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Gaming at Worldcon '98

If you'd like to read the schedule of what went on (or what didn't go on, depending on whether or not you worked for Avalon Hill), have a look here. For other MIB pictures, check out the previous MIB page...or failing that, go *here*. It's not MIB (officially), but it did happen, despite reports to the contrary.

Evil Stevie? Gosh you've changed!
Steve Brinich, guarding the booth with his life.

Matt Lee, 48 hours from being burnt out
Matt Lee, guarding the booth with Steve Brinich's life. 8^)

Steffan O'Sullivan and his cotierie
Hey, kids...want some FUDGE? Steffan O'Sullivan lures the youth of America into roleplaying in the Worldcon Fast & Fun gaming room.

Ralph Melton, Killing Dr. Lucky
Early in the Convention, Ralph Melton showing off Kill Dr. Lucky, a fine Cheapass Games Product. This is before the stress caused him to lose all his hair.

Steffan's loud, raucous, *fun* game!
This picture doesn't do this game justice. These folks were yelling and screaming in happiness and fun for several hours, chasing these little markers around a track. Go, Steffan, Go!  I found out later that the game was called Carabande.

Seth vs. Jacob: Green Things vs. the Znutar Crew
Here's Jacob plotting to kill my Awful Green Things, and my Green Things going to town by eating the crew of the Znutar. My first game of this; the Znutar's crew's last. (evil laughing)

Decipher rep teaching Star Trek
Here is the Infamous Decipher Rep (dressed in black) teaching Star Trek.

Mark Chalmers after too much gaming
Marc Chalmers after way too much Dragonstorm.

Knightmare Chess
A battle of wits and luck. Knightmare Chess. In the foreground, various INWO paraphenelia can be seen.

Dino Hunt
Dino Hunt, with another game of Knightmare chess in the background. In between, my supply of GURPS and Toon softcovers.

Ed & Greg & others Killing Dr. Lucky
On the left, a guy with a cool hat. Then, Greg Costikyan, author of Toon. Then Ed Elder, MIB extraordinaire. Then a smaller, more confused gamer. 8^)

I didn't have the opportunity to get to the other gaming area and shoot cool shots of other stuff. Here's the other folks at breakdown of the booth.

Arthur Levesque, vampire?
Arthur Levesque, with regulation MIB pin, and nonregulation non-MIB fangs.

Sarah Elkins at booth breakdown
Sarah Elkins aiding with the demise of the booth.

Steve Fritz, threatening my life
"Don't point that thing at me or I'll hurt you with it!" A little love from Steve Fritz.

Not Pictured: Dang Nguyen/John Sabean
 

WorldCon report!

Let's start off with Worldcon, Day -1 (don't ask me what happened to Day 0.  YNCFT.)  Steve Fritz & Matt Lee got into town & found a hotel room.  As is status quo for all the hotels & the members of Worldcon, they had numerous screwups to deal with.  C'est la vie.  Ralph Melton got in after midnight.  Sleep was gotten.

Day 1
Got to Hilton circa 9am with Ralph's van.  Loaded van with 3/4 of available boxes, and Ralph & Steve left for 'con center.  Little did I know that since neither of them were familiar with B'more geography, the trip to the con center would take longer than expected.  Matt & I took the remaining stuff there by cart, where Matt & Steve proceeded to set up the Booth.  Returned the van to the house, came back to the CC.  Helped separate out the Dirt Simple (Fast & Fun) boxes from the rest of the booth stuff, with moderate success, and went to CC327 to set up Fast & Fun.  Steve Brinich aided with booth setup until he was needed elsewhere.

Numerous volunteers (thanks to the con staff) to aid with setup of CC327.  Less help with booth, as MIB's/other known trustworthy folks where less in evidence.  Matt left to set up the Hilton gaming; Ralph joined Steve to aid with the booth.  Switch of Ralph to CC327 when I had to go demo Dino Hunt to the 11-or-younger crowd for some time; then went to help out Steve for a bit.  Finished unpacking late in the afternoon.  Noted some needs for stuff from SJG; Steve to call the home base to resolve said issues.  Returned to F&F for final two hours; closed up @ 8pm to try to recover from first day.

