Winter War 39 has descended upon Champaign/Urbana Illinois. The gaming convention seems to be hopping. Four or five dice/game vendors and at least one artist selling wares line the walls in the main conference room. A dozen or more miniatures games set up on the large tables in the middle. As I walk around the main room, I see a chariot race taking place on a 5ftX3ft homemade board, some miniature WWII planes in the midst of battle, and a rather detailed 3D dungeon labyrinth being set up in a 6ftX5ft area. An auction and various RPGs are taking place in smaller conference rooms scattered about the Hawthorne Suites hotel.
I'd like to spend more time looking around to see all the other games, but I'm in a bit of a time crunch. I have just enough time to commission the artist to make a colored sketch for me, then I'm off to the room where Jeff Rients is running "Doom of Dundagel". It'll be fun to see how new players react to the Caves of Myrddin campaign and Jeff's gaming style. It wasn't that long ago that I was new to Jeff's table, and I remember well the feelings of confusion mixed with delight. I remember thinking to myself "I don't know what the hell is going on, but it's awesome!", because that thought still pops up most sessions. The trick is to realize that the setting is utterly ridiculous (in a good way), so stop worrying about the "why" and just focus on dealing with whatever craziness is being thrown at your character. You're exploring a cave in 1150AD Cornwall when out jumps a hulking serial killer maniac named Joe Mama wearing a hockey mask and swinging a chainsaw... yes, that makes no sense. Just skip all that for now and start thinking about how to survive. Knowing the "why" might give you some piece of mind, but that encounter is already at maximum awesome. Just go with it. Once you acquire a taste for it you'll be hooked and willing to pay for convention sessions of a campaign that you already play bi-weekly for free.
Anyhow, expect some session reports in the near future.