Monthly Archives: March 2012

Gary Con IV Report

Ahh…four days of gaming and no work. That’s what Gary Con is to me. Gen Con may bill itself as “The Best Four Days of Gaming,” but I spend over half of my time at Gen Con working on ENnie Awards-related stuff. I get more gaming in at Gary Con.

The convention started off with me driving in on Wednesday afternoon. After getting settled in at the hotel and having dinner at Popeye’s (NOT the Chicken & Biscuits place, but a better, locally owned/operated restaurant that was there FIRST), I headed to the Lodge to collect my badge and see if I could get in on a Shadowrun game. I played a street samurai with a mild addiction to stimulants and a gold allergy I called Rio “Goldie” Cancíon. She really liked her guns, but sadly, did not get to use them much. We were a group of unknowns hired to provide security for some meeting. We never found out what the meeting was about, but we kept the location secure without killing anyone.

On Thursday, I was able to sleep in and, in fact, didn’t have anything scheduled until after lunch. I actually don’t remember if I went there in the morning to walk around and check things out. I might have. The days blur together. My first game of the day was a Hackmaster game. It was my first time playing Hackmaster (we were using the new rules; the PHB just went to ther printer last week). Our group did pretty well; there weren’t any deaths and we saved the town from the cultists who were kidnapping people for some nefarious purpose (either to turn them into undead or feed them to undead, I don’t quite remember). After that, I had a brief respite for dinner (Popeye’s again), then I was running my Ghostbusters game, “Bustin’ the Con.” One of the other Dead Games Society GMs had some custom Ghost Dice created and was able to give me one. It looked better than the one that originally came with the game.  The game went well. When I wrote the adventure, I had NO idea what the solution to main problem was. I trusted (and hoped) the players would come up with something, and they did. I’ll probably run this game at Gen Con in some capacity, so no spoilers.

Friday was a busier day than Thursday. I started with a game of Hercules & Xena (which I didn’t know was  game until I signed up for Gary Con this year). The game went really well and was easy to play with very fast task resolution (it was a West End Games d6 variant, Legends, I think). I played a Monster Slayer who was supposedly very good with the javelin and sword, though they way I was rolling, I was only good with a sword. Strangely (I didn’t plan this), it was the third game in a row I played/GMed featuring undead. For the afternoon, I was GMing Paranoia, “Soylent People are Green” (which made its debut at Gen Con about 4 years ago). I was once again told how difficult it was to get into my Paranoia game (it sold out in less than 10 minutes after registration opened). I even had some newbie players. My rough calculations indicated there was about a 250% mortality rate for this adventure, so everything turned out as it should’ve. The team leader (with Machine Empathy–those of you familiar with Paranoia KNOW what that means) died the most. He was on Clone #5 by the time the adventure wrapped up. The Loyalty Officer was only on clone #2. There was much wackiness and once again, I showed WHY people who can’t throw shouldn’t have the grenades. After Paranoia was another dinner at Popeye’s, then back to the convention for my second Hackmaster game. I was prepared for a late night, but my character died less than two hours into the adventure (rapidly and in a most bloody fashion). It was fun while it lasted (I played a close-talking elven mage with low wisdom…he didn’t always make good choices about what spells to cast).

Saturday was another busy day. I started off with an early morning Star Frontiers game. I played a vrusk (a two-armed, eight-legged insect guy) medic I called “Doctor Ix.” He wasn’t sure how many stomaches humans had and was sure they had at least two splanches (in practice, he was a VERY competent doctor, it was just funnier this way). I patched up my team regularly, even performing major surgery in the field. I was like a one-man MASH unit. After completing our goals, I had time to eat lunch before running my Star Wars game, “Imperial Entanglements.” In this game, I learned how one skill check assisted by a Force point could succeed so wildly it would “break” the adventure. I also had the least shootin’-est group I’ve ever run for. If there was an alternative to a straight-up fire fight, they looked for it (much to the chagrin of the Trandoshian soldier-playing 10-year-old who just wanted to blast something). They managed to complete the objectives in a nearly-completely non-confrontational way and never set foot on the resort & casino space station that was supposed to be the central location for the adventure. Note to self: remove all stun grenades from future versions of this adventure–they’re TOO useful in the enclosed spaces of an Imperial Shuttle. After the Star Wars game, I enjoyed an excellent dinner at Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub.

Sunday was the last day of the con. I didn’t have anything schedule, but I managed to get into another Shadowrun game in which I played Rio “Goldie” Cancíon again. Our mission this time was mostly recon, so we spent the whole game casing a corporation’s compound near Puget Sound. There were some run ins with some jackbooted thugs driving a black van I dubbed “The A-Team,” but we were able to evade them without trading shots (I really wanted to open up with my machine gun, but didn’t get the chance). There was a wacky plan to have me parasail from the sound over the compound to take pictures, but once we hired a hacker and found out what sort of security they had, I’m rather glad I didn’t get that reckless (besides, parasailing over a coniferous forest just sounds like a bad idea). We didn’t get as much intel as our employer would have liked, but we did acquire a lot of nifty tech to sell, so our payday was quite lucrative.

A good time was had by all. I’ve already started contemplating what my games for next year will be. I could probably get away with running nothing but Paranoia all weekend and have full tables each time, but that might get a little boring for me. We’ll see…


Categories: Conventions | Tags: ,

Gary Con IV

There isn’t a Doctor StrangeRoll game this week due to Gary Con IV in Lake Geneva, WI. I’ll be there, so I can’t be here. See you in a couple of weeks!

Categories: Random Thoughts | Tags: ,

Second Session Report – The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

We pick up where we left off, with our intrepid group of heroes exploring the Haunted House. Wikki, still suffering side-effects from the mushrooms he was force-fed after being poisoned, passed out. With the group unable to wake him, Finias Jinx reappeared to drag him back to town (both players were absent this session, so this was a convenient way to remove their characters).

