GenCon Recap

So, as promised, here is my “recap” for the GenCon games I played:


  • Starfinder – Liked what I saw. Was basically what I expected with it being “Pathfinder in Space”, but there were some interesting adjustments like two different ACs (energy AC and physical or kinetic AC.) Didn’t realize (though I should have) that this game was organized play with 3 of 5 players having characters already, and they were definitely optimized. I played a bug cleric who traveled around with his larval son in a jar … which was weird but neat weird.
  • 13th AgeI really, REALLY liked this game. In fact, it is definitely my favorite d20 game thus far. Cool elements they include are Escalation Die (so as the fight progresses, it gets easier to hit for PCs … and does some bad guys as well), the mook mechanic (mooks have hit points but they go onto a collective pool so damage that drops a NPC rolls over into the pool; 10x NPCs with 10hp ea have a pool of 100. Doing 20hp dmg kills two mooks); some spells have recharge ability; etc. Favorite thing in this is the One Unique thing where you define the thing that makes your character unique in the world – for example, I was playing a dark elf but the adventure was very dwarf-centric, so I decided my One Unique Thing was that “Both of his biological parents are dwarves.” So yeah. Really, really liked this game.
  • Legend of the Five Rings – This was kind of a mess. Two GMs were out due to medical emergency (appendicitis for one who was supposed to be my GM, the other was her husband) so we started more than hour late. One player was being kind of a dick about these GM woes and became really passive-aggressive to the actual GM we had … even though he was 30 to 45 minutes late himself. Overall, it was interesting system that, in my opinion, is slightly too in love with itself and setting. Very roleplaying heavy with some major limitations- like playing roguely murder hobo types? Not for you. In fact, I think its TOO roleplaying heavy at times. And since I suck at Japanese pronunciation, that’d be really tough to get through, I think…


  • Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition – This was fantastic. GM was very engaging, group was fun, and dice were inconsistent, especially for pilot which made for a very enjoyable romp. Amusingly, an offhand remark by a player from beginning of adventure ended up saving most of our lives. Less worried about running this now though we didn’t really get space combat opportunity so I’m still not sure about that angle. Combat went by fast and easy.
  • The Expanse RPG Interesting mechanics. 3d6 with 1 being the “drama” die … you add them together vs a target number. If successful and two die are doubled (a pair of 5s, FREX) you gain “stunt points” equal to drama die number that must be spent immediately. Drama die also determines other stuff but less clear on specifics with that. No real hp. You’re just normal, injured, wounded, or unconscious/dying. This was obviously an intro adventure and I’m certainly curious about the coming “adventure arc” (to see what I can raid from it for my Verge game), but I’m not sure how likely I would be to play this for a long time.
  • Mutant City Blues – Gumshoe game involving superhuman cops. Very fun, though all of the players (myself included) had clearly watched too many police procedurals because we flew through the adventure, picking up on clues and guessing at stuff very, very quickly. In the end, we arrested our people and threw them in jail. Good times. I’m a big fan of the Gumshoe system – looking forward the Night’s Black Agents game we’re starting up next week in our face-to-face game – so this was a lot of fun.


  • D&D 5E – Had a blast in this ten hour game. Learned a bunch about 5E that I did not know including “half orc monks at 10th level are fun as hell”; “paladins critting can burn spell slots to power up their smites”; and “ten hours is a LONG time to play a single game … but nowhere near long enough to play out all of Red Hand of Doom.” Also, 5E has a much different feel than 3.5/Pathfinder. Overall, though, this was a lot of fun.
  • Cypher – This was a strange system to me but for the most part, I enjoyed it. The GM never rolls any dice and stats are pretty minimal, but the mechanics worked nicely and both the GM & the story were quite good. This was definitely NOT a tactical game, but rather a more narratively based one. I’d be very interested in giving this another try at some point but I’m not sure how well it’d work for a longer term campaign.


  • HarnMaster – Really liked this game. A lot easier than I expected it to be, while also being rather lethal. Very interested in seeing more of this. Uses d% with target being under skill level. Difference here was there were four effective rolls – 5s under skill roll (05 or 10 or 15, etc.) are critical success, rolls under skill are marginal success, rolls over are marginal failures. 5s over (95, 00, etc) are critical failures. These are contested – so marginal success on atk is blocked with marginal success on defense, beaten by crit success. Wounding reduces skill capability (minor dmg = -5%), etc. Very neat.

Back in the Real World

Am officially back to normalcy … and I already kind of hate it. I’m actually quite amazed at how much effort it has taken to re-acclimate myself to my car after having driven the rental SUV for five or six days. If I go to GenCon next year, though, I am totally flying and renting something there.

