Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gen Con: Day 3 Report

My third day of Gen Con was all walking and RPGs. Remind me when event registration comes around next year to write a post about how to make the most of your schedule while taking into account the distance between the different venues. This year I learned that the JW Marriott and Union Stations are the anchors of the venue conglomerate when I had to walk nearly a mile of crowded halls to make it from one game to the other.

I had three different RPGs on Saturday, each one a game that I had purchased in the past but have yet to run. Now, as the books and boxes gather dust on my shelf, I can at least say I played the games once.

Because of the tight schedule, no purchases were made. My wallet thanked me later.

DC Heroes

I have been waiting to play this game for probably twenty years. It was the very first RPG I ever purchased as a kid and I never got past geeking out over all the statted out superheroes. Here was my chance to finally take this beauty for a ride.

The game was titled "Time Bubble Trouble" and had the Justice League jumping around in time and space looking to put things right. Because I showed up early, I had one of the first picks of heroes, so I couldn't resist playing as Batman. As others filed in, we formed a team of mostly heavy hitters, but Metamorpho and Black Canary allowed for some fun, unexpected situations.

Let me focus on the positives first. The couple playing as Black Canary and Green Lantern were awesome and knew their shit. At one point we encountered an alternate reality version of Guy Gardner, who was naturally being a dick. I had enough and decided it was time to reenact one of the greatest moments in JLA history.
One. Punch.

Using more than a few hero points, I insured that I would be knocking out Guy in one punch. The player controlling Black Canary was there to joyfully announce that she finally got to see it happen and wished someone had been taping it.

Most of the other players, especially those playing Green Lantern and Metamorpho were very inventive in the use of their powers. They were a lot of fun to play with.

And then there was the guy who was playing Superman. Good god, he was the worst. He was a nightmare, an amalgamation of every bad trait a role player could have in a single package. He hogged the spotlight, role played the character terribly, metagamed constantly, outright cheated at least once, and farted in my general direction. And he thought he was entitled to be this douchebag because he was the god damn Superman.

At one point we had to take on the evil Russian Superman from Red Son and came up with an excellent plan of turning Metamorpho into a giant kyptonite bomb. And then our idiot Superman got between us and the target, as if he hadn't heard a fucking thing we said in the fifteen minutes we took to formulate our plan. I had to save his life as he plummeted to earth wrapped in a ball of 50 different types of kryptonite and he didn't even notice.

He was That Guy. Don't ever be That Guy.

The GM did nothing to reign him in or question his outright stupidity. I understand being a "yes and" GM, but none of us have chosen to play with this guy. Telling him to chill out or making him suffer for his idiotic actions might have damped his experience, but it would have greatly improved the game for the five other people at the table.

At least he helped me channel a decent pissed off Batman.

I ended up having to book it to my next game, which was a mile away. The plot seemed to crumble at the end of the session and I have no idea why we had to beat up on Darkseid or what the Time Trapper was even attempting. I would have loved to pick the GMs brain, but I had to go and get away from Superdouche.

Vampire: The Requiem

The next game was my first experience of the World of Darkness games. I had read most of the rules for nWoD and some of the fluff for V:tR, but the was probably the one system I had least of a gasp on.

There were only three players in this game, which was expected to have about six. This is probably for the best because this was going to end up being the most role playing focused game I've ever been in. When one of the players introduced himself his vampire completely in character with a Louisiana accent without skipping a beat, I thought I was going to be in trouble. On the role playing style spectrum, I am as far from the Actor end as possible.

But by the end of the game, especially during the lengthy debate and political posturing that developed in the story, I ended up speaking almost entirely in character. It was exciting to be so out of my comfort zone.

Of all the games I played at Gen Con, I suspect that this was the most improvised by the GM. This was probably for the best since things got a little crazy towards the end. I'll spare you a detailed plot summary, but the endgame scenario had us choosing between sticking with our Prince or siding with a insane ancient vampire with giant mutant animals in his control. Because we were only baby vampires, the smooth talking "face" of the group outright bailed from the story, seeing it as a zero-sum outcome.

I was of a similar opinion, but I felt that at a con game there is no reason to ever give up and not go out in a blaze of glory. In the end, I was able to harness the power of poor decision making, badass betrayal and snappy one-liners to muster the strength to ambush the Prince and tear her head from her body.

In my first game of Vampire I ended up becoming the Prince. It doesn't get much better than that.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

I don't know his name or where he came from, but this GM was amazing. He had put together an adventure and a cast of characters actually worthy of the Doctor Who name. It could have been an episode of the show. It was that cool.

(UPDATE: Actually, I do know his name. He's Clinton Boomer. He's an author, which explains a lot. You can kickstart the publishing of some of his books right now.)

Each character had a secret agenda and a history that tied in perfectly to the story. As we played, things kept clicking into place, forming a unified whole. It was astounding to experience. I can only imagine how much time and effort this took to plan.

Although the ripping off of a Prince's head was awesome fun, the following exchange was the single best role playing moment of the night:

GM (as immortal debutante in a house clearly occupied by Weeping Angels): "I have a guardian angel who protects me."

Me (a psychic con man who posses as a spiritualist): "An angel, you say? Can you show me this angel?"

GM: "It does not like to be seen! You will need to close your eyes."

Me: ...

GM: Covers his eyes with his hands.

Me: I close my eyes.

At that point I nearly had my head ripped off by a Weeping Angel in the exact same away I did to the Prince only a few hours before. I spent the rest of the game with my character at death's door screaming about ghosts and demons and using my psychic powers to feed clues to my fellow players.

Oh, and I spent the whole time speaking in a terrible British accent. We all did. That was silly fun.

It's worth noting that Doctor Who was the most rules-light game I played on Saturday and it was probably the only game in which all of the rules were actually followed. Vampire and DC Heroes were so fast and loose that the core mechanic was bullshitting.

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