Tuesday, February 16, 2016

DunDraCon 2016!

Hey there, blog fans! My slump may be slowing down my blogging, but it's not keeping me from taking my annual vacation (and marketing opportunity!). The reason that I haven't been liveblogging, or taking many photos this year is that I've actually been too busy gaming and having fun to tell you all about it.

Well, it wasn't all fun and games. The Greyhound bus that was to start my wife and I on our adventure on Thursday started out about a half hour late. We arrived in San Francisco probably about an hour and a half to two hours late. The BART train was still running, but by the time we got to Pleasanton, the last bus had already left. So a $4 bus ride became a $25 cab ride. It was past 8 PM when we finally got to the hotel, so all we did after that was to get some dinner and go to bed.

The one perk of this trip was this: a license plate I spotted in the McDonald's parking lot during our meal stop.

I understand that only 1 person in the state can have a license plate that says "BATMAN" and that the early bird catches the worm. I almost thought this guy remembered the '90's and Bart Simpson as Bartman, but then I noticed that there was more than one R on the plate. All I can say is ERMAHGERD! IT'S BRTMRN!

We had reserved Thursday night at the convention hotel. Even though the con didn't start til Friday, they were good enough to get us convention pricing on the night before. Thanks to that, it actually came out cheaper than the Best Western we laid over in last year.

Friday is when the fun officially began. Not only was it the first official day of the convention, but also the first time I ran my new scenario, “The Winged Monkeys of Oz” (it's a tentative title, but they're a big theme in the adventure, so it works). I was actually kind of surprised that it was scheduled for the “P” session, which players could only sign up for on the convention website before the con actually began. As it was, I got three signups and 2 no-shows. But I also did get 2 “crashers,” people who had not signed up, but hoped to play anyway. In this case, a mother and her 10-12 year old son.

This session was probably the most fun I've had running Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. I think mostly because the characters being played were Toto, the Scarecrow and Bungle the Glass Cat. Accomplishing some of the tasks the adventure requer ired while being so small and having no opposable thumbs was an entertaining challenge. And because the adventure wasn't as structured as I typically do, (though more structured than Jaded City) there was just enough room for me to feel comfortable improvising.

And not long after that was my first opportunity to have fun as a player and not worry about all the things that a Narrator has to worry about. The game was set (somewhat) in the universe of the classic TV show Lost in Space. The players were portraying the crew of the Jupiter-1, the testbed for the technologies on the Jupiter-2 which would later house the Space Family Robinson.

The system was a variant on Classic Traveler and we all rolled up our characters before we began. It was actually something of a fun twist, since most of my experience has been with pre-generated characters. Most modern systems offer more detail and depth, but that makes generating a character a time consuming process that you don't want to do if you're only playing the character once. But by using an older system, we were able to build our own characters fairly quickly with instruction from the GM.

Though like the Space Family Robinson, we were sabotaged by Dr. Zachary Smith (though he didn't get stuck on board like he did when he would later sabotage the Jupiter-2). Our space warp drive misfired and we wound up way off course around a planet we had no reason to believe even existed.

I won't spoil too much in case that GM runs it at another con, but there were natives where we didn't expect there to be natives and the main trade goods we could think to offer them were Pop-Tarts in their shiny mylar packaging (which matched our space suits). It became something of a running joke throughout the adventure.

I think I managed to get a full 8 hours of sleep between that and my next game, which was Whitney Preston's Mythos Trek. I might not have. There was fun, but I don't know if it was quite the degree of fun we could have had if I had been more present. There's also the fact that I had to take some time out from this session to make sure that the Dealer's Room was stocked with copies of Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

To make sure there were no hiccups this year, I brought some copies of my game so that the vendor would have inventory. The operator of the booth got stuck in traffic for a few minutes and his booth didn't open when the Dealer's Room did. But that's the worst that happened. I checked back at the booth a few times (and bought some things, too) and people did buy it.

There was a game immediately after the Mythos Trek game that I was interested in attending, but I realized that I had to take some time to help polish my wife's adventure. It was her first time trying to run Fate Core. Her tastes normally run to Pathfinder, but then someone had to make a setting for Fate called The Secrets of Cats, featuring magical cats protecting their humans (whom they think of as Burdens) from various supernatural nasties.

The morning led to another run of The Winged Monkeys of Oz, with a full table. There were a couple of crashers, too. Two players were even daring enough to create their own characters. I use the AiO Characters Pack for my pregenerated characters and that includes 2 blank character sheets. I've offered several time to allow players to make their own characters, but this is the first time anyone took me up on it.

We picked up Prince Nawer, a Field Mouse Noble and a cowboy version of the Scarecrow with a lasso, a pop gun and a magical stick horse. I didn't note his name and he took his character sheet with him when the game was over.

Once another successful and enjoyable Oz adventure was had, there were only 2 hours until it was time for my wife to present her adventure. My wife and I are very different people. It's part of how we get along so well. I'm a planner and she's an improviser. So every year when she runs an adventure, I'm the one who tears his hair out trying to make sure that she has some idea of what she's going to do. Then I hand her the framework of an adventure (always far less than she needs to run it, IMO) and then she goes in to the room and improvises an entertaining adventure for all.

I offered to stick around and sort of assist her with the system, but I quickly realized that having 2 G.M.s was making things more complicated, not less. I stuck my nose in a few times to make sure everything was okay, and it seemed to be doing alright. The way Aspects work in Fate Core is always a learning curve, but it seems she did fine and the players had a lot of fun.

Since Sunday was Valentine's Day, the rest of this very full day was dedicated to a romantic dinner and other such things. The only thing we didn't do was take a swim in the pool. We don't have ready access to a pool back home, so it's one of the things my wife looks forward too every year. So we made a point of taking a quick swim in the morning before breakfast. I can't swim, but I love looking at my wife in a swimsuit, so I hang out in the shallow end while she cuts loose. It's a win-win.

My wife says I have great legs. So for Valentine's Day, I wore a kilt for her. Here's a photo of me for all those fans of me, sexy men's legs and kilts.

From there, it was a very smooth packing-up process and I am writing this from the Greyhound bus that is the last leg home. There are still things to discuss, such as what I bought this year and my design process for the first new Oz adventure in quite some time. But I think those are blog posts for other days. Hopefully soon.
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