Soft As Tofu

August 29, 2010

I finally got around to some of the items on my list of V:TES decks to make.

Deck Name:   100829  Sixteen Daggers
Created By:  Ulrike Rothbart

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 14, Max: 20, Avg: 4.41)
———————————————-
1  Earl                               dom for pot    4  Ventrue
1  Ilyana Ravidovich                  aus dom for pre5  Ventrue
1  Jephta Hester                      aus DOM FOR    5  Ventrue Antitribu
1  Joáo Bilé                          pre DOM FOR    5  Ventrue
1  Katherine Stoddard                 dom for        4  Ventrue Antitribu
1  Kyoko Shinsegawa                   aus cel dom for5  Tremere
1  Lana Butcher                       dom for        3  Ventrue
1  Louis de Maisonneuve               aus dom obf FOR5  Ventrue Antitribu
2  Neighbor John                      dom for AUS    5  Ventrue Antitribu
1  Randel                             dom for obt    4  Ventrue Antitribu
1  Ulrike Rothbart                    dom for        3  Ventrue Antitribu

Library: (90 cards)
——————-
Master (25 cards)
9  Ashur Tablets
1  Frontal Assault
7  Haven Uncovered
1  Parthenon, The
5  Specialization
2  Tension in the Ranks

Action (11 cards)
1  Arson
10 Computer Hacking

Action Modifier (2 cards)
2  Conditioning

Reaction (4 cards)
4  Deflection

Combat (32 cards)
9  Concealed Weapon
7  Indomitability
7  Soak
7  Target Vitals
2  Taste of Vitae

Equipment (16 cards)
16 Dagger

This ended up being quite amusing, which is what I’m usually aiming for.

Target: Amusement
Aim.
If people aren’t laughing when you are playing, everyone is ousted.

I’m sure Brandon will write up something about today’s games on his blog – http://brandonsantacruz.blogspot.com/ – this week.  But, some things I remember include:  first turn Specialization being awesome; four Ashur Tablets and three Soaks turning into 1 pool and two Ashur Tablets, two Soaks, two Tension in the Ranks, and a card; being forced to Specialize away the two Tension in the Ranks to play more Haven Uncovereds on my prey’s weenie Hack deck to “contain” him; containing my prey to where he fell one pool short of ousting his prey, giving me an easy two VPs.

The end of the game wasn’t too exciting, I probably should have waited a round on the second oust, sacrificed a vamp to go after my third prey’s torped dude.  I wasn’t sure what my Dementation/Dominate deck, played by my predator, was doing since he didn’t Graverob and generally didn’t do any of the things I expected to be more involved in the game.

I had a really good matchup against my initial prey and a bad matchup against my final prey, which is why I tend to avoid focused decks like these.  My final hand had six masters, including three Haven Uncovereds.

People wondered why I was playing Computer Hacking when all of my dudes had Dominate.  A legacy of the original concept not involving running Dominate, though I see there being some advantage of reducing the fear quotient if the deck is less weenie Dominatelike.  I’m not too clear on whether I should care that one of my dudes ended up with six Daggers or not.  Btw, switching in Indomitability for Hidden Strength was huge as, otherwise, my prey’s Dodges would have given him at least one VP, though I barely did fend off an Escaped Mental Patient.

Deck Name:   100829  Baali Don’t Stealth
Created By:  Dylan

Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 4, Max: 27, Avg: 3.83)
———————————————
5  Anarch Convert                     none           1  Caitiff
2  Dylan (ADV)                        aus cel dai dom pro FOR6  Ventrue Antitribu
2  Giotto Verducci                    DAI for OBF pot pre7  Baali
1  Mary the Black                     cel DAI obf pot PRE7  Baali
1  Midget                             obf pre DEM    3  Malkavian Antitribu
1  Sargon                             cel dai obf pre5  Baali

Library: (90 cards)
——————-
Master (27 cards)
1  Anarch Free Press, The
3  Failsafe
1  Fortitude
1  Giant`s Blood
3  Guardian Angel
4  Path of Evil Revelations
1  Lilith’s Blessing
1  Rack, The
8  Striga
4  Tend the Flock

