Thursday, June 5, 2014

But, Wait! There's More!

"Speak up, Spotted Jaguar, you're mumbling again."

And we're back for another chapter in the on-going saga of Chirine And Gaming - at this rate, I could do a book or at least a seperate blog about the subject! - and this bit is about why I don't do conventions; and, I should note, why I don't do the big open / public events anymore. There's two reasons: one, the sheer amount of grunt work involved - the logistics of the thing, as it were; and two, the aforementioned 'rate of return' - the amount of joy and happiness I get out of the thing, vs. the amount of hassle and kicking around I get for doing it.

This thought process actually got started back in June of last year, when I did a Braunstein at FFG's Event Center. The game itself went very well, I thought, but the logistics were a nightmare. People had offered to help me do the whole set / show/ strike cycle, but it didn't work out in practice for a number of reasons. The icing on the cake / dagger to the heart came post-show, when one of the people who had assured me of their support - and whom I had been really counting on for their help - informed me that he expected to get a $100 a day per diem payment plus expense payments for his transportation and meals, in return for which he would be acting as my "chief of security" for any future events.

Security, I got in bucket loads. What I needed (and still need, for events like this) were stevedores, longshoremen (longshorepersons?), teamsters, and docents. And, as might be expected, there's no budget for such per diem payments.

And I'm sorry; I'm only human. I contrasted this person's attitude with that of an old friend, who drove up here from Milwaukee for the weekend and filled in admirably as a worker bee to help me load and move all weekend. And this, I will note, after surgery for cardiac problems; he filled in with no complains and with unfailing good cheer and enthusiasm. The Gold of Glory for him, as far as I'm concerned.

I look very hard at what it costs me to run events; I have to, what with The Missus being disabled and our having to live on a pretty tight fixed income. It is very cost-effective for me to refit the game room as a min-studio for Skype, Google+, and podcasts; these are effectively a no-overhead / no expense activity, while conventions are costly in terms of personal time, personal energy, fuel costs, hotel rooms, and sheer hard work. The June 2013 game is packed up as tightly as I can get it, and uses a set of cloth ground sheets for the basic scenery; even so, this one game alone takes up thirty-two cubic feet of space in the back of the GMC Astro cargo van I own. The van will take a little over sixty-four cubic feet of cargo in one lift; I can pack two large-table games and put on a really good show, but there isn't a lot of room left over.

And, I will admit, if I don't think I'm going to have a good time at the event, I have a really hard time justifying participating - let alone the possible travel time and expense to and from the event. Case in point: MAGE Con in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; I had been interested in going to the convention a number of years ago, to see the Temple of Vimuhla model that Prof. Barker built back in the 1970s. it was scheduled to make it's first public appearance in decades, and I wanted to go and have a look at the old thing. So, I went onto the convention's website, and contacted them about getting a membership. I got the following e-mail in reply:

Mr. Berry:

As it is the prerogative of Midwest Area Gaming Enthusiasts (MAGE) to
expel or exclude anyone from it’s events, I will have you know that you
are NOT welcome to attend any of the events sponsored by MAGE.  The
executive board of MAGE and the current convention manager have placed
your name on a list of gamers who have been banned from any MAGE event.
Please do not attempt to attend as doing so would be a will full act of
trespassing and we would have no choice but to have you removed by the
appropriate law enforcement agents.

On a personal note, I am still irritated that the blue prints of the
temple I allowed you to review in 1983 showed up in another publication
without my knowledge or consent.  The statute of limitations may have
run out but my personal distain for you lives on.

Stephen  Vossler
Tekumel Track Coordinator
Midwest Area Gaming Enthusiasts

I still have no idea what he was carrying on about; he submitted a set of plans for a temple of Hru'u to us at Adventure Games, back in the day, and as per procedure I submitted a copy of the plans to Prof. Barker for his review and comments. I never heard anything back from Phil on this. Supposedly, I took advantage of Mr. Vossler by sending his plan to Dave Hargreave, who used them in one of his "Ardouin Grimore" publications; I had to look Dave up on Google, as I'd not heard of either him or his RPG series. I suggested to Mr. Vossler that he look at the author of the article he was worked up about, and contact them regarding the matter; he never replied, and I am more then a little grateful for that.

