I almost didn't attend ConQuest, even though I was scheduled to run a game. Jeannine had me take her into the emergency room the night before the convention, having suffered from a nasty cough for nearly a week. It turned out to be nothing serious and we both eventually agreed that I should go ahead to the con, but making sure that she would be well without me took most of Friday. This, as well as two games being cancelled abruptly on Sunday, meant that I only got into three games for the entire con, including my own:
Lost Temple (Call of Cthulhu) - This was one of those CoC games where you spend the first four hours putzing around just role-playing your characters without much advancing the plot and then race through the last two hours in an attempt to reach some abbreviated climax. It certainly wasn't a bad experience, and I myself have been guilty of allowing the pacing to get out of control. In fact, I would have mostly enjoyed this game if it wasn't for a kid - couldn't have been older than maybe 14 - who was acting his age.
Toteninsel (Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green) - This was the sixth time I've run Toteninsel, twice for friends and four times at conventions, and, after running it one more time next weekend, I will finally be retiring my Nazi zombie scenario. It ran very well, going into directions I've not seen before, and most of the players seemed thoroughly satisfied at games' end. The lone dissenter voiced concerns in mid-game that the characters seemed completely doomed and without any hope of success, an odd sentiment considering we were playing Call of Cthulhu; but once we'd reached the end and it became obvious that I'd always intended to provide the characters with some kind of dramatic control over their ends, he seemed mollified. The rest of the players were all absolutely top-notch, and it was great to finally run the game for Steven Kaye, if only to watch his face light up with recognition everytime he caught the little nods I placed back to Lovecraft's original stories. About the only real downer was that the same kid who played in Lost Temple was there at my table, and he unfortunately chose to play the most complicated character in the scenario.
The Dragon Warriors of Xim (Cartoon Action Hour) - This is completely unlike what I normally play, but I did so since it was run by my friend Patrick who I've not played with since I left the gaming group we used to share. And it was pretty much a blast, as Cartoon Action Hour is a very nice simple system that creates just the right kind of cinematic action for the genre: 80's-era Saturday Morning action-figure cartoons. This game was based on the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, with me playing the football jock as a teenaged Matthew McConaughy that usually sounded more like a stoned Dean Martin. Perfectly light for a Monday morning game, the only knock was that the game again had a kid at the table - this time an eight year old. Now in all fairness, the game sounded like the perfect thing for kids that age, and the kid was often less annoying than his own father, who was also at the table and had a hard time getting into the over-the-top feel of the genre. Still I don't attend conventions to game with eight-year olds.
I want to make a big rant about how kids shouldn't always be allowed at the game table in cons, or at least how there should be a watershed (i.e. 8pm and later games) where the GM's have the option to state that the game is adults only; but, the truth is that I've seen just as many asshole adults at cons as I've seen immature kids. And ultimately, none of this is the fault of ConQuest. Indeed, if any con deserves these "problems" it's DunDraCon, with it's inane "family friendly" policy that states that games, even when labeled as "Mature Themes", must allow kids of all ages at the table and tailor the game accordingly.
Purchases-wise, I didn't buy as much as I expected to, only picking up the new edition of Daniel Harms' Encyclopedia Cthulhiana and White Wolf's Hunter the Vigil game. I'd hoped that Hunter would be more like Delta Green-lite, all the monster-slaying with less of the overarching conspiracy; unfortunately, a closer reading reveals that the book is basically a giant primer on a whole nest of various conspiracies. I took a long look at Pagan's latest, a scenario called Final Flight, but I couldn't justify spending $10 on a book so slim and so lacking in material.
Anyways, to sum up: good con. I look forward to next year's ConQuest, something I haven't been able to say in many years.