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PAX East Decompression Report

For the abridged version of my time spent at PAX East, you could easily just read my tweets from between March 10TH through March 14th, and I would recommend that as well, since I think they are brilliant insights into my thought process and general state of mind at the time of tweeting those. Of course there are long breaks between tweets because I was busy being at PAX East. I would tweet whenever there was some down time, and there wasn’t much of that.
Actually, for a fun fact, I’m typing this on the train home, so I’m likely to tweet during the typening and I’ll put in brackets any thoughts that occur to me [such as: “My ears just popped. I hate that”. Brilliant, I know].
But let’s begin with Thursday, since that’s when this pilgrimage began.
As you may suspect, Thursday was not the most exciting PAX-related day. It was a good day though. If you’ll recall my tweets though, there was a bad smell following me around everywhere, and I would right now like to apologize to anyone who had to stand close to me, since I’m pretty sure the funk rubbed off on my clothes, because the smell was so stuck in the fibers of my backpack that… I don’t know… it was doom for noses from the start.
To understand the funk you have to know that the last time I used this bag was at PAX East last year. I lent this bag to a person I knew (you are free to guess who it was, but you don’t know them, at least from any webpage I’m a part of), and in a move of brilliance, they put some food in there – alright, they were going on a trip, and packed food for the toad, which I can’t blame them for – but… well… let’s just say that food does, in fact, liquidate. And rot. And in a liquidated rotten state, does, in fact, smell quite awful.
And I got the backpack back the night before I had to go to PAX, so that Wednesday for people keeping track.
And I didn’t really think much of it, mostly because I had a stuffy nose from allergies and couldn’t smell much to begin with.
But I could on Thursday, and started smelling my pits, my hands, my sleeves… I even bent low, pretending to pick up a pencil I dropped to get a whiff of the crotchal region. But it was none, and yet all of these things. The smell was strongest in the arm area, and eventually, having to take the back pack off the make space for the NYC subway, during morning rush hour, I got a good sniff of the backpack.
I am so sorry.
But other than a backpack that smelled like a rotting piece of meat, Thursday was uneventful. I met up with a few people I knew from the Loading Ready Run forums, we all got dinner together, played some games back at my hotel room, and slept.
Oh, except I didn’t tell you about Wallet-gate.
I have this pretty amazing wallet, in that it’s mine, and it’s awesome. It’s a simple tri-fold wallet, but I’m fond of it. Also it has my life in it. You form attachments to things that contain YOUR LIFE.
And will quickly have a mental breakdown the second you can’t find it, especially when you need to use it.
Like when you’re trying to check in to your hotel room, like an adult.
Now, I put my wallet in like 1 of two places: my pants pocket (assuming I have pants that have pockets… this is not always the case), or one of the front pockets of my blue tote. Sometimes if I know I’m going to be using it very shortly, and I am wearing my hoodie with the front muffler-esque pockets, I will put it there.
And of course, it was my luck that my wallet was in NONE OF THESE PLACES.
I freaked. Emptied my bag. Emptied my pockets. Went outside to try and hunt down the cab I took to see if I left it in there. Asked the doorman if anyone turned in the wallet. Called my friend Tom to give me the number of as many cab companies in Boston as he knew so I could start calling them, because I couldn’t remember what taxi I took – was it white with green writing? White with brown and green? Yellow?
I DIDN’T KNOW. I couldn’t remember! My only thought process when getting to the hotel was “There is a cab. I will get in it” and I did.
So I eventually call one cab company, and the woman tells me I need to call the police about that, and very nicely gave me that number (that was the second nice lady, the first one told me that whatever cab company I was looking for wasn’t hers, but it could have been one of two, and gave me numbers, though they didn’t work, but I’ll blame myself for writing the numbers wrong).
I called the police, to report my missing wallet, and it’s at this time I’m barely containing my tears. No. Seriously, I am trying really really hard, as I’m reporting the loss of MY ENTIRE LIFE, to not just start crying hysterically.
And when he asked me for a description of my wallet, I had a small crisis. I knew exactly what my wallet looked like and what was in it, of course, but my brain didn’t know how to describe it. So, between sobbing heaves (like, you know when you’re a kid, and you’re trying to explain something, but you’re really upset, and you’re almost crying, and you keep taking lots of heavy breaths for whatever reason? That.)
“It was a simple [heave] tri-fold wallet…”
“What color was it?”
“It was…. [Heave] red…? [Heave]”
“Just red?”
“[heave heave heave] Well… it’s red [heave] and is the cover to the paperback version of Return of the King.”
“Ooookaaay….”
Of course he told me not to expect anything to come out of this because I didn’t have a receipt of the cab company and I would have to rely on the kindness of strangers basically.
This meant I was screwed.
All I really wanted to do was call and ask “Hey, can you ask your cab drivers if they remember getting a 10 dollar tip? Because I need him to check the back seat of his cab to see if I left my wallet. He said he was from Bushwick if that helps.” Because I talk to my cab drivers. Also I didn’t feel like figuring out what the right tip amount would be on 11 bucks, so I was like “fuck it, take the 20, it’s all I have”.
