Gary Con III was fantastic this year, as expected. I played for five-and-a-half hours in Grodog's Greyhawk Castle. We explored a seriously nice homage to EGG's Black Reservoir. Of the classic creatures documented from that sub-level, we encountered and slew pteranadons and giant albino crabs (which happened to be of the spell-turning variety). We also met and dispatched giant spiders (save or die!) and a mess of thouls, lacedons and zagedons (aquatic ghasts). We made a brief excursion off-level, ran into a giant colony of brown mold (literally) and fled back to the safe murk of the Black Reservoir. We managed to see quite a bit of the place in the time we played, but never managed to achieve my two personal goals: combat with the sea monster therein and access to the black tower on Sorcerer's Isle. Perhaps next time... or not, as I'm also interested in Gro's other Greyhawk jaunts: the heretical temple of Wee Jas and the quest for Kuroth's Quill. In any case, the crew held up well and we had a blast. Good times.
My other primary Gary Con activity this year was playing Metamorphosis Alpha with James Ward. This is always an almost-excessive amount of fun. Jim is quite the amazing referee, always keeping the action moving and ensuring maximal paranoia. This time we were space marines on an adventure before the Time of Darkness. We were dispatched from the Warden via scout ship to recon Terraforming Outpost Alpha One, from which all communication had ceased. We docked with the outpost and managed to get onboard. The AI was apparently on the fritz, as an alien spacecraft had crashed into the outpost, releasing a deadly microbial fungus onboard. Amazingly, we experienced minimal death until the final five minutes, at which time the AI executed everybody HAL-9000 style. Overall, it was a fast-paced game and everybody had fun. Most telling was the fact that our table out-laughed the entire local vicinity for the duration of play. Awesome. It's great to see Jim doing well and killing players. Things are right in the universe.
As always, there was the uncovering of dim mysteries from our hobby's past. This time the one that sticks out is the origins of Villains and Vigilantes. As it turns out, Jeff Dee and Jack Herman were having an argument about who would win in a fight: Spider-Man or the Human Torch. To settle matters, they used TSR's 1975 EPT for stats and combat mechanics and fought it out. I don't recall who won, but the long and short of it is that EPT served as the vehicle behind the V&V proof-of-concept. Once Jeff and Jack saw it working, they sequestered themselves and wrote the actual rules we see today. EPT behind V&V. How crazy is that?
As per usual, there were lots of celebrity sightings. Luke and Ernie Gygax, James Ward, Tim Kask, and Frank Mentzer were in attendance as expected. I also saw Tom Wham, Jean Wells, Jeff Dee, Bill Willingham, Jon Pickens, and many more. It was great to meet so many people that I speak with online, all gathered together for some serious fun. I can't wait until Gary Con IV!