Action (4 cards)
1  Constant Revolution
1  Contagion
2  Unleash Hell’s Fury

Reaction (24 cards)
2  Car Bomb
2  Diabolic Lure
1  Final Loosening
3  Forced Awakening
4  On the Qui Vive
4  Scobax
4  Strix
4  Wake with Evening`s Freshness

Combat (24 cards)
4  Diversion
2  Flames of the Netherworld
1  Fractura
4  Hexe
3  Ignore the Searing Flames
4  Soak
4  Taste of Vitae
2  Weighted Walking Stick

Ally (3 cards)
1  Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
1  Infernal Servitor
1  Veneficti (Mage)

Retainer (2 cards)
1  Crypt’s Sons
1  Mr. Winthrop

Equipment (2 cards)
1  .44 Magnum
1  Ivory Bow

Combo (4 cards)
4  Sense the Sin

Also, “Baali Don’t Need Pool!”  It is an oft proved fact that with V:TES everything about a deck, the game, CCGs, and … really … all of creation can be learned from a single game.  There’s like virtually zero variables.  So, as I have now won 100% of my games playing Striga decks, I am supremely confident that I can say with no chance of rebuke or disagreement that Striga is grossly overpowered and should be banned from existence for how easy it makes winning tables of V:TES and really conquering this thing we call life.  In fact, as I discarded every Tend the Flock I drew, it’s now also established fact that the card sucks.  Oh, and non-disciplines are strictly better than disciplines, too.

Funnier stuff happened in the Dagger deck game, but I love playing decks like this.  Actually, looking at the decklist, I have no idea how the deck did anything.  I knew I was trying to control the number of copies of cards to try various things out, but how in the world did I consistently block people – from stopping every superior Govern of my prey except one to having my opponent in the endgame concede after I torped all of his dudes because I could block 3 stealth actions?

Actually, for some real analysis, Giotto’s special is so underrated.  Baali of the Name 1.1 won a tournament because he enabled me to discard everything that wasn’t bleed + stealth in the finals.  In this game, I could not only keep damage prevention in my hand most of the time but flush some of it (and every Ignore the Searing Flames) when I needed wakes or whatever to survive.

It would be great to retire yet another deck with a perfect win record, but this was too much fun to play to be immortalized in the name of flukish results from small sample size data sets.  Though, an obvious change is to ditch the Tend the Flocks because, as everyone knows, Baali don’t need pool.

Ah, now if I can just find the time to build some of the other decks.

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Desire

August 21, 2010

Talked about fear.  Let’s talk about desire.

At the simplest level, what is it I desire out of games?  Ultimately, they are probably the same sort of things, so maybe it’s more interesting to start with specific desires in various genres.

Boardgames/Card Games/Other

I can’t say that there’s much that I desire out of these categories.  My favorite boardgame is HeroQuest, which is my favorite because to me it’s a (very simplistic) RPG.  Actually, in reality, dungeon crawl RPing is really more of a boardgame, but whatever.  I don’t care if Dominion comes out with expansions, I don’t care what the hottest boardgame is, I don’t care if I ever play Power Grid, I don’t care about attempts to continue to make cooperative boardgames.

If I had to put down anything as a desire here, it would be for some nostalgic gaming.  I haven’t played mah-jongg in ages, for instance.  It was amusing that someone in my fitness class asked me if I played.  I wouldn’t mind playing some bridge.  HeroQuest would be great, too.

I can think of one thing that might be interesting – playing some straight BattleTech since our Mechwarrior campaign has reminded me both that the game exists and that I’ve played very little of it.

CCGs

The easy one.  A desire to play a two-player CCG.  Magic is probably out, which doesn’t leave much in the way of options.  Even though Ultimate Combat! is the best CCG ever, people don’t take it seriously.  Wheel of Time never had much of a player base to begin with.  It would be an amusing time to get into L5R, but why bother playing a game I never thought was worth getting into previously?

Amusingly, I continue to notice Dragon Dice at Gen Con.  I was trying to explain the game recently and remembered that the game does actually work.  It just has the big problem, for me, of being a CDG rather than a CCG.  I like hidden information, and I’m sure there are some other differences that make CCGs better.

What do I desire for V:TES?  I almost don’t care whether more sets come out, which is a very interesting place for me to be.  I’m just not obsessed with newness like I once was with CCGs.  It has increasingly become a house game for me rather than a “public” game.  On the other hand, I desire to build decks, lots of things I haven’t done.  If I were building more decks, I could see caring more about expansions.

