This past Friday and Saturday I attended Fandom Fest here in Louisville, KY. This was my first major event here and I really enjoyed myself. If you follow me on twitter (JPOnGaming), then you should already be privy to a lot of the content of this post.
After work on Friday, I headed over there, to see what was going on and to get a feel for the crowd. The registration lines both for attendees and volunteers had to be counted in miles. No, not kilometers, but miles. I opted to bypass them for now and register later.
From the registration, I get to the 4e room. The ladies there quickly offer me a seat – which I refused equally quickly, asking where the rest of the gaming was. I was told to “keep going down the corridor”.
So I do that and end up in a cul-de-sac where I can either go through this corridor that looks like a service corridor (with a cleaning lady and her supply cart) or go through a door where a seminar was in progress. Not too sure what I should do, I chose the door. Like a good adventurer, I opened the door, stepped through THEN understood where I was.
The gentleman who was talking was discussing about Yu-Gi-Oh and how it changed his life.
Intrigued by the many cosplayers who were hanging on to his every words, I decided to listen to a little more, thinking about how I would write this here at my blog. It was fascinated by the whole thing… much like one is fascinated by a car crash on the interstate. The conversation then shifted to “your best Yu-Gi-Oh moment.” For the next two or three minutes I was informed of stories of “that Japanese pack I bought at Target,” “the first pack I opened had the dragon-of-ridiculously-awesome,” and “the TV series was the best thing ever.”
I could not take anymore, especially hearing the gasps, nods and exclamation of support at these stories. I something against massive “mental masturbation” and that was one of those events. I’m sure the YGO crowd loved it, but as a non-CCG player and someone who strongly disliked the TV show (I hate playing card to watching a TV show where people play cards… ) That whole panel was clearly not meant for me. Seeing people move beyond the door at the back of the room, I decided to go there.
OH JOY! I came upon a group of LARPers. Another thing that is not for me… They too were very quick in trying to recruit me into their game – which was equally quickly turned down. They did point me to the right room for RPGs.
HUZZAH! It was coming on 5pm and I made it. I was where I wanted to be. There were a number of events, mostly board games. I am not a board gamer that’s a given. So I hovered around the room.
There, I got to play a game of Zombie High by Revival Games . ZH is a light, beer and pretzel type RPG where your typical high school stereotypes get to fight zombies. This is very much something you can pull out whenever you have an hour or two and play. Plus beating up zombies is cool.
The mechanics are very simple. You have a 4 attributes ranging from 1-5 that gives you a number of dice to roll for skills based off that attribute. Skills are rated +2 or +5, which is a static bonus to add to the roll. The skills are very “simple”. I played “The Artiste,” a twitter-obsessed liberal type. My best skill was “Mimic” which allowed me to imitate others, and pass myself off as a zombie.
This is very simple and quick to play. AJ, our GM (I played with a fellow named Scott who was Barnaby the Geek) did a really good job of keeping the game lively and exciting. I must admit that I did not do much, especially compared to Barnaby.
A few highlights:
- Barnaby is being pursued by zombies so he tries to hide. Then his phone starts buzzing as I tweet him inane updates about what I’m doing.
- Later when he sees me, he throws his cellphone at me “I don’t need your f’n constant updates!!!” he screams at me. So I immediately tweeted that I would sue him.
- As a zombie shuffles after us, I exclaim “OMG! That’s like, Todd Brannigan. He had like a total crush on me!”
That was really fun and quick. I hope to see more of it in the future.
Then the evening slot had a number of offering, however I decided on a World of Darkness-based Ghostbusters game.
Yes, you read it right.
I took a seat at the table, picking the first character in front of me… The cheerleader! Yup I’d be playing girls all day! Tanya – the Cincinnati Bengal Cheerleader who missed the tryouts and went looking for another job – was an interesting character. Not the brightest of the Ghostbusters, she kept making Buffy references.
Best quote: Tanya says something about Star Trek. The other PC says “I’m surprised you know anything about Star Trek!” Tanya: “Well yeah! I know all about it… Chris Pines is like the hottest! I just don’t know who that weird wrinkly guy was.”
