Okay, i know i haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been hella busy (as usual), but i was also gone away on a little trip to Providence…
You guys! Holy shit! NecronomiCon was amazing! Without further ado, i present to you my rather long review of the con:
Wednesday, we flew in to Boston, grabbed our rental car, drove down to the hotel, grabbed a late dinner, and then basically passed out.
The crux of the convention took place at the historic Biltmore hotel in downtown Providence. A few of us who are on the Yog-Sothoth.com forums had previously arranged to meet in the Biltmore in the afternoon, so Adria and i met up with them in the lobby at around 3. Tom Lynch was among those who was part of the group, and through him, i got introduced to so many fabulous people, many of whom i had known previously only as abstract author names in books that i had laid out: Wilum Pugmire, Laird Barron, Lois Gresh, Cody Goodfellow, Shane Ivey, Joe Pulver, Jr., [INSERT OTHER NAMES HERE], artist Nick Gucker, author Mark Morrison…i even got to say hi to S.T. Joshi before he zoomed off. Scott Glancy arrived at one point, and i finally got to shake his hand. Naturally, he kind of took over the lobby (he can’t help it; the man’s towering, and has a booming voice). I also got to meet up with fellow Yoggies Tristian, Chad, and Brian (the latter two from the Miskatonic University Podcast).
Soon, we headed over to the First Baptist Church, and attended the Convention Keynote Address. Lovecraft had loved this building (but of course hated the church ), so it was only appropriate that we kick off the convention here. There was an amazing organist who performed several pieces, S.T. Joshi gave a speech, as did Niels Borrs (who was the organizer of the convention), Barnaby Evans, and a couple others. Once that completed, we walked across the street to where one of the art exhibits were taking place; there were three in total, but this particular one featured artwork inspired by Lovecraft (the other two showings were of other art that existed during the time of HPLs living in Providence, and of his papers). I was happy to see several artists that i recognized, including Jason McKittrick, the sculpture artist who has done work for Feed the Shoggoth!
Afterwards, we made a trip over to visit the Ladd Observatory (Adria was an astrophysicist, so naturally she wanted to check it out), which was one of HPL’s old haunts. The Observatory was build in 1891, and to this day, still operates completely mechanically; no electricity is used to power the dome, or to move the telescope. Of course, that night was utterly overcast, so visibility was nil, and the dome doors where shut. Still, it was neat to check out the building.
At some point during the evening, we had dinner (i think), and then zoomed over to the Black Box Theater, where the HP Lovecraft Historical Society’s The Whisperer in Darkness was shown, hosted by Andrew Leman himself. And i finally got to meet and talk with him in person! Andrew was incredibly nice, and seemed genuinely excited to meet me (he remembered that we’d worked on some of the same projects together for MRP). The movie was great, up to (if not surpassing) HPLHS’ usual standards. Like their version of Call of Cthulhu, HPLHS filmed Whisperer as if it was created in the time that the story was written, so it had a very 1930s look and feel to it. They did divert from the original story, especially in the last 3rd of the film, but, come on, why not have a dog fight with mi-go as part of the climax of the film? It’s no different from most CoC campaigns.
This was the first “official” day of the convention, and whilst i had ambitions to attend an early seminar about RPGs, it was at 9 in the morning…so i slept through it and attended another RPG-related seminar at 1. This particular seminar concerned how to write and run effective scenarios, and included such acclaimed writers as Glancy, Tom Lynch, Oscar Rios, Sandy Petersen (for a few brief minutes), and was moderated by Mark Morrison. A really good panel, and afterwards, i finally got to meet Osk for a few seconds.
I believe (but i might be wrong on this; there was so much going on during the weekend, it’s all kinda a blur) that after, i chatted with Meghan and Nick at the Chaosium booth, talked with Mark Morrison some more, and met Bret Kramer for the first time. Then it was time for a trip to the vendor’s area, back at the Biltmore. The way the vendors were organized was a bit odd at first; the majority of them were on the 2nd floor, but others were on the 17th and 18th floors. It worked out well, though, because since all the dealers weren’t congregated in one large space, there was less of a crowd, and therefore less noise. You could actually talk to the vendors (oftentimes the artists or writers themselves who were behind the table), and take your time. It was here that i got to meet the sculpture artist, Jason McKittrick, who made the amazing pieces for Feed the Shoggoth’s Kickstarter. Even better, he had them with, and graciously gave them to me. And, of course, other shopping was had.
Then it was off to a live performance of At The Mountains of Madness by the HPL Historical Society! Man, was that awesome. Besides Andrew and Sean Branney, there were three other performers, plus a fellow running live audio. They even had some “newsreel” footage to play for us! Afterwards, there was a short Q&A session. I have to say, just watching Andrew Lehman’s face as he plays the interviewer and listens as Branney answers his questions was almost as entertaining as his voice acting.
