Posts tagged “GenCon

Geist the Sin-Eaters

I have been a die-hard vampire fan girl since, well, at least age 11 if not younger. I cut my fangs on the Red-Box edition of D&D ran for me and my girlfriends on my 13th birthday party by a family friend. In high school, towards the end of my senior year, a school mate handed me a book and said I might like it. He wasn’t going to use it. I still wonder to this day why he gave it to me. It was not like we ran in the same circles. I was the local goth-witch-pagan-tarot-card-spell-casting-evilness-in-a-small-town and he was a preacher’s son. That book was the 1st edition Vampire the Masquerade by White Wolf. My girlfriends at the time were not interested; they preferred D&D to Vampire. Me, I fell in love with it at first read.

Two decades later… my goth clothing, corsets, black nail polish, etc have all been passed down to my daughter who has celebrated her 13th birthday. I’m still a die-hard vampire-phile. I mourn the havoc that kids and health have done to my body, because well, being a fat vampire just doesn’t work aesthetically for me.

But…

Buuttttttt…

I have found a new gaming love that sings to me more than Vampire does these days. Who would have thought? Geist the Sin-Eaters is a game about second chances, and so much more. It took me awhile to dissect why I love it so much, and why it has become my absolute favorite White Wolf game.

If I have any sort of specialty when it comes to White Wolf games, old or new, it is that I inherently get the spiritual aspects. The Umbra? My play ground. Spirits? My play things. Voodoo loas? Oh yes. Ghosts? Yep, got that covered to. Anything along those lines, my forte. Toss in a good-old-fashioned interest (obsession?) with death, and you have what I love to read about and role-play about. Vampires, zombies, ghost stories, resurrection, reincarnation… yep, love that stuff.

Wraith just didn’t tickle my fancy in the ways that Vampire did, despite it being about ghosts and life after death and other goodness. Never really got into it, but I did enjoy it when I could play it.

Geist however, combines all the elements in just the right way that reaches that special spot. I love the concept behind the game, I love the Underworld journeys, the duality, the celebration of life because you have been touch by death, the Krewe aspects (I love Mardi Gras), the ability to create your own mythology about why you are the way you are, the creep factor, the powers, the innate abilities… it’s has every aspect of what I love in a game all rolled up into one.

I do think that it boils down to that one phrase: Geist is a celebration of life. You have a second chance to live… and you have some kick ass, spooky, powers to go along with it because of what hitched a ride with you back from the other side.

Having lost a son, my mother, and so many other loved ones to death, I innately and intimately get the philosophy behind it all: “through death we come to celebrate life”. It can be said any number of ways, and it is part of several faiths and philosophies. This is also why the Baron Samedi, the Ghedes, Papa Ghede, Manman Brigitte, or any of that particular family of loas are my favorite.

… Yes, and of course, my name is listed in the book under play tester /might/ also be a reason why Geist overtook 1st place.

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Geek fame

I had the experience over GenCon to be asked for my first autograph. I am still stunned. “My Bear Come So Fat, I Wanna Do Laser” makes more sense. Hell, any of Chuck Wendig’s search term bingo phrases make more sense than when I consider that I was asked for my autograph. I mean, all I did was play test the game – yes, that’s my name right there in that book under play-tester… so are a bunch of other names. That’s hardly autograph worthy in my mind. You know, his name is over on the left side column under authors and such. He’s the one that should be asked for an autograph. Hell, my Geist book is autographed by several of those in the left hand side column.

But then, I had to think back a bit. Phoenix Comic Con. I had a couple of people approach me because of the t-shirt I was wearing. It has the Wrecking Crew logo on it, marking me a part of the Wrecking Crew. I was asked questions, I shook hands. Ultimately they wanted Dave, but settled on me, since Dave was a state away doing KublaCon at the same time.

I scratched my head a few times. Hum. You know what; the Wrecking Crew does have a name for itself. The Wrecking Crew has fans that come to conventions just to play in our games.

Our games.

My games are included in that.

I have players that cleared their schedule for GenCon just to try to play in all my games because they loved the game they got to play in of mine at GenCon ’09. They are already planning on returning next year.

I have, loyal followers? I have, fans? One of them asked me to sign his book? And he was serious about it, not just joking around?

Zzzzttt, beep, buzz, twitch… does not compute, error.

Nah. He did it on a lark.

Right?

It was, and still is, surreal to me. Having geek fame. Even this tiny bit of people coming up to you going, “Oh hey, you’re with the Wrecking Crew!” and gushing about us… and I am a part of that.

Weird.

Cool as hell and totally ego boosting, but still surreal and weird as hell.


The flip side…

The worst experience at GenCon was those Star Wars guys. They were complete, inconsiderate, assholes of the first degree.

Usually by the end of a convention, most of our (the Wrecking Crew) voices are either starting to go, or have been lost. We talk so much, we talk a lot, we have to be able to do different voices, pitches, tones, volumes, and we have to be able to be heard by all our players – but not be so loud as to over-power another game at a table next to us. The occasional yell, shout, scream or angry loud dressing down speech does happen.

At a larger convention, I cannot imagine trying to play or run in one of those large grand ballroom size settings with hundreds of other games going on. After one game, my voice would be done. I tend to be soft spoken in everyday life (say, volume set at 3 when most people are set at 4 naturally). I have to speak up and project when I run games, and be conscious of doing so which puts extra strain on vocal cords that really do not get that type of work out unless I am yelling at my kids. I definitely prefer smaller rooms with less competing noise.

The good thing is, that most conventions we do hook us up and give us slight preferential treatment if able to. At DarkCon, a small local convention, we even got our own room to just ourselves. GenCon is no exception. We are marked as premium events, and premium events from what I gather, get better (smaller) rooms to run in and only share with other premium event runners (also from what I have observed).

