Review of Virtual Gary Con XIII

Gary Con was pretty awesome. It has taken me this long to mentally recover. I had a lot of fun but I learned my limit. Ten games is a bit too much in four days.

Playing 1e was really interesting; I am really thinking of buying the POD books just to study it more. Xcrawl was so fun; it’ll definitely be one of my go-to games at conventions. I will definitely try out Mörk Borg again. D&D 5e Adventurer’s League is still a bit too much of a MMORPG for me. Shadowdark was cool. The session was only an hour and I think RPG players are not used to that level of urgency.

Lastly, playing Inferno Road with Doug Kovacs was insane. It was part DCC funnel, part comedy show with a lot of drinking.

Right after the convention, I ended up running a Weird Frontiers twice. I will be running it at Reaver Con at the end of April.

Virtual Gary Con XIII Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the first day of Gary Con XIII. There will be a lot of firsts this weekend. For starters, it will be my first Gary Con; although I look forward to attending in person in the future. I am grateful to participate in a con during this pandemic era.

The games will begin at 10am with a D&D 5e one-shot: The Golden Hammer of Kas. The host caught my eye with their amazing Dwarven Forge terrain. You can view it here. They are advertising an session with “pressure plated traps, voice acting, dynamic music and sound effects and LED lighting”.

After that, I will be playing Xcrawl with its creator, Brendan LaSalle. I recently took part in a playtest and really enjoyed The Running Man-meets-Dungeon Crawl Classics atmosphere. Some players will turtle up and become very paranoid about every step they take. I fall in the camp of players that will embrace their character’s mortality and attempt to wrestling move on a giant ogre while surrounded by skeletons on rollerblades.

I will start Friday by playing AD&D 1e for the first time. The DM will be running Zienteck, an adventure originally published in 1981. Maybe I am being too nostalgic or too nerdy but I think playing an older edition might be a rite of passage. Rather, I see it as paying homage to where this hobby came from. Maybe I should have played Chainmail or OD&D instead? I can’t help but also add that I am not here for edition wars or gatekeeping. I enjoy the different styles of play that each bring to the table. I just want to experience as much of this hobby as possible. If you like your pizza with pineapples or etc., we are still going to have a good time.

The next game after Zienteck is a DCC game. I have shared my affinty for 0-level funnels before but here I go again. This one is called Insectoids From Outer Space! and it is from a zine. I have a growing passion for zines. This past February, I backed over 50 zines during ZineQuest 3. It is really inspiring to see how many ideas can be applied to the rpg hobby. I will share a list of the zines that I have backed.

Back to the session, here is the synopsis: “Do you and your fellow villagers have what it takes to escape the space bug mothership before becoming slaves for the queen or food for the hive?”. Maybe I will watch Aliens in preparation.

The next game is using the Mörk Borg RPG system. I own the book, I even read the rules in one sitting but it will be my first time playing. Let’s see what the hype is all about.

Here is another first, I have been DMing an Eberron campaign for a year but Saturday morning will be my first time as a player. Additionally, it will be my first time playing in Foundry. I am not a roll20 loyalist but I am curious to check out another VTT. I have a year subscription (it was a gift) but I am not opposed to switching over. I have not played in Fantasy Grounds either. Lastly, this will be my first time playing in the D&D Adventurer’s League in over 2 years. Depending on the group, you either get a loose faction of OP builds (like an MMO) or superfans of Critical Role that have not found their forever DM yet. I do not mean to stereotype, I just like to people watch.

Saturday continues with a short one-hour session. Kelsey from the Arcane Library is playtesting her RPG. I am not too familiar with her work but I remember liking her rpg philosophy when she was interviewed by Runehammer.

I will finish Saturday with “Inferno Road presented by the Hobonomicon“. If that does not sound fun and crazy to you, I don’t know what to tell you. From the DM’s e-mails, the session will be multi-table. Here’s the synopsis: “The roars of the betrayed Dark Lords shake the foundations of hell. The Grand Architect of Evil is enraged.” It is a late night game and I have been hoarding beer in preparation. Wish me luck!

Last day of the con! Sunday morning, I will be playing Weird Frontiers. It has become my favorite setting and ruleset. I am a fan of Western films and see so much potential in the game. Every DM that I have encountered have really made it their own. They all pick a corner of the USA and highlight their history (paranormal or otherwise). After the con, I will be running my first session of Weird Frontiers. I will definitely provide updates. Fingers crossed.

