Action Scene: Gen Con Carnageby Dan Bayn
Action Scene: Gen Con Carnageby Dan Bayn
Action Scene: Gen Con Carnage
Last month, I promised you some Casino Chaos. Last week, I was on my way to Gen Con and it occurred to me that perhaps I should file a Gen Con report afterwards. Subsequently, it also occurred to me that a gaming convention might be an entertaining place to set a fight scene. Thus, I've combined two great flavors to bring you Gen Con Carnage: an ever-so-slightly fictionalized account of my 2004 Gen Con experience that highlights the event's many opportunities for bloodshed and violence. Enjoy!
Though I wisely pre-registered for my events, the multitudes who crowded the event- and badge-registration lines on Thursday morning suggested that I was in the minority. As I strolled away from the no-waiting Will Call booth, badge and event tickets in hand, I witnessed an altercation among said multitudes. Two unwashed men, frantically scribbling down event numbers with golf pencils, used an equally unkempt friend to jump the event registration line. The look of unfathomable rage that washed over the face of the young man behind them stopped me in my tracks. You could almost hear the Bruce Lee Revenge Noise (tm) screaming in his head.
He reached over the first man's shoulder like a striking snake, snatched his golf pencil, and rammed in into the guy's ear. The poor bastard dropped to the floor as blood and cerebral fluid rained down like a some macabre fountain. His friend threw a punch at the young man, who dodged to the side and kicked savagely at his attacker's knee. The joint bent backwards at a bone-cracking angle and he tumbled earthward. Not yet satisfied, he grabbed his victim's badge and twisted the lanyard around his fists. Just before the body hit the floor, he jerked upwards and snapped the line jumper's neck like a twig.
For a moment, everyone in the hallway just stared in stunned silence. The young man looked around, meeting any gaze that dared to lock with his, and said simply, "They tried to cut in line." The tension evaporated like morning dew as the crowd murmured its approval.
Quickly, I continued on to the exhibit hall. To my knowledge, there exists no great concentration of role-playing commercialism anywhere in the world. It is truly a glorious thing to behold. There were well over 200 companies at the convention this year, exhibiting everything from game books, CCGs, and board games to customized dice bags, fantasy weapons, and plush Cthulhus. I always schedule a few hours right up front to wander around and buy my favorite, new games direct from their publishers.
David Carradine, one of this year's Media Guests of Honor, was already signing autographs when I got there. Bryan Singer (aka. The Beastmaster) was getting set-up nearby when Carradine (star of Kung-Fu: the Legend Continues) asked a fan, "Did you ever see Beastmaster II? Man, that movie sucked!" This time, I didn't let my shock get the better of me. I whipped out my mini-camcorder and shot the ensuing mayhem in full-color digital. Unfortunately, a squad of Death Ninja Lawyers invaded my hotel room that night and absconded with the memory stick. Sadly, then, the following textual account will have to suffice...
Bryan Singer pounced on Carradine like a jungle cat, but the man who played Cain was ready. Carradine pitched backwards in his chair, planted his left foot in Singer's stomach, and launched the Beastmaster across the aisle and into a t-shirt stand. While his adversary struggled to liberate himself from a "What Would Cthulhu Do?" shirt, Carradine sauntered over to a weapons booth, asked to see the second katana on the right, drew the stainless steel blade from its sheath, and charged across the aisle! Singer pulled a Lunch Money shirt off the wall behind him (the one that reads "Humiliation - Jesus hates you and so do I.") and deftly parried Carradine's lunge, snaring the sword in thick folds of 100% cotton.
They wrestled for control of the weapon, then Singer twisted the blade downward and wedged it securely between two floorboards. Carradine let go of the hilt and moved seamlessly into a back flip that carried him over the weapon booth's display case. He landed with stunning grace and started whipping knives at his enemy. Singer's only option was to dive under the table and let several stacks of XXXL t-shirts absorb the hail of stabbity death. While down there, he commandeered a long extension cord and wound it around his forearm. When the thudding of steel on t-shirt finally subsided, he sprang to his feet, launched the cord's business end across the aisle, wrapped it around Carradine's throat, and hauled the eponymous star of Kill Bill over the now empty display case.
