Showing posts with label convention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label convention. Show all posts

Monday, April 25, 2011

Need Your Opinion: A New Model for Celebrity DMs at Cons

I am asking for your opinion about whether it's appropriate for a con to sell individual seats for games run by celebrity DMs. For instance, would you pay $50 or $100 to be guaranteed a place in a game run by your favorite DM / designer of all time? Do you think this is ethical?

I am asking this because I am trying to figure out a financially sustainable model to bring out-of-town celebrity DMs to our Los Angeles gaming events. L.A. isn't Lake Geneva - I can't just call up Jim Ward or Rob Kuntz and invite them to come out and run games for a day or two in exchange for free dinner. We gotta fly people out and keep them fed and sheltered for several days. This costs a lot of money.

The tricky thing, of course, is that only 6-8 people can play in a typical session run by a celebrity DM, so it's not really feasible (or ethical) to charge a lot for con registration fees across the board to finance bringing in VIPs. It doesn't make sense for general con-goers to underwrite sessions they won't even get to play in.

As a solution to this problem it makes a lot of sense to simply sell individual seats in VIP games in order to make just enough money to pay for the DM to be there. There wouldn't be any judgment made about how important the VIP is or about making a profit. Prices would NOT be scaled to a DM's reputation - only to how far they have to travel. The bottom line would simply be that there are enough players willing to fund that DM's presence.

You might say "Well, the traditional model seems to work for North Texas RPG Con... They only charge $30 for registration and they bring in all kinds of out-of-town VIPs!" Well... I hate to say this, but it's not working for NTRPGCon. The organizers have said publicly that they consistently lose money on their event. Quick math: $30 x 90 registrants = $2700 coming in. Even if you count other little stuff like souvenir sales, raffles, etc. ~$3000 is NOT paying for much - it probably barely pays for the venue and one or two guests (this is all speculation on my part, I don't have the actual numbers). NTRPGCon must have an investor with a very long horizon, or who doesn't mind shelling out lots of money for a really really fun weekend. I have to admit I don't really understand the short- or long-term NTRPGCon financial model, and I don't see how they will be able to continue to offer the VIP list that they do year-after-year. I assume GaryCon can pull off what they do because they can easily draw on the unusual concentration of local (Wisconsin) VIPs.

Lots of people will pay $80-$100 to go to an Ozzy concert. I would happily pay this much to play Gamma World with Jim Ward. I don't really see any other practical way of bringing out VIP DMs for gaming events...

Do you?

Seriously... let me know...

Friday, April 15, 2011

STOKED! My North Texas RPG Con Schedule!


Sign-ups for the North Texas RPG Con game sessions went live last night at midnight! I'm so hippidy-jippidy that I was able to squeeze into such a remarkable series of sessions. Here's my schedule, ending with a game I'm DMing myself...


Time
DM
Game
Thurs PM
Kyrinn Eis
Urutusk - World of Mystery
Fri AM
Matt Finch
Swords & Wizardry
Fri PM
Paul Jaquays
RuneQuest
Sat AM
Erol Otus
AD&D
Sat PM
Tim Kask
Original D&D
Sun AM
Cyclopeatron
Original D&D

My biggest regret was that I had to choose between Jim Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha game and Erol Otus' AD&D game on Saturday. I couldn't resist taking a place at Otus' table though - I'm such a slavering admirer of his illustration work and early D&D supplements like Necronomican and this is such a rare opportunity because he rarely (never) makes public appearances.

Another beautiful thing is that one of my favorite bloggers, Tavis Allison, will be a player in the Jaquays and Otus sessions. Great!

On a final note, I'm flattered to already have a couple people signed up for my Sunday morning Xylbocx Starcult OD&D session! I have to admit I feel a little intimidated about running a game at a con with a VIP list like this. I'll work hard to make it a dandy run!

Many thanks to Doug Rhea and Mike Badolato for setting up this event! I hope to see some of you there!

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!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Orccon: Game Preregistration Full

This is just a quick note that all pre-regsitration slots have been filled for my February 19 Gamma World and OD&D/Spelljammer Orccon games. There are still three first-come first-served slots open for each game, however. If you want to join in these sessions I strongly recommend you plan ahead to sign-up in person immediately when you get to the con - the earlier the better.

You can still get a discount pre-registration for the con until Feb 14, I believe. CLICK HERE.

See y'all there!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Next Phase of the Old School Renaissance? Minicons.

Everyone is starting to agree: It's time we get together to game!

There are two full-blown cons devoted to old school gaming: GaryCon (Lake Geneva, WI) and North Texas RPG Con (Dallas, TX). Both of these have been growing steadily for the last few years and regularly bring in  well-known guest DMs. It's hard for many people to spare the time and money to travel to these cons, however. So now people are asking themselves, why not DIY locally?

Last year saw several minicons sprout up around the U.S. These were typically one-day events where a handful to a few dozen local gamers got together to play play play. The 2010 old school minicons I'm aware of were:

SoCal Minicon (Anaheim, CA)
Central Texas Minicon (Austin, TX)
Fal-Con (Middletown, CT)

Am I missing any?

This year there are rumblings of OSR minicons in Toronto and Vancouver, as well as repeats of the previous minicons. Are there any others out there?

I would love to see minicons become a primary instrument of the OSR and I hope the enthusiasm continues to build. As a "co-organizer" of the SoCal Minicon (if you can even say SCMC had a true organizer - it was just a bunch of us getting together in a clubhouse with no fees or registration), I can tell you it doesn't take much effort to put together a small event with 2 or 3 tables. The experience of meeting and gaming with other cool like-minded people is priceless fun. If you're thinking about hosting a gameday, D&D party, or minicon: DO IT!

Another minicon model to explore would be the con-within-a-con. For instance, players could pre-organize a series of old school events at a major convention like GenCon. Meetup groups dedicated to old school gaming also make sense. Does anyone know of examples of these approaches?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Upcoming Sessions at L.A. Orccon (Feb 19)

I just got a confirmation email from the Orccon RPG organizer. I will be running two games at the con, both on Saturday, Feb 19. Online game sign-up for Orccon begins January 29, so if you're keen to play in one of these sessions be sure to sign up before hand. My last couple convention games filled up very quickly and I had to turn players away.

