Running GAGG XVIII: An Esteamed Convention
Hello, everybody! SUNY Geneseo’s annual gaming convention, Running GAGG, was a thing that happened over the weekend. It was also, apparently, my 10th year attending! Wow! This year, I also brought my friend Kat with me, and it was her first gaming convention. I asked her the Wednesday before the convention if she was free and wanted to keep me company, and, without knowing where we were going or what the con was for or if I was in fact a secret serial killer, she said yes! She has a background of going to anime cons, but she had always seen herself as more of a console gamer and going to Running GAGG broadened her horizons!
Here’s the breakdown of things-I-did-or-saw:
ARRIVAL – I arrived safely! After last year’s horrible snow storm and car crashing, I learned not to take good weather for granted. Many thanks to the other attendees who clearly performed ritualistic sacrifices to ensure safe and non-snowy driving conditions this year.
“I MISSED YOU, FRIEND!” – Tackled a lot of people. There were a lot of people that I only get to see once or twice per year, and there was very little time to catch up with all of them. Many of them are former Geneseo students and seasoned members of GAGG, but others are friends that I made simply through the convention. Kat thought that it was really cool that people who knew each other from GAGG could see each other once a year and still be really good friends after so much time apart. That’s one of the beautiful things about con!
SHINY NEW CARD GAME – Played a beta for DPH Games Inc, Psychological Warfare, while waiting for my first scheduled event to start. There will be a more in-depth review in a separate post later. This is also the same gaming company that made Cache Me If You Can, a game previously reviewed by Alana.
While Kat and I were waiting for the events we signed up to play, we played this game together. Overall, I think this first game really set the tone for an overall good convention experience for her. We both learned something new and had a great time playing! She also had a lot of really good feedback for the creators of the game, especially when it was about card design. Thanks, Dan and Marty!
FINAL GIRL SYSTEM, HUNGER GAMES – Played my friend Phil’s 18th Annual Hunger Games roleplaying game using the Final Girl system. Final Girl is a storytelling system inspired by horror and slasher films and refers to the last girl standing at the end. It worked out really well for playing Hunger Games, and I liked the very strong emphasis on the idea of every playing crafting a narrative. Everybody is involved in creating a pool of characters (Tributes) and each person gets a chance to be the GM. Loved it!
PATHFINDER – Shadows in the Murk, a Pathfinder game run by a different friend, Jared. Overall, I really enjoyed this game. Another non-combat, heavy emphasis on storytelling game, and it emphasized investigation and mystery. Starts with the murder of a leader of a religious order, and there are reasons to believe everyone is a suspect. I later talked to Jared about how he ran this game so well, and it turned out that he had like, six lines written in a Word document and used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of names and plot things. Most of the things he did were in response to what we the players did and said. Well played, sir!
SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS SHENANIGANS – Advanced Dimensional Green Ninja Educational Preparatory Super Elementary Fortress 555 made its return to Running GAGG this year. We had a good group of players this year, and it was plenty of wacky fun once everyone started to get going. Brian Keller of Windmill Games, who was the main GM of the game, was on a roll! Once he got going, it was just non-stop awesome. Many of you may remember my review of ADGNEPSEF555 last year. There was much of the same candy-fueled chaos. But! He also introduced… SOME NEW CHARACTERS. DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!! Keep a watchful eye on Windmill Games at future cons; cannot wait for some of these new characters to become available for play at their regular games and the LARPs.
Kat also came to this game with me and had a fantastic time! She played as Christopher, the Laid-Back Monster Trainer. A good pick for a newcomer to this game!
SPEEDING MY DESCENT INTO DIABEETUS – I definitely sugar crashed a little after ADGNEPSEF555. I ingested one Peanut Toffee Buzz Clif Bar, one Full Throttle, four Wegmans mini cookies, fifteen Pixie Stix, and I don’t even know how much candy. If I had a diabetic coma, I would have named it Windmill after the creators of that game. If I develop diabetes, I know why it happened. But I would still REGRET NOTHING because I did it for the lulz. I spent my time between Number Six and Eight on my list chilling out with other Rogue Princesses at the union fireside lounge trying to keep myself from dying. 🙂
BEST BOARD GAME IN THE VERSE – Here’s another great game that I want to devote a separate post. Firefly, the board game, was a lot of shiny fun. I played with a bunch of new people I haven’t gamed with before, and that was a refreshing experience. Imagine, all of those years at RG, and there are still new people to meet! Overall, the game was a lot of fun and it was decided we would play through the beginner mission to get everyone used to the flow of the game. The beginner mission that was run had three goals. First goal is to become “solid” with three people (like Badger or Harken). Second goal is to complete missions. Third and game-winning goal is repay Niska. Don, the GM, also had prizes—promo cards. First and second place players got the full set of promo cards, and everybody else got two. Getting cards for Wash’s toy dinosaurs and Kaylee are the best consolation prizes I’ve ever received for not winning a thing. If you’re a fan of Firefly, this game is where it’s at. If you’re not a fan of Firefly, you will miss a lot of the inside jokes but you’ll likely still have fun.