Moonbase Blues (a Mothership RPG one-shot) will be my last session of Gary Con. I have played Mothership before and thought it was amazing. One of my goals for this year is to run a one-shot of Mothership.

Spawn of Cyclops Con was a great experience and set the bar for virtual conventions. While Gary Con does not have the virtual map experience, I am hoping the gameplay will be up to par.

I was on the Goodman Games Twitch stream again

Last week, I signed up to play in the 1000 Insane Worlds and I got picked! The stream was yesterday afternoon and it was a lot of fun. The group was hilarious. We were regular folk from 1976 that were transported to a fantasy setting and transformed into heroes. We had a jock (played by Brendan LaSalle, a geek, a hippie chemist and a rocker. I played the movie house janitor, Big Joe Whitman.

The name of the adventure is Beyond the Silver Scream. You can find it here. It’s currently discounted for less than $2!

The DM was Tim Deschene. You can find his latest zine, One of Us, here.

You can watch the game session here. I get to sign up for Garycon tomorrow, wish me luck!

My Weird Frontiers Debut as a Judge

I will be running The Star Wound of Abaddon Appalachia using the Weird Frontiers RPG system on Tuesday, March 30th. I will be using Discord and Roll20. All spots filled up pretty quickly. If all goes well, I will run this again in the near future.

This will be my first time running DCC online and my first Road Crew event in a year! In 2019-2020 I ran a Fallout themed campaign at my local game store. My recent convention experience has me motivated. I am excited to run The Star Wound of Abaddon. As you may know it is a Dungeon Crawl Classics module but I am modifying to fit the Weird Frontiers world and feel.

I have done some research on the Appalachian mountains to help with accuracy. I live in North Carolina so I thought it would make it easier to run than setting it in Colorado or another unfamiliar state. Will my players notice or care? Who knows. The important thing is to have them feel like they are in a mountainous location during the 1860s.

As part of my goal of player immersion. I have prepared a Roll20 landing page as well as some original music. All mean to evoke a feeling of a dark fantasy/western. Here is the landing page with the cast of characters available to the players.

As I mentioned, I made some music with FL studio. I have thrown together four demo tracks to help develop a certain ambiance while running the session. In terms of genre, I’m not sure where I landed. I was listening to Marty Robbins, Motorhead and the soundtrack to Escape from New York. There’s some harmonica, dobro and distorted guitar mixed with eerie synths. I will probably continue working on them as I prepare the one-shot session (possibly afterwards too). Once I am happy with them, I will share them here. I think there’s a niche worth exploring with virtual tabletop gaming where I can make soundtracks as well as include pre-recorded lines from characters with effects added. I’ve been playing with the idea for a while now.

So far for Star Wound, I have created the discord channel and picked the tokens and maps to roll20. My to-do list includes rolling up the characters, giving them equipment, creating the stats of the npcs/monsters and finally, placing them all on the maps I’ve chosen. I  have read the adventure twice now and I anticipate I will do so at least once more as I prepare. More updates to come!

Spawn of Cyclops Con Recap

When I joined the Slave Pits of Lost Agharta solo tournament I said that if I last an hour or kill another PC, I would be happy. I ended up going to the finals. It was broadcast live on Twitch. You can watch it here. I voiced my gladiator attempting my Macho Man Randy Savage impression. Even though our faces were not broadcast, I wore my sunglasses, wig and bandanna to help me stay in character while battling on the ziggurat.

I messaged all of my RPG-playing friends and asked them to watch. This proved to be advantageous. The Twitch chat dictated what horrors the gladiators faced. They had mercy on me and chose to mostly hinder my fellow players. I did not care about winning; I enjoyed the chaos of the map and scrambling to the top. Spoilers: I ended up in third place after succumbing to a retaliatory attack from a dying player.

Before the tournament had even started, I watched the opening ceremonies on Twitch. Goodman Games was very creative and held the convention within an VTT or MMORPG map-like website called Gather.Town. Attendees, vendors and organizers all created avatars. You walked around the map (by Doug Kovacs) and could chat with vendors, artists and other attendees. The map also had MAME-powered arcades and even secret doors. One of the secret areas was a map of Tomb of Horrors!

I can see Gather.Town being used for personal RPG campaigns or actual conventions. I will explore its features a bit more in the future.

Here are some of my con purchases. They shipped very quickly; I ordered them on Friday and they arrived by Monday. I am looking forward to running Into the Borderlands along with the Beyond the Borderlands zine I recently purchased. I will definitely add in Strongholds & Followers as well. Maybe I should do a Gygax 75 challenge with these books as a starting point.

