Sunday, August 2, 2015

GenCon Day 3: Star Wars, Paizo, and Sol

Day 3 is over, and all in all it was a much more sedate day. It was also the first time I ran a game at a con, and I felt it went well, especially considering I had no intentions for GMing at all this weekend.

We started the day off trying to get into one of the official FFG Star Wars games. That fizzled, but I opted to run the Force and Destiny Starter Pack for my friend and 4 of the people who had also been hoping to get in on a game. FFG provided the starter pack (not to keep) and was thrilled we were willing to try. THankfully, the booklet pretty much ran the adventure itself so I didn't have to do much aside from know rules, make some rulings, and play the opposition. All in all folks had a good time and by the end of the adventure four new heroes had awoken to the force, gained a holocron, and saved an ancient Jedi temple from a Dark Side force user seeking to corrupt it. Good times.

With that game done, and only a couple hours until the waiting list opened for the next run of Star Wars, we hit the vendor hall. We played a demo of a game called 100 AD with the designer (fun game, though a bit too PVP cut throat for my tastes). The game involves buying influence in the senate of ancient rome and is the kind of thing I could see the Diplomacy crowd really getting into. We also spent some time at the Monte Cook Games booth and talked about The Strange and Numenerra.

After that it was back to FFG's room where we managed to successfully (albeit by extreme luck) get the last two seats in an Edge of the Empire game. We had the same GM we had last year, and it was even more fun. Highlights including a bar fight going from fists to plasma grenades (with proper escalation to blaster pistols and blaster rifles in the middle) in less than 6 seconds of in game time, and a scenario where two PCs tried, and somehow successfully, pulled a "Weekend at Bernies" with a comatose racer pilot to get him past his manager/crew and into his race car.

We left FFG to close up their room and headed upstairs to try Paizo's game room. Last year this was the location of the biggest disappointment I had at GenCon. This year, I have to hand it to them because they fixed the issues. Information Booths were much more readily available, and properly staffed with friendly people who were willing to help. An area was set up for free 30-60 minute beginner games, and they even had some demos on hand for their card game and such. It was probably the most improved experience I had this year. Though, at this point, I may be more invested in D&D. Not that I get to play either much.

Finally, before heading home, we got dragged in to demo a boardgame in development called Sol. This game isn't even up for kickstarter yet and was played with 3d printed pieces. The game is a strange mix of cooperative and pvp where the players try to harvest as much energy from the sun as they can to launch their mother ships before the sun goes super nova. The thing is, you can use anything another player has built (and they can benefit from this as well) and the more you do, the faster the sun approaches super nova. In the end of the game, the player who has moved their mothership the furthest up the board survives. Everyone else dies a fiery, painful death as they are unable to escape. I'll have more on this game when it does kickstart, but it started a bit slow and quickly ramped up to being very fun. The designer who ran the demo was also very open to feedback and ideas, even trying some of our ideas on the spot in the game.

Now, well, it's about time to go to bed. GenCon has one more day, and after that we hit the road to go back home. If things go according to plan it'll be a greater than 24 hour day, though I may see if I can talk my friend into leaving early after checking out the vendor room in the interest of getting home before 9 am on Monday.

Because of that there'll be no update tomorrow, or post on monday. We'll see about catching up on Wednesday. Until then, Happy Gaming.

Friday, July 31, 2015

GenCon Day 2: Lots of Gaming, and Some New Friends

Day 2 of GenCon is over and all I really have to say about it is: Oh sweet, dear lord, MY FEET!

Kidding...mostly. Aside from my legs being in a good deal of muscle fatigue due to my inadequate level of fitness and sudden high levels of demand, today was pretty fun, but also had a couple of negative notables. What kind of negative notables?

Simply put: I ran into my first (two) bad experiences with fellow players in a con. Even more unfortunate is both were at the same game. However, I should also point out that the game was still over-all a large positive.

The first of the negative experience gamers brings up a couple of points I feel are common sense but may bear pointing out:

  1. Make sure the game you are at is the game you think it is, including edition.
  2. Don't give the GM a hard time about collecting tickets, or not having enough.
It probably goes without saying that both of these happened with the first person. They showed up to a Level 1-4 D&D 5th Edition game with a D&D 3.5th edition character. Not the same thing. This caused a small discussion with the GM when they were questioned on certain numbers and they were all - due to power scale differences - far off from where they should be.

