Monday, 4 February 2013

GottaCon V

Wow! What a crazy 3 days of gaming that was! How sore and tired I am is a direct result of the sure amount of fun I had!

Friday 

Heavy Combat
On Friday I worked my shift, then jetted off to the convention. Once I had arrived and made my way through registration, I checked out a combat demonstration by our local Society for Creative Anachronism group hailing from the Barony of Seagirt and snapped a few photos. Very cool. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to take any more photos during the convention, especially of the games I was in.

Once the 7pm slot rolled around I attended my first RPG of the weekend: a homebrew Star Wars game called HK-51: The Problematic Moments. I honestly wasn't huge fan of the percentile-based system, it seemed a little too crunchy for something as cinematic of Star Wars. Nevertheless, I had a good time; I won a box of Star Wars Minis!

Rapier Combat
Afterwards my buddy and I were going to see if we could make it into one of the Midnight Madness Pathfinder or AD&D games, but they were filled up. We met up with another friend who was running a demo for several of the Living Card Games by Fantasy Flight. I played Android: Netrunner for the first time (as a Runner) and really quite enjoyed it. I like the theme, the fact that each side has different mechanics and goals, and I found it easier to learn than Star Wars: The Card Game. I'd definitely consider it picking it up.

Yes, that is a fish in her left hand.

Afterwards, we made our way home.

Saturday

Arriving a bit before 9am on Saturday, I submitted my two items to the silent auction: Unhallowed Metropolis Revised and Spawn of Azathoth, then made my way to my friends homebrew game: Otherworlds: the Ul-Zaorith RPG - A Mystery of Circumstance. As I've mentioned before, Astra has put a phenomenal amount of work into designing her world, and again it shows with how detailed the character sheets are. It really brings you in. The adventure was fun, but second time around reaffirms my disposition for the system that's being used to tell the story, and this time I am able to narrow down a few of my concerns:

First of all, your character sheet has three pages worth of stats, skills, magic & mundane equipment, spells, techniques, etc. Now I'm not saying that big character sheets are a problem but they can be a bit unwieldy, especially during a convention one-shot. The game uses a complex array of three primary characteristics, each with two sub-attributes, and another characteristic for spell casting. Each skill or spell is ranked from 1 to 5 and is associated to one (or two) of the sub-attributes. To perform a skill or spell check, you roll a number d8's equal to the associated sub-attribute, and then you consult a table to see what number you need to roll or higher based on how many ranks you have in the skill/spell. Basically rolling a skill seemed to require way too much referencing; it also meant having max ranks in a skill wouldn't help much if the associated attribute was very low; for example if I recall correctly, 5 ranks and a sub-attribute of 1 means that you need to roll a 4 or higher on a single d8. A 50% chance success rate seems a little low to me for five ranks. It seems to place more importance on the sub-attribute (i.e. how many dice you can roll) than training (i.e. the success chance).

You could spend 10 points from the primary characteristic that governs the sub-attribute to gain another d8 on a related skill roll, but each time I used this it didn't even really help me because each 1 result is considered a botch and cancels the highest result on another die, meaning the more dice you add into the mixture means the possibility of them being nullified by 1's is increased, which might seem balanced for 1-in-8 chance per die, but given that these characteristics are also a form of tracking wounds means that you are limited to doing this a few times, and the exchange just doesn't seem worth lowing a characteristic by a 7th to a 4th depending on the size of the characteristic. Essentially there was little payoff for burning a characteristic to get a less-than sure higher chance to succeed in a skill check.

Whew. That's my 2 cents.

Anyway my chief concern is that the game mechanics are hampering the gameplay and storytelling in the rich fantasy world of Ul-Zaorith.

The next slot at 2pm was another homebrew Star Wars game: Imperial Intelligence. I enjoyed this game more than the previous; possibly because I was familiar with the mechanics but more likely because our group worked brilliantly together, as we all seemed to have a good idea what we were doing, and we all had a purpose/role to fulfil. Again I won a box of minis!

After that game, I bid on a couple of items in the silent auction, then grabbed dinner with some friends. Once I returned I set up for my very first convention game at 7pm; I was a little nervous at first, but in retrospect I wasn't as much as I could've been. Heck, I was more nervous a few months ago when I was considering which game I'd run! I think because I'm so familiar with this system, and I love it so much; that my enthusiasm coupled with my ability to open up when I roleplay got everyone into it. The gamers I had were absolutely awesome and I hope they had as much fun as I did. Interest for the game was high, and at the end of the session everyone rolled off for the prize I had picked up: the EotE Beginner Game.

Now I just need PARANOIA: Troubleshooters
After my session was over, checked the auction to see if I had won any items and if anyone had bought my own. Alas, no one wanted the two books I put up, but I did win a bid for a collection of PARANOIA books: Internal Security and High Programmers. Oddly appropriate because the next RPG slot I had signed up to attend was PARANOIA!


I was really tired by this point, as I had been gaming for over 12 hours so far, and I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. But that tiredness translated into a goofiness that was well suited to PARANOIA. We were playing the 1st edition PARANOIA boxed set from 1984, and boy did the mechanics show it. But fun WAS mandatory! I can't wait to run my own PARANOIA game.

Sunday

I got home and into bed sometime after 4am, slept till noon, and got to the con sometime after 1pm. I dropped out of my 9am Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game a few weeks ago to try and let a friend get in to play, and I was interested in attending a panel another friend was speaking in, but I was just too tired from the day/night before to make it. I was also planning to join a Savage Worlds game at 2pm, but a group of gamers from Froth Barrel Sodality in Nanaimo were hoping I'd run EotE for them, and the RPG Coordinator confirmed the previous day that a table would be free for us to use Sunday.

Mwahahaha. Something to unleash on my players.

I spent the time before 2pm checking out the vendors, several whom were dropping prices on the last day of the con. I grabbed a nice black dragon mini at 50% off, and met really cool local crafter Mark Shier of Gaukler Medieval Wears who specializes in handmade replications of medieval jewellery and metalwork. I was looking for something for my better half when I noticed he had a couple replicas of authentic 13th-15th century seals and I resolved to get one. When I mentioned sealing was a bit of a hobby of mine, he showed me a collection of actual lead and bronze seals he was also selling. They were so cool, it's amazing to think the how old they are. I very much wanted to get one as well, but I only had enough funds for the replica seal, and a replica of a 2nd century Celtic brooch found in "King Mahon's Castle" for the Miss.

Can't wait to try out my new wax seal. The missus loves her new brooch.

I met up with the dude from Froth, and we had ourselves a great game. I'm glad I got introduce this game to so many new players, have them enjoy it so much, and be interested in getting their own copies ASAP. It made my day to hear that my game was "one of the highlights of the weekend". :{D

Sadly, but somewhat thankfully, the con was over when we finished our session, and we made our fond farewells.

I cannot wait until next year! Thanks to everyone who ran the games I played in, the players who attended my own, and to all the volunteers who made GottaCon run!

Cheers! ;{١