Monday, 15 July 2013

13th Annual Froth Barrel Tourney

This Saturday I was very fortunate to make it up to Nanaimo for the 13th Annual Froth Barrel Tourney, a local RPG event than has seen many a year and many a theme, from post-apocalyptic to blaxsploitation. Although called a tournament, it's not hugely competitive and more of an excuse for the large amount of prizes to be given out, and to award roleplaying recognition with awesome custom built trophies.

I recall vaguely hearing about the Froth Barrel Sodality many years ago, possibly before I moved from Parksville to Victoria, and I had the chance to meet some of it's regular players/GMs last February at GottaCon. At the time I had made it a point to attend, but several months went by without hearing anything until the beginning of the week prior. I saw that several local gamers I play with were planning on attending, so I registered and found some to carpool with in the wee hours of the morning.

This year was horror-themed scenario called Explorers of the Frontier, and was run using Savage Worlds as the system. The overarching plot shared between all the tables was that a group of survivalists were taking part in an survival challenge for several days on a remote island in the Atlantic, but things suddenly become a life or death situation when the teams encounter an infestation of giant termite-like insects that have a taste for human flesh.

There was an attendance of about twenty people that were divided between five tables with a GM each, and each group of three played three sessions between 8:30am to 6:00pm. At the end of each session the players filled out a sheet listing the best roleplayers, team players, and along with the luckiest of the session, and a place to rate your GM on a scale of 1 to 10. A cool idea, though if I have one suggestion is that each session you play with the same group as the previous session, so you're going to be voting for the same players each session. I think it'd be more interesting if they shuffled the players a bit between groups each session, but I also understand how this would make it difficult for in-game for a group of PC's to be constantly portrayed each session, not to mention give each group time to synergise.

Many appropriately themed prizes...
Playing that many hours near straight takes a lot out of a gamer, but I got to experience Savage Worlds more, and through the playstyles of three GMs. Combat in SW is nice and fast, but one issue I have with it is the Shaken status effect: don't get me wrong, I think that it's a clever mechanic to represent being overtaken in some way, the problem I see is that you end up with scenarios where an enemy hits you and you are Shaken (essentially unable to perform actions), and the following turn you can attempt to recover from being Shaken; and you can succeed only to take another hit and become Shaken again before you have time to take an action. This can really draw encounters out and be a tad frustrating for the players when all it seems that they're doing is trying to remove being Shaken, but I understand how it swings both ways and effects NPCs the same, and how the generalness speed of combat rounds help alleviate the player's having to sit on their laurels.

Also this was a horror-themed scenario, so the combat encounters might have been a little swayed balance-wise as there was a fairly high lethality to most encounters. Each table was given around 18 or so pregen characters to use; and although our group didn't lose a PC until the second table, and three to four a our last table, I've heard the groups of less merciful GMs go through over half the amount of pregens. In fact only one PC out of all played at the tourney made it from the very beginning of the scenario to end alive.

All in all it was a blast, the sessions were a hoot, which the GMs did great jobs running, and it was fun talking to other groups about their PCs' similar and different experiences. The common ending to the scenario was military action to destroy the island (along with most cases the PCs) in order to protect the world from the deadly threat: A perfect pessimistic ending to a horror game.

Group Monster-A-Gogo posing an award victory

At the end of the tourney door prizes were awarded, followed by the voted awards. The champion trophies and runner up certificates were awarded to attendees for the following categories:

The Lady Lysistrata Award of Froth - given to the "Outstanding Female Player" Bonnie, local Victoria gamer.

The Sir Alec Guinness Award of Froth - given to the "Outstanding Male Player"

The Brothers Grimm Award of Froth - given to the "Fashionably Enchanting"

[Sorry No Photo]
The Stephen Fry Award of Froth - given to the "Classiest Gamer - Larger Than Life"

The Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Award of Froth - given to the "Best Dice - Luckiest Gamer"

The Buzz Aldrin Award of Froth - given to the "Honourable Mention Player"

The Christopher Lee Award of Froth - given to the "Best Supporting Gamer"

[See Photo Below]
The Machiavelli Award of Froth - given to the "Most Valuable Role Player"; which by vote was surprisingly this very author! I am truly and deeply honoured!

The H. Edgar Allen Poe Buckler of Froth - given to the "Most Valuable Game Master"; awarded by popular vote to the organizer of the event: Pat.

The gorgeous and most coveted Lord Blackthorne's Tankard of Froth of "Group Role Playing Champions", awarded to Victoria's own gaming collective Pat's Pathfinders, whom I was recently press-ganged inducted into just before the tournament. 

Aside from the great honour of being named and awarded Most Valuable Role Player, and doing my part getting Pat's Pathfinders named Group Role Playing Champions, I also received 1st Runner Up certificate for Classiest Gamer-Larger Than Life and 2nd Runner Up certificate for Fashionably Enchanting.

Swag from Froth 2013 (L-R): Lucky Ace of Spades; Froth namebadge; MVRP Champion Trophy, Hatchet, and Certificate that entitles me to a +3 weapon at all future Froth Tourneys; Froth insect d6's; door prize model catapult; and Pat's Pathfinders 'Horror Hunter' button.
I am super thankful to everyone; Pat the coordinator, the GMs, the players, and especially my carpool buddies from Pat Pathfinders. Can't wait till next year!

The following Sunday I spent most of the at Thetis Lake taking it easy. I must say I had a pretty darn good weekend.

Cheers! ;{١

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