THE CHARITY AUCTION – What an auction it was this year! Running GAGG was honored by Ronald McDonald House for all of the cash GAGG has raised for the charity over the years—over $50k, if I am not mistaken! Well done, GAGGites! Well done indeed! This year, our gamers continued their streak of ridiculous generosity. A box of a dozen donuts was sold for $100. The Dark Refuge crew put up some of their memorabilia for auction and threw in a weekend of gaming for the lucky winner and some friends– $450 was raised for that alone. Taunting Boldo White of Boldo’s Armory by denying him the delicious cream soda he so craves– $33. Brian (NB) McCormick’s debut EP, “Becoming One,” was also auctioned off at GAGG, and he serenaded the crowd! What a voice! The Charity Auction has a little something for everybody—games, books, cards, toys, posters, memorabilia, fun things, silly things, amazing things. It’s an incredible time. Every year. Next year will be just as good, if not better.
THE FOOD – Got mah garbage plate. Need I say more?
SATURDAY NIGHT HORROR LARP – Kevin Kreiner’s Saturday night LARP introduced a fresh new scenario—the Royal Society Science Exhibition. The game featured three scientists and their three assistants, and the scenario revolved around the presentation of their different experiments. There were also other characters among the group including the Writer and the Suffragette. I’ve usually taken part in Kevin’s previous LARPs—including Bedlam Carcosa and the Victim’s Ball (Parts I-III)—as an NPC, but this year I took a different path and chose just to play and enjoy the game through a player’s eyes. I like the way that these games have been evolving through the years; for example, there used to be more emphasis on relying on NPCs but now very few or no NPCs are required to let the scenario play out to a good conclusion. The power is in the players, and, as I’ve said before in my Pretty Pictures LARP review, the players themselves will often do worse things to themselves or to each other in-game without the aid of a GM or an NPC to push them along. I would say, however, the one thing that probably needs tweaking is conflict resolution. For the number of people playing in the game on Saturday, I noticed one issue was that multiple groups of people would need the GM’s attention to resolve something. This tended to hinder/confuse gameplay, and it detracted a little from the players’ immersion. A problem like this would be easily reduced or eliminated by having more GMs available. Given that this was the first run of this particular scenario and that this was the only issue I noticed… I’d still have to say it was an INCREDIBLE success.
As a player, I had a great time too. I chose to play one of the Assistants to one of the Doctors/Scientists. The character, plagued by headaches, sought out the help of one of the Scientists for experimental treatments. The treatments, done using the Scientist’s miraculous new machine, also brought about vivid dreams. After using the machine, I decided that the place I was seeing in my dreams was my “Happy Special Place.” Long story short, I figured out the means for inter-dimensional travel, took my Doctor by the hand, and said “we’re going to my Happy Special Place.” I was also wearing TARDIS blue. Coincidence?
THE AFTER PARTY – Fun until the wee hours of the morning. At some point, someone broke out an acoustic guitar. Just a fantastic time hanging out with friends new and old, catching up with people I haven’t seen in a year and sticking Kat in the middle of it all and watching her get along with absolutely everyone. We talked about games, about our lives, about the music we love, listened to some Peaches and Crime, and apparently one of our friends has a singing voice that we all agreed sounds like muslin being pulled from his throat. Do the world a favor, JR, and record it!!
SUNDAY – Sunday was kind of a rough day. Sleep deprived. Multiple espresso shots in the latte kind of morning. Spending as much time as possible talking to friends before the parting of ways. It was the day of good-byes… until next time.
Next year’s Running GAGG—It’s rapidly approaching!! See you next time, cool kids!