How to Fight the Convention Gods, and Lose!

 Posted by on February 24, 2011  Filed as: Editorial  Add comments  Topic(s): ,
Feb 242011

What follows is a dissertation that not only proves the existence of Convention Gods, but that said Gods are both Chaotic Neutral and all-powerful.  I will present my argument as a series of battles, with the final battle concluding the war.  By the end of this reading you will understand that you simply cannot fight Convention Gods and expect to win.

Battle 1: Desire – Victory!

The war begins with my desire to experience my first convention.  It’s a simple volley, and the Convention Gods quickly cede the victory to me, as they know that I’ve been wanting to experience my first convention for about three years.  I felt strong going into this battle, and came out the confident victor.  Of course, this victory gives me a false sense of hope, as I simply have no idea of what I’m really getting myself into.

Battle 2: Planning – Victory!

For this trip I wanted to bring my wife and kid with me.  It was quite understood that I wouldn’t really have any time for them (except for the occasional meal), but they understood that.  My wife’s parents would also be accompanying us, to keep my wife and kid occupied with touristy-type activities.  This ensured that my family wouldn’t be bored for the duration of the weekend, and in fact, got to take their own mini-vacation.  The plan was for me to drive down with some friends Friday morning, and my family would drive down later in the day (after their commitments were taken care of).

It was the perfect plan.  My whole family got to take a mini-vacation, and we were expecting the whole trip to cost very little.

Battle 3: Execution of Travel – Defeat

Of course, all great plans are doomed to fail.  Months of anticipation were almost crushed when the Convention Gods threatened to close the pass with a heavy snow-storm.  Also, I got sick this week, further threatening the possibility of going.  So the whole week prior to the event was filled with stress, as I didn’t know if we’d get to go or not.

Thursday comes, and the parents-in-law have to drop out.  This means that if we still get to go, the wife and kid will have less to do.  Also, the wife doesn’t want to drive by herself in a snowstorm, so I’m going to have to drive her.  That means that I don’t get to leave in the morning, having to wait until she is ready to go in the afternoon.  This would practically ensure that I wouldn’t get into the game that I wanted to on Friday, the game that I wanted to play over all others.

After our late start on Friday, we head over the mountain (and of course it’s snowing). Right off the bat we are forced by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to pull over and put on cable-chains, cable-chains that my wife bought a month ago.  Of course, they don’t fit, so I have to buy another set right there.  After that we head back out onto the freeway, and DOT has left the area.  Sweet!  I can take the cables off.  So I drive about ten miles and then take off the cables.

Nope.  DOT simply moved further up the mountain.  So I have to pull over again to put them back on.  Ok, now after another twenty miles I’m allowed to pull over and take them off.  I get out, open the driver’s side door of our van to get my jacket, and an 18-wheeler charges unnecessarily close at 50 miles an hour, throwing ice-cold slush up my entire backside – from head to heel.  So much slush got thrown up that it drenched the inside of my van, and even got all over my wife (who’s sitting in the passenger seat on the other side of the van!).  -sigh-

So, a three-hour trip ended up taking six hours… six miserable hours.

The Convention Gods laugh at me.

Battle 4: My Target Game – Defeat

But all is not lost!  I get to the hotel and get checked in.  The staff are nice and professional, and there’s not a single person in line to register for the convention, so I get my badge in what must be record time.

And, I get there just in time to sign up for my target game, the one game that I really wanted to play.  The one game that if I didn’t get to play in any of my other preferred games, I would still be happy.

Annnnnd it was canceled.  This was the only game that I was really looking forward to, and not being able to play it really soured the rest of the weekend.  In defiance, I spent most of my time that Friday in my room with my wife and kid.

The Convention Gods laugh at me.

Battle 5: Paying for my Trip – Defeat

I took a bunch of gaming stuff with me, with the intention of selling it at the convention.  There was a market/swap meet on Saturday morning, and I was fully expecting to clean house.  In fact, my buddies also gave me their stuff to sell, since they’d be playing games.  I would miss out on any games for the first half of the day, but that would be ok because I was going to pay for our entire trip with my sales.

Well, not only did I not make very much money, but my kid bought a bunch of junk, thereby spending everything that I made.  Of course, I made my friends a bunch of money while they were busy having fun, so it wasn’t a total loss in that respect.  It’s just unfortunate that I thought my trip was going to pay for itself, and am instead a few hundred dollars in the hole.  I would have been fine with the cost, had I been expecting it.

