Thursday, March 2, 2017

The DunDraPost 2017

As is my tradition around here, I'm writing about my annual trip to DunDraCon. As I mentioned previously, Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road did not have a presence there this year. So this was more of an actual vacation than the working vacation it's been the last few years.

Unlike last year, there was very little to criticize about the trip. Everything went fairly smooth, with connections occurring in a timely manner and no expensive redirections. In spite of the fact that California's weather has been pretty rough this week, my wife and I made it through the trip without getting thoroughly soaked.

Friday was the first official day of the con, but it's usually more of a warmup to the main event that is Saturday and Sunday. Check out the people selling used games for a song in the Buyer's Bazaar, check if there are any cool seminars on Day 1, that sort of thing.

This year came with a new wrinkle, however. It turns out that my younger sister was living just a few hours drive from the convention location. She reached out to me on Facebook and we met for a late lunch/early dinner during the lull in con activities. It was also a good chance for me to finally meet her new husband. I had met him once previously, but only for long enough to shake his hand before they moved away.

Since her husband is from India, we went to an Indian restaurant. (If I were to talk about my family more, we'd probably have a very Modern Family sort of vibe.) I hadn't really had Indian food before, so this was my chance to try it out.

We made it back in time to discover that the official Dealer's Room was open. It normally isn't open until Saturday morning. We wasted no time in making our initial purchases of new stuff.

Then it was time for our game. Yes, "our." My wife and I had signed up to play in the same game. It was a game using the Arduin system, and I knew my wife was a fan of the setting. And it was run by someone who was close to the original designer, who has passed.

It was not what I expected. My reading of the Arduin books in my collection, including some written by the fellow running the game, was of a sort of pulp/sword and planet/fantasy world. What we got instead  was a metatextual genre mash in which the characters were self-aware protagonists of bad, half-written novels who wind up traveling through each others stories. My character was a Wonder Woman sort of superhero, while my wife got a character that was a joke about Mary Sues, who could bend the narrative around her to her wishes. It actually came in handy a few times.

If you've played RPGs long enough, you'll meet the guy who says that their game of choice can do anything. Even if it's some old game that use different dice for different things, some rolls you want high, other things you want to roll low on. But because this guy has been playing this one game for the last 10+ years, he's achieved a sort of bond with the system and knows how to fold, spindle and mutilate it to get the results that he wants. This was one of those sorts of games.

On Saturday morning, I did not play in the annual Mythos Trek game. Not that I didn't want to. It's always been great fun. I was not assigned to the game by the convention's Sorting Hat. It happens sometimes. I could have just shown up and probably could have gotten in that way. But it was early in the morning and the nearest fee-free ATM was about a mile away, which meant about 40 minutes of walking before I could have my morning coffee. (I know I can use my bank card to just buy coffee. But limiting myself to cash that I pull from the ATM ensures that I pace my spending so I don't run out of money on the first day.)

I took advantage of the free time during the day to get some shopping done. As per tradition, I'll spare you the boring details in this post and then go into some exciting details about what I bought in a separate post. Needless to say, I am overall rather happy with my purchases this year, with only a few disappointments.

It also meant that I was free to catch some of the seminars in between bouts of game shopping. Ken Hite did his typical City Building seminar, this time with a post-apocalypse theme. Then shopping before a seminar on indie RPGs by Jason Walters, the guy who runs Indie Press Revolution. I'm regretting not staying after the seminar to introduce myself, since I do sell my game through his company, but I had signed up for a game that was starting immediately after the seminar on another floor of the hotel.

And that game was Mecha vs Kaiju, a setting for Fate Core. Although I didn't realize it at the beginning of the session, but the GM was the setting's designer. Always cool when you can do that sort of thing. The other fun thing is that we generated our characters during the play session.

As I've said before, most con games I've played in have used pregenerated characters. The interesting thing this time was that Fate character generation can be an intensive process. Not a lot of math or anything like that. Just a lot of examination of "Just who is my guy, exactly?" And part of that process is talking with your fellow players and figuring out "Just who is my guy to you, exactly?"

Needless to say, this took a lot of time, so the adventure proper was very simple. The formation of a sentai team, told in 2 fight scenes with some exposition in the middle. It was fun, but a little frustrating. My concept was of a guy who is very modest, but keeps finding himself in the middle of events. But the sentai fighting style that he wound up using was very showy and uncomfortable for him, so at the end of the session, I declared that my characters was officially the "Sixth Ranger" of the team.

Sunday morning was my wife's chance to play in a game without me. Another Fate game, this time using pregenerated characters in an established universe. The Steven Universe, actually. (If they don't call it that, they should.) My wife went in wanting to play Amethyst, but after some negotiation settled on Steven's friend Connie.

While she did that, I checked out Ken Hite's "What's Cool" seminar and adjusted my shopping list accordingly. Which did lead to one of my disappointments, but more on that later.

We then spent the evening taking advantage of the hotel pool and doing a little pre-packing to make checking out in the morning a little easier. We actually bring an extra, empty suitcase along with us that always makes the return trip full.

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