As for the second thing, the GMs don't have a choice in this matter. If an event is 4 tickets, you need to give 4 tickets. The GM can't give you a pass because if they do not only are they being unfair to all the other players, but they also get in trouble with GenCon itself. This issue ended up with the person being peacefully ejected from the game.

The second bad experience was more generic: rules lawyering, telling players what they should do, and constant prattling on about what would be amazing if someone had a character above the level range for the adventure (yes, if we were more powerful than intended for the adventure, it would be easier. shocking. :P) In defense of the young man, though I'm the kind of jerk that never affords this defense much merit, they were young. Also, the GM handled it well so we were ok.

Beyond those, today was fun. My friend and I played some D&D 5th ed (a 1.5 hour adventure and a 4 hour adventure) than cut across back to the Hyatt for some L5R fun under the guidance of Sean Holland of Sea of Stars RPG Blog. I left that game with a new appreciation for the Suzume and a desire to play one, so damn good job, Sean. :)

Not much that really drew our interest after Sean's L5R game so we returned to the hotel. Tomorrow is a new day, and among other things includes the "big event" for D&D 5th. We still also want to see if we can get a game of Star Wars in with FFG. We will see what we get.

GenCon is half over. It's already been worth the price of admission. If I get to come again next year, I may even try my hand at GMing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

GenCon 2015 Day 1: This Is Why I Game

As I write this my legs and feet are burning from day 1 at GenCon. My friend and I left our hotel for the convention at about 8:00am, were there before 8:30, and didn't leave until about 10:30pm. All in all, about 14 hours of walking, meeting folks, and gaming. To put it simply, it was a blast. Granted, I might be biased as I had some great rolls today but I had more fun today than in almost all of GenCon last year, and I had a lot of fun last year.

In a lot of ways today was a great reminder of why I game. How so? Well, I only really played 4 games today, but here is what I did:

  • I commanded a space ship in 'The Amega Weapon' and managed to grab the galaxy's most dangerous super weapon before hunting down my fellow players across the board.
  • I got to take on the role of Ray Stantz, Ghostbuster Extraordinaire, in the upcoming Ghostbusters board game and help my team stop a group of rampaging ghosts. My crowning moment of awesome? Diving back into Ecto-1 so I could "cheat the rules" to be able to remove slime tokens from Venkman and Winston getting myself much needed XP and freeing them up of action restricting debuffs.
  • As Akodo Ochiru I attended the Topaz Championship in the Heroes of Rokugan module "New Beginnings." I did not compete, but when wisked away to a spirit realm stepped forward for my companions and out wrestled an Ogre with the aid of my honor and ancestors.
  • Finally, as Utaku Mizuko in an AEG inspired event that will impact the L5R Canon in a story coming out next year, I wielded the sword of Otaku and sliced the arm off a demon saving one of Shinjo's descendants before slaying the demon with the aid of my fellow samurai.
None of this even touches on the people I met, sights I saw, and other experiences. It was a great time.

Oh, also, my friend and I randomly got grouped up in the AEG event with 3 people we played D&D with last year. What are the odds, huh?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Don't Forget The Small Scale Stories

I know, I know. I said there probably wouldn't be a post today. However, I saw Ant-Man over the weekend, and one of my favorite parts of the movie was how small in scale the story is. That isn't a pun either. One of the things Marvel has done with their recent entries - most notably Ant-Man and Daredevil - is tell small stories as well as the large stories. You can't have the world in danger every story, and Marvel knows that. Daredevil is a battle between two people for a small section of New York. Ant-Man is someone trying to stop a plot before it gets to the point it could threaten a country or the world. This is a good thing to remember for your games too.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Discussion: Basic Etiquette & Personal Tips For a Convention

This time next week GenCon will be in full swing. That means that this time this week a lot of people are likely finalizing their plans for going to GenCon. As such, it seems an apt time to have a friendly reminder for basic etiquette. Not game etiquette, but actual person to person etiquette. I have my list of basics. Please, add your own in the comments.

