Monday, June 20, 2011

One Night in Upper Sandusky

When you play at this level, there's no ordinary venue. It's Toledo, or Indianapolis, or Vermont, or  or this place...

Okay, okay. It was really two nights. Fine. Just ruin the whole gag, why don't you? However you count it, we just wrapped up Troll Hoot IV (click away to find out what a Troll Hoot is) in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. It was two nights and a day of good solid geekery, and a great weekend away from the same old sights.

We got off to a good start straight from work and arrived early after an uneventful but somewhat interesting trip through the not-very-wilds of middle Ohio. It was a road we hadn't taken before, so there were some new sights to see. Different hills, other towns, sluggy brown Ohio rivers, stuff like that. I spent a lot of it scribbling notes for my event. Finding no one else there, we poked around the area on foot, ate lunch, and stopped by a convenience store for some snacks.

Trevor showed up, then the other Robin (Caed), Jeff, and Jerry. We milled about, trying to decide on place to have our kick-off dinner until Caed thought to ask the desk clerk at the hotel. She suggested M.J. Mugsy's downtown, which turned out to be an Italian restaurant with a great atmosphere. Oddly, we had the place almost to ourselves. One tasty meal and one snack/booze run later, we were back in the hotel and ready to start our first event.

The Null Queen
Traditionally, the Friday game at Troll Hoot has been more of a hypothetical construct. Seems like we've always had some people show up late and then, eager to reconnect and hang out, decided to skip that event. This time, we had it all together and were ready to start Trevor's Dynamo RPG playtest scenario. We made our own characters, fidgeting over the unusual attribute generation system and the wide choice of exotic races. We ended up with a human, two bird people, a goat-man, and a cyborg in our party. The adventure started with a bang when a crazed robot burst into the bar and, upon being subdued, declared that he had been sent to fetch us for The Null Queen. After a sort of Keystone Cops road trip to the ruins of Hollywood (now ruled by machine people) we shot up a few robots and a lot of scenery, installed new parts in our cyborg friend, and discovered that the Null Queen was a giant mantis who didn't like us (possibly because we blew up her house).

Journey Through a Strange Valley
Saturday kicked off with Tom's Tunnels & Trolls adventure. My wizard, Jerry's dwarf, and Trevor's troll shaman picked up after their last adventure while Caed and Jeff rolled up a couple of goblins to join us. As you might guess from the name, this was a wilderness trip through a geothermic nightmare where we were plagued by invisible steam sprites and poor navigation. Climbing out of the sauna, we spotted a dragon flying away from the peak and just had to check out its lair. More climbing and ice-walking fun followed, with Jerry finally hopping onto his shield and almost snowboarding to his doom in a frozen cave. After escaping the dragon, we were out of time, so we wrapped it up there and had some lunch.

On the way back from lunch, while Jerry and Tom were talking politics and everyone else was busy with other chores, I poked at the weird rock some more and took pictures of the hotel. Anyone reading this who knows something about geology, please tell me what this rock is. You can get a better view by clicking on the picture. Caed and I were thinking it must be some kind of fossil, like petrified seaweed or something. Where those wormy shapes were broken, I could see differently colored core, and there were little iron nodules scattered about the boulder.

Feast and Famine
Jerry's d20 Game of Thrones scenario was next. We had pre-generated characters, but still had to digest quite a lot of the setting's complex medieval hierarchies before getting started. Jerry got us into the action smoothly, and had everyone's full attention as we escorted our not-quite-dead dude-of-high-social-standing through the bandit-ridden countryside to a castle where sneaky bastards were already plotting to make his return irrelevant. Once exposed, the head bastard demanded trial by combat, and Jeff's character (the now-famous deserter-turned-hero, Brock) stepped up to bisect his champion in one chop. I've since heard that Jeff is particularly eager to play this game again, but all of us had a good time, and the story was interesting enough to make me want to read more of Jerry's campaign blog.

Dreams of the Cybermen
Thank Grodd for night people and the semi-employed. After a full day and night of gaming and alcohol topped off by a delivery from A.J's Heavenly Pizza (another excellent local suggestion from the desk clerk), it was their unorthodox sleeping patterns that saved my game from total oblivion. As it was, we completely lost Jeff, and Jerry had to struggle to keep his eyes open. I was a little punchy, myself. I suppose there could have been a more proximal cause for all this lethargy, but let's not go there.

I've described the session in detail in my next post, but basically we had Caed's Torchwood agent (Merwyn Harkness), Tom's 1970's football player (Dallas Rugby), Trevor's Magoo-dude (Doctor Wyman), Jerry's scientist and supplier of questionable medicines (Ramsey something), and Jeff's ... I don't remember what Jeff was supposed to be, but his name was Brock. Jeff fell asleep pretty early, so his character didn't play much of a part until I had him zombified by a robot spider later in the game. They were in a time machine with a TARDIS-style extra-dimensional interior that looked like the Scooby Doo van from the outside (Caed's idea). Anyway, I had a great time, and I'm pretty sure Caed, Tom, and Trevor did too. Jerry was engaged at least enough to make his character fun.

After
Trevor vanished into the night. The rest of us had breakfast together (waffles!) the next day and headed home. Tom and I took a drive around town, then meandered home by the back roads, stopping close to home at El Arriero, formerly El Castillo Grande, and still a great Mexican restaurant with style and a view of the lake.

And then there's Tom's summary. Don't believe his lies.