Convention Report: IndieCon 2014

It’s that time again! Admittedly, rather than being able to get the report done each night as I try to, the eternal curse of time being lacking caught up with me again. As a result, we’re now at home, but I’ve got the chance to get everything typed up while it’s still fresh in mind.

For those that haven’t come across IndieConย before, it is held every November at theย Hobourne Naish park on the south coast of the UK, near the New Forest. It’s a wonderfully picturesque part of the country that I always look forward to visiting again. The convention takes over the park as it’s off season, and we have almost all of the lodges and chalets full of gamers. Events can take place in the main hall near the reception, but I personally prefer games in the private lodges where I can host and run games with a bit more atmosphere (and not losing my voice by shouting to be heard by players at the end of the table, which has happened to me when running in the main hall before). It’s the same location where Conception is held, although that isn’t until January. IndieCon tends to focus on the more Indie-games scene (unsurprisingly, given the name) but there’s a fair number of Trad games that get run there too. A bit of something for everyone.

 

[Day 0 – Thursday]

Preparation day and heading down to the event. I spent much of Wednesday evening getting all the printouts finished, printed and laminated for the games I’d be running at the convention this year, as well as assembling the bar, etc. Thursday morning, I’d been up for four hours packing the car with all the bits I’d need before Tiffany woke up, after which it only took her one hour to get ready. I’m sure something’s mixed up here somewhere along the line ๐Ÿ˜‰

We took the motorway for much of the way, finding that Oli and Sarah had decided to take the same route and stopped off at the same service area on the way down within minutes of us. Great minds think alike it seems! Otherwise, a pretty easy ride down. We ended up passing through the New Forest in the dark, because we’d set off a lot later than planned, so Tiffany didn’t get to see any of the wild horses down there. On the plus side at least, they were not standing in the middle of the road and blocking traffic like they have done in previous years.

I think it probably took us about an hour to unload the car and then get the bar set up. After stocking up at the local supermarket, I had a blast running the bar for the evening and we had various good friends over (Scott, Paul, Steve Ellis, Todd Furler, Skylar Woodies, Matt Nixon, Dave, Oli, Sarah, and several others). It’s a nice, friendly way to start the convention, rather than jumping straight into the games. Admittedly though, it did end up being quite a late night, and not much sleep. Never enough time!

 

[Day 1 – Friday]

Slot 1: Unknown Armies

I had the pleasure of playing Unknown Armies with Todd Furler at GenCon a couple of years back, and I was very excited to hear that he had decided to come to Indiecon. The level of detail and style in his games is outstanding. This session revolved around a family drama, with the twist that two of the PCs were the imaginary friends of the two children. Creepy, menacing, intense, and a complete blast – a great game to start the first day! I’m very much hoping that I get a chance to play in Todd’s games again at GenCon going forward.

The moment of the game for me had to be when we discovered the nature of the boogeyman hiding in the closet. Definitely gave the title of the scenario (Ashes of Innocence) quite a different meaning. Thankfully, I never had an imaginary friend as a child!

 

Slot 2: World War Cthulhu

I’d hoped to get into another of Todd’s games that afternoon, but following my usual luck at IndieCon and Conception, the sign-up sheets where already full by the time I got there. So, I took the opportunity to put up a playtest of a World War Cthulhu scenario I’m working on called “Captive Audience”. It’s set during the Blitz, focused on a group of friends that have come together to form a bridge club and keep up spirits during the bombardment. One night, the group assemble for a party no-one seems claims to have arranged, and the police arrive at the door a few minutes later, presenting further confusion.

I’m glad it went down pretty well. The moment of the session for me had to be towards the very end when one of the players came up with a pretty inventive solution to the problem, accompanied by the line of “I wonder how many times the Luftwaffe have been used to kill the bad guys!”.

 

Slot 3: 7th Sea

The first evening slot featured a return to the setting used by John in his 7th Sea game at Conception earlier this year. This time, our swashbuckling team were sent to a small town in Northern France to look into an accusation of witchcraft made against a farmer’s daughter. It was very different in tone to the previous game, and closer to the kind of game I’d like to run in the setting. There was a large amount of Norse Mythology that featured in the scenario, which was a big plus with me as I try to incorporate a lot of myths and legends in my own work where appropriate.

The moment of the game for me had to be when the suspicions one of the players had (which they stated pretty much upon arrival in the town) were confirmed after a close examination of the church. After which, a whole bucket load of references from Norse Mythology followed. A lot of fun indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

After the game, time for another round at the cocktail bar. Admittedly, because of the lack of sleep the previous night, I ended up falling asleep in the corner at one point, which brought the party to a premature conclusion. As such, to bed, and some much needed rest.

