Con Reports

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Herein lie our Con reports and other related notes and missives!

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  1. smartparty

    Back from my second Conception and knackered, but had a great time and have the burning need to share.

    Liftage on Wednesday went from being at midday, via half one to 3pm by the time it turned up, so the evening pirates game had to be cancelled. Bottoms. Still, got to say a swift hello to a couple of people and drink and get settled.

    The chalet was cheap and perfectly nice – a couple of minor problems were fixed within hours once the camp desk was notified of them. Beer prices were on a par with Nottingham city centre – that is to say, not cheap – but I was used to that kind of tariff, so no worries for me there. The bar snack food was okay from what you’d expect at that kind of place – standard stodgy fayre and again a little on the pricey side.

    Thursday morning kicked off with some Pendragon. Recently I’ve been including mugshots in my game and this time round used different coats of arms to put down in front of me so players knew who was about etc. This seemed to work, which is nice. The players got into their roles and despite the outcome did a good job. Shame their liege lord was murdered, as one knight was, two died in battle, two were captured and one chickened out from a battle and joined the baddies. Most amusement was had from Kaiser Jez trying it on with a lord’s wife in a blatant breach of hospitality, only to be cut in half in one stroke by the lord’s son in a “friendly duel”.

    Next up was Savage Cursed Empires. Savage works well in this sort of setting, and the GM did a good confident job of setting things up and explaining the rules. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the scenario had enough meat in for the Gaz, but I managed to get a laugh out of cutting a cocky Kaiser Jez in half again, this time as a player by way of variety.

    Thursday night was the Pompey invitational Pendragon (with a slight Cthulhu slant), which was notable for its Mick Red Doesn’t Get Drunk Shocker. Despite shouting at me last year for trying to buy my own beer as GM, this year I got away with. Also, he didn’t kick me off my chair this time, so he’s learning… Another good game with plenty of energy and the restrictions on how PCs can act really coming to the fore. Pendragon is definitely back in black, with the system standing up to the test of time (with a couple of tweaks) and the players easily able to drop into the setting and make the most of it. Tick VG. If they behave themselves I might repeat this Thursday evening slot next year. Oh, and I think I killed Kaiser Jez again, this time taking his armoured knight down with a dagger wielding monk.

    Friday morning was Savage Cthulhu. The noir gangster prohibition era stuff went down well, everyone got into character and got stuck in and much fun was had. Regrettably I hadn’t plotted strongly enough for the latter stages and things got a little bit lost towards the end and I wasn’t clear-headed enough to force a strong conclusion. Entirely my fault for not putting enough into the story prep, but at least the character sheets looked really nice. I wanted more action, but the party split all over the place. This wasn’t an issue as everyone seemed to be having a great time. (Tell me if you played this and if I’m wrong! – PM if you like.) In future I may give this idea another go, but frankly think it would have worked better as a straight investigative story with some two fisted action. Cthulhu was an unwelcome guest who didn’t know when to leave I felt.

    After this I played in the ever reliable Scott Dorwood’s Hot War game. One of the best in media res starts to a game I’ve seen in a long while, straight out of the gates. Good, twisted depiction of the London that never was – the only unfortunate thing I think is that one player didn’t seem to really get what was going on (in terms of style of play) and so the game didn’t perhaps have the fizz it might have done. I managed to drop in a bit of narrative that had all the other players staring at me open mouthed for a good thirty seconds, which I’m counting as a win.

    That evening I brought out SLA Industries (Savage style). The session ran well enough I feel, although maybe the investigative elements dragged on too long at the beginning and a couple of the characters definitely needed changing. On the whole though, people got stuck in, the action went down well and we managed some comic relief in the middle, as most of the squad were hunting down and executing every last member of the Killa Klownz, one squad member took pity on one of them and took him for some fried chicken and a bit of a chat. It was weird and incongruous, but it worked somehow and got some laughs. Apologies to the Brain Waster (Feedback) for slitting your throat just before the big finale…

    Saturday morning was Monsters and Other Childish Things, with my attempts to fight off people trying to pre-sign largely successful – but I was still followed to the board by a gang of pen-wielding thugs. Character creation involved getting everyone to draw their Monster, which most people took to with gusto, in fact more than half the crowd had their own crayons and felt tips. Jules’ Arsehog was by far the most disgusting creature, while Dunc’s Jethica made the most memorable child I feel. Quite how most of the kids parents ended up as strippers, drunks, adulterers etc., I’m not sure apart from to ponder if this was some kind of Life Imitates Art kind of thing. Everyone had fun I think, although players getting the hang of attacking each other is still a hard sell. Elaine M should know to do this but didn’t, so I’m going to slap her legs after school. You can see a fuller report and beautiful drawings of Cryptkeeper, Cade Tosscable, Woo Hoo, Lusus Naturae, Elaine M and John (don’t know your moniker sorry!) on the Arc Dream forum here.

