Due to venturing out of the UK to bake myself in the summer sun and then my daughter’s graduation and moving her back home, this has not left me a great deal of the right sort of hobby time.
Rather than remain silent, I thought I’d post a bit of a retrospective piece.
Now, I’ve been a gamer (on and off) for nigh on 40 years and as I came into the hobby via tabletop RPGs, I’ve not only played many, many systems (including several that my friends/gaming group made themselves), but also attended several gaming conventions.
As a Brit, this was mainly Euro GenCon (when that was still a thing), although I did get the opportunity to go to actual GenCon in 1992.
Which brings me to the point of this post. If you attend a gaming convention, you do, on occasion, get the opportunity to interact with “gaming royalty.” I’m not talking about attending a seminar with Larry Elmore, where he discusses his artistic technique and creates an original piece of artwork before your very eyes (which I have done and was very cool), but those random encounters with famous gaming “celebrities” that give you geek cred when you tell your mates what happened – sort of geek “claims to fame.”
So, as I have a couple of anecdotes regarding this, I thought I’d share these with you all – because at least you guys will know who I’m talking about.
So, we’ll start with the aforementioned GenCon ’92…
Second day of GenCon ’92 and the guys I had come with were all off doing other stuff, so I was wandering around the main hall, looking at all the stalls, minding my own business, when I was stopped by a bloke who had noticed my t-shirt (“Die Laughing – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld”) and wanted to know if I’d bought it at the Con, as he wanted one the same. I regretfully advised him that I’d actually purchased it in the UK and not bought it at the Con. Then I looked at his name badge… it read “Mike Pondsmith.”
As in THE Mike Pondsmith, big cheese at R. Talsorian Games, responsible for Cyberpunk 2020, Castle Falkenstein and Dream Park (which was released at GenCon that year). My response to him, once I realised who he was, was “I just bought a copy of Dream Park,” for which he thanked me. Being a little shell-shocked, that was the extent of our conversation.
Still, it was pretty cool.
Rewind to (I think) Euro GenCon 1990. This was held at Pontin’s Holiday Centre, Camber Sands in the UK, between 30th November and 2nd December and was my first real gaming convention – and also the first EuroGenCon, which I didn’t realise at the time. The Ravenloft campaign setting had come out earlie rthat year and I was a big fan, so signed up for a one-round Ravenloft tournament, which as it was a newish setting, they’d brought a couple of the TSR staff from the US across to run this scenario. This was Bane of the Shadowborn, written by William W. Connors, who was one of the guests running this scenario. However, as the scenario was pretty popular, they had two sessions running, and I ended up with the other guest DM. Which was Jim Ward…
Yes, THAT Jim Ward, he of Drawmij’s Instant Summons, designer of Metamorphosis Alpha, co-author of the original 1st edition Deities & Demigods, etc. etc. Basically, a gaming legend.
And he killed me.
Well, he killed the entire party, but that’s because we were rubbish and hadn’t got the necessary stuff to defeat the Big Bad. But we had so much fun – I mean, this was one of Gary Gygax’s original players, so this guy knew how to run a game. I distinctly remember various players stating what they wanted to do, and Jim’s response was invariably “Well, wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that…” with a little twinkle in his eye.
So, two gaming geeky claims to fame – Mike Pondsmith liked my t-shirt and Jim Ward killed me.
But let’s finish off with an actual, genuine 100% geeky “claim to fame,” which can be proven to anyone who owns a copy of a particular TSR product, as if you peruse the credits section of Domains of Dread, which was effectively the third iteration of the Ravenloft campaign setting published in 1997, under the ‘Special Thanks’ section you will find MY name!
Obviously my contribution was enough that I was named, rather than being relegated to the “countless others” section. Look at me, sandwiched between Skip Williams and Steve Winter, both of whom I’ve heard of. I think it’s safe to say they have NO idea who I am…
Right, enough grandstanding from me. I’m sure those who’ve been indulging in our wonderful hobby for roughly the same amount of time as I have, have similar anecdotes, so I’ll open the floor to you all. What geeky claims to fame do you have? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be gaming related, so if you’ve had a pint with Patrick Stewart, then share your story.