RPGs

I desire a HoR3.  I desire taking a serious look at L5R 4e, which seems likely as I plan to run HoR2 for people not previously exposed to it.  But, why?  I think HoR satisfies a couple of things.  One is the sense of a greater community.  I’m seeing less and less people at cons.  I’m not deeply involved as a volunteer for anything.  I don’t even see much of the V:TES crowd in the area outside of the South Bay group.  The other has to do with my recent philosophies on objectivity in gaming.  I was just talking to various people about how HoR is relatively objective, so you have some sort of context for your character where a house game has no baselines, no common language that has any real meaning.  I can talk about my 15th level Conan character, but it means jack to anyone, where some (few) people will grok what my HoR characters have gone through.

I desire having supplements for games.  More specifically, I’m talking about things like the Solomon Kane supplements or L5R 4e supplements.  I could have bought them at Gen Con, but two things stifle such desires.  The one that probably matters more is realizing how many gaming things I’ve bought in my life that I didn’t get use out of.  Now, admittedly, there are many products I never used directly that I ended up using for fluff or ideas or whatever, but a lot of books I’ve barely looked at.  The second is that I have extremely elastic demand curves, so I wasn’t going to pay full price just because they were in front of me.

I desire to build characters.  At the moment, that’s mostly L5R 4e because that’s where my head has been this year.  But, it could end up being all sorts of things.  Not Mechwarrior where the creation process is incredibly goofy, but if I got into something else.

I desire to write.  To finish my HoR characters’ stories, to write up sessions where major stuff happened in Conan, to write about a minor character in that campaign, to write up what’s going on in SK so that the players feel more immersed.  Unfortunately, as with many desires, the desire to rest and relax when not working typically wins out.

I desire to find sources of inspiration (for RPing).  I’m thinking books – I have some I haven’t read; movies – I never know which to go see; TV – I watch little anymore.

Core Desires

What are the common desires that have nothing to do with the genre of gaming?

Number one may be to have cool stuff happen.  I was talking to my Conan GM today about Conan and SK.  As a player, his primary motivation is survival.  My primary motivation is to experience cool things, not even do cool things though doing is probably better than having been done to.  Run a camel up a ziggurat while fighting a ghoul horde is cool whether it was all that effective or not.  Blowing up an Assault Rifle with Shattering Blow – stunning. 

Which brings up expectations and context.  Cool is unusual.  That means there has to be a usual.

A desire for ideas and scenes.  I put these together because ideas I get so often produce mental scenes.  Even with CCGs, I envision blowing people’s minds by playing horrible cards in high level competition.  Speaking of CCGs, I have the chronic problem of having good enough (fresh enough) ideas for decks to cause me to produce the level of deck-building I desire.  Ideas don’t necessarily have to be cool, but they should be distinctive.

Time and money.  I game a lot.  I’ve gamed a lot in my life.  I can’t really argue for having more time to game.  And, money isn’t really necessary to game, though, as with all things, it helps.  I’d like to be able to just pick up something and not feel guilty about its cost, and I’d like to be able to just pick up something and play it and not have to give up something else to do so.  Kind of dumb desires as I think these things have more to do with regrets than desires and that’s a different topic.

Desire for everyone to have fun.  I’m willing to sacrifice many of my interests if it means everyone else will enjoy playing something.  Similarly, investment.  That is, I desire everyone to be invested in the game.  My greatest enjoyment from games isn’t from playing them, it’s from thinking about them.  Then, there’s talking about them.  I don’t push people on my favorite games, such as UC! or (back in the day) Immortal or whatever, because I desire to see people invested and that comes from their interests.

Fairness, balance.  My frequent rants (in the past) were on issues of game balance.  Much of this desire, however, is really a desire for variety.  Balance in games produces a greater variety of decks, of characters, of strategies.

Health … of the hobby/table top/whatever gaming industry.  I look around and see CCGs dying, RPG companies folding.  Sure, boardgames seem to be doing well, but I care about my top two gaming types far more.  Conventions don’t seem to be doing too well, either, whether small or large.

