Convention Report – Tentacles 2003

Ich bin ein Gamer

By Greg Stafford

Thursday, June 5

Suzanne and I got to the train OK. We don’t ever have problems getting around in Paris. We were going in the fast train, First Class to Frankfurt. The price difference between first and second class was about 10 Euros ($1 = 1 Euro or so).

The train was pretty comfortable, as usual. We had a pair of adjustable seats with plenty of leg room. Little fold-down tables. We heard two guys behind us, Americans, complain that there wasn’t any industrial rock in San Francisco. Suzanne turned around asked them if they had seen Sharkbait or Crash Worship. They hadn’t, and were steered in that direction. We went back to our own business.

So then the air conditioner breaks down. Great First Class. It was really baking. I was all damp with sweat and of course, the windows don’t open. I asked the guy in the food car if we can just change or whether the train would fill up (as I have often seen happen). He said to move. We did, down to a cooler car that had compartments, They’re three seats wide, two facing seats and lots of room overhead for luggage. Suzanne and I sat in one. The A/C worked a little bit.

The two guys then came by a little later and asked if they could share the compartment. We did, and talked to them. I don’t remember their names at all, but they worked for the California Water board, or an advisor to them, and were going to a big rock concert week in Hamburg. So we talked about California water problems and news, and about rock for a while. They asked where we were going. Game convention.
“Games? Roleplaying or computer?” Wow, he knew the difference! He was already “one of us.”
“Have you played?” I asked.
“Yes, sure.”
“Mostly not D&D,” he says.
“Call of Cthulhu then,” I say.
“Yea, we played that. But what we really loved was this game called RuneQuest. I played this thing called a troll and it was so cool.”
“Yea,” I said, “You got 6d6 damage.”
“Not just that, but my character had all this cool stuff. Like giant insects to carry my bags, and a couple that were like dogs and some that were just food. And I had this thing called a trollkin that we used just for climbing walls.”
I was amused and flattered, and admitted to him that I’d written those books that he liked so much. He was impressed but not awed and we told him we were going to a convention that was about Glorantha and the post-RuneQuest generation of games. We talked about Issaries for a while, and upon reaching Frankfurt parted in good cheer and memory.

Fabian, with Sandy waited for us. We drove to Fabi’s house briefly, talking all the time, and after a bit Sandy and his wife Wendy, Suzanne and I, and Sven got into the car. Fabian drove, and after a wonderful scenic drive down the Rhine we again got to Castle Stahleck. We got dinner at the last place in town that was open, a Chinese restaurant. I managed to work out “no mei jing” with the Chinese waitress who spoke German. Got duck, and it was very good and did not have the terrible MSG. We were assigned, as usual, the Eagle’s Nest as our room and we went to bed. Suzanne got the top bunk, I the lower.

Friday, June 6

Castle Stahleck is a renovated castle that sits on the hill over the Rhine. There are castles about every two miles in that area, though most are ruins. The river is about half a mile wide and has really steep (maybe 60 degrees) hills on both sides. A little town is below and across the river, its houses all just about single-file along the edge of the river. Big tankers and barges go up and down the river.

Most of the day we hung out. Fabian and crew were setting up. We talked to Sandy and everyone else who came by that early. Mark G, Nick B etc. At night was the GTA party.

We talked of plans, explained how we were moving to Mexico, and thanked them all with a copy of part of HQ, the size of which depended upon their status in GTA. We did Postcard of Glorantha, and Claire offered to scan and title them all in. Maybe I’ll send her last year’s too. Last year was a funny variety of postcards. This year not many people brought their own in and it was thus mostly ours, which I had picked up in Paris.

After the meeting we participated in the opening and did a GTA cheer for the Summons. At the end of a more or less silly, elaborate and fun ceremony a huge tentacle rose from the oil drum. Great, very funny, perfect.

Saturday, June 7

My big chat chat day. Mainly three seminars and lectures, all of which I’ve done many times before. A small crew listening. Played a HQ game where everyone played a whole clan of trolls, not just a person. Thought to myself, “more playing, less chatting next year.”

Just as much time spent in talking to as many people as I could. Lots of beer of course. Went to bed at a reasonable hour. For most of the day Suzanne went on a boat ride on the Rhine.

Sunday June 8

The Day for the Live Action Roleplaying Game.

A LARP is a game in which the players get little cards that have the information about them, the stuff they possess, and a story line of objectives they need or want to do. Everyone walks around, talking to everyone else to get help, information or some kind of thing they need, like a space ship or a power cell.

This one was Space Station Zanzibar by Sandy Petersen, so you know it is funny.Everyone was a character from a well known science fiction movie, TV show, book or (in my case) comic book. Everyone had personal things to do, like Luke Skywalker and Leia had to find their mother, or Darth Vader had to destroy some planets. Captain Kirk and Spock, Robbie the Robot, the Predator were there. Characters form Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars and Alien(s) were there.

I was Galactus, eater of planets. Perhaps the most powerful guy there, but with no concerns for petty human pursuits. I had to eat a couple of planets, but needed someone else to blow them up. The first thing I needed was a power pack which I got by getting some allies to help me blast Robbie the Robot and taking one of his. Then I negotiated with Darth Vader to blast some planets.

Suzanne was Trinity, from the Matrix movie, but with a twist that she was “of the borg,” which is a robot monster in Star Trek. So the borg = matrix for her. She also had a secret. Everyone has secrets. Mine was that I recently ate a gas giant and had a stomach ache and had to eat some Dune-originated spice to ease it.

Suzanne agreed to be my herald, like Silver Surfer used to be, and I liberated her from the borg. I gave her the supernatural powers of the job, and even returned all her powers to her. It was actually quite fun to play WITH her instead of against her, as is more common in these games. We had a blast ferreting out things and executing our plots. For instance, she settled her issues with her lost children Darth Luke and Leia, because she was also Queen Amidala. And I settled her child support payments with the empire. Har har.

I ate four planets, drank the Beer Planet and acquired the Biggest Gun in the Universe, a hypnotic dress, several power cells, an ewok, had several extra space ships and so on. At the end I went about and distributed most of this to various people who needed it. For free. That was very uncharacteristic behavior for these games. Afterwards Sandy (who was the game master, or judge, or overseer) told me that everyone in the game wanted to destroy Galactus by the end. Of course I never did anything to deliberately provoke them, just went about my business. Thus their reaction was excellent and exactly cool, and at the end of the game I broke the space station Zanzibar because I wanted it to be destroyed when the galaxy exploded, because Galactus had a back ache and destroying it would be like a chiropractic treatment for Galactus. Oh, sorry about all the humans who expected to get away and were vaporized. Not my concern. Ha ha.

From 12 to 3 A.M. we told jokes. A variable international cadre, whose core was me, one Frenchman, three Germans, an Italian, an Englishman. Almost everyone understood almost all the jokes. I wish I could remember more of them. At 2:30 we broke up, and were about to go when Gregory Privat, the aforesaid Frenchman, showed me how to open a beer bottle with a plastic cigarette lighter. I’d never seen this, and started to inquire of others how they did it. Everyone had a different opinion on what part of the hand to use. So I worked it out and learned how to do it. So now I can open a bottle with a cigarette lighter. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks!

Monday, June 9

Got up and ate another German style b’fast of bread, ham and cheese, yogurt. We cleaned up and waited around until about 2:30 because Fabian had to settle accounts with the hostel, etc. Then we went to Fabian’s home city, to start the next part of the German Adventures.

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