Big Bad Con 2016: Thursday

Heading Back to the Bay Area

I lived up in SF for almost 8 years, so always love an excuse to get up there. On the plus side I got to fly up with my daughter, visit my brother and his lovely family, see the cousins hang out for mucho tiempo, and see my parents. The down side was not getting to see San Francisco at all, or the friends who reside within it.

Cousins! <3

Cousins! <3

Thursday rolled around, and I made a hasty afternoon exit to a slow, mass-transit crawl up to Walnut Creek. OK, it wasn't that bad. It was really just the standing on the very slow Dumbarton Bridge "express" bus that was lame. It did give me a chance to see the new Rogue One trailer (thanks Morgan!), so not all bad.

The Walnut Creek Marriott

Big Bad Con 2015, the only prior one I've attended, was in Oakland. I remember the hotel being easy to navigate, and with a decent bar. Apparently they bolted down the beds in the rooms, which prevents being able to have private game rooms. That's a show stopper. So...

BBC 2016 was in the Walnut Creek Marriott. I found it a couple of notches up the scale. The rooms were very nice, with hardwood / laminate flooring (much preferable to old carpet nastiness). I checked in to find that my particular room had a window that was intersected in half by the sloping roof. Odd. But that allowed me to see the weather outside, as well as look inside the hotel down at the lobby and dining room below! I spied some gamers ripe for the picking, and getting over some initial vertigo and introversion, I took the plunge.

I stepped up and said my initial hello "Gamers?", and also under the pretext of being hungry, and "how's the grub?" But pretext wasn't needed. It was like stepping into a hug. Suddenly I'm sitting with 6, then 8, then 10, then a dozen individuals, as more little particles came walking into the hotel and gravity worked its magic. Amazingly, I almost immediately got to run into Andy from Seattle. I also got to the lovely wife Kristine, which I hadn't previously met.

Gamers spotted in their natural habitat, with their strange modes of communication. I'm at home.

Gamers spotted in their natural habitat, with their strange modes of communication. I'm at home.

A Dread session

And then Jay, a member of our circle, pretty much mandates some ad hoc gaming! Before I know it, I'm signing up to run a game of Dread. A beam of sunshine named Stras walks in (we've gamed at Go Play NW), and before long, six of us are down in a lower lobby floor, in a dark corner, and I'm running that Dread scenario I wrote about not long ago. Included:

  • GM: me! And as NPC Tarna (Electronics / Sensors), who died in the first minute
  • Stras as Pyotr Romanov (EV Repair / Gravitonics)
  • Jay as Abydos (Heating / Mechanics)
  • Bananachan as Charlie from the Moon (H20 / Waste Disposal)
  • Kristine as Sassafras Jones (Hazmat / Team Psych)
  • Andy as Frunda 41/101 (Power / Radiation)

The last time I ran this I had a 3 hour time limit; This time we played around 4+, ending at a cool past-midnight. The hotel room scenery was good and abandoned, and it's amazing how well the hotel's quiet easy listening meshed with the creepy background audio I was playing.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, and the ambiance worked. I've got mad respect for Stras and Andi (having played with both before) and will freely admit, a little nervous to run for them. But that lasts for a few nanoseconds before diving in, and fortunately gets all forgotten in the moment. The players kept me on my toes with all sorts of technical know-how, physics (or pseudo-physics) knowledge, and things I didn't anticipate. I.e. good fun. We had a very unstable tower at the end, and Stras pushed it over for a little epic save, stabbing more than a few baddies with screwdrivers and shivs. Andi and Stras' characters had a touching moment on the comms before succumbing. The rest made it out, barely, and on to darker futures.

Banana-chan doing what needs to be done.

Banana-chan doing what needs to be done.

My roommate / friend Dennis showed up somewhere towards the end, with his friend Andy from SF (there will be many "andies" in this BBC narrative), and after some post-game chatting with the group, we three ended up chatting until pretty late up in the room, as you do.

All with plenty of time (5 hours?) to sleep and get back to gaming. Unfortunately the excitement bug got me, and it felt more like I was laying in bed for hours on end, but I'm sure some sleep must've been in there somewhere. Right?