Feb 19, 8pm: Asteroid Crypts of the Xylbocx Starcult
Original D&D (+ Spelljammer). Your party has uncovered a lost text originating from the ancient Xylbocx Starcult. This document contains remarkable instructions for constructing a spacefaring wizard tower and for navigating the tower wizardship to a mysterious asteroid. As the first adventurers in centuries to voyage between worlds, what deeper secrets will you learn about traversing the stars? Will whatever starry disaster that befell the Starcult aeons ago also threaten your own expedition?

Feb 19, 2pm: Mutants of Metal vs. Ratt Punx
Original Gamma World. As your touring mutant heavy metal band takes a breather in an idyllic island village, a group of rickety boats filled with Ratt Punx appears at the harbor. You soon discover that the Punx are systematically getting the local island kids addicted to radioactive cough medicine. You must join forces with the angry moms of the island to protect the children and lead them down the righteous metal path. This will be a continuation of the Heavy Metalpocalypse game from the SoCal Mini-Con III. Previous players are welcome to bring and use their characters!

I'll post some more background on these scenarios over the coming weeks.

On a related note, I made a new static page to keep track of my upcoming public games at cons, gamesdays, etc. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Should I Run At Orccon? Four Possible Scenarios.

Orccon -  one of the biggest gaming conventions in Southern California - is coming up next month in Los Angeles. I’d like to run a game or two, but I’m being indecisive about what to go with. Below I briefly describe four scenarios that tickle my fancy. What do you all think sounds most fun? I’m interested in everyone’s opinions, but I’ll pay special attention to people who might actually attend the con and play in a session. I’d probably run a morning or afternoon session on Saturday or Sunday.

Here are my favorite possibilities. They are all originals except for #1:

1. First Fantasy Campaign’s Blackmoor Dungeon – Original D&D: Go for the gold and glory in the very first dungeon adventure ever created! Travel in the footsteps of the original fantasy roleplayers while spelunking in Dave Arneson’s original Blackmoor dungeon. This game will be based on the original maps and room descriptions generated by Arneson himself. This is where it all started.

2. Mutants of Metal Meet Ratt Punx - Gamma World (First Edition): Your traveling band of mutated metalheads has set up shop in an idyllic island village. One day a mysterious conglomeration of rickety boats bearing a clan of Ratt Punx appears at the harbor. You soon discover that, for unknown reasons, the Punx are systematically getting the local island kids addicted to radioactive cough medicine. Can your band join forces with the angry moms of the island to free the children from the Punx scourge, and to send the children down the righteous metal path?

3. Asteroid Crypts of the Xylbocx Starcult - Classic D&D + Spelljammer: Your group has uncovered a lost text originating from the ancient Xylbocx Starcult. This document contains remarkable instructions for constructing a spacefaring wizardship and for navigating it to a bizarre orbiting asteroid. Can further secrets pertaining to spacefaring and the fate of the starcult be found on - or within - this silent orbiting mass?

4. Horror in the Cloud Mines – Classic D&D: There is a vale, secret and narrow, where trapped and aged clouds live and breath as if they were alive. A century ago these clouds were quietly mined for precious and otherworldly minerals until a mysterious disaster occurred and the vale was sealed by command of the old king. Your party has learned of the location of this vale and senses a chance to achieve extreme wealth. When you enter the cloud mines will you find forgotten deposits of polychromatic cumulonimbical crystals, or will you find madness and death?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

North Texas RPG Con - Best Bet For 2011?


I want to check out a national level gaming con next year. The North Texas RPG Con clearly looks like the best in the world for 2011. No competition, really. I just registered.

DMs Include:
Erol Otus (YES - DMing!)
Paul Jaquays
Frank Mentzer
Robert Kuntz
Tim Kask
Matt Finch
Kyrinn Eis
Dennis Sustare
Steve Winter

Mind-blowing. Wowie zowie. Not worthy. Etc.

GaryCon looks like a strong second with Jim Ward, Tom Wham, and Mike Carr as guests. For me personally, though, the possibility of gaming with Jaquays and Otus tips the balance towards Texas. Maybe I can squeeze in both cons somehow...? Hmmm...

I still haven't heard a convincing argument for why GenCon would be worth the time and dough to me.  I have minimal interest in vendor booths, booth babes, or costume contests. I do, however, have maximum interest in rocking with The Creators. And gaming nonstop. Don't you?

I hope to see some of you in Irving, Texas next June!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Southern California Gaming Conventions: Strategicon, WyrdCon, SoCal Smackdown, Etc.

Gaming is huge in Southern California. It’s so popular, in fact, that there are no fewer than five major gaming conventions in the Los Angeles / Orange County area alone. Surprisingly, however, I often meet local gamers who either never realized there’s a thriving local convention scene, never bothered to visit a local con because they don’t know what to expect, or went to a local con some years ago, had a bad experience, and never returned.

The point of this post is twofold. First, I simply want to provide a list of the Southern California gaming cons I am aware of. Second, I want to give brief first- or second-hand descriptions of what these cons are like. Hopefully this information will be useful for some readers:
2011 Southern California Gaming Con Calendar:
Feb 18-21: Strategicon / OrcCon – LAX Sheraton Gateway

April (?): Hyphen-Con – San Diego

May 27-30: Strategicon / Gamex - LAX Sheraton Gateway

June 2011:  PolyCon 29 – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

June 10-12: WyrdCon II - Costa Mesa Hilton

Aug (?): SoCal Old School Mini-Con IV – L.A. / O.C. area

Sept 2-5: SoCal Smackdown – Anaheim Hilton

Sept 2-5: Strategicon / Gateway – LAX Sheraton Gateway

Before I launch into the descriptions, though, I want to briefly describe the weirdness of Strategicon, which is by far our area’s biggest player in the con game. “Strategicon” is actually three different conventions at three different times of year: OrcCon, Gamex, and Gateway. Over the years Strategicon bought out other regional cons and moved them all to the LAX airport. Because of this Strategicon has had a virtual monopoly on gaming conventions in L.A. since the mid-80s. There are two major downsides to the Strategicon monopoly: (1) the character of all of all three cons has been completely homogenized and they all “feel” exactly the same, and (2) since they are all at LAX none of them are particularly convenient to outlying areas like San Bernardino, Orange County, Antelope Valley, San Diego, etc. This is especially ironic because OrcCon’s name is an abbreviation for “Orange County Convention” – so why the hell was it moved to LAX? Lame. Strategicon is a lot of fun and I go as often as I can, however there remains a strong reservoir of resentment towards it for the reasons I describe, especially amongst older gamers who remember the takeovers (for a taste of the vitriol, see the Comments to this previous post).

