Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gen Con 2014 in Review. Part 2: The Games We Play

I have already mentioned that I spent a LOT of time playing D&D 5.  That was really our plan from the very start.   Plus we also went down a day early to enjoy ourselves a bit more.

Started with what has become a tradition for us.  Loading up the car and heading out to breakfast.  We got to Indy in record time from Chicago; not many people on the road when we left. 
Hit the pool for a bit and then played some D&D 5 Keep on the Borderlands.
The boys had hit the left hand side first so all that was left was the Kobold and Orc caves.  I was getting tired so I decided that without the influence of the Cult of Chaos the humanoids went back to their normal mode and killed each other off.  The best part?  My youngest got it and was all "whoa that evil cult was keeping them from fighting? How powerful are they?"

Got up, hit the breakfast and headed over to the Zoo.  It was walking distance from the hotel and really nice. We were there all day.  I thought it would be nice to take a more relaxed vacation and get in some things my wife enjoyed too.  Plus Indy is always so good to the gamers that throwing some more money into their coffers seemed like the right thing to do.
We got our swag bags.  The bags were nicer but the stuff they used to put in them was missed. 
Opted for dinner at our hotel restaurant.  Not bad, but (and I hate to say this) we are used to better food in Chicago.
We went to the J.W. Marriott open gaming room and caught a table just as a group was leaving and set up for L1 The Secret of Bone Hill.  My wife joined us for this round.  We had to look crazy with my 1st ed module, D&D 5 book and boxed set and a bunch of 3e/4e tiles.  The characters managed to completely avoid going to Restenford at all.  They went to see the gambling monks and pieced together enough information to hear about Bone Hill. Or as my wife put it, it was the name of the adventure so we had all better get there eventually.  
The adventure went well and the group stopped for the night.  The Exhibitor's hall opens in 10 hours and I needed to sleep.

Got up, did breakfast and headed to the hall for opening day.  The boys were quite excited.
Our general rule is that we have to scope out the hall first before committing to any purchases.  My oldest ran into a friend and they were off.  My youngest, my wife and I headed over to Steve Jackson Games to pick up Munchkin Adventure Time and spin the wheel.  End of con tally on that: several card boxes, dice, munchkin cards and a cup.
Went to some other retailers. Stopped by DriveThru and Eden.  Stopped by the one retailer where they were selling "Buy 1 get 3 Free" but all I picked up was GURPS Goblins.
Went to the WotC area and played some D&D 5 with the same characters as last night. Our DM was great and she really took the time to help out my kids.  Sure they didn't really need it...but it is the effort I appreciate. 
We headed out to the food trucks for dinner (loved them!) and finally came back to the hotel.
Went back to the Open Gaming tables and got a table just as someone was leaving again! We were starting to play a guy stopped by and asked if we were playing D&D 5 and if he could set in.  Nice guy by the name of Jon.  He looked every bit the grandfather he was and had mentioned he came to Gen Con specifically to try out D&D 5.  He didn't care for it when he played it with another group that day and was actually going to give up on it.  He took one of our characters and we started.
Well he loved 5e and really enjoyed how well it worked with the 1st ed adventure.

Busy day!
Hit the hall again. We played a game of Flapjacks and Sasquatches; which was a blast.  Picked it up after playing.  It is a dice and card game where everyone is a lumberjack and you have to cut down the most trees.  Of course other lumberjacks are trying to stop you and there is the ever present danger of a Sasquatch rampage.  Honestly I was expecting very little with this and I had a great time!
Played a 1950s inspired game of Ubiquity.  It was a lot of fun but I think my youngest and I enjoyed it the most.  Plus I wanted to get a good feel for Ubiquity.  I have had Hollow Earth forever and Leagues of Adventure is just sitting there begging me to play it more.

Did a ton of walking around the hall.  Finally headed back to the hotel room to get ready for the ENnies!

(ok I had more pictures but they were blurry as hell)

It was really cool to see +Jen Page and The Dungeon Bastard in person and hanging out with the glitterati of the RPG scene reminded me just how small this business is.  

Best Blog came up and I didn't win.  
But I can't feel bad about that. All the winners were multi-author projects that even had editors.  I have me. Plus it was so cool to see my Other Side banner up on the screen.  Maybe next year right!
Oh and by now I am sure you have heard. Monte Cook, Paizo and Evil Hat took everything.  

Missed my Mage game but I just had to show off Union Station to my wife.  That is my absolute favorite place to run a game.  If I am running Ghosts of Albion then I want to do it there.
Got back to the hotel. Headed to the Open Gaming Room for more D&D 5.  We only played a couple of hours though.  Which was good because everyone was making great time. Jon found us again and had to let us know how much he enjoyed the game.  We got very, very close to finishing the game but we all started to turn into pumpkins by midnight.  

Who the hell let all these people in???
Seriously, I have not heard the numbers yet, but it had to be 60,000 people.
We ran into some other friends on our way to a game.  We played some Dungeon Command.  The 4e-ish tactical dungeon battle game.  My youngest loved it and won.  For his efforts he got a free Sting of Lolth set!  I am not sure if you have seen these but they are full of pre-painted minis.  Worth it for that alone.
The cosplays were great! We make an effort every year to see the parade.  Some people were saying there seemed to more this year, but I thought it was less.


Again, my wife has the bulk of the pictures.

We played a couple of demo games in the hall, but everyone was selling out of everything!

Went for our last session of D&D 5. I ran the last of Bone Hill for about 2 hours and Jon then DMed all of us through a Birthright adventure he had.  Lots of fun.
Headed back to the room to pack.

Ugh. Last day.  We had to get my son's bunny from his cousin so we opted to skip the last day of the hall.  Plus everyone was coming down with something so we wanted to get home.

