KublaCon 2012

Was going to post something about registering for Gen Con events on May 20th, but I’m losing interest in commenting upon that.  Meanwhile, KublaCon ended yesterday, so while things are relatively fresh in my mind.

Friday

I give Eric a lift and we get to the con a bit before 2PM.  Briefly talk to Brad, who had shown up Thursday and noted the large number of people for an unofficial day of gaming.  I totally don’t get why these cons keep moving things earlier.  It’s almost like there’s rampant unemployment to where people have plenty of time to game on weekdays.  Oh, right.

I don’t bother trying to get into a 2PM game, even though there are more RPG events I’m interested in at that slot then any other during the weekend.  Just not mentally “there”, yet.

I chat with people I know for a while, then get dinner at a Japanese place in Millbrae that I go to for potato croquette curry.  Now, some may wonder at this.  I have asked a number of people who have lived in Japan, and they know nothing about potato croquette being served there.  Yet, I have seen it at other Japanese places.  I could search online to see if it’s a dish found in a particular place due to trade/immigration with/from other nations, but it’s more amusing to be one of life’s mysteries.

I wander about a bit longer and then go home a bit after 7:30PM, when the commuter lanes are open.  Yes, I bleed the con dry of all its precious vitae!  Or, not.

Saturday

I figure there’s a good chance I’m in a 9AM game.  I pick up Andy, who had spent Friday working on his Flames of War army for Sunday’s tournament so hadn’t been to the con yet.

Even though I do plenty of L5R already, there weren’t that many things on the schedule that interested me that weren’t at 2PM Friday.  I’m in the L5R game, the only one on the schedule and my first choice over something I don’t recall.

It was not either of the two things I was mentally prepared for.  I was figuring either that the game would be very rooted in the world with a lot of social challenges or that it would get L5R junkies.  I know that sounds kind of similar.  In other words, either the GM(s) would be junkies or the players would be.  I kind of forgot that I’ve played a number of L5R convention games and that it’s common for there to be people who just aren’t that into the world, if they know anything about it at all.  My immersion in all things Rokugani is showing.

The game was a fairly straightforward fantasy RPG experience.  There was only the lightest touch of the society of L5R.  Honor was the main thing that was specific to the genre, and, you know, that’s actually a pretty good thing for a con game, maybe even a takeaway that can be applied to home play.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in all of the details of L5R’s history to where it detracts from simply playing a game.  One other player and I actually seemed to know L5R much better than the GM.  I played the only shugenja since most of the players were new to the system and/or world, and it was an effort to refrain from abusing the power.

Plotwise, one player was the second son of a Crane daimyo.  The rest of us were retinue or friends.  A village got burned down by mysterious attackers and we were off to investigate.  We stop at a village on the way, where the locals speak of strange lights at night.  We check out the nearby hills.  At one abandoned bandit camp, we find a mysterious brass coin.  At the other bandit camp, there be bandits.  We fight a bit, then we find out that they use maho to teleport away.  I Commune with a strange Air kami.  With some other info, we get the picture that the daimyo’s banished brother has learned gaijin magics and returned for vengeance.  We go to the burned village and find a giant sand/rock mound.  We get closer.  It explodes.  We wake up the next day in the bodies of bandit types.  We figure out the need to get back to the castle and restore our bodies.  We get back, sneak in, get some equipment, get attacked by illusionary wraiths that I Spock to irrelevance.  We are short on time, so we don’t fight out the fights against ourselves and the daimyo’s brother who switched bodies with the daimyo, we bust the mirror ball that enables the body switching.  The end.

The GM had frontloaded the combat, an interesting idea for a con game.  The one combat I wish we had fought was against a sand monster that had attacked the village.  The party duelist didn’t really do anything and had to leave early – other than people who hate a game and are trying to flee from it, I don’t understand why people don’t plan to stay until the end of a game.  Other people have trouble getting into stuff, so leaving the slot open for them makes more sense.

