Tag Archives: Big Bad Con

Sovereign’s Pride

Here are the characters for my “Sovereign’s Pride” Fate Core game at Big Bad Con this year.   I have divided them up into three categories as per “Blue Rose”:  Adept (people good at magic), Expert (people good at skills), and Warrior (people good at combat).

In addition to the two cats in each group, I have added one non-rhy cat.  The party can have a maximum of one of these three characters and they must be bonded to one of the rhy cats.

There were some formatting problems on some of the character sheets converting from GIMP to PDF.  But it’s late and I want to get this up, so I will fix them in the morning.  I’ll also get up the magic sheets for the adepts.






League of Extraordinary Felines

These are the characters for my upcoming “League of Extraordinary Felines” game at Big Bad Con.  Once I have the character sheets done (hopefully in a day or two) I’ll append them, but for now here are the thumbnails of the characters.


Name:  Lady White Heather (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  White Angora

Inspired by:  real cat!

Lady White Heather is Queen Victoria’s cat, and the leader of the League of Extraordinary Felines.  She is the cat who saw the need for cats to defend the realm, and she personally traveled the world to recruit each and every member.



Name:  Hisoka (“Secret”) (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  Bakeneko

Inspired by:  Japanese folklore

Hisoka is one of the mysterious cat spirits from Japan.  She is the team’s stealth and infiltration expert, able to vanish, move quickly and silently, and strike from shadows.  They can also transform temporarily into a demon form, though this is not without risk.


Name:  Dinah (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  Cat Sith

Inspired by:  Alice’s pet kitten, and fairy lore

A perpetual kitten in appearance, Dinah is actually a fairy cat, able to use her glamour to change her appearance, read minds, hypnotize, and other amazing feats


Name:  Growltiger (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  Dock cat

Inspired by:  “Old Possum’s Guide to Practical Cats”

Growltiger is a brawler, pure and simple.  He has knowledge of the London underworld, and is always willing to take on all comers.  Generally doesn’t like anyone, but has a soft spot for Lady White Heather.



pluto-sepiaName:  Pluto (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  Domestic shorthair

Inspired by:  Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat”

Pluto is a master of the dark mystical arts, able to project his consciousness into astral space, fly, sense magic, and cast a variety of useful spells.  Such actions tire him however.



tabithaName:  Tabitha Twitchit (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  House cat

Inspired by:  Beatrix Potter

Tabitha doesn’t have amazing powers or mystical abilities like most of the members of the League, but she is very clever, highly skilled, and level-headed, which helps her deal with a variety of situations that others may find confusing or difficult.  She is also the only one who can deal with Victorian era technology.

ta-miu Name:  Ta Miu (p. 1, p. 2)

Breed:  Egyptian

Inspired by:  real cat (mummified with Crown Prince Thutmos)

Ta Miu is a mummy, given eternal life via a secret ceremony.  He is amazingly tough and resilient to harm, as well as being extraordinarily fast.

Tagged ,

RPG a Day: Day 6

Most amazing thing a game group did for their community?

The collections made by Emerald City Gamefest and Big Bad Con for charities at their events.

Gamers are, in my opinion, very giving people.  Maybe its an inherently altruistic streak.  Maybe it’s just the understanding we all develop that if the cleric doesn’t get part of the treasure we aren’t going to get that cure spell when we need it.  Either way, the donations always seem to come in, often in huge lots.  It is a surprise to me that many of the older and more established conventions have not taken advantage of this fact to solicit donations for charity, and I would encourage the managers of these events to consider it for the future.

Tagged , ,

Big Bad Con: Prologue

Welcome to Big Bad Con – BLARF!

Here is my yearly report on  Big Bad Con, the premier roleplaying event of the Bay Area and possibly the world!

I love Big Bad Con.  Its an incredible experience for a roleplayer.  I await it every year in much the same way that small children look forward to Christmas.  Celesticon is good.  Dragonflight is good.  Kublacon is good (so I have heard, haven’t been there yet), Pacificon is…  Pacificon has some lovely people who attend and some wonderful people on staff and, oh never mind.  The POINT is that Big Bad Con is far and away the best.  It has the best planning, the best design, and attracts the best GMs and the best players of any convention I have ever attended.  It gives the sort of experience that roleplayers have always wished their conventions would give them but could never quite achieve because they were lumped in with the tabletop gamers and the miniatures gamers and the eurogamers.*  But Big Bad Con is just for us.  Plus, Big Bad Con is socially conscious – donating to both local food banks and Doctors Without Borders.  I think this is a great idea, and am continually surprised that more conventions don’t do this.

So once again I was all giddy and excited as the date grew closer!


