AMBER LOVE 08-JUNE-2013 One of the greatest things about the Double Exposure events like DEXCON is how easy it is for me to get there. They are hosted in Morristown, New Jersey which is a quaint little burb that has enough restaurants, bars and boutiques in walking distance that even out-of-town travelers to the cons will find it relaxing without being too boring. Plus the Hyatt is really lovely. The spacious open concept lobby area has the bar off to one side, the hotel restaurant behind it, a section of plush seats for unwinding, and the space used by independent game developers was in front of the reception counter. There is simply a ton of space at the Hyatt and DE’s Dexcon didn’t even fill it.
Through a door between that indie game area and the reception counter was the enormous board game room. It was always busy but not intimidating. There were tables and shelves lined with every board game imaginable.
Somehow I always manage to miss the official parties because I don’t stay at the hotel and have to drive at least an hour. So this means I miss out on things like the D20 Burlesque show. However for early birds like me, there are things like LARPs, tabletop, general socializing with everyone and anyone passing by, and of course the Hyatt bar which makes great drinks albeit with slow though always smiling service. I also missed meeting THE Steve Jackson. I might have had a drink with him and not even known it because I don’t know what he looks like. That’s kind of how things are for me. If I plan too much, I’ll see nothing on my list but if I plan a little, I’ll usually get to one or two things.
One of things I saw but didn’t partake in was the SUGARFEST. The suite of refreshments featured a line of tables filled with candy. At a previous event, this was a massive ice cream buffet. Double Exposure always knows what gamers need to keep going for the five days of endless activity. I was completely mesmerized by the bright rainbows of color from all the trays of candies. The pinnacle was truly the Mountain of Pixie Stix.
Sometimes it’s good that things don’t begin on time. I managed to get to the group of strangers who were doing an actual official event called Bar Crawl: the LARP. Hey, you incorporate drinking with trying to scare the normies in town and I’m all in. Unfortunately I was only able to spend time at the first pub, Grasshopper Off the Green in quaint downtown Morristown. Brian Chamberlain, Mike Smith, Ann, Mike 2, Mike 3 and Anon feasted and imbibed on summery drinks. Then I had to head back to the Hyatt for the next LARP.
Cthulhu Live! 3.5; “METAL!” by PST Productions. A DEXCON 16 EXCLUSIVE! Johnny Kitteh, front man and guitarist for the multi-platinum heavy metal group; Kitteh-Kitteh, Bang-Bang was found dead in his sprawling Hollywood estate. An accidental fire in his home studio, that engulfed his entire mansion is to blame. Join friends and fans alike tonight at the world famous Forge club to celebrate this icon’s fall from greatness. Time to pull out that studded denim, spandex, fishnets, and don’t forget the ultra hold Aquanet. This goes double for you ladies, for it is time to make the metal. PST Productions turns up the volume to 11 and breaks off the knob in this tribute to 80’s heavy metal and culture. So get into your groove and get ready to praise the gods of “Metal”. Costumes are STRONGLY encouraged! Special 80’s themed prizes for the best costume will be awarded! For more details contact us at email@example.com. Friday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM; One Round; All Materials Provided. Beginners Welcome; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY
My last stop for Friday night was billed as Cthulhu Live! 3.5 “Metal!” by PST Productions. The program guide had a decent description which did encourage costumes. There I was, in my “soccer MILF” attire of day job khakis and haggard from the heat look. I put on my signature goggles and that was as wild as I was going to get. The producers spent a while in one room teaching about the “combat” system which included declarations and resolutions. Certain actions issued four points of base damage. Players can’t defend against bullets; and stealth attacks were allowed without declaration. There were options for first aid and medicine applications as well. However none of that seemed to be utilized.
The people who turned out for this LARP seemed to really enjoy the theme and the socializing. What I didn’t see 90-minutes into it was any sign of a story arc. Twice people from the company boomed out in deep roars of laughter but no one really responded and no activity came out of it. This seems to be the norm based on the few LARP events I’ve covered over the past several years. Few of them grow to meet any expectations other than role playing as someone fictitious in a social environment. This LARP captured a theme incredibly well. They had fixed a ballroom up with spinning colorful light systems, a wall projection of music videos and a playlist of tunes from the 80s. I don’t think it was “metal” but it was definitely 80s hairtastic.
I would be curious to see more involvement of the game aspects to find out what the outcome was of lead singer Johnny Kitteh’s death in the Hollywood Hills. Instead I relaxed while watching a woman in a metallic pink “Jem” style outfit spin around and around in between breaks of teasing her hair. I got to revisit the looks and sounds of Ah-Ha!, Cyndi Lauper, Whitesnake, AC/DC, and the Scorpions. Had this been a real 80s nightclub, the cans of soda would be Bartles & James bottles, bourbon, and cocaine lines on the side. What would have really set something like this over the top is if the cosplayers included some from KISS and Gwar and maybe have (even if lip synced) a performance.
Steampunk Custom LARP Rules; “Broken Horizons, Part One” presented by Christian Fusaro. Steampunk horror based in the mid to late 18th century. It’s been almost a whole year since the guns stopped firing across the lands and peace has started to over take the wreckage and destruction across the world.War never changes but people do, with what seemed like the world returning to an idea of peace no one saw the truth behind it all. Famine theft killings in the street and disease slowly plagued the world we once knew. With the fall came the rise of a new. people started to try and rebuild their lives in the wastes spreading from the Sand seas to the Queens land men and women everywhere trying to start a new, with the peak of the steam revolution on its way who knows where the world will take its self, will it kill itself or will something, or someone do the killing? Players may participate in either or both of the two parts of Broken Horizons. Saturday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM; One Round; All Materials Offered. Beginners Welcome; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.
Saturday I had the same basic plan. I didn’t get back to the show until evening. I was dressed quite a bit better in pleather and corset. The folks from Broken Horizons asked me to be in their Steampunk LARP which I declined but agreed to cover. It had the same exact pitfalls as the Metal LARP only worse because they spent an hour building character sheets and assigning nerf weapons. I know they “lost” their rulebook to members who recently quit the production but it was a really big deal to start so late after standing around bored when they could have been elsewhere. I know at least two that bailed before the doors were ever open because of this.
Some of the character traits include things like quick draw, hog tie, torture, and grill opponent. If questioned, a player has to tell the truth unless they possess the “lie” trait; a little spoiler, the blackjack/poker dealer has that trait. Each gun had at least five nerf projectiles and players would be allowed to retrieve them to reload. However, as I said, this LARP was failing in ways the Metal one did; there was no combat in the time that I sat and observed. They also didn’t seem to be in there much passed when I left to find food. Broken Horizons is now part of NERO which will hopefully provide them with support needed to get their rules and game play to a better level. NERO is a massive organization which has chapters all over the place so you may be able to find something in your own neighborhood if you’re interested in learning about role play.
As always, my utmost thanks to Vinnie and Avonelle for all their hard work and to the fantastic volunteers who are more pleasant than at any other convention I attend.