Strategicon (= OrcCon, Gateway, and Gamex): This is by far the largest gaming convention in Southern California. The last event in September 2010 had over 1200 attendees. Strategicon covers all aspects of gaming, including video games, miniatures, LARPs, RPGs, CCGs, and boardgames. Boardgames and RPGs are clearly the major focus of Strategicon, however. Indeed, Strategicon hosts most of the major regional competitions for many boardgames (and related card games like Dominion), sometimes with major prizes attached (e.g. a recent Settlers of Catan champion won a free trip to compete in Germany). There is always a huge turnout at Strategicon for RPGs as well, with major representation from RPGA (i.e. “official” D&D 4e events). While there are usually a handful of old school and indie RPGs being run, most of what you’ll find is the typical current mainstream stuff like D&D 4e, Pathfinder, GURPS, World of Darkness, FATE, and so forth. Call of Cthulhu is usually well represented, too. GM quality can vary, of course, but if you ask around about who the good GMs are you can definitely fill up all your days with excellent roleplaying. I always have an excellent time at Strategicon, but I have heard some complaints about the quality of sanctioned miniature tournaments at Strategicon, which in part led to the creation of SoCal Smackdown. Click here for pictures and a more thorough previous review of Strategicon.

SoCal Smackdown: This is a newcomer to the SoCal con scene, having had its first event in September 2010 at the Anaheim Hilton. One great thing about this con is that it is located in Orange County, and is therefore much more convenient for us more southerly gamers. Turnout this year was about 250. This con is primarily focused on miniatures tournaments, so if you are into Warhammer, Flames of War, Warmachine, etc. your mind will be blown. The downside of this con is that it’s on the same weekend as Strategicon, so most of the area boardgamers and roleplayers are in L.A. during the weekend and don't go to Smackdown. I think this conflict in scheduling is really very ill-advised, and I have ranted about it before: see pictures and a review of SoCal Smackdown.

WyrdCon: This is also a new con based in Orange County. This con is exceptional in that it is alllll Live Action Roleplaying (LARP). With 318 attendees at the first event earlier this year, WyrdCon handily wins the title of the biggest LARP convention in North America. Even though I had no background in LARPing I had a ton of fun at the last WyrdCon and I’m definitely going to the next one. You will see and experience very weird and intense stuff if you go. Read my previous review here.

SoCal Old School Mini-Con: This small and loosely organized one-day event has been held for three years now. The focus is all old school RPGs with a strong bias towards early editions of D&D and their retroclones. Attendance at the SCMC III this summer was around 30 people and it was perfectly awesome! Read about it here!

PolyCon: This is a smallish weekend-long gaming convention that has been running strong for 18 years at the Cal Poly campus at San Luis Obispo. I’ve never been to this event (long drive from O.C.), but I’ve heard it’s totally great. It appears to focus mostly on boardgames and RPGs.

Hyphen-Con: A smallish gaming con in San Diego. I’ve never met anyone who’s been to it, but it looks like a cool boardgame, card game, and RPG event. I think it’s been going on for six years now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Generation Grognards

The main reason I went to SoCal Smackdown last weekend was to play in Brunomac's OD&D Dungeon Crawl on Saturday afternoon. This was a continuation of a game he started at the SoCal Mini-Con III, but that I wasn't able to participate in at the time. It sounded like too much fun, so I didn't want to miss out this time around.

Besides being a fun fast-moving low-level dungeon stomp, it was also kind of a remarkable game because most of the players at the table, 4 or 5 of them, were first-generation D&D players who started with the little brown books back in the 1970s. It struck me that I've never really been at the table with a whole group of grognard players like this before. Before we started the game, it was interesting hearing them chatting about the big Orange County D&D group that used to meet at Cal State Fullerton back in the late 70s. It also turns out that a couple of these guys started the first O.C. gaming convention back in the day (OrcCon - which was bought out by Strategicon and moved to L.A. - long story, yawn).


So I pulled out my little Collector's Edition whitebox thinking I was all cool and maybe could hang, and one of the guys jokingly says "I don't know what this whitebox stuff is all about, I always played this..." and he pulls out his original battered woodgrain OD&D set. He also had a clipboard with notes and tables he used at the original Dundracon 35 years ago. Awesome...


Anyway, it was a raucous and jolly game led by Brunomac, a hilarious loudmouthed DM. We were boozing it up while our characters were massacring kobolds, slipping in goblin poop, and hacking at gelatinous cubes. Beautiful afternoon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SoCal Smackdown - Pictures & Report

This last Labor Day weekend was the first annual SoCal Smackdown game convention. The organizer of this con, a friendly guy named Adam with whom I chatted a bit, is making an admirable attempt to get a regular gaming convention up and going here in Orange County again.

SoCal Smackdown was held at the Anaheim Hilton, a nice hotel a few blocks from Disneyland. Parking was $12/day. Con registration was $30 for the weekend, with a discount for early registrants. Pretty much the entire con was held in a single gigantic ballroom, except for the RPGs which were in an adjacent hall(way). Almost all of the action at SoCal Smackdown was focused on miniatures and CCGs. Most miniature gaming appeared to be tournament-related Warhammer, Flames of War, Warmachine, Malifaux, and Monsterpocalypse. There were also various Magic: The Gathering tournaments going on. If you are into any of these games, you'd probably love this con!


Flames of War
Warhammer

Unfortunately, RPGs and boardgames were a pretty minor aspect of Smackdown this year. Yes, there were some RPGs and boardgames listed in the event guide, but it seemed that there weren't enough players to support all of the scheduled games. At any given time on the Saturday afternoon I attended it looked like there were only 2 or 3 boardgames or RPGs going on. RPG activity was primarily D&D 4e. I saw one guy set up a Pathfinder game, but only one or two players showed up so he canceled. Notably, though, there were several awesome old school D&D sessions, which were frankly what attracted me to the con in the first place.

