Forge Con, the “quick” version

I left my journal/notebook at home today (along with a bunch of otther stuff I should have remembered), which included all my detailed notes on the happenings at ForgeCon Midwest, which I attended this weekend. Without the notes, I’ll just hit a few highlights:

  1. Contrary to my grandiose plans, I didn’t end up playing one ‘new’ game (defined here as ‘something I haven’t played before’, not necessarily ‘hot off the presses’). This was due partly to circumstances (I’d hoped to play Primetime Adventures or Agon, but no one was running it) and partly due to my own choices (since I had several options at times and chose games I was already familiar with over other stuff, for a number of reasons). With all that said, it was still really cool for folks like Ron Edwards to seeks me out and specifically ask me to jump into a session of It Was a Mutual Decision (the story of a romantic break-up, with wererats), even if I didn’t play it. This is also a good thing, since I won’t be coming back from the Con with my hair all blown back and white, proclaiming the next great game we GOTTA play — it reinforced my appreciation of games I already know I really like.
  2. So what did I play?
    • The Mountain Witch (GMd it) — this was during the first gaming slot, which got slarted late in general, and ended up being more of a two-hour demo of the rules than a full-on-and-proper session. That said, we had three ronin with some great abilities and neat backstory, a nice negotiation with my favorite tMW NPC, Uncle Tengu; a fight with some zombie soldiers in my favorite tMW ‘set’, the Black Meadow; an encounter with the Witch’s Mistress, and ended with a duel between a ronin with a sword, and a ronin with a rock. The one with the rock won. it wasn’t even close.
    • Heroquest (played) — this was a lot of fun for me, since I was playing with Mike Holmes, who essentially taught me how to run this game via his long-running ‘live’ IRC-chat-based game that is now into it’s third season, third in-game decade, and fourth year of play. We did a six-person horror-themed one shot in a traditional Glorantha village, and verily it was cool. I enjoy failing in that system as much as I do winning in other games, and spent a lot of time working out ‘bonus’ abilities like “bum hip” for my grouchy old sherrif. Tons o’ fun.
    • The Shadow of Yesterday: Brokedown Castle (GMd, with some actual prep) — this game took place in the evening and actually had a nice turnout, though pretty much no one who played were the people who’d voiced interest in playing prior to the con. Heroquest-Mike turned around and became the player for this session and proceeded to hand me a great NPC in the form of his Goblin translator named Glarb. Has Margie can attest, I have a lot of fun mangling the translation of things from player to the next, and Glarb became a plot-turning pivot on which several scenes hinged. Result: Lots of fun, lots of laughs, a good Bringing Down the Pain contest between the (PC) albino ratkin sorcerer and the (NPC) arcanely schooled nobleman. To contrast that, I should have prepped a stronger situation going in — I went in with some very sketchy NPCs with some leading bits of information about each of them, and asked the players to plug into that relationship map — that worked, and the stuff they came up with did (as I’d planned for) create a whole-cloth conspiracy out of the scraps I’d brought to the table, but just a leeeeetle more momentum from the NPCs would have helped things move a skosh more briskly.
    • Galactic
    • (Played — playtest) — Matt Wilson was down for the con and, once rested, wanted to try out his new version of Galactic. I GMd a playtest group for the game already, and REALLY wanted to see what he’d been doing with the game, so I jumped at the chance. This lead to some really great design talk with Paul Czege (creator of My Life with Master), Eric Finley, and Matt, and I think we really sanded down the last few ragged edges on that thing. Result: this is a tight, tight game. As good as the clunky draft of the game was, this is SO MUCH BETTER. Tighter. Cleaner. More focused. Gone or replaced are many of fiddley bits, leaving one system with a really unified, elegant feel. It’s not genius yet, but it’s totally fun and playable right now, and it’s going to get better — it cant not at this point, I think. Matt still hasn’t had a chance to playtest the system all the way through a whole ‘arc’ and into the end game. I pointed out that my play group is all ABOUT longer-form play and getting to the end game, and told him to get me the damn rules already. There was a lot of nodding.

  3. I should have brought Nine Worlds. My roomate Iskander/Alexander is very much in love with this system, which I’ve owned for awhile and haven’t read, and talked about a couple sessions they’ve played that seems to bring out a great kind of Nobilis-Lost-500 feeling that’s a lot of fun. Must go back and read that thing.

