A little later than planned, but finally here! The first convention review I’ve compiled in one go (and on the last day of the event) rather than day-by-day, due to a combination of a poor internet connection (yep, the venue still has it’s “black hole” touch!) and having a lot more packed schedule than I thought!
As many of you here that know me well will be able to testify, I don’t travel light. One day, maybe. That day is not today. After going back to the house once to collect things I’d forgotten, I turned the air in my car pretty blue when half-way down the M1 after realizing that I’d forgotten yet more stuff (and no, I didn’t turn around at that point). Hence a run to the supermarket upon arrival and now I’m the proud owner of yet more martini glasses and another cocktail shaker (pretty much essentials for the cocktail bar… typical damned short term memory being useless and forgetting them twice, despite putting them both specifically to one side whilst packing… DOH!).
Anyway, upon arrival and setting up “the bar” (the most important of the initial jobs!), the convention properly started for me. On the way over to the main building, I happened to bump into a bunch of good friends who’d played in games of mine at previous conventions, and promptly found my sign-up sheets pretty much completely filled out before they hit the board. Nice to see that my offerings are in demand (or so it seems, at least!) as they ended up with both reserve slots also getting requests, but ending up running with six PCs in both instances.
Slot 0, the pre-event evening, and a couple of rounds of Cards Against Humanity in the bar. It’s a game I always get a laugh playing, even though I rarely win any black cards in it. Oh well – need to get my mind more into the gutter when playing that, I think!
Following that (and the intervention of a very moody bartender who either needed a good kick in the nuts or a new job… or maybe even both), relocation to the lodge and round one of cocktails. A nice way to round off the day and meet new friends.
Me and mornings don’t normally mix, and having been up moderately late the night before, I was pretty accurate in thinking I wouldn’t be up for Slot 1. Correct! I lurched out of bed and did my impression of a Zombie (not the kind I was mixing the night before) and headed to muster for Slot 2. Nothing really grabbed me in Slot 1, when seeing what was on offer on the boards anyway the night before, so not a big deal.
Slot 2 was a case of perfect timing. As my dearest Tiffany is coming over to visit over Christmas and New Year, I’ve been buying up a lot of DVDs of the original series of Dr Who to introduce her to them. One of them being “Image of the Fendahl”. I watched it a couple of days ago, so when I see a scenario called “Bride of the Fendahl“, it was a bit of a no-brainer for me – I signed up straight away! The scenario itself was pretty surreal in places, but used a lot of the mythology from the original Tom Baker era story, and it made the old-school Whovian in me very happy indeed. The only thing that would have made it better… Using a system other than Apocalypse World. It was a US hack of the system for “Companions”, but at heart, still AW – a system I don’t really like. I just find it pretty limiting, narrow, and promoting a flavour of game that just does not interest me. Plus, keeping “romance” moves in there for the various Companions really didn’t seem in keeping with the source material… I was content to ignore a large part of my sheet and be content that the options of customizing the character essentially meant that I ended up playing John Steed (from the Avengers – no, not the Marvel film, for those of you not aware of the 1960s TV series) as a former Companion of the Doctor. In the end though, very enjoyable!
An hour later, and frantically getting my notes together, time to run the first adventure of the convention for me (“Cerulean Aureole“) in Slot 3. I last ran this one at GenCon and it went down pretty well there, but I much preferred the session here! Much more inter-party panic, debate and arguing – exactly what a PC group should be doing when faced with the situation they found themselves in 😉
I had planned to run a new Fear Itself game at the convention, but ran out of prep time and rather than go with something half-baked, I decided to wait it out there and complete that scenario for a future convention. Instead, I went with two of the Trail of Cthulhu games I ran at GenCon this year instead. They’re two scenarios I’m rather proud of, so glad that with how the first one went at this point.
Round two of cocktails, another nice way to round off the day and then off to sleep.
This time I decided to get up for Slot 4 (the dreaded morning slot). After a late night, and a much upset stomach after something I ate that evening firmly disagreed with me, it was a pretty damned hard effort to get out of bed, I can say! Nonetheless, I made it to muster and then off to play World War Cthulhu.
The scenario in this instance was set down in the Underground, and pitted the team against a cultist summoning up a Hound of Tindalos to try and kill a large part of the city elite. At it’s core, a nice idea, and whilst it was surrounded in a good depth of research and technical detail, a lot of it didn’t seem massively relevant, and the investigation was overly complex at times. Also, a pity that the system still uses a variation of 6th edition Call of Cthulhu when 7th edition is just around the corner, and would have made it a lot nicer game (mechanically) to play. Other than that, the only other thing that I found a bit of a let-down was the one line (literally, one line) background the characters had. It didn’t really promote much of a group dynamic, not much depth on that level, which seemed pretty counterpoint to the rest of the research and attention to detail that had been taken to craft the rest of the scenario.
Another quick break and on to Slot 5 – Greaves & Woodhouse. Using Hot War (I must be a glutton for punishment – this system never shows me any love!) it was a tongue in cheek Cthulhu parody/farce that was a good run for all concerned. I had a great time playing the Jeeves-esque manservant looking after the Berty Worcester-style lunatic socialite. A good change of tone to break up the day.
Yet another installment of realizing that an hour disappears far too quickly between slots and you can’t prep enough in said time, and on to Slot 6 – “Heaven in a Wild Flower“. As with my previous offering, also ran at GenCon, and where that session overran by a fair while, this one went on even longer – much due to player debate and theorizing what the hell to do in the situation they found themselves in. I felt a little bad rushing through the last act of the adventure, but we would have been there for a good few hours more without it! I love the scenario to bits, but never seem to get enough time at cons to run it the way I’d like it to go.
Then, gathering the stuff together after another round of drinks, and getting ready to go home! At the time of writing, I’ve been up for close to 24 hours after socializing, and packing after the game (including cooking a chilli-con-carne for a certain friend who, again at the time of writing this, has passed out on our sofa after consuming a hell of a lot of booze – you know who you are!). My net connection is back – albeit briefly! – and I’m off to a wedding bash in 4 hours, so will be missing the last day of the convention. Not to worry though, Conception is just around the corner, so will be back here on the “sunny” south coast soon… Hopefully with less wind and rain than we’ve had this time.
Until then, happy gaming!