Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Once Upon A Time

Dave Hoover and I went to a new con in Bloomington, IL.  It was a bunch of college kids starting a brand new event and we had decided to help out by running something for them in the first slot (Friday afternoon) of their new con.  Dave came up with the idea of co-GMing a D&D adventure for 12 players.  Sounded ambitious, but if Dave was up to the challenge I figured I ought to give it a shot.  I like stupid con games with gimmicks that you wouldn't necessarily pull in a regular campaign.
So we get to the con and the first thing that happens is that the two of us bump into my sister.  She lives in Bloomington and is something of a boardgamer these days so she decided to try this new con out.  She mentions in passing that she just came from the registration desk and that she saw that 35 people have signed up for our game.  Thirty five players?  She must be mistaken.  Jenn says she's not mistaken.  Turns out the first day of the con has a lot higher attendance than the staff expected and the con only scheduled 3 games in this slot, so the are just letting any number of players sign up for each game.  WTF?!?  We look up our location in the con program and head over to our table.  Turns out our 'table' is a large room with 3 dozen or more gamers all looking to play in our event!
Okay, now I'm pissed.  Our submission to this con clearly stated we would run for up to twelve.  Why is the front desk allowing all these extra sign-ups?  I leave Dave and Jenn with our 35 players and head over to con registration to get the downlow.  I could tell this whole thing was amateur hour before I even got to the desk.  There was plenty of open space available for a registration area, but these kids had squeezed their registration desk into a tiny sideroom, causing large numbers of eager registrants to pack themselves in to try to get to the desk.  I squoze past an array of teen angstgoths and cat-piss men, finally reaching the desk.
I was momentarily taken aback by the drop dead gorgeous blond co-ed working registration.  No wonder the room was so full of geeks!  Anyway, either my turn came around or the dorks clustered around the desk saw that I damn well meant business.  I asked the girl behind the table how many people had signed up for the D&D game this slot.  She asked me what room I was talking about.  Exasperated, I blurt out "listen, I don't remember the freakin' room number, just tell me how many people signed up for the D&D game!  There are only three games scheduled for right now, it can't be that damn hard to find!"  Some little Asian dude with a bad bowlhaircut, apparently also staff, puts his hand on my shoulder and mutters "Dude, just chill out" in a Southern California accent.
I'm a moody guy by nature and I've got buttons that can be pressed.  More buttons than most folk, I think.  I try to keep this in mind when dealing with the clueless, but man did this guy manage to hit two big buttons of mine.  First, if you ain't friend or family, you got no business laying a hand on me.  I let that one slide when the unwanted contact comes from naturally friendly, touchy-feely type people.  But this guy was looking for a world of hurt.  Clapping his hand on my shoulder the way he did looked like nothing less than an attempt to assert alpha male status over the situation.  I'm a foot taller and at least 150 pounds on this guy.  Bitch best know kung fu if he's gonna stir shit like that.  And then there's the "chill out" line.  If I'm working up a whole head of angry steam, the abso-fucking-lutely worst thing you can say to me is "chill".  Seriously.  It only makes me madder.  I just find t hat term so damn condescending.  "Dude, just chill out" translates in my brain as "I know you're mad, but I find that your anger is unjustified."  What angry person wants to be told they shou ldn't even be angry?
I do my best to control myself, which meant pulling this punk's hand off of my shoulder and then ignoring him.  So I turn back to the blond at the desk and ask "Is it true that you have allowed over thirty people to sign up for the D&D game DM'ed by Dave Hoover and Jeff Rients?"  She acknowledges that this is indeed the state of affairs.  "I put on the submission form that the game was for twelve."  Batting her big beautiful blue eyes she replies "Yes, I know."  I'm sputtering at this point "B-b-but you let more than twelve sign up anyway?"  She smiles sweetly, nods and makes a soft grunty "uh-huh" sound.  In retrospect I shoulda asked why they made that decision, but I guess at that point I was too mad to need any further information.  "Fuck it!  The game is cancelled!  I'm outta here!"
I stomped all the way back over to Dave and Jenn, where I angrily confirmed Jenn's story and announced that I would in no way put up with this shit.  I picked up my game stuff and was ready to head out the door when Dave grabbed my arm.  Not the best time in the world for him to do that, seeing as how I was still pissed at Mr. Fucking Chill Out, but Dave's a friend and just didn't want me to leave right away.  He pulled me over to a corner of the room and whispered "Listen, none of these players have anything to do with the con staff screwing things up.  Let's just figure out a plan so that everyone here can play a game.  It's all about the players, it's all about the game.  Right?  Right?"  Damn, he had me.  I don't want to leave these folks in the lurch just cause they're attending a con run by morons.  So we confab for a few minutes, toss our adventure completely out the window, and make plans for basically a wargame scenario.  Everybody present will make up a 1st level PC on the spot, and we'll put together some sort of skirmish style scenario in which half the room fights half the room.  3.5 char gen and a fight that large ought to eat up most of the 4 hours we have available.  So we start helping people with making characters and that's when I woke up.  Dreams are weird, aren't they?