Kenners ready before Evilgaz shocker. Due to the demise of my computer, I was not what you’d call prepared for Conception, and so it was with no small amount of fluster that I stuffed my gaming bag for the con with AK uncharacteristically ready and waiting. Once I’d got my shizzle together though we were off and down in good time. Not quite good enough to make the evening slot on Wednesday, but early enough to settle in and say some hellos.
I was bunking down with the Derby 1790 crew and was pleased to share my accommodation with such an accommodating bunch of fine chaps. Less pleased about the strangled sheep snoring coming from the back of the chalet, but you can’t have everything… 😉 Thanks for putting up with my drunken self chaps.
To the games then. Nothing doing Thursday morning, or afternoon it seemed, so I slapped a Pirates up for the second slot and got my Tight Purse Harvey on. I think everyone enjoyed it and I had fun. If there’s a suggestion for running a game at a convention and you’re wondering what to do, then I’d go for something like this. Savage is a simple system to get contact with (even if all the bells and whistles aren’t immediately apparent) and Pirates as a setting is instantly recognisable and that the players can jump right in on. [Bennie count: Moderate]
After a last minute switch of my game schedule I ended up in Lady Blackbird (or Lady Blackhawk Down as I insisted it was called), the free game all the cool kids are raving about. I was initially concerned by one player’s insistence on playing the Captain because he could be manic. I’m not sure where manic came from, except in his head. The concern escalated to frustration and anger. I’ll not go into a full on rant, but inappropriate touching of fellow gamers who you do not know (or even if you do actually) is a Bad Thing. One certainly shouldn’t have to tell somebody twice to keep his hands to himself. Third time = throat strike, so I was thankful it didn’t have to escalate that far. The rest of us had a blast though, but probably the game got away with itself due to rogue elements. I’d like to get in an Indie Rich game at some point in the future to see if he’s Got The Dice to Back It Up behind that Delphian exterior, as I don’t think the session got a fair shake.
What followed was the Pompey party (Happy Birthday Jim) and the demolishing of the infamous jar of Moonshine (best taken with rum and brandy, half a pint down in one), among many other liquids. I couldn’t feel my tongue for about ten minutes. I shall draw a veil to spare our gentle readers the pain and anguish of the full details, but it was as raucous as you’d expect and Mick got an early night.
Four hours sleep + moonshine = Bad Thing. Actually, both of those are Bad Things, so the correct equation should probably equal Very Bad Thing. Nevertheless, my Pendragon game went ahead at 9am sharp. Maybe ten past. I had the Pompey crew for this one and fortunately the players swiftly set the level of the game somewhere within reach of my hung-over state. Bonus. Good fun was had, three knights dead and Jenkins the Squire eventually proving that he was better than several of the player characters. A plucky display from all and always pleasing when a Trusting knight drinks from a poisoned chalice, although bad form to vomit on the Lady of the castle thereafter.
Afternoon slot I played Sorcerer, the original Left Field Hippy Indie Game. It was a solid session, and even the player(s) who weren’t initially sure of where to go with it got in the swing by the end. Ultimately though, I didn’t like the system and found it cantankerous and a difficult beast to get on with (ironically mimicking the central idea of the game). I shan’t be trying it again – and this is balanced against advice that it takes a few sessions to get to grips with and is then Good on the one hand, and that the book is impenetrable on the other. Cheers to Scott and the players though for making it a memorable session.
In the evening was Beat to Quarters with the singular Mick Red. It was a raucous session and not short of bluster or bravado. I think I was a bit too sober for it (or the others were too drunk 😉 ) as unfortunately a lot of the cool dialogue and narrative got lost in the general hubbub being bantered about. Mick was Weak and had to finish early (thanks for running what you did 😉 ), but before that sad demise there were many fine moments – mostly ably led by Hornblower it has to be said – and all mouth no trousers from the incompetent Richard Sharp (no “e”). Duty and Honour, Beat to Quarters, both excellent small press games, especially for conventions.
From there we headed to the bar (as clearly everyone needed more booze, we’d only caned a bottle of port, JD, Sailor Jerry’s and more beers than I could count) and several marriage-threatening card payments over the counter in exchange for booze were made. Following on from that our chalet somehow became Party Central with all manner of guests, randoms, passers by and chalet residents having a jolly nice time. For the second time in two days I saw more girls at a party in an RPG convention than I normally do in the whole con. The lady gamer count was definitely through the roof this year. I wonder why? Maybe it was the Dutch imports?