In an adventure that was full of wrong, we could not stop laughing.
I was really hungry after that so I stopped at the Waffle House, ate and then sleep.
Saturday morning I was carpooling with Chad (the VC for Kentucky) and Randy, a GM from Florence near Cincinnati. I packed my stuff and had it by the door to be ready for when the two of them would show up. Our expedition made it to the Galt House just before 10. We got our badges and headed to the gaming room (once more passing the 4e room and the larpers).
We all set up our stuff and chatted with the locals: Chad and Randy for their PFS slot at 1. I hung my NeoExodus “Widowmaker Scarlet” display (note to LPJ, I really would like Haru-Anon).
With everyone standing around waiting for 1pm, I offered to run one of our intros – Spreading the Word – which runs about 1.5 hours. Just enough time to do it. I like the adventure because it introduces a lot of our storyline to players while at the same time being simple to play. Oh and the combats are FUN to run. Player got to experience the Janus Horde to its full glory. My dice were hot. REALLY hot.
Next slot, I ran another run of Call of Cthulhu my “Dark Trenches” adventure which is quickly become one of my favorites to run. Really fun and does not require any knowledge of the Mythos at all. A lot of very wounded soldiers left in the trenches… Really dark times… It was fun to run some Cthulhu veterans with some CoC noobs.
For the evening slot, I did not get to play anything. I played the PFS game that happened (In Wrath’s Shadow) so I decided to drift around.
I went to find a Starbucks. Would you believe that on a Saturday night, the two I visited were closed… at SEVEN THIRTY PM. The streets were full of people… without coffee. So I did a nice long walk instead. Saw a few sights of downtown – I really like the look of these old buildings: some have towers on the top, much different than the mid-to-late 20th-century architecture of Colorado Springs (which has a different charm). I took a little information regarding touristy things I could take the family to do and just enjoyed the crowd and the cosplayers.
I got to see Michael Roker (from The Walking Dead and a lot of Syfy movies), but he was swarmed by hot girls. Can’t blame him for giving them more attention… I’d do the same!
Returning to the Galt House, I sat down to watch a Horror Short showing. Some of these movies were really good while others were pretty terrible. But still a gory and fun way to spend an evening. I love horror movies and these did not disappoint. My favorite was a zombie-themed short called “Dead to me” about a girl who lives with a zombie boyfriend. It was REALLY FUNNY.
After that I returned to the game room where I took part in an impromptu game of Formula Dé. I love that game. Sadly, I must report that my PacLaren did NOT finish the race… She crashed in the next to last curve of the Monaco Grand Prix.
After that, the guys called it and we headed to eat something. I told them that I never been to White Castle so they resolved to take me there. I can say that I did not miss much. Somehow I expected something… better. Still a good experience to have, but I much preferred my Waffle House late diner of the night before. A lot.
That was my experience at this year’s Fandom Fest.
- The room was COLD. The AC was on and we enjoyed the chill of the room. No sweaty gamers in there.
- Met a lot of new people
- The players were willing to try different things
- The guest list was very nice! I loved the fact that some designer (such as the former TAPS Grant offered players a chance for people to play his game).
Things I would like to see improve
I will preface this section by saying that things went really smooth overall and these are really meant to improve the event for the next time around. I spoke of these points to Matt, the Gaming Coordinator. He was very receptive to the feedback and I think we’ll have an even better event next year.
- The RPGs felt organized a board game meeting. Unlike board games, RPGs require a lot of preparation. Events started and ended at random times.
- A good, clear, easy to find schedule would have helped that. As it happened I had no idea of the planned times until I spoke with Matt about the points herein. Then I learned there was such a thing.
- The schedule had back-to-back-to-back events. No times for a food break. The hotel had “food” but it was hotel food: overpriced and disgusting. Without any place “right across the street” there were no good alternatives within a 5 min walk. I think having a 5-7 evening break would help a lot. This was a very common grievance among players.