Uses

I’m not going to get into personal uses of people’s desires.  I’m talking about industry uses.  Mark Rosewater often brings up what people desire when talking about what Magic players desire.  While this topic is way too big for me to ramble on about sufficiently, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

The desire for rewards.  I see this being a frequent marketing failure on CCGs’ parts.  Yes, CCGs reward with ratings, promo cards, maybe even money.  But, I don’t think the companies I’ve cared about were aware enough about how to reward the player bases to keep them ardent.  Take V:TES and its system of coming up with your own prizes.  Does that keep costs down for a small company?  Sure, but it also sends a message that the game isn’t important enough and your playing it isn’t important enough for the company to care if you do play it.  There’s a reason companies market.  And, having tournaments and prizes worth mentioning and making players feel like they are getting something they didn’t pay for are ways to do it.  Interestingly, B5 got a bad rap because its promo system was out of control.  But, that has to do with a desire not to have unique promos ;) …

Other gaming types can have rewards, as well.  Living campaigns can do that.  There are boardgame tournaments.  But, I’m mostly concerned with CCG marketing.

Speaking of which.  I’m kind of surprised at how poorly CCGs seem to be faring when you consider what a brilliant money-making model they have.  The desire of people to gamble was satisfied with random packs.

Many of the things that people desire are not satisfied by V:TES and I’m not sure they can be at this point.  Grokability?  Intuitiveness?  Flavor?  Mechanical potential?  Nostalgia?  As unlikely as I think it would be to work, one wonders whether V:TES could be rebooted.

Note that many of the things that “feel right” or inspire for CCGers are the same that you want out of RPGs.  I see many attempts to make weird stuff when I’d be happy if there was some sort of good, basic fantasy game – no generic (aka Tolkien) fantasy races, no overly mathematical mechanics, no “we don’t need mechanics because we aren’t D&D” pretensions.

Some day, I’ll finish this series.  Regrets, the most painful sin of them all.


Gen Con Postview

August 14, 2010

Logistics were fine, so moving on to gaming.

Thursday

So, start in on my six slots of Heroes of Rokugan – 3 premier mods, finale, open, and …?  Five year campaign coming to an end, I missed only about 10 of the nearly 75 mods.

I planned things out to some degree, using those business planner skills and all.  First up was March Unto Death.  While starting with a potentially dangerous mod might not seem like easing into HoR at the con, it was a low rank mod, so I was playing an alternative character.

Very dangerous.  But, before getting to that, the setup was that Akodo Gintaku, The Steel Lion, shows up with his Lion army that he had been using to destroy the Unicorn and Dragon in his attempt to claim the throne.  He says that he will put off claims on the throne until the Shadowlands army that overran Crab lands is dealt with, so with 2000 Tattooed Folks and others hanging in the village, we set off.  Along the way, everyone expects to die, so there’s lots of hooking up as well as various diversions.  Playing my Tattooed Actor, I perform the role of a famous empress in a noh play, making a bud of Hida Buso.  Usagi Hachi, noted Hare lecher, sitting next to me, beats Buso and the Hitomi daimyo in wrestling to also BFUD (best friends unto death) Buso.  Togatsu, ronin, snuggled with Hitomi Choju.  I went to find a go opponent in some gambling house and ended up tenting up with Matsu Michiko.  This stuff is actually important.

We get to the battle site.  We split up into the fighty types going into the reserves, while we wusses go into the rear.  Reserves fight some stuff, then cut scene.  Gintaku sacrifices his kid, pulls the Sun/Jade Dragon out of the sky, then kills it, getting its power.  Now, we run.

What follows is a series of skirmishes with ogres and goblins.  My actor may be a goofy concept full of sheer awesome humor, but I did take all combat related tattoos, so I Hurricane, effectively nerfing the enemy as long as I’m around.  By the way, Hurricane will come up prominently later.  The reserves had to take 3 rounds to catch up with us.  The other thing that keeps us doing okay is that all of those BFUDs that the mod has you make earlier show up now to nuke themselves on the enemy, a reasonably clever concept.  Most of us make the running roll to get away, but those that don’t are kinda screwed.  Bad resource management on the part of the Kitsune shugenja, who wasted way too many spells blasting ogres early on, as well as some non-use of Honor Rolls or whatever means that the Kitsune and the Kakita Jester(!!) are kind of screwed.  Another mechanic in the mod is that people can sacrifice themselves for some mechanical benefit to others, so the Jester holds off the Shadowlands forces while the rest of us get to the last boat.

