So for the last few days I have been at my very first role playing convention, Conception http://www.conceptionuk.org/ a friend of ours went last year and persuaded us to go this year. Because we booked ‘late’ (it wasn’t really that late, but we didn’t book in the 2 mins after midnight when booking opened) we ended up in a caravan. Yes that’s right a caravan at the end of January. It was alright on the first day but I think it must of got colder day by day (yes I suppose the weather did mention something about that, and the ice on the car on Sunday may have been a hint of that) but brrrr yes damned cold, we ended up having a second duvet over the end of the bed to keep warm. Luckily we weren’t in the caravan most of the time, as we were busy roleplaying.
So we met up with our two friends (who can both thankfully drive) and I’d like to especially thank P for doing most of that. The convention isn’t too far from Bournemouth so it didn’t’ take too long to get there from London, and once there we drove straight to the site in order to put our names down for games on Thursday. Only then did we drive to the site where we were staying (3 miles away) to get our keys and dump our stuff. We had to get our priorities straight after all, games first, accommodation second.
How Conception works is that they effectively take over a holiday park for 5 days. It’s a win win situation, means the park gets fully booked in January, when they’d normally have barely any visitors, while the con doesn’t have to pay to hire out the main hall/pub etc to have the tables in. Additionally as gamers pay money for the games (£3) much money is raised for charity.
So what follows is further information on the games I played in, there were 3 four hour gaming sessions a day, and I had said I wouldn’t play in them all…. Yeah I ended up playing in every session from Thursday morning till Sunday morning. That’s a lot of gaming time and meant everyone was extremely tired, a little argumentative but we all I believe had a lot of fun.
Savage Worlds: Hellfrost Thursday 9am-1pm
This was pretty much the only morning game available when we got to the site on Wed, but as we’d never played Savage Worlds and the background sounded interesting we put our names down. The game is based in a freezing fantasy world, we were a party basically adventuring to a creepy tower. I ended up playing Edwin Frostkiller or as C likes to say Frooost Killlar!! (He was playing Gautrik The Small, who was morbidly obese.) We ended up abusing my characters Paladin powers, a fireblast where I can choose to not hit up to 5 people in the vicinity and can enhance said blast in terms of damage and size. It ended up in a lot of dead goblins. Gautrik also had sweep and so he too also ended up with a high goblin death tally (he managed to kill steal on the frost giant at the end). We had a pretty fun adventure and the other players were a lot of fun, we also discovered that Savage Worlds is quite lethal, as damage explodes! (Poor P managed to get killed right at the end by a pair of goblins… ) The GM for this was really good as he obviously knew the system really well (in fact he ran a lot of Savage Worlds games over the weekend).
Call of Cthulu Dark (playtest) Thursday 2pm – 6pm
We ended up playing this game in the guys chalet (as it would have been too loud to play it in the main hall and as it’s Cthulu you really want to create the atmosphere). This was actually really fun, we ‘genned’ our characters there and by genning I say we named them and came up with a profession and a small back story. It was originally going to be the 4 of us who went in this game, but J was busy playing a 2 session descent game and so we ended up with another random person. So it made it interesting to see how things were going to go when everyone had to come up with professions, P said a handy man, C was a motivational speaker, I was an architect and she went for M16 agent, who rather aggressively tried to investigate everything… not always the best idea in a game thats designed to drive you insane. The system we played was very rules light and actually worked really really well for Cthulu as it barely got in the way of play, it just provided an enhancement of whether you did or didn’t know stuff. We enjoyed it quite a lot, my character ended up accpeting her non-human heritage, C’s ended up hanging himself and P’s went insane.
