Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

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That was the week that was: Sunday

Day 3: Sunday, March 5

Sunday through Wednesday was the SirsiDynix SuperConference, put together by the users' group, and held at Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Resort

Arriving at O'Hare Sunday morning for a 12:45 departure, I worked my way around the construction in the front side of Terminal 3, figured out how to use an e-ticket self-check-in station, and met up with the rest of my group in the gate area. (The group consisted of five members of the staff from the headquarters of the library consortium to which my library belongs, my boss's boss, and myself.) While we were waiting for our boarding time, it started to snow. Not so heavy that they'd close the airport, but definitely more than just light flurries. We boarded the plane on time, were delayed a bit for de-icing (which was to be expected), then taxied out to a far corner of the airport to await take-off clearance. And waited. And waited. I later learned that the visibility was so poor that O'Hare's control tower was only giving clearance for one plane to take off at a time from the airport, and was waiting a few minutes in between departures. An hour later, we got clearance and took off.

The flight to Nashville was relatively uneventful. We got in just in time to get checked in, find our way to the convention area, go through registration, and make it to a meeting for consortial representatives. We later learned that the snowfall at O'Hare picked up and visibility got worse shortly after we got out; someone from a nearby library consortium had her flight delayed by three hours, and missed the meeting.

If you've never been to the Gaylord Opryland Resort, it's definitely worth going once in your life, just to experience it. It's so large that it's basically four linked 6-storey hotels, each of which has a central atrium covered by a greenhouse roof and filled with trees, flowers, other plants, waterfalls, fountains, walkways, restaurants, and shops, with a large convention center attached to one corner. When you check in, the desk clerk hands you a full color map with step-by-step instructions on how to get to your room. It's so big that it can take 10-15 minutes to walk from your room to the convention center! The scale and uncanniness of feeling like you're outside when you're still inside is something that one has to experience in person; pictures don't do it justice. However, unless you're there for a convention, there isn't all that much to do other than eat, sleep, walk around, and relax (unless one is or acts like a honeymooner...), and you have to walk something like a half-mile to get off the hotel property and over to the nearby Opry Mills mall. So unless you really go in for that sort of environment (it really creeped out some of the librarians from urban areas, as their street-sense makes them ultra-paranoid when walking "outside" along shadowy alley-like paths at night), are just looking for some R&R, or don't mind being bussed to and from downtown Nashville (two of our group did that for dinner one night, and were given the wrong location for the pickup point; if someone hadn't run into them and corrected them, they would probably still be waiting for that bus), I suspect most people I know would get bored after a day or three.

After dinner Sunday night, I had arranged to meet up with six people from the SirsiDynix Sysadmin mailing list to play a pickup game of Dungeons & Dragons. (Since I was arriving directly from a gaming convention this made it convenient to simply bring along my gaming supplies.) It turns out one couldn't make it, and it took me half an hour to find the table the rest of them were sitting around, even with the instructions they'd left on how to get there. (Part of the problem--aside from the size and maze-like nature of the place--was that in the evening, almost all of the lights in common areas get turned down, and where there are lights, there are usually no tables & chairs.) When I found the rest of the group, I learned that one of them was tied up in a dinner engagement and would be there soon, so it wasn't so bad that I was running late.

Two of the people were currently in D&D campaigns, two hadn't played in years, and one had never played at all and wanted to know what it was like. Also, since we were starting after dinner and all of us had an early morning the next day, I ran a scenario that elonden and I wrote several years back for the second year of the Ides of March convention, as it comes with 6 preconstructed characters, so we could jump right into the adventure rather than spend hours creating characters from scratch. (Also, since I co-wrote it, most of it involves storytelling and inter-party role-playing rather than combat and non-player characters, and none of the additional rules for higher-level characters come into play, I know the adventure backwards & forwards, and could concentrate on setting the mood and having fun rather than on making sure I had all the combat rules correct, I knew how non-player characters should react, and that everything happened in the proper order. This is good, since I haven't DMed in several years, and was rusty then.)

We ended up playing for about three and a half hours. Much fun was had by all, though since we ended after midnight, the players got a little sleepy by the end and almost missed the major clue that leads to the explanation of what exactly is going on. (Also, one of the players decided she didn't want to play her character with a bubbly personality as written and instead transplanted one a bit less friendly and more secretive, which made for a bit more inter-party conflict than there normally is in the adventure, though everything still worked out in the end.) The new player really got into his role as a half-orc barbarian, and for the rest of the conference would grunt in-character whenever anyone asked about the game.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: d&d, nashville, opryland, sirsi, travelogue

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