Hall(way) of RPGs
When I chatted with Adam the organizer he said the overall turnout was about 250. Unfortunately, this made the enormous ballroom feel rather empty (or "uncrowded" if you want to be optimistic). For some incomprehensible reason the Smackdown folks decided to schedule their con on Labor Day weekend so that it directly conflicts with the large and well-established Gateway con in L.A. (about 40 minutes away). Because of this, I think the size of the Smackdown may always be limited, and I'm guessing it will evolve into a niche event for miniatures and CCG gaming. I know Adam and the organizers have received a lot of complaints about this scheduling conflict (including from me), but apparently they are not changing the date for next year. I'd like to be able to go to both Gateway and Smackdown, and it sucks to be forced to make a choice between the two.

I'm not ranting here to be mean-spirited. I honestly think it would be a better business decision to not have Smackdown conflict with Gateway. I desperately want to see an RPG-rich con put down roots and grow here in O.C. and I will try to support Smackdown. I was worried, however, that almost no one from any of the (gigantic) O.C. RPG and boardgame meetups showed up for Smackdown - this is could be a bad sign that the Smackdown organizers aren't communicating very well with the local gaming community.

Where is everyone? Oh yeah... Gateway.
(Sorry about this joke, but it's kind of true. I join the chorus urging Smackdown to switch weekends!)
Anyway, I don't want to end on a negative note. I had a lot of fun during my Saturday afternoon at SoCal Smackdown. Because it's hard for me to get away from home for very long right now (new baby) I only got to play in one game - Brunomac's whitebox OD&D dungeon stomp, which was a blast (I'll post pictures tomorrow).

In sum, I would say if you like competitive miniature gaming and/or CCGs you should surely check out Smackdown next year. If you desire a broad selection of RPGs and/or boardgames you'd probably be better off at Gateway. I am interested to see what kind of offerings Smackdown will have next year - I'd love to see it grow and hopefully diversify a little bit better!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heavy Metalpocalypse in the Gamma World - Awesome Illustration and Session Recap

At the SoCal Mini-Con III I ran a session of first edition Gamma World. The game was set thousands of years in the future in a verdant and primeval post-apocalypse where few “humans” remain. For this session players were members of a mutant heavy metal band – traveling "Mohijrim" mystics moving from town to town, overseeing auspicious occasions such as births, weddings, funerals, harvests, etc. Metal Mohijrim seek to fulfill the sacraments of the Lords of Metal: intercourse, inebriation, and providing high quality musical performances to needy populations.


Player Troy Z. drew this highly accurate illustration of the climax of the game! Read recap below!

The PC's band Tipton Scrotus (note that Child-Eyes wants to call the band Van Tipton):

CLICK HERE TO SEE CHARACTER SHEETS.

Mamlish and Child-Eyes Tipton: Young heavy metal magic users. Their mother Minerva was the greatest guitar shred master of her generation. They learned the magical arts from their gentle wizard dad! They seek to avenge the murder of their parents and restore dignity to the Tipton clan! Drums and vocals, respectively.

Charva Chynex: New age bass-o-maniac. Can bend light and turn invisible!

Battus Scrotus: Joker ape-man with gigantic scrotum. When he squeezes his scrotum a paralyzing musk sprays forth form his urethra. Expert at electronic guitar.

Timetrius Finster: This mystery freakus can turn invisible! He bears the battery-powered mini-amp the whole band must share.

Doktor Vernix: Some say he’s crazy, some say he’s just a simple fool. Whatever they say, he’s one of the best keytar synth players in the Gamma World! He also has cryonic powers and telekinesis! And epilepsy!

Giggleface Gynander: S/he is a gay spirited drum player (Tipton Scrotus has two drummers like the Butthole Surfers did in their heyday) with the power of pyro!

The Set-Up:
The PCs are part of the once proud Tipton clan of metal masters. Their parents and mentors were slain, the ancient family instruments were stolen, and now the band seeks to recover the instruments, avenge the deaths of their elders, and return the Tipton dynasty to its rightful stature!

As the game opened the band was down to its last domar, and all they had were crap instruments – coffee can bass, broken acoustic guitar, barely functioning Casio keyboard. They were little more than a pathetic jug band of the apocalypse. While traveling in the northern city of Yeshmiri they found this note posted:


The guitar in the picture was the Gibson once owned by their metal master Mother Minerva. The band headed north to Dyson's Camp - a town of wolf people in a forest if gigantic redwood trees - to find Zygotus. The band arrived a day before the big Zygotus equinox concert was to occur. The PCs spent some time fucking around with the wolf guards, then headed to the inn to pick up wolf babes, play some jug band metal, and maybe score some coke. They ended up putting on a show, befriending some wolf lasses and earning some baksheesh and rounds of fortified pine ale. In one stage antic, rascally Battus Scrotus paralyzed Doktor Vernix on stage with urethra musk emanating from the hole of his broken Samick electroacoustic guitar. After the show Scrotus “rented out” the paralyzed Doktor to the highest bidder for a few minutes of physical pleasure (as the band often does to make ends meet, they said). The taker was huge, almost genetically pure wolf named Lee Loup. (The Rainbow/Dio song “Run with the Wolf” came up). Overall, the band endeared itself to a small portion of the town’s population and was able to get fed, sheltered, and somewhat wasted. The only one who got laid that night, however, was the paralyzed simpleton Doktor Vernix.

The next day the band left the limits of Dyson’s Camp to explore a potential Zygotus encampment. They indeed found evidence of Zygotus, including some guitar strings and Honda Goldwing tracks, but no evil heavy metal bastards. Instead of following the motorcycle tracks, however, the players went back to Dyson's Camp. They decided their strategy was going to be to confront Zygotus on stage at the big equinox festival of the wolves. This surprised me as the GM, because it seemed foolish and dangerous in the extreme. But it turned out to be purely awesome!

With the help of a groupie the band befriended in the inn the evening before, the band talked the stage manager into letting Tipton Scrotus play a few songs on stage before Zygotus’ arrival. Once on stage the band started into rock n’ roll action rounds, where each round is ~4min - the length of a typical rock ‘n roll song (eg. Metallica’s Orion would take 2 rounds). The band worked to entertain more and more of the crowd before Zygotus arrived – the goal being to turn at least 50% of the crowd into cheering fans before the enemy arrived. They were able to do this through their (admittedly lackluster) charisma, musical ability, and some gammatronic pyrokinetic hijinx. Toward the end of their set they broke into a two-round power ballad with vocalist Child-Eyes Tipton (played by blogger Brunomac, by the way) singing about evil that befell the Tipton clan, and how Zygotus possessed the Gibson relic that was rightfully theirs! Zygotus arrived backstage at this point and were furious! Child-Eyes flipped them a magically bioluminescent middle finger and a heavy metal battle royale ensued…

Metalpocalyptic Showdown! Tipton Scrotus vs. Zygotus!