Also, the characters were crazy powerful.  Just another example of how higher rank characters are broken.  In 3e, somewhere in rank 2, the game breaks.  In 4e, I think it’s in rank 3.  I rolled a 60 on my first Divination roll.  I rolled a 63 on a Perception/Investigation roll and only tied the party magistrate.  My Commune with Air roll started at 10k5.  I healed 42 wounds with the only Path to Inner Peace I cast.  Someone commented about a “mere 32” when rolling for something.  I think our magistrate hit 69 twice on Investigation rolls.  For context, a Target Number of 30 is extremely hard for a lot of rank 1 characters and about a challenging TN for many rank 3’s.  I had like 5 skills at rank 5, Spellcraft at rank 7, and several skills at rank 3.

I have plenty of time to kill before running V:TES at 8PM, so I wander around and talk to folks.  Andrew, Brad, and I go to my favorite Chinese restaurant (in the world).  We get our own stuff, so I get tan tan mian.  We get back.  I park in my parking space (the closest one to the hotel outside of their parking lot).

I set up for V:TES.  Tom and Kat, who show up every year to play in my V:TES event, even though they live in Reno, which is insane by the way, show up first.  Geoff, who I hadn’t seen in maybe 6 years, is the only one signed up on the sheet and I spy him.  Rich, who I played some with ages ago, and Brad fill out a five player table while I wonder whether others are going to show since there’s only at least seven other people I know at the con who have played the game a significant amount.  Jeff is around, in between RPG coordinator duties, and the two of us talk while the five play.

They play for 2 hours with no one being ousted.  Brad was playing Akunanse, Rich borrowed Tzimisce, Geoff some Sabbat Pre/Obf vote deck, Tom 419, Kat Lasombra.  To make things a bit more interesting and because Jeff offers, we set up two four-player games with Jeff playing in each.  I go first in my game playing my “collection” !Toreador deck, Kat plays her Lasombra deck, Geoff plays Jacko throws cars and launches RPGs and other flung crap, Jeff borrows my Blessed Resilience deck.  In the other game, Rich plays some Stanislava bleed deck, Jeff borrows my “dudes with agg hands and Potence” deck, Tom plays weenie something, and Brad his Akunanse deck.

In my game, I’m not terribly threatened, so Loonar comes out, learns Auspex and gets a Sawed Off Shotgun.  She also acquires a members only Leather Jacket.  Redbone comes out.  I Effectively Manage and get Malabranca, so I work on him; later, he goes pool stealing, including when my prey is at 3 pool!  Jeff keeps discarding the combo cards for the Force of Will bleeds that is all the deck does, including Forces of Will.  My prey is somewhat contained because I’m oh so spooky [wiggles fingers].  Jacko tries to beat up folks with varying ability – one of Jeff’s guys gets torped and Jeff diablerizes with his other vampire who gets burned by Kat’s votes!  Geoff’s KRCG gets used a lot and even leads to a block or two.  My hand goes from too much intercept to too little and back.  Kat tries to vote, I generate four intercept, she gets five stealth.  Jacko gets bounced to me and it’s on.  Jacko goes long and dodges I think.  He additional strikes Molotov Cocktail.  Loonar additionals Sawed Off Shotgun.  Jacko presses with Flash, I press with Read Intentions.  Jacko presses with Psyche!.  I press with Nimble Feet.  For the win!

I get Kat down to 1 pool after Pentexing her Antonio, leaving her with no blockers as she only has him and Ambrosio.  I fail to kill her and she ousts Geoff.  Jeff breaks the Pentex.  Kat Villein’s and Giant’s Bloods to go to lots of pool.  Jeff finally kills me with Force of Will.  Kat crushes Jeff in the endgame as he can’t block anything she does at stealth and she has vote lock and this little thing we like to call Dominate.

In the other game, Jeff plays most of it with just Thetmes, somehow outbloating Stanislava bleeding.  Jeff ousts the weenies and Brad and Rich gang up on Jeff, Brad gets 3 VPs.