But it takes just one group of assholes to ruin that for everyone.

A pause to check the event catalogue… yes, they were scheduled for that room. No, they are not marked premium gamers, so there goes the theory that premium games get preferential treatment in that regard.

So, if everyone else in the room had their volume set for 5, these asshats were set at 11. They were that car with the stereo and base speakers cranked at 3am booming down your street. Completely unnecessary, complete asshattery. Nor did they pick up on the subtle social queues of (counts) at least six other tables going shooting them daggers and lasers and burning hot acid in their direction. Mockery had no effect as independently the other tables decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. I think that Dave finally stepped in and told them to behave – or maybe that was wishful thinking.

Seriously unnecessary. They yelled, screamed, shouted, pounded the table, cheered, whooped and hollered… across the hall, a room filled with hundreds of people shouting huzzah! did not come close to the volume this group of players had going on.

The Wrecking Crew was cranky when all was said and done that night. The players also made their displeasure known (each one of the demo forms filled out by my group of players for that game mentioned it).

Moral of the story, don’t be an asshat. Respect your fellow gamers. Or at least learn when you have a whole room of people glaring at you that maybe you are being an asshole and might need to do an internal diagnosis to figure out why.


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.


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!!!

Sunshine and storms

Today I felt the wonderful storm deep in my bones and joints. My hip aches making it difficult to walk, let alone attempt the stairs more than necessary.

The storm was quite interesting. Looking out into the backyard, I had to twist my neck a bit to see the storm cloud that was over my house because otherwise, it was nothing but blue skies and sunshine. The grey brick walls were only slightly sprinkled with rain which they soaked up almost immediately leaving almost no trace of the moisture. Above, the thunder was strong enough to rattle the windowpanes.

Hum, I thought, and moved to the front of the house and opened up the front door then immediately shut it. It was raining buckets and in the space of a few seconds, the front of the yard and the street were literally flooded. Ah, I thought to myself, I need to go rescue the tortoise from out back because of how bad it is, and his type does not do well with a lot of moisture. When I get back there, I see only sunshine and blue skies and the tortoise looking at me expectantly for his lunch.

It only takes a few seconds from the back door to the front door. I go back to the front door, open it, and shut it again. Yep, still raining buckets. I pause in the kitchen, midway between the two points, grab some vegetables for the tortoise and feed him when I step out back. Yep again, still fairly dry.

I amused myself for the next ten minutes or so standing in the middle of the house looking out the front window then the back patio door.

Rain, wind, thunder, lightning and dark, ominous clouds on one side… blue skies and sunshine the other side.

I can be easily amused at times, I admit.

Although I also admit, it was absolutely perfect weather for me. I had a raging storm and bright sunshine, all at once. It just depended on if I went out the front door or the back. The only downside to this is that I feel the damp in my joints and bones. The only consolation to that is that this is a temporary situation (or should be) and that once a few things happen, most of my health issues will resolve itself.

Meanwhile, I still have a smile on my face as I think: front, back, front, back. I foresee this little weather phenomena working its way into a game session at some point.

Speaking of games, I wrote up and send in my second proposal today for an SAS for White Wolf. I did so while I am still on a high and glowing from GenCon – meaning that I had the courage to do so.

With GenCon behind us, the Grand Masquerade draws neigh and one that the few of us that get to go to are looking forward to. However, that is not the only convention in our future, as we are also doing RinCon which is only a few weeks after the Grand Masquerade.

Another one of the Wrecking Crew mentioned the word podcast today. I had already been thinking about it, and to be honest, doing this blog is just a precursor to other projects I had in mind – like a podcast. It is good to know that I’m not the only member of the Crew thinking along similar lines.

The potential and possibilities ahead of me make me smile. Not the same smile that the front-back  weather though, that one is more along the lines of someone in need of serious mental help.


Gamer-girl-geek

Hi, my name is Dawn and I am a gamer-girl-geek and proud of it. I have been gaming for over 20 years now: RPGs, board, card, PC and console games.

I am currently a member of The Wrecking Crew, senior White Wolf demo team and fell into the position of being the Crew’s net mistress. Mostly I update our Face Book page and Tweet during gaming conventions from both the Crew’s Twitter account and my personal account. My current claim to geek fame is that my name is listed as a play tester (along with most of the rest of the Crew) in Geist the Sin-Eaters and I had my first request for an autograph because of it.

After long thought, I have decided to create a blog. All the cool people are doing it, so I am going to give it a try as well. I have a whole list of topics that I’d like to write and share with whoever stumbles across my blog, most of them gaming related, but some that will be personal.

More about me…

I just celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary. Granted, I was at GenCon on that particular day, while my husband took care of the house and kids. He’s a gamer too, and very supportive of me and my dream to have a career in the gaming industry. We are raising two of the next generation of gamers. In fact, you can find them over on RinCon 10’s website – my husband and son are the first photo in the flickr stream. My daughter can be found later on in the stream, getting ready to play Rock Band with Wil Wheaton (my son and one of his friends also got to play).

My hobbies and interests are myriad and eclectic. I have been a Middle Eastern dancer for over 20 years, and involved in various martial arts for even longer. I have been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism for over 20 years as well and enjoy both heavy suit fighting and rapier. I am a voracious reader, so much so, that my husband does not like to buy me books anymore because I devour them in a single evening. I am also an artist in various mediums including, but not limited to, watercolor, photography, jewelry making, silk painting and graphic art. In fact, the background image for this blog is one of my own creations – I’m just a Toreador at heart.