And that was about it. Lots and lots of visiting, and talking about gaming and games and stuff we liked and what we didn’t, about the direction the indie scene is going, and the fact that people in the indie scene don’t use editors, and really really should… and good things like that.
If nothing else, the con let me meet some people I should have met ages ago (Jae, Matt, Mike, Ron, Aaron, Eric, Blankshield… just off the top of my head), meet some folks I really enjoyed and have only recently become aware of through the forums (Clyde, Keith, Thor) and really get a sense of the people behind the UserIDs. Great stuff.
Also, there was a lot of talking about Space Hulk and Warhammer — that’s always good. 🙂
And I’m now totally okay with not liking Capes. Or Shock:. I know I’m not alone, and I know my reasons are much like the reasons that other people have — people with whom I share many other gaming preferences. It’s not this thing that i don’t get — it’s this thing that just isn’t for me, for a number of reasons both artistically, enjoymentally (a new word) and just plain TECHNICALLY.
Like any of these sorts of things — it was a lot of time spent with folks who enjoy the same fun you do, talking, playing, and just enjoying being a part of a really grand hobby.
That’s a good thing. 🙂

*Gulp*

So a couple weeks ago, Alexander the Hoax (long story) talked me into going to the Forge Midwest gaming convention. That’s good.
The scheduling of games for the convention, which usually numbers about fifty people, is REALLY informal. Totally. There’s a thread on the Forge forum where people say what they want to play, and what they want to GM, and a list of the time slots, and the con organizer (wisely) just lets everyone find similarly interested folks and sort out what they’re playing and who they’re playing with, in the thread.
So I post to the thread and list off all those neat games that I have that I haven’t had a chance to play yet, and then I list a couple of the games I think I’d be willing to GM — Sorcerer, Mountain WItch, Mortal Coil, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Shadow of Yesterday.
The next guy who posts says he’d be willing to run Agon (yay!) and would be really interested in a Shadow of Yesterday game.
Okay… I wasn’t expecting that, as it was basically an afterthought on my list, but cool. I mean… yeah, it’s cool. I’ve never REALLY had a group fire on all cylinders with that system, yet (largely because we can’t seem to SCHEDULE GAME SESSIONS), but I’m sure it’ll come together, and hey, that’s just one guy? Maybe no one else will be interested in that.
The next guy posts that he’d like to play TSoY.
Then there’s a few other posts…
Then another guy says he’d like to play TSoY…
Okay.
So I jump on the thread and say “Hey, this is cool, we’ve got three people interested in Shadow of Yesterday. Awesome. What time slot? Also, I’ll take one, maybe two more interested people — any takers?”
The very next post says “Doyce, I’d like to play in that TSOY game with you guys.”
The post author? Clinton R. Nixon.
The guy that WROTE THE GAME.

I’m not panicking. I’m not. I swear.

Continue reading “*Gulp*”

A look at the new Conan collection

While at the San Diego Comic-Con last week, I had a chance to chat with the folks at the Del Rey booth. One of the publishers let me take a peek (and pictures) of the advance proof of the Bloody Crown of Conan collection, including some of the interior art and the mock-up for the cover.
The fellow I spoke with is in charge of production for the book and is making a serious effort to drum up support for it’s release (hence his willingness to get pictures of the book out there) — he’s quite a fan himself and said that what he’d really like to see is everyone buying the book the week that it comes out, thus putting Robert E. Howard into the NYT Bestseller list “where he should be”.

My weekend

Pulp Adventures all weekend:
The Tear of Ra – Saturday Morning, 9am
Keith Tatroe, Jennifer Tatroe, Jim Carsten, Chris Sneary [GM Doyce Testerman]
An Evening at the Blue Note – Saturday Morning, 9am
Dwight Reifsnyder, Dan Reifsnyder, Loren Meaux, Troy Latta, [GM Matt Parker]
Gliriform – Saturday Afternoon, 1:30pm
Matt Parker, Troy Latta, Jennifer Tatroe, Lori Hershfeldt, David Geissinger
[GM Doyce Testerman]
The Fiendish Plot of Doctor Malefaktus – Saturday Afternoon, 1:30pm
Dwight Reifsnyder, Dan Reifsnyder, Keith Tatroe, Jim Carsten, [GM James
Stepanek]
Gliriform – Saturday Night, 6:30pm
Dwight Reifsnyder, Dan Reifsnyder, Keith Tatroe, Jim Carsten, Ken Rehor,
[GM Doyce Testerman]
Gliriform – Sunday Morning, 9am
James Stepanek, Loren Meaux, Chris Sneary, Scott Gaeta, [GM Doyce Testerman]
An Evening at the Blue Note – Sunday Afternoon, 1:30pm
Scott Gaeta, Randy Trimmer, Casey McGirt, [GM Doyce Testerman]
Doyce keels over – Sunday Evening, 6:30pm
[GM Doyce Testerman]

Pulpy Goodness

Our Next Pulp Gameday will be at Collectormania on May 31st and June 1st. We will be running all of our current modules, scheduled to match the needs of as many registrants as possible. Register here.