Dred Thursday 7pm-11pm
So while C and P signed themselves up on the last two slots on another Savage Worlds Game (Space 1889) essentually Victorians in Space on Venus. C had signed me and J up for a game of Dred, mostly because C wanted to know how the game worked using Jenga, as he’d read about it before. Dred is a horror/thriller game, and instead of using dice to determine outcomes you pull out jenga blocks to see if you succeed or not. Now before your rubbish this idea, I would like to say now that this system works EXTREMELY well for building up tension, if we knocked the tower down our characters would die, so it was quite stressful watching the tower shake slightly as you tried to find a block you can move. The game we played in also mentioned that it would have mature themes and that it was adults only, and might be rather gruelling. In order to play the game we were given sheets with questions on that we had to answer to help define the characters, everyone had different questions. Questions that provided the characters with several dark aspects to their backgrounds, things that the GM would throw at us later. As soon as the game started we had to pull jenga blocks, 2 each, I was the 3rd one around and rather embarrassingly I managed to knock the stack over on my first or was it second pull…. I tried to pull a piece out, except I couldn’t quite get it so I tried to push it back, I realise I should have just left it as that’s when it went over. Luckly start of the game does not equal character death as that is just mean. So our characters progressed forward in the story all of us having to move jenga blocks as time went on, and then we got to the bit where we had to reveal our dark secrets (I’d still been the only one to knock the tower over at this point, it was looking a bit precarious!). J made a rather dangerous move on the tower in order to stop something happening, and we (J and I) then decided to make a guy do move two blocks for something his character had done, everyone was convinced the tower would collapse at that point, somehow he made it. The next guy somehow made his move to and then J did another daring move. (In fact we discovered that she seems to be some sort of Queen of jenga!) Finally it came down to my turn for something dark in my past. At the beginning of the game the GM had said there were two ways to die, either knocking the tower over when moving a block or you can deliberately knock it over to make a noble sacrifice and thus decide how you die, I wasn’t quite sure why you’d end up doing that, untill this point. I knew that how I’d designed my character she was not going to do what was put in front of her, so after bit of roleplaying, which really wrung everything out of me, I shoved the tower over and killed off my character. Out of the 6 characters that started the game only 3 survived and we didn’t manage to stop the big bad from escaping.
I know this bit is getting quite long, but I do want to reiterate how good the jenga mechanic is, even though my character was dead, I was still leaning forward to watch the tower as people had to pull out blocks, and wincing as it would shake ever so slightly. This was a great game, however because of the themes involved, it was incredibly gruelling and tiring. It took an awful lot out of me. The kind of game I might only play say once a year, if that, I would however like to get the rules as it is an interesting game.
Traveller (Mongoose) Judge Dredd Friday 9am-1pm
This game proved to be a bad start to the day. The characters weren’t really designed with the idea of a useful party in mind and to be honest the GM didn’t really seem to know the rules, or at least was very confused by them and thus confused us. In fact one play even walked out of the game as he had a character that couldn’t do ANYTHING in the game and the GM was making no sense with rules.The plot might have been interesting but we got hit with game mechanics that didn’t work it made me, C and P all very grumpy. J luckly missed this game.
Dark Heresy Friday 2pm – 6pm
Ah Dark Heresy I do love this game, it is one of my fave’s along with Exalted. This was a pretty enjoyable adventure, although made a little difficult for C as the GM had a bit of a quite voice and it was quite loud behind us. I ended up playing a strangely cheerful tech priest who wanted to keep her humanity, hence joining the inquisition. (I’m used to C’s tech priests who are going down the Darth Vadar route with the voice and such). We managed to solve the problem and deal with the heretical tech priest and the uprising that was about to start on the hive world, and no one in the party died!
The Laundry Friday 7pm-11pm
This game is based on a series of books by Charlies Stross, about a section of the British Civil Service that deal with Lovecraftian Horrors. The game we were going to play in actually got cancelled because the GM had Laryngitis (I hope she gets better) however someone from Cubical 7 (they publish the books) stepped up to run what is the first adventure in the main book. The guy read straight from the adventure, so while it didn’t make it amazingly fun, he did step up to run the game and it meant we got to try out The Laundry so we were very grateful. The game seemed quite fun and interesting, as you do for a change get to start out playing this sort of game with a little bit of knowledge that weird crap exists. (As opposed to Cthulu where you start to go insane with such knowledge.)
