In which our intrepid hero outlines a beaver’s itinerary.

GenCon Oz looks to be less hectic than it was last year, which is both a good and a bad thing. Last year, I ended up hobbling from event to event, grimacing with tremendous back pain, and sweaty and bloated from a toxic reaction to painkillers. I wasn’t a pretty sight, but at least I still smelled better than about 70% of the con.

On the other hand, the con itself is smaller, and whereas it boasted names like Tracy and Laura Hickman, Robin Laws and Peter Adkison last year (the latter pictured at right with Beave), Robert Picardo tops the bill in 2009 (who, incidentally, I still think of as “the cowboy guy” from Innerspace—now, I’m showing my age).

Only very lately does the website mention that Eberron creator Keith Baker and Paizo‘s Jason Bulmahn will be there, along with homegrown talent Steve Darlington (AKA SteveD) and David Conyers.

Either there are far fewer seminars this year, or they’re much worse at organising them. My gaming schedule is much heavier than it was last year, when I bulked out my weekend with seminars. But none of the five or so seminars listed when I booked everything this time around appealed to me, and the one I did want to attend wasn’t listed yet, either. I imagine—since I did the right thing and booked early—that seminars will start to appear en masse on the GenCon Oz rego site now. Sucks to be an early adopter.

Bitching done, so on the off chance that anyone reading this would like to catch up and say hi at GenCon Oz, here’s my schedule for the weekend:

  • Thu Sep 17, 2pm-11pm: Stirring the Embers. My main reason for playing this (and Burning Scent, below) is that I’m itching to try out the monk class from the PHB3 preview, but don’t want to take too much of the spotlight away from my regular Living Forgotten Realms character. Plus, I’m curious to see how the six-double-session Embers of Dawn story arc develops—a much longer arc, it seems, than any previous quests in LFR.
  • Fri Sep 18, 9am-5pm: Dark Age of Nerath. Normally, I’d be more inclined to try out some indie games, but I have an ongoing discussion with a con organiser here in Sydney regarding D&D4e. She claims (not without reason) that there’s no demand at gaming conventions for D&D games lasting more than 4 hours, whereas I contend that many of the perceived problems with 4e actually stem from poor GMing and LFR’s rigid writers’ guidelines.As an 8-hour, non-RPGA, D&D4e event, Dark Age is the perfect opportunity to test both hypotheses.
  • Sat Sep 19, 9am-1pm: Ghosts of the Past. Since Mim K/W can’t make it to GenCon Oz, I guess I have to do something to convince myself it isn’t a holiday. Hopefully, Ghosts may be sufficient to nudge my aforementioned, regular LFR character—Deus X, the warforged invoker of Gond-cum-artificer—somewhere up into the higher reaches of level 6. See? Character maintenance is hard work!
  • Sat Sep 19, 2pm-5.30pm: Miser’s Run. The blurb for Miser’s promises gritty, low-fantasy action. Given that D&D4e—moreso than other editions of the game—strikes me as particularly high-magic sword-and-sorcery, I’m curious as to whether the designer pulls this off purely through narration, by limiting PC choices to martial characters, or through the skillful application of system-mechanics jiggerypokery.Consider this a research mission. Or, at the very least, a prime opportunity to use the word jiggerypokery in a sentence.
  • Sat Sep 19, 7pm-11pm: Jailbreak. I’ve been a fan of Unknown Armies forever, and Jailbreak is the iconic UA convention scenario. Given the speed with which it sold out, I guess that I’ll be playing with other UA fans—something of a rarity here in Australia, but a very welcome change. Last time I played UA at a con, some three or four years ago, the other players seemed to think it was some sort of permutation of d20 Modern.Not long after I booked the slot, however, SteveD reminded me of his WHFRP freeform, Sunset Claws. But as I was about to change the booking, I discovered that Mim K/W had paid the phone bill with my debit card, so I was pretty much broke. That, and the fact that it’s a costume freeform—and therefore would entail time, money and luggage weight I don’t currently have—sort of ruled it out. Which is a damn shame, as Beaver already has the perfect halberdier uniform to go with it.

    All that said, however, SteveD’s a great writer and a great guy, and you could do much, much worse than spending three hours in his capable care. Give the characters a look and grab yourself a spot.

  • Sun Sep 20, 9am-5pm: The Burning Scent of Perfumed Swords. Part two of the Embers of Dawn mini-campaign (see Stirring the Embers, above), which we antipodean RPGAers apparently get a few days ahead of everyone else. Woot. Does anyone else’s Freud gland go haywire when they read that title?

If you’d still like to catch up, but aren’t playing in any of the above, then I should be pretty easy to spot around the con—I’ll be the guy conspicuously displaying his plush beaver. Which sounds a lot worse than it is, I admit.

Of course, there’s a possibility that more than one beaver-wielding freak will be in attendance; on the other hand, if the universe sees fit to inflict a surfeit of plush beavers on the one unsuspecting con, then who am I to rectify the ensuing chaos?