Anyway … this coming Friday is the resumption of my GURPS Monster Hunters game, Red Sky, although right now, the plan is to use that session for everyone to re-review their characters, make any changes or updates, finalize anything that needs it (like the fricking name of a new PC because that player is absolutely terrible about actually having an online presence, despite being the youngest member of the gaming group), and so on. Once that’s done, we’re going to do some fight club to remind the players what they’re characters are actually capable of. As stated elsewhere (I think), there has been sufficient time between sessions for everyone to forget what they can do and in two examples, the characters are new or might as well be due to changes we’ve made. For the actual fight club, I’m going to have Matias get into a John Wick kind of shoot-out while Lee (whose player is definitely a GURPS expert) will have a fist-fight with the Nameless PC (whose player is definitely a GURPS newbie); my intent with the latter is to just pair the players off and basically delegate the scenario and instruction stuff to Lee’s player so I can concentrate on the others. The remaining two players are likely to be pressed into service playing the faceless mooks shooting at (or getting shot by) Mat.

If everything goes right, the week after that (1 September) will be the official first chapter of Volume VI: Clean Slate where I kick off with the previously mentioned adventure starts (Apartment Attack, Penthouse Standoff, Ghost Library and Casino Escapades.)

Yeah. I’m ready/not-ready…

Day Three of GenCon

Successful and enjoyable day. I mostly wandered around the dealer’s hall today, getting in some demos and the like. Especially enjoyed the demo for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy … funny thing, there. Only one of the people present was a GURPS newbie, so we were breaking out more advanced stuff than a demo was geared for (e.g., deceptive attacks, ripostes, etc.) and I’m sure the guy running it was wondering “why are these guys even bothering? They know how the game works.” But he was still quite cool about it. Dungeon Fantasy itself looks awesome and I’m glad I kick-started it.

Also sat in on a couple of Star Wars minis demos from Fantasy Flight – “Legion,” I think? And the X-Wing game. Both were fun but not something I’m likely to get into due to high investment cost and the apparent fact that they just seem like quick scenarios that are played out like regular miniatures things. I’ve never been able to get into that – I want my minis to enhance a normal RPG, and I’m not involved in a Star Wars campaign anywhere. Still, it was rather fun and the demo guys were quite engaging.

We’re likely heading home tomorrow – yeah, GenCon has one more day to go, but one of the guys who came with me has to be back tomorrow so he can go to work on Tuesday, another doesn’t want to work on Tuesday but says he needs to (which means I’ll probably have to go in too since he’s a coworker … unless I can contrive to contract con-crud by that time and have a legit excuse to skip) and all of us have pretty much accomplished what we wanted to. Plus, weather is supposed to be good for the … ugh … 11 hour drive, so on the road it is. At least tonight, I get a bed since one of the guys in the rent house had to to leave today.

GenCon Update(s)

Day Three and I hope it is more successful than day two: yesterday, I think I had a combination of mild dehydration and food poisoning (very mild case) as I ended the day actually throwing up. Once I’d purged, though, I started to feel better. As a result, I’m going to probably be ultra paranoid about water consumption today.

Met and chatted with Doug Cole – also picked up his “Dungeon Grappling” book since I play in both a Pathfinder and a 5E game and it has rules for both. Really looking forward to his Dragon Heresy book when it drops. Got to play a session of Night’s Black Agents and I really like the rules. Today, I’ve got an Earthdawn game planned (which, following the before-mentioned bout of mild sickness, I’m less enthusiastic about right now but that might be due to me still being half-asleep) and then later a game that is (I think) using Fate. As that game is going to last until 22:00, I may end up leaving early.

Looks like we’re going to be heading back tomorrow, so I absolutely have to get some sleep tonight. Eleven-plus hours on the road … urgh. Not looking forward to that. Since I’ve already declared for Monday and Tuesday off on work, I’m likely going to sleep most of Monday … maybe. Probably not. Too much to do.

Getting Hyped for GenCon

Excitement levels rising. Admittedly, I’m not looking forward to the 11+ hour car trip, but at least there will be three others in the rental with me. Scheduled to pick up the rental tomorrow at 0700 and will hopefully be on the road before 0800 … although that means I might catch some rush hour traffic. No worries, I suppose.

And man, I’m really unenthusiastic about being here at work today…

GenCon 2017 Schedule

This is my current GenCon schedule. As you can see, it’s pretty packed. This will be the fourth time I’ve gone to GenCon but the first time I’ve had anything resembling a schedule. I wanted to work in a Dresden Files Fate game (may have, actually; the Dweomer By Gaslight game on Saturday is ostensibly a Dresden game in the 1800s, but I’m not sure if it’s using Fate or not) just to get a feel for the game. I’m especially pleased to be in the Night’s Dark Agents game (think Dracula Meets Jason Bourne) on Thursday …

GenCon Prep

Went ahead and reserved a SUV rental today for GenCon. I have no desire to drive my car, not with three other people in it. Was also reminded I kind of needed to get official four-day parking at GenCon, so that’s another charge. Thank God for credit cards, I guess.

Have a pretty packed schedule with some games I’ve never tried. Night’s Dark Agents on Thursday, a handful of (hopefully) helpful seminars on Friday, Earthdawn and a Dresden game on Saturday, and Fading Suns on Sunday. Interestingly, I’ve also scheduled a couple of martial arts types of things, including a Intro to Tai Chi which is funny ’cause I’m about as non-flexible as they come.

Interesting times ahead…