Friday, December 14, 2012

90 Days Till GaryCon! Memories of GaryCon I

As they say in writing circles, "Start at the beginning."

It was March 2009. It had been nine months since I graduated from college and one months since I had been laid off from my first job out of college. I had no job, no leads and no game. It sucked. And when things suck you desperately need something to improve your mood to keep you from tailspinning into even more suckness.

So one day I was on the Kenzer & Company Forums where I read a post from Jolly Blackburn about GaryCon. Gary Gygax had passed away the year before and his children decided that celebrating his life with a gaming convention a la the original GenCon was preferable to mourning the anniversary of his death. I read this post and decided that a) I needed to get out and do something and since b) it was free I would make the drive up to Lake Geneva for GaryCon I.

Getting there was an interesting experience. It was cold and dreary as March in Wisconsin can be without snowing. The hall was small but filled with energy, I walked in with trepidation, even though it was free I was worried about just walking in and sitting down just anywhere. I looked around at all the packed tables until I saw the Kenzer and Company Table. There was Jolly Blackburn, playing what would become the now current version of HackMaster with my future friend the Geekpreacher. I wanted to say hello and tell him i was a fan of his work, but I didn't want to interrupt him while he was gaming.

But then, luck came up and gave me an opportunity. While I didn't have money for a donation to the convention, I did have enough to purchase food and drink which also went to the con. A woman came by selling small brownies for a quarter a piece. On impulse, I bought two and gave one to Jolly as a token of appreciation. He responded by inviting me to game with him and the rest of the D-Team.

For the rest of the day I had a blast. I learned the new system and got to meet the people behind one of my favorite games and magazines. In another bit of luck, I mentioned to Brian Jelke about my job situation and it turned out that the company he works for was hiring structural engineers and he agreed to forward my resume to their HR department. At the end of the day I swore that if there was another GaryCon the next year, I would attend it.

Next Friday: GaryCon II.

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