This next scene – the climax of the game - was purely rad. It is one of those moments that makes GMing worth the pain and humiliation of explaining to your normal friends what your hobbies are.

When Zygotus arrived Doktor Vernix used his molecular understanding mutation to determine that the evil heavy metal band was actually a bunch of androids and their leader, Larbchuck, was a cyborg. At that point Zygotus took to the stage and most rudely started pushing Tipton Scrotus around in an attempt to halt their rock.  Of course, some serious violence commenced – but Tipton Scrotus NEVER STOPPED ROCKING. The whole battle took place while Tipton Scrtous were playing an epic prog-metal composition. All of the android bandmembers of Zygotus had laser cannons hidden under their scalps / wigs, and I assumed most of the PCs would be quickly incinerated at this point - ending the game tragically. But the Lords of Metal were truly with Tipton Scrotus for this battle, because I kept rolling crap, 3… 7… 5…, for the robot attacks.  Once I even rolled a 1 and the Zygotus bass player ended up shooting himself with his own damn laser beam. The android leather daddies were complete buffoons, apparently! Meanwhile Larbchuck, the screaming cyborg lead guitarist of Zygotus, was gearing up to shoot liquid-light radiation beams from his eyes. Charva Chynex (played by blogger Nick B.!) used his light manipulation powers to defuse the beam. Then Mamlish the Metal Wizard cast an ajna Radionic Fireball spell and melted the cyborg’s face off (see illustration) to reveal to the people of Dyson’s Camp that Zygotus were not authentic Mohijrim – they were computronic purveyors of False Metal.

During the battle Doktor Vernix tried for several rounds to telekinese the Gibson guitar from Larbchuck’s hand, and failed. Finally he rolled a white-hot 20 (as shown in the illustration) and was able to float the Gibson out of the hands of the cyborg into the hands of Battus Scrotus in the middle of Scrotus’ left-hand tapping guitar solo. With his right hand, Scrotus then grabbed his electric cricket bat, rolled a sweet sweet natural 20 and knocked Larbchuck’s head off, sending it flying over the audience.

Lots of other kooky stuff happened, but nobody reads long session reports so I won’t bother relating it all to you… Needless to say it was a super fun game for me to GM and the players said they liked it too. For me the first part of the game where the band was cavorting about with the locals was a tad slow for my taste, but some of the players said they really loved it.  “Town & Tavern” preludes simply appeal to some people and not to others – it’s been that way since 1974, I’m sure. I think for future con sessions, however, I might plan better to downplay Town & Tavern action so players can get to the exploration and violence more quickly. Damn, I had tons of other material - NPCs and localities - for this adventure the players never touched.

One stylistic element I experimented with for this game was giving a longer background color spiel than I usually do for one-shots. I spent 10-15 minutes describing the world, context, heavy metal traditions, etc. I personally like hearing GMs give colorful and creative intros, but I also know at a con game there can be a risk of turning off players with short attention spans. I think it turned out okay this time, but I never got direct feedback from the players about it.

Anyway, the game was cool. Maybe I’ll run a follow up at Orccon in February. I’m skipping out on Gateway this year because of the new baby.

PS: Click here to read Brunomac's recap of the session.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pictures From SoCal Mini-Con III

Yesterday was the SoCal Mini-Con III in Anaheim, California. Everything seemed to go perfectly great and everyone I talked to had a blast. Special thanks to Bedivere for arranging the event!

There were six games and over 30 people total:
  • Tavis Allison running OD&D
  • Trent Foster running AD&D
  • Joe Goodman running Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Telecenter running Swords and Wizardry
  • Cyclopeatron (me!) running Gamma World
  • Brunomac running OD&D
I was able to get  few pictures of the Mini-Con. Also, special thanks are due to David B. for the Gamma World pics. I tried my best to attach names to people in the pictures, but I couldn't remember everyone's name. Please let me know if I got your name wrong and I'll correct it. Sadly, I wasn't able to get pictures of Telecanter's or Brunomac's games...


 TAVIS ALLISON'S OD&D GAME:
 (Clockwise from far left: Jeff, Tavis, Nick Bielik, Kirk 'Telecanter', Alexey 'Monk', Javi, Staples, Chris 'Staples', Mobad Deathprong)

(Left to Right: Javi, Chris 'Staples', Mobad Deathprong)

TRENT FOSTER'S AD&D GAME:
(Clockwise from far left: Bedivere, son of Wheggi, Wheggi, Chris 'Cimmerian', T. Foster, Thorkhammer, The Shaman, Jeff, Rick?, Gary?)

 (Clockwise from left: T. Foster, Thorkhammer, The Shaman, Jeff, Rick?)

JOE GOODMAN'S DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS:
(DM: Joe Goodman, Guy in Hat: Louis)

CYCLOPEATRON'S GAMMA WORLD:
(Clockwise from left: Troy, Bob 'Cyclopeatron', Banjo Chris, Nick Bielik (blocked from view), Jorshus playing air keytar!)

(From left: Troy, David, Bob)


(Can't remember what I was gesticulating about, exactly...)



Friday, August 13, 2010

Mutants of Metal Pregen Characters - Take Your Pick!

Tomorrow is the SoCal Mini-Con! Here are eight pregen characters for my Gamma World game. If you are a player and want to reserve one of these characters, leave your request in a comment. First come, first served! Possessions and mutations will be determined by drawing cards at the beginning of the game.

One more thing... Players should bring a few extra 6-sided dice if possible because I use Xd6 ability checks.

See y'all tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mini-Con Update - New Sessions Added!

There's been a very high level of interest in the August 14th SoCal Mini-Con in Anaheim. It's still over a month away and sessions are already filling up. As of right now we have 8 games scheduled! Wow!

We just added TWO new games to the schedule: Tavis Allison's OD&D game at 9am, and Joseph Goodman's Dungeon Crawl Classics playtest at 2pm. If you want to reserve a seat for any of these games CLICK HERE and leave a Comment.