I am waiting to receive the rest of my con haul before sharing them. I will probably do some reviews once I read them all.

Thanks to Spawn of Cyclops con, I was able to finally play Weird Frontiers (twice actually). The first one (“The Bloody Wrath of Countess Mekula”) was a really fun vampire-themed funnel with a lot of puzzles and horror elements. I somehow survived with most of my team intact. I really enjoyed the elements of Catholicism that were referenced.

My second experience with Weird Frontiers was just a fun. The module was called “Death Rides the Swiftest Camel”. I loved the many ties to actual historical events and people. I did not know about the Camel Corps existed.

I wish I could have stayed past the alloted time; the session ran long but it was so fun to fight chupacabras and explore the judge’s version of Arizona. On the left, you’ll see a character portrait that was provided by the judge. I was playing as Daisy and Amy Dahlgren, a gunslinger and her mute sister. I am sorry I did not write down the name of the artist to credit them here.

I met so many great DMs and players. I am looking forward to playing with them and the great DCC community. I learned a lot about running adventures as well as a few mechanics that I would like to implement in my games. During the closing ceremonies, they announced events in May and September. I am looking forward to attending.

Overall, it was a very surreal and positive experience. Definitely the highlight of my first virtual convention was participating in the tournament. Gary Con XIII is my next con. I am feeling optimistic.

My characters for the first night of Spawn of Cyclops Con

Tonight, I am taking part in two events: the DCC RPG Solo Tournament: The Slave Pits of Lost Agharta and The Bloody Wrath of Countess Mekula, a 0-level funnel.

The Slave Pits of Lost Agharta is a solo tournament organized by DCC’s Harley Stroh. From the first line of the description, I was hooked. It reads as follows: “Wrenched from your homes, you and your newfound companions battle for survival against fellow slaves for the amusement of elephantine overlords!”. It drips of the gonzo-style world of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Harley opened up the discord to players yesterday morning and the chat was quickly filled with in-character boasts and humorous threats. As a fan of Gogol Bordello, I really enjoyed this exchange between two players:

Golgo will nod and recite an ancient saying from his village as best his memory will allow: “Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die/ It’s better to laugh than it is to cry /My cup runneth over with blood and not wine/ The last was the flood, it’s fire this time.”

Blogerth grimaces at the crooning singing. “Ha! Golgo the Shepherd. More like Golgo the Bordello!!” Blogerth is quite amused by his joke and holds his belly, laughing.

If I last an hour or kill another PC, I will be happy. I have named my gladiator, Bargle Jr., after the wizard from the 1983 D&D red box. I might voice him doing Macho Man Randy Savage impression. Also, I do realize that my character is not a magic user. In my head cannon, Bargle the wizard rejected his son for his lack of magic ability. Therefore, Junior is coming to this tournament with a chip on his shoulder and a distaste for magic users.

I love funnels! I like the carnage as well as the creativity they inspire. Players have four ill-equipped characters with no class bonuses. As you can see, they are farmers, masons and tax collectors. It forces players to use their imagination and logic instead of relying on a skill or ability list.

My four characters are named Neal (Dwarven stonemason), Patrick (Elven artisan), Harris (tax collector) and Doogie (radish farmer). I am a bit reckless during funnels. I have used up to twelve characters in a single funnel. The judge just kept handing me sheets. I do not have backstories for them. I will be really surprised if any of these characters survive. I will definitely be using the duck for something the first chance I get.

I think my next campaign (even if it is not DCC) will start with a funnel. I will probably make a post about it once I have a premise or something more concrete.

First Convention of 2021

I am getting ready for Spawn of Cyclops Con this weekend. I will be playing DCC, 5e and (for the first time) Weird Frontiers. It will also be my first virtual convention and I will share my thoughts on the experience here. It looks like most of the games are hosted on Zoom and/or Roll20 which I am comfortable using. I am especially excited about the Weird Frontiers since I’ve been following that project after reading about it in the Gong Farmer’s Almanac. If you are curious, check out their Facebook group for updates.

I spent most of 2020 playing and DMing 5e so I welcome the change. I will be playing in 5-6 games this weekend. Maybe some day I will be brave enough to run a game at a convention. I have run games at stores in the last (DCC Road Crew 2019 and pre-COVID 2020) so it should not be a big jump.

Anyways, I have signed up for Harley Stroh’s solo tournament, a couple of 0-level funnels (I love funnels!) and two one-shots. This virtual convention will actually be my test run for Gary Con XIII in March. I might have gone overboard and made my event wish list on excel for that one already.

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