My recollection may not be right, but I believe that in all of the HoR tables I’ve played at, using one of the most deadly *popular* systems, the only time any PC ever died was by self-sacrifice.  Grave of Heroes, aka Hero Gravy?  One dude stayed with the twins.  Essence of Toshigoku, aka Toshi-screw-you?  Boring, except for the discussion of what to do after I give my first alt as a hostage.  Battle Interactive (the first)?  Those Slayer Knives kind of hurt, but why didn’t I get to make a roll against the ninja poison when I have Jurojin’s Blessing?  Oh, because they are rank 5 (something my main never made it to).  Doom of the Crab?  I’ll try to knock down the Dark Moto that I can’t actually deal any damage to … oh well … hey, water tensai, why are you healing me?

Up next, is Hellas.  Greek mythology space opera.  I played a Zintar, tentacled head creature that uses artificial bodies (carapaces) to help do stuff out of water and whatever.  The Greek connection is that the carapace pictured is centauresque.  Our leader was a colony of insects, in Greek god/hero form, of course.  We are sent to negotiate back some loot that some prince has gotten from a planet.  We do stuff, find the location of the “kill everything organic on the planet” weapon/temple, self destruct it, end a space war/feud.  Simple resolution system.  Glory level determines what godly powers you have, so when I went over 60, I could start making helper machina (robots) – I was the engineer.  One detail that was cute was that I got illusioned by some magi as I was trying to hack the station’s cameras to show the betrayal of the mercs working for the prince, so I jury rig my carapace to give me electroshock, er, stim treatment to pierce the illusion.  The Glory mechanic is not quite the same as, say, Insight in L5R (or Glory for that matter), so it’s kind of interesting.  I like how one’s name enables the character to one time auto-succeed based on the character’s epithet.  I’m not as excited by descriptive RPGs – Dogs of the Vineyard, for example – as I once was as there’s no baseline to show how special your character is in comparison to, but a little bit of “I just do stuff because I surpass the rules” may be good.

Back to HoR.  I debated playing my main in Fate of the Assassin as I didn’t care so much about XP as Honor and I heard that Honor wasn’t in the printed out .pdf.  I played my main, anyway, to ease into the morning’s Celestial Journey, the high rank mod I had to play to be able to play my main in the finale.  People couldn’t shut up about Celestial, so I was getting way too many spoilers.  Anyway, Fate was kind of blah.  A lot of man vs. nature, which I’ve gotten tired of after playing Shadowlands mods recently.  Then, the ending made little sense.  Yeah, the true Lion Clan Champion is alive, but why is Kagekaze, the assassin badass, here?  We convince him his life is meaningless and he whacks himself, which is the more likely outcome, apparently, but the mod is pretty uninteresting.  Even though I’m helping my Champion and my greatest Honor loss ever for was not helping my Clan, somehow, there’s no way to get Honor in the mod (for someone with my rank of Honor).

Friday

Celestial Journey.  Go find the Obsidian Dragon who has gone nuts from the Sun dying in March.  Go to heaven to convince the Celestial Dragon that humanity can get the new Jade Dragon’s egg to hatch.  Along the way, find all of the PCs lost in other spiritual realms in prior mods.  So, my first alt is back.  I think I’m the only person in the campaign who had three “get into the finale” cards, one for Zetsu from March, one for Ryota from Celestial, one for Jun from playing Celestial.  The main thing about Celestial was that it was meant to rebalance the campaign for the finale.  All of the cheesy, broken stuff that characters could acquire (excluding very special stuff that people could acquire) was written into the mod to get excised.  So, you sacrifice part of yourself to the egg, and the GM lists like 40 things that you remove from your character sheet.  If you have none of them, in other words, if you aren’t a power gamer, you permanently lose the ability to spend one of your Void Points.  Then, you choose body or spirit.  Depending upon which you choose, you lose stuff off another list of 30 or so things (each) or a Void Point (but can’t lose two).  I could have lost stuff on the spirit side, more so if I had more of my certs signed – I only had two of six.  I only ended up down a VP.  Hoshi would have probably been slammed, but then, he would have never been in this high rank mod.

