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1999 MIB Infiltration of JohnCon

This was a MIB-intensive convention; we outnumbered the con staff 2:1, not including the fact that we began recruiting right out of the con staff into the MIB. I've reduced the photos in size; if you want to see a larger photo, click on it, okay?

If you want to reach me, try emailing me at

Also, if you're interested in reading the article that was written by the JHU student paper, the News-Letter, I won't stop you. Not that it looks like the reporter did any research about this year's convention, mind you...but I guess he had fun. 8^) I've put the pix from the newsletter at the bottom of the page, after my own shots.

These shots basically go chronologically through the three day convention. We start off, conventionally enough, on Friday night.

Sarah Elkins running Hacker

Staring at us in the black vest is Sarah Elkins, our MIB in charge of Hacker. She ran a couple of games of it over the course of the convention; this was the first and biggest. Sitting in red is MIB John McMahon, drinking some Motley Brue. 8^)

Tribes game with several MIB's

Here is one shot of the big multi-tribe Tribes game. Standing at left is MIB Mike Cowper; standing at middle is MIB Susan Rati, and standing at right is MIB Ralph Melton. Seated at right is our youngest MIB, Megan Cowper. Megan won this game of Tribes later that evening.

Ren, the cutest baby in the world

Ren "Cutest baby in the world" Cowper with dad Mike. 8^)

Tribes game with even more MIB's

Here's the same Tribes game from later that evening. Standing at left once again is Ralph Melton; in the center, seated, is Our Founder (and, in his role as GM, the Great Ghod) Steve Jackson. Standing at right in the picture is MIB Steve Brinich.

Matt Lee guarding Evil Stevie

Saturday morning: gearing up for six hours of Killer. The theme: Kill Evil Stevie. Here, MIB Matt Lee defends Steve Jackson with his body. Not really necessary, as I was also a defending MIB. Matt, as you can see, is well armed. A good thing in a bodyguard.

Many Killer MIB Bodyguards

A fine selection of MIBs pose for a photo. Clockwise from left, Ralph Melton, Dan O'Gorman, John Sabean, Mike Cowper, and Megan Cowper. Beware the innocent-looking ones, they're the most dangerous.

Lynette Cowper & Steve Brinich, Illuminati Gurus

Gee, I wonder what game they're playing? INWO Line Editor Lynette Cowper and INWO God Steve Brinich playtest Illuminati:Y2K, the upcoming expansion for the newly re-released Deluxe Illuminati.

Jim Duncan & GURPS

Here, unfortunately, is a picture that didn't quite turn out. Jim Duncan sets up for his GURPS game. Right now, before it started, he was all alone. He collected quite a group...they gamed for about 8 hours!

INWO setup with many MIB's

INWO, Anyone? From left to right, MIB's Ralph Melton, Steve Brinich, Dan O'Gorman, and John McMahon. The games haven't started yet in this picture; the game pictured was won by Ralph, and the game at the table where John was sitting was won by yours truly. (grin)

Bodyguards with Evil Stevie Megan Cowper

Kill Evil Stevie, continued: These folks walked past the INWO game, so I shot 'em with my camera. Matt Lee, Steve Jackson, John Sabean, and Megan Cowper. "Evil Stevie", at this point, was played by Megan; SJ was here as a bodyguard. Can'tcha see the big targets pinned to her?

Car Wars with unusual track

Here's a creative mind at work: components of his track include the Car Wars book in the lower left, Deluxe Illuminati at the center, Lunch Money cards, GURPS Discworld and a Deadlands book. Neat, eh? This game of Car Wars was run by a non-MIB.

Many many MIB's: the big MIB picture

Alright, here's one big mess of MIB's and bodyguard MIB's (gamers who had been successful in Killing Evil Stevie and had been promoted). Top row, left to right: Mike Cowper, Ren Cowper, Ralph Melton, John McMahon, Seth Cohen, a bodyguard MIB, Steve Fritz, Dan O'Gorman, Steve Brinich, Jim Duncan, and John Sabean (with the big cannon). Middle row, same deal: Lynette Cowper, Lori Bossert, Brian O'Reilly, Brian Joughin, and Matt Lee. Bottom row: Megan Cowper and Steve Jackson. Unfortunately, we missed collecting Sarah Elkins and Susan Rati for this shot.

Steve Jackson playing Dino Hunt

Sunday, post-convention: There are too many possible funny captions for this. I'll settle with the facts: a friendly game of Dino Hunt, as a demonstration at the Nature Company in Towsontown Center. SJ won, of course.