Ralph says: We didn't get all the steady volunteers in room 327 that we'd expected; nor did we have all the games we'd hoped for. We did have plenty of Cheapass Games: Kill Dr. Lucky, Give Me the Brain, and Falling. Unfortunately, we didn't have dice for Give Me the Brain; we worked around it by drawing out of a hat. Many of these things are expected to be better tomorrow, as we get more volunteers and more stuff.  We did have Knightmare Chess & Dino/Demo Hunt, so we were represented.

GURPS Discworld is selling like hotcakes in the booth, as is GURPS Russia.

More thrilling details tomorrow.  Same bat-time, same bat-email.

Day 1 addition
Matt & Dang had to kick 40 gamers out of the Hilton when they closed it the first night.  Verry popular!

Day 2
8 hours of sleep helped a lot to making day 2 better.  However, there were some bumps...

Ralph & I came in to discover the "Fast & Fun" gaming room unlocked, open, and missing *lots* of games.  Some con numbskull left it open. Spent the next hour or two talking with con staff & security.  Hoping that it hasn't happened again this a.m., but will find out in less than a hour.  Some of the games were located (MIB moved them), even though a few were actually stolen.  Ralph ran the room while I said the same things over and over again to different security types.

Fast & Fun went well, especially after we added the Atlas games & more Knightmare chess.  Lots of good demos/games.

Stuff at booth selling like hotcakes: Discworld, Russia, and pins. Lots of good feedback.  Stopped at the Pegasus publishing booth, where they offered a discount because we were MIB.  :)  :)  :)  Now I have my "Misk U Dept. of Alchemy" shirt.  Woo hoo!

More later, as we do more.

Day 3

Day started with the room being open again.  No thefts, but resolved not to leave stuff in the room any more after close.  Decipher showed up, showed off lots of stuff, which was cool.  Then they cheated the con out of 4 free passes, which was uncool.  May their representative(s) burn in hell for all eternity.

The room(s) went well...lots of cool stuff went on.  Sorry I can't give more details.  We did get the opportunity to close early; they wanted to use the Fast & Fun space for a concert, and we were tired enough that it was a pleasant "order".  Did get to check out the Hilton, where successful Car Wars & other games had gone on.

The Dealer room sold lots of stuff.  Yee-ha!

Day 4

We retrieved our games from secured storage and laid them out.  We saved two tables for the MIB, where between Ralph & I we were able to lay out some GURPS books (Thanks, Jim!), Toon, Awful Green Things From Outer Space, INWO/Assassins/SubGenius/SubG Playtest stuff, Knightmare Chess and Dino Hunt.  Spent a lot of time showing things off, answering questions, and causing Awful Green Things to eat crewmen.  :)

During setup, one of my game group came by & volunteered to work the booth.  An honorable sort; I took him down to Steve, who used him mercilessly.  He was there for 4 hours, but got the benefit of getting to see the dealer room without having to buy a badge.

Ralph had an excellent day doing "Make Dr. Lucky Fall Down", his blend of Toon & Kill Dr. Lucky (A Cheapass Game).  He says that most if not all of the kinks are worked out of it, and all the gamers had good fun.

Stayed in Fast & Fun _all day long_.  Aargh.  Did lots of good stuff, but was glad to escape & set up for the party.  Lots of friends came by, folks from my INWO group, as well as MIB's that were free.

Black Lemonade was a big hit.  Dang Nguyen took his empty home.  :)

Day 5

Got here 10am; got games out of storage, set up, etc.  Planning to close Fast & Fun early to do booth breakdown.  Recruited Arthur (a friend & INWO player) to work the booth with Steve.  Will send further report later.

Worldcon Wrapup

Howdy, all--

I think I've regained the ability to write in complete sentences, so I'll finish off stuff before I call it a day.

