So here I was at Big Bad Con – my favorite gaming event of the year. I had just thrown up in the parking lot, my ears were ringing, my stomach barely in check, my cheeks were burning from embarrassment, and in a minute I was going to have to sneak by a horde of gamers smelling like barf in the hope that I could get to the bathroom and rinse my mouth out before I had to actually talk to someone.
For me this was absolutely the sort of introduction that would make me get back into the car, go home, and text Sophie to tell her that I would pick her up at BART and Sean to tell him I was sick and needed to cancel my events. Which was close enough to being true that it would fly, but not REALLY true in that I knew what was wrong with me and I knew that it would get better and I knew I would be fine by tomorrow as long as I didn’t do something stupid again.
But here’s the thing – I did not do that. I made the decision that I was going to tough it out, and stay at the convention. Because Big Bad Con is that sort of magical place. The sort of place where even a guy like me, embarrassed and sick, feels like he’s with his tribe, and that they will take care of him in their own weird, wonderful way. The sort of place to feel at home, even if I can’t remember the names of people I have seen gaming before and I feel crappy and my ears are ringing. Because my tribe is cool like that – they’re the sort of tribe that watches for signs of weakness and trouble not so that they can abandon or prey upon the unfortunates, but to buoy them up and support them. That’s my tribe.*
So I went in, cleaned up, ate my burrito, and got ready for my first game of the convention.
GAME 1: Ice, Ice Baby!
SYSTEM: FATE of Agaptus
GM: Sophie Lagace
Sophie’s FATE of Agaptus game was out and boy was the book ever beautiful! Its a work that she has every right to be extremely proud of. I had been helping some with the writing and the playtesting, and had signed up for or been promised a space in several convention games over the last couple of years while it was in design. However, in many of those cases I had decided at the last minute to give up my space in order to accommodate another player figuring that I would have an opportunity later. Consequently, though I had GMed the game quite a bit, I had not played the game all that often, and of the games I had played, two of them hadn’t been in the setting. Well not this time, I said to myself. The game was playtested, proofread, and published – it was a done deal. And THIS time I was going to play! And I was going to play my character – Kuri! I had mercilessly browbeat poor Sophie until she agreed to let me play him, taking full advantage for once of being the GM’s spouse. And now, here I was at game time – sick, dizzy, tired, and wanting little more than to go to sleep for a few hours.
But I had a great time anyway. The guy who played Iva (Kuri’s mother) really got into the spirit of the thing, and all the other players did their characters really well. It all started off with a bar fight (or rather a mugging in a dark alley following a bar fight) between us and members of the Vidaar pirate crew of a rival captain of Ulf. We discovered that rival was off to a secret island where he expected to get a great treasure. Of course, being the good Player Characters we were, we gave chase, pursuing him to his secret island. In the meantime our resident priest, Schmoe, got us all into trouble by rolling “++++” on an attempt to contact the gods, a roll I termed “catastrophic success”, which brought the eye of Agaptus** down on us and almost sunk our ship. When we finally made it to the island, we discovered that the Vidaar pirates knew of a secret cave (what kind of pirate adventure would it be without a secret cave) in which was hidden a whole big chunk of Murmadon rock. Sadly, we ran out of time at this point, and didn’t get to battle the huge nest of Kuld that was in the secret cavern worshiping said Murmadon rock, but I know the battle would have been epic, and Kuri would have been supremely annoying both to the Kuld and to his mother.
I came out of the game still not feeling 100% but much better, and pleased with the idea that I had managed to get through the entire game a) without actually attacking anyone (I put all my efforts into creating advantages, like a dutiful child) and b) without any in-character statement except “HEE!” and “Grrrrrrr!”
After the game we went back to our room, and I prepped for my first game while Sophie went and got me knishes.
Game #2: Sword and Static
GM: Edmund Metheny
By this time I was feeling a lot better, but was still wrung out and a bit queasy. Because of this I think I didn’t bring quite the energy and enthusiasm to the game that it and the players deserved. Big Bad Con sets a very high bar for GMing, and I admit to feeling self-conscious when I think about not measuring up. At any other convention I would have felt that my game was very successful. At Big Bad I thought it was pretty run-of-the-mill.
The players were all quite good and enthusiastic. We had the Taicho, the Migi Ude, the Kusawaki, and the Hahaoya in play, and the scenario was one I had run previously. We did go through the First Founding and a discussion of the war. This was the first time anyone introduced mutations or mutant powers into the game – the Kusawake had perfect night vision and the Taicho could see the future. Everyone came up with ties to Green Village – the Taicho had to kill the village guard because he was getting old, the Kusawake was a sex addict who had to be kept away from the local brothel, the Migi Ude had a fortune in gold buried in the area that on one else knew about, and the Hahaoya had a sister who disapproved of his Motobushi lifestyle. The pack drove out the thugs who had taken residence in the town and then confronted their foes the War Pigs who had come under a flag of truce ostensibly to honor the ancestor of their great enemy (this was true – I decided that I would play it totally straight to see what happened. As I suspected the PCs provided sufficient treachery that the War Pigs needed none). Probably the most interesting twist in the game came when the Taicho saw two futures ahead – one in which he and the Taicho of the War Pigs died, and one where both of them lived. It was the future where both died that was the better of the two, so the Taicho set out to slay his rival. However, the duel didn’t go his way, and the head of the War Pigs won (barely) and spared both their lives. The Kusawaki was eaten by radioactive coyotes, but came back as a vengeful ghost. In the end both Taichos lost their positions in their respective packs and formed a new pack together, while the Kusawaki took to the roads as a vengeful spirit until such time as both the Taichos would betray one another and die. The Hahaoya became the new Taicho supported by the Migi Ude and the remains of their pack and the War Pigs joined together.
All in all the game was, IMHO, a good one. And although I felt my own GMing wasn’t quite up to what I knew it could be, I was happy nonetheless because I think overall the players had a good time.
Then I went to bed.
*A Hillfolk game in which your tribe is a bunch of gamers in a large hotel for a convention would be awesome.
**Or Akka-Maas if you prefer. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. Hee!