Dino Hunters at the Nature Company

And one more shot, just for the record: me, Susan Rati, SJ and friend doing Dino Hunt in Towson. Woo hoo! What a day!  This shot also ended up on the Daily Illuminator, later on.

Some of SJ's photos also ended up on the Daily Illuminator. And I quote:

March 11, 1999: JohnCon Pix

And here are some shots from JohnCon, weekend before last on the Johns Hopkins campus:

Below left: Lori Bossert and her "You're Not Cleared For That" cookies, complete with fnords. Can you taste the fnords?

Below right: Our littlest MIB, Megan Cowper. She took a turn as an assassin and slew John "Fuzzface" McMahon while he was being Evil Stevie. (Megan is quite adept at bringing down prey many times her size; she is a fully qualified Dino Hunt demonstrator.)

Lori Bossert with Fnord CookiesMegan Cowper, victor over Fuzzface

And here's the two photos from the JHU paper:

And there you have it. Here's a report for you:

JohnCon '99 Report
Seth Cohen
MIB RD NE Region

So, you all know that this one's been worked on for quite a while, eh?
This won't be short, either.  Better strap yourselves in.

Thursday night: get back from the theatre to discover that my girlfriend is in the hospital.  Quickly email 5 important people and let them know that I might not be around much at the con.  Received a
couple of confirmations back quickly that all would be well even if I wasn't there.  Isn't planning ahead and multiple redundancy in staff wonderful?  I thought you'd agree.  Every event I was supposed to be in I had planned to run *with* other people, because I primarily wanted to be available for troubleshooting.  This turned out to mean that I don't get many points, but that things ran smoothly.  So who cares?

Friday: Go visit my girlfriend.  Turns out (whew!) that she might not be sick, but is in the hospital because the docs are ruling out all sorts of bad things.  I get home and wait for my houseguests to arrive. Turned out they'd be late, so it gave me time to relax.  Didn't want to tie up the phone line with email, so didn't find out until late Friday night that I'd gotten an email saying "It's 5pm.  SJ is here. Where are you???" 8^) Luckily, I didn't expect anyone to be psychic about when my houseguests would arrive.  And so it goes.  I went to school to print up more MIB stuff that I thought I'd need, and got adopted by a cat on the way back.  No, I don't have a name for her yet.
Any suggestions? [I later named her "Pipsqueak".]

We got to the convention right about 9pm, when I was supposed to be running Tribes.  I'd wanted to be there earlier to scope out the place and do other stuff, but that's the way it turned out.  Turns out that it didn't matter if I'd been there or not, because our professionally competent MIBs had everything well in hand.

Tribes: Got to the room, SJ and Mike Cowper were making it go.  I sat down, we all got started, and the fun began.  We had two full tables (8 per table) running at any given moment.  It only took an hour for one group to not be running simultaneously with the other.  The tribe I was in kept having more babies, so the other tribe had less paperwork to keep up with and moved ahead faster.  As far as I know, it all went smoothly and folks had a great time...I kept giving my character (Lola) to other people to play so that I could get up, walk around, and introduce myself to people.  Yes, I had not met in person almost half the MIB's in attendance.  It was a pleasure and an honor to meet SJ, the Cowper clan, Susan Rati, Dan O'Gorman, and Brian Joughin.  I'm still wondering what happened to Ian Homeyard; he didn't make it and no one seems to know why.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, when you look in the dictionary under 'cute', you find a picture of Ren Cowper.

Tribes went on all evening, and I stopped into the other games that were running (Steve Brinich running INWO with Lynette Cowper; Steve Fritz, Matt Lee, and Dan O'Gorman demoing Knightmare Chess, and Sarah Elkins running Hacker.)  By the end of the night the con had already
surpassed attendance for *all* of last year's convention. Isn't publishing on the Daily Illuminator a wonderful thing?

Oh, as I go through this report, please remember: I didn't see everything, and even the things I saw I didn't always see for long enough to report coherently.  My apologies for errors.