1) Wrapup went smoothly.  Ralph and I cleared out of Fast & Fun/Dirt Simple around 2pm.  We took a couple of things that we wanted, told people we were leaving, and gave a lot of stuff away to whoever was gaming.  :)  No one complained.
2) Breaking down the booth was pretty simple; we almost had too many people and were working at cross purposes.  However, when it came to loading/unloading Ralph's van (again, thanks Ralph), we had a lot less going back than coming in.  If you consider the fact that we needed more than one trip going in *and* we got a shipment from SJG and from Atlas after the con started, and were able to fit the remainder in the van on the way out, that's good.  (SJ--now is the time to discuss profit sharing with your MIB's... 8^)
3) It looks good for MIB recruitment.  I don't have a number now, and might not for a while, but we should be able to fill the MIB hole in Philly, and may have other parts of NJ, PA, +/- MD filled/aided.  2 people?  5 people?  More?  At any rate, I don't know how many people picked up the MIB recruitment form, so Monica may or may not get emails regarding MIB activities.
4) Inside the red case is a envelope containing three items: local phone numbers photocopied from the phone book of gaming stores and the like for Loren; also included are two bottles of Black Lemonade, one each for SJ and Monica.  There were no complaints about the drink, and much praise.
5) A thank you note needs to be sent to the gaming companies that supplied games for Worldcon.  I'll send a separate note regarding that another time.  After all, this wouldn't have worked without their help.
6) Pizza for the Secret Meeting.  There's nothing like after-con food. After all, it's tougher than it looks to follow the 3-2-1 rule.

Any questions?  I'm faintly coherent!

Seth
Baltimore Cell Block Leader
Staff for 327/Fast & Fun Gaming, Worldcon '98
A Really Tired Dude
 

Ralph Melton's report:

This was my first WorldCon, and only my second con. At least, I presume that there was a con going on, though I'm not sure that I have any personal experience thereof.

I got in to Seth's late on Tuesday night. Seth was, as usual, the epitome of hospitality, generosity, and courtesy the whole time.

On Wednesday, we woke early, made preparations, and contacted Steve Fritz. At 9:30 am or so, we arrived at the Hilton in my minivan. We loaded up the minivan, and proceeded to the convention center--or tried to. Because I hadn't paid adequate attention to Seth's directions, and because the directions Steve had were inaccurate, we spent a long time trying to find the place. Blitch. By the time we found the place and returned to the Hilton for a second trip, Seth and Matt (and Dang?) had brought the rest of the stuff over on a handcart.

After lunch and so forth, I started in the Fast and Fun (nee Dirt Simple) / Demo room while Seth went down to the booth.

Dirt Simple Games:

I ended up doing oodles of Dirt Simple Games during the course of the con, so I'll report on that all at once: I think it was a pretty big success. My being continuously willing to say "Hi, I'm Ralph Melton; can I lure you into playing a game?" made a big difference, I think--I saw several people wandering in, starting to walk out, but staying because of my offer.

We got plenty of repeat business--people who had come in at first without much inclination to game would often come back several more times over the weekend.

We had a slowly growing contingent of volunteers. Most of these improved as demo volunteers over the course of the con. I could perhaps have been more of a leader in terms of saying "See that new
person coming in? Put down your game and go try to lure him into a game", but I did enough of that to get them to start picking up the habits, and I'm reasonably satisfied with my performance.

A WotC representative was there most of the time demoing Guillotine, Twitch, Pivot, and Go Wild. He seemed cool, and he was courteous in all my dealings with him; I felt just fine about him. (I'll leave the complaints about the Decipher reps to others, because I didn't meet any of those issues myself.)

Steffan O'Sullivan was there demoing FUDGE a fair bit. From what I saw, I was really impressed with how good he was at GMing for a bunch of eight-to-ten-year-olds. And I wish I could have stayed in the Carabande (sp?) game he demoed.

About the games themselves: the blurb said this:

        The gaming center opens with our Fast & Fun tables as well as
        demonstrations from a number of prominent game companies. Fast
        and Fun will include such games as Dino Hunt, Lunch Money,
        Spammers, Abalone, Once Upon A Time, Falling, Give Me The
        Brain, Kill Dr. Lucky, Knightmare Chess, convention fave
        Fluxx!, and many more.

Knightmare Chess seemed reasonably popular. I know that I saw people keen to buy it because they had played it in the demo room.

The Cheapass Games (Kill Dr. Lucky and Give Me the Brain) were a big hit. I know that I played in at least a dozen games of Kill Dr. Lucky, and I suspect that the number was closer to 20.

I also learned to play Falling--which is actually not quite so good for a demo, because a) it takes people several games to get into the swing of things and start to be able to play at speed, and b) it works best with 4-8 players, so it's harder to suck individuals who wander into the room into a game.

However: there was only one dealer in the Dealer room selling Cheapass Games, with a short supply of Kill Dr. Lucky and Give Me the Brain, no other Cheapass games, and no Falling. Somebody was missing an opportunity to sell a lot of Cheapass games--there were a bunch of people who wanted Kill Dr. Lucky and Falling. (There were also no stores in walking distance carrying Cheapass Games.

