Saturday, August 24, 2013

GenCon 2013! - GM Report Card

I'm a little late getting this one, and of course it's maybe a little funny I'm writing it while I'm at FanExpo (I've got some time before my first panel), but y'know, better to do it while I have a moment. So!

Early GenCon is as it often is: largely devoid of life (I mean, by comparison), and Cardhalla is still being built.

You only get a "before" picture this year because I wasn't around when it fell. 

But that isn't to say that thronging crowds of people were far off! I'm led to understand that attendance was up considerably this year.

Ah, throngs.

I wound up spending a good deal of time in the dealer's room, mostly on Sunday. But I did manage to photograph some strange and beautiful things, such as this freaking amazing cave thingie.

Admit it, you want to make a dwarf character now. 
Did some gaming, as well. I played in two games: Deadlands Noir and Better Angels. And now we get into the "GM Report Card" bit.

Deadlands Noir is, as the name suggests, the Deadlands setting but placed into a noir context, complete with detectives and grifters and femme fatales and so on. We were in New Orleans, and my character was one of the aforementioned grifters - somewhat like the hucksters of Deadlands Reloaded, but without the ability to deal with the Devil (which I missed, and would probably import if I run this). We also had an undead detective (Harrowed), a mad scientist (Michelle, talking fast) and a couple of other folks that I don't remember offhand - one was the femme fatale.

Basic plot: The Big Sleep. Maybe Chinatown, a little. Find the millionaire's missing daughter and wife. Things come to light; the wife was cheating and generally unpleasant, so maybe it's not such a big deal if she doesn't come home. Dude has a son that supposedly died in a flood on their old estate. We wound up at said estate, and the lost son had become an alligator-monster and tried to eat us.

All in all, this is fine and in-setting. The GM got into his NPCs, used a lot of different voices, and kept the names straight (which, given the number of secondary characters, is impressive)

The problem actually came with the system. Savage Worlds is a crunchy, minis-based game. It loses a lot, IMO, if you don't use it, including maps and tokens and so forth. And we just kind of winged positioning and movement during the fights, which means that some of us (the folks with spells and other wonky powers) kind of got shafted because we can't think tactically.

But the other issue is, the last fight involving the gator-dude just dragged out, because said gator-dude has a really high Vigor and armor and a high Parry, which means we can't hit him, and when we do we can't damage him. Which would be fine - we have to work for our hits - but then the GM spent bennies to soak and unshake, and now we're back to the grind. We got out by using some clever tactics, but it felt like the GM was really married to one moment and kind of shoved us into that. My grade: B+

Noir game, so kind of a dark picture. 
Food trucks! I love them, though the lines are long. But you do get to people-watch. Or rabbit-watch.

Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a magician out of my hat!

Surrounded by severed legs. Art?

Ran afoul of a gorgon. 
Back to the dealer's room, we put some stuff up in the Cheese Weasel section. If you look carefully you'll see a copy of curse the darkness in there.


And in the dealer's room proper, you can see some of my favorite people!

Eloy's a saint. John and Kristen...aren't, but I love them both anyway. 
Friday night was the Ennies. curse the darkness was nominated for Best Electronic Product. It was really a contest for the Silver, because there was a Deadlands product in that category and I knew we wouldn't beat that, because of the way the voting is structured if nothing else (and I'm by no means upset about that - just means we need more visibility for Daedalus next year!).

The venue was really cool:

Waiting for a laser and big ball of popcorn. 
And we got to see Leonard Balsera sing "Take On Me" and completely rock it. So it was all good, even though we lost to Hobomancer and (as expected) Deadlands: The Last Sons.

Next morning (which I guess would have been Saturday), I had a game to run at Games on Demand. So!

Kira, stylin'. 

She's running Dresden Files. Note the awesome board for scene Aspects. 
I wound up running curse the darkness (it was that or Tragedy). I had three players, and they put us in Boston, following an earthquake, and were trying to get their doctor another doctor. None of them played Openers, and the Between was largely ignored. I never realized how great a source of Between Points having Openers really is; they went pretty much unnoticed by Them the whole time. The Removal Challenges came from aftershocks, and that worked just fine. 

Lined up on the wall, ready to die. 
 We finished up early, so I did a stint in the dealer's room.

Kristen, still not a saint. 

Topher and Renee, trying to fix a broken robot. 
And then it was time for Better Angels! This is a one-roll engine game in which you play supervillains possessed by demons. The demon in question (played by the person on your left) will help you out and activate your powers, but it'll ask you to do horrible things. If you're eeeeevil enough, you can avoid doing really terrible, actually evil things. It's a cool premise, and I backed the Kickstarter (and later picked up my copy).

The GM kinda got thrown into running at the last minute, and it sort of showed - pregens, but all handwritten. I personally think we should have made the characters, because the game's terms and systems aren't immediately intuitive and making characters might have helped with that. But the game was fun, the GM listened to us, and it went pretty well. My grade: A-

Also Michelle played a tennis-themed villain named "Zero Love."

And, finally, Sunday, official day of shopping.

Ballonthulhu! 
A Klingon, a Wookie, and a pirate playing in a band. I don't remember what song. 
Will, with his swag.