I recently ran a first, short, small game of Dragon Age for my fiance and neighbor. After some quick character generation (Jen customized one of the DA pregens, resorting the spell picks primarily; Angelo rolled his up from scratch, having his own boxed set), we found both PCs were Dalish elves, part of the same caravan community (a warrior and a mage). I gave them both a one level bump, to start with 2nd level characters, to both give them an edge (my two PC adventures tend to get a little rough ... heh) and show off the level-up rules.
The short improv adventure was meant primarily to run them through a few combat scenes and get the hang of combat, spell-casting and stunts. Late afternoon, the elves discovered twin children had wandered off into the forest. With most of the hunters off in a long term hunting party (food had been scarce), it fell to the two PCs to find the children and bring them home safely.
As a touch, I declared that the mage had finished casting two glyphs in contribution to the defense of the caravan. She would be able to maintain them at distance (or know if they went off), but did count to the max slots (as usual). "Checking on the glyphs" came up a few times later in the session.
In tracking down the children (the warrior had a companion hunting dog), the pair stumbled into a black bear (upwind from them, with the PCs having fallen into a silent march effectively). The combat went several rounds, with the warrior getting battered. Doubles, dragon dice and luck turned their way, with the warrior pulling a great roll, scoring a 6 on the dragon die, knocking the bear prone (I made him narrate that) and handing off the coup de grace to the mage.
They discovered the children, trapped in a cave by the now dead bear - along with the strange thigh bone the boy had found in the cave to use as a club. The mage noted the bone has odd carvings and iron banding, but otherwise botched her arcane lore roll. The PCs determined the bone had been scavenged from elsewhere, but after a brief search of the general area, opted to return with the children.
Along the way, they were ambushed by two giant spiders. The drove off one and sustained a hard press from the a second - including said spider scoring doubles and a dragon die of 6, leading to the warrior being mighty blowed, knocked down and then hit with the poison. They rallied, the mage came up with some great casting rolls, and offed the spider.
The session ended with the return of the children and consulting with the elder mage regarding the bone. The NPC suggested it might be indicative of an ancient Chantry tomb - the PCs jumped at the chance to find anything Chantry related that might help them protect the Dalish community from templars and the like.
All-in-all, both players really enjoyed the game (and pronounced it better than D&D 4th ed (and better than the recent old school / 0e I had run), and had a keen interest in picking up the adventure (possibly tomorrow).
The one criticism, from the mage player, was a disappointment that armor deducted from spell damage. I plan to implement a 2 SP spell stunt that allows a spell to be made armor pierced (i.e., the same as the combat spell stunt of the same name).
I definitely enjoyed the system mechanics and the dragon die / stunt aspect of the system especially.
After yet more shenanigans, I grow ever more convinced that I should really only support conventions and formats that support player preregistration and confirmation of game enrollment in advance of event. I meant really - it's fracking 2010.
With that as a wind-up, I announce my games for the EndGame April 3, 2010 Minicon. I'll pause there to say that, my bias notwithstanding, I think the EG Minicons continue to be the highest value for (Bay Area) gamers. One day, three tracks of games, 4 hr / $3 format, and confirmed game registration in advance. The GM caliber tends towards the Awesome, as do the players. And there, without further blather, I shall run (and perhaps you shall play):
10 AM Scenario Name: The Five Elemental Apes of Ancient China Game System: Heroquest GM: Brian Isikoff Variations: n/a Power Level: n/a Number of Players: 5 of 6 Seats Available (zero people on waitlist) Characters provided? Yes, and finished at the table
Thousands of years ago, in an ancient China only somewhat like our own, the provinces were ruled by bandit kings and worse. There, the Five Elemental Apes - raised from babies and trained by their Kindly Master in elemental kung fu - deliver justice for the people, and righteous-ass-kicking to the wicked. By Fire, Water, Metal, Air and Wood; Fist, Foot, and ... Tail!?
About this game: The Five Elemental Apes of Ancient China is an original scenario of kung fu, magic and mayhem in bandit ridden ancient fantasy China. The Heroquest rpg is one of the founding games in the story-game movement, and is newly rewritten and refined by Robin Laws, the original author.
