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What I Did on the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend

Hi all! I've taken today as annual leave so we could stay out late at the Con*Descending Wrap Party last night. This morning, I think it's entirely appropriate that I give my:

What I Did on the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend

To provide background information to those unfamiliar: Con*Descending 2003 is a convention of table-top roleplaying games, free-form roleplaying games and collectible card/miniatures games. There are approximately five or six each year in Sydney alone, usually over public holiday long weekends. It's being run by a few friends of mine, one of whom (Mandi, for those interested) pestered me into writing a "module" - in general RPG-speak, a single adventure sold as a booklet, but in con-speak, a short adventure designed to be completed within roughly three hours - for the con. Rather than writing a module based on an established game line, I decided to do something a little different: make a module based on the InSpectres independent roleplaying game. It was Vickie who came up with the idea behind the module: Set it at the Sydney Opera House, during a production of Macbeth, with the dreaded Curse in full swing.

On to the report: Firstly I discovered that there's actually a games store in Burwood. I have the feeling they've only recently opened (although I could well be wrong) but the Sydney Games Centre is establishing their product lines (mainly CCGs and CMGs right now, but building up their RPG stock, starting with D20) and offering good product at cheap prices. They also promise to order whatever you want in if they don't have it on the shelf. It looks like I might not have to dash into Games Paradise or Tin Soldier for Heavy Gear product any more, as SGC is much closer to where I work...

SGC was where registration for Con*Descending was being held, so I showed up on Friday evening and gave the info packs for my modules out to the teams who had registered for it. I had some trouble with the Sunday afternoon group, as they were a composite of a couple of teams, but I thought I'd catch up with them during Sunday lunch. At the end of the evening, I had three sessions scheduled: Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon.

Saturday evening went well, with the team of Brock, Inc. getting into the spirit (as it were) of things quickly. They came out at the end with, after Cleanup and Vacation, three Franchise Points' profit. InSpectres is different from most games in that the players have just as much control over the plot as, if not more than, the GM, so I'd whipped up about three possible endings in case I wound up in more control than the players. The session wound up blending into one of them, but the players still managed to throw me several curves, including making a ghost-trap out of a computer monitor. Still, fun was definitely had all round.

On Saturday, I found out that three of the five participants in the Sunday afternoon session had dropped out, and by Sunday morning, Mandi hadn't had anyone come up to fill them yet. I cancelled the session, with apologies to the two other interested players, and Vickie and I had a pleasant, relaxing day in.

Monday wound up being very eventful. Vickie wisely suggested we check the water level in Madam Lash's radiator before we left at midday - and when I took the radiator cap off, it fell apart. The thing had rusted through in several places. We made a detour to Repco Auto Parts in Waitara (who, thankfully, were open) and bought a new one as appropriate for our model of car. I started her up, and everything seemed to go fine - until I turned the engine off, and heard a loud splashing noise coming from under the car. Radiator fluid (water with an additive) was pouring from the engine compartment. Thinking that the radiator itself had given up the ghost, we called NRMA Road Services. Apparently, although I'd paid the renewal online, the NRMA hadn't received our money, and had cancelled my Road Services membership. So we paid again, and waited a little over an hour for the Road Services rep to arrive (this wasn't unexpected, though; I have no doubt NRMA Road Services was run off its feet with all the Long Weekend drivers out and about). In the meantime, I called Mandi and told her that there was no way we were going to make the final session. If the radiator was really shot, we probably wouldn't even make Prizegiving (and Vickie would be back to taking the train to and from work; not a pleasant prospect when she's coming home so late at night).

The Road Services tech finally pulled up and had a look at our radiator. We told him we'd just recently replaced our radiator cap, and he tested the cap's seal by attaching a hand air pump to the overflow hose. The correct cap for our model car was actually incorrect for Madam Lash; the arm that the seal was mounted on was too short, so a proper seal couldn't be formed. It seems The tech went into Repco and asked them to find a cap with a longer arm, and when we tried that on the Madam, a proper seal was formed and everything worked fine.

As it was half past one by this time, we called Mandi and told her we'd make Prizegiving after all. In the meantime, we did a little shopping in Hornsby and grabbed some lunch.

Prizegiving was fun, although it was just one of those things you really had to be there for. I can't remember half the hilarity, and I'm sure the other half wouldn't translate well to the written word. Brock, Inc. deservedly took the trophies for InSpectres.com.au: That Scottish Play (even though they were the only team that played, in the end) and we all piled over to the Burwood RSL for after-con drinks. Gav, Boots and Penny O'Rance all nabbed a lift, although we were a bit delayed by an elderly Korean woman who was trying to get our help whilst speaking not a word of English. Boots and Vickie eventually, with much pantomime and misunderstanding, got her to a pay-phone booth where she called her family and told them to come and get her. The rest of the evening was much more relaxing, with Big Daddy Matt being surprisingly toned down from his usual, sexually-ebullient self and even more enjoyable company for it, and Rog regaling us with stories from his time as an Army reservist in the UK. Boots and Vickie had a lively discussion on the life of Charlie Chaplin, and when the time came for us to leave, we gave Gav a lift back home.

Boots has suggested that, for next year's Con*Descending, he and I approach North Sydney Boys High School about hiring their facilities (probably some rooms of hone of the main Blocks) at a discounted rate because we're Old Falconians (the high school's official old boys' club, which neither of us have had any use for or contact from since we left). I think it's worth a shot, especially if it helps bring costs down.

It's back to work tomorrow for a short week, and I'm not looking forward to the massive queue of e-mails and tasks that I'll be facing - but that's the price you pay for holidays in this high-powered modern world, where everyone who could possibly shoulder the load while you're off trying to unwind has either been laid off - er, sorry, "downsized" - or transferred to another department.

I'm going to give the car a clean today before Vickie has to pootle off to work, and perahps do some website planning. I've been neglecting the other areas of the site for the past several months; no new Articles, Stories or RPG stuff. I do have a few things I can put up; I've been meaning to add the Heavy Gear module I ran for NecronomiCon a couple of years ago, and I can also add InSpectres.com.au: That Scottish Play. I also want to get to work on Vickie's website; I've been meaning to do so for ages, and she'd like it updated with some of her latest poems and other works.

It's also just over a month until my birthday! Time to start putting the infamous List together...

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