MORNING SESSIONS (9am):
  1. T. Foster: AD&D - GAME FULL
  2. Christian: Labyrinth Lord - GAME FULL
  3. Tavis Allison: OD&D - Still openings!

AFTERNOON SESSIONS (2pm):
  1. Cyclopeatron: Gamma World - GAME FULL
  2. Ironface: Labyrinth Lord - Still openings!
  3. Joe Goodman: Dungeon Crawl Classics - Still openings!

EVENING SESSIONS (7pm):
  1. Brunomac: OD&D - GAME FULL
  2. Cimmerian: Urutsk - Still openings!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SoCal Mini-Con III: DETAILS


Saturday, August 14 - Anaheim, California

UPDATE: We had a great time! Thanks to all participants!  

This "con" is not actually a formal convention - it is  a group of old school gamers hanging out in a rented clubhouse. The details I present here are distilled from the Dragonsfoot thread and email correspondence, and should be considered tentative. If you are interested in attending PLEASE RSVP a spot in the session(s) by leaving a Comment here or emailing me - this will be incredibly helpful for the DMs.
Please read below for further details on location, parking, food, etc. This is a free event!

We'll also be doing a book swap! Bring a box of books that you think people would be willing to trade for, and hopefully we'll all walk away with new reading material.

NOTE: I will continually update this page with details, so you can check back here periodically. More sessions may be added and game RSVPs may change.

MORNING SESSION (9am-TBD):
DM: T. Foster
DESCRIPTION: I'm going to be running the "Tomb of Rahotep," the finale section of Gary Gygax's Necropolis, which I will be freely converting to 1E AD&D from the original Dangerous Journeys version (there was also a d20 version released by Necromancer Games). The adventure is for high-level (up to 14) characters and is, essentially, "Tomb of Horrors on Egyptian-flavored steroids" -- a pretty much sadistic puzzle-dungeon that Gygax was proud of as the most difficult thing he ever wrote (and which I had the honor of playing in under him in a couple convention/playtest sessions back in the 80s, so I'll be doing my best to capture some of that same feel (only with a lot less unfiltered cigarettes and not as many colorful anecdotes about sharing hottubs with Hollywood starlets and what assholes the Blume brothers are ;))). I'm providing pre-gen characters.
RESERVED SEATS: GAME FULL
  1. Thorkhammer
  2. wheggi
  3. jallison86
  4. wheggi's stepson
  5. Cimmerian
  6. Bedivere
  7. The Shaman
  8. Rick M.
  9. Gary P.
  10. open

MORNING SESSION (9am-1pm):
DM: Tavis Allison 
DESCRIPTION: Original Dungeons & Dragons (1974 Whitebox, 3 "little brown books" plus house rules). "Night of the Walking Wet" by Paul Jaquays is an underappreciated classic in its own right & a mini-campaign setting for the other adventures presented in the early issues of the Dungeoneer fanzine. This exploration will set forth in a different corner of its sandbox than the previous all-night run at GaryCon II, and will take place a week after the events of that session (and likely a week before its continuation at GaryCon III). Players are welcome to make new characters beforehand using the guidelines here; to bring existing characters from any game system, who will be adapted to fit in to a party of roughly 6th level OD&D adventurers; or to roll up characters on the spot.
RESERVED SEATS: 6 preferred, 2 alternates possible.
  1. cyclopeatron
  2. Javi
  3. Staples
  4. Kirk (Telecanter)
  5. Kirk's friend 
  6. Alexy (monk)
  7. Nick Bielik
  8. open

    AFTERNOON SESSION (2pm-6pm):
    DM: Joseph Goodman (Goodman Games)
    DESCRIPTION:  Dungeon Crawl Classics. Atop a craggy peak overlooking the teeming ports, the brilliant emerald tower has watched generations of kings rise and pass. This Citadel of the Emerald Sorcerer goes undisturbed by the king’s subjects, who fear the flapping monstrosities that descend from the dusk – as well as the king’s edict. But you’re not a king’s man, and many a fell beast has fallen to your sword ere tonight’s adventure. Surely a fortune in gemstones awaits you in the Citadel of the Emerald Sorcerer! Join the continuing public playtest of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game with this new level 2 adventure, introducing some of the new spellcasting rules employed by the game.
    RESERVED SEATS: GAME FULL
    1. Rick M.
    2. Gary P.
    3. Louis (Jon Archer)
    4. Todd
    5. Karina
    6. Joel A.
    AFTERNOON SESSION (2pm-6pm):
    DM: Bobby "Cyclopeatron"
    DESCRIPTION:  Gamma World (1st edition). MUTANTS OF METAL. It's hard work being in a mutated heavy metal band touring the post-apocalyptic Gamma World. Getting gigs, pleasing fans, keeping your keytar synth in good repair, and fighting rival heavy metal bands and aliens - it's all in a day's work. Pregens will be provided.
    RESERVED SEATS: GAME FULL
    1. Brunomac (lead vocals)
    2. David B. (electronic guitar)
    3. Brent W. (drummer)
    4. Joshua O. (synth)
    5. Nick Bielik
    6. Banjo Chris 
    7. Troy Z.

    AFTERNOON SESSION (2pm-6pm):
    DM: Kirk "Telecanter"
    DESCRIPTION:  Swords & Wizardry (OD&D clone)
    RESERVED SEATS: 3 to 6 players preferred.
    1. Staples
    2. David Keeton 
    3. Mobad Deathprong
    4. Kirk's Friend 
    5. open
    6. open

      EVENING SESSION (~7pm):
      DM: Chris "Cimmerian"
      DESCRIPTION:  Urutsk: World of Mystery.
      NOTE: This session might be canceled due to a potential work conflict for the DM. If this happens, Bedivere will instead run an AD&D session.
      RESERVED SEATS:
      1. Bedivere
      2. Kirk (Telecanter)
      3. Kirk's friend
      4. Tavis A.
      5. Mobad Deathprong
      6. open


      EVENING SESSION (~7pm):
      DM: Kevin "Brunomac"
      DESCRIPTION: Original D&D. Whitebox by-the-book. Roll up characters and go for it!
      RESERVED SEATS:
      1. Fred. C. Dobbs 
      2. Gary
      3. Staples 
      4. Mat
      5. Alexy (monk)
      6. open 


      MINI-CON LOCATION: The Mini-Con will be a few blocks from the Anaheim Convention Center. On this Google Map aim for the big clubhouse near the pool on the North side of Orangewood, to the left of the pointer:


      View Larger Map
        
      OTHER DETAILS - PLEASE READ! 