----- 3 PM Scenario Name: With the Band Game System: Chronica Feudalis GM: Brian Isikoff Variations: n/a Power Level: Rising Stars Number of Players: 4 of 6 Seats Available (zero people on waitlist) Characters provided? Characters quickly generated at table.
“We’re an American Band, We’re coming to your town, We’ll help you party it down! We’re an American Band”
Groupies, roadies, and record contracts. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll; wine, women, and song. Rising stars - booking arenas and clubs, riding into town and committing musical mayhem.
All the perfect cover for fighting crime, solving mysteries, and investigating the supernatural. Crazed cultists, maniacal monsters, and savage slashers - the Band hunts them down and takes them out. Have fun, rock out - and kick supernatural ass!
About this Game: With the Band is a player-driven scenario in the theme of Scooby-Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It uses (misappropriates might be the better term) the Chronica Feudalis rules engine to facilitate some fast and fun play.
Early Sunday morning finds me with coffee (and a fracking donut, yea) and my brand spanking new copy of Champions - which Hero had drop shipped to DDC for it's release. It's nice to have it as a DDC special - and it looks rocking.
So far, so good Con-wise. Friday night's Chronica Feudalis was a riot. It started off well, and got awesome from there. It was definitely not a seriously toned game. At the 3 hour mark, I was beginning to wonder if the game was going to be a one-scene play. The players were fantastic - after determining their approach to to scenario, they created their PCs - a Scot sellsword, a thief who had become a monk (a tonsured monk, not the D&D sort), a step-daughter who acted as the team's leader as she was the one with the motivation and connections, a town guardsman, a turnip farmer, a blacksmith (played by adantejada), and a Portuguese Jewish doctor. The doctor - who seemed to be the nail standing up - threw in his kicker (suicide of his patron / father figure as a result of the taxation) and really set things off with the conspiracy. The game ran as an odd blend of serious and slapstick, with pretty constant player laughter. Not the most immersive or hardcore of scenarios, but all seven players seemed to have a great time and said as much. In the end, the game ran the full 6 hours, featured a light touch with the rules - although i think enough for folks to get a good feel for how the core CF works - and we wrapped up at midnight. I did use the new (Feb 5) revised rules (and corresponding charsheets and resources from the CF website). I'm not sure it was the result in play that the author envisioned, but I had fun.
From there, it was beer o'clock and I met Jen at the bar for some Bass and various chat with the world famous Ryan Fracking Macklin (who is, as of this posting, off to LA for a second convention ... before flying to NJ for a 3rd). Was able to chat some with luminariaries princeofcairo, foxbat, freeport_pirate, and others. I said many silly things, and I blame the Bass, my sipping from Jen's lemondrop and Ryan Fracking Macklin.
Yesterday was like the Macklin & Rigney show, and Jen and I were more than happy to guest star. I had the good fortune to kick back for several hours off site from the con with them.
From there, it was planning and dinner with my friend Waybe Ogle. Wayne is a great guy and friend, and a fantastic GM. We ran our 10th (11th?) annual samurai rpg game. This year, we had a group of 16 (2 groups of 8), taking 2 over the limit (technically, we were DDC rules complaint - we only added one player to each if 2 tables / GMs). I'm still processing the game - as always, we had fantastic, enthusiastic players - and ended at 1 am after 7 hours. Wayne's team was still going when I left (and went straight to bed).
I'm quite looking forward to DunDraCon this year. For one, Jen will be with me (and not in England). I've managed to swing a half-day on Friday (and a full day on Tuesday to recover), so I've got plenty of time to get to the Con and get set up without feeling rushed. I might even be able to grab a nap after checking in before an early dinner and my 6 pm game.
I've got two games on the schedule - my Friday 6 pm Chronica Feudalis game, and my Saturday 6 pm Samurai Tales game (co-GMed with the Wayne Ogle). I think this is something like 10 years of co-GMing samurai / L5R games with Wayne. Crazy.