Needless to say, I didn't go to the convention; I didn't miss anything, as the Temple was a no-show, and I saved myself the cost of a day-long trip to South Dakota, a weekend in a hotel, and all the meals along the way.

If you, Gentle Readers, feel that you can detect a sense of annoyance on my part, you'd be right. I've been getting kicked for almost thirty-five years by various people, starting with the players in Phil's original game group in 1976, and I have finally run out of what people hereabouts call 'Minnesota Nice'. I used to have to put up with some really stupid people "for Tekumel's sake", but I simply don't have the energy and stamina to both be productive and diplomatic.

Like it or not, diplomacy is taking the back seat in favor of productivity; the latter gets me a lot more niceness then the former ever did.

And a note to the researcher: Yes, I do save everything.


  1. Wow. Just wow. Knowing some of your history vis-à-vis Tekumel, I'm surprised you are still involved with this bunch of miscreants and reprobates.

    1. Yeah, well, now you know why I wasn't very keen on being part of the Tekumel Track at Con of the North; your devoted work in getting the thing organized, just to have Mr. Vossler give me grief for being there, just took any enthusiasm for going and running one of my big games and sank it without a trace.

      And, I have to say, this kind of thing is why I refused to renew my contract as Phil's archivist. I took an immense amount of crap from these people during my tenure, and I am glad to be out of there; Yours truly, the 'Tekumel Cash Cow', ran out of milk.

      I've been facsinated by Tekumel since I first ran into it all those years ago at The Little Tin Soldier Shoppe. Phil's creation is simply wonderful, but I've run out of blood pressure.

      - chirine

  2. It's such a shame. You still have a standing invite to come to OSWARP here on the East Coast, and I'll definitely help you unpack the van. :-)

    1. Tnank you! I'd love to come, and perhaps I can save enough money from the overtime I'll be working this coming football season - we have double the home games, this year, due to the Vikings playing in our stadium - and we'll have to see where we are at the end of the season.

      There's always Skype and Google+, though! :)

      - chirine

  3. well that last bit about the MAGE conventions was a kick in the pants.
    I totally understand about the amount of work needed to run an event at a convention. My brother and I (with friends) have been running an Aliens Live Action Boardgame event for 10 years at a west coast convention. We finally decided we needed a rest.

  4. Agreed! I am still baffled, and I simply avoid the guy. Not worth the hassle, really.

    Yes - I agree; convention games, especially when done well, are a major investment in time, money, and energy; you have it precisely!

    - chirine

  5. You're banned from a convention and your name is on a list of people not allowed here?

    My god that would have to be a surreal moment considering that the convention is looking for money and I can't imagine you coming in there and threatening everyone with a machete or anything. Strange times we live in Chirine.

    1. Agreed! Most small conventions like this one need all the money that they can get, but for some people politics and Being Right are far more important then breaking even on the bills. His later e-mails are even more surreal, too.

      The threat that I present is to what they used to call "The Party Line" or "Revealed Wisdom"; I know too much, remember too much, and have save all too much documentation.

      I have an even more surreal moment for you; I was at the old Minicon, the formerly large F/SF convention, hanging out in the con suite, when the conversation turned to me - the guy doing the talking had no idea who I was, as he'd never met me in person, but he was full of all sorts of stories about my many sins and evil deeds. I let him go on and on and on, not telling him who he was talking to, while the other people in the room - who did know who he was talking to - turned various shades of sickly green and looked for the exits. The guy eventually left, and I finished my drink and laughed my fool head off. I never did find out if anyone had the nerve to tell the poor fool who he'd been running off at the mouth to... :)

      - chirine

      One of these days, I shall have to publish my Unauthorized Autobiography; there will be something in it to offend everyone. :)

      - chirine

  6. Just too much...

    Well. You just stays sane, with sensible blood pressure and keep entertaining us here with your stories, ok?

    stay away from bad stuff, it's just healthier.