One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
So. I've been playing D&D since I was 7 years old (32 years, for those of you keeping count), but this was the FIRST con I've ever attended. PrairieCon is held every year in Brandon, Manitoba, and has a pretty good reputation amongst the gamers I know. This was it's....33rd? annual convention. It focuses mostly on board games, but also supports CCGs, RPGs, and tabletop miniatures. I decided to go full-bore, renting a hotel instead of staying at the Brandon University dorms. The price was excellent.... only $25 to register, with a little bit of extra cost for playing in some of the Magic events. I went by myself, although I did know a few other buddies who were attending.
After arriving on Thursday night, and having an anjoyable dinner with two of my former students who know lived and worked in Brandon, I got down to business on Friday. I had pre-registered for all my events, so basically I just had to show up and get my pass. PrairieCon was held this year at the Assiniboine Community College campus, which was a pretty decent site. They were a little cramped at times, but for the most part, pretty decent.
My first event on Friday afternoon was playing in a Pathfinder RPG game. I have never played Pathfinder before, although I am passingly familiar with the rules. I got there early, as I would have to make a character before we started playing. The DM was a young guy, well-prepared and helpful. The rest of my group was 3 other players - one older gentleman, who seemed only passingly interested in the game, another guy a little younger than me who knew WAY too much about the game, and a younger guy who approached his character creation as a complex mathematical process. Me? I was playing straight old-school, making a mage with a raven familiar named Poe (only the DM got that joke). I selected spells as I expeceted an adventuring mage would select, not as a number0crunching munchkin was. The game was okay - it was an adventure based in the DM own created world. We had to discover why a mine had stopped shipping product. Suffice it to say, the answer was "Lich Necromancer". I felt that the time slot was a little short for what we wanted to do, and although I had fun, I'm not totally sold on Pathfinder. Too many fiddly bits, for which I did no fiddling. In the end, we managed to seal the undead army in the mineshaft using barrels of pitch and blasting powder, then killed off the Lich Necromancer using molotov cocktails and hand to hand combat (yeah, I don't buy it either). Overall, it was pretty fun.
I followed this up by participating in a sealed deck Friday Night Magic event. At least I knew a couple of the guys in this. Although I am a HUGE Magic player, where I live, there is a serious dearth of opponents, and dial-up internet makes Magic Online unusable, so this was one of the few times where I got to play in an event with real opponents. I went 2-2 in the Swiss.... not teriible, but not good enough (although I got 2 foil DCI Deserts as the random draw winner). Most importantly, I had a TON of fun.
Saturday morning started out early. My first event was a Standard Constructed Magic tourney, and I got up at 7:30am to have a crisis of conscience, and redesign my deck. Last year, the Standard event had over 40 participants. Sadly, this year there was only 6 (the con was running on the same day as a big Modern Masters prerelease tourney in Winnipeg, which drew away a lot of players). This was the FIRST Standard Constructed tourney I had played since Ice Age came out. I got hosed pretty quickly, but had fun. Since the tourney was foreshortened, I ended up with a bunch of spare time. I wandered over and watched a bit of the huge WH40K tourney going on, with some AMAZING amries, then sat down for a 8pman Magic cube draft. It was the first time I had ever cubed, and it was amazingly fun. I also ended up going 5-2 with a Gruul Zoo deck.
After that came... the auction. Every year, Prairiecon runs a used game auction, where people can sell their old gaming materials. There was some interesting stuff, and a few things I HAD to go for. The summary of the auction for me included:
- snagging another copy of the 1st edition C'Thulhu DEITIES & DEMIGODS that was in better shape than the copy I already had, for $30
- getting into a furious bidding war over a near-mint copy of the D&D RULES CYCLOPEDIA, finally winning at $50 (I've been looking for this FOREVER)
- buying a boxed 1st edition of Chaosium's PENDRAGON for $5, only to it also contained a copy of THE PENDRAGON CAMPAIGN and THE BOOK OF LORDS
- a stack of Pinnacle DEADLANDS books for $20, because the game always intruiged me
Following the auction, I was slotted in to a session of MUNCHKIN, which I had heard a lot about. We managed to scrape up four players, and they taught me how to play the game (a little incorrectly I later found out, but whatever). I had a BLAST. We managed to get through a couple games before the end of day 2.
Sunday started with "An Introduction to Malifeaux". One of my buddies was into this games, and recommended I check it out. The session was a GM running me and another newbie through a session, using two of his posses. My buddy, who was my opponent, ran the nightmares (with the Killer Teddy Bear). I ran Perdita's crew. We learned the rules on the fly, while kicking the **** out of each other. By the end of the session, I won the mission by doing what had been though to be impossible.... killing the Bear. By the end of the mission, I had lost one character, while I had wiped out the Killer Bear, and almost all of the opposing crew (including an epic confrontation with the leader of the opposing crew, where my character ended up scoring 5 free attacks due to criticals, which left her one shot away from death). All in all, I enjoyed this game, but wouldn't pick it up until I live somewhere closer to competition.
In between this and the next evetm, I schmoozed up some of the retailers with booths there, and managed to score some incredible "last day deals" on Arkham Horror, Dixit, and Munchkin Deluxe.
The last session was a Star Wars campaign. I'm not sure what edition this was, as I found out when I got there that this campaign had been running with the same GM, same players, and mostly same characters for 10 CONS. Each year was a different event in the life of a bureaucrat, who had first come to power during the Clone Wars, and was now retiring in the New Republic era. The system was highly streamlined to encourage role-playing, so we didn't worry too much about stats. This game was a HOOT! It was HEAVY on the role-playing, and even though I was the only person who hadn't played in this campaign before, I quickly slotted myself in, and had a GREAT time.
All in all, for my first con, I had a GREAT time. It was well run, with no major conflicts, all the games running on time and without cnacellations, and full of great people. I only met a couple of ht eusual con expectees, and they didn't even dampen my enthusiasm. All in all, this primed the pump for my first-time trip to this year's GenCon.
I'm glad to hear that you had a great first-con experience, Suprunown.
Sounds like you got to play a wide variety of games. I absolutely love Munchkin! I have tons of Space Marines and some Orks, but haven't gotten to participate in an 40k for a couple of years now - no opponents nearby.
Hope you have the opportunity to continue to attend cons. They are a blast!
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