Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now *that* was a con!

I had a great time at Con of the North, a nice regional con with about 700 attendees.

I took Friday off to prepare for my game, scheduled for 2pm. Good thing I did too, because I spent a good chunk of that picking up miniatures from a friend's house. After chatting and picking lead, I went out and found my battery dead. (My friend had gone to bed immediately after I left.) That's what AAA is for. An hour later I was on the road to eat, shower, and drive to St. Paul.

I had four players for GURPS Tekumel: a mage, a K-9 warrior, a scout, and a florentine ax man. I was running Rumble in Jakalla again. Everyone worked well together and the party did not split, at least not out of sight of each other. They walked into the tunnel to the underworld beneath the city without trepidation. They dispatched denizens of the darkness handily with spell and bow and chlen-hide. They did walk right up to the entrance of the very interesting section, but then turned around, because of someone's paranoia about not checking every inch behind them. I let them leave as much as I wanted them to check it out. They walked farther down one tunnel than I expected, but at the end, discovered fellow explorers in need of decent food. They made a deal with them to supply food for them in exchange for cooperating in the investigation of the area of the dungeon. I think everyone had fun. I sure did.

I've now run this scenario three times with three different systems (TFT, EPT, and GURPS). Each works just as well as the other, though I think EPT is somewhat deadlier than the other two. Two out of three times, the player's missed the clues to find the cool part. The third party walked in to the tomb, found the forced exit, and never went back. After the first time, I adjusted things to present fewer options to the players. Cave-ins after an earthquake are good for that. Both of the later groups at least found the entrance. Another good reason to playtest. Before I finalize this to publish it, I think I'll move some corridors and rooms around, putting more interesting stuff in the vicinity. In the end, it will be a small area of the Jakallan underworld of my own design.

The next day, I spent the morning entering characters into GURPS Character Builder to print character sheets. I printed them and left for my first session of the day. I played Pandemic by Z-Man Games. It's a boardgame of deadly disease outbreaks. It is unusual in that it is a cooperative game, the players against the diseases. I really liked the cooperative play, and the mechanics of the diseases were very nicely worked out. The special abilities of the various character types were interesting. In the end, we lost, with a huge cascading outbreak in Europe that infected North America as well. We all had fun anyway.

The time for my next game I was running, a GURPS Traveller scenario, came and went with no players. I think the 8 pm to 2 am time slot scared people away. I'll request an earlier time next time. So instead, I cruised the open gaming area and found a couple of my buddies, Richard and Don. We played Trans-America from Rio Grande Games, an easy and fast train building game. I was impressed with the fast play. I accidentally helped another player win by connecting with San Diego instead of Los Angeles. Oops. Then we played the 4-player Lost Cities boardgame, which I also enjoyed.

Sunday was my turn to play RPGs. I first played Heirs to the Lost World, an alternate history Age of Pirates game from Obsidian Serpent, with the author GMing the game. The setting is also a wonderfully creative place. The premise is that the Aztec and Mayan empires never fell to the Spanish, because their magic counteracted the European edge in technology. So the new world has both Aztec and Mayan cultures intact. All of the cultures have magical workers: alchemists, Voodoo, shamanism, shapeshifters, etc. The spirit world comes into play frequently. I really like how the GM runs things. I've played this game before, and I love the dice pool mechanics, even though I hate dice pool mechanics. These flow easily and give the players lots of options for play. I highly recommend this game.

The other game was a FATE version of Tekumel run by . I've never played FATE before, and I think it worked well. John's adaptation to Tekumel was good. I had a lot of fun playing one of the alien races, a Tinaliya. These are small (3.5 foot) beings with four legs and an insatiable curiosity. And they are totally literal. Fun to play. This fellow was an expert in mechanisms, and thus became the burglar. Another great time was had.

So for me, a great con, even though one of my games didn't run.

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