    Apparently Mick Red hadn’t learned from last year’s kids game and lost his voice running that as I was running Monsters (with the immortal line to the 8 year olds, “Let me tell you a riddle from Little Britain”), and as a result lost his place in my next game Unknown Armies with Mr Dorwood – Lampposts in Bloom. A balmy afternoon barbecue went south fairly quickly and reality trickled through my fingers. I survived to the end, despite that really not being just or right, but it was very fitting from my character’s point of view. Excellent game, good players and much fun.

    Having not run Pirates in the first slot due to arriving late, and with my Delta Green not as polished as I’d like, I decided to switch to Pirates for the Saturday night slot. My Savage Cthulhu didn’t come out as great as I’d hoped on the prep I’d given it, and I wasn’t going to risk a flat game for the prime Saturday slot. This turned out to be the right choice. Everyone dived right into the spirit of the game – it’s not hard to describe Pirates to anyone. The Captain was played with panache, the Boson to the hilt and the Frenchman with suitable understatement. Old Pete was ornery, Diego a fearsome combat machine and the cowardly Sterling spent half the game in a barrel. A loud, high energy game, it was great fun to run as part of Tight Purse Harvey’s on-going saga – I’m just still a little bemused as to how it turned into Brokeback Pirates – but the game didn’t suffer for that in the slightest. Good to finish running on a high.

    Sunday morning I’d decided to get my Hippy on and was first on the sheet for Indy Pete’s Dogs in the Vineyard. He was straight out of the gates – Bang! – good, solid, succinct description of the game, how it was going to go and tone. Characters were mostly done with about half for us to fill in quickly and personalise our Dogs. This was a lesson in how the game should be run. High impact scenes dripping with drama and conflict, constantly pushing the players trying to disgust and provoke. The players were up to it and more. No repentance, no mercy. Hardcore. A great game, superbly run, with full-on players. Not convinced with Dogs still, I don’t think the mechanic are slick enough and there’s room for abuse, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the session in the slightest.

    And with that I had to leave. My lift share’s missus was ill and we had a long drive ahead of us, so I missed the closing ceremony. All in all another great convention, my second Conception didn’t disappoint. I imagine I’ll make the trip down again next year.

    Shouts go out to:
    The organisers – apart from one minor sulky moment from someone behind the desk, all the con staff were happy, enthused and helpful to a man for the whole 5 days. Special mention to Cryptkeeper and Cade Tosscable for their enthusiasm and making me feel welcome before I’d even got there.

    The Collective Endeavour – for hospitality, gaming discussion, White Russians, chilli, games and laughs. While not as awesomely prolific on the running games front as their high standards have led us to expect, there was still a wide array of games on and it was good to see so many individual refs from the gaming community running Hippy, Indie, Left-field Games. Especially Imperial Scouts gunning down hoards of Ewoks. Rock.

    Scott Dorwood’s mastery of the Horror genre in a variety of systems and games is a beautiful thing to watch and his hospitality faultless.

    Mick Red and the Pompey Crowd. Mick was as usual high on energy, keen to see as many people in games as possible, and remarkably sober on my gaming encounters with him – although I didn’t manage to get in a Duty and Honour game with him. The rest of the crew I encountered were there to game, friendly and energetic.

    Specifically from the crowd, Indie Pete deserves a mention for full-on, in-your-face reffing of Dogs and bringing vigour to any games he played in.

    Thanks to all my players for joining in, bringing new twists and turns to the scenario, personality to the characters and providing fodder for the wicked blades of my minions. Apologies for not remembering the names of everyone or mentioning more of those that deserve it – there were 42 of you and I’ve lost track.

    Is there anything to improve for next year?

    A bar until midnight would be nice if we can swing it.
    Players writing their names clearly on the sign-up sheets.
    A way of getting reserves bumped up the sheet, rather than other players signing up above them in scrubbed out name slots.
    People whingeing about there not being any games when they don’t run any.

    I’m struggling to think of much else.

    Excellent con, hard work in a good way and a fine antidote to the likes of recent GenCons.

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