      Parking
      Since I'm so close to Disneyland and the convention center, the streets in the area are marked as resident permit parking only. Enforcement is fairly light, but there's no need to risk getting a ticket.

      There is guest parking within the Sherwood Village community in any open, marked space (it's pretty obvious - the streets in the community are all either red or marked parking spaces). There's usually plenty, but I've never had 30 guests over before. I also have 4 resident hang tag permits that will allow parking on Orangewood right next to the clubhouse that I can give to people I know - especially anyone bringing tables and chairs or with lots to unload. These would likely go to Tony F, Jeff Allison, and perhaps Cimm, T.Foster, Shaman, Thork, or Wheggi (whoever gets there first, or whoever gives a compelling argument as to why they need it).

      I know people are coming from all over, but if it’s possible to carpool, that would help.

      Tables and Chairs
      The clubhouse has chairs for 20 and tables for 2 games, and a counter top and refrigerator for food. I additionally have a card table and chairs for the book swap, snacks, or whatever we need.

      It looks like we’ll need another table for a game session, and 8-10 chairs.

      Food
      If everyone brings their favorite snacks and drinks there always seems to be enough to share.

      We were planning a bbq. There are a lot of people involved now, so I’m not sure how long bbq-ing for 20+ will take. We have 2 large gas bbqs outside the clubhouse. I think we can still do it if we have multiple people manning the grills as long as we limit it to something simple like burgers and dogs, but we just don’t have the space or time to cook spare ribs or whole chickens or stuff like that. We need to coordinate buns, condiments, and any veggies we might want. I don’t know if everyone should bring their own meat to allow for tastes, veggie substitutes, kosher, or whatever, or if we should pool that too. Any suggestions?

      If you must bring something else to grill it must be as quick and simple as burgers or hotdogs.

      Because there's 3 sessions instead of 2 like before, we also need a lunch. There is all manner of fast food, pizza, and restaurants in the area – obtaining food shouldn’t be a problem. The clubhouse also has a microwave.

      Tuesday, June 15, 2010

      WyrdCon: I Was LARPing With Larry Niven. What Did YOU Do Last Weekend?

      Last weekend was the first ever WyrdCon, which was totally devoted to LARPing. Until last weekend I was almost completely ignorant of the LARP scene – I had never LARPed before, and, while I’ve been curious to try, it has never really been high on my list of priorities. When I learned that WyrdCon was going to be literally a few blocks from my house I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to give it a shot. I participated to some degree in four LARP games. The games I was involved with represented a pretty wide spectrum of LARP styles and I think offered a good glimpse into the genre. Here’s a rundown of the different sessions I participated in, and how I would personally categorize them :

      Starship Valkyrie – AWESOME STYLE: This was one of the most amazing gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time! Starship Valkyrie was a highly intense simulation of being a crewmember of a starship. I really felt like I was part of the bridge crew on an episode of Star Trek or BSG!

      Picture a large open penthouse suite in the Hilton transformed into the interior of a starship. There was a bridge area with a huge plexiglass hexmap/star chart and console stations for navigation, ship weapons, scanners, and communications. For communications there was a large flat-screen TV with a Skype connection to another hotel room where some players were on another disabled starship. In other parts of the main suite were consoles for things like sick-bay, engineering, science labs, etc. There was also a table set up in one corner to handle off-ship starfighter battles using a referee-run card-game mechanic designed by the GM. The GM had obviously put a ton of time into designing this game and hand-building the console stations, most of which had electronic timers and card-slots with damage and repair information, etc. Each player received a tiny booklet with a description of their character, including what they were skilled in and what consoles they were able to operate. I counted around 25 players, 3 NPCs, 2 assistant GMs, and 1 main GM.

      The game mechanics were brilliant. At its core it played a lot like a cooperative boardgame (eg. Pandemic, Space Alert, or Shadows Over Camelot). Different players and/or teams had different assigned duties, and were forced to self-assemble into functional crews based on their expertise. The game was very intense as we were trying to deal with emergencies as the captain, a player, was trying to collect information and decide what commands to give in light of time and resource limitations. At one point we sent an away team to another disabled starship in another hotel room, and stayed in contact using the Skype connection. One of the best parts about the game is that it didn't REQUIRE people to take on goofy characters or accents - you could pretty much just be yourself and get into the game as a simulation.

      It was beautiful! I'm dying to play again! I'm kicking myself because I didn't bring my camera to the session - I had no idea it was going to be as cool as it was! The GM / designer was a fellow called  Christian Brown who is associated with Enigma Live Game Lab, which sprung out of the UCLA sci-fi society. After the game I contacted Christian to see if he'd want to run a game for some of us later this summer. He said YES! Awesome! We're tentatively aiming for an August game here in Orange County - any of you blog readers who might be interested in joining in let me know!

      Vampire: The Masquerade – RPG Style: I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never played Vampire before, despite it being one of the most popular and influential RPGs of the last 20 years. Although I’m personally not into the gothic vampire aesthetic too much, I really wanted to try this game. What better chance than to play in a session refereed by the original designer himself – Mark Rein-Hagen? Joining a nighttime game run by the designer was both awesome and horrible. It was awesome because he spent forever talking about the complex background of the game and helping us design characters. It was horrible because he spent forever talking about the complex background of the game and helping us design characters. I was really surprised he didn’t come prepared with pregens, a level-one no-no for con game referees. It was almost two hours before we actually got to start playing the game. After about 30 minutes of actual playing my companions were totally overwhelmed and burned out, so we skipped out of the game early.

      I would like to say that I thought it was a great experience, however. Rein-Hagen was an excellent storyteller and narrator, and the players were very intensely into the game. If my companions had not wanted to leave, I would have stayed all night to play. The game system was definitely more like a traditional RPG, where everyone had a character sheet with different ability scores and specializations. Conflicts were resolved with a combination of ability point comparisons and spending, and paper/rock/scissors.

