Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Bruce - ScanCon 2024 Tournament of Champions

It all starts with a puzzlebox in the mail...

For over 15 straight years (and on and off before that all the way back to 2002) we've had an annual gaming convention called 'ScanCon'. Each year around February the participants receive a small mystery package in the mail that contains the password to a website that tells them where ScanCon is that year. This year they recieved a wooden puzzle box with runes woodburnt into the individual sections, so you had to solve the puzzlebox to get them all, then figure out what type of runes they are to decode them, then go online (to a website url hidden in the puzzlebox) and put in the password. This told them where ScanCon was happening and give details on the theme. This year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of D&D so celebrated in Lake Geneva, WI, original birthplace of D&D!

The attendees are then split into two teams. This year we had teams based on the original logos of TSR, so we had Team Lizardman and Team Wizardman. The Teams participate in a series of physical and mental challenges until one team remains. The members of that team are then pitted against eachother in a final showdown to see who is that year's winner of the coveted annual trophy: The Bruce (named after Bruce Campbell, of course). The winner of the Bruce gets a series of prizes and takes the trophy home that year, with the task of adding a single piece of flair to the trophy when they bring it back the next year.

This year the teams had to construct all the pieces from their wooden Tablet of their TSR logo. The pieces were hidden around Lake Geneva in spots important to the history of D&D. All players were given a copy of the official Adventurer's Map of Lake Geneva.

This year's team challenge had two parts. The first clue was they had to retrieve their teams' "Gem of Foresight" from the bottom of Lake Geneva, which had been hidden there by "Sprites". In truth, the gems had a number written on them and were put into drybags and tied with rope to Sprite bottles filled with air, so when we threw them into the lake the sprite bottle floated above where the gems lay. It didn't take long for everyone to figure out the clue and start putting together fishing lines to cast out into the lake to retrieve them (which was our intention). Except one member Team Lizardman wouldn't wait and paddleboarded out to their Gem to retrieve it first!

The numbers on the Gem referenced places in the Adventurer’s Map of Lake Geneva where the first piece of the Tablet puzzle was hidden. They weren’t told this of course, but they figured it out in very short order.

We then went into Lake Geneva proper and after a group dinner and a few games of Cornhole, the players were all given a test of old school D&D lore. The team who scored the most points got a head start of that many minutes. In this case, Team Wizardman scored 5 points higher than Team Lizardman, so got their clue and a 5 minute head start (on foot).

The scavenger hunt for the pieces took Team Wizardman to the Lake Geneva Public Library, where the famous Throne of Reading resides in the Adult fiction section. There hidden behind the Robert E Howard Conan books was their next clue, which took them to Horticulture Hall to hunt for the third and final clue in the bushes behind the statue of the “Druid”.

Team Lizardman, on the other hand, was sent straight to Horticulture Hall with their first clue, where their next piece was hidden behind the bench in Harry’s Garden. This clue led them to the bronze Dragon Statue outside the Public Library, where the final clue and tablet pieces were hidden inside the Dragon’s mouth!

The final clue led both teams to The Hobby Shop Dungeon Museum, where the final pieces of the tablet were hidden behind the glass case in the museum. They had to ask the proprietor for a T-shirt with their TSR logo on it and he would give them the final piece! (Thanks again to the Hobby Shop Dungeon for being great sports with our hijinks!)

Edging out Team Lizardman by less than ~5 minutes, Team Wizardman made it to the Hobby Shop Dungeon and got their T-shirt and final pieces first, winning the team challenge!

Team Wizardman was then put into the final challenge. They would have to be the last survivor in a 2nd ed AD&D Gladiator Gauntlet! They rolled dice to see who would choose characters first, and were thrown into the challenge. The PCs were all pre-gen human character classes with 5000 XP (making the Thief higher level than the other PCs, if one remembers their 2nd ed AD&D). The map was a Wizard’s maze filled with traps, treasure boxes (with random treasure rolls), and monsters released into the dungeon every three rounds, so the players had to not only contend with eachother but also various creatures! In the end, here’s the class each player chose and what happened to them:

Chad – Wizard – Cast “Friends” on the cleric so he wouldn’t be attacked, then fell into a spiked pit trap and died.

Travis – Thief – Stabbed the fighter then ran away to hide, right into a dead end where a gelatinous cube enveloped him.

Cullen – Ranger – Dismantled a mechanical crossbow trap and used it with great effect to hurt the Cleric, but was then blasted to pieces by the Cleric’s Staff of Striking.

Steve – Cleric – Found a Staff of Striking early on and destroyed the Ranger after taking a few crossbow hits, but then was backstabbed a lowly goblin released into the dungeon.

Paul – Fighter – Took a hit from a dart trap but found a Longsword (his specialized weapon), killed a couple goblins, then as he was moving in on the Cleric watched him get killed by a goblin and ended up being last man standing!

Paul Gorecki is the Winner of ScanCon 2024 and takes home the Bruce!

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