 

[Day 2 – Saturday]

Slot 4: Sleep!

Me and Tiffany both skipped the morning slot to get some much needed sleep. While part of me regrets missing a game at the convention, because there’s only the nine slots, I really needed the rest to function for the rest of the day. We did another run to the store to get supplies for the game that night, and restock on mixers for the bar, etc. A nice, slow start to the day was very much needed.

 

Slot 5: Unknown Armies

This time, I was more successful getting into another of Todd’s games, called “The Harvesters”. I was even more excited to hear it was (initially at least) set in a casino, and there was a professional poker player on offer. Unsurprisingly, I went for that one ๐Ÿ˜‰ Unlike the previous games I’ve played, this one used the setting of Unknown Armies rather than just the style of the game, which came to light when the two adepts started to do their thing. From that point on, there was a lot of debate and tough decisions to make about what the hell we were going to do to get out of the situation we’d found ourselves in.

The moment of the game this time came from Scott. When we turned up a Dipsomancer’s front door, Scott realized what he was and used his Narco-Alchemist to sober the guy up immediately. The look Todd’s face, portraying the NPC when he realized he was sober was priceless. Absolutely wonderful – this game was definitely the best of the convention for me!

 

Slot 6: Fear Itself

One thing that I like to do at conventions is be the best host I can be. Tiffany has thrown herself into this as well, and between the two of us we put on the cocktail bar, a buffet, tea, coffee, and what turned out to be a very good session. The scenario (Along Unseen Paths) is a sort-of sequel to “The Seventh Circle” that was released recently. This time, the action takes place in Somerset rather than in the Outer Hebrides, with a team from UCL being sent on an academic project to document one of the Thankful Villages.

The moment of the game for me was when one of the characters was being attacked in a farmhouse, another was texting them to update them with the type of hamper they wanted brought back from the store. The whole run into danger was prompted by the need of one PC insisting that they had to have food while sitting on top of a hill waiting for the sun to set so that they could do what they intended. It was a nice moment of comedy to drop into an otherwise pretty serious game, with plenty of in-fighting amongst the PCs. Just the way I like it ๐Ÿ˜‰

After the game, we made a brief appearance at the famous Dutch party, but then retired pretty quickly to get some rest. The lack of sleep on the first night was still hanging over me a bit, and staying up for a long night didn’t seem possible. However, while we were only there for a few minutes, it gave us time to catch up with people and was a fun time.

 

[Day 3 – Sunday]

Slot 7: More Sleep!

Pretty much a repeat of Slot 4, minus the shopping run. We wandered over to the trade hall (the first time I’d made it in there during the whole convention), just in time for the raffle. I always forget this is happening, thinking it’s only held at Conception. I’d kept hold of all of my sign-up sheets to keep a log for playtester credits, rather than handing them in. One day, I might remember… However, while in the trade hall, I managed to pick up a contributor copy of Europe Ablaze for World War Cthulhu. I’m very happy to see that in print! Very happy indeed with my scenario in there.

 

Slot 8: World War Cthulhu

Another running of Captive Audience, changing a few bits here and there to see what works better than some of previous options, and it still went pretty well again. Indeed, a very positive reception ๐Ÿ™‚ The moment this time had to be when one of the very astute players asked a question that hadn’t come up in the previous playtests about the two policemen that turned up at their door. Very well done, and there’s definitely going to be a sidebar in there to deal with that possibility in future runs as it makes things rather interesting.

 

Slot 9: Drinking, the Venue!

We decided to wrap things up as we started. Various friends came by to say goodbye before they left the site (Scott, Paul, Todd, Skylar, etc.) and others to enjoy a quiet drink to round the night off. It was a nice, and sentimental way to round things off.

 

[Heading Home]

We decided to head home on the Monday, although due to a cock-up on my part, I thought we needed to be out by Noon, and it was 10am… DOH! Quickest packing and loading up of the car me and Tiffany have had to do yet, but we did it. From there, the long drive home and trying to stay awake on the long drive. Finally home now though, and finally have the time to sit down and write up the review of the event.

Overall, a very enjoyable time as always. Tiffany had a blast doing some exploring between games and take some beautiful pictures. We both had a great time seeing people we hadn’t seen for a long time, and introducing Tiffany to a whole load of friends for the first time. The quality of the games on offer this year was wonderful. Very much looking forward to next year already!

Next up on the review: I’m looking forward to Dragonmeet next month, and then Conception in January. Until then, happy gaming!

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