Posts Tagged With: Savage Worlds

Gary Con VII Report

So, last weekend, I was at Gary Con in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Gary Con is an annual pilgrimage for me. Firstly, it’s the only convention I currently attend during which I can play games. Secondly, it’s a celebration of the life of Gary Gygax. Thirdly, it’s become like a family reunion. My wife and I always enjoy seeing familiar faces, catching up with old friends, and making new. I didn’t have time to write up day-by-day reports, so this will be more of a greatest hits.

The Bad

  • My wife got Con Crud.
  • It was awkward when people asked where we were from and we answered “Indiana.” Thanks Governor Pence.

The Good

  • I cosplayed! First time for me, really. Dressing up for Hallowe’en is one thing. Spending a good portion of the day is challenging, as I discovered.
  • I started the con off with an Atomic Robo Fate Accelerated game, Action Scientists of Tesladyne – Issue 1: The Madness of Dr. Frankenheimer. Much fun was had by all and several people indicated they would seek out the comic. Fortunately for me, the game was full of people familiar with Fate. It was tremendously helpful in gaining a better understanding of game flow (I had GMed it 4X up to that point, but was not at all confident). So, thanks to those players!
  • After Atomic Robo, I changed into my first costume of the con. Star Trek: TOS. Except for the boots, it was about as screen-accurate as one can get. Concessions are made to studio lighting: Kirk’s wraparound casual tunic was the same color as the standard uniform, but the material made the standard uniforms appear gold instead of avacado. Everyone thinks of them as gold now.
  • It was in the Star Trek uniform that I played in my next game: Airfield Follies, a Hollow Earth Expedition game run by James Carpio of Gygax Magazine. It was pulpy and inspired a bit by King Kong. I played a slovenly movie producer that more concerned with making my final film than everyone’s lives. Still, no one killed me and I got some great coverage of the t-rex chomping down on one of us. Fun fact: those TOS pants are tight enough that they rode up and down while I was sitting, so I was constantly fidgeting. The zipper also liked to open whenever I sat. They fit, but the material from which they’re made has NO give. It’s sparkly, though.
  • I planned to switch to a TNG costume for the evening, but I’ve lost so much weight it fit me like a mu-mu, so I had to ditch that plan.
  • Ever hear of the show “Mountain Monsters“? It was the basis for my first-ever Call of Cthulhu game. It’s like Duck Dynasty meets Supernatural. I played Trapper. I was proud of not making ANY M*A*S*H jokes. We did get an NPC stepped on by a building-sized eldritch horror, though. Kinda feel bad about that.
  • Friday was Fallout Friday! It doesn’t show up particularly well in the pictures, but the Pipboy has a working screen and the laser pistol is painted to look like Pew Pew from New Vegas. Fun fact: the tire pauldron was a real truck tire in a former life and isn’t particularly suited to wearing on a shoulder. I need to line it with foam or something. I had a tender spot there for the rest of the weekend.
  • I played AD&D with Luke Gygax. I created a dwarven cleric and named him Gristle McThornbody. He ran us through a new adventure written by him and a bunch of the other Old Guard (Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, James M. Ward, etc.) called The Cave of Wisdom. I died two rooms in, crushed by a mama troll with a large frying pan. Good times! It was actually a good thing for me, because that game ran from 9am – 1pm and I was GMing my Fallout-based Fate game from 1pm – 4:30pm. That left NO time for walking to the next game or food.
  • The afternoon was my Fallout Fate Accelerated game, Fire from the Sky. A few younger players tried to meta-game based on their knowledge of the Fallout franchise, but overall the game went well. I had a bunch of Nuka Cola bottle caps I used for Fate Points. My idea of handing out cards with items to represent a more Fallout-y style of Stunt worked well, though I forgot to print out about 1/3rd of them. Some of them need to be reworded, as well.
  • I changed back into civvies for my Friday evening game: Savage Spaceballs! I played Barf, because I wanted to be my own best friend. Lonestar and Vespa were separated with two horrible little children, but reunited to search for the stolen Family Jewels of Druidia. Yes, jokes were made. My wife played Dot Matrix, nanny to the horrible children and her East Coast accent made it easy for her to slip into Joan Rivers mode.  Dark Helmet was relegated to working at Space FedEx and Colonel Sanders took a Batman-like turn in his self-appointed role of Dark Helmet’s guardian (except chicken-themed). It was rather hilarious… particularly since Barf had developed a leg-humping problem. Mogs gotta establish dominance!
  • Saturday I was foolish and scheduled my Saturday Morning Superheroes game (also Fate Accelerated) for 8AM… after a midnight end for Savage Spaceballs. I’m getting too old for that. Plus, I found out that breakfast wasn’t officially served until 8AM. Oops. Oh well, lesson learned. For this game, I was assigned a table in the “Porch” area; the room in which Gary Gygax’s memorial table sits. It’s the room in which most of the Old Guard run their games from cushy, high-backed padded chairs. Nearby, Merle Rassmussen was running his women-only Top Secret game (FYI: Merle Rassmussen designed the original Top Secret RPG for TSR in the late ’70s). I didn’t feel right sitting in the high-back chair, especially since we already received an “Old Guard” parking permit and reserved space due to my wife’s wheelchair. Anyway, the game went well with Casper the Friendly Ghost, Yogi Bear, Captain Caveman, Grape Ape, Hong Kong Phooey, and the Smurfs teaming up to defeat The Cloaked Figure (real identity… SPOILERS! Neener, neener, neener!) after the murder of Dynomutt. Yeah, it was a little dark. But fun and perfect for a Saturday morning with cries of “CAPTAIN CAAAAAAAAAVEMAAAAAN” and someone singing the Smurf song as they hijacked an RC car.
  • Saturday afternoon, my wife played in James M. Ward’s women-only game. Out of 12 or 13 players, only 4 characters died. I first thought perhaps he wasn’t feeling well (he has a reputation), but it turns out they just played really well. He was testing a new game system he’s developing and it earned high praise from all the players. James M. Ward is the man who got my wife into gaming several years ago, and we always make a point of saying “hi” to him at Gary Con.
  • The rest of my Saturday was open. Registration issues kept me from getting into anything else that day, though I did take my wife’s ticket for Cthulhu Invictus (a Call of Cthulhu game set in the Roman Empire). Both of my CoC games were intended for my wife and I to both play in, but she got in and I did not, so I just used her tickets (not to worry… wait until Sunday night). It was a lot of fun and featured many of the same players from Savage Spaceballs. Both events were run by folks from GameHole Con. A documentary crew was filming Stephen Pokorny (the guy who makes Dwarven Forge) throughout the con and they stopped by our table, so you might see my remarks at some point (I had to sign a release and everything).
  • The group photo of the collected mass of Hawaiian shirts worn in honor of Gary Gygax was taken Saturday night. I don’t have a copy of it, but you can see it on Facebook.
  • Sunday morning, I ran my final game of the con: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – 1980s Edition! (Fate Accelerated). This game featured B.A. Baracus (The A-Team), MacGyver, Doc Brown (Back to the Future), Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China), Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only), and Sarah Conner (The Terminator). I used Karl Keesler’s Savage Worlds adventure for the basis of this game, except I changed some of the characters so they all fit into the 1980s (his PC were all from ’80s films; mine were all from 80s films that took place IN the ’80s). I also added Sho-Nuff from The Last Dragon as one of David Lo Pan’s flunkies. It went really well, with Terminators, three Jason’s (from Friday the 13th), a plethora of Wing Kong, Jack Burton’s truck, and Lo Pan all showing up at the finale. It was a good way to end my run as a GM there this year.
  • The rest of Sunday was socializing and taking it easy. My wife was invited to an encore of the Mountain Monsters Call of Cthulhu game and I encouraged her to take advantage of the opportunity. I planned to play again as a different character, but while we were waiting by the fire, Merle Rasmussen stopped by to say “Hi” and we ended up chatting about Top Secret, TSR, and writing for nearly 3 hours! That’s one of the great things about Gary Con, it’s small enough that you never know who you’re going to run into and talk with into the late hours of the evening.