The Atlas Games Once Upon a Time and Lunch Money arrived on Friday, IIRC--we had failed to realize that they were intended for the demo room, and not for the booth. (We never got demo copies of Spammers, which disappointed me, since I wanted a demo.) I didn't really try
hard to demo Once Upon a Time, especially since I wasn't always perky enough to feel creative enough for a story myself. I saw Lunch Money being played a fair bit, though I only played it once myself.  Mini-review: Lunch Money is a pretty good game, although the dark tone got to me after a while. However, the game would be substantially improved if the cards themselves told you about the rules regarding their use, instead of making you look them up in the rules all the damn time.

We didn't get any Fluxx for the demo room--all the demoing I did was with my own personal copy. And the word I heard was that there was very little Fluxx available in the dealer room. This was a *big* lost opportunity for someone--Fluxx was hugely popular when I demoed it, and did a *lot* to suck people into the demo room. And I know it would have sold well--I got at least five people asking me if I was possibly willing to sell my own copy.

(By the way: someone showed me their copy of the color version by Iron Crown Enterprises. It's very nice--the graphic design they've done is a substantial improvement on the black-and-white Looney Labs version I had. If there aren't issues of which company is more deserving of the
support, I do strongly recommend paying the extra couple of dollars for the color version.)

(I heard occasional rumors that the Looneys were supposed to be there, but I also had heard rumors from my work that the Looneys were going to GenCon, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Looking at the website now, it seems that it was GenCon.)
 

INWO SubGenius

On Thursday evening, I ran a game of INWO. I had multiple sets of SubGenius, but we only had four players. Of these, we had one experienced player, one player who was interested in INWO, and two who had never played INWO before. The game went okay, but it was slow and isolationist. I took over one player's hand when he had to leave; when two other players had to leave, we ended with a percentage of goal victory.

I know that one of the players in that game bought the INWO Book later, so I count this as a reasonable success at luring people into our gaming clutches.

In chitchat in the gaming room after the game, someone asked about the blank INWO card I was wearing as a badge. I said that it was my way of showing that I was a fan, and that I was in fact a rather enthusiastic fan and ran the INWO Deck of the Week--and this guy immediately gave me a big hug and said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, from me and the rest of the South Florida gaming group." I felt very pleased by that.
 

Hacker

I showed up for Hacker on Friday morning, but Steve Brinich seemed to have the matter well in hand. I meant to hang out, answer questions, and give strategy kibitzing, but I got distracted into a game of Bohnanza at the next table. (Sorry about that, Steve) Steve seemed to have it well in hand, though.
 

Toon: Make Dr. Lucky Fall Down

Friday afternoon, I GM'ed three players through a cross between Toon and Kill Dr. Lucky. I feel immodest about boasting about this game, but y'all weren't there, so I have to do it myself--this was *Great!* The best Toon I've ever played! Kill Dr. Lucky gave a structure to Toon, and Toon gave a roleplaying aspect and a rich variety of things to do to Kill Dr. Lucky, just as I had hoped for. People (including me) started out somewhat humdrum and got increasingly silly as time went on. We did get shushed a couple of times for making too much noise laughing--but that is as much of a good sign as it is a bad sign.

The concrete representations of things really helped. For the characters, I had bought plastic ninja figurines and glued them to bases; Dr. Lucky was a larger figurine of a pirate, in keeping with
the Bucconeer piracy theme. When players picked up cream pies, they got a cream pie counter (painted by my girlfriend); when they Fell Down, they got delightful Fall Down counters to indicate how many turns they missed, and so forth--and this seemed to help people think about the things they could do.

I gave away two T-shirts as prizes, one for killing Dr. Lucky, and one for acquiring the most Plot Points. This had a salutary effect: the woman who got the In Nomine T-shirt for killing Dr. Lucky then chose to go to the In Nomine demo because she had the T-shirt.

(I think this needs a little more fine-tuning, but after that, I plan to share it with others somehow...)
 

INWO

By Saturday, I was feeling a bit jaded. I was hoping not to teach anyone to play INWO for the built-deck tournament. But the people that showed up were two experienced players and three newbies, so oh well... Steve Brinich contributed three of his decks and the two of us
taught them to play. Since I had an extra INWO book due to the kind offices of Alex Yeager, I decided to designate that as a prize for "Best Newbie".