But no one would let me!
And then, in one final act of desperation, I started searching through my backpack. The smelly one. Because it would have made absolutely no sense for the wallet to be there at all, there it was, in a zipped up side pocket, sitting there all snug, going “Oh hey… did you know you put me here? I thought that was weird. But it was a good change of scenery. So, what’s up?”
If my wallet wasn’t so friendly, I would have hated it. [My old wallet was pretty pompous, all black, with a silver magnetic clasp, and lots of slots for different cards. THAT wallet would have been all “Took you long enough to find me. Jesus. You’d think you’d forgotten you put me here! But who could forget me?” Well, I could wallet. I could. Wallets need to stop having attitudes]
After a shower, change of clothes and general setting up, I readied myself for a nap. It was going to be an awesome nap because I had a king sized bed all for myself for the day. But my phone buzzed, I had a text, and away I went with some friends from the internet to find food, booze, and/or coffee.
By the way guy, the Blueberry Wheat Beer I had? FANTASTIC.
But that was Thursday, and as fun as it was for me to hang out with people I only know from their avatars on an internet forum, you don’t need to read about our wild escapades eating ice cream cones. [We ate ice cream cones. Because we are adults and can eat ice cream whenever the fuck we want, even if it’s cold and March and will spoil our dinner].
So, PAX. Day 1.
I entered, and the line was already moving, because I didn’t care much about the keynote, I just wanted to get my game on. Right after going through the line, and getting the lanyard and swag bag, I entered the table top area. It was like heaven. I have no other words for a place that seems as big as a football field filled with tables dedicated to playing table top games and nothing else. “Wizards of the Coast” was a huge thing obviously, but there was also a lending librar1y, indie games, and Steve Jackson games.
My first order of business was to ask if there was a sign-up sheet for the 4 hour D&D event that night. There was not, I just had to show up. I figure half-hour to an hour beforehand should be fine, so I line up, instead, for an Encounter.
The encounters were supposed to be 2 hours long each. Which is, really, a good amount of time. I was in a random group, because I was by myself, and ended up being the thief. This may sound strange to people who play a lot of D&D but I’ve never played a rogue… no no, that’s a lie, I LARPed a thief once. She was awesome. But that’s beside the point. Table top wise, I was never a rogue type character, because someone else always was, so I generally go for a tank character (Druids were nice), but all that was left was the thief, and I had no idea how to play one.
But let me tell you something, people who may not know this because you’ve never played D&D, the thief class is amazing and fun and I was sort of addicted.
Well, anyway, our group ended up doing the Encounters catch-up session and playing for 4 hours. We were the Beatnik Company, mostly because one player (SlyFlourish if you know him) decided it would be fun to do haikus during the game. Let me tell you that this, while arbitrary, just added an amazing layer to the game. Comedic to be sure. But awesome.
My dice just kept rolling well, for a change, so my elf did awesome things that rogues do. I also stole shit from people and gave it back to them with a few coins missing, ’cause that’s what I do. I may be a thief, but I can’t be a complete dick… just a minor one.
After the four hour D&D extravaganza I walked around the expo hall for a bit, and bought two shirts before meeting up with friends to have an adventure trying to find a seafood place.
No Name Seafood, by the way, has absolutely delicious seafood. If you’re in Boston and can get there, I recommend it.
Then I went back to try to line up for the 4 hour session.
You would not believe how full it was.
It was super full.
Like, the line around the corner was crazy long full.
Like, I didn’t even know that many people came here for D&D full.
I know it’s bit narcissistic to think that the things that I like are in the minority of things other people like. I just honestly didn’t expect a 4 hour dungeon delve to attract well over 100 people (they extended the line to 100, and had to turn people away).
I’m sure WotC was as surprised as me that there was that much interest in that particular game. But it was the Revenge of Kalerel thing, and that is the campaign the PA guys play on the WotC podcast, so…
But still. Seriously. I just wanted to get my D&D on. And I bet some of those people on line had never even touched a d20 before. They just thought it was cool because the PA guys played it.
Ok, that was a rant and unnecessary, but I still really wanted to play it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play the Dragon’s Lair DM challenge or the Virtual Table because of the Loading Ready Run panel the next night.
But I took it on the chin, met up with another friend, hung out, played magic, met some new people and went back to the hotel eventually.
Day 2
My first order of business Day 2 was to go to the table top area and do something. The Encounters line was full, and I didn’t want to wait to find 4 other people to do encounter 5, so I went to the indie game area, where they were demoing Burning Wheel.
I’ve wanted to try Burning Wheel since hearing about it at last year’s PAX East. So I watched a game to get the jist of the mechanics and ran in to some more friends, one ended up watching me play Burning Wheel and laughing hysterically at the plans we came up with.
Let me just say that my Rat was awesome.
After that was the Loading Ready Run fan meet up, which was super fun getting to meet and re-meet people from the forum, and of course Graham, Kathleen, and Paul.