…before getting into Big Bad Con proper, I need to talk a bit about the day before Big Bad Con.  I often get pre-game jitters, but before this Big Bad Con I had them bad.  I am not sure why.  Partially I am sure that it was due to the problems I had with my Apocalypse Pony game a couple of years back.  Partially it was because I had filled my schedule pretty full this year in an attempt to get as many buttons as possible.  So I was nervous.

I was also up very late trying to get everything together.  I had stuff to print and files to sort and cards to find and stuff to pack and dice to select and all that sort of thing that you do before conventions.  And of course this meant that I was up until around 2:00 am.

Originally I was supposed to be at the convention at 10:00 am to help with set-up.  But at the last minute Sophie got tapped to do a CostCo run for the convention.  CostCo opens at 10:00 am, and since I was riding in the same car as Sophie, this meant that I was going to be late – very late.   On the one hand I told myself that I shouldn’t worry about this because if the convention gurus decided they needed the CostCo run more than they needed me moving boxes, well, they knew what they were doing.  On the other hand it was my first time working with the staff coordinator and I wasn’t keen on having to write to tell him I was going to be late.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am laying the groundwork to explain my mistake.

Knowing that we were heading for CostCo, knowing that we were in a bit of a rush, running on little sleep and a lot of anxiety, I did something I knew I shouldn’t do.  I took my morning meds on an empty stomach.  I rationalized that we were going to CostCo, and I could get food there.  But what happened instead is that I couldn’t stomach the thought of CostCo hot dogs and so decided to wait until after the CostCo run when we would get something for the road.  Then I compounded my error by thinking that burritos were a good choice, then discovering I really couldn’t eat one in the car without getting drenched in salsa, and so holding off until we got to the convention.

So of course by the time we got to the convention I was horribly, horribly ill.  And it was absolutely my own damned fault.

So about the first thing I did when arriving at Big Bad Con this year was throw up in the parking lot.  Anyone observing me must have thought I was some sort of drunk – not an auspicious start to the convention.  What was worse was that throwing up did not make me feel immediately better.  It DID mean that I started to gradually improve, and eating part of my carne asada burrito also helped, but throughout Friday I was in the process of going from feeling horrible to feeling merely wrung out.  Bear this in mind when I talk about Friday.

And with that somewhat unpleasant introduction, off we go!


*And at some conventions consigned to a hallway far away from where the rest of the convention is occurring.  Not mentioning names here.  Just expostulating.

Tagged ,

Big Bad Con: Day 1

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

System:  Motobushido

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!

Tagged ,

Free Hunters: Character Sheets


The Four

This weekend at Big Bad Con I am going to be running my first session of Free Hunters, a hack of Night Witches.  Like Night Witches, it is a game about women pilots in World War II.  But Free Hunters focuses on a small number of women assigned to a men’s regiment.  It is a more intimate story than Night Witches, focusing on some specific people in a specific place and time.  It is also more focused in terms of time, covering only late 1942 through mid 1943.  This was a pivotal time for Soviet aviation, as they sought to wrest dominance of the skies from the Luftwaffe.  When the series opens the Germans have near total control of the skies.  Less than a year later, at the battle of Kursk, Soviet aviation absorbs the last major blows of the Germans and establishes air superiority on the Eastern front once and for all.

By the time this happens, every single one of the major characters I use in Free Hunters are dead.

Here are the characters I am using for Free Hunters.  These are of course drafts, and will likely change after the initial playtest.

Alexi 1

Katya 1



Raisa 1

Mikhail 1

Tagged , ,

Busy Autumn

It looks like I will be attending three conventions this fall – Dragonflight in Seattle, and Celesticon & Big Bad Con here in the Bay Area.

I’m going to be running a lot of Motobushido – two games at Dragonflight, one at Big Bad Con and one at Celesticon.  I’ll be running a Night Witches variant at Big Bad Con and doing some Games on Demand GMing as well.

If you are going to be at any of these events, please look me up!

Tagged , , , , , ,

BIG BAD CON 2014 – PART III (Sunday)

When I woke up, I was pretty sure I was dead.  After all the energy of all the games in the last two days, and after not getting to sleep until something like 3:00 am, all I really wanted to do was just snuggle back under the covers and go back to sleep, preferably with a nice, warm wife.

But the nice, warm wife had a Firefly game to run, so I staggered and crashed around the room, managed to make coffee, managed to get something to eat, and once again toddled off – this time bleary and barely sentient – to go to another game.