The Beastmaster reeled in his catch and looked Cain in the eyes with the feral intensity of a rabid wolf. "What did you say about Beastmaster II?"
Carradine returned his gaze with a cool composure normally not possible when one's brain is rapidly running out of oxygen. "It sucked."
"Oh, yeah. It did suck." Singer let loose the power cord, the two men shook hands, and returned to their respective autograph tables. It was the very model of civilized dispute resolution and a testament to both men's impeccable character. Bravo.
That night, my lovely wife and I went to an old-fashioned, southern Revival (or the Cthulhu Live equivalent, anyway). Danni was appointed town Sheriff, while I found a job dusting crops. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that exposure to pesticides had given me abdominal cancer! (Danni gets a gun and I get cancer. Story of my life.) As luck would have it, the Revival's resident preacher was reputed to be a talented faith healer. I sat through most of the show, waiting for my turn to receive the healing power of the Lord, while Danni engaged in a flurry of investigative hijinks.
Just as the Preacher was about to lay his hands upon my brow, all Hell broke loose! One man tried to tackle the Preacher while another came out of nowhere with a loaded pistol! Being the good ol' southern boy that I was, I started hittin' people hard in the face. (The first turned out to be an FBI agent . Oops!) Then, Sheriff Danni dropped me like a rock. There I stayed, safely on the floor, as the place erupted in gunfire. My mechanic friend kindly came along to drag me outta that death trap in the nick of time. As we were headed out of the tent, we heard a woman go into labor and someone yelling about "evil placenta." We decided to hop in the ol' cropduster and give that town the ankle! (As a side note, the PST Productions went all-out with their Hellspawn Baby prop. It had rubbery, blue skin, a mouth full of tentacles, and a motor inside that made it vibrate when touched. Very cool.)
Friday was a blur of live-action role-playing, mall food, and late-night attempts to find our way back to the hotel. Good times.
On Saturday, the RCA Dome hosted a football game. The word on the street was that the Jets had been unable to find hotel rooms downtown due to all the Gen Con attendees. (Take that, Jockocracy!) Danni and I played some Dark Ages Cthulhu, ate a deeply disappointing dinner at TGI Friday's, then I ran a black market Wushu game out of my hotel room. By the by, thanks to Ross Winn, Clint Krause, and his crew (Isaac and Amy) for playing! (Thanks also to Clint's fiance, Cassie, for her heroic actions after the game. Any woman who will hold the elevator door for you while you empty your stomach into a friend's trash bin is a keeper!)
Sunday is usually quiet at Gen Con. Most folks are either heading out, already gone, or just too damn tired to do any more gaming. The Exhibit Hall retains its vigor the longest, fueled by last minute discounts and the flocks of vultures who circle above them, waiting to pick the last scraps of flesh from their mercantile bones. This year's hot ticket item was Pirates of the Spanish Main, a "constructible strategy game" where you use the cards to build little pirate ships and set sail for nefarious adventure. Demand so far surpassed supply that WizKids limited each attendee to 3 packs... and jacked up the price a little, or so I heard. They kept track of who had already bought their allotment by punching holes in your attendee badge, thus turning said badges into valuable commodities all their own. I myself stood in line to purchase packs for a friend.
In the last hours of the con, the competition reached a fever pitch. Desperate gamers lined up around the WizKids booth, jostling for position and sending spies up front to monitor the remaining inventory. The staff could only maintain order for so long before the mob went Visigoth. They stormed the booth wielding boxes of Risk 2210, copies of the new World of Darkness books, and Klingon melee weapons. The staffer hurled volley after volley of plastic doubloons at the oncoming horde, but were quickly overwhelmed.
Then, one of the WhizKids stretched out a hand towards the movie replicas booth several aisles away. A Force FX lightsaber flew from its display stand into his waiting grasp. The plastic blade blazed to life with its signature sound effect and the WhizKid deftly parried a Spider-man clickie that rocketed towards his head. He waded into the crowd like a human lawn-mower and ravening gamers parted before him. When enough of their number had been soundly bludgeoned, the rest of the mob dispersed. Once again, the Exhibit Hall was safe for innovative card games!
Next Month: Casino Chaos! (I promise!)
Loath Your Fellow Man