We live in an upstairs apartment, so Tom got these candle-holders that were basically metal pails with jack-o-lantern faces carved into them. Then we hung them off the porch on string. When trick-or-treaters came by, we'd lower a Halloween basket with candy down to them. We also brought the TV out and ran old black & white horror movies (Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy) while we waited. There were tons of kids, so many that we ran out of candy. We could look down the street and see costumed kids in all directions. Was great to see so many people getting into the spirit. It was a perfect night, too. There was just a little bit of a chill in the air and lots of leaves on the ground.
We had already done our haunted house tour on Thursday night (part of my birthday celebration). We hit one "Warehouse of Terror" with a zombies-on-the-loose theme that turned out to be somewhat mediocre. The next one was on a riverboat in Lorain (west of Cleveland) and was incredible. For one thing, they understood the importance of cheap startle tricks. Everybody knows there's nothing to be scared of in a "haunted house" but if you keep the adrenaline going with a few well-timed boos, it gets a lot easier to suspend disbelief. On top of that, and a good maze with the usual creepy stops, they had some great sets. One spot created a nice illusion of walking a plank over a deep pit, and the dining hall and ballroom (near the end) were amazing. They made sure our path wound all through the cobwebbed tables and skeletal patrons, while keeping us on track with more animated spooks.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Actually the first part of the trip did involve some drunken revelry as we stopped off in Dayton to celebrate a friend's birthday. We got a room at a motel and, after dinner, went bar hopping in the "Oregon District." They had several cool places here, including one that featured a live jazz/blues/whatever band and a very pleasing combination of the scents of cigarette smoke and pizza. We ended the jaunt at an Irish pub where one of our number had to go home without the potato soup she'd been craving because the kitchen had already closed.
After a brief interlude to check in to our bed & breakfast, the Stone Soup Inn (which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Indianapolis) we returned to jump into our first RPG together, a game called Asylum. The game is set in a future where some kind of green stuff had grown over the sky and made everyone insane. The closest thing to a social structure is the group of "wards" scattered around over old cities. The administrators and orderlies are, of course, just as crazy as the inmates. Bullets and sedatives are the main currency. The mechanics are mostly based on ability checks, but there's a cute twist: instead of rolling dice, you draw from a bag of marbles, the color combination determining the number. The joke of course is, "don't lose your marbles."
First we were told that only rarely did any group even get started on the story. We began to understand why after we got our characters. Mine was a bipolar hoarder. We had a serial killer and a compulsive tour guide cowgirl. We had "Dancing Boy." We also had Tom's paranoid group leader, a depressed drug addict of some kind, and a hyperactive pyromaniac.
We did manage to get through the story, but we had three casualties before we even started. The serial killer strangled the doctor, which made the paranoid decide to shoot him. I decapitated the tour guide when she tried to grab my stash. Then I added her head to my hoard. The plot we ran through involved a beauty pageant in future Miami, or "MyWard." Our motivation for entering was that the winner would be granted a staff position. After more wild insanity and personality clashing, we had to face the judge, a giant alligator. A couple of us got eaten at this point. The drug addict had bribed an orderly earlier and he survived, so he was announced as the winner. His prize was to be taken off and experimented upon.
After escaping the Asylum, we meandered about, finding the twenty-four hour movie rooms (anime and kung fu) and exploring the enormous dealer's room. We had lunch and made our way to "The Business of Fantasy" where a writer named "Kij" told us how to communicate with editors.
Tom was signed up for "All Flesh Must Be Eaten," a zombie-fighting RPG, that night, but I wasn't. There had only been one slot left, and we flipped for it. While he got settled, I wandered off to the anime room and watched a funky take-off of Seven Samurai called Samurai-7. After a while I drifted back to see how Tom's game was going. I got there just as the guy who wrote the adventure (and yet was also playing the leader of the squad) was leaving. The GM was good, but I wasn't too impressed with the game. How many sessions is a game that's about nothing but zombies good for? I could have run the same adventure with Call of Cthulhu or lots of others.
On Friday, we blew off another 8 AM event (a seminar) and later made it to the "Chaosium Unplugged" where we celebrated Lovecraft's birthday with a very black chocolate cake and a brain in a jar. Then we did the "World Building for RPG's" seminar, featuring Matt Forbeck, GURPS Guy, White Wolf Guy, and Ed Greenwood. Tom and I were both really impressed with Ed Greenwood, and told him so after the lecture. After that we kept running into him in the halls. Anyway, it was a good seminar, with some fairly interesting advice, including, "use the Catholic Church; it's the best role-playing supplement ever made," from White Wolf Guy.
On the way back we stopped to visit Caed again, had some excellent Mexican food and went to see a gigantic fountain. And, other than a foggy detour past Mount Gilead, that's it. Can't wait for next year!