Inspectors: Blackadder Saturday 9am-1pm
Who does not want to play in a Blackadder game, especially when there’s a puppet involved. The puppet was in fact Blackadder himself. The game was supposed to be GMless as the guy had tweaked the Inspectors rules to make it GMless and so that the players could take control of Blackadder in order to achieve stuff, however he forgot to print off enough character sheets so he ended up doing NPCs. So we all ended up playing characters in the 2nd season of Blackadder, we had Lord Melchit, Queenie (J), Nursie, Lord Flash-heart, Baldric (C) and I was Lord Percy. This game was hysterically funny. The guys playing Mechit and Flash-heart were extremely good, there was (as you can imagine with Lord Flash-heart wondering around, a LOT of sexual innuendo) and Baldric and Percy were suitably useless. We ended up marrying off Nursie (pretending to be Queenie) to the Spanish Prince, who Percy then managed to accidentally kill while tryin g to show him how to make green, thus making Nursie technically a princess of Spain. We managed to blow up the Spanish Armada and the English fleet, before steeling the French fleet (which had all the English weapons due to Blackadder selling them to the Spanish for a profit and then Baldric messing up when trying to get them back.) It was crazy and a LOT of fun. 🙂
SLA: Industries Saturday 2pm-6pm
This game I think had the potential to be a lot of fun, the GM was very knowledgeable on the system. However the game was too long for a four hour slot and probably needed a double slot as we’d got a bout halfway through it at 6. Also there were a few problems with some people not being able to hear others, and people making different assumptions about how a building was laid out. (I think people were hungry and tired) But it did seem like quite an interesting game.
Warhammer 2nd Ed Saturday 7pm-11pm
P had already sort of warned us about this game as he’d played it while we’d done Blackadder saying that if you don’t play the halflings you don’t get much ‘screen time’. I wanted to play this because everyone keeps going on about Warhammer 2nd Ed and the rules of Dark Heresy are based of it so it meant I did kind of know how the game worked. The game got a bit messy, players getting very in character as halflings and going on and on and on and on and on and on about food. Which initally was fun, but then we were like ‘ok so the halflings talk about Pie the whole day but we keep walking…’ trying to ask the GM if anything happened, if we could move the story on at all… except this took a goddamn AGE to do and resulted in me saying this several times and J also having to sort of say this several times, after the GM said that the conversation that had been going on for about 20 mins in real time had also been 20 mins in game time…. *sigh* We ended up managing to slay one malnurshed wolf and 2 Trolls (I got a lucky Ulrichs Fury and took one out in one hit… I was playing a Female Dwarven Fighter) the other troll managed to rip the heart out of the other dwarf before we killed it… mostly by Halflings pinging it to death with slings. C pointed out on our way home that his halfling and to an extent J’s had been pretty much usless, they were designed as more talky talky characters.. the adventure was designed to be one where you go into the forest and slay wolves. P mentioned that they’d found dead bodies on the way to the quarry where the Trolls were… When we played it the quarry was right behind the Inn that was in the forest(!) Not sure how the dwarf who owned the Inn didn’t know there were Trolls living behind his inn. So, I guess we kind of didnt enjoy this game.
Narrative Pursuits Sunday 10am-3pm
This isn’t the official name of the game, but the guy was playtesting a narrative game he’d made up and hadn’t come up with a name untill Wed morning, he’s still trying to come up with a good one. We did have a fair bit of fun with this, but I’m not sure about narrative games. We ended up with a very silly spy story about a super villian named Le Croaker, who lived in a Volcano and had a frog obsession. It got very very very silly and was quite fun.
So those were the games I played, out of all of them the two I enjoyed the most were I think Dred, due to the sheer tension that game can cause, Blackadder, just too funny and Hellfrost, because the GM for that was really good.
Now (as if this post isn’t long enough) on to what I purchased:
A few more dice (because one can never have too many)
Some small poker chips to act as Essence in Exalted, in fact we all got some of these, because it was only a £1 for 50 and they are nice and small and in tubes, thus making transporting them easy.
C bought 4 of the books for Promethean, for a total reduced price of £31 which is pretty good.
I bought the Dying Earth RPG for a baring price of £11 and that is a game of blagging and big hats.
I also ended up purchasing from Cubical 7 the Doctor Who rpg for the rather good price of £25 as opposed to the £40 it is normally, and Victoriana (think Shadowrun in the Victorian era although not quite as much steampunk.)
I have already been told by C and P that I need to run a game in this, where they will be in a detective agency. I think I could probably do this, I’ve started reading through the book and it’s quite interesting, and the system is pretty damned simply it’s only 6 pages in the entire book! I’m almost starting to wish that I’d bought a few more of the books for it, not that I’ve got shelf space at the moment, but I suspect I may end up purchasing them at some point.
So all in all we had an excellent if tiring 4 days (we did go to bed at half 9 last night, and I did want an early night tonight but this post has taken a long time to write and is a little bit long so I really need to wrap it up) and hopefully we’ll go again next year. I think I might take even more blankets though, because it was cold!