Sunday is my seminal panel (at noon), and Sunday night is podcasting and foodie stuff. I'll likely be running a pick-up game of S&W / C&C (or possibly Dragon Age) on Sunday afternoon.
Motivated by the just concluded Dead of Winter Horror Invitational, I pulled together the write-ups for the two games I'll be running at the upcoming EndGame MiniCon on January 16, 2010. I'll be using the Heroquest rules - the new version just came out recently - for both games:
10 am Scenario Name: Dieselpunks in Devil City Game System: Heroquest Variations: n/a Power Level: n/a Number of Players: 5 of 5 Seats Available (zero people on waitlist) Characters provided? Yes
The U-S of A went to heck years ago, taking the rest of the world with it. In the post-apocalyptic future, fat cat oil barons hold the keys to the next tank of fuel. Dieselpunks in armed and armored cars prowl shattered freeways, dodging rabid bikers and radioactive mutants, looking for the next score.
You roll into Devil City low on gas and ammo. Take it from there ... About this game: Dieselpunks in Devil City is a pulp-ish scenario of post-apocalyptic road warriors escapades. The Heroquest rpg is one of the founding games in the story-game movement, and is newly rewritten and refined by Robin Laws, the original author.
3 pm Scenario Name: Tales of the Space Patrol! Game System: Heroquest Variations: n/a Power Level: n/a Number of Players: 6 of 6 Seats Available (zero people on waitlist) Characters provided? Yes
Rocketing through space, maintaining justice and righteousness throughout the stellar frontier, it’s ... the Space Patrol! Blood thirsty xenomorphs, dimensional shamblers, alien gangsters and cosmic sorcerers - the Space Patrol takes ‘em all on, and that’s just for breakfast. So grab your ray gun, strap on your jet pack and get on board your rocketship - this Patrol has a lust ... for justice! Join the Space Patrol today! About this game: Tales of the Space Patrol is space opera scenario in the theme of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Starblazers. The Heroquest rpg is one of the founding games in the story-game movement, and is newly rewritten and refined by Robin Laws, the original author.
Playing in the Sunday morning game at the Dead of Winter invitational. All the attendees (28ish) have survived thus far. We've dealt with heavy rain and cold all weekend. The Log Cabin room - where the gaming takes place - has a massive fireplace, which helps. Lost power from 4 to nearly midnight last night - everyone gamed on in good spirits.
No hauntings, but the Inn is positively creepy (my "renovated" room balcony overlooks the burned out, exposed to the rain wing) and death trappy.
Well, the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay preview event at EndGame this past Saturday went well enough. There's been a few reports of it - say here, there, this place, and that. Overall, I enjoyed running the three demos, and think we were able to sample the game for some folks (9, to be specific) and give them a flavor of the (very) new game.
The one consistent thread in my experience though was - unfortunately - not enough runway, by which I mean time to prepare. The demo kit and rules arrived at the beginning of the week of the demo (Monday, the 9th). I was able to get some reading in, but sadly with the work schedule and season, I wasn't able to get nearly enough reading and prep time in.
There's a difference between reading a game over a few hours over a week and kicking it with some friends that weekend and preparing to run a series of demos to spotlight / experience a new game for a store and company. Not enough time.
I think we would have considered a different demo format if we had access to the rules and scenario earlier. Not only would the run have been smoother, but I'd have tried for more of a 2 games at 2 hours a piece, to better explore the game - and play through the full demo adventure.
I think there's a lot of exciting features to the new game - I'm a bit bummed at the lack of runway to prep (which is becoming a general theme for me - game and otherwise).
The website for my podcast, 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction, is changing. The web host we've been using for the past couple of years is going out of business. We've gotten a new host (Adam Jury, of Catalyst Games, is working with us) and, with it, a long overdue update to our look. A nice way to get into Season 3 of our show.
I put through the name server changes this evening; the switch should happen over the next X hours. If you happen to have problems with any subscriptions, I've found they usually fix with a resubscribe (in iTunes). However, our feedburner feed hasn't changed, so we're hoping everything will be seamless to our listeners.