I was crashing Sophie’s game again, so again I sat politely and waited for other players to make their choices before I made mine, though I was secretly hoping to play Mal (to the point that I seriously considered giving my my scruples and calling dibs).  Sometimes virtue can in fact be rewarded, because when the others had chosen, there was Mal, still on the table, just looking up at me all manly and Captainy!

I confess I had some misgivings about the Cortex system.  The original “Serenity” put out by Margaret Weiss Productions had been a dim and dismal affair IMHO, and though I had liked Marvel Superheroes I had also found it a tough game to understand.  Grabbing Mal was therefor something of an act of faith – I knew that if I was playing Mal I was going to be in a leadership role, and that was going to put some requirements on me to care for the ship and crew.  One of the things I noticed right off on the character sheet was that one of Mal’s big abilities was to give another character an extra d10 if that character was following his orders by spending a Plot Point.  “Aha!” I thought to myself and suddenly knew my role in the game.

I was going to be the party cleric, making other people look good by boosting their dice pools.  This was quite successful and really funny too!

Early on in the game, Kaylee accidentally managed to jam her parasol point-first into the shoulder of a thug.  From then on when Kaylee got into combat I always tried to give her an extra d10.  I also played up Kaylee’s ferocity to our opposition – the “you think I’m trouble?  You don’t want to get HER riled!” sort of thing.  It was really fun, and Kaylee actually managed to lay out a couple of thugs this way, which made it even more fun.

Everyone did a fantastic job playing their characters and it was clear that everyone was a big fan of the show.  The person playing Jayne was in particularly fine form, and I don’t think I will ever be able to go into someplace posh without thinking “Hey, free mints” again.

An important lesson that was reinforced for me in this game – be a fan of the players, not only when you are the GM but when you are a player.  It is easy to get so focused on the character that you are playing that you forget about the other characters (and that’s OK to a certain extent – as a player your primary task is to play your character, not someone else’s).  But if you can get past that, and look for opportunities for your character to help other characters look cool, man you will set yourself up for some incredible roleplaying!

SUNDAY LUNCH – limited selection

There was a schawarma and falafel truck in the parking lot for lunch, but by the time we got there it was out of almost everything (though not schawarma, which was what I wanted).  During the afternoon I overheard several other attendees talking about how the truck ran out of almost everything, and the wait was very long (40 minutes in some cases).  Not sure exactly what the problem was with this particular vendor but it was disappointing to hear after the good service of the previous days.


Cunning Cat Caper2Sophie had been planning on attending my Cat game in the afternoon, but while we were waiting for food Karen Twelves persuaded her to join a different game instead.  I was disappointed, but it turned out to be for the best because honestly I was running out of steam by the time I sat down to game.  Fortunately for me, my players were not.

I think the most enthusiastic bunch of players I had for the entire convention were the players for my Cat game.  They were full of cat stories and were totally in the cat mindset.  One player actually had a drawing she had made of the cat she wanted to play.  I had pregens, each with their own picture, but how could I say “no” to that?  My only regret now is that I didn’t give her a Fate Point for it, but as I said I was running low on steam.

I had a scenario planned out, but with Sophie not attending I was able to borrow some set locations and villain stats from a previous game I had run, which was nice.  The cats had an epic adventure finding out who had stolen Mr. Stinky’s smell, and thwarting a rat bane spirit who was attempting to destroy the neighborhood cats.  Players did awesome stuff and were extremely cattish, which added to the fun.  Another great game, and a wonderful conclusion to Big Bad Con.


No, not the game.

We hit the road pretty quickly after the Cat game broke up.  Sophie and I were both tired and we were a bit worried that if we took the time to circle the convention saying goodbye to everyone we would be another hour getting out of the convention.  So if we missed you, or didn’t say goodbye to you – to everyone who was in a game with me, as well as those of you from previous years, thank you for another great Big Bad Con.  It was memorable and fun and uplifting.  See you next year!





Tagged , , ,

BIG BAD CON 2014 – Part II (Saturday)

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.


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 .


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.

Anecdote over.

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.


Tagged , , ,

BIG BAD CON 2014 – Part I (Friday)

Once again this year Sophie and I attended Big Bad Con, and I thought I would give a brief recap (in three parts)

FRIDAY AFTERNOON GoD DUTY:  Puppetland and Fiasco.

I love Games on Demand.  It is a far, far better concept than plain old vanilla open gaming, and one that I think every gaming convention in the known universe should adapt because it just bloody well works.  Particularly for conventions like BBC, where regular game registration is done ahead of time via the internet, and the whole schedule is filled up within 5 minutes of registration opening, assuring that there are plenty of games available for people who didn’t happen to have that particular 5-minute time slot in their lives empty enough to spend it hitting “refresh” 10,000 times.  Games are ready in advance, there are signs up, and people just need to walk into the room and take a quick glance at what’s available.