Saturday: Got to the convention just before Kill Evil Stevie started. You sensing a pattern? 8^) I don't handle 'on time' really well.  While setup for Killer got going, room 44 was also set up as MIB Central.  We then disembarked en masse, with about half a dozen bodyguards surrounding Evil Stevie.  We made a circuit of the basement of Gilman Hall (it says something about the difference we made that almost all the rooms were being used; last year I didn't even know that Gilman was
a square and that you could walk in, well, circles, all the way around) while Matt Lee and Steve Fritz dealt with the retail in room 44.  The Killer crowd looked in on Steve Brinich playtesting Illuminati Y2K with Lynette Cowper and Brian Joughin; SJ stopped in on Susan Rati's GURPS Goblins game and played for a bit as a guest NPC villain; Ralph Melton's melding of Toon and Kill Dr. Lucky ("Make Dr. Lucky Fall Down", published as an article in Pyramid), and a big group of folks (you know who you are) doing both sealed-deck INWO and One-Big-Deck INWO (winners of the two simultaneous games of sealed-deck INWO were Ralph Melton and yours truly).  Jim Duncan ran what was *supposed* to be a 4-hour GURPS scenario, but his people were still going strong after 8 (eight) hours. Damn.

Killer went, er, interestingly.  The players ranged from the hideously stupid to the fiendishly clever.  I shot one kid running at me with a gun, screaming...and I wasn't *ever* Evil Stevie.  Sheesh.  The first kill went to someone who admitted that he worked for the Secret Service.  The second went to a successful distraction, and the third went to sheer cleverness.  Then we had an amusingly large distraction (Steve was killed due to a huge distraction, half a dozen Killers assaulting from the front while some attacked from the back).  There were masking-tape outlines all over the place.

By the way, not all of the bodyguards were MIB's.  The MIB Ladies Auxiliary was well represented in the person of Lori Bossert, and we awarded temporary MIBships to successful Killers.  Perhaps the most dedicated bodyguard was John Sabean, who did all six hours of Kill Evil Stevie.  We got a group picture of the MIB's right afterwards, and I feel bad that I wasn't able to collect them all from the games they were in.

Perhaps the most amusing kill went to Fuzzface, who had been a bodyguard for several hours before stepping out to do INWO, who shot Megan Cowper in her role as Evil Stevie.  She got her revenge not too far later on Fuzzface when he played as Evil Stevie.

Later that night Ralph, Megan, Mike and I did some Dino Hunt, and I noticed how tiring running around the hallways was.  I caught a ride back to my house, met my recently-discharged-from-the-hospital girlfriend there, and made it to the MIB party in Steve Fritz's room at the hotel.  We heard an emotional, moving speech of thanks from SJ ("Thanks, guys!") and enjoyed Lori's MIB cookies.  (They were all pyramid-shaped, some with EitP's, some with sunglasses, and others with the single eye and smiley face.)  I'd been nursing a headache before I got there; I left early on in the party to catch some sleep.  This meant I missed Matt Lee's Play-Doh Car Wars game that night. Damn.  At least I was well rested for...

...Sunday!  I didn't carpool with Ralph and Lori this time, in order to make it there in time for my morning Dino Hunt game.  This was a problem as I'd left my Dino Hunt stuff with Ralph the previous night, and it was in his van, back at my place.  D'oh!  Luckily, I was not game-free, and managed to stall until Mike and Megan came in with their cards.  Room 44 got unlocked, and I retrieved SJ's Big Box o' DH.  We had two simultaneous games of DH running, one with 6 players and one with 4.  Winners got DH boosters and DH expansion sets.  Dan O'Gorman ran Awful Green Things From Outer Space with the aid of Sarah Elkins, Lynette led Steve Brinich and others in In Nomine, and Susan Rati sat in room 44 and administered Silicon Valley Tarot readings to a hungry populace.  The room was packed up, and all disembarked the premises.

SJ, Susan and I traveled to the Towsontown Center Mall, where we demo'ed Dino Hunt at The Nature Company for about 3 hours.  My first store demo, SJ said that it was successful even though traffic was low. I hope the pictures we took came out.  8^) Yes, I had my camera with me for most of the convention, and I should have gotten shots of most things.  I'll get it up on my webpage as soon as I can, so that all can see.  Too bad I couldn't get everything.

This convention went exceedingly well.  The MIB's and con participants all seemed to have a darn good time.  It's just a shame that I won't be seeing many of them any time soon.  Attendance, from all estimates, was more than double last year's JohnCon.  It was also a fertile ground for recruiting; after the first few people came up to me (and some wise words from SJ), I decided on waiting to hear from interested parties via email.  If they don't get in touch with me, I don't have to worry
about making sure they're good to go.  It's tough to find ways to vouch for total strangers without taking the time to verify their skills beforehand.  However, some of the people there who were running SJGames stuff and weren't MIB's looked to be quite competent, so it'd be a damn shame if we didn't get some recruits out of this.

I just hope I get my box of Dino Hunt cards and my housekeys back from Ralph Melton someday... 8^)

Thanks, everyone.  It was great.  Good job!


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