Good Evening, All:
My trip to Owl Con XXX was a great success. As I mentioned previously, I was scheduled to run two sessions of Stellar Quest, and they went pretty well. I ran the weaker adventure on Friday night, Mission to Carcerus III. The gamers went for a more slapstick approach to the setup, and I have to admit that I ran with it. We ended up turning the session into a Star Trek spoof, but they still resolved the challenges of the adventure and succeeded. We laughed, the bad guys cried, and in the end, they delivered their prisoner to the prison planet, as well as reporting another contact with the felinoid warrior race, the Kzinti.
My second stellar Quest adventure, In The Shadow Of Orion, went a bit more smoothly Sunday morning, with a few Star Trek fans in the group that really knew the canon. The adventure itself was the stronger of the two I wrote, and they worked through a number of options creating an exciting Star Trek experience that had its moments of fun, as well as "adrenalinized" pulse-bounding action. I particularly enjoyed the inventiveness of the group, as well as their conscious decision to choose the more "Star Trek"-inspired course of action when they evaluated their options.
In both cases, I picked up a few ideas and clarifications I want to make to the Stellar Quest rules. Playtest sessions like this one are excellent for such things, and achieving a successful and enjoyable game tells me that I'm on the right track. I can't wait to get this one done and out there, for those interested in Old School Star Trek.
Saturday was my day to play, and I chose games I don't normally get to experience here at home. My first session was Monte Cook's World of Darkness, a brilliant D20 adaptation of the World of Darkness Storyteller System set in the post-apocalyptic aftermath of a failed attempt of one dimension to intrude into our own, leaving a bizarre mix of creatures roaming the night, trying to complete the work that failed with the initial efforts of the Icconu. We played fast and loose with the rules, but the adventure was pretty solid. Our characters were Awakened (aka Hunters) who were trying to survive in Houston. We were investigating an issue where the sacred nature of our previous camp had somehow been violated, and we hit on a side trek that turned out to be the main adventure in disguise. Corrupted by the demoniac spirits released by the Iconnu's attempted incursion, a former televangelist was preparing to sacrifice non-baptized children and adults for his own nefarious purposes. Being the Good Guys that we were, we stepped in and stopped it, at great peril, of course. It was a good session, and I played my character to the hilt, complete with a bad Irish accent. I was in good company, for the other players roleplayed their characters equally well, and when the game was over, I felt we had accomplished a great deed. If I ever run a modern fantasy post-apocalyptic game, I will likely steal this adventure to work into my repertoire.
Saturday afternoon, I tried out the latest incarnation of Gamma World. It was based on the D&D 4E engine, and with the setting's unusual premise, I had high hopes that the system would lend itself well to the game. We played through three encounters of the adventure that came with the boxed set, using pregen characters. What I discovered was that, while Gamma World played well to the stronger elements of 4E, it also emphasized what I consider to be the weaker elements of 4E as well. In a game system where speed of play comes from rules mastery, when you change abilities with every encounter (and sometimes more frequently, as you change one of your "mutations" whenever you roll a natural one, as well), you tend to lose the ability to play quickly. When it was my turn, I had plenty to do, of course, and I kept my turns short intentionally. When it wasn't my turn, I was bored stiff. Still, the scenario was fun, and I feel good that we got three encounters in over the course of our four-hour session. I wasn't as happy with my experience here, but I got a chance to roleplay a telekinetic rat swarm, which was definitely an unusual yet entertaining challenge for me.
I had signed up for another session of Gamma World that evening, and I seriously considered switching to another game for that slot. However, Fate was a kind and fickle soul, and there were no slots open in anything I felt drawn to play, so I stuck it out and gave Gamma World another try. I'm really glad I did. The second GM walked us quickly through character creation and rolling randomly, I ended up with a yeti rat swarm, so I described my character as a swarm of miniature ewoks that acted with a hive mind. We started off in a gladiatorial scene, much like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and things just got better from there. Over the next four hours, we played out six encounters, including a small dungeon and a final "car" chase climax that brought out the true flavor potential of the setting itself. This was truly the best scenario I participated in at this year's Con, and I had an amazing amount of fun with it. I'm not sure how the GM ran things differently that removed the impact of rules mastery on playtime, but whatever he did, I was suitably impressed with the game. If Robert Anderson ever runs another scenario at a future Con, I urge everyone to jump at the chance to play in his games. Oh, and save a slot for me, too. :)
The dealer's room had some good deals going on, although there were not as many non-4E RPG books available as I would have liked. There were a lot of wargaming and board game materials present, though, as well as some great gamer goodies, in addition to a well-stocked anime booth and a fine assortment of T-shirts and bumper stickers. As always, Owl Con continues to be my favorite regional gaming convention. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and well-organized. Other conventions could learn more than a lesson or two from these folks. Oh, and the prizes are pretty cool, too.
That about wraps up my report on Owl Con. If you have any questions, please let me know, and I'll do my best to answer them.
A World From Scratch ~ Valley of the Djombo
1 hour ago