Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Fantasy 2000

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 00 10:02AM PST
From: Scott Casper Add To Address Book Add To Junk Mail
Subject: [GREYTALK] Winter Fantasy 2000

Hi! Here at last is my much-delayed report on Winter Fantasy 2000. Erik Mona has already shared with us the only big news to come from the convention, but this may be useful to anyone else thinking of attending Winter Fantasy in the future. If you
learn nothing else, make sure to never play a tournament module written by Gregory Detwiller!

Hi again! This last weekend, I attended Winter Fantasy 2000 for Saturday only. This is my story.

I drove to the convention, making sure to arrive the night before so I could get to the convention quickly in the morning. However, I had chosen a Motel 6 to save money. This motel was located in the red light district of Ft. Wayne, which consisted of the entire west side of town. There were more strip clubs on one street then there were fire hydrants.

That's all I'll say on that subject...

Ft. Wayne has a very tiny downtown. In fact, it's so small that some residents one might ask for directions do not even know where it is. "Head that way and look for the tall buildings," one of them might say. But such a person not only is clueless as to where their downtown is, but has also clearly never been to Chicago. As a Chicagoan, Ft. Wayne's "tall buildings" looked more like speed bumps to me.

So I arrived for the convention, but ten minutes past the start of the first time slot. My disappointment was not lessened when I learned that two-thirds of the events I had wanted for that day were booked solid already. I also discovered soon enough what a small con Winter Fantasy was. There was no open gaming. What passed for an exhibit hall looked more like somebody's closet with a lot of people crammed into it. Kenzer was the only big name company with a booth. Later, I compared notes with the guy manning the booth about how hard it is to get published by DUNGEON Magazine.

Luckily, I ran into my friend Darren almost right away. He is big-time into the RPGA, and had actually signed up for the Living Greyhawk Preview even ahead of time (I had assumed it would be more like a seminar for a larger crowd). I sat at the table next to his and listened in as some TSR guy explained how 3rd edition is supposed to work. I've since read more about 3rd ed. rules than I was able to overhear, but I was impressed at the time by aspects of the initiative system (though I detest the 6-second round), disappointed with clerical spell domains which seem to limit selection even more than spheres did, and shivered at the thought of Find Familiar being reduced to a cantrip.

Erik Mona was running the same thing at the table on the other side of me. Darren was with a group of Living City players who were curious about Living Greyhawk, but Erik's group consisted almost entirely of the Dyvers triad and their entourage. The Dyvers team was the most visible triad at the convention, and even had spiffy Dyvers T-shirts! Erik Mona seemed to recognize me and asked me how I was doing. I bored him for a bit about how awful my morning was turning out. Most of the time, I just sat there working on Greyhawk material.

After the Previews ended, and after exhausting what little there was to do at the con without an event ticket, I wandered outdoors to see what "downtown" Ft. Wayne had to offer. It turned out to be much more interesting than the convention! In addition to a variety of neighboring fast food places, there was a conservatory (but I balked at the thought of having to pay to enter when Chicago's conservatory is free). A few blocks away, however, was the County Public Library -- and was that place ever great! Comicbook racks of the latest titles that could be checked out, an impressive graphic novel collection in Young Adults (all the trade paperbacks of BONE, plus two USAGI YOJIMBO collections), a Government Documents department that put my own to shame, and -- coincidentally -- the Children's Dept. was having Middle Ages-inspired activities!

I killed a lot of time there, but came back to the convention late that afternoon. There was a seminar about Living Greyhawk where we got to meet the Council and all the triads in attendance, and hear a little about their progress and plans. I was looking for the Verbobonc triad, and heard that one of them was there, but never saw him. I also heard from some people in the crowd that Gamma World was coming back (yeah!), but as an Alternity setting (boo!). Erik Mona announced the Living Greyhawk newsletter, as well as Polhedron's commitment to publishing Greyhawk material. I asked if the newsletter would require a separate subscription from Polyhedron, and was told it wouldn't. After the seminar, I wanted to ask Erik if there were plans to assign Ahlissa yet, and if Polyhedron would like articles on Ahlissa, but the Council members were all hungry for dinner and didn't seem to be in the mood to answer more questions.

I had managed to get just ONE event ticket for something I had wanted to play, and that was the Call of Cthulu Open. As luck would have it, my friend Darren had signed up for it as well. And he knew our Keeper personally from his RPGA experience, so it looked to be a good time. I could not have been more wrong. The adventure was a piece of excrement written by a bed-wettting moron named Gregory Detwiller. The adventure started out with our characters being drugged and then mind-transferred into the bodies of members of the Great (though not in this context) Race of Yith. From there the module squashes all chances to role-play, as the Yithians punish you for showing any signs of denial. Everyone is expected to blindly accept life as a Yithian, as there is no chance of escape UNTIL a certain section of the tournament when a ridiculously huge window of opportunity presents itself. From there it's just wandering Cthulu encounters until everyone runs out of Sanity points. Of course, long before that happened, my character strangled himself to death to spare himself from the pain and frustration which is a Gregory Detwiller tournament.

I never did find out who won that round. Thankfully there wasn't a second round of it. The Keeper apologized for the tournament module afterwards, confessing that it had gone so badly the day before that it had made her cry. Darren and I complained to somebody (Darren said he was important) about the appaling lack of intelligence in Gregory Detwiller's writing, to which he replied that this was not the first time he had heard as much.

And so, having experienced what the RPGA has to offer, I returned to my motel, and the next day left to come home.

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