WH40K Space Orks was on the agenda the following morning, using Savage Worlds. Anything Savage gets a dusting of pulp on it and this seemed to fit the green skins more than say, Space Marines. Having had a glorious 5 hours sleep (much better than the previous night) and a Jonny Gray Breakfast Special (regrettably our usual egg mechanic Novalord “wasn’t feeling very well” and had to go back to bed), I was on relatively fine form. I started by asking if everyone knew something of the 40K universe… cue three lads nodding, three girls shaking heads. (Yeah, that’s right readers, the gaming table actually reflecting the population gender split accurately!)
It turned out not to matter. My character sheets were a thing of beauty if I do say so myself, and with a little gentle prodding to get things going everyone was soon in the swing of it. Loads of cool narration and set pieces came from the players, including (but not limited to), the Kaptin drop-kicking the Gretchin into the middle of the enemy with a Stikk Bom in its mouth, an exceptional array of cheesy music from the pilot over the tanoy (I worry about your music collection Andy) and of course the finger-breaking, arm-amputating, Golden Badger winning, rokkit-riding, suicidal TPK-inducing antics of Netski and assembled contributors. Top fun and something that will definitely get another showing. Bizarrely there were about three other varied Space Ork games over the course of the con. Must be something in the water. [Bennie count: Very High]
After I’d nipped back to put the dishwasher on, the afternoon was filled with Hot War by the unassailable Mr Dorward. After forcing a litre of energy drink down his neck we got rocking. Some of the players were new to the game and possibly the way of playing, so it took a little while to get simmering, but by the end it was definitely bubbling away and there were some great tension-filled scenes. Hot War owes some of its meat to Sorcerer, which I’d tried the previous day. If I’m putting my time into anything of this ilk, it would definitely be the War, which is a much more polished product. Good game, tick VG.
That evening it was my Savage Vikings. Character images were provided by the extremely amiable Jonny Gray, who for some reason was labelled Jeremy at the closing ceremony, much to everyone’s amusement. There was a strong showing from the Pompey crew and the level of the game was again quickly established by the players. Beers generously provided by the players we were soon pillaging the English coast (well it was Vikings after all). My cards conspired to defeat me as the players cut a bloody swathe through our green and pleasant land, until the final battle, which got a little “sticky”, but overall it all flowed nicely for most of the session. Plenty of one-liners and banter, and a jolly good game. Sweet.
After that it was back to the Collective Endeavour chalet for White Russians, gaming stories and boisterous conversation. Scott tried to ply us with “rice cakes” that appeared to be some kind of weaponised luminous green slime. He was fooling no-one, but it did give some insight into where his weirder ideas might spring from. Convivial company and I even managed the bed before the 2am rule for the second time of the con.
Sunday morning is always variable, so I’d picked then for the Monsters and Other Childish Things demo. The really hard bit it explaining how to stat a Monster and I’m definitely dropping this next time I run it – too much like hard work. The whole point of the Sunday morning slot is to make things easy, so next time I’ll stick to the plan to pre-gen or come up with some other solution (possibly involving the One Roll Monster Generator). Also, I think having each player control both kid and Monster is too much, so I’m going to go with splitting these roles out as I’d originally planned to too.
That aside though, we had a good fun session I think. Before the players had even finished describing their characters to each other, the banter had started and the Monsters were soon following suit. Awesome play from the group, leaving me little to do but throw in the odd weird antagonist or tell people which dice to chuck about. Tick VG. Scans of the hand crafted Monster sketches to follow…
All in all a very good convention. I ran plenty of games, so didn’t have trouble getting in any particularly. Organisation was impeccable as always, brilliant job by the organisers and volunteers once again. Many thanks to them. Great to catch up with people old and new, too much alcohol, not enough sleep. Many thanks to my lodge mates too, who were very welcoming and a jolly good bunch of chaps if I might say so – especially cool to see them running a wide variety of games as well as playing them too. Shame Indy Pete couldn’t make more of the con, as he always provides some high energy games, although the impressions did make it feel like he was there often (REALLY!). I look forward to seeing some of the people I talked to who were thinking of trying GMing at future cons giving it a go. Always pleased to chat to someone about tips and tricks if they’re thinking of it too. Cool beans.
Awesome con, if long and tiring. I’m glad to be home if that makes sense? But even more glad to have been to Conception again.
PS £13000 to charity? How do these guys do it? Fantastic.