That’s about it. We left Monday afternoon and drove back. As always, it was a great convention. I’m already booked at The Lodge at Geneva Ridge for Gary Con VII and have begun planning my games*!

You can see a slideshow of all my Gary Con pictures at Photobucket, including my wife’s pirate and Victorian outfits. For once, I remembered I brought a camera, though the number of pictures I took averaged less than 10 a day.

*I’m planning on running four games for the Dead Games Society next year. Two of which will be S1: The Tomb of Horrors, one general admission and one for women only (there are a lot of people who have never experienced it in the original AD&D… they deserve that experience if they so desire). I’m also writing an original AD&D adventure titled “The Wailing Sore,” and will return to Paranoia with “Bugs in the System.”

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Doctor StrangeRoll’s Year in Review

I started this year running a D&D 4E Eberron game and ended it running a Pathfinder adventure path (Skull & Shackles) with a tweest, all Goblin player characters. We also had isolated sessions of Paranoia (2nd edition), Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space, and Savage Worlds (Space: 1889 and Realms of Cthulhu). At Gary Con, in addition to Paranoia and Ghostbusters, I also ran Hollow Earth Expedition and played Star Frontiers (Did you know PDF versions of this TSR classic are still legally available online?). Reapermas also happened, and I’ve barely touched that pile of minis with my paints. The end of the year was stupid busy. It interfered with my gaming and game-related pursuits, but I did finish the first draft of my fifth novel, so there’s that (more about that over at

One of my goals for 2013 was to play more different games, include something using Fate. Well, that didn’t happen, but I still managed quite a variety, some of which was even with my home gaming group! I’m going to continue that goal in 2014. I want to try to play or run Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, something with Fate, Numenera, and more Savage Worlds.

