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GENCON 2006 Write-up

by Forest J. Handford

I left RI on Thursday which was hours after the news of the terror attack had broken out. TSA told us no liquids or gels were allowed so I threw away my shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant. I later discovered prescription liquids (my Flonase) was allowed. Unless they physically search you or your bag, or see the item in your luggage they have no way to know if you brought liquids or gels. For example, I accidently brought chapstick to Indianapolis but purposely flew back to RI with it Sunday. Tanya had heard a rumor that electronics were not allowed, but it was false.

Escher's Revenge by Wylde Deluzion
This was a one-shot Wraith independent LARP held by two British women. The PCs consisted of mortals, a wraith (my PC), and a Giovanni (Tanya's PC). Unfortunately this was cancelled because there were not enough players. This was really disappointing as it sounded like it would have been fun. I also felt sad for the Storytellers who had done a lot of prep work for the game.

Because the LARP was cancelled one of the players offered to GM his super-hero RPG. I am not a big RPG fan but considering our lack of plans and how well we got along with the other players we decided to play. We ended up playing a super hero family. The game ran off the Truth and Justice system. I played a 14-year old boy who could turn into mercury. The story and characters were fun but the combat was mind-numbing.

Who's Line is it Anyway (Advanced)
This was great. We played some of the more advanced who's line games including questions, changing channels, film noir, interviews, if you know what I mean, and newscaster.

Fantasy Forest
This was a very cute board game that I was strong-armed into playing. It was designed for children as illustrated by its insane rubber banding game mechanic. The board and playing cards were very cute. I might post pictures later. Tanya won when we played.

Firefly Live - Wyrmwood by Millennium Interactive Gaming

This was my favorite game of the weekend. I belive Tanya felt the same. It was run by Dan and Danni Bayn. It was set on an outer planet named Wyrmwood. Alliance power was growing and Wrymwood was one of the last planets to not have a permanent Alliance presence. Just before the game takes place a casino is burned to the ground. Some of the settlers are followers of the light. Many of them work at the terraforming plant. An Alliance dreadnaught has arrived to allow a Blue Sun inspector (Dr. Wyr) visit the terraforming facility. At the same time Captain Brannigan is considering leaving Alliance troops. He travels to the surface with his personal companion and body guard, Lotus.

My PC was named Ishmael. He was the leader of the terraformers' union and a follower of the light. My PC had started the fire in the hope that the Alliance would leave troops which would hopefully help to start an apocalypse. Josie, a follower of the light who had been kidnapped by reavers, considered herself the destroyer of worlds. She converted Merigold (who was played by Tanya) to our religious cult.

The LARP used the Karmic Cycle which was developed by Dan. Each player started with three tokens. If the character wanted to do something or buy something from another character the player could offer tokens in exchange. If a player wanted to act in secret an ST could trade the tokens. For example, one of the characters wanted to frame Ishmael for murder so at one point Dan (acting as a storyteller) asked me if I had more than 6 tokens. I said no and was then given 6 tokens. This allowed the player who had given the 6 tokens to have a body placed in the home of my character. What the player did not realize is how dumb it would seem for my character to place a body in his home. For this reason nothing much ever came of it. At the same time, I was able to end the game with 9 tokens which could have been used for all manner of evils.

Not only were the characters, story, and system good but all of the players were amazing. Some of the players we met at this game were from OldLordSkull.com which is an Indiana gaming organization. It was a wonderful event and I hope to play one of their games again in the future.

Turn your Head and Cough - 'Firefly LARP' by Nightfall Productions

On our way to this event we passed through a Harry Potter LARP. The Harry Potter players had done an amazing job with cushioning.

This Firefly game was run similar to a Camarilla LARP but possibly more like an OBIWAN LARP. The Firefly chronicle we played in was started at Origins. Players could use real-world money to increase their character's XP in a style similar to second-life by buying contribution points (CPT). Players could also earn CPT in the way Camarilla players can earn prestige. The storytellers stated up front that they did this professionally. I belive this was the most expensive of the events we attended. We also spent twenty dollars to modify our characters to make them more valuable to potential crews.

Originally Tanya and I were given unconnected characters. We decided to link our characters so we could play together. I used my XP to give my PC the pilot skill and Tanya used hers to increase her smuggling skill. Tanya's PC had companion training. My PC was a mediator who had unknowingly led the Alliance to a fugitive.

My favorite quotes from the entire convention were in this LARP and went something like this:
Mark (my PC): "I can go in, I know how to handle a gun."
Captain: "You can't, you're not expendable."
Mark: "But you're going in and you're the captain."
captain: "And you're the only one that can fly us off of this planet!"

Fairly quickly our characters joined a crew that had four engineers, a modified firefly, and no pilot. Tanya's PC and I agreed to join if we could use the shuttle. Our crew was great. The interactions we had were wonderful. Unfortunately the plot drove our PCs off planet and effectively out of the game. The plot was that reavers were being controlled by Blue Sun (which makes little sense with canon). PCs had brought in a modified dreadnaught. Together the PC dreadnaught, the reavers, the lack of potential profit on the planet (we had also been robbed), and the fact our group started separately extremely rich led us to decide to leave. The head ST was fairly upset with our decision because Tanya's PC had proof from Inara that the reavers were being controlled by Blue Sun. After creating a Cry Baby to send this information our PCs left the system (I also think the distribution of planets in their LARP is contrary to canon). While some players had excellent costumes their ability to use Firefly speak was far poorer than our previous Firefly LARP. In the end all of the players in our 9 person crew were disappointed with the game.

