Only a day spent in the warm waters that is the national gamers event called Gaelcon. I dumped my kid on her Grandmother and Auntie, grabbed my bag of dice, ever-present satchel and a few pens, (oh and my Nintendo DS Lite, don’t go anywhere without these days).
I only had a day. I choose Sunday. It was a hard choice. It was Gaelcon or a few movies at the Horrorthron in the IFI. But the lure of the “Indie Track” was too much. I had been dying to play Universalis since I’ve read it. It’s a pity I had to choose however. I guess being an older gamer means balancing time and commitments with gaming but having to choose against other events is plainly unfair. The Horrorthron deserves to be in the Halloween weekend… but does Gaelcon? I know there is the ever present Call of Cthulhu slot and some (not that many really) costumed players but is it really Halloween? I didn’t debate this on my early morning drive from Malahide to Clontarf Castle. I was going by myself. No plans, per say. That’s the way to do it.
The thing I’ve found with Gaelcon, when I’ve gone in the last few years, is that your time gets filled, there is always someone willing to talk (and even game) with you and you can never really plan your day. 2006 was no different.
I arrived; saw Liam and Clare briefly while I tried to book my events for the day. It seemed, as I scanned the schedule for Sunday, it was all going to be the Indie 1 hour games. Universalis, Spectres and maybe one or two others. Dorian was taking names for events. I’ve met Dorian many times; however we’re always acted like strangers when we meet. We have common friends, been at the same parties and even my wife has talked more with her. However I’m social idiot. I recognise this as one of my biggest limitations. But then I’m many things. The Indie track sign-up was not very organised. Nobody seemed to know the deal. Something was improvised and my name was first down for Universalis. I couldn’t book anything for the evening until after lunch. Frustrating.
Met Tom and Kevin, talked about Japan, Top Gear and LARPS. Wandered the retailer stands, planning on spending a fortune… sadly there were two obstacles. First there were only really two stores represented. Second. I hadn’t enough cash. Let’s rewind a bit to the day before when my wife, my daughter and myself were shopping for a new car seat for Alice. I passed every cash machine thinking that tomorrow I’ll find one on the way. I said it to Sophie, my wife, a few times too in my annoying “repeating yourself every 30 minutes” mode, which Sophie likes to remind me about. Then roll around Sunday morning, driving down to the Kilcoole village, both ATM machines down. Driving to Malahide, dropping of Alice and trying two petrol stations along the way, finding that both don’t actually have ATMs. Arrived with enough for one book. So I bought Riddle of Steel, an RPG on my list of RPGs to read for a long time. I wanted to pick up SLA Industries and Ars Magica 5th Edition but I didn’t have enough. Made mental note, head to local Spar at lunch time and get out cash. This assumed, I would have time for lunch…
Met up with Liam again and encouraged him to play Universalis, an hour to kill before it begin so we played the board game Metro with a girl I never knew the name of. She was going to play “It was a Mutual Decision” after Universalis and Adam, who happened by, said they need more bodies. And so that was that and “It was a Mutual Decisions” going to be my next game!
Universalis rocked. We played a “gritty gangster 2020 nova-hibernan steampunk” story that was only really getting underway when our 1 hour was up. The Ambassador is after the suitcase? But what’s in the suitcase? What does it have to do with the “Westies”? Who was that “Mysterious Figure” who watched Miranda from the alleyway? Universalis lived up to what I expected. Another face I knew too, Mark had been playing the previous Indie game and had moved over to join on us with Universalis.
Three of the players, including myself, joined in on “It’s a Mutual Decision”. Interesting game, playing through the disintegration of relationship with the girls controlling the man and us lads controlling the woman. With rats. When that finished it was suddenly *after lunch*. Spectres was about to begin! I hadn’t signed up. Mark and I rushed upstairs, signed-up, bought a sandwich and descended again. However, it dawned on me, I wasn’t going to get to go to Spar and get more money out…
Finally I met Geoff for the first time. It was good to put a face to the blog entries and emails. Spectres was fun. It felt slightly out of place with the other Indie games because it was more traditional type of RPG where you had one character per player. However it was good to get a taste for the setting.
After that, Geoff, Adam and myself chatted for a while. I discovered from Adam I could have jumped into the last Indie game of the day! Ah bugger. We talked about gaming in Ireland, the gamecraftersguild.com website, the future of roleplaying as hobby and Indie games in general. We didn’t make any final conclusions but I think most of us are on the same level. Geoff talked about going to the seminar at six (what it’s six o’clock already? What the hell happened to the day?) about “promotion of gaming in Ireland”. But with no agenda and with Nick being lumbered with it at the last moment, it didn’t sound promising. (Not that it was Nick okay! Only that nothing was prepared for it). I also had used up my allotted free time. My wife was calling me on the phone, wanting to know why I had said I was nearly finished two hours ago but I was still there. I didn’t have an answer. So I thanked Adam and Geoff and headed off.
I felt weird though. It was a good day, one that would encourage me to come back next year. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. The day had come and gone with out me noticing and it felt like it should continue. Yet my time had come and I had to leave it. It felt like I had made a brief excursion into a world I knew so well long ago but one that is now a distinct entity from my current life. Does that make sense or am I doing the “engineer-thing” my wife likes to remind me off, where I analysis and scope out problems when I don’t need to?
Gaelcon and me. 2006.