Posts tagged “blessing

Favorite GenCon ’10 Moment

It’s been a month since GenCon, far longer than I expected to be writing about it. Life happens though.

After a month, I have to say that one game in particular still leaves me in awe, and not for the game itself, but the people in it. It still makes me smile and shake my head in wonderment. So, frick’in cool. It left me with a deep appreciation and renewed love for the gaming community as a whole.

It was a Geist game, but it could have been any of them. It was just the one that this one player happened to sign up for. This one player, well, she was blind.

A blind gamer, someone who cannot see the character sheet or the rules or the dice when she rolled them. That in itself was cool, but the most awesome part of the experience was twofold: first the level of trust that she had for her fellow players and the Storyteller (me), and second how everyone at the table adapted to having her in the game.

I have been gaming for over 20 years now. There are people that I know will no cheat on rolls or stats or rules, and there are people that I know will do so if it suits them or their story – both players and storytellers. These are people that I know, that I am friends with. Despite friendship, there are some that I would not trust to play it straight.

Now, imagine doing this with perfect strangers. Would you be able to trust perfect strangers to be your eyes for you at a gaming table? I’m not sure if I could without reservation. If this woman had any, they did not show. Her willingness to put her trust in us still makes me shake my head a bit with awe and disbelief.

On the other side of the equation were the other players. No one did not a single one of them complain, but everyone was willing to include her and help her out. Be it helping her with her rolls, explaining a stat or ability, helping her learn what was on her character sheet, or recapping a scene when I had to focus on a different player. I was damn proud of everyone. Each person took her trust and did not abuse it. I wish I could say that for some of my home games in the past.

It was also really interesting to see how people naturally adapted. Even I found myself being more descriptive or make sure that if I nodded or shook my head, I would vocalize it as well. A few times you could see a nod from a player and then actually see the realization on their faces that they needed to speak as well so she could hear them.

On top of it all, she was a damn fine role-player. She got the book.

If you have not been in a Wrecking Crew game, at the end of the session, a vote takes place among the players on who they thought was the best role-player – the one with the most votes gets the main prize: a shiny new White Wolf book.

Did people vote because she was blind but a mediocre role-player? No, not at all. She was clearly the best role-player at the table no matter how you define ‘best’. She played her character and gave it a personality that was clear, she helped along the story, she followed the story, she contributed without dominating, she asked questions when needed, and she helped clarify scenes for those that were at the far end of the table and could not always hear the other end (thanks to those Star Wars guys at the table next to us… grrr!).

In fact, her mad skillz actually helped raise the bar over all. I saw that because of her abilities, other players who started off weak, improved because of the example she was setting.

It was one of the highlights of GenCon for me. It made me proud to be a member of the gaming community, and humble to have been able to experience it.

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The Wrecking Crew

The original purpose of this blog was to blog mainly about gaming. It has been a week, the imaginary people in the nose-bleed section of my mind are getting riled up and telling me to get on with it already. So start off, I will talk about The Wrecking Crew.

Nine years ago my family fell on hard times. As a family we made some of the hardest decisions of our life, and the end result was my husband joined the army. My children and I moved back in with my parents. I needed something to do with my time rather than mope around the house. I’m not sure who suggested it, but I’m pretty sure that it might have been Adam. That said there was this WoD group that met down at this local game store and were doing a demo there that coming Saturday.

I was interested, and I showed up.

I brought with me a Setite character, an ugly ass bitch. I got a strange look from the Storyteller when I related my character concept to him. He scratched his head a bit and said, okay.

We get about a half hour into the story and my character needs to get into this house being guarded by some ghouls. Others in the group had already gotten in through their own means, so I was left to my own devices, as I remember it.

So the guards riled my character for a bit while I did some quick thinking. I think that they asked me what I was going to do either get them not to rat me out, or to let me in, or something. Either way, in a rare flash of inspiration, my character started to unbutton her shirt.

Now, remember, I am playing an Appearance 0 Follow of Set.

The guards get alarmed, “What are you doing?!”

“Tell you what, you let me in, I’ll keep my clothes on.”

The Storyteller just stared at me for a second or two, then the guards ushered my character on into the building, looking over their shoulders at my character and shuddering.

The next day, the Storyteller gives me a call and says, “Hey, we talked about it, and we’d like to invite you to our private games.”

That was my introduction to Dave Martin and indoctrination into The Wrecking Crew.

Over the next two years, I play with them almost every Saturday. I get asked to run at my first convention with them, then another and another. This is when we were just one of the many demo teams for White Wolf.