Unfortunately, one of the experienced players won with a cheesy Blinded By Science victory on his second turn. :P This made the choice of Best Newbie difficult, but we gave the INWO book away anyway.
 

Generalities

We were pretty strapped for staff, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Seth and I didn't get to spend much time with each other, because for much of the time, one of us was needed in the demo room and the other was needed to work the booth. And I know that Matt Lee and Dang Nguyen hardly had a chance to leave the 19th floor of the Hilton. I had a little time to spend with each of them, but it would have been nice to have more time for MIB bonding.

I have no idea how many MIB points I should earn for this; I leave that to the whim of my superiors. Here's my schedule for the con, insofar as might be relevant:

Wednesday, 8/5

9:30 - 11:30:   Loaded boxes into minivan, drove boxes to con.
12 - 4:         Demo room
4 - 6:          SJGames booth
6 - 8:          Demo room

Thursday, 8/6

10 - 4:         Demo room
4 - 6:          SJGames Booth
6 - 9:          INWO SubGenius

Friday, 8/7

10 - 11:30      Hacker / demo-ed Bohnanza
11:30 - 1:30    SJGames Booth
2 - 4           Toon: Make Dr. Lucky Fall Down
4 - 5           Demo room
5 - 6           SJGames Booth

Saturday, 8/8

10 - 12         SJGames Booth
12 - 1:40       Demo room
2 - 3:30        INWO Tournament
3:30 - 5:30     Demoed Groo

Sunday, 8/9

10 - 12         SJGames booth
12 - 2          Demo room
2 - 4           Packing up, driving SJGames stuff back to Hilton, etc.
 

Maybe next time I'll get to actually see the con.

Ralph
 

Sarah Elkins:

Thursday night, around 6:00 - 8, I went to the Demo room and learned Knightmare Chess and Dino Hunt so I'd have some knowledge of current games (well, I've played 5-6 INWO games borrowing others' decks, but other MIBs in the D.C./Baltimore area would be much better at demoing it than I would).  A couple of the gamers asked me to carry over some more of the demo games to the Hilton for while they were waiting around in between tournaments, so I checked with Seth and took over an extra Dino Hunt when he closed the Demo room.

Reactions:  I thought Dino Hunt was a perfect Fast and Fun (that's WorldCon's category) game.  I like the artwork and concept of KC, but it seems to me that it could actually be a much *more* complicated game than regular chess in strategic terms, given a couple of players with serious
attitudes.  The other 2 people checking out the game with me seemed fine with taking it light-heartedly, so my reaction (not negative, just doubtful of the Dirt Simpleness) is probably just a by-product of my uber-competitiveness.

Like Ralph, I showed up for my 10 am Hacker slot Friday morning, but there were only enough players for the game Steve ran, so I learned Bohnanza and 6-Nimmt (European games).  I tried Falling too, but didn't really get the hang of it.

I gave Steve F. a write-up of my 4-7 pm Hacker game, but in short, 2 players asked where they could buy it and were disappointed, similar to JohnCon, and a person who wandered by wanted another session scheduled when he recognized Hacker.

I also put in a Friday hour at the demo center (2:45-3:50) with Steve F. and Steve B, and hung around for the tail end of packing Sunday when I could finally sneak past Security (didn't realize I should have been at the booth BEFORE sales ended at 3, duh), though the other MIBs had it well
in hand, but at least was able to help with loading the van and then walking over and unloading it at the Hilton.

Like Ralph again, I dunno how many MIB points I should earn for this, though it's certainly much less than the other folks.

Sarah, MIB # 8675
 

Steve Brinich's report:

MIB #0137 Report:

I arrived Wednesday morning, and encountered Seth while looking for the convention center.  (Actually, Seth saw me and managed to get my attention -- this can be difficult to do outdoors or in a crowd since I'm not very good at picking out one voice out of noise).  He suggested going to the SJG booth to await arrival of the supplies.  I did so, found nobody there yet, went back to where I had met Seth, and found that the supplies and MIB had gone to the booth.  Once this comedy of errors was resolved, I put in a half hour or so and then went to the concerts (I was also on the filk
staff, and had to work both sets of obligations around each other.  I didn't see much of the con outside those two areas except for the JMS call-in and B5 videos, which doesn't bother me all that much since the people I want to see are usually involved in one or the other.)