All in all it was a great Gen Con.  We barely scratched the surface of all there was to do.  My oldest got to play Duke and we wanted to try that.  Plus there was that game "I am not a Werewolf" or something that looked fun.

Next year I hope to get in more board games and demos.

#RPGaDAY Day 19, Favourite Published Adventure

#RPGaDAY Day 19, Favourite Published Adventure

I would almost have to say my favorite is I6: Ravenloft.

There is so much about that run counter to what everyone thought D&D was or should be, but it had a huge impact on the game and my games especially.  I have ran it maybe half a dozen differ times over the years and I still enjoy it.

Of course I do have to mention my own published adventure for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, The Dark Druid.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gen Con 2014 in Review. Part 1: D&D is back

Well another Gen Con is behind us.  Once again I ate more than I should, stayed up later and spent more money than I really should have.

D&D is Back!
I ended up play about 28 hours worth of D&D 5 over the con.  Ran most of that time and played for about 4 hours with 2 different DMs.
This is not the best version of D&D ever, but it is really, really damn close.  It plays and reads like a D&D "Greatest Hits" and you can see bits of not just every version of D&D in it, but little bits of Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades.  As I read somewhere else, every game has been stealing from D&D for so long that it was D&D's turn to steal some of it back.

I ran the end of "B2 Keep on the Borderlands" and all of "L1 The Secret of Bone Hill".  D&D 5 scales very well with the 1st Ed adventures and thanks to all the free stuff that WotC is throwing at us I was able to get D&D 5 stats for every monster in both modules.  We even had a guy join us that wanted to try D&D 5 and had played 2nd ed almost exclusively.  I think we made him into a D&D 5 fan by the end of the night.

At first I thought I would dislike the new faster XP progression but it really works nice.  While the former math teacher in me likes the nice progression from 3rd ed I think this new progression will work better.
Besides, the XP are 1/10 of what you saw in AD&D1 anyway.

Playing in the J.W. Marriott's "Open Gaming" room. 

The great thing about running the Keep on the Borderlands under AD&D and then again under D&D5 was I really got to get a good feel of both games in the same environment.  Trust me, if you liked AD&D then you should like D&D5, though everything in "5" runs faster.

I love the Backgrounds and the Archetypes.  The Backgrounds work better than what you have in Pathfinder (and can EASILY be ported over to any other system) and give you a good feel for what your character was before he/she was an adventurer; or something I like to refer to as the "Luke Skywalker".  Before Luke was a pilot or a Jedi he was a Farm Boy.  How does this translate, well he did target all those wamp rats back home.  Sure it feels a little "FATEy" but that is great.

Archetypes are the return of 2nd Ed kits, only reigned in.  Kits stopped being useful to me after the Complete Book of Bards was published and each and every kit in there was over powered.  In D&D5 they seem more reasonable.  In my group we had two Rogues, one was the Thief the other was the Assassin.  They were able to help each other out when needed but also had their own roles to play.

Multi-classing is of the 3.x variety (yeah!) and if anything easier to do.

The Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock now all feel very different from each other.  So you can see some of 5's 4e DNA here.

I know people complain about the price of the books. Well I got in 28 hours of play and 6 more of enjoyment (reading, making characters) so far.  That's 34 hours of fun I had with my family.  Compare that to going to the movies which runs me (just tickets here) $36-40 per two hours. That's $1240.00+.  Frankly D&D5 is a steal.   Plus my wife enjoy it so much she wants us all to play a couple of hours each week!  Honestly I can't even put a price on that.

I also think, though I have not tried it yet, that D&D5 could run 3rd and 4th ed material too.  I might have to give that a go.

On an interesting note we played D&D 5 at the Wizard's area as well.  We had a WotC DM.  In the past I have less than stellar luck with this and most of the DMs were not very good.  I am happy to report that our DM was fantastic.  She let use our current characters, was great with teaching the rules and was all around a good DM.   In fact everyone I dealt with, talked to or otherwise interacted with at WotC were fantastic.

Does this mean I am done with "old school" D&D?  Hardly.  But it does mean my system of choice when it comes to D&D will be D&D5 for a while anyway.

Is it a perfect system?  No.  There are still some things I would have done differently.  But when I read the rules and I keep 99% of them intact, that is a good sign.
Hell. I am not even sure I do that with Ghosts of Albion and I *wrote* all of those rules.

Pathfinder Note
I still enjoy 3e and Pathfinder. In fact I still have a game of it going that I want to wrap up.
I had planned on picking up the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide at the con.  I like to buy some games directly from the publisher at Gen Con since I know how much they look forward to these sales.
Well one of the Paizo employees was so rude to my son while he was looking at one of the goblin things that I decided I really didn't need to buy anything.
I am not making a big deal of this.
But it has turned me off from getting the book to be honest.

They in no way what-so-ever missed my money. But the contrast between how WotC treated my kids and how Paizo did really stuck with me.

Next update. I'll talk about all the other things I did. Plus my first time at the ENnies (short story, I lost, but still had a great time!). Oh and pictures.  All of them are on my wife's phone though.

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

Oh, so many I really love.

But when it comes right down to it my favorite is still Cinematic Unisystem.

I am also fairly partial to the various versions of "Basic" D&D out there.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back from Gen Con

Well I am back from Gen Con, but completely beat and everyone here has some sort of upper respiratory thing.

Will post more tomorrow, but I had a fantastic time!

#RPGaDAY Day 17, Funniest Game you’ve played

#RPGaDAY Day 17, Funniest Game you’ve played


I remember have a great time laugh at the jokes made by the players during the Charmed/Buffy/Supernatural crossover at Gen Con I mentioned earlier.

I recall some funny elements that were not actually supposed to have been funny is some games.

But nothing solid is coming to mind.
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