I have this strange proclivity for wanting to run little-known, unusual, or out-of-print game systems at conventions.  Part of this is contrariness, and part of it I attribute to seeing endless lists of D&D games at previous conventions and wanting to give convention goers a choice.  So for Games on Demand I brought four games – Puppetland, Omega Zone, my own Brotherhood of the Rail, and a couple of Fiasco playsets as a safety net.

I’ll be mentioning this a lot during the next few posts, but I have to say that BBC players are fantastic!  I love them!  I sat at the table, some players sat down, and away we went like a whirlwind.  My group of players decided to tackle Puppetland, and they were good!  I had one player who had only been roleplaying a few months, but it didn’t matter – the enthusiasm and creativity bubbling around the table took on a life of its own immediately.  I was riding a tiger, hanging on for dear life just to keep the plot up to the characters and having the time of my life!

For those of you who don’t know it, Puppetland is a purely narrative game – what you say is what you say.  Players speak in the first person (“I throw the candy at the nutcracker!”) and the GM in the third person (“Huggins flung the hard candy at the Nutcracker, smashing it’s wooden jaw!”)  It took a little practice, but everyone picked up their narrative manner quickly and in short order the group had crossed the Lake of Milk and Cookies, rescued an endangered puppet from the Nutcrackers, been betrayed by the pirate Captain Ruddypants, defeated him and convinced him to help them, snuck into Puppetown, defeated two of Punch’s boys, and rescued the pirate puppet crew of the Good Ship Rootbeer Float!  Wowee!

After that breathtaking game we tackled the “Dragonslayers”.  I only had one player who had ever played Fiasco before, so the game followed the predictable “new player” trajectory, with players being a bit tentative at first while they tried to figure the system out in the first act, and then – having figured it out the second round of Act I – going at the game premise like bloodthirsty cannibals during Act II.  We had brilliant scenes like one character running off with the treasure, pursued by one of the dwarves, and dropping coins behind him that the miserly dwarf was compelled to stop and pick up…  followed closely by the scene in which a party of low level adventurers intercepted the trail of coins and began following, increasing in level every time they picked up some more money.  The game ended in the predictable way – with one character being eaten by the cannibalistic purple lizard men, another one being mugged by the party of adventurerers with a wand of level draining and being reduced to first level again, one character retiring from adventuring as a drunken, broken husk, and the “quiet” player making off with the vast majority of the gold and success.  Win once again!

During this time Sophie was off running a game of Atomic Robo.  I’ll link to that once she has her tale written up.

FRIDAY EVENING:  Everway, the game I was afraid of

I was apprehensive about my Everway game, that I was running on Friday evening.  Not sure exactly why it was Everway that I chose to be fretful about, but it appears to be in my nature to have to fret about something, and I suppose it was better that I fretted about Everway than the game I was going to run on Sunday afternoon, so at least I could get the fretting out of the way early.

Everway is another one of those very narrative games, and I had planned on making it super narrative by limiting the use of card deck resolution to times that seemed highly dramatically appropriate.  I also decided to go more sandboxy than I usually do in a convention game, so instead of writing a bunch of notes up, I pulled some cards that I liked out of the deck, strung a few of them together into the idea for a plot (along with a quick draw from the tarot deck), put some others aside for visuals and for some minor encounters to throw in if the pace of the game dragged and I needed to throw in something exciting, and just trusted to my players to do the rest

And they did.  And it was glorious to watch. to facilitate, to be a part of.

This was my one “serious” game of the weekend, and took the form of an investigation.  And investigations always get a bit pokey at some point or another.  But it was Friday – everyone was enthusiastic enough and had sufficiently high energy to carry the game over the less dramatically thrilling part.  The players gave good thought to problems, worked through some ethical dilemmas, rescued a child, assisted the Unity Mages, defeated the Thieves of Essence, won the Unity Rose, and were off to defeat Alurax (well, that last is definitely a story for another day).

FRIDAY NIGHT:  The Hotel Room

We had a hotel room at the convention for the first time this year, and it was quite nice – large, comfy bed, little tiny refrigerator, and most importantly it was not a 40 minute drive away in the middle of the night.  Convention experience – plus 1,000 points!

FRIDAY:  Lessons Learned

Once again I learned the lesson of really being a fan of your players, and saying “yes” to them.  I’m going to save my prime example of this until tomorrow so I don’t beat on it endlessly, but there were a couple of times that I had a choice between saying “no” to a player and sticking with the system and rules, or saying “yes” and letting the player do something kickass, and I was well served by saying “yes.”

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: