Friday, September 03, 2010

Dragon*Con: Day 1

I am exhausted, and today was only the first day. I was back in my hotel room at 7pm---much earlier than I was planning---because of how tired I am, and I am better of conserving strength for the next 2.5 days. This is one reason it's nice to have a room in one of the nearby hotels instead of a few metro stops away, as then it's easier to crash for a couple of hours and then come back for more on the same day. Alas.

I got up at 6:30 am and was at the registration just after 8am. (It would have been a bit earlier, but I got slightly lost. Things are split in 4 different hotels this year, and things were only in 2 different hotels the last time (2004) that I attended Dragon*Con. I then spent about 2.5 hours in line, though I was occasionally able to get pictures of people in interesting costumes. (I took a ton of cool pictures today, as expected. People-watching the plethora of people in costumes and taking pictures of them---and in this type of thing, they are very good sports about it; it's really rather nice---is one of my favorite parts of the Dragon*Con (and similar events).

I then headed off to pick up my gaming tickets that I bought a while back and then to enter my pseudodragon monk (named "Quasi", of course) in the Cheesegrinder, which is a deadly survival dungeon that is (obviously) very cheesy, has lots of character death, and encourages cheesiness and min/maxing skills by the players. Some of the dungeon rooms are also rather clever, though Quasi had some trouble with the very first room, which was called "Rock You Like a Hurricane". D'oh! (One of the people running the show made sure that that song was playing once we started the room.) Quasi is tiny, so he was absolutely useless in that room. In fact, he successfully passed 3 rooms and failed 1 (the party couldn't handle "Rock You Like a Hurricane", and it was mathematically impossible for Quasi to harm the huge elementals in the room, so he just tried to hunker down and prevent the hurricane from smashing him into the walls) without ever getting a chance to make a single attack! I wanted to use my spring attack and DC 23 poison sting. :) Quasi was maxed for saves, armor class, and immunities, but unfortunately he was incapable of doing anything more than a trivial amount of damage. (As a tiny creature, the physical damage---which was just about all he could do---gets really lessened. Quasi was built to be hard to kill but not to be able to dish out damage.) Unfortunately, Quasi wasn't immune to petrification (but was immune to many other things), so when the party entered the room with 4 medusas riding 4 basilisks, there was some trouble when he had to make 8 saves in the surprise round. I could only fail on a 1 because of my massive fortitude save, but unfortunately my d20s did their usual bit and got me one. One of the party members could have turned stone to flesh before it was too late, but he decided to cure light wounds on himself instead. That's ok---I was hungry and had already been playing for 3 hours. The Cheesegrinder is better organized than it used to be (granted, I don't know which year from 2005-2010 this happened) and the trophies they give out are much fancier. Quasi is a contender for the "WTF Award", which is given to the character that the DMs deem the strangest. He's not really a contender for anything else, but there is actually a chance that I'll end up in the Tournament of Champions this year (just like in 2004).

I know that for years I have been bragging about my award-winning pixie from the 2004 Cheesegrinder, when I lasted something like 11 rooms (taking about 11 or so hours) and then finished 2nd overall in the tournament of champions. Well, it turns out that after I demonstrated how broken pixies can be with that character, they were retired from PC choices because of me. The guy who runs the game specifically remembered both my character and me because of this. Score! As it mentions on the website, it is considered a nice player accomplishment when one is able to do that within the rules. And, of course, then such characters get retired, so one has to find another way to do it. (I wouldn't want to play the same character twice anyway.) Anyway, I have always really enjoyed the Cheesegrinder! I do realize it's not for everybody.

After I ate (and took pictures as I went along doing things all day, of course), I walked into the Walk of Fame a bit. There one could get autographs or even get one's picture taken with people---including several I'd be interested in---but one has to pay a nontrivial amount. (Among the ones there today, the cheapest of people I'd be interested in getting an autograph from was $25, but it's not worth it to me to pay that much for an impersonal autograph or to get my picture taken with someone. I'd rather just take pictures of people in costume. However, I will walk through again at other times just to see who is there. I am tempted to stand in a line if it's short just to say 'hi' even if I can't do anything else.)

I then went to both the dealer and exhibitor halls. I can't tell the difference between the two, but there was lots of cool stuff in both. (I'll want to go to at least the second of these again because I was very tired towards the end, and there are several booths at which I'd like to take closer looks.) The people selling ironic t-shirts kept complimenting me on the "Enjoy Crack" shirt I was wearing (actually, several others did as well). The only shirt I bought was the 2010 official Dragon*Con shirt, which is a nice blue tie-dye shirt. I bought several sweet new d20 dice (which I was planning anyway), and I also bought a d30 and a d16. Several of the booths had some really cool stuffed animals and others were from artists---I want to look at both of these types of booths more tomorrow---and one of the booths was by an indie retailer who makes her own stuffed animals, sculptures and other things. And she had a stuffed animal with which I absolutely fell in love---this is a gorgeous handmade stuffed phoenix for which I paid more money than a sane person would be for a stuffed animal. But it's *awesome*, and I can't wait to show it off! I have it packed up in a way to survive my trips back to North Carolina and then to Oxford, but I'll take a picture of it once I am back. This is the second most that I have ever paid for a stuffed animal, and the one for which I paid the most I bought on November 8th, 1986.

Plans tomorrow include the art gallery, a 3.5 D & D game from 6-10pm, more pictures (including finding a nice place to chill out and take pictures), and otherwise we'll see. Maybe I'll even go to one of the panels, which I have never actually done at Dragon*Con before.

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