First year university was a slow year for gaming me, Dave, Treek and Rob. The summer after graduation had gaming at least every weekend and often during the week thanks to the local gaming store. We may have been high school grads, but I, at least, was still a geek.
In Edmonton, we had no gaming store to gather around. Dave and I were at the college and there was no gaming group there. Rob and Treek were in Bonniedoon at the Fac. Gathering for a game was a chore, but we accomplished it fairly frequently, but still at a much reduced level.
Plus it was the first year university, there were classes and beer and girls and all sorts of distractions.
There was a university gaming club, but we didn’t participate. I had a couple reasons – I can’t speak for the others. First, I was shy. Second, after going to watch a few games they seemed to be very focused and serious compared to the boisterous social sessions I was accustomed too (that might not have been a fair assessment).
But they did organize a gaming convention for the spring. It was called Con-fusion. A gaming convention is a gathering of geekery. Vendors come in to sell their games and comics and collectibles. There are casual drop in games of the board-gaming and role playing variety. There are Larpers (live action role players) running around wearing costumes. There are midnight showings of classic fantasy and sci-fi movies (less exciting now that every geek ‘owns’ these on VHS, DVD, BlueRay and mpeg4 anyway.
There is also usually a tournament and Con-fusion was no exception. Competitive role-playing. You entered as a team. Each team was run through the same three part adventure. Each session had scored goals (including wishy factors like having fun). The first two sessions are the round robin and the final session are finals. The final accumulated score wins the tournament.
We decided to enter and call in some ‘ringers’. We figured that most of the players would be part of the gaming club and the judges/DMs would be the same. We needed to put our best foot forward. Plus we missed gaming with and seeing the guys. Stef and Troy worked out coming down. And there the adventure begins.
[The team was Rob, Dave, Stef, Troy and I.]
Road Trips are important, but they need twists. Stef and Troy were late getting in. This was an age before texts and Facebook so we were not getting constant updates on their progress. This was not unexpected… while everyone is better now punctuality isn’t really a natural for anyone besides Rob. (Rob needs to be early.) But then they became really late.
Do you remember way back to my first blogs when I told of Dave and my adventure driving in the city for the first time? Troy and Stef had their own. But theirs included an actual accident. Jasper and 109th street. A busy intersection. Troy was driving his boss’ Honda Prelude. The other driver was in a Chrysler K-car. One of those vehicles is a light sporty model and the other is built like a tank. (The K-platform may have been rejected by the American military for being too heavy…)
Peace River had 3 traffic lights. Driving in the city is a different experience. So novice city drivers place require a good navigator. They were headed east on Jasper and Stef said to take 108th street south to cross the river. Reaching 109, Stef realized he was wrong. “Turn. Turn here. Turn now!” he urged. Relying on his navigator Troy obeyed. Of course checking the lights and the surrounding traffic would have been a good idea too.
Guess who wins when someone shifts lanes to make the corner and cut off the other car? I’ll give you two guesses and any answer that doesn’t start with K is wrong. Stef and Troy were shook up, excited and unhurt when they finally arrived. The ‘lude had seen better days.
We’d never been in a tournament before so our planning session was chaotic. The adrenaline from the accident and the beer may have also been factors. (Not that we gave any beer to the two minors.) In typical me fashion I had spent the last few weeks studying the entry package – reading and re-reading. We handed out the characters and studied our packages.
I was to play the dwarf warrior (?? – was it a warrior/cleric – or was that just my character from the big D&M campaign). All dwarves talk with bad Scottish accents. I do horrible accents. I mean just lousy. The dwarf was solid, dependable. Lots to do in any situation and a giant number of hit points and a good AC.
Our first session the next morning was a disaster. The Judge/DM assigned to us was from the gaming club and expected a certain style of play that didn’t match us. We also knew the rules of the game better than he did. We played lots of the 2nd edition, but lots of people still knew the old rules to 1st ed better.
So between a style incompatibility and arguing over the rules (although atypically we quickly deferred to the DM) we didn’t accomplish many of the goals and we also didn’t accomplish them well.
We walked out of that room and checked the leaderboard… last place.
But we knew we were good. Between our egos and our experience, we knew that we could do better than last. We regrouped over lunch and came back.
The next session was the opposite of the 1st. The DM was from Edmonton, but from outside the club. He thought everything we said was funny. We also knew the rules better than he did, but he deferred to us – bizarre. We kicked butt in the challenges and instead of taking a long time we breezed through.
The TSN turning point was when the DM made a mistake. We had a choices of three challenges. The adventure goal was to choose one and pass it. We played all three in sequence. We racked up huge points.
During the session my dwarf was cursed. He underwent a magical sex change. Now it was a female dwarf with a bad Scots accent and a long beard. It was super silly and I played it for every laugh I could get.
We walked out and checked the leaderboard. We had now qualified for the finals. Oh, yes. The single largest comeback in the history of role-playing. They should have written us up for the record books. We were jubilant.
The finals. [Queue Jeopardy music in the background.] What happened? We got so lucky. Soooo lucky. The other qualifying team requested their DM. They wanted that home field advantage and they were still in the lead. We ended up with our DM from session 2 again.
[This is incredibly bad gamesmanship from the other team. We had just earned more points than any other team with the DM. Instead of looking for their own advantage they should have removed ours.]
I can hardly remember the details of the adventure anymore. The only one involves my character again. We had a team of five. It is unfair that I can’t remember their bits – they were just as good as me. My cursed dwarf fell 300′ from a gargantuan statue. 300 feet. D&D had terminal velocity rules so my character only took damage for the first 100’. That was supposed to be deadly, but he/she had so many hit points that only a small fraction were used up. Literally she bounced to her feet and the bottom and climbed the bloody statue again.
We walked out first and there were points to be earned for early completion. We finished successfully and we entertained the DM/judge again. Still it could have gone either way.
It didn’t. We won. We won. We won. This felt like a huge accomplishment. It was a rags to riches story. Out-of-town first year/high schoolers take on the home-town dream team. I wanted to put it on my resume when I graduated university, but I didn’t think others would recognize it.
We rock. We have the medals to prove it.
To wrap things up, the boys drove back up to PR safely…