      Another cool note about this session was that Larry Niven sat in on the first part of the game! Since I was a kid he’s been one of my favorite sci-fi authors. He was basically silent the whole time – he seems like a pretty quiet guy – but it was awesome to meet the man. I couldn’t resist weakening into a compliment-slathering fanboy and getting a picture with him…


      Pieces of Hate – Combat LARP: This was basically a bunch of people in costumes hitting each other with foam swords. It was good goofy fun, even if the roleplaying and story elements of the game were paper thin. We started in a dark room that was set up like the deck of a sailing ship. NPCs portraying water and wind elementals were running around the outside of the deck trying to hit us with foam weapons and bags of rice (spells), and all of us PCs were trying to reach over the side walls of the ship to do the same to them. Eventually the ship “landed” and we transferred to another room with a cavern set up where our party battled a bunch of kobolds, and after that, with scary magical demons pouring out of a magical strobe-light portal. This last battle took place in a pretty big ballroom, and it was fun organizing team combat maneuvers. There was a really simple rule system (NERO) covering how to score hits and keep track of hit points. It was definitely a lot of fun and a pretty good physical workout as well. I’d surely do it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get into combat LARPing as a hobby or use up future convention time I could otherwise spend playing real RPGs.

      Messina - Cosplay Style: I think this pretty well represented the stereotype of LARPing I've always had in my mind. It was basically a bunch of people in random costumes, including elves, steampunks, goth vampires, etc. running around, hamming it up with goofy fake accents, playing jenga, and basically having a no-holds-barred geekout party. I definitely respect this and think it’s cool and fun, but my companions and I had a hard time getting into the spirit, so we left pretty quickly.


      Tuesday, June 1, 2010

      Gamex 2010: Roleplaying for 20 Straight Hours

      This last weekend was Gamex 2010, one of the three big gaming conventions in the Los Angeles area. Guessing from the nametag numbers, attendance was probably somewhere near 1000. It was a nice sized event with tons of board games, RPGs, and beautiful epic miniature battles. The con was 4 days, but I could only attend Sunday because of other obligations. I took full advantage of my day at the con and ended up roleplaying for about 20 hours straight, with breaks for lunch and dinner. Starting at 9am I played in a Traveller session, I refereed an afternoon session of first edition Gamma World, and I played in an 8pm-3:30am session of old school Tunnels & Trolls. Yes, a great Sunday!

      This year the selection of RPG sessions was quite good, meaning that for many time slots there were multiple games I would have been keen to play in. However, seats for some of the really interesting games filled up quickly. I was even surprised and flattered to see that my afternoon Gamma World session was overbooked when I arrived Sunday morning - I had 9 players sign up for 6 slots. I was prepared for 8 players, so I was able to take the first two alternates. I lucked out and had an awesome and animated group, including some classic Gamma World fans I’d never met before – one guy even came prepared with cool minis and set-pieces! I’ll make a more detailed post on the Gamma World game shortly. (UPDATE: Read about it here!)


      Running Gamma World
      (photo courtesy Louis Garcia, Dead Gamers Society)

      Old school RPGs were pretty well represented at Gamex this year. There was a lot of Call of Cthulhu action and Robert Lionheart ran a bunch of sessions of Classic Traveller and Tunnels & Trolls. There was also off-program Gamma World action going on Saturday and Sunday nights.

      My biggest regret of the con was not getting in on any of the Dead Gamers Society sessions. There are a lot of fun and creative gamers in this group that are a blast to hang out with. Luckily they're going to schedule a game day this summer to rerun a bunch of their Gamex sessions for those that missed out this weekend.

      Lionheart’s Tunnels & Trolls game was definitely one of the high points of the convention for me. Lionheart, known as spinachcat online, is quite a talent. In the T&T game he was able to relay a very deep and convincing high fantasy background, and get the players in on some exceptionally satisfying epic-level action very quickly. Lionheart’s narrative, roleplaying, and refereeing skills are all excellent. This was my first experience playing T&T, and it was really great. We played using somewhat homebrewed 4th/5th edition rules.

      Yes, a great Sunday! I can’t wait for the next convention!

       Cool Mini Setup of The Boxer Rebellion 

       One Corner of the Boardgame Hall

      Monday, May 17, 2010

      Running Gamma World at Gamex 2010

      This is just a little advertisement that I will be running a session of 1st edition Gamma World at Gamex 2010, one of L.A.'s biggest gaming conventions. The con runs over Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-31. My Gamma World session will be Sunday, May 30, 2-6pm. Here's the description for my session (and the image that inspired it):


      The Floating Castle of the Wasp Women!

      After the apocalypse your village found peace and safety on a sky island floating far above the radiation-soaked world below. No time to relax, though, my mutated friends! Your village is under attack by wasp women seeking to purloin your precious gravitron matrix generator – the ancient device keeping your village afloat! Can you and your small band of mutant warriors fend off the wasps, rescue the gravitron, and save the sky island? This will be a fast-paced session of TSR’s classic 1978 game GAMMA WORLD!

      This should be a great con for RPGs! Robert Lionheart is going to be running a bunch of old school games of Traveller and Tunnels and Trolls. Also, the L.A. Dead Gamers Society will be out in force with high-quality World of Darkness weirdness, including some supernatural WWII-themed sessions run by Steve Ramirez!

      Thursday, February 18, 2010

      OrcCon 2010

      Last weekend was OrcCon - one of the three major gaming conventions in the Los Angeles area. The four-day convention was quite large and focused mostly on boardgaming, but there were also a lot of miniature games, card games, and RPGs as well.

      The RPG offerings were completely dominated by 4th Edition "Dungeons and Dragons" - there was an entire ballroom devoted entirely to 4e RPGA. I engaged one 4e DM in conversation and asked if he had an pre-gens so I could join in. He said no, but I might be able to find someone in the room with a computer who could help me build a character. I wandered off to play in the Zooloretto tournament.

      The demand for RPGs was high and most of the games filled up early and had waiting lists. I played in a session of All Flesh Must Be Eaten GM'd by Mike Lowrey, which was very enjoyable thanks to the kooky players. I also played in a hilarious World of Darkness game run by Steve Ramirez of the L.A. Dead Gamers Society. Steve's scenario was called "Aliens Invade the Drive-in" and we all played teenagers in a small town being visited by invisible aliens. The interactions between the jock, geek, and rebel characters were highly entertaining.

      Besides a few sessions of Call of Cthulhu OrcCon lacked much old school RPG activity. Robert Lionheart ran a last-minute late-night old school D&D megadungeon on Feb 14, but I couldn't join in because, for me, after 8pm on Valentine's Day usually does not involve rolling polyhedral dice.