  • Bathe - No, seriously, bathe. Bathe every morning. Bathe in the evening too if you feel you should. Be clean. Wear deodorant, wash your hair, wash your body. You'll feel the better of it, and people will be happier to be near you. Everyone sweats. No one will hold it against you if you're a bit sweaty at 3pm in the convention center. They will if you smell like 2-3 days worth of sweat though. So bathe.
  • Clean Clothes, Fresh Socks & Undies - This is, perhaps surprisingly, as much for you as it is for everyone else. Clean clothes - even if a bit wrinkled - will help you feel more awake and fresh. It also won't smell of yesterday's funk. Socks and undies hold the worst of your funk because they're enclosed. They also have the most power to help you feel fresher. Keep your socks clean (at least a fresh pair daily) and the same with your undies, and you'll just be happier.
  • Care For Your Feet - Ladies, the heeled shoes may be super cute, but unless you know you can walk several miles in them and stand all day it may be best to wear something more comfortable - or have something on hand. Fellas, the same goes for you. You walk and stand a lot at conventions. That puts your feet under a lot of stress, so take care of them and don't be afraid to take breaks to rest them.
  • Be Civil - You're going to have a lot of people around you at a con. because of this, emotions can get heated. If someone jostles you don't just push back. Be civil. When you speak to people be polite. When you speak to con staff, be polite. No one wants to deal with a raging jerkbag, and there frankly is no reason. It is one weekend. Everyone is there to have a good time, and that is a lot easier if everyone stays on their best behavior.
  • Don't Touch People - Don't touch people without permission. Seriously. Do you want to be touched by every random stranger? No? Then don't do it to other people. If you don't know the person as a close and personal friend, don't make contact unless they give you permission.
  • Ask Before Taking a Picture  - Ask before you take someone's picture. If someone is in the background of a picture whatever. If they're focused on, you want permission. Yes, evenfor cosplayers. Heck, with cosplayers you want to ask because many will pose and give you a much better picture. Don't demand pictures. Don't be a jerk about it. And if someone is already taking a picture, don't get in the way. Remember, be civil.
  • Respect Traffic Flow - Traffic flow in crowds is important. If you are in a lane of moving traffic, move with it. If you have to stop, then step to the side and get out of the lane. Try not to hit people. Try not to bump people. And try not to obstruct traffic.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Basic Gaming Etiquette for Cons and New Places

Unfortunately, whether it is true or not for you, us gamers of the table top variety have a reputation of not being the most sociable of people. This can become very apparent when you are gaming somewhere you don't normally game. House rules, even the ones you don't write down or think need stating, either come into play or go out the window. Little things you can get away with with your friends are gone. Emotions can get heated. Everyone can be anxious. A good time can quickly become a bad time. So how do you avoid it? By remembering some tips for basic etiquette. This post I'm going to go over some of those things with the idea being for a con (like, say, GenCon) but this also applies if you're gaming at a new store, or joining a new group.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Prepping For GenCon

This is the last full week before GenCon, and like last year I'm going to be going for the so called "best four days of gaming." Unlike last year, this isn't going to be my first trip. As such I have some experience in the matter, and am hoping to use that to be better prepared.

Last year, among other things, I found out just how hard on the feet GenCon can be. Unfortunately, physically I fit a bunch of generic gamer stereotypes. I'm heavy set (to say the least), bearded, and all that fun stuff. However, the con did totally make it worth making the trips. Because of this, I intend to bring a new pair of shoes, or at least get some of those soles you place inside to make them more supportive.

Other basic consideration: a bag to carry things, some snack food (food is expensive and hard to find at the con itself) and drinks. Changes of clothes are a necessity, deodorant and shower supplies as well. Last year I ended up showering twice a day just because. The morning shower helped me wake up. By the end of the day I was so tired - and at times sticky and sweaty - that the evening shower was all that was needed to put me down for the night.

Those are the basic things. But what about the gaming?

Like last year, I have no intention of bringing books. I'm not running any games myself and there are generally plenty over there. I may buy some - I intend to at least try to get a copy of Force and Destiny while there - but I see no need to weigh myself down with books. Instead, well, the plan is to plan.

The fun thing I learned last year at GenCon is that while all the "really cool" looking events that are listed fill up fast, all you really need is to plan for the day. Find the area where the games you want to play are being done, grab a handful of generics and go over. You'll find something.

But what about the blog?

There will be posts on Wednesday, Friday, and next Monday. Odds are they will be related to GenCon in some way, but I reserve the right to talk about other things like my game and such as normal.

For now though, what about you? Anyone else going to GenCon? What are you looking to play if so? My friend and I are hoping to get in some D&D 5th ed and some Legend of Five Rings. If I can, I also want to get at another Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars table as it was a blast last time. Beyond that? Anything I can do is gravy, though I am torn on the Writer's Symposium. Last year I did a lot of stuff with it. This year, I wanted to focus more on gaming...which is of course why two of my favorite authors are going to be speaking at the symposium this year.