Geoff shows Jeff and me the game he’s been working on for years, so we play a dungeon crawl themed card game.  It’s good.  Definitely polished like he said.  I don’t like that you can only win on your own turn, though, and we didn’t see the party forming mechanic used virtually at all since it was just a three-player game.  I was surprisingly out of it by this point, slept horribly Friday night even though I was in bed around 10PM.  Drive home.

Sunday

I get in before 9AM, wondering whether I got into a 10AM game.  There was talk of playing some pickup Babylon 5 CCG, so I hung around the area where one of the game’s designers, Edi, was running Diplomacy.  Amusingly, two of the game’s original five designers were present at the con, though I never ran into John (Hart).

For some crazy reason, 10AM (and 11AM) games were in a slot that had event registration close at 9:30AM.  I get into my game and we decide that I should play in it rather than try to get a game of B5 going, maybe after my game ends we can see who is around.  When I get to my room after seeing my name on the posting at 9:50AM, the room is full of people who don’t know whether they got in or not.  One person comes in with a written out list.  One person gives up his seat so that a crasher can play as some people are having good luck getting into games and some people aren’t.

The game is Unhallowed Metropolis.  Obscure game where the small print run of the first edition book and obscurity means that the first edition books are apparently quite valuable.  The genre is post apocalyptic zombie/undead Victorian England in the 22nd century.  I wanted to play the “mourner”, a profession that means guarding a dead body for three nights from bad stuff.  A combat profession.  In fact, all three of the characters I was interested in were combat characters as playing an aristocrat or a doctor would be too much the sort of thing I usually play, and I’m not interested in playing a criminal.  I end up with my second choice, “undertaker”, basically a professional bounty hunter of the undead.  Third choice would have been dhampir.

We are hired to acquire the grandson of a nobleman from an orphanage.  Our first challenge is that the area near the orphanage goes under quarantine where the military comes in and cleanses the area.  We are in London, by the way.  Supposedly, it’s worse in the wastelands, but it seemed rather sketchy in town.  We jump a dumpster and blow away some zombies with our aristocrat fleeing towards destruction.  He gets corralled and we enter a building that seems like the orphanage, which it turns out to be.  We go room by room clearing out zombies.  We find paperwork and other stuff that gives us clues as to what’s going on.  I check out an obvious escape by some of the people who were at the orphanage/asylum/genetics lab/etc. and nothing comes of checking out the sheet rope from the window to the roof of the nearby building.  We go to the basement and come across prometheans – form of Frankenstein monsters.

Should comment upon combat in this game.  It’s crazy deadly.  It’s hard to say that 4e L5R is truly a deadly system like the L5R GM and others say, but the GM for this game was certainly right about it being crazy lethal.  I was in six combats.  I shot six times.  Twice, both times with my shotgun, I missed.  The other four times I blew the heads off my targets.  The dhampir got four attacks a round with his swords and the mourner got four attacks a round with her knives.  With essentially one exception, they killed everything they fought in one round.

The aristocrat nukes the first promethean with a pistol.  The mourner slices up the other two.  We find a tunnel but choose to ignore it as we have a location already.  So, we cross town.  Undead follow us out of sight.  We get to a warehouse.  In the warehouse are a bunch of zombie test subjects that we ignore.  We come across a vampire feasting on some corpses and the criminal and aristocrat flee while the dhampir takes him out in a round of combat.  We open another door and come across the kid as a boy cyborg with a big cyborg companion.  This is where I miss with my shotgun.  The doctor throws an acid grenade and somebody dispatches the cyborg’s head, probably the mourner, as the dhampir takes a wound that was one off killing him.

We leave, even though the doctor wants to use the lab in the warehouse as we are fairly sure the cyborg is going to explode.  We walk right into a bunch of zombies.  What’s funny is that they give us our toughest fight in that they swarm the mourner and give her all sorts of wounds.  I do waste my major ammo – I had switched clips in my pistol for the cyborg – blowing the heads off of zombie children.  We limp to a safehouse.  The aristocrat speaks to our employer about the state of the kid, the employer doesn’t want him, so the aristocrat plans to off the kid, which the doctor objects to.  While they argue, the military shows up and blows the head off the kid and arrests the doctor.  We get paid.

