very bubbly in the ways I half expected from my interactions with her. Fun to hug and with a very cool mind. She and Gretchen had met before, it seemed, and Collie, who used to game with Carl a lot, seemed to know her from the convention as well. That was neat.
After all that we went back to Carl's room. We were all somewhat brain dead, and sat around talking about what game we should play this evening and suddenly hit upon the possibility of Zombie Cops. Earl said that we should have two zombie cops and one street-capable character, which led to more discussion and the possibility of a Scrappy Kid in the Feng Shui parlace, which opened up the door to the kid being a sorcerer, because it is in the template. That meant that the kid's dad was probably a sorcerer as well with equipment in the basement. All of which led to the set up of the kid's parents being kidnapped, a couple of police happening upon the seemed unawares, the police getting blown away by the kidnappers, and then the kid coming home from school to find his parents gone and two dead cops in his foyer. Mom always said to call the police, and Dad always called the dead, so the kid calls the cops back from being dead to help him find his parents.
It went really well. Carl and I had fun making zombie noises about "Braaaaaaaains", "Doooooonuts" and "Coooooofffeee" and thumping around. Also, because we became supernatural creatures, our power levels were pretty sick. There was one point in the initial combat where Earl was just yelling at the both of us for being completely sick in our character statistics. For those of you actually know the Feng Shui system, Carl's character Max had a body of 10 (where the statistics go from 1 to 10) and my character Sam had a reflex of 10. So I was inhumanly fast and he was inhumanly strong, and we both had a few surprises up our supernatural sleeves because supernatural creatures can have creature powers including Inevitable Comeback and Immunity to Bullets or Sorcery. Which does get pretty sick pretty fast, so far as abilities go. The really cool part, however, was that both Carl and I would occasionally go, "Would a zombie actually think of this?" If it was something a zombie wouldn't have thought of we didn't do it even if it did make sense to our tired brains. On the most part, however, our tiredness made it easy to play zombies. That was pretty funny.
I intend to do a full write-up of the game, as I think it would make a really good story even though it was an off the cuff one-shot. Earl did a masterful job of collecting the elements, his brain, and giving us something interesting to do as well as letting us get away with a few things that were just satisfying to do. This included raising 18 longer dead cops using doughnuts, and having our own zombie troops as our mooks to confuse the mooks of our enemy. Mooks in Feng Shui are all the bit characters that nobody knows the names of who are mostly cannon fodder. The story was fun and the game was over before midnight, so we were all able to get to sleep at a decent hour. After the very long day, it was good to sleep.