Sadly, real life interfered with my ability to keep playing with them. First, moving an hour and a half away made it more and more difficult to pack up the then toddlers and head out for an evening of gaming. Second, well, I was being torn in two different directions. I had to make a choice between two people who were upset with me for different reasons but related reasons, and there was really only one choice I could make at that time.

I regretted having to make that decision; I resented having been put in that position to begin with. Dave helped me out of some bad places and was a great friend, one of the few I had at that time. I had to walk away, and I walked away without an explanation. Dave made his displeasure known regarding my behavior, but I was not willing to talk about why I was doing what I was doing. On the way back from that convention, our car broke down on the side of the road and we were without reliable transportation – well, until the past two years actually.

Fast forward many years. We were at Gamers’ Inn for one reason or another, and I spy at the far table, some of my brother’s friends – and Dave. Holy cow! I got up, nervous as all hell and say hi, how it is going. We exchange numbers. I leave, but I’m pleased to see that he’s doing well.

Next week I get a phone call inviting me back into the group. I accepted. A little older, a litter wiser, I laid down some ground rules for the husband this time around. He’s also a little older and a little wiser, so understands them and apologizes for being an ass the last time.

After awhile, it came up that we were a senior demo team. I really did not understand exactly what that meant at the time other than additional perks. A couple of months after I rejoin, Dave emails us and says the next game is a play-test session, please print, sign and bring a copy of the attached file.

Oh, it’s an NDA for White Wolf. How cool is this? Around the same time I was asked if I could possibly afford a plane ticket to GenCon. One guy had to drop out, and there were slots to fill, would I be interested and able to.

Flash back to the last convention I did with him where I was less than reliable. I was being given a second chance. I took it – with the caveat that I need to clear it with the husband of course. I had a job at the time, so I could pay for my own plane ticket.

My first GenCon in 2009 was awesome in so many ways. Of course, I was in total shock through most of it. What the hell did I get myself into?

The Wrecking Crew at GenCon 09

RinCon 2009 was the next convention I did after that. I made sure to sit in on panels since I had no opportunity at the GenCon to do anything but work. Several panels were on game design and pitching, and one was on the state of the industry with Andrew Hackard and Kelley Barnes. There were three of us in the audience, which made it absolutely awesome to have two industry people to interrogate all to ourselves.

Well, the question about the role of demo teams came up. Kelley spoke about the importance of their role, and specifically about The Wrecking Crew. This prompted me to ask what the role of senior demo team entailed and how it differed from other demo teams.

The answer blew my mind. After picking up what was left of my mind after her answer, I sat there shell-shocked again. It entailed things like the team they had as senior was not up to par and were getting complaints from both players and White Wolf employees. Out of the other official demo teams, Dave’s reputation was the best. He made sure to get paperwork in on time, his team was profession, his team bathed… things like that. Kelley had nothing but good things to say about Dave and his team, which, included me now. Blink. Blink. Blink.

This GenCon, was even more awesome than my first one – and I got to get out and sit in on panels too!

Kelley Barnes has been made HR director, and Shane Defreest is now our handler. He said some really awesome things about us over here in this article on the Grand Masquerade. It’s hard to believe that includes me. This still has a very surreal feeling to it. The fangirl and the cynic war with each other in me on a daily basis.

Which leaves me with a list of pure awesomeness that has come about since returning to the Wrecking Crew:

  • I get to do volunteer work for my absolute first and favorite RPG game company.
  • My name is in the play-tester credits for Geist the Sin-Eater.
  • I have my foot in the (back) door into an industry that is hard to get into.
  • I’ve been to GenCon, twice, and I only had to pay for my plane tickets.
  • Gaming conventions are free, as a general rule.
  • I’ve been stopped and asked questions by VIPs at conventions just because I’m wearing the Wrecking Crew t-shirt.
  • I’ve meet some awesome fans from around the world.
  • I have fans.
  • I have been asked for my autograph.
  • I get to go to New Orleans!!!

Stormy weather

What an interesting weekend and I do mean that in that old Chinese proverb sort of way.

Friday was a lazy, uneventful day, as most days are around here.

Saturday started off much the same way. However, every joint and bone and muscle in my body hurt that I could not even get the top off the Advil bottle. It soon became apparent why I was sweating and hurting, a big storm was brewing. The humidity rose making the day decidedly uncomfortable, and like many of the arthritis sufferers I know a rise in humidity also makes for a painful day.

