Monday, February 21, 2011

Orccon 2011 Recap and Photos

This past weekend I attended Orccon, one of the big gaming cons in Southern California.

First of all, I want to thank everyone that played in my Gamma World and OD&D/Spelljammer games. There's nothing more satisfying for a DM than to see returning players and to hear cheers, laughs, and applause during and after a game. I was also flattered that my games were overbooked with alternates, although it was disappointing to have to turn people away from Gamma World.

So, yes... I attended the con on Saturday and spent about 15 hours gaming, with short breaks for pizza and beer.

For the morning session I played in a game of Mouse Guard. I like the comic and wanted to try the RPG out. I had fun, although we spent much of the session talking about rules as opposed to pretending we were mice. After playing for over 3 hours our team managed to (1) get a cart unstuck from the mud (I can't believe how many dice rolls this trivial task took, christ), (2) ask around town for a friend mouse (without finding him), and (3) have an argument with a group of NPC mice (again, at least an hour and 15-20 dice rolls to resolve this verbal confrontation with NPCs). The game mechanic was indeed clever in how it forced the players to produce a character-driven narrative. But at what cost? The slowness of the games was pretty frustrating, and I don't think it was all the GM's fault. Although I did have a good time, I think I'd have to be prodded a bit before trying out the Burning Wheel rule system again.

For the afternoon session I ran a game of first edition Gamma World. It was a follow up to my SoCal Minicon game from last summer, where the group played a troupe of mutated heavy metal musicians. In this session the group invaded a rusted out oil tanker that was swarming with mutated rat punk rockers. The players found the punk king, snorted his coke and smoked his weed, humiliated (and murdered) his band, turned the rat punks on to metal with the help of a muttonchopped rocker named Lemming, and defeated an evil psychic brain that had been lording over the rat punks. The game ended up being nasty, despicably violent, and riddled with drug abuse and poor life choices. The session had a happy ending, though, when the band's half-chimp triangle player awoke from a magic-induced coma to be reunited with his illegitimate robitussin-addicted son (I wanted to get in some edgy modern psycho-emotional roleplaying, you see). I'm always grateful to get a table full of awesome players like this. Super special thanks to player Troy Z. for presenting me with the original artwork he created depicting the climax of the previous session! Wow!

(Thanks to Louis Garcia for photos of the Gamma World session)

For the evening session I ran an OD&D / Spelljammer hybrid game with 3rd-5th level characters. You can CLICK HERE to read the basic scenario, so I won't repeat it in this post. For the first part of the session the players flew their rickety space tower around the outside of the asteroid, exploring possible entry points. They opted to enter through the nostril of a transplanted supergiant face on the dark side of the asteroid. They explored some of the interior of the asteroid and met one key personality who had been stuck on the rock for many years. Through a combination of luck and cleverness the players ended up doing fabulously, accomplishing their primary mission of uncovering some ancient starfaring navigation scrolls from the interior of the asteroid. There was a super cool close-call climax involving a furious vampire hobbit and dwarf tossing in space.

After the game the players seemed enthusiastic, which was gratifying. One guy who had never played OD&D before said he liked the creepy atmosphere and asked "what happens in the rest of the adventure". I didn't know what to say - the players saw less than 10% of the interior of this particular asteroid. There was no script or "adventure path" for this game - the story was made by the players and the dice. Great work, Team Xylbocx! Thanks again for the fun Saturday night!


  1. Sounds like a great time. I envy those of you that are geographically situated to attend such events. Someday soon, I must just go on a personal vacation.

  2. I had a feeling from your earlier adventure outline thingy that your OD&D IN SPACE! game would go really well, and I'm glad it did. I'd love to see a pdf of it after you're done presenting it in Texas :) wink wink

    Also, the GW game sounds amazingly wacked out, as it should. :)

  3. The Starcult of Xylbocx adventure was a blast - it had a great balance of creepiness, action, dialog, and fun. It also highlighted my frustration of playing con games - there are so many unanswered questions and things to explore! The origin of our little 'friend' and the infected 'zombies', the curiousness of our tidally-locked little home world, and a million other questions that no doubt could be discovered during the course of a campaign.
    Argh!! I think I've spent more time thinking about the game on Saturday than I spent playing, curse you!
    It was a terrific setup for a game, in all seriousness. If I can get my Chainmail man-to-man combat adaptation finished, understandable, and in playable shape, I think I shall undertake a campaign that combines my combat rules, Gorgonmilk's recent system for Vancian magic, and your Spelljammer adaptation. I know, it's outright theivery, but you presented it so well I feel compelled to use it as a basis for something more permanent. Hell, I already have a treatise written by one 'Dustin The Learned, Fra. 2ยบ of the Ordo Astrum Scrutoris' on the feasability of mage-powered craft, drawn from an older obscure work in the possession of his master. Undoubtedly Dustin will have much to say about the nature of the aether, the world, and other things as well.

    Great game - thank you!

  4. All sounds very cool. I'll be going to GaryCon (my first con) soon, can't wait!

    Question: My group has showed an interest in trying out a wacky sci-fi type game, but we've never tried anything outside of various editions of D&D and TOON. Would you say 1st ed. Gamma World is a good choice for getting our feet wet?


  5. If I can get my Chainmail man-to-man combat adaptation finished, understandable, and in playable shape, I think I shall undertake a campaign that combines my combat rules, Gorgonmilk's recent system for Vancian magic, and your Spelljammer adaptation.

    This sounds awesome! You have to do this!

  6. Would you say 1st ed. Gamma World is a good choice for getting our feet wet?

    I would say yes, but I am obviously biased. It would probably make more sense for you to give it a test run with the Mutant Future retro-clone rules before paying for an original Gamma World set on eBay, though. I prefer Gamma World to Mutant Future because the original rules are shorter, simpler, and have Dave Trampier art.

  7. Despite being bite-fondled by a hobbit vampire, party to probably releasing zombie-plague on my home world, being the guinea dwarf for testing the breathability of ether, and being hurled into said ether by a decidedly ungodlike cleric, I had a blast at your game.

    Between this session and the Blackmoor party-wipe, I think I'm ruined for rules-heavy systems. You really should make a placard for con-games: "No, that is not covered in the rules. Yes, you might still be able to pull it off."

  8. The Xylbocx session was some of the most fun I ever had at the gaming table. I love how you turn the vagueness of OD&D into a feature rather than a bug - treating the interpretation of the rules as an integral element of gameplay rather than an inconvenient chore.

    The dwarf-tossing was good too.

  9. I'm tre envious at your score of the -original- Mutants of Metal artwork! Congrats!
    That is truly some of the best B&W campaign illustration I've ever seen.

  10. Charva Chynex and his blood spattered bass guitar would be proud