The main things that were nailed were things like tattoos, Hurricane at the top of the list, strong combat ones second and third.  Crane, which *just* enables you to not die once per session, wasn’t considered problematic enough.  Great Destiny, Great Potential, blah, blah, blah.  Dark Fates could be lost, too, like in Jun’s buddy Seppun (nee Soshi) Soko’s case, where he almost turned on the party, but he was too weak of a villain to be a party killing villain.

The one mod I cared about getting in before the end was Loyalty, the finale to the Code of Bushido series, where I hoped to get the better Nishari cert … and hoped to get my Honor back to 5.  Celestial left it at 4.9.  Jun had so many things trigger off of Honor, that just being at 4 was sad.  Not that he or anyone deserved to be at 5, but since other players easily got to 5, it annoyed me not to be.  We mostly broke Loyalty because certain spells in the game are horribly broken.  I got my pip of Honor to get to 5, I got my cert.  I wasn’t going to screw things up and play Jun again before the finale, so I started thinking about playing in the political event Saturday morning.

Unwind time.  I played Fortune’s Fool, a Renaissance, Tarot resolution, fantasy RPG with stuff I’ve grown to hate – elves, dwarves, goblins, etc.  In this case, however, I was cool with it.  I played Grillo, a goblin muslim nobleman from the Ottoman Empire who was Gepetto’s bud and Pinocchio’s tutor.  We were awfully violent chasing after Pinocchio having gone bad because the dibbuk animating him had woken up on his 7th birthday.  I eventually killed the annoying halfling thug that we kept running into.  Did I mention that I was a skilled fencer?  The game had a lot of numbers on the sheet, similar to how The Zero Movement, another Tarot resolution game, was way too mathematical, but here, the game wasn’t trying for great symbology.  The mechanics were actually rather CCGesque.  The deck manipulation abilities characters get are insane.  My best was being able to look at the top three cards of the deck and discarding one.  Another guy could shuffle back in all cards with a value equal to or less than what he named.  Another could summon The Fool, which was important for nuking The Tower, the screwjob card for the players, though The Fool did other stuff.  The GM isn’t supposed to ever draw, so the GM can go search for cards and stuff while not changing the order of the deck.  Players draw both for their actions and for the NPC actions against them.  Anyway, playing Grillo was amusing.  The picture of him was too sweet not to come up with some sort of ridiculous accent.

Saturday

I had sound reasoning for giving up on playing a mod I missed and playing the political event instead.  For one thing, I wasn’t going to play my main.  If I played Zetsu, then I play him anyway in the political event, because Tattooed Folks are natural politicos.  I didn’t think forming a table of a mod I needed was that likely so late in the campaign.  I was kind of bored because I went to the con by myself and only talked to people around my games, and the political event was likely to have more interesting mechanics.

I was just along for the ride, but my table was annoying.  One person was way too bitchy.  Others were way too unclever.  We succeeded at getting the Dragon on our side but failed to convince the Emerald Champion.  Another table took care of that.  One of our nobodies (tables were often balanced between mains and people just along for the ride), killed herself to try to get his attention, but she wasn’t important enough.  I’m sure two others could have used that trick, two others maybe could have.  The event finished with some LARP stuff that saw a few characters get cut down for speaking the wrong things.  Quite a bloody affair, as various tables had players off themselves to get their jobs done, too.

To The Last Breath.  Gintaku needs to die, so we throw our tiny army against his two big ones.  The wedge is designed to just get as many heroes to him to cut off the head.  Each table can send one character on.  If you die, you can bless someone else.  If the table dies, they can bless another table.  There were about 16 tables.  They were forming at least 8 per table, yet my table was 6.

There were various factors that made it hard to figure out whether our table should have been wiped.  The goal of the event was to kill 75%-90% of the PCs because that’s how samurai stories end.  My table was short, which I didn’t know whether was bad or whether the GM was adjusting for.  We had a really good character setup, unfortunately, we had a flawed player setup as I sat next to a basketcase.  I don’t mean gamer basketcase – weirdo, gun happy, etc.  I mean someone who kept crying.  I don’t think she’s functional without one of her friends, who happened to be at another table.  I don’t know if the GM adjusted for this.

