Woke up this morning to a living nightmare – we (meaning “I”) had forgotten the French press! NO! DEAR SWEET LORD NO!
As a slight mitigation, we (meaning “I”) had remembered the milk, the cocoa, and the whipped cream, and as the room had one of those dinky little coffee making machines, we were able to adulterate the rather dismal dinky-little-coffee-making-machine coffee to something resembling potability.
By the time I was up and moving around, Sophie had already been to a seminar on the state of the gaming industry, hobnobbed with game designer deities, and put Luke Crane in his place during the question-and-answer period. I made sure to give her extra cream and cocoa.
Sophie had an Improv workshop to go to in the morning, and I had more GoD duty, so after our coffee and some blueberry bread and fruit, off we went.
SATURDAY MORNING: GOD DUTY – Omega Zone!
Things started slowly in the GoD room Saturday morning, as they often do. Players trickled in, bleary-eyed but eager. The first couple of players at the table decided to play Omega Zone and so we got down to character creation.
Normally I prefer to run convention games with pregenerated characters, but Omega Zone is an exception. Since the game has a card-based character generation system, I can just flip a few cards at players and bang! Instant characters. I do wish that the game had listed the approaches in the same order they are listed in FAE so players wouldn’t have to transpose, but that isn’t a fatal flaw. But I digress.
The party kicked ass in this game. Everyone was good, everyone understood the importance of “Create Advantage” and everyone chipped in and had their moment. I generated a scenario more or less at random from the plot cards, and handed out random pieces of gear and sub-plots, and everyone had a heck of a time. I even mutated the characters once just to show off that aspect of the card deck (everyone seemed pleased except the player who had his talking cat turn into a talking lobster – but he got better).
It’s really fun to see players cut loose in a big game sandbox, which is what these players did. With the semi-random sub-plot cards popping up to keep things interesting, it was a lively, inventive, and fun adventure .
FRIDAY LUNCH – Thai
Lunch today came from a food truck.
One of the only difficulties with the location of Big Bad Con is that food is a bit far and inconvenient. The solution: food trucks! Today’s food truck offered thai food, which I am not precisely enthusiastic about – but I got a couple of spring rolls and Sophie got some curry, and we both enjoyed our meals.
Food trucks = good idea. More conventions should have them (though I would guess that hotels will be understandably reluctant to have gamers avoiding their $20.00 hamburgers).
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Tien Xia – Never Pick the Ranger!
Saturday afternoon I played in Sophie’s Tien Xia game, which is a setting for FATE Core. I was a party crasher for this one, taking one of the secret spots that Sophie doesn’t put up for prereg (yes, I do the same for her), so I sat back and let others choose between the various pregens and took what was left. What was left was a fighter and a ranger (or more accurately a noble warrior and a wild woman of the forest).
Normally I would have taken the fighter in a heartbeat, and after the Pathfinder game of a couple of weeks back I had severe reservations about taking the ranger. “Never take the ranger” has always seemed prudent for one-shots because the wildernessy ranger skills are so often wasted on dungeon crawls and in cities. Nevertheless I took the ranger because, well, sometimes you just have to stretch.
In terms of my theory, the character was exactly the way I thought it would be – loaded down with aspects, stunts, and techniques that were completely useless in the city where the adventure took place (they all had provisos like “When in the wilderness….”). I was briefly miffed and briefly kicked myself for not following my own guidelines. But then I settled in and just had some plain, old-fashioned fun. The players I was playing with were top notch (as always), and the plot elements flowed smoothly from start to finish. There was much Wuxizing and leaping and punching and kicking and such. I got to play a fate point to look exactly like the Princess of the Moon Faire in order to impersonate her (leading to lots of hilarious scenes where other PCs dressed up the wild woman and did her hair – WORST. MOON PRINCESS. EVER!) and got to do some cool martial arts maneuvers with my Forest Snake technique, including blowing a whole bunch of Fate points and advantages on a strike that drained the tainted black blood from the Moon Champion and disrupted the spell holding her captive. I highly recommend Tien Xia as a supplement, and Sophie as a GM for it!
SATURDAY EVENING: Bulldogs! – Saying “Yes”
There was a last minute cancellation the week before the convention, and Sean Nittner put out a call for GMs to fill in. Like a crazy man, I volunteered, and so found myself running Bulldogs!. Bulldogs! is a science fiction setting for FATE Core. It’s a bit over the top and not meant to be taken too seriously. Because time was short, I grabbed a whole bunch of pregen scenarios and decided “well, I’ll just run one, and if there is time I will run a second, and then a third.”
My players, it turned out, focused on one idea above all others – “Deliver the cargo, get paid.” Many of the published scenarios have various plot hooks designed to lead players further into the scenario, past the “sign here – thank you!”. No. Once we got to that stage the scenario was OVER!
It was absolutely hilarious.
Now it is time for my one amusing anecdote of the convention. Bear with me.
About halfway through the game a woman stopped by the table – a friend of one of the other players. I still had a spot left, so I asked if she wanted to play. She told me that she didn’t because she didn’t like FATE, but I gave her the spiel about Bulldogs!, her friend encouraged her to try it again, and everyone else at the table was welcoming so she sat down. The character she got was a big, honkin’ Dolome roustabout with high Physique. A little while later the party was involved in a firefight on the ground with a bunch of Templars, who started launching anti-ship missiles at the ship. I rolled really well for one hit and declared that one of the missiles was sailing directly into the cargo bay where several members of the party, including the Dolome, were standing. The woman looked at her character sheet and saw that she had a stunt called “Take the Hit” and announced “I’m going to use that to take the hit from the missile.”
What to do?
I knew full well that the missile, scaled up to do damage to vehicles instead of characters, would be doing enough damage to the character to impose some massive consequences – the kind that would carry through the rest of the evening. I ALSO knew that this was a seriously cool moment for the character.
So I let it happen AND I scaled the damage down a bit so the character wasn’t crippled for the rest of the game.
What did I get for this? An entire table full of people waving their arms and yelling “WOO HOO!” and “YEAH!” and a singed Dolome.
Say “Yes” to the players. I’m telling you.
The party wound up not touching the “Help the slave revolt” plotline, stealing the combat robot instead of delivering it, never even bothering to check the cargo crate containing the kidnapped little girl, and turning the noble who tried to bribe them to help his escape in to the Barracado Pirates. But everyone had FUN! The Urseminite fell in love with the combat bot and wound up having tea parties for it. The cargo officer was stealing everything not nailed down. It was classic Bulldogs!
By the end of the game my sides hurt I had been laughing so much. It was a really great experience. The best moment came when the woman who played the Dolome said to me “You have redeemed FATE for me!” I was so proud.
Fred Hicks – I did you a solid, man. ^_^
SATURDAY NIGHT – Sleepless in Oakland
Despite the fact that the bed was nice and comfortable, and I was dead tired, I COULD NOT GET TO SLEEP. It took me until after 3:00 am to finally fall asleep. I worried (during that time I wasn’t sleeping) how that was going to affect me tomorrow.