Wednesday, March 20, 2013

State of the Madicon 2013

Stay classy, Harrisonburg.

I usually try to stay focused on gaming, but this post will ramble a little bit.  It should all make sense, though, so just bear with me.

So, from March 8-10, Nicole and I were in beautiful and exotic Harrisonburg, VA for Madicon 22.  For those not in the know, Madicon is an annual convention held at James Madison University and organized by the JMU Science Fiction/Fantasy Guild.

I previously attended Madicon 18 in 2009, but I didn't know a lot of people back then; I was with PST Productions most of the weekend, although I did find myself at Glen's Fair Price Store (more on that in a bit) and at J. C. Lira's panel on the end of Pimp: the Backhanding.  As such, I didn't really experience the convention proper back in '09.

Where else can you see Ness, some woman from Elder ScrollsLink, and Fire Mario?

I did a little better this time.

Friday night we went to the Madicon LARP, a Cthulhu LIVE event set in the fictional St. Harold's Asylum during the Victorian era.  Despite using the Cthulhu LIVE ruleset, it wasn't heavy on traditional Lovecraftian elements — one of the plots involved a member of the Gentry (played by Nicole, actually) seeking out one of her former changeling slaves.  Another plot involved a criminal mastermind attempting to escape the asylum (he had himself committed to avoid going to jail).  There were a couple of expected elements, though — some horrific monster lurked in the tunnels under the asylum, and one of the doctors (played by rushputin) was synthesizing an antipsychotic from human brains.  It was a standard comedy of errors: the mastermind's gang locked everyone inside while the mastermind and his cronies tried to break out through the back.  The asylum staff quietly supported the breakout once it was clear that there was no other way to leave.  Some horrific monster lived in the tunnels underneath the asylum, and all hell started breaking loose as people tried to fight for their freedom.

I try to celebrate every week.

Saturday saw an actual foray into the city proper.  We found some amazing, CNR-inspired suit (no pictures yet) at a place called Granny Longlegs.

And then there's Glen's Fair Price Store.

Madicon is just the place I go when I'm not at Glen's Fair Price Store.

Glen's is the mashup of that store in Napoleon Dynamite and the magic shop in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. They sell a little bit of everything — photography, antiques, novelties, Halloween costumes — but the draw for the LARPing crowd is typically the novelties and costumes.

Stay classy, Glen's.

Strangely, my only gaming-related purchase of the con came from Glen's.  I purchased a set of six-siders with orca whales instead of 1s:

That makes sense, right?

And I purchased a set of spherical six-siders:

That also makes sense, right?

I probably made the wrong dice choice, though.

I clearly should have gone with the giant, Confederate d6.

In the afternoon, I finally had the chance to run a pick-up game of James Raggi's infamous Death Love Doom.  (Shameless plug!  I wrote a review of said module a while back.)  It ended surprisingly well: six PCs and four NPC thieves entered the Bloodworth Estate.  All ten returned, laden with treasure.  Basically, they snuck in the estate, started looting, defeated the Dead Sign trap on Miles' body, found Agatha, killed her (out of mercy), cracked a safe, left the house, and set it on fire.  They were lucky and smart; they avoided any of the nastiness in the estate, instead leaving when it became apparent that something was terribly wrong.  Of course, being a Raggi module, there are still plenty of consequences for success...

Afterward, rushputin ran Elder Sign, essentially a rules-lite Arkham Horror.  We won against Nyarlathotep (albeit by the skin of our teeth), so it was an all-around successful evening of gaming.

There were a few things I missed at this convention — I usually purchase something from the Dealer's Room at a convention, but I didn't this time.  For such a small convention, the Dealer's Room is pretty well-appointed — there's a pretty big dice/board game/RPG book vendor, as well as some clothing, art print, and Magic: the Gathering vendors.  Sunday sees an art auction that I didn't attend because Sunday is for laziness.

Chell was in the Dealer's Room, though, so that was pretty cool.

Additionally, I would have loved to play in the Isle of Dread being run at the convention.  (That likely just means I'll have to run the damn thing myself sometime.  There are worse fates.)

If you're ever in the area, I'd recommend it.  It is quite small, though — organized events tend to be less prevalent than pick-up games, so if you want to try something, you may have to initiate yourself or see if you can organize something ahead of time.  Also, my focus on gaming means there is a bunch of stuff I almost totally ignored — there's a lot of anime stuff there, and the 501st was hanging around.  So, that might make for a more ready-made convention if that's more your style.

(Finally, credit where credit is due: Nicole took most of these pictures.  I took the group shot of Ness & Co., as well as the pictures of the orca d6s and the spherical d6s.  She took everything else.)

Addendum: I neglected the neat license plates at Madicon.  Check out the pictures in this post.

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