ICON 2010 – A Belayed Report

ICON was held this year from the 23rd of July till the 25th, a belayed start (kind of like this report) due to that minor incident of the FIFA World Cup being held here in south Africa. We’ll forgive FIFA for now, but they really should have more respect for the gaming institution now in its 19th year. As I managed to keep mostly secret from the scary people with the bottles of alcohol, this was my first convention, ever. I managed to keep this quiet right up until the last day, then alas, I was attacked by a bottle of sours. Thankfully I dodged the tequilla.

The trick to going to a convention in another city is to know people. Or at least take the people that you know with you. In this case I took Corvys, a lawyer-in-training (no, a real lawyer, not a rules lawyer). We flew up on the Thursday and met up with Mook who hosted me, although Corvys decided to stay with his friend Johenius. Safety in numbers. This is proven by the fact that when we went to ICON on the Friday, it was Johenius, Corvys, Mook and I that arrived and enjoyed ourselves. I believe that going to convention where one knows no-one will prove somewhat disastrous.

We had not been at the convention long before we ran into Magependragon. More on that later.

It had been my intention to wander about aimlessly for the first day of the convention in order to get a feel for the place. I spent some time everywhere. Starting at the Hall of Shinies! So much loot to be had if you have the depth in your wallet. As will become a tradition for me, I ensured that I would get both an ICON T-Shirt and ICON Mug. The theme for this years ICON was Attack of the Eighties, and the artwork done for the T-Shirt make it pretty epic. In addition to the mugs and t-shirts, there were artists doing character portraits, people selling buttons (I bought a few… er… lot), comic books, graphics novels, boardgames, roleplaying games and figurines. There were also a couple of vendors selling clothing… the gothy-geeky-larping style clothing. Including huge foam weapons.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the Anime showing. A projector had been set up to show Anime continuously. They chose poorly. There was perhaps 1 episode of something I couldn’t pronounce that was amusing, but the majority of what I saw didn’t interest me. Further, they were fan subs. I can understand the costs associated with showing actual translations, but still, this is an opportunity to show off your gear and your products, use it.

I was also less than impressed with Mayhem, who, while providing a lot of stuff, seemed to have been placed at the back of the buss so to speak, and had a tiny lan and a couple of x-boxes and a playstation to amuse. Well, it didn’t. I played a round of Blur, which was fun, but even wandering out there a few days later still hadn’t brought about the interest that I usually have for computers and games.

And that is all I have to complain about.

Later that Friday afternoon I was cajoled into joining a roleplaying group for the afternoon slot. I was signed up  to play “The Light Within”, a Traveller game written by Les Longman. Mike Dewar too helm and I have to admit that it was a massive load of fun to play. Joining me at the grassy knoll were Donald Mullany, Tammi-lee Pike, Marie Wessels and Trevor Davel (I think). Mike ran an awesome game, added in his own few elements and ultimately Donald and I plotted the entire party’s demise and pulled it off quite well at that.

I left that game with a massive grin on my face, it had been awesome.

Having spoken to one of the sales people about MEAD, a larping group in the Johannesburg area that has proven to be quite popular, I was quite keen to see the larp that evening, entitled “A Dark Brew”. Larping isn’t roleplaying in the sense that there isn’t a gaming table, but it is roleplaying, or possibly impromptu theater with given objectives. I had been quite keen to see them bashing the senses out of each other with their foam-swords and spell pouches, but it turned out to be a bit of a wash.

Returning to Pretoria that evening I spent some time watching Kick-Ass and then retiring to bed, amazingly keen for the Saturday.

Saturday began with the first of the competitive modules: “The Lair of Veo Oquom” written by Rodney Sloan and Johan Kemp. I cannot recall all the players at the table, but there was another Dave, an older gentleman, another bloke and of course, Magependragon 🙂 Unfortunately the module appeared to be poorly devised, massively rail-roaded with no real possibility of success at the end. A character died in attempting to gather the object that we required, the encounters were dodgy, and apparently there was a skill challenge. Kudos to our DM who tried very hard to make something of it, but ultimately, you can only do so much with a rules intensive system such as 4th Edition Competitive.

Left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, I was keen to give the second slot a chance, and it was Call of Cthullu, a module entitled “It Started with the Birds” written by Marie Wessels. I was handed Gatiep, a coloured bushman character who couldn’t speak English, and could only speak Khoi-san and Afrikaans. I don’t know Khoi-san and my Afrikaans… yes, well. Regardless, our Keeper, Alan, was a sick and twisted fuck sufficiently so that I would have been proud, and my character utterly insane before being swallowed by a Starspawn. It was epically amazingly fun. Respect to Gerhard Pretorious, the Afrikaaner in the group who was given the Englishman, he played the man to an absolute T.

Saturday night was ended with ICON Comedy. I shit you not. And it was perhaps the most amazing comedy show I have seen in a very, very long time. Vittorio Leonardi, Warren Robertson and Melt Sieberhagen brought the house down with their at times geeky, at times sarcastic and always hilarious routines. I cannot wait until next year to be subjected to their humour once more!

Alas, for Sunday I was occupied with familial duties, and missed out on the roleplaying. Although I was there for the prize giving, and I must give congratulations to Magependragon and the Stray’s for winning the best Roleplaying Group overall! Well done!

Ultimately, ICON was my first CON, and it was truly epic. I cannot wait for the next one! More importantly, however, the quality of the 4th Edition Module inspired myself and Corvys to write modules for next year. The excellent mastering by Mike and Alan have also prompted me to consider mastering next year as well, but this weighs heavily against my desire to play as well.

I have decided to write modules for Rifts, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition and Shadowrun 4th Edition. I do not know if they will all be accepted, but I don’t care. The thrill is in the writing, if they are run, I’ll be there to receive the adulation and the mockery. ICON is strongly recommened to all gaming enthusiasts in South Africa, you will not be sorry!

By no means does this cover all the events that were at ICON, there was also the SCA, a costume competition, Magic the Gathering, Vampire the Eternal Struggle, Warhammer and Warmachine. There was so much that a modestly interested party could spend the entire day lost, flitting from stall to stall, and quite possibly not only become consumed by the culture, but also enamored with the games, the geeks, the comics and the dice that they spend the entire weekend. All this, for a paltry R40 ($5.50) weekend pass, and R25 ($3.50) per game.

And then there was Magependragon, but that, that story is for tomorrow!


One comment

  1. Johenius · August 17, 2010

    “but ultimately, you can only do so much with a rules intensive system such as 4th Edition Competitive”… I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.


    But on a more serious note, it was great to hang out with you. And you’re right, I pretty much went to ICON solo last year, and it did take most of the fun away.
    Also, directly regarding 4th ed competitive: they’ve written D&D Encounters as a nice pick-up-and-play system for cons, I think. Ask Pen, but I think that’s the idea, at least.

    Oh, and our party succeeded in the 4th ed game. And our CoC group for the 1920’s South African game “won” too 🙂
    Actually, every module I played, our group managed to get the “win” condition. Huh. Even the wholly disturbing CoC 1000AD game, where “win” is one of the most disturbing scenes, EVER… (Ask Josh)

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