I spent around 2 hours each day from Thursday to Sunday at the SJG booth (including packup).  Discworld and Russia moved fast, we sold out of the MIB pins (pity; I'd had the idea for a bit of crossover humor by picking up a green one and a purple one -- when however many MIB points I earned show up on the website I'll have to place an order), Knightmare Chess, and a few
other things (I don't recall all the details).

The Hacker game I handled on Friday morning started out very seat-of-the-pants; it took me a few turns to remember some details of the rules (fortunately, a few of the players pointed out a thing or two I've forgotten).  Since some of the other MIB noted that I gave a good appearance of having matters well in hand, I suppose that I handled the game better than I thought I was at the time.

I dropped into the INWO game run by Ralph Melton to help with the three new players -- that's too many to handle for anything beyond teaching the rudiments of game mechanics, and IMO it's useful to provide pointers on intelligent strategy from the beginning so that the new players can hold their own and enjoy the occasional victory.  As noted by Ralph, the game didn't really last long enough to showcase itself well.
 

Matt Lee's report:

*GROAN* My brain still isn't working right (as I'm sure is true with Steve Fritz), but I'm happy to report that despite some problems, things went extraordinarily well. Let's see how much I can remember and how coherent this will be....

Before the Con --
Well, as Seth mentioned, Steve and I were having problems with the hotel from the beginning on Tuesday night. From what we understand, the hotel changed management and the new owner was not informed of the sheer size of the convention. There was also at least one other convention (an
Environmental group), so standard overbooking should have been much lower. We did finally get a room, though not the right one, and we just crashed after trying to get in touch with Seth and the head of the Strange Fannish Stuff division of the con (where we were listed). We were hoping to meet Seth and Ralph, but due to the late hour of Ralph's arrival, we all met in the morning. We got everything to the convention center (as chronicled by Seth), and at 11:45, I headed to the Hilton
19th floor to start things out and to meet Dang (who was heading in late due to work).

The Convention--
        Dang was already there, so I briefed him on what we could expect and the hotel situation (which had us moving to the larger room we requested... a one bed room for three people was *NOT* going to work out!). It was light until about 3, I guess. I had to run out and take care of the room and then the GURPS Lite session for the opening of the con started....without copies of GURPS Lite to hand out! SO, while Dang started the game, I ran to Steve to see if we had a box with copies.  Turned out that we never got any, and none of us remembered to bring copies, so a copy of Discworld went to Kinko's once we found out that the copiers ordered had not arrived. On the way there, I got about 7 people to run over to buy the book (!). Lots of people were waiting for
this one! :) I made it back to see that about 20 people were around, and that it would stay busy for the rest of the night.
        NOTES: We were fortunate to have a room we could lock, so some of the gaming materials for the GMs were secured away from the gaming area. Since Dang was busy, I ended up staying for the rest of the night with him. At about 10pm, there were at least 40 people gaming! This despite
the fact that there were no signs around, and the Hilton was 4 blocks away from the Center. And on a Wed. night of a five day convention. Most of these people I would see all weekend long. At $165, I'd have expected people to enjoy the panels as well, but at least I made people happy.
People were surprised when we informed them that we closed at midnight (because Dang and myself were the only two staffing the room). Several sources of information were not given teh midnight schedule, but we managed to get the 24-hour gaming done by Friday night. We were also
part of a treasure hunt contest where people who asked for a sticker could get one to prove they found the different areas. The hunt went 24 hours a day, which caused some confusion by hunters (wish the treasure hunt people had told us...) when they arrived at 4:30am and we weren't there with stickers. I did force people to tell me which clue we were. >:) (Actually, they had to write it in anyway, so it worked out.... I'm not *THAT* evil... I think.) All in all, a surprisingly busy start.