No time to rest, though, as we had to jet back over to the Hotel Providence for my first of two demo sessions of Feed the Shoggoth! I only had one person officially sign up for it, but Chad and Brian, whom i’d told about the demos the day before, came by, along with another friend of theirs. A ton of fun was had by all, and we played through several games. For these sessions, i intended to lock down the score goal to player ratio, which had been an issue in the past (sometimes dragging games out too long in a few instances). It looks like i’ve got that particular issue licked. After a successful four hours or so, it was time for us to crash at the hotel again…
After some breakfast, Adria and i killed a bit of time by attending another seminar, “Lovecraft’s Literary Influences”. Stuck around in that one for a bit, cruised the upper floors of the vendor areas again, and then it was off to my second Feed the Shoggoth! demo. Again, i had only one official player signed up, but Bryan stopped by again, along with Bret Kramer and one or two other people. The resolution of the games were all over the place; in one game, all the players got wiped out by the Shoggoth well before we ran out of Minions- a definite first! Again, some great feedback from the players, and everyone enjoyed the game.
We then rushed over to Lupo’s for the Lustmord/Neurosis show. Now, i’ve known about Neurosis for a long time, and tried reeeeally hard to get into them…without much success. However, i’ve been a huge fan of Lustmord for a few years (his stuff is /perfect/ for Call of Cthulhu background music), and since he never crosses the pond to do shows in the US, i was not about to miss it. And man, was i not disappointed. He…well, basically, he performed and incantation/ritual to some of the elements, using his singular darkwave/ambient music, along with some very mesmerizing visuals. It was amazing. I was delighted to run into Mark Morrison there (who had taken Nick under his wing to the show), who is also a big fan of Lustmord (he even pimped them out during the seminar on Friday).
We needed some dinner after this, so we headed to the restaurant that was attached to the Biltmore. Which led to probably the most surreal moment of the weekend. As Adria and i sat there, contemplating our menus, none other than Sandy Petersen himself (the creator and author of the Call of Cthulhu RPG) basically materialized out of thin air, and said something to the effect of, “I hope you don’t mind food recommendations from a perfect stranger, but the halibut is really delicious!”. I think i actually jumped out of my chair a bit. We chatted for a few seconds, and then he toddled off to his own dinner party, after telling us that they were having some calamari and mushrooms in HPL’s “honor” (Lovecraft /hated/ both of those foods). After dinner, we cruised around the Waterfire event. Waterfire is this…thing that Providence has been putting on for a few years now- sort of an art and food festival, where the focus of the action is around the canal running through town. From what we saw, the entire canal has these steel braziers containing wood that’s set on fire; then at some point, a procession of people dressed in hoods, carrying torches, light something else on fire. Rather spooky, and befitting the events of the weekend.
Up bright and early for my Call of Cthulhu session! I ran “The Last Stop”, a modern Delta Green CoC scenario that i’d written…last year, i think? I’ve run it four times now, and, without giving any of the plot away, the results were pretty in line with past runs of the adventure; half of the PCs were killed, many NPCs were wiped out by the players (including a mother and her toddler child), building burnt to a crisp, and some investigators at the end actually surviving…more or less. I had a great group, though some people had to leave early. Everyone dug the scenario, and at a couple points, Scott Glancy and Mark Morrison swung by and both gave praise to my production values. Guess i’m doing something right!
After i packed up, i saw that Adria was out in the lobby, chatting with a small group which included Sandy Petersen. One thing led to another, and before i knew it, we were invited to have dinner with the man. Eeep!
But first, we went back to the Biltmore to attend the wrap up/review discussion of the con, hosted by Niels. Sounds like we’re on track for 2015. There were suggestions on how to improve things for the next con, but overall the impression left was a positive one. I was amazed to find out that this was the first convention ever run by these people….pretty bloody amazing, considering everything they managed to accomplish.
Finally, what better way to cap off the convention but with dinner with Sandy Petersen? Besides Adria and myself, the table consisted of Brian, Tristian, and two people who had gamed with Sandy earlier in the day, Ilya and AnnaBeth. Sandy is funny as all hell, animated, and clearly loves his food (there were long discussions about barbecuing) and horror movies (especially the bad ones). For the most part, the conversations didn’t involve games and RPGs; mostly, if anything, we talked about Kickstarters and how they related to Cthulhu Wars (Sandy’s upcoming game). I’m pretty sure we all ended up staying there until they closed the place down. At one point towards the end, with talk of terrible horror flicks the topic, Sandy wrote on the paper table cloth, upside down, “Mr. Vampire”, the name of yet another so-awful-its-good horror film that he insisted we all watch. As we were leaving, he tore it off and gave it to me. Sweet!
And with that, NecronomiCon came to a close. We visited HPLs gravesite (and discovered that no one is allowed to take photos of any of the graves, according to the security guard who escorted us), as well as his home on Angell St., spent the rest of the day checking out Salem, and then Adria had a recording session that evening. All in all, an incredible trip. Providence is a beautiful, strange, and wonderful little city, and i don’t mean that in a condescending way. It’s got a very vibrant art scene, and is (naturally) drowning in history. Walking around, you can see why HPL loved Providence so much. There are some /gorgeous/ neighborhoods there, the people friendly, and a lot of off-beat shops, eateries, and the like. I would go back in a heartbeat.
I gotta say, though, that you Northeasterners can’t drive for shit.