This weekend Sophie and I attended Good Omens Con – a small, free, one-day event over in Oakland at Endgame.
We had fun.
There were, I think, six tables full of gamers for two sessions – one morning, and one afternoon. Canned food was collected for the Alameda Food Bank, which I thought was fantastic, and there was pre-registration online for events, which I also thought was fantastic – and something that even minicons can benefit greatly from.
Endgame is a very nice place to have a minicon, as it has a bunch of tables upstairs. It also has oodles of terrain and terrain tables and a painting area and some very nice models on display and … games. The bathrooms are clean (well, at least the Men’s Room, and I didn’t hear any complaints about the Women’s Room so I assume it’s the same), the store itself is well-lit and spacious (as opposed to dank and creepy – older gamers, you know what I am talking about) and has a wide selection of games, including a “pre-played games” section. All in all I rate it an EXTREMELY dangerous place to go if you have excess money. Be warned!
Endgame is now my official FLGS.
Now, on to the important parts – the games!
I played in one and ran one.
TIME AND TEMP – for the morning slot I played in a game of Time and Temp. Without going into gross detail (you can check out their website) Time and Temp is a game about time travel. Everyone is an employee of a company that handles travel through time and guards the timeline against disaster and modification. Because “important people” muck up the timeline more than anonymous schmucks, the agency hires only temp workers to handle its field work.
They have extremely strict nondisclosure agreements. (Seriously – there’s a 12-page “Employees Handbook” for players to read… and sign! We didn’t go through all that for a one-shot, but it would certainly add some verisimilitude to a campaign or mini series.)
Players write up a Curriculum Vitae for their characters – three previous jobs, with two skills per job. The whole process takes about as long as it takes you to come up with a character concept, plus a few minutes of scribbling. Here’s my character, Zlato.
Job: Gypsy Thug
– Leverage Pain (Intimidation)
– Experienced Arsonist
– Find useful stuff
– Scrounge food
– Sell anyone anything
– Glitz it up!
Skill resolution is based on rolling one or more dice. The size of the die is based on a negotiation between the player and the GM regarding a) how impressive the result will be (are you trying, for example, to hear about local gossip or teach someone to invent chocolate chip cookies before they were historically invented), and b) how much effort it takes (is it something that can be accomplished in a few minutes, or will it take hours, days, or even weeks). Based on the outcome of the negotiation, you will be rolling anywhere between a d4 and a d 12. Skills bump the die size up by one, and you can use up to two of them on a single roll. before rolling, you decide how much risk you want to take – the more risk you take, the more dice you roll. You can choose to risk incident (you succeed, but something complicates the situation), failure (you don’t succeed) or – after a certain point in the game – paradox (you succeed, but the timeline starts becoming unstable).
The real heart of Time and Temp is the Matrix. Every time you roll in Time and Temp, the number you roll goes on a matrix, creating a sort of Sudoku-like effect. When you get a certain order of numbers (for example, nine unique numbers in 3×3 square) there are temporal effects – for example the party might get a chip that allows for interesting temporal effects such as rerolls.
In addition, there is the anachronometer. Every time you roll a specific number, it gets checked off on the anachronometer. The more often a specific number is rolled, the more check marks it gets. So, for example, if you roll a “2”, you check off a box on the “2” section of the anachronometer. The first couple of boxes have no effect, but after that every time you roll that number, it begins to build up paradox. The more paradox builds up, the more unstable the timeline becomes. Too much paradox and the timeline breaks and… “nothing ever was”. Game over, man.
A big reason that you want to roll larger dice is for the more variable numbers – too many d4s and you generate paradox way too early.
Our game had a total of 23 die rolls over the course of four hours (though I admit, about halfway through the game we all got the idea that we wanted to push the game system to see what it could do, so we wanted to roll plenty of dice). At the end of the game, because of some unusual die rolls, we were dangling at 4 paradox when the final die roll came up – five paradox would be the end of everything! It made for a nice, suspenseful climax. We also got to use three chips that we had saved up for the climax to generate a very cool temporal effect – three additional “copies” of each character from different periods of the timeline showed up to help us out! It made for a very surreal and “timey wimey” ending.
I enjoyed Time and Temp and recommend it for a nice, simple time travel system. The flavor text of the game can be easily adapted to any setting (“Primeval” comes to mind) and the system gives you a nice, suspenseful feel for potential unexpected effects of mucking about in the past – for example the single event that had the greatest effect on the paradox level of the game was my character rolling some drunks for pocket change.
So that was my morning game.
In the afternoon I gave my “Fiasco 40K” playest a test.
Let me just say first of all that I had GREAT players for Fiasco 40k. One player had NEVER HEARD of Warhammer 40K previously, but was seriously awesome anyway. A second player had only read some of the novels (for which, depending on the novels, he had my sympathy, and a third player was a 40K Imperial Guard player from way back (and of course there was Big Boss Sophie – WAAAAAAAAGH!). Still, everyone knew Fiasco, so things turned out superbly.
Because I was concerned about the player who knew nothing about 40K needing some help, I decided that I would not take a player position and would instead facilitate. Well, it turned out that I didn’t need to do that because everyone was great – but I had a wonderful time anyway.
Without going into a blow-by-blow retelling of the game (maybe Sophie will do that on her website – if so I’ll link it here) the game started out with all the characters cut off from their Inquisitor in Gunmetal City. We had a spy who was manipulating a reformed human bomb who was under the command of a Commissar who hated and was hated by a Guardsman who had been rescued by the Spy. Much of the game centered around a lock of hair that both the Commissar and the Guardsman claimed as a trophy, and which may or may not have been partially Genestealer. The spy, meanwhile, was trying to get dirt on the Guardsman (and, well, everyone else). Cultists, Genestealers, the Ruinous Powers all made guest appearances, and the game ended up with a full-blown Tyranid invasion of Gunmetal City!
In the aftermath the Guardsman became little more than a husk wandering the underhive muttering “its my lock of hair”. The former human bomb was sucked into a Tyranid hive ship and slowly dissolved. The Commissar accidentally shot her Inquisitor and was demoted to do nothing but lead units of Penal Legion troops and human bombs on unimportant missions, and the spy was torn limb from limb by a lictor, but survived and got cybernetic implants – then was promoted to Inquisitor!
At the end of the game I got a lot of good feedback from the players on the playset, centering around how to make it more accessible to people who don’t know about the 40k universe, and then we all sat around for an hour just shooting the breeze and talking about gaming. It was a great afternoon and I really hope to see some of those players again at FATECon or BigBadCon in the near future.
All in all, I must say that it was a very, very successful day!
Many thanks to the players in both the games I participated in, who made my day so much fun, to Sophie for running Time and Temp, to the convention organizers, and to the staff of Endgame!