Unperturbed by this set-back, the group pressed on and continued exploring the mansion. In the final bedroom on the second floor, they found a bundle of clothes that Ned proclaimed to be his belongings (stolen by the people who tied him up). They then proceeded into the attic and it it was much like the rest of the house: empty save for old clothes. Unfortunately for them, one stack of junk was home to a nest of stirges. The oversized blood-suckers flew around them, one latching onto Lorelei and drinking a considerable portion of blood before Kelos could splatter it. For their trouble, they found a fairly nice ring in the nest.

Once they decided the attic was thoroughly explored, they headed back downstairs to check the cellar. The stairs from the kitchen area led into the wine cellar. As Lorelei set foot on the first step, they heard terrible screaming from the basement (someone made the sound of ultimate suffering). They rushed downstairs and found broken bottles everywhere. In the middle of the room was a recently-deceased corpse clad in plate mail (though not recently dead enough to be the source of the screams). Lorelei decided she needed new armor, so she set about stripping the corpse while the others checked out the rest of the room. Unfortunately, grubs burst out of the corpse and started burrowing into her flesh! They tried brushing them off to no avail. In an act of desperation, thinking of leeches & ticks, Kelos doused Lorelei in lamp oil. Still nothing.

Then their DM threw them a bone* and *cough*fire*cough*

After setting Lorelei ablaze, the rot grubs were killed and they proceeded to burn the corpse, filling the wine cellar with the putrid stench of burning flesh. Lorelei, slightly burnt, but not incapacitated, took the dirty, nasty armor anyway and they continued to search the room, finding a secret door. As they prepared to open the secret door, Ned showed his true colors and attempted to kill Kelos. Unfortunately, Ned wasn’t a very good assassin (the fact that Basic D&D didn’t have assassination rules did not help him) and the party put him down in short order. Then took his stuff (what little he had).

The secret door led to a very well-maintained barracks. Food, drinks, bunks… all recently used and recently vacated. They deduced that the occupants of the barracks high-tailed it out of there upon hearing them set their companion on fire to deal with the rot grubs. Searching through the foot lockers, they found nothing. Herrick decided to pour leftover gravy from the dinner table into each of the footlockers and between him and Pat, they took all the remaining food and unopened brandy. They also found a stairway in the middle of the room which apparently led nowhere**. A short corridor at the end of the barracks led to two door, once of which was barred and had a sign reading “DANGER.”

Despite the temptation, they opened the unbarred door first and discovered what looked to be the leader’s bedroom. They looted it, procuring more books, more oil and some candles. They then turned their attention to the “danger zone” (as Lorelei put it). Upon opening that door, they were beset by undead! Six skeleton came out of the darkness, hacking and hewing. Herrick’s faith was insufficient to turn them, but the axes of the dwarves proved sufficient to destroy the abominations before they killed poor Lorelei and Herrick. A note they found upstairs reading “Beyond skeletons” came to mind and the group made a concentrated effort to search for secret doors. The door they found led to another room where they saw a figure in wizardly robes sitting at a table.

Taking no chances, Pat brought her axe down on his head, shattering it and scattering the long-dead remains. There was a brief moment of nervous laughter as they realized he was neither alive nor dead and the slight embarrassment of having been fooled was replaced by elation as they looted the room of all the gold in it (including a book entitled Ye Secret of Ye Philosopher’s Stone***. Also found was the dead wizard’s spell book and a small, curious-looking rock.

At this point, the group decided they’d had enough of the Haunted House. They went back upstairs and doused as much of it with oil and brandy (not much brandy though, as by this point, the dwarves had drank most of it) and set the house ablaze.

Yes, they burned the house down. *cue sound of a train derailing*

Our intrepid heroes returned to town feeling smug and victorious to take stock of their winnings. What challenges will they face next time?

That is a very good question. The group failed to discover a crucial secret door in the barracks that would lead them to the rest of the clues they would need to proceed to part two of the adventure (if this was regular campaign play, I would NOT be talking about this). Part of the point of the Doctor StrangeRoll campaign is to run the adventures as written, and now, there is a significant bridge needed that is not part of the original adventure. It wasn’t the only thing they missed, but it IS something that is plot-crucial.

In normal campaign play, I would have to come up with something and make it makes sense. However, in this case, I think it would be OK for me to just tell the players “This is what you missed and how you were supposed to get to part 2.” After all, we’re going to be playing this adventure at least three more times.

* Since I was running Basic D&D, I should have just let the rot grubs kill her. However, none of these players had ever encountered rot grubs before and had no clue what a devious trap they were in these old editions. Part of me is sad that I pulled my punch here, but another part of me says “We’re playing these as a comparison of the editions–it’s NOT that important to be a rat bastard DM in this situation.” Were this actual campaign play, I probably would NOT have pulled my punch, which may seem like it’s backwards, but it makes perfect sense to me. I would’ve been killing a newbie player’s character on her second adventure which could send an appropriate Old School Play message, but also could serve as a frustrating experience for someone who is still learning how to play.

** Seriously, it’s on the map but it leads NOWHERE in the adventure. I some how missed that detail during game prep. Obviously, the rooms were either cut for space or never developed and someone forgot to remove the stairs from the map. Or I’m missing something REALLY obvious. No matter.

*** The smart ass in me wishes I’d been quick enough to say “Apparently, it talks about how Snape kills Dumbledore who was gay, but was really protecting Harry all along, and Ron ends up with Hermione, and Harry lives and marries Ginny Weasley…but that would have just been silly and cheap.


Categories: Phase One - Basic D&D | Tags:

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