Monday, 12 May 2014

14th Annual Froth Barrel Tourney

Last Saturday it was that time of year again for annual Froth Barrel Tournament! This year for the first time Victoria became the host city for the tourney, as opposed to the thirteen previous times it'd been held up in Nanaimo. It was nice to be able to make a much shorter commute. Apparently this year we had record attendance so we might be seeing Froth in Vic in 2015 as well.

May the best team win!

The prologue:
Detroit 2013: a city where capitalism has boomed, reigned, and come to its logical conclusion, a threat to the few people left in the city has reared its head: an arsonist is loose and wreaking havoc. The Mayor has received a grant of 5 million dollars to the person(s) who bring this serial arsonist to justice before any more citizens are killed. You will be playing as part of one of the 5 distinct teams working to solve these crimes and collect the cash. 
The groups vying for the glory and the prize are: The Detroit Police Department, The Firemen of Detroit, The Action 2 News team, The Neighbourhood Watch and finally a gang known as The Varghoules. Who will be successful or who will even survive the day?

What exactly is 2.3 kids? Pregnant wife in the first trimester?

Though the rotating GM format was similar to last year, this year each player group was one of the aforementioned organizations, giving each team more of an identity than generic survivors; I thought this was nice and it added a bit more light-hearted competitive spirit when the NPC versions of these organizations would hamper a teams progress. (The Action News team really got on our bad side, Jason's PC Eddie kept on getting into fights with them first session!) I got be a member of the Detroit Fire Dept. which I was what I initially was kinda hoping for, perhaps to fulfil a childhood dream of being a fire-fighter!

This year, d20 Modern was the system used for the event; as much as I have my minor gripes about Savage Worlds, I think I prefer it to d20 Modern. As much as I cut my RPG teeth on the d20 system, it began to really show its age at least five or so years ago, especially when I guy like me has tried a whole plethora of systems; many improved, a few not so much.

One thing that bugs me now, is how back in the day WotC tried to make the d20 system generic-ish enough that could be used in a few different settings, but it didn't do it that well. I'm a fan of RPGs where the system is built around the setting, not vice versa. Some aspects of Modern are interesting, but you've still got the bloat of d20 feats and skills slowing the game down. And if they're not slowing the game down, they're taking up space on your character sheet.

Not that I'm really complaining but I don't think I rolled a single die besides the eponymous d20 (I didn't deal damage to anything). At least with Savage Worlds there was more dice variation and greater chances for 'exploding dice' than the 5% critical/fumble. Also I don't think we were ever given Action Points (a spendable resource similar to bennies, or fate points) to use in our games.

Nevertheless, the story is/was the more important part anyway: the investigative bent was loads of fun but frustrating at times. An NPC team members' death so soon after the beginning of our first session motivated our group much more than the prospect of five million dollars did; we really got behind catching this serial arsonist whom we saw as a murderer (turns out we were right, he was also a serial murderer killing an a ritualistic fashion!). Justice/revenge can be a more powerful motivator than greed amongst the right people.

One of our GMs, Jason, was an actual firefighter and present in uniform.
Rightly so he won Best Costume. We also learned what NOT to as a firefighter.

Because our group motivation rapidly became so personal, we went off 'script' for the first session; our GM wasn't prepared to improv much of our tangents. As fun as that kind of freedom is, I feel that it's completely within the GM's rights to put us back on track, especially in a one-shot game.

We'd follow-up on numerous leads only to have them turn out to be dead ends; this was frustrating at times because it whilst we enjoyed pursuing our investigations, it felt that nothing was giving us a hint in which direction to head. So we ended up being all over the place with our ideas and investigations. This impotence combined with the stressful jobs as firefighters being worked to death by the arsons began to make our characters jaded; one ended up going off on a paranoid episode, threatening a priest, and eventually getting himself killed by a local gang boss. My character, Demetrius, tired to keep himself and his crew together by doing his unflinching duty as Deputy Chief. After putting out a fire at Ray's Occult Book Shop and meeting the deranged owner himself, we learned more about the arsonist and the bizarre nature of his crimes. We took Ray under custody and went back to station house 7 for some much needed rest.

At the beginning of the second break Pat the organizer told us to look under our chairs; underneath each was taped an envelope with a gift inside. Mine was a gift certificate for Paul's Restaurant, the eatery connected with the Motor Inn whose room was being used for the event.

Much to my dismay, I had to leave for work during the beginning of the third and final session. I was unable to book the entire day off for Froth so I missed the no doubt climatic ending along with the award ceremonies!

The final session I heard mostly second hand afterwards from fellow team member Kathy playing 'Mike', I had my character 'disappear' during a late night fire at the station house:
"KV and Mike couldn't find Demetrius at the station house. We saw the water pipes were cut and Mike saw the guy and his dog (we'd be trailing the whole time) take off in his car, so we chased him down to a mansion. The symbols were all over the house. We found a piece of paper in a book and Ray translated it and we found a drawing of the old Ford Motor factory. Off we drove to it but before we left Mike (a pyro) torched the mansion. 
We found the guys car at the wire fence around the factory. We went through a hole in the wire that looked like it was cut by lasers; we took Ray with us because we didn't know what his story was still. Inside we saw a pool of lava and out comes a Salamander and he called forth his Hell Hound!!! Dun dun dunn!
KV protected Ray while I used the fire extinguisher on the Hell Hound. Then Ray zapped the Salamander with electricity from his fingers! KV and I continued to assault the Salamander and his hell dog with all the fire hoses we could find. But Ray caused the most damage with his magic! I got speared through the chest and killed for like 50 damage and KV lived. 
KV didn't tell police about Ray's abilities and he was visited by an organization called the Magister's League. They told him that because he saw beyond the veil that they wanted to recruit him and would bring Mike back to life. KV agreed and I was resurrected. (The last bit after I died was all our GM Takeda's input because we were done so quickly."
I am quite sore to miss such an awesome ending, but I'm glad our team succeeded at catching this otherworldly arsonist (and his not-so-little dog too).

Tis' also shame I missed out on the closing ceremonies because the awards and prizes this year looked even more awesome than last year! Until I found out later, I was quite curious whom got what.

Our Victoria team Pat's Pathfinders didn't take the Lord Blackthorne's Tankard of Froth Group Role Playing Champions trophy this year, that distinction went to KloWn PuNXz. We (Pat's Pathfinders) did take second place though.

My friend Susie won the Best Supporting Gamer award her first time at Froth, along with a LotFP PDF coupon and the Flash Point boardgame as door prizes. My other friend Kathy and fellow firefighter won both the Outstanding Female Gamer, and the Luckiest Dice award after a three-way tie between supposedly her, myself, and another gamer a resulted in a roll-off. The set of metal dice I was using that my co-worker gave to me the other week were very temperamental, constantly rolling both crits and fumbles. In fact our whole table had that kinda of "luck". Our friend Angela won Classiest Gamer (probably in part of her Star Wars leggings).

My friend Bonnie took custody of the trophy on my behalf.
I was unable to retain my MVRP title this year, but I was awarded Outstanding Male Gamer. 'Twas nice to know I was voted as such. :) Though I had my eyes on one of the two moustachio'd firefighting rescue hero trophies, the Lego trophy is just as awesome. It and the whole event reminded of me of a song...

Thanks again to everyone who made Froth awesome! ;{١

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