Genghis 2003

Via Rey:
So, for all those wondering “where is that sexy hunk of man that goes by the name of Rey?”….
Email me here.
For those wondering where “that other guest writer is?”: I’ve been at Genghis Con, Denver’s largest gaming convention in Colorado.
Man, am I wiped out.
Nevertheless, here are some six word reviews.
Living Greyhawk: Almost died way too many times.
Living Force: Man, do they need new writers.
Serial Pulp Adventures: Serial Pulp kicks a$$! For shizzi…
Being RPG Coordinator at Tacticon: What the hell was I thinking?
As a warm-up before my stint as RPG Coordinator for Tacticon, I did (just about) all the RPG mustering, lots of packet scoring and a variety of other jobs, while still playing and judging.
As I said, wiped out.
The convention was quite a bit of fun, as always, though the experience was slightly diminished with the main group of people I hang out with at these things in another country. Which means I got to hang out with some other people. I’ve now confirmed some things I already knew:
1. Rules lawyers interrupting games suck.
2. A good judge can make a bad scenario good.
3. A bad judge can’t help but make a scenario bad.
4. Some times, the only way to get people what they want is to be an a$$hole.
5. I will never play in another Greyhawk interactive. I may help run them, but I really have no desire to play in another one.
6. I really love my wife and son.
Anyhow, I now have to prepare for the mayoral campaign of my Greyhawk character. I have so much RPG-related work to do, it’s silly.

A scotsman, a reformed thief, a gay half-orc, halfling wizard, and two fearless warriors walk into a bar…

Rey is organizing events for the October Rebellion convention here in Denver, which is running ‘living’ games exclusively. For those not familiar with the RPGA, let me explain that living campaigns are basically like home campaigns (gain exp and gear, advance your character) except you’ve got 15000 people playing in the same setting (maximum of six to a table, please).
Most of the campaigns are good ones, and thus the judges (GMs) also like to play, so in order to get judges willing to GM tables for most living campaigns, you have to first organize “Slot Zero’s” for the judges (so named because they come before the First Slot of the convention). Judges play their own characters at the Slot Zeros, which lets them actually gain experience points and gee gaws for their characters as well as familiarizing them with the module in a way that a simple read-through rarely can. It’s a pretty good system (provided you can find someone willing to GM for the judges) and generally, when you sit down with a table full of people who are willing and able to GM for a group of strangers on a regular basis, you’ve a table full of good role-players.
Last night (Living Greyhawk) was no exception (although with the guys we had playing, we had more joking going on than actual hard-core roleplay, but still), and I had a great time, plus, this module’s a two-parter so we’re wrapping it up tonight with the same group. Good stuff.
Next week on Tuesday/Wednesday we’re Slot 0-ing the Living Force stuff (Star wars), then the week after that is more Living Greyhawk and some other fantasy thing I still need to create a character for (a much darker, intrigue-oriented thing).
Yeah, I’m playing a lot of games right now. I know. I plan to do something about it, then I think “wow, this would be a really cool campaign to run”. There just isn’t enough room in the week for everything I want to do, plus writing, plus working on the house and doing family stuff. I expect that there will be some changes pretty soon, since the current schedule has held together for about six months (or more) with no major changes… some players are getting new jobs, etc., and frankly there’s some stuff I’d like to wrap up to make room for other things.
Plus, hey, it’s coming up on the start of new seasons for my shows. That’s going to have an impact, I’m sorry. 🙂

And I don’t even like Tacticon

An all-weekend gaming convention does not take up the whole weekend; it takes up the whole month.
Between getting modules from the con admin, running (or playing) “Slot 0’s” to prep the other GM’s that haven’t played the scenarios which you have, prepping player handouts and other tidbits to make your tables “special”…
Denver has four of these mama-jama’s going over the course of the year. Tacticon is this coming weekend. I’ll be glad when it’s wrapped up.

Enough Talk, Time for Action!

Well, Living Pulp is in the schedule for Tacticon, now we just have to figure out if we’re going to run my next module, Rey’s, or David Stroh’s. That’s a good problem to have.
I’m psyched.