The Convention Gods laugh at me.

Battle 6: Hotel Food – Defeat

I’m from Reno, and I’ve worked in hotel/casinos for 13 years.  So I’m used to a huge variety of restaurants, from diners to cafes to buffets to steak houses. Our hotel tried, but their food set-up just failed.  The variety, the price, the service, it was all just wrong.

I’m not going to go into heavy specifics, because I’m sure we’ve all received bad service, been over-charged, and had lousy selection of poor food.  But I will ask: who ever decided to combine a steak house with a buffet?  Those are culinary polar opposites.

And come on waitress, when our crappy food / lousy service / over-priced bill is $30 and we give you a $50, do you really think that coming back with a $20 bill as change is going to get you a $20 tip?  I think not.

The Convention Gods laugh at me.

Battle 7: My First (and only) Convention Game – Defeat

My first and only convention game could have gone better:

I go to the room of my first convention game – a game I haven’t played in over 15 years – and am immediately hit with a “humid gamer aroma,” to put it nicely.  Ok, I can get used to it, I guess.

On a good note, a father/son duo was playing in this game, so that was cool.

So, the GM hands out some half-filled out character sheets.  We then spend the next hour finishing our characters – an hour well-wasted.

The game (a game that is supposedly about style over substance) was instead all about substance, and combat.  The first death of the game happened within the first half-hour, and it was a player character.

With all the secret notes being passed around the table by the GM and the fixer, many of us were left out of the game’s story, and were left wondering if we were ever going to work as a team.

I haven’t played this game a lot, and it’s been well over 15 years since I’ve played it, but I had a better grasp of the rules than the GM did.

At one point, my character took an action that directly affected another PC (I felt the PC was trying to screw us, so I tried to stop it).  My character had good reason to interfere with the other PC, but that player didn’t like it.  He proceeded to berate me with questions as to the validity of my actions, then said I had no reason for taking such an action, and shouldn’t do that – yadda yadda yadda.  This dude was all over me, acting like a complete ass and cry-baby.  I was this close to calling him a god-damned bitch, and telling him to shut the fuck up, but I guess I took the high road.  I said that if he wanted to play my character, I’d hand him the sheet.  That shut him up, and play continued.  I hate freaking cry-babies.

With my wife’s parents not here, my wife and kid are stuck to themselves. Halfway through the game my wife calls me to say that our 6-year old kid left the room in a fit, and that she went after him, only to lock herself out of the hotel room.  So (of course), I have to leave the game to go let her back into the room, and listen to her tell me that our kid has been a raging Godzilla, and that she’s thinking of leaving on Sunday instead of Monday.  Awesome.

The end of the game reveals that the Fixer PC was indeed pulling a fast one on us.  I was right.  Yay.

The Convention Gods laugh at me.

Battle 8: The Last Stand – Utter Defeat

I trod my way back to the hotel room, a room that is littered with junk, clothes, gaming crap, and a sour wife.  I tell her about my night, and say that I hope Sunday and Monday are better, and that if she wants to leave on Sunday, I’ll catch a ride with a friend on Monday.  She says that there’s no way she’s staying past Sunday morning, and hopes that it doesn’t snow while she’s going over the pass (because she hates driving in the snow, not to mention over a snowy mountain).

That was it.  That was the moment I knew the Convention Gods had won.  There was no way that I would let her go over the mountain with the possibility of it snowing, her getting stuck for hours, or worse.  I knew I was defeated, utterly defeated, and I drove us home the next day with my tail between my legs.

The Convention Gods laugh at me, hysterically.

Final Score:

Convention Gods: 6 – Winner!

Chris: 2 – Loozah!

I apologize to you, Convention Gods.  You are all-powerful, and I am defeated.  I promise that if I ever try to go to another convention, I’ll play by your rules.

What I’ve Learned:

  1. For my next convention, I will make plans, but I understand that such things are subject to change.
  2. I will leave all family members home, so that I can devote more time to the Convention Gods.
  3. I promise to devote all of my time to you, to make sure that I’m at your worship from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
  4. I will bring better, healthier snacks.  I will drink more water, instead of soda.  I will not eat in a steak house, and I will not complain about the food.
  5. I will make an effort to look forward to more games, instead of placing all hope into only one game.
  6. I will run a decent game for my fellow gamers, because they deserve it.
  7. I will not try to pay for my trip by selling gaming junk.  I will instead  go to the gaming convention with the intent to game.

I bow to you, Convention Gods.  You humble me.

More awesomeness...

Chris Stevens

In Chris's opinion, the very best vices are dirt bikes, rock music, and gaming, while the very best medicine is fatherhood. If he could just learn to balance them all, he'd live forever. He's much more creative than intelligent, often wakes up belligerent, and ponders many things insignificant. Lastly, in an effort to transform his well-fed body, P90X, Roller Blades, and Food are all laughing at him. And the pain continues.

  11 Responses to “How to Fight the Convention Gods, and Lose!”

  1. Sorry to hear it Chris. This reminds me of ConQuest Sac a few years back…

    Don’t get discouraged; they don’t all work out the way you hope. If it makes you feel better, the only RPG I got into was the one that I wrote down the wrong number for…

    I think if you follow your newly discovered rules, it will go a long way to improving your next con experience. I would also recommend shooting for a second chance at Dundracon next year, or for Kublacon in a few years – much more for the family to do, especially when the little one puts on a couple more years.

  2. This is an utterly heartbreaking article, but brilliantly written (if that’s any consolation!). I love the idea of presenting it as a series of battles against the convention gods. But the content… oy! The thing is, I can absolutely place myself in every one of those situations, and just feel the agony of the weekend shattering into a million wretched pieces.

    No advice, no cheerleading, no “get back on that horse.” Just lots and lots of empathy. As much as you need.

  3. Talk about a veritable gauntlet of convention hassles. And yet you came out with a sense of humor about it. Well done.

  4. That is a truly and almost unbelivable story. I have never heard of so much happening to one person in a simple weekend. Sorry to hear that man. I am a convention virgin myself and this year am trying to plan to go to GenCon. It has been in my mind for years now and I think this year I can afford it.

    Reading this article scares me a little. I hope my experience is not like this one.

    I guess the highroad for the GAMING JERK is the way to go, but crybabies drive me up the wall. I tolerate them, but man….

    I love your rules. I think that is going to be my pep talk before walking into the gaming convention.

    Hopefully the next one goes better.

    Cheers for now.

  5. Nice Article. Funny.

    Here’s to a better next time!

  6. Wow, Chris… you have my deepest sympathies.

    On the other hand, actually reading the article provoked a constant alternation between laughter and, “Owwwwww.” Nicely done.

    I’ll say only one thing, and it’s the same thing I told myself after my infamous first game of Living Greyhawk D&D: at least you’ve got a good story out of it (and you tell it well!).

  7. Brilliant great conclusion. Quickly becoming one of my favorite RPG blogs.

    Still loving your Steal This Monster on Lizardfolk from 2-3 weeks back. Keep it up!

  8. @ Colin

    Thanks bud, I think I’ll try that convention again, if not Kubla.

    @ Dixon

    Ha ha! Thanks dood.

    @ Tyler

    Thanks man. I almost didn’t write about it, but I had to just vent it out, you know?

    @ Alton

    It was definitely an unbelievable run of bad luck, some of it brought on by me, of course. Oh well, lesson learned!

    @ Brian

    Thanks amigo! Next one will be better, I’m sure.

    @ Jonathan

    Thank you sir. This is definitely one for the books. I’ll never forget it.

    @ Brad

    Thanks bud! It’s ALWAYS good to hear we’re doing a good job. Also, (of course) we’ll have more Steal This… material coming up, so stay tuned!

  9. Sorry you had a bad con buddy. I really hope you do not shy away from the next one. Your new guidelines are solid. Missed having you around Sunday night and Monday. Props to three of our group who, at 4:00 AM, said the hell with it we’ll just stay up and keep playing into Monday. It seems open gaming is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the con scene. Hope you’re with us on the next one!

  10. “and the Convention Gods laugh at me.” Ha ha!. No, it is I who is laughing!

    Well written and entertaining. sorry to hear about it all. This is my first time at Stuffer Shack, and I have to say that I love it!

  11. I’m sorry your trip didn’t go so well. I’m also sorry I find your misfortune so entertaining; but it’s your own fault for being such a witty writer. 🙂

    I wish you the best of luck at future conventions.

    Q: “But I will ask: who ever decided to combine a steak house with a buffet?”
    A: Ponderosa

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