Sunday, August 28, 2022

Story Time: My 1st Two Tournament Experiences

Story Time: My 1st Two Tournament Experiences
Yesterday I was doing something kind of monotonous and painful.....assembled (mostly) a big piece of Ikea furniture. Had Spotify blasting in the background and some song lyrics lamenting being dealt a "bad hand", and I honestly thought....., "Do people even think about the times they unfairly have an advantage?"

Well, obviously I do, or I probably wouldn't be typing about it here. What immediately came to mind were my 1st two RPG tournaments. While I am quick to talk about tournaments here 'cause it's an easy topic for me since I played in, and then ran, quite a few for HackMaster at Origins & GenCon. Pretty sure that I've referenced my earliest tournament experiences before, but I haven't flat-out told the whole story/stories.

My very 1st tournament experience was definitely a "bad hand" and the second was an "unfair advantage". Both of these were at a smaller local con overseas. The organizer was able to bill the AD&D Tournament as the "National Tournament" because there wasn't one otherwise. Winner got a free trip to GenCon Europe. No pressure.....actually I'm in it for the fun, so no....no actual pressure.

It's 1995 and I've made it to the final round at the "American" table.....there was another table for the host country so games could be run in native languages. I don't remember if we can choose our pre-gens or if they were randomly assigned, but I got a single-sided PC sheet that had the party Magic User. On the flip side of the PC sheet was a fricken wall of text. One paragraph of your PC's basic history and then a series of short paragraphs telling the player how their PC gets along with the other PCs. For the most part nothing too remarkable....until you got to the fighter, Solamnus. I can't recall my PC's name, but I sure remember this guy!

My PC did not like the Fighter, thinking he was an idiot and his stupidity is going to get me killed. There was some bad blood there, but it really looked like it my PC's fault 'cause it seemed to me that he was a bit full of himself and more than a bit dickish to the fighter, even if it didn't say that straight-up. The text was a first-person account and the "fact" that the fighter didn't care for being turned (intentionally, mind you) into a chicken was somehow not the MU's fault....yeah ok I think I have a feel for this PC.

In-character, and only in-character, I talked down to the fighter, nick-naming him "Salami" 'cause it was more succinct than "meat head". As a player I did mention to the other fighter's player that there was clearly some issues between our PCs and to please not take it personally. I assume he had bothered to read the backstory......especially since he didn't have to start looking up spells and whatnot before we started.....

.....yeah, clearly I assumed wrong. The player was a little antagonistic, but it didn't seem OOC in the moment.

The party did manage to work well-enough together, but leading into the final encounter it was obvious we were getting into, at best, a stalemate, and at worse possibly even a TPK. Now was my opportunity to shine and through a good combination of spells I was able to advance our party to the final encounter and subsequently managed to obtain the McGuffin while the party was otherwise bogged downed with the BBG. This enabled our table to win the tournament!

We had to pick a MVP from our table to win the trip and while I am biased (duh) I think it should have been me because I was playing my PC well, and managed to do some creative work that caused us to win. Problem was that Solamnus' player, and the player's wife (who was also in the game) really didn't like my PC making fun of that PC. Both players took it personally and to this day I don't think they actually read the PC backgrounds. Instead they both voted for the Bard's player, who did some cheap theatrics at the table......really?

Clearly I was a bit upset, but really it was just some added BS that feed into post-game and post-convention let-down. I really didn't know that was a thing for me yet. The player who went to GenCon Europe had a great time and she actually started playing and I was able to take part in her game a couple of times.

The next year (1996) though, that was a bit of a shit-show, but grossly unfair.....in my favor. Again I'm at the final table and this adventure revolves around finding a Holy Avenger for a Paladin....that I was lucky enough to draw. Really? The entire adventure revolves around one/my PC getting the best bad-ass weapon possible for him, which we managed to do. The final BBG is tough, but against a Holy Avenger....not that tough. Guess who won the tournament? The obvious answer isn't "me", but "Whoever managed to play the Paladin", which was me, but if a monkey capable of rolling dice was at the table with that PC (be nice Erik!) had the Paladin, then that monkey would be going to 1997 GenCon Europe! At least this monkey got a trophy!*

I didn't do too poorly at GenCon Europe. I didn't win, but I did place in the top half of my table...which came in second. This means I was in the top 10 if that's brag-worthy. That convention was in England during the weekend that Princess Diana died. That was an....... interesting experience, but not one for here. It was the second time I met Ken Whitman (1st being the earlier convention), but again not a (interesting enough) experience for here, unless you're a fan of the card game Groo: The game.

With these two initial tournament experiences it isn't surprising that it took me almost another decade to sling dice in an organized play event again......

*There was no trophy for winning the tournament. The prize was the trip, so I had a cup made as a trophy.  I just wanted something physical I could display, and possibly use at the table. Not the best pic as this was for something else....

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