I also made my way through the expo hall that day, taking pictures of people making ridiculous faces to send to my friend. I will eventually upload them and share them here.
After that I and few people from the LRR meetup went to the Females on Female Game Characters panel. I won’t get into too much detail with what was discussed, as I’m sure you can figure it out. It was a good panel, and for the most part I agreed with their points, but of course there were things I disagreed with, and I wish there was more time to actually discuss some things that they only barely scratched the surface of (that, of course, couldn’t be helped since there was only a limited amount of time and this is a subject that needs more than an hour to discuss).
Then, after parting ways, temporarily, with a few new friends, I went to the Brentalfloss show. My only issue with the show is that apparently geeks don’t know good concert manners. That is to say that there was limited dancing, shouting and singing along to the lyrics. That’s what concerts are about people!
Anyway, a kid flipped off Brentalfloss and was an instant smash hit. After that was the LRR panel, which I went to, which was great. Those guys are funny and awesome, and you should all check them out. Then a quick bite before going back to the screening which was also fun because it was watching a lot of LRR videos.
The thing about watching funny videos with a group or crowd of people is the ability of that crowd to increase how funny something is about 50% at least. There were videos that I thought were “ok” that I laughed so much at in that group.
After that, the crowd died down, dwindled to about 10, and with Graham, Kathleen, and Paul, we went to get a drink at the nearby hotel bar. Most of the discussion revolved around video games.
Then it was 2am, by which I mean really 3 am, and there were bus shuttles to catch and a day 3 to go to.
Though, I was so exhausted by the end of the night, that I got to the point that I wasn’t sure what was going on was real. Was I really hanging out with a sketch comedy team that I think are awesome? Was I really standing on an overcrowded shuttle bus singing Disney songs?
I’ll never know.
Day 3.
Don’t. Play. A. 4. Hour. D. and. D. session. With. Only. 4. Hours. Of. Sleep.
I mean, you can. I did. Accidentally.
See, I really wanted to play Encounter 5, but they didn’t have any DMs for it, so the WotC people tried to scrape something together, and there were 3 seats available at a new game.
Alright, sure, I’ll sit in, why not. It’s d&d, and I want to play.
Well, luck was on my side because it was one of the Dragon’s Lair DM Challenge games that I wanted to play the night before but didn’t because LRR took precedence.
Of course this meant that for about 2 hours I was spaced out and didn’t do much.
But it was a lot of fun. I rogued it up again, and besides the 12 year kid acting like a 12 year old kid and not understanding that a DM knows very well what he’s doing, it was a lot of fun.
I just want to take this moment to bask.
I will admit to having some awesome moments in D&D on Friday and Burning Wheel on Saturday, but I have to just revel in this.
Because I did something the DM did not expect.
And that is a rare and magical moment, when the DM says “Wait, what are you doing?” And you say “No no, I have a plan.”
There were some cultists, doing what cultists do and summoning some sort of horrible evil. They were circling around a crystal globe.
After a surprise round, where the ranger shot at the crystal globe and did some damage, and I took my potion of lesser invisibility, the following exchange took place:
DM: Thief you’re up.
Me: Ok, I double move.
DM: Double move?
Me: Yes, take two turns to move twice.
DM: Alright?
Me: I have a plan. So, with 12 I can get right next to the globe right?
DM: Yeah, that puts you right here.
Me: Ok, Action Point, I’m going to take the globe and throw it in the lava.
DM: I… wait… I’ll allow it, roll your thievery
Me: 19
DM: Alright, you succeed and throw it in the lava. Roll… [Laughs] Roll all your dice.
Me: [get dice]
DM: Not the… ok, yeah, roll the d20 too
Me: You sure?
DM: Yeah, go roll.
Me: 29
DM: Alright, the Globe takes 29 damage and an ongoing….20 fire damage

Of course at this point I was no longer invisible, and got the cap kicked out of me, but it was cool, I got healed and had an elixir if I needed it.
So, yeah, anyway, that was fun. Then I killed an hour playing Wrath of Ashardalon. A fun game, but basically a palette switch of Castle Ravenloft. If those games weren’t expensive I’d have bought them, but as it was, my iTunes account had gotten hacked draining my account of 200 dollars, so I couldn’t buy anything else that weekend. Ah well.
Then I watched the final round of the Omegathon. Ikaruga.
The thing about the final round of the Omegathon that I find interesting is that there are people there that didn’t watch any of the other rounds, and yet we can all get behind the team on our respective sides of the stage. I was rooting like hell for team 1, on the right side of the stage, and felt kind of sad that they didn’t win, especially when one of the players died early and there was only one player fighting to the end and he ALMOST MADE IT!
It was really exciting to watch, and the almost best way to finish off PAX East.
I’d say the best, except that as I was leaving there was a cosplaying Big Daddy and Little Sister playing Dance Central. THAT was the best thing to close PAX with.
And then, thirsty, and tired, I went in search of a CVS and bought 5 bottles of Perrier and 2 32 ounce bottle of water. I think I thought I was thirstier than I was and that my bladder was the size of a dirigible.

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