This is the blog. Click here to go to the Zenopus Archives website.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Gary Con 2022: Days 3 and 4


The view from the window of the Legends of Wargaming hall on Sunday morning. That's not Lake Geneva, but rather a small lake on the grounds of the hotel.

This post covers the gaming highlights of my third and fourth days at Gary Con XIV, Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th (of March 2022). If you missed them, the reports for first two days can be found here and here. [I wrote most of this post shortly after those, but didn't finish it until early December 2022]


On Saturday morning Demos of the OSR Grimoire continued running the OD&D tournament written by Dave Emigh for Winter War in 1977. On Thursday he had run the first round of the tournament, The Tower of Ullison, which I also played in and covered in my post about the first day of the con. The second round is titled The Sword of Hope, and like the first, was later published as a module by Judges Guild, and which Demos reviewed here on Dragonsfoot; unfortunately, the third round of the tournament was never published. 

I was the only returning player from the first round, but familiarity with it wasn't necessary for this round, and the new players took to the scenario with gusto. There were six pre-gens, and five players, so I ran two characters, a magic-user and a cleric. The first part of the dungeon, which is pictured above, looks quite ordinary, but includes an interesting design feature that makes for fun tournament play: while we quickly found an exit in the south part of the dungeon, we couldn't open it until we had backtracked through the rooms to find and solve several puzzles. Beyond it lay the conclusion of the scenario. 

In the afternoon I ate lunch while watching a screening of a rough cut of The Dreams in Gary's Basement, a forthcoming documentary about Gary Gygax, hosted by the director Pat Kilbane. I backed the kickstarter for this project, and enjoyed watching this cut, which included about 40 minutes of mostly finished footage followed by some shorter excerpts. A few highlights for me were seeing video footage of Gygax talking outside an early Gen Con; a photo of David Sutherland I hadn't seen before; and animations of Sutherland's Dragon from the cover of Holmes Basic (!) and of Trampier's Demon Idol from the cover of the PHB. Afterwards, Kilbane hosted a Q&A, where he explained that progress on the film has been slow because he has been doing the editing himself to make sure it's done properly within the available budget. Later in the hall, Larry from Follow Me and Die! introduced me to Pat, and we had a pleasant chat where I learned that he is a gamer who started with Holmes Basic and still plays and designs RPGs.

In the evening I ran my second game of the convention, a session of In Search of the Brazen Head of Zenopus, which I'd run previously at the most recent in-person Gary Con in 2019, and at other cons. By my count this was the sixth time running it. Surprisingly, I had two players return from 2019; apparently, in the intervening years they'd completely forgotten they had played it in before! The game was fun, and Demos was able to join in near the end to take over Murray after another player had to leave. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from this game; when I'm DMing I'm often too pre-occupied to remember to take any myself.

Rare image of the wizard Zenopus conversing with other wizards

Afterwards, we relaxed in one of the halls, chatting with Griff of the Secrets of Blackmoor documentary and blog, who took the above photo of me. Still later, I joined my friend Rich of the Circle of Dar Janix at the hotel bar where he was hanging out with the Troll Lords


Douglas Waltman's large-scale reproduction of the Knights of Camelot board

I didn't register for any games on Sunday morning as my flight out from Milwaukee was midday, and it's a 45-minute drive to the airport. Instead, after eating breakfast I hung out in the Legends of Wargaming for a few hours, watching Demos play TSR's Knights of Camelot refereed by Douglas Waltman. For this game, Waltman constructed a jaw-dropping large-scale reproduction of the original board, over 7 feet long, including a painstaking recreation of the beautiful map work by Darlene, but in relief. Completing the upgrade was an tremendous set of painted Mirliton miniatures representing each of the knights that appear in the game. More photos that I took of the setup can be seen here on Twitter.

Line-up of Mirliton knights for Knights of Camelot.

Renaissance Books store front in the Milwaukeee airport

Finally, one of my post-Gary Con traditions is stopping in Renaissance Books, the used bookstore housed in the the Milwaukee airport, which is apparently the only used bookstore currently in an airport in the US. In the past I discovered that it has a great selection of vintage sci-fi & fantasy paperbacks, including a lot falling under the Appendix N umbrella, and this time I picked out two Robert E. Howard compilations published by Zebra in the 1970s, Worms of the Earth, which is a Bran Mak Morn compilation, and the Second Book of Robert E. Howard, a compilation of various stories

When I was paying for my books, the owner saw my Gary Con hat and mentioned that he had written for Dragon Magazine in the 1980s. He introduced himself as Michael Lowry, and specifically mentioned an article on gemstones; which turns out to be "The Many Facets of Gems" in issue #83. He also wrote The Tarot of Many Things for issue #77, a variant of the Deck of Many Things. I suggested that he should come to Gary Con in the future, but he indicated that his focus is on sci-fi conventions these days.

* * * * * 

That's it for my Gary Con 2022 write-up. Looking forward to 2023, and since I'm finishing up this report in December, I can report that I've already got my ticket for Gary Con 2023 and am planning on running two games, a re-run of Expedition to Skull Stack Crater (which I ran for the first time in 2022) and the new Forgotten Smugglers' Cave

[I wrote most of this article in April 2022, but didn't finish it until December 2022]


  1. Sounds like fun. I may go some day when I am the idle rich. Was Tom Wham there?

  2. I can't remember if I saw him this time, but I'm pretty sure he was on the schedule running a few games. I played in one of this games the first time I went a few years back.