Then the storm broke. It was awesome: rain, wind roaring, dust-storm blowing, thunder, and lightning, everything that a monsoon is supposed to be. Tree stayed up right too, we don’t dare remove its supports we had to put up when it fell over earlier in the year. We were making sure all the animals were inside and taken care of when I noticed I’m getting wet — inside the house.

“Oh fuck me, not again,” is what went through my head. I look up, sure enough; water was running down the side of the stairwell and landing on top of me as I was standing at the bottom just ready to go up.

Yep, another fucking leak.

Flash back to the leak earlier this year… it totally caved in the roof of our walk in closet.

This is what the side of our house looked liked the morning after that storm in February. This is what the park down the street looked like, and while it’s deceptive from the photo, that water is 3 feet deep (they build run-offs like this into every housing community for just this purpose). And these three pictures: 1, 2 and 3 is what the front of my house looked like when the tree fell over. Across the street, another tree down and down the street a-ways, yet another tree down (you can see it covering the sidewalk down there).

We were so focused on the tree that day, and the next… and we rarely go into our closet which is mainly storage; imagine our horror when we found this:

I quite think in retrospect, that “Oh fuck me, not again” was a rather mild way to put it. We do rent right now, but we very much empathize with our land-lord, he’s a great guy. Thankfully he has housing insurance.

Right before the discovery of the leak, we were all counting our blessings. We are barely making it. We have cut out a lot of extras, even WoW. The only entertainment we can afford right now is Netflix and the cable internet package (minus the TV aspect – which is okay, Netflix and Hulu cover all our needs – on our weird ass schedule). So, when a co-worker offered to give us what he was cleaning out of his pantry, it was a blessing. We have been getting a few food boxes the past couple of months to help make ends meet. I hope that sooner rather than later, we’ll be able to pay that forward to someone else.

So, all said and done, the bills are paid, there is food in the pantry, the last few dollars are going into the gas tank to get the husband to and from work. We can deal with a small leak in the roof.

Then the phone rings.

Now, at this point I should mention my husband’s profession. Friends and family already know what he does, so it will not come as a surprise, but for the one or two of you that might stumble upon this blog that do not know, he’s a Correctional Officer for the State of Arizona. He has been there for eight years, going on nine now.

It was another co-worker. This is what I hear my husband say on our end:

“No dude, I’m okay. Why?”

“Oh, no, I’m fine. Really?”

“Six officers taken by ambulance to the hospital?”

“Oh, no, I’m not on DART. It didn’t happen on days, must have been swing.”

That is when this little switch I installed in my brain got turned to off. That switch is the kill switch to the panic and worry I feel on those days that I am reminded of the conditions my husband works in. It’s not like I don’t forget. It’s not like I automatically know when he’s supposed to be home every single day. It’s not like I have a mental time-table worked out on how long he can be kept at work for things like a transport, the turnaround time to get back to the unit and get a ride home. There is a magic time that happens during the day that I allow myself the panic and worry that I have not heard from him and when I will call his unit. I have never had to do so, and I hope that I never will. I simply choose not to worry about things that are ultimately out of my control.

So today, he comes home from work and I get the full version. It’s not a pretty picture. The officers are alive; one severely injured enough to require surgery. I wish I could relate his stories in more detail, but that’s against the rules. Let’s just leave it at another day at work in a place where even police officers refuse to go most of the time.

I did tweak out a bit the day he told me someone tried to shank him but missed.

I held him while he cried the day he came home early after being the principle officer that saved another officer’s life.

I have waited as patiently as I could for blood-tests to come back after he’s been thrown on, so many times now that I have lost track.

And my husband is one of the good ones. An officer that has made it eight years without compromising his ideals of right and wrong; an officer that does his job as listed without being a dick or an ass or a cunt to the inmates; an officer that is frequently being called in to help put out fires without starting any… and this is still a reality for him, and for our family.

So today, I just played Diablo II; took some time off from the computer until now; spent time with my family; spent time with my husband after dinner. It was subtle, but it is how I express my worry and concern.

Later tonight I will be making sure the house doesn’t embarrass me to have strangers in it- which is pretty much just getting the dishes done, sweeping downstairs, making sure the counters are cleaned off, and the cat-boxes are not stinky. Then Diablo II again for awhile.

Something soothing about defeating evil right now…

PS: We managed to save the tree much to the amusement of our neighbors who came out to see the crazy people attempting it. At the end of the day, the tree stood upright again, minus a good portion of its branches. Today, it needs a good trimming, and it’s only been six months.