One would think that he must have as we all survived.  See above for my good luck charm power on RPG tables.  Actually, when I started recounting my tales of Gen Con, one of my fellow V:TES players pointed out that it was just like playing V:TES with me – nobody dies (except maybe by sacrifice). 

I had little impact in the first battle against Akodo and Matsu bushi, who mainly went after the rank 6 Hida.  I killed a couple of samurai with my first attacks when I was calling raises for extra attacks, foreshadowing?  The second battle was against 4 oni.  I was crippled going in, btw.  Two ugulu, known for invulnerability.  A rhinocerous oni, which seemed scary.  A headless oni that actually had a specific name.  The Hida did some damage to the rhino.  Rolling 4k3, I did 63 damage to the rhino killing it.  I got healed up some.  The headless grappled the Hida, effectively eliminating him from combat.  Had to die.  I did 124 damage to it.  War fan 2, oni 0.  The two ugulu went full attack on me.  Our Scorpion Tsuruchi Magistrate wondered why, and the GM’s reply was, “Did you just see what he did?”  I stupidly didn’t spend a Void to increase my TN, so the first one outed me, which at least meant being alive.  With various environmental effects – arrows, exploding winged demons from nearby tables – I went down to 1 wound box.  I got healed enough that I killed one of the ugulu, another 95 damage.  Then, I was pretty much spent.  So, I did 282 damage in three attacks when 57 would kill my character – yeah, 3e L5R is a bit sick.  Let’s see what 4e is like.

Third battle is mostly fought by our water shugenja (rank 5), the Hida who has taken around 170 wounds and is spending Void to not die and keep fighting, and our earth shugenja.  Fortunately, the water shugenja casts a broken spell, Suitengu’s Embrace to drown four of the Lion samurai including their shugenja.  The GM makes a call that he has to concentrate to continuously drown his targets unlike how the spell reads where you basically permanently continuously refill the targets lungs with water as a fire and forget spell.  We are the last table to finish, but we win.  We send the water shugenja to the final table with a rolloff.

The final table is amusing where Gintaku has godlike powers where he just acts whenever, kills when he wants, and resists … well.  Some of the more notable players in the campaign – Eric Menge with Kuni Fumio, Hida Tango, Todd Stiles with his Akodo War College character, Ethan with his “if you kill me, you die [unless you are a god]” certed Crane, etc. – get off some good lines and amusing actions.  Todd’s “do it twice” lines were awesome – Akodo War College rank 5 gives other characters additional actions.  Fumio blew up the bloodsword Ambition but had his crystal eye explode from the magical feedback.  Hida Tango lived (of course).  The Kakita Artisan (really?!?) even chopped off Gintaku’s arms.

The last day, including those who played the event on Wednesday who GMed Saturday, failed to kill its quota.  I think only about 66%-75% of the PCs were killed.  Before the final table, they played solemn music and named every character killed.  It went on for a while …  I was happy to contribute with my sort of bard, former Emerald Magistrate (one of two in the campaign), apparently “one shot anything I can hurt” oni slayer.

I wasn’t a diehard for the campaign, but, really, it was awesome.  Five years of storylines, so many characters doing cool things.

My GM for my night game is in the hospital, so instead of Feng Shui, I play CSI style Hero.  Actually, the system was meaningless as I only ever made three rolls, two Perception, and one Intelligence of my own choice to decide what to do.  It ended up being CSI meets the X-Men.  It was okay, but anticlimactic.

Sunday

I had scheduled a noon game with my morning for rest and dealer’s room.  I do that and my noon game has no one show up, so I go back to the dealer’s room bored and find someone I stalk so that I have something to do until the con ends.  I finally give up and leave before 4PM to go back to my hotel and chill.

In the end, things worked really well gamingwise, even if I did lose out on Feng Shui and a Green Lantern game.  I don’t know if I want to do six slots of anything ever again, but every five years might be okay.  No V:TES.  I couldn’t even find White Wolf’s booth, I’m not sure they had one even though it was in the book.  I bought virtually nothing, mainly dice!!!  I’m normally disdainful of people who buy dice when they have enough already, but these were astrological dice, so I make exceptions.  I only bought a single RPG supplement for $5.  I demoed nothing (not counting RPGs I preregged for) except a Are You A Werewolf? type card game that I just thought was unnecessary.

Probably some other things I want to mention, but I have to run … gaming is a harsh mistress.