        Since we had very little scheduled, and the number of players around was impressive, we improvised sign-up sheets for everything and encouraged free-form gaming with their own sign-up sheets. This made me a hero to quite a few people (I have already been asked to help schedule
Balticon... another long trip down??? Oh boy...) and once we resolved how to do 24-hour gaming, we had no gripes from the gamers. I brought over a copy of everything we had before opening the 19th floor at 10am. I went to the convention center, found the room open, and figured Seth
and Ralph were nearby and I had told Steve (while he was already brain dead) that I was going to do so... Afterwards, I found that Seth and Ralph weren't there yet, and the room should have been locked. We straightened that part out, at least, though I heard that we weren't the only ones with locked/unlocked door problems.
        FAst and Fun gaming for people just dropping by/parents of gamers with nothing to do/rpg players between sessions made the Cheapass games big hits, Knightmare Chess did well (Good thing I brought my own copies), lots of people asking about Hacker (reprint time, SJ! *LOTS* of requests made to me!), same with Fluxx! (They sure made a mistake missing this one!) and once we found the Atlas stuff, Once Upon A Time and Lunch Money did really well. Of course the hotel had the Atlas stuff in storage and didn't get it to us until Friday... *sigh*
        With running more demos than I can count, and running 14hours (including blessed meal breaks), I ran Play-Doh Car Wars on Friday night. How I managed to successfully run with three experienced players (though two played with First Edition rules) and the lack of sleep is a miracle I won't question. Special note: Play-Doh dries *FAST*! The game went 10 seconds and 5 hours in a Death Arena that I felt was small enough to do damage, but was still too big! (3" scale inside a yard
length square) After 3.5 hours, we were having a hard time cutting the Play-Doh.
        The good news: It was a bigger success than I thought! I ran 12 players and got a lot of people just hanging around watching the damaged cars roaming around and destroying each other. Collisions were actually a lot of fun (heh heh...), and I gave everyone a bumper sticker. I had more, so I gave them out as bounties (first kill/specific annoying player...) and I believe I made a lot of people extremely happy. Steve tells me sales of Car Wars were not bad at all. Reminder note: Next time I run it, I will probably use clay. Something that doesn't dry that fast. Having nine newbies was also an interesting experience, and they had fun. Don Woods GM'd a variant using 1" cars and a visual track, the day before I ran, so that helped to get people interested in the viscereal version.
        Let's see.... I somehow remember picking the lock on the leg chains and sneaking away from the 19th floor with Dang in charge, but I somehow ended up spelling Steve at the booth for about 2 hours. Someone will have to explain to me how that happened.... Getting food before dropping
by was a good idea since Steve had not left and I had some leftover Crab cakes and fries, so the gift was greatly appreciated. I made it to the Masquerade with Ralph, and we both enjoyed much of it, though some of the presentations were quite bad/long. Two of the best had to be the Toy Story Plastic Soldiers! About 8-9 people dressed in the costumes and holding the plastic equipment with good texture! The Paratrooper (with large plastic parachute!) and bazooka man just completely blew me away!  There was also a woman who dressed as a Huntress with a mobile mechanical/electronic insect-like vehicle! (It tipped over, giving everyone a scare, but the Stage Ninjas did a great job helping her up and cleaning up.) There was also the person who dressed as the 2001 monolith with a story about how it's been 30 years since the book came out and how everyone wanted to know the answer of it all. He turned around and had "42" painted on the back. Absolutely hysterical, and describing it does not do it justice! We decided not to stay for the
judging and awards so that we could get Dang and go to Seth's party. We realized we needed someone to stay a bit longer, so I offered to be bribed for a bottle of Black Lemonade (I kept my bottle too, Seth! :) ). Let's say orders for a few cases will be coming out of New York City in
the near future...
        Sunday was actually pretty dead, so I managed to hold everything down and then help with shutting down the booth. Steve had told me he was closing at noon, but obviously, the booth was so busy, he wasn't going to shut down yet! We got everything together and went out for food.
Steve and I ended up watching tv and getting the little leftover things done before getting some well needed sleep. Unfortunately, we still had problems leaving Baltimore. Nice city, Seth, but we kind of wanted to go home. :) We blame Fed Ex here.

        Overall, we were much more successful than we had any right to be. Booth sales were excellent (especially considering it was not a game convention!), games kept people happy, and we bridged the sci-fi/gaming communities with huge goodwill. (Well, except for Decipher.... conning
the biggest convention in the world where most of your customers and potential future customers are is probably a *Bad Thing*) I have heard word that we may actually be asked to help out somehow with the Worldcon replacement in LA. (FYI: Worldcon can be placed anywhere in the world, but has been in North America roughly 3 of every 4 years. During those "off" years, there is a replacement convention within the States.) I mean "we" as in MiBs...I think... Otherwise a few of us will be taking a plane in a year's time.

