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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Vampire Takes Victims in Baldy Hall

Last weekend in Baldy Hall a maiden attempted to marry into nobility. She wore a long, flowing gown and was blessed by the pope, nobles and a minister, among others. Unfortunately, though, there was a clandestine conspiracy to disrupt the engagement.

By the end of the night nearly a third of the wedding guests had been poisoned, but the groom happily got his bride - although he didn't know she had succumbed to a vampire and was no longer human.

This was just one of the live action role-playing games staged as part of UB Con, a three-day gaming festival held from 8 p.m. Friday through 7 p.m. Sunday.

Over 200 people came from distances as far as Pittsburgh for the UB Strategists and Role Players Association's annual convention; many slept on couches in the Student Union.

John Kuan, president of SARPA, said he was introduced to role-playing games by a bunch of "weird people," and found gaming imaginative, therapeutic and fun.

"So now I am one of the weird people," said Kuan.

David Greene set up the tabletop game he designed in front of the main entrance to the Student Union during UB Con registration, what he appropriately calls "Marble Tag."

He shoved a short wooden dowel into the hand of a passerby.

"Want to play?" he asked. "You're red," not allowing time for a response and dropping another marble into the game.

The board was crafted from a table with marble sized tracks cut into it. Six players surrounding the table excitedly reached over and under each other's arms, frantically driving their marbles through the labyrinth in Greene's enormous version of the childhood game of cat and mouse.

"Yellow's it!" shouted the tall, bearded Greene.

In the Student Union Flag Room Saturday, students tried out new card games such as Fellowship of the Ring, similar to the popular Magic: The Gathering.

Ronald Boszarsk and Alan Farnsworth, from Clarkson University, streaked their hands across the table drawing cards, turning dice and playing cards such as "Goblin Archer" and "Gandalf's Pipe."

Boszarsk, who is the president of the Gaming Society at Clarkson, and Farnsworth both drove five hours to UB Con.

"Because it is a tech school role playing isn't really accepted there, because nobody really knows what it is," Boszarsk said.

Also during the weekend gaming extravaganza, groups of people gathered in classrooms in the Student Union, Baldy Hall and Clemens Hall to play role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

Lead by a storyteller, or game master, the players verbally acted out collective tales of heroes and goblins, vampires and werewolves and post-apocalyptic wastelands.

The players attempted to cut down charging beasts with two-handed swords and cast spells to blind an army of trolls. Their success was determined by the characters' abilities and the tumble of dice.

Jim Shank, who graduated from UB with a double degree in computer science and English in 1996, designed a role-playing campaign that took place on North Campus, but with a twist.

His game was in the Mekton system, comparable to D&D, but set in a world based upon Japanese animation. In his story, the characters romped down the North Campus Promenade in massive robotic war machines, firing rockets and lasers at attackers and even each other.

Room 145 in the Student Union was transformed into the dealers' room for the weekend. Tables and shelves stacked with colorful boxes of cards, books and games rising to the ceiling lined the walls.

A dealer who insistently identified himself as only "Boldo" said his most popular item during the weekend was Dungeons & Dragons books. His most expensive item though, was the $250 "Black Lotus" Magic: The Gathering card.

Boldo, who wears large glasses and sports a mullet, received a doctorate in history from SUNY Brockport. He began selling cards and games as a supplement to his armor sales.

He began making armor for himself in 1989 as part of his participation in live-action role playing. As his skills in cold-working steel improved, demand for his helmets and chest-plates increased. Boldo's work can even be seen in some films, and he is currently crafting the armor for "a cheesy 'Lord of the Rings' rip-off."

Back in the Flag Room a post-apocalyptic landscape covered the top of two tables in the Saturday evening. It depicted a wasteland battleground complete with barrels, oil tanks and piles of metal, buildings and soldiers.

Two guys stood at either side like generals at play, manipulating squadrons of model soldiers and robots.

Lance Kazmark, from Rome, N.Y., advanced his force of six futuristic warriors and a drone around the centerpiece building for a shot at his opponent Tom Gleason's forces.

All the objects in the scene were meticulously constructed and painted. Kazmark had constructed the silvery-gray building's roof from a grate he found at his job, and got the walls at a hobby shop. Adorning the building were miniature barrels and an oil tank made from a motor casing.

They waved tape rulers over the landscape to determine how far their battalions could move and whether or not the enemy was in range. Dice danced across the edges of the scene to decide if declared shots actually hit their marks.

The hobby of crafting armies and battlegrounds is half the fun of playing Vor, said Kazmark who has attended UB Con with his friend Gleason every year since 1995.

At the end of the event, weary gamers packed up and headed home.

"Goodbye," Sarah DeLotto said. "Phil's leaving the castle!" She meant Baldy Hall.



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