Monday, November 10, 2014

My Gamehole Con II Experience (part 1)

I was going to blog about my entire GameHole Con experience in one post but that would get too lengthy.  So, here's my Friday night write-up.

For me, gaming conventions are not a vacation, nor are they just another weekend full of roleplaying in my responsibility-free life.  No, I have a growing family.  Therefore, a certain amount of convincing, pleading, horse-trading, and general spousal complaining surrounds any two consecutive days I'm not around the house for extended periods of time.  So, cons are something of a luxury item to me - not in terms of money but time.

Anyways, Friday night I played in a Dungeon Crawl Classics that +Michael Curtis was running.  It was a playtest session for The Third Phantasmagoria (no idea if that's what it'll eventually be called). He did a great job, standing there, towering over his GM screen as he described a plethora of weird dreamlands type stuff.

He had a good selection of pre-gens.  I've run DCC many times but have never played.  As such, my version of it has always been a hybrid between DCC rules-as-written and a stripped down, house-ruled version of basic and advanced D&D.  But that mercurial magic system is one of my favorite things.  So, when the PCs were presented, I jumped at the chance to play a wizard.  Unfortunately, Michael doesn't use the mercurial table for one-shot con games.  Oops.

I played a purple-robed wizard from a noble house named Pompei (yeah, just one "i") whose patron was Sezrekan.  Finally having a chance to play, I remembered the little descriptor selections from Dungeon World a player could choose upon character creation.  Stuff like "wild hair", "haunted eyes", "thin body", etc.  DW only gives a paltry handful of options per class and race, which is a shame because I think every RPG could do with those.  Sure, players can come up with their own but in the heat of the moment, many don't take the time to do it or feel self-conscious (especially in front of strangers) about taking their character's appearance and mannerisms seriously. After all, this is a wargame with bits of roleplaying (So you can actually feel the war cutting into your hands and singing your eyebrows!), not some kind of sword & sorcery drama club.  Personally, I prefer the latter.

Fortunately I got to see how the spell-burn and mighty deed concepts worked.  Very enlightening.  Next time I run DCC, I'll try my best to incorporate them into the game.  The deed die still seems a bit clunky to me.  Why can't every character do out-of-the-ordinary maneuvers and stunts that are still within their class purview?  You know, kind of like VSd6 (also included in The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence) or this.

Michael took the time to describe this slumber world with the possibility for lucid dreaming.  Though I watched a few attempts (which usually went very poorly), I'm sorry I didn't try it.  After all, lucid dreaming - like manipulating shadow in The Chronicles of Amber - is something I'd really, really love to do in real life.  For me, that's kind of what roleplaying is for.

Apparently, Pompei is a bit of an arrogant, anti-authoritarian asshole.  The party encountered this really interesting and strange "creature" consisting of three mirrors (two small, one big) on the wall.  It communicated with me when I investigated it (the rest of the party, aside from the thief) were cowering in a hallway just outside the chamber.  After a few pleasantries, my wizard asked for a boon - some kind of aid, artifact, knowledge, or power.  Pompei was asked what he was willing to give (I think) or else shot down by a condescending statement.  Pompei tried yet again to make some kind of deal.  "Perhaps I might serve you.  Ask me to perform a service."  Now, Pompei wasn't necessarily going to perform anything for this mirror entity, he was more interested in finding out what it wanted.

Well, the creature asked me to cut out one of my eyes.  Fuck that, Pompei thought to himself!  "I attempt to shatter the large mirror with my sword."  I told the GM.  I don't think Michael expected that.  Long story short, I taught that entity a lesson and for my trouble caught a fair amount of broken glass shrapnel.  The GM said there'd be a small chance that one of the shards got me in the eye.  I smiled in agreement that such a delicious irony was worth rolling.  Luckily, it missed and the rest was healed easily.

Cutting to the end, Pompei was sucked down into the floor by some kind of dungeon Sarlacc.  He almost died except for luck and the quick actions of his comrades.  I've never felt more like Boba Fett than that moment.  So, I was actually ok with dying.  I really didn't expect to survive that... but I did.

Finally, we entered a flaming dog skull chamber and there were wraiths and masked humanoids and I didn't think there was a chance in Hell our 1st level party would survive.  Especially since we already lost our thief (expertly played by +Brendan LaSalle).  Somehow, with elven sorcery, flashing blades, and my own spell-burn fueled magic missiles, we survived!

Michael signed a couple books for me and so did +Doug Kovacs who was lurking around our table.  I got to talk to them both (albeit very little) outside the game and it was a real pleasure.

So, that was my Friday night.  Tomorrow, I'll post about Saturday afternoon where I ran an uneven session of the Purple Islands (with map).  Should be interesting if for no other reason than I wasn't thrilled with my performance.


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