Gen Con, pt 3

The next game on Thurs was one I was running: Four Colors al Fresco: Champion of the School. This one started with a snafu: a tournament-style event was scheduled for a dozen tables [the entire room] from noon to 8pm, but the tables had only been scheduled for 4 hours, ending at 4pm. So, when I found this out at about 3:50, the convention staff had about 10min to deal with nearly a dozen double-booked tables. Well, while just about every one of them had some sort of event scheduled to start before 8, on the upside only two of the tables were double-booked at 4pm, so they had a little extra time on the rest of them. But, still, a bit of an issue. After some discussion with the main HQ, the local volunteers did what I would’ve expected them to do in the first place: move some games. The delay was a little frustrating, as my game time loomed, but I’ve probably been doing this longer than they have—but, still, it seemed obvious to me what had happened: somebody entered the event duration into the scheduling software wrong, and the tables were, in fact, double-booked. And the only variable in the solution was whether to move the in-progress tournament (a dozen tables set up with various gear and materials, but only one event, and everybody affected was already there to notify) or the upcoming events (ten or so events over the next several hours, all of which would require notification). Neither is a great situation, but I thought it funny that he went back and forth comparing various databases, and then talked to the main HQ, which just said “yes, you have a problem—you solve it; just tell us how you solve it”, rather than simply jumping right to the solving-it step. In the end, they left the ongoing game in place, and moved the rest of us. Luckily, to a room just across the hall.

So, I put up a couple signs (luckily, I carry a marker and paper for just such an occurrence, though I wish I’d had tape, too), and we moved across the hall. And then I did my prep/set-up, rather than being able to do it before the game time, as I prefer. On the upside, I picked up another player—someone who showed up at our scheduled room just as I was putting up signs, only to discover that the game he’d hustled over for had been canceled. So I had a full game: 6 scheduled players, plus the 1 extra that I always have room for, just in case (and so that, normally, even the last player still gets to choose a character, rather than just being stuck with the last one). A couple of the players were people I’ve had in al Fresco games over the years at various cons, but most were new.

Once I’d done my intro spiel, people picked characters, and we got to playing. The basic scenario revolves around sort of “graduation exams” for the senior class of Professor Omega’s school—the characters need to prove that they’ve learned their ethics and classics, along with how to use their powers, before Professor Omega turns them loose on the world. Mid-way through, Professor Omega disappears under mysterious circumstances.

This game was great fun, for two completely separate reasons. First of all, the players all got into their characters, and had a riotously good time with it. I laughed so hard and so often that I had a headache and a sore face by the end of the game. Second, they really took the style of gameplay to heart, and made sure the unfolding story was firmly in their control, not mine. I may be the SG, but a good game of Four Colors al Fresco is like grasping desperately for the reins of a team of runaway horses—the last thing I want to be is in control of the direction the plot takes.

In this particular game, they introduced and then exonerated another villain, discovered that a rabbit-generating hat was missing, and then determined that one of the other teachers was behind it all. I’m probably missing a few other twists they introduced, but I was way too busy having fun to take notes. And, of course, those are just the major twists—there were tons of little details, not to mention the generally-excellent role-playing.

After this, it was back to the room to drop stuff off, and then a late dinner, and then—well, I don’t remember what we did Thurs night. I think that was the night Caitlin and I hung out with Eppy and Eero (and others) for a while. And then, much too late, off to bed.

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