Grab food with Jeff at my favorite Chinese place, more tan tan mian and some xiaolongbao – place is known for dumplings and those two dishes are the standard ones I get there.

I don’t get into my evening game, so I wander, running across Rich, Ray, Tom, and Kat.  We play a game of Smallworld with the Underground mechanics.  I play horribly, not having enough experience, and the game quickly becomes a two-player race, though Ray makes a good showing at the end.  There is pounding on Rich, but unfortunately, no pounding on Kat.  She wins by a lower margin than I thought she would.  We play a pickup game of V:TES.

I lend out my 3-cap Lilith’s Blessing Thaumaturgy bruise deck to Rich and my “collection” !Tremere deck to Ray, so I decide to play one of my non-collection decks and play my Archon/Anathema/random weapons/Potence deck.  Tom, my prey, brings out Beast.  Rich brings out Masika St. John.  Kat is playing a goofy Lasombra deck, not her deck.  Ray brings out Malgorzata.  Tom threatens to rush my Nikolas Vermeulen if I don’t say I won’t bleed him (for one?).  He eventually decides to rush forwards and I retain my hand of multiple Torn Signposts and Undead Strength.  Turns out Tom has a fair amount of ranged strikes to go with Carrion Crows.

Ray quickly has five votes, having brought out Polly Kay.  That makes my game awkward as I need votes from Kat’s Aurora Van Brande who became the Archbishop of Philadelphia to pass votes.  My first Archon fails.  I do bring out some Progeny.  She helps me get an Archon on Selma.  I Bloodhunt Malgorzata, torp her, and Selma eats her.  Meanwhile, Tom keeps torping Masika, but Masika keeps coming back with more stuff – Mr. Winthrop, Zip Gun, Weighted Walking Stick, Blood Doll, Camera Phone.  He had put out Lilith’s Blessing early, so he just kept refilling the dorks who were rescuing Masika.  Rich finally is able to Flames of the Netherworld Beast and eat him.  Kat’s Ignacio gets torped and never comes back out, so she’s ineffectual.  Ray does not kill me with Dominate.

Tom goes to 2 pool for another Beast.  He goes to 1 pool to DI something.  I oust him.  Rich ousts Kat and Ray.  The endgame is completely in question for round after round after hour.  After 3+ hours, with my having 3 cards in hand and five vampires in torpor and Rich having all four of his vampires in torpor, I win.  At one point, Nikolaus had four Grenades and a Deer Rifle, only one of the Grenades being thrown for a simultorp.  Murat had Disguised an Ivory Bow to torp Masika.  Two of Rich’s vampires had been Anathemaed to oblivion.

An interesting game for the first hour or so, but it degenerated and, then, became kind of endless as we were so limited in what we could do to each other in the endgame.

I ran across Andy, Eric, and Jeff playing Die Hanse on my way to the car, figured out when I had to be at the con on Monday, and drove home.

Monday

The question was whether Andy and I were playing in Eric’s game.  Another question was whether Eric was running his game.  Two of the three people signed up had crossed their names out.  The third never showed.  However, a crasher showed, so Andy and I filled out the party and we played Eric’s Hunter: The Reckoning, using Savage Worlds rules, game.

I was born to be a wayward nun, so I played the wayward nun.  Andy played a retired park ranger.  Jay played a burglar.  We had to find a fellow Hunter who had gone into the upper Klamath River area, looking for something.  Hiking.

