I should finish this up before everything slips from memory.
Saturday morning saw me once again back at the Dealers’ Hall, hanging around the Goblinoid Games table and talking with the other OSR faces occupying around the area. Not long after I arrived, I ran into Harley Stroh and Doug Kovacs, my hither-to unmet brothers-in-arms from Goodman Games. Both are men of outstanding caliber: Harley is one of the best-natured individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet and Doug almost physically rattles with enthusiasm. Doug brought his original covers for the upcoming DCC RPG adventures to display and I got a chance to see the piece he did for Emirikol Was Framed! Doug does great work, but you haven’t truly seen his talent until you’ve glimpsed his original pieces.
After planning to meet for drinks later with the Goodman Boys, I strolled the halls around the gaming area again. In the “Virtual Porch” room, I encountered a wandering Mentzer relaxing between games and he invited me to sit down and chew the fat for awhile. We talked about the plans for Eldritch Enterprises (they have a really sound business strategy in place and I’ll be interested to see how it plays out) and music for a bit. Another gentleman wandered over to join us and that’s how I was introduced to Tom Wham by Frank. We talked for a little while longer, but then I left Frank and Tom to catch up and headed back into the fray.
Eventually 2 PM rolled around and it was time to face certain death in Jim Ward’s Metamorphosis Alpha game. Others have provided session reports of that game and they are all spot on. I did indeed leave the last two surviving members of our away team to die on the alien asteroid ship we were sent to explore, but what’s a guy supposed to do? Our mission was to acquire alien items/artifacts/substances for the science team back on the Warden to examine. Can I help it if I was the only one to realize that the green alien goo dripping from the walls of the very first hallway we stepped into satisfied that criteria and therefore completed his mission 10’ away from the airlock? Later, when things went bad, it wasn’t me who launched the shuttle free from the ship. It was the red-headed alien nurse who would have eaten my head had I not risked detonating my “space claymore mine” inside a cramped shuttle. Jim pretty much sealed everyone’s fate when he said I could return to the Warden with the mission completed successfully and receive a personalized autograph. Having been a fan of Jim’s for many years, this was the highlight of the con for me, even if it meant throwing the last survivors under the proverbial space bus.
At 5 PM, it was time for the Gary Con raffle and auction, so I joined the masses heading upstairs to the hotel restaurant for that. I had dropped some cash on the raffle since it went to the Bail Out the Warden fund, but walked away empty-handed. A few lucky winners won multiple prizes, indicating that their luck is either superior to mine or that they bought a whole lot of raffle tickets. After the raffle came the auction, but I had a 6 PM AD&D Tournament to attend and didn’t get to see much of it. As I recall, the items on the block before I left were a copy of Divine Right, Dungeon Tac Cards, Warlocks and Warriors, and an art book of dragons (featuring many TSR alumni, plus Diesel stepped in at the last minute with an offer to add an illustration to up the bid on it). There may have been more, but memories are already fleeting. I did have enough time to place a bid in the silent auction downstairs for a copy of the old TSR mini-game, They’ve Invaded Pleasantville, but was outbid by the end of the night.
The AD&D tournament was OK, but by the mid-point I was really dragging and I more interested in wrapping up the game and relaxing after a long, exciting day than maximizing our score. We lost two players (one of whom may have been feeling the same as I was and looking for an out), but ended up successfully completing the adventure. I don’t think our team won, but then again I haven’t bothered to follow-up on it.
With my last game of the con finished, I did a final walk-around of the con space. There were a few interesting pick-up games going (including an Empire of the Petal Throne game that Allan Grohe told me about as he rushed up the stairs to play it), but I was pretty much done. I signed a few more autographs and met up with Dan Proctor and his wife, Jeff Sparks and his wife, and Harley in the hotel bar. Dan, Jeff and I got within 5 minutes of completely outlining the future of the OSR, but got too tired and called it a night. Had we been a little more awake, you’d all be suffering in the near future (the words “furry LARP” were bandied about).
I slept in a little on Sunday before making arrangements to leave. Jeff Sparks had graciously offered me a ride back to General Mitchell airport, cutting an hour of my “hang around at the airport until my flight leaves” time, so I cancelled my reservation on the airport shuttle and lounged around downstairs for a little while longer. Tim Kask joined me on a strategically-placed sofa that provided a view of the main corridor and concession area and we had a nice talk about charity work, education, and the English language before I had to grab a last, quick meal and check-out. Bidding farewell to many people as I went (and having to turn down an invite to a game of “Ticket to Ride” with Frank Mentzer and Luke Gygax), I grabbed my belongings and soon found myself on my way back to the airport.
The flight out was 1000% better than the flight in. The day was sunny and I finally got a good glimpse of Wisconsin from the air. A whole lotta lakes in Wisconsin, my friends. The landscape looked like it was covered in glittering pieces of broken mirror before we rose above the clouds and headed east.
As one final part of my weekend adventure, my connecting flight from Philadelphia to Long Island was on a small turboprop plane, not a jet. Flying over the Atlantic, a shining moon grinning down on me with its crooked smile, and the hum of the props turning immediately put me into mind of Call of Cthulhu. A weary adventurer, having witnessed unbelievable sights in his travels, arrives home once more. Safe at last, he’s nevertheless forever changed by the experiences on his adventure. And that, my friends, was Gary Con IV. Pictures to come after I do the necessary photo-wizardry.