After that I was scheduled to play Munchkin Cthulhu, which had a surprisingly large turnout. Rather than crowd the table, I gave up my seat to a more enthusiastic player and, after walking around the convention a bit more, headed home early. Anything after Dan the Bard would have been anticlimactic anyway.
Sunday was a cold, dreary day and attendance looked like half as much as we had on Saturday. I was signed up to play a (shudder) “3.5 ed.” D&D game, but one being run by Penny and Skip Williams, late of WotC. We had a small group of five players and, by that, I mean we practically had three and a half players because three of our group were not very good at playing high-level characters. I myself almost never get to play high-level D&D characters, especially as high as 12th, so doing things like casting Flame Strike and doing 12d6 damage was a real treat for me. And it was the first time I have ever killed a rakshasa with a blessed crossbow bolt. The adventure was just above average, but me and my dwarven high priestess rocked.
After that, I set up for Hideouts & Hoodlums. Still no names on the sign-up sheet and dwindling prospects of finding any players. I had already resigned myself to this sad possibility, but I did try one more time to recruit my friend Darren into abandoning his RPGA tournament for H&H. Although he declined, he did sound interested in my game (we had not had the opportunity to discuss it before). Penny Williams came by, trolling for people to come to her seminar, but also took an interest in my H&H project. I’m hoping her Phoenix Lore magazine can do something for me, like maybe an H&H review.
Then, and only when all hope had faded, did someone actually stop by my table and showed an interest in H&H. He was alone and looking for one more game to play before he left. However, there was also one person left from the Steve Jackson Games crowd competing with me for our one available player! Even though I’d promised Penny Williams I would come to her seminar if I did not have any players, I was not ready to let this one get away. I sat through two hours of Lord of the Fries, a zombie-themed Old Maid variant that I did not even care for that much just so I could get another chance to talk him into my game afterwards. Luckily, we picked up another player during Lord of the Fries and I recruited both of them! And then we ran into a couple of gamers (literally a couple) who were also looking for one more game before they went home. Half my session time was gone, but I finally had my group of players!
This was my fourth time running “Reuter Mansion”, based off the sample dungeon in the original D&D rules (book 3). Level 1 of the hideout is 15 rooms and described in 6 pages. This group made it through about half of this level in just two hours – including the last two rooms that I had written descriptions for only in the time I was setting up for the session (who knew they would find that secret door in so short a time)! They were smart players, constantly returning to the abandoned mansion above to raid for supplies and using them, or the chest full of pennies in the hideout (the boyfriend taught me about using pennies to spike doors shut), to neatly solve every challenge. They also knew when to avoid trouble more than most players I’ve known and managed to avoid combat with the mobsters until almost the end of our session. We had a lot of laughs over their reliance on always following the left wall of the hideout (“We can’t go through that door – it’s not left!”) and their avoidance of combat (“You’re not into fighting evil so much as inconveniencing it” and the mobster that said, “You’re not superheroes – you penny doors!”). It seemed like everyone had a great time and they all thanked me for the session. The girlfriend said she had never played anything else like it, which I took to be a compliment. Sadly, not one of them took the H&H handouts I offered them – they didn’t even keep their character cards (clearly, none of them are packrats like me, as I still have folders full of old handouts from cons). They all said they were satisfied with the number of games they have now and were not looking to expand, but hopefully they came away from it with a good impression of H&H and will recommend it to anyone they meet looking for a good superhero game system.
I left the con as happy as can be. I felt I had accomplished a lot, having introduced H&H to four players in play, several others just by talking to them about it, including one in the professional arena. I also just had a lot of fun.