We talk to a park ranger, who doesn’t help.  We hike a couple of days upriver.  We find some tracks and the river is oddly polluted.  We decide to go for a thinner forested area to get a better view.  We spot a cabin.  In the cabin, the burglar finds a claymore mine.  We find lots of weird stick bundles strewn about.  We go upriver and find uranium barrels corroding in the river.  We find more.  We camp away from them and get attacked by werewolves in the night.  Our ranger does heinous amounts of damage to the brain of one of them without felling the creature.  I fail my fear roll and roll badly on the table, getting a major phobia of wolves, rather inconvenient since everything we fight ends up being werewolves.  True Faith protects me as the other two shoot the enemy.

We head Eastward, going further up into the hills, and find more barrels and more stick bundles.  We find a cave which the burglar’s second sight had said was a likely place for who we were looking for.  By the way, I was Judith, the ranger Jim, the burglar Jennie, and our fellow Hunter John.  We find John and I Rejuvenate away one of his wounds and do the healing thing I do.  A rift starts opening up in the cave while the mine we took blows up a werewolf.  Two more werewolves attack us and I do my usual thing of True Faithing while I tend to Jim.  John and I leave and the others finish off the werewolves and join us.  A great sound can be heard behind us.  I’m the only one not afflicted with radiation poisoning.  We get back to the ranger station, find out that he’s a naughty dude, and we report our findings on Hunter.net so that a larger force can come in and deal with the werewolf nest and extradimensional monster thing, while someone needs to clean up the random radioactive waste.

I thought using Savage Worlds (with mechanics Eric came up with) for Hunter worked well.  I’m much more okay with World of Darkness mechanics when playing a human than when playing a monster as the high variance and tedious failures seem more reasonable to me, but other than playing around with how Powers work, like one of mine was fairly useless though True Faith made up for it, things seemed smooth and appropriate.

All three of the RPGs I did were similar in that they were all solid con games.  By con game, I mean that they were reasonably straightforward, kind of fighty, things moved logically forward.  I’ve told some people recently that I actually find the average con game session better than the average home game session, and they seem shocked.  While I’ve had a full spectrum of con games, from the most painful and disturbing examinations of my fellow humans to awesome games, usually my con games are much brisker and more productive than my average home game sessions.  That’s kind of funny when you think about how strangers tend to work better together than people who know each other, though I think the fact that con games are known to be one-shots and tend to be more linear and/or focused has a lot to do with that.  It’s not just more combat, which is an inherently cooperative activity, either.  In con games where I talk with PCs and NPCs a bunch and fight little or not at all, things go much smoother.  Investigations are much smoother.

*shrug*

Eric needed to get home to run a game online, so I drove him and Andy home fairly soon after Eric’s game ended.  I did finally run into Eric P. right before leaving, so I saw most of the people I usually see at the cons.

Summary:  No B5, no Type P Magic, only two games of V:TES though one was outside of my event which was nice, boardgame and cardgame, three RPGs, all of which were good, food I wanted to eat, conversations with people I pretty much only see at cons, and my parking place was always prepared for me.  I feel like I’m missing something that I did.  Oh well.

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2 Responses to KublaCon 2012

  1. Brad says:

    I consider KC an optional con. Too close and too much interference from the wife to take it seriously. However, I do enjoy the con. I showed up Thu pm, while working my solo car. I noted about 50 people playing in the hotel, pick-up games. Japji joked that he’d have to start charging for Thursday now.

    Friday I couldn’t get off work. I had planned to hang out at the con and maybe do pick-up games. However, I was fairly busy at work (4 calls) and we had a BBQ at work. I just managed to stop by long enough to get my badge and talk with a few folks and check things out. I really wanted to get into two games that day, and considered calling out sick around 7pm, to get into the 8pm game (foregoing my 4pm game), but I didn’t . I had to park illegally to get in (not a problem in my emergency vehicle), but it convinced me not to come back after work (9pm) that night.

    Sat was one of the negotiated ‘off days’, so my wife and I went to Stanford Mall. I didn’t find anything interesting to play on Sat day, so I was OK with that. Showed up at 6:15 pm to have dinner with Ian at his favorite Chinese place. I didn’t care for it myself, and got a stomach ache. However, a tall beer at Knuckles seemed to help.
    Also friendly/cute bartenderette helped. Played two games of VTES and did OK. Tied for first. Really survived two crucial tests, one in each game, by pulling the card I needed to live ‘out of my ass’ at the crucial moment.