Steve Fritz will, of course chime in with anything I've forgotten/erred on, etc. Wow... no complaints about how the convention was run by the convention staff.... this could work out yet! Oh, yes, the staff of the Game Publishers Association who I spoke to were extremely happy with how we treated them and how they were received by the community. WotC, however seemed to have gone into the F&F room *AFTER* they realized how successful we were, and how not having any presence in that room was a bad idea. Interesting, no? Now, let me go see how my brain is doing in the frying pan......

Matt Lee
Mib#9966
 

Ed Elder's report:

        I'll provide a quick summary first and then move on to the only important details I can provide.  Other people had more direct dealings with the Con staff or specific projects so I won't bore everyone with more of that.

        I wrapped up work early and arived at the Con from DC at about 2:00pm Friday.  I worked in the Fast and Fun room for much of the weekend. Mostly this involved showing off Dino Hunt and Knightmare Chess, though I did play one round each of Kill Doctor Lucky and Give me the Brain. The rest of my time was spent either helping with the booth or running my GURPS Atomic Horror adventure.  The fact that I was doing  all of this means that there must have been a convention going on around me, but like most of the other MIB I must disclaim personal knowledge of anything happening outside of the gaming and dealers rooms.

"Invasion of the Radioactive Commie Zombies from Mars!"
        My GURPS Horror Adventure was set for 10:00 Sunday morning.  I had six people signed up but, as I expected, only two actually made it.  Heck, if I hadn't been the GM *I* probably wouldn't have dragged my exhausted bod' down over to the gaming suites at that hour.  As it stood each of the players took two characters, which gave each of them plenty to do.

        Perhaps the strangest thing about this adventure were the arguments the two players got into over the most trivial of decisions.  As a result I spent much of the adventure trying to figure out how to get them to agree on a course of action.  The fact that I had developed a lot of NPCs for
this adventure helped a lot here.  Afterward I awarded a shirt to both of the players, since each one had actually had good ideas and contributed to the defeat of the invasion.  They did have a good time too.  I think they even enjoyed the arguments toward the end.  (...whew)

        I don't really know how many MIB points I may have earned.  I'll let the leaders figure it out from the paperwork I gave RD Steve Fritz on Sunday.

        On a final note.  Had lots of fun, but I think I'm gamed out for at least a few days.  Need to go study bankrupcy law now.
 

Steve Fritz' report:

My two cent version of WorldCon -

For the record, in spite of being seriously undermanned, everything went off better than I could possibly have hoped for and given my past experience with SF cons.

We operated on basically six full-time MIB's: Seth Cohen, Ralph Melton Steve Brinich, Dang Nguyen, Matt Lee and myself. When Ed Elder showed up on Friday, it was greatly appreciated. Sarah Elkins was also a very big help. Overall though, it was often the case that the SJG booth was
operated by one person (usually me) for the first two days. This is  not to discount the work of the other MIB's...they had a hell of a lot to handle.

Did this mean I got to see much of the stuff going on at the convention.  Hell no.

It should also be noted that our fearless leader is a heck of a hero in the SF community. It seems the Hacker story has reached the apocryphal phase. The fact that SJ won the case makes it even more legendary.

I got a lot of comments from people saying "You're not Steve." To which I drolly replied "Yes I am." It seemed walking around with a badge that said Steve Jackson for the first few days only compounded the confusion. I let it ride, enjoying the ironic sense of chaos it created.

Matt guessed that I'm pretty brain dead at this moment. He's right.  After two cups of coffee and lots and lots of cigarettes, I'm still not functioning at 100%.

My plans as of now is to take a shower. Take a nap. Take in some quality tube time.

I'll have one version of my report in my For The Record column. I'll have another version (more detailed) over here.

But let me leave with these final thoughts.

Alex...you may say you have the most productive MIB team in your region.  Fine.

I'll tell you this then, I got the best one. For my team to operate  under the circumstances it did and pull off one of the smoothest running gaming areas in such extreme conditions makes me say my crew can beat your crew anytime, anywhere, anyhow. I am officially renaming the Northeast Region the Bomb Squad. We are the ones who can go into any potentially explosive situation and make it work. We sure did last week.

I'd dare any other MIB squad to handle what we did and see if they could make things go as well. I really do.

I'm that proud of all my crew, particularly Seth, Ralph, Steve B., Matt and Dang. Some light should also be shown on Sarah and especially Ed (who couldn't be at WorldCon all the time).

-Steve
 

'Nuff said, I think.  Would you like to see the activities for the last half of 1998?

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