Well, Texicon 2012 has come and gone, and Giant Boy and I rest comfortably at home once more. So, you wonder, how was the convention? Well, let me tell you, breaking things down in Leone-esque categories. Feel free to play this music in the background while you read.
I’ve never been to Fort Worth, Texas, even though I’ve been nearby Dallas several times. I enjoy visiting new places. Norris Center, the convention’s downtown venue, was easy to find, close to free parking, and there were at least a half dozen eateries within easy walking distance. With an hour break between each gaming event, that gave me and Giant Boy plenty of time to chow down, relax a bit, and then dive back into the convention scene.
Texicon is a small convention, all of the gaming crammed into two rooms, one for board and roleplaying games, and the other for miniature battles. A few seminars were held in another rooms. Everything was on the second floor of the Norris Center, so getting from event to event was not difficult. Contrast this with OwlCon, for example, which last year was spread across Rice University over an area roughly three city blocks square sometimes without clear instructions about what was where.
A wide variety of board games were in play. As I type this paragraph, it’s session 2 of day two. I count nine tables for board games. Two aren’t being used. The other seven have seven different board games going on. The miniature battles room was similiarly well-attended, although I spent little time therein.
As small as Texicon was, I was pleased to see a number of children — preteen and teen — in attendance. Again, glancing around the board/roleplaying game room, I see four kids, not counting Giant Boy. The gaming torch is being passed to a new generation.
Saturday morning, with no one signed up for my “Metro Gnomes” game, Giant Boy and I both played in Stan Shinn‘s excellent Savage Worlds sci-fi adventure. I was the brave ship’s captain, and Giant Boy was “Phase”, our crew’s resident hacker and tech-jockey. The crew also included Corey, my faithful firstmate; Bryce, our face-man; and “Stitch”, the ship’s doctor and molecular knife enthusiast. We were hired by a wealthy political pariah to liberate his abducted daughter from the clutches of a ruthless warlord. We completed this daunting task with much aplomb, saving the damsel, capturing her father’s traitorous employee, and sending the warlord and several of his goons hurtling from the warlord’s stolen spaceship into the rugged landscape passing below at many kilometers per hour.
After this game, Giant Boy and I popped across the street to Five Guys for a burger each, and then visited the small vendors’ room. About eight vendors were on hand, selling used books, back issues of comics and gaming magazines, et cetera. I chatted bit with The Game Closet (purveyor of fine games), The Tangled Web (purveyor of lovely handmade dice bags), and Roll2Play (purveyor of fine dice). I plopped down some money with the latter on some more dice since Giant Boy’s half-orc falchion monster needed more d4s, and I never seem to have sufficient d6s to fireball people. I’d’ve bought a crocheted dice bag, but they were a little too gamergrrl to fit in at Man Day. I did, however, purchase my daughter Adrienne a zipper pouch with a lovely, hand-embroidered bunny rabbit on it.
Since no one other than Giant Boy was signed up for the day 2/session 2 Pathfinder event, the lad played in a Rifts adventure while I wrote parts of this blogpost and took some pictures. I watched much of this event from afar. The GM was animated and personable, and appeared to be good at keeping both experienced and novice Rifts players engrossed in the game (and with two of those novices being younger than 16). Giant Boy played some sort of power-armored samurai.
Near the end of Giant Boy’s Rifts game, I started a delightful conversation with Paul Cardwell of the Committee for the Advancement of Role-Playing Games. Mr. Cardwell is a fine, elder scholar and gentleman who is passionate about gaming and history. What’s not to like? Our amiable, rambling discourse covered topics such as old-school gaming, kids today, the influence of Charles Dickens on the latest Batman movie, Glenn Miller, ostrich-riding knights, Vatican II, and the moral failings of dystopian gaming.
I also must applaud Texicon’s staff, the vendors, and the players for how genuinely friendly everyone was. (Well, not the T-shirt vendor guy; he was churlish.) Texicon was small, but it had a mighty heart.