    Sun was my big day. Choice between ASL or Here I Stand in the AM and a Cthullu in space RPG in the PM. Chose HIS, as I can (theoretically) play ASL solo or with one other any time, but HIS requires 6 players (though there is a 2 player variant, you miss the ‘rich’ diplomatic interplay). I failed to get into the game! Wound up going to the dealer’s room and got a great deal on a new copy of Habit of Victory, OSG Napoleonic war game covering the battles of Eylau & Friedland. OSG is the last word in Napoleonic games.
    Got into a two player game of No Retreat. East Front in WW2. Good game, but more of a ‘game’ than a simulation. I had never played before and my opponent, the Russians., squeaked to a victory in the Barbarrosa scenario. Kinda irritating that he told me that I needed to take 3 Key cities (Moscow being one), and then, after the game, told me it was actually 2. That would have made a difference. Also, he forgot he couldn’t attack with disorganized units, and when this was discovered, it was…’oh well.’ All in all, glad I played.

    The Cthullu RPG I also failed to get into. I figure’d I’d better stop by and see if I could get in anyway. Stopped at Knuckles again for burger and beer. a bit pricey but good. made better by friendly, cute waitress. I showed up and took one look at the GM and fled. There was just something wrong. But, since there wasn’t anything else for me to do, I rallied and went back. I’ll post a longer description later, as a paragraph can’t do it justice. But the salient points were that halfway through the game, 3 of the 6 players got up and left. Firmly, but politely stating that they weren’t enjoying the game. One of the remaining players then politely, but firmly lambasted the GM with a litany of complaints. We played for another 3 hours, and the game, which had been quite dull, got better. Not great by any means, but worthwhile.

    Oh yeah, I had forgotten to take much cash, and didn’t want to pay the $3.75 for the hotel ATM. So I skipped the auction. I usually love the auction, but, often get a bunch of crap along with a few gems. Anyway, I probably saved about $100, so, in hindsight, I’m glad it worked out.

    Monday, the day I usually run my RPG, was just a cameo of my wife and I. We showed up around 9:30 and did a quick meet & greet. I checked out the anemic flea market (I bet the Fri PM was better, but I missed it). And went on our way (wound up at Clear Lake).

    All in all, I was happy with KC. Got a war-game, CCG and RPG. Talked to some folks I don’t see that often. Got a good deal on a solid war-game. Good food and drink. fair number of (relative) eye-candy. I’ll be back next year.

  2. Brad says:

    Just a quick run through of the Cthullu RPG before it gets stale. Similar to Event Horizon. A ship goes into black hole, 6 years later it returns. We’re sent to investigate. GM plays captain, I get XO. I don’t get to play RPG’s often but when I do, I really prefer to be the leader. XO was as close as I could get in this game. The GM pretty much let me run things, only stepping in to overrule me on occasion. The returning ship sent out a distress beacon, complete with Event Horizion horror screams and the captain babbling in Latin. A Chinese ship beats us to the prize, but flees before we can do anything about it. Most of the first 3-4 hours have been spent on briefings on Earth and the long, 2 week flight to the derelict ship. As you can imagine, it was a colossal waste of time. too much time spent dealing with an NPC who was a brilliant, eccentric old woman and her suspicious cat.

    We then had the mutiny where 3 of the 6 players quit and one of the players that stayed strongly criticized the GM. He then got the message and ramped it up. The rest of the session was our exploration of the derelict ship. This was enjoyable for me, as XO, I organized and lead the expedition. Not so sure how fun it was for the two others; a computer dude and an engineer. They did their jobs competently, but, not a lot of decision making. Of course, we did have a large NPC group too.

    In the end, it was a bit of an anticlimax. No one died, we achieved the mission, survived to go home… Good Cthullu theme.

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