When I started this blog, the point was to run classic adventures through all the available systems of D&D. That didn’t work out quite as I envisioned, but since the start, we have managed to play everything except Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t count D&D Next at this point because the game is not out yet. I’m not interested in running games with play test documents at this time, but I don’t discount a D&D Next game as a possibility in the future, though personally, I feel like I’ve had it with the edition treadmill, plus, the older I get, the less I like rules-heavy (aka crunchy) systems, and D&D hasn’t been rules light since the days of Basic D&D (I would classify AD&D as rules-medium…depending on how you houserule your game).

Most of 2014 will be a continuation of the Goblin Skulls & Shackles game. They’re about 1/3rd of the way through the second part of a six part adventure path. At the conclusion of book 2 or book 3, depending on how long wrapping up book 2 takes, I will probably take a short break from Pathfinder to run 2-3 games of a different system (or play test games I’m running at Gary Con in March). I hope to be able to wrap up Skull & Shackles by the end of 2014. Once that is finished, I will probably run the AD&D phase of Doctor StrangeRoll, most likely using AD&D 2nd Edition.

Where does Doctor StrangeRoll go from there? Probably Savage Worlds (for some reason, running the Reign of Winter AP using Savage Worlds appeals to me more than running it in Pathfinder) or a Star Wars game. That’s looking into 2015, though, and a lot can happen in a year.

To all my readers, I wish you a 2014 filled with good friends, good gaming, and all the joy and good fortune you can stand!

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Hallowe’en Special: Realms of Cthulhu, circa 1885

After trying to do a Cthulhu game for two years, I finally ran something special for Hallowe’en. Originally, I was going to run Call of Cthulhu, but rather than introduce yet another system (regardless of complexity), I turned to Savage Worlds since we’d already played it once. I chose to run the classic Call of Cthulhu adventure: The Haunting (aka The Haunted House in some older editions). I still think I bit off more than I could chew. I was running an adventure I converted from a game I’d neither played nor run (Call of Cthulhu) into a system I’d only played once and never run (Savage Worlds) using a supplement no one was familiar with (Realms of Cthulhu). Yikes.

Fortunately, I found some Realms of Cthulhu pre-gens on the Internet, and I refluffed them into western characters (one of my players and I agreed it would be cool to make it a western rather than keep the setting in the 1920s). Of course, that added a layer of complexity onto the conversion, because a western set in Boston doesn’t really feel like a western, so I had to reskin just about all the adventure’s fluff. This did have an advantage, though: it kept one of the players who’d played The Haunting from recognizing the story until the climax.

The characters, led by Professor Lokar of Miskatonic University, arrived in the town of Cimarron, New Mexico. He was accompanied by one of his students and a police officer from Arkham working with the Pinkertons. They came to Cimarron at the behest of the mayor, an old friend of Professor Lokar’s who wanted their help investigating strange goings on at the Corbitt House. The mayor owned the house (though it was not his residence), but felt he couldn’t rent it due to it’s dark history. Several different families were all struck down by severe illness while living in the house over the past 20-30 years, and there were strange rumors about the activities of the original owner. The group was met by a local newspaper man who’d written a scathing speculative piece about the Corbitt house and was determined to get to the bottom of things, despite both the mayor and the sheriff telling him to butt out.

Furthermore, a family that lived in a nearby house that overlooked the Corbitt place rambled about a “man with burning eyes” and went crazy. They had to be committed to Arroyo Santarium. Despite the Sheriff’s protestations that they may want to look into things more thoroughly first, the investigators decided to go straight to the Corbitt House.

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish this write-up as soon after the game as I should have, so details have been lost. The rest of this post is a quick summary.

The investigators went through the house, room by room, undeterred by the unexplained sounds and even the bed that tried to slam against them and throw them out of the upstairs window. After exploring the upper levels, they decided to brave the basement, where they found the dessicated corpse of Walter Corbitt. Unfortunately, he was not resting in peace and attacked them. The combat was brutal, but they managed to subdue the Creature Corbitt and felt the best course of action after that was to burn the house to the ground.

Cimarron’s Sheriff was not amused, since he owned the property and wanted to turn a profit with it, but could not argue with the final results.

I had a lot of anxiety running this. I have never run Call of Cthulhu. I have never played Call of Cthulhu. I have never run Savage Worlds. I’ve only played Savage Worlds once. So I converted an adventure from a system I had only read once into a system I have only played once. Yeah….

It actually turned out okay. I kind of like Savage Worlds, though I’m not sold on it for use as a horror game. I can definitely see running Deadlands now, though.

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