There were a ton of things to see on the Expo floor. For video games this year DDR and Karoake Revolution both made an appearance. I was floored by a DDR player who got a 213 perfect combo and then stopped play because she missed 214. She was amazing to watch but it was disappointing to see her stop.

The media guests were fairly dull in comparison to the last time I attended. Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica (as opposed to the one from Survivor) was signing autographs. I am not at all familiar with his work so I passed right by him.

There was a huge art section this year (which was where the Star Wars actors had been in 2003). Artists I was impressed by included Wooden Nickel and Mythical Menagerie. I bought a drawing of a dragon with a butterfly for Simon from Mythical Menagerie.

There were some really great costumes. There were four guys dressed as ghostbusters. They asked Tanya if she had a permit for a supernatural entity (which was in reference to me wearing satyr horns). There was also a woman dressed in a skirt and top made out of paper cut from the GENCON program.

I had commented that it felt odd for me to not be getting any looks despite dressing like a pirate with satyr horns. I actually looked normal to everybody. At which point we walked into the Omni which was having a wedding and everybody was dressed formally which made me feel very awkward. Still later when I was spinning glow sticks everybody was looking at me which seemed odd since even downtown Providence pedestrians do not usually look my way when I spin them.

Cold Fire - Call of Cthulu LARP by PST Productions
This was my second favorite game of the weekend. Cold Fire had the best props, set, and costuming but the story and role-play was not as good as Firefly Live - Wyrmwood. The concept was that Ice Station Krieger 1 had lost radio contact for over 24 hours. The station was owned and operated by Kreiger Corporation. A national guard platoon, members of the corporation, a reporter covering the platoon, a DOD agent, and a NSA agent were all on a plane to see what happened to the station. All of these characters were played by players. I played the DOD agent. There were also players that played characters already located at the station.

National guard players were given white 'gamer-sized' camouflage suits. Scientists were given white lab coats. All players were given Krieger Corporation photo badges with our PC names on them.

They were also given toy automatic rifles which featured single-fire and multi-fire options. The rifles included working laser sites. My character and the NSA character received hand-guns. There was also a toy shotgun inside the station, a toy silenced pistol (with a PC who was a Russian spy), and some sub-machine guns.

My PC and the NSA agent were also members of MJ-12. We were asked to recover as much data from the station as possible and retrieve Dr. Faufner who was the lead scientist at the facility.

Upon landing the activated national guard unit stormed the station. The existing crew were noticeably shaken. The room was created using plastic sheets for walls. There were chairs and tables knocked over.

I worked with the NSA agent to get access to the lab. Inside the lab was a laptop that represented the main frame. There were also several tubes and beakers with various chemical names on them. Once inside the lab Dr. Faufner, the lead scientist, tried to knock my PC out with ether. The laptop had a web interface that allowed us to read files and perform DNA scans. A little alien (portrayed by a stuffed animal on top of a remote controlled car) appeared in the lab. It terrified some of the PCs. We shot it several times but it remained alive.

We quickly discovered that Dr. Faufner had infected a colleague with a virus found in the ice. It caused him to turn into a monster. The monster was infectious via touch and the virus slowly passed through the station. At one point a soldier who was infected was brought into the lab. Faufner gave him a potential cure which apparently got switched with LSD. This upset the soldier's CO who had everybody in the lab searched. My partner was searching the room and touched the soldier's drool by accident. A Russian Krieger employee than scanned her and discovered she was infected. When she sneezed he killed her with a silenced pistol. My PC drew but did not fire and asked why the other man had fired. He said because she was infected.

My PC was Delta Green double-agent who only recently infiltrated MJ-12. It was likely that my partner, the NSA agent, would have killed me had she known the truth so having her shot had eliminated her as a potential threat. Unfortunately, her blood sprayed onto my PC and a scientist. We were both infected so I left the lab in hopes they would create a cure before I died. I spent the rest of the game protecting the station. In the end a PC alerted the US military about the virus which prompted them to carpet bomb the facility killing all but 5 PCs. 4 of the PCs had escaped in a snow vehicle. The other PC, the only to have been cured, was enveloped by a monster which protected him from the explosion.

Dork of the Rings
This was a bizarre independent spoof of the Lord of the Rings. It was funny, but we did not stay for the entire movie.

Hentai Dubbing by TripWire Productions
At this event we all got to be horrified by seeing what a ceiling under a room of gamers dancing to Jump Around looked like. It seemed a bit like an earthquake with the walls and chandelier shaking. We all evacuated the room (which we had waited in a long line to get ID'd before entering). When we eventually returned we watched a scene from a selected movie. The scene would play in English. Volunteers would be chosen from the audience to re-dub the scene. It was interesting but we only had time to stay for a few scenes.

Tanya and I went to the dance, in part because people suggested we go when they saw me spinning my glow sticks. The music was a disorderly group of 'cult favorites'. I danced alone for two songs twirling glow sticks. The gamers seemed fairly impressed. Some asked me if I also spin fire. Tanya and I danced for awhile too.

I had a great time at GENCON this year and I hope I do not have to wait another two years before I go again! The LARPs were definitely worth the trip.

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