While it’s not game related, I must mention St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cleburne, Texas. Giant Boy and I attended services there Sunday morning. The crucifix in the jay-peg collage hangs above the tabernacle there. Strictly speaking, we didn’t attend Mass since the parish priest was out of town. A deacon conducted a communion service, and he movingly spoke about the monstrous shooting spree in Aurora, Colorado.
After church, we ate yummy breakfasts at Susannah’s Homestyle Cooking and then went and saw The Dark Knight Rises. It was adequate. I won’t toss out any spoilers here, but will say that the storyline was muddled, Bruce Wayne was whiny, and Bane’s voice often unintelligible. At one point in the film, I swear Bane threatened to reduce Gotham City to “asses”. The Dark Knight Rises is in no danger of being lauded as the Nolans’ best movie.
Roleplaying game offerings were sparser and less well-attended. For example, no one other than Giant Boy signed up for my “Metro Gnomes” game. I had three people signed up for my Go Fer Yer Gun! game. By start time, the sign-up list had one name scratched off, and by about 20 minutes after start time, I only had one player (Giant Boy). On the roleplaying game sign-up sheets, blank spaces outnumbered claimed player slots by a substantial margin. Most RPG rounds did not have sufficient players for them to run.
Friday evening, since my “Metro Gnomes” game couldn’t run with just one player, Giant Boy and I jumped in on a 2E D&D game. It was just about thoroughly blah, in part because of the environment (more on this below), which complicated the fact that the DM was hard of hearing. The scenario, such as it was, had a lot of potential. Giant Boy, some other guy, and I played military recruits of sorts on maneuvers in a Bad Lands of the Dakotas sort of place. What was meant to be a simple training run for a search-and-rescue mission turned into a life-and-death struggle against orcs and ogres. Like I said: potential. Unfortunately, even factoring out environmental issues, the scenario seemed to be entirely and clumsily ad-libbed. It often felt more like a showcase for the DM’s meticulously conceived homebrew campaign than a convention event.
Now, about those environmental issues. Above, I noted that it was a good thing everything at the convention was in a single location and easy to get to. This good thing was also a bad thing. As I glance up from the keyboard to guesstimate, the board/roleplaying game room looks to about 900 square feet of floor space with 20 tables set for at least six people each. That’s crowded. It’s also loud, and lots of background noise really bugs me. It hampers communication, and it can be a mood killer for a game. If I had my druthers, the space used for seminars — about which I have zero interest — could have been better used for gaming to cut down on the hubbub.
When I first started typing this while Giant Boy played Rifts, I counted five people I saw last night. Three of them were wearing the same clothes, and one of the three had probably not bathed judging by his bedhead hairdo. I mean, seriously, people. I’ve written in this space before about how the stereotype of gamers being hygiene-challenged, socially awkward basement-dwellers is unfair. Unfortunately, it’s not always unfair.
Here’s my public service announcement.
My fellow gamers, personal hygiene is not optional. It is a basic requirement for participating in civil society and for your own physical health. Except in extremis, put on clean clothes every day. Bathe everyday. Brush your teeth. That logo, cartoon, or slogan on your T-shirt isn’t so awesome, funny, or witty that it somehow makes personal hygiene optional.
Much in the same vein, the men’s room was a disaster. To start with, the sign adjacent to the entrance read “Mens Room”. That makes no sense. How much extra money would an apostrophe have cost? Every time I had to avail myself of the facilities, wadded up paper towels littered the floor. I mean, seriously, men. Put trash in a trash can. You want to be a pig and toss trash on a bathroom floor, go do it in the privacy of your home. Likewise, if you feel compelled to urinate near a urinal, do that at home also. Along the wall to which the urinals were attached, there was a foot-wide smear of moisture that looked like it had both depth and resilience (as well as hair).
To be fair, that level of build up couldn’t have taken place solely within the scope of the convention. I’m willing to go on the record and state that much of the urinal wall zone of gag-reflex-triggering horror was present Friday morning before Texicon began. Norris Center staff: Buy a mop and some extra strength floor cleaner, and use them zealously.