Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lehicon III: My First Convention

Nostalgia creeps in again.  Somewhere I've told this quick story in multiple parts, but let's make this the official telling of my first con 

My friend Charles had mentioned going to Lehicon II in the Spring, so we swore to attend the next one in the fall.  Lehicon III was  September 21-23, 1990 at the Sheraton Inn in Easton.  The con had a format I found familiar in later years with future one and three day conventions.  The ballroom was divided into two gaming rooms and a pretty packed dealer's room.  Overflow gaming not only spread out to the indoor pool deck, but multiple rooms were rented for some special events (maybe LARP or Battletech tournament.  Twenty five plus years of cons dulls some details.

As a relatively new "public" gamer, I was like a deer in headlights, and had no idea what was going on.  But like the smart ones, I stayed out of the trouble, people watched like hell, and played a few  games.

Friday night was Axis & Allies.  The only other player was my other friend Scott, so the GM decided to play the Axis as we muddled our way through the Allies.  Two important notes on this game.

  1. This was my first A&A game ever.  And, like most neophytes, I pushed Russia into Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
  2. The GM?  He had been the A&A National Champion one or two years prior.  He would have crushed us like bugs no matter what.
I remember losing Russia, then Britain, early on.  America and Scott's super research rolls kept Japan pinned in Asia.  All the while I had two or three Russian infantry that had managed to escape into Palestine and wandered around Africa.  While I could not build more armies, I spend many rounds wiping out sparse German defenses on the continent.   Ultimately the GM built a factory in South Africa just to build tanks to wipe out my Russians.  The final unit met its demise somewhere along the Nile, but as Nazism smothered the globe, save Japan and the Western Hemisphere, I hoped the resistance would tell tales of the legendary Russians who slaughtered dozens of Germans per man, even though all hope was lost.

Saturday started with a morning slot of "To Catch a Thief," or at least I expected some NBC News guy to come out of some secret door.  Each of the twelve players was given a different type of 1st Edition thief character, including an Assassin, Thief Acrobat, and Ninja.  We were all to infiltrate some castle to obtain something, but basically it was the classic old school player vs DM gaming obstacle course of death.    One by one, each thief was either killed by a trap or captured by the guard.  The DM gave no hints to penetrate the castle, and I swore never to play that style again.

Saturday afternoon's slot must have overwhelmed me, or the thief game bummed me out, because I remember spending it in the hotel lobby, perusing my latest copy of the Wargames West catalog.  A few wanderings into the dealer's hall netted nothing memorable, and after a walk across the street to McDonald's for dinner, I was energized for the Saturday night session.

I jumped into an RPGA Open session of  "The Jade Monkey."   While I had been DMing for awhile, it was largely: open door, kill monster, write down treasure, rinse, and repeat.  This was my first experience with fleshed out pregenerated characters and actual roleplaying outside of a Paranoia game.  My character, William of Arinka, was a horrible leader, for a "disguised" Paladin, although a few blushing encounters  with the female elf thief and me saving day at the end with Boots of Striding and Jumping made me relish more.   The DM, Joe Ward, would go to run other games I relished in playing, most notably 'They're Only Kobolds," which recreated the Vietnam War better than Recon.

All things considered, Lehicon III was the perfect starter con for me, and it enabled me to have so much fun at  Lehicon IV when it came around that Spring.

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