DC Game Day V was held October 24th and 25th, and Geek’s Dream Girl and I were there. It was a bit different than the game conventions I usually go to: it was held in a section of an office building in downtown DC, and it was 4 sessions of RPGs (2 per day). No open gaming, no pick-up games- it was all scheduled ahead of time.
We were there both days, having made sure to be ready when sign-ups opened to grab the games we really wanted (and even then, ended up having to scramble to pick other games.) Here’s what we played, and a short write-up of each.
Time & Temp: Miss Him, Miss Him, Miss Him
One of the games that immediately grabbed my eye was Time & Temp, a new (and as far as I can tell, still unreleased) time travel RPG by the creator of Dread. Those two things were enough to hook me right there: I love time travel, and I love the rules of Dread. Then the only available session by the time I got to it was run by Kevin “Piratecat” Kulp (ENWorld Moderator, MC of the last two Ennie Awards, and most importantly, poster of one of the most awesome session recaps of his campaign) which sealed the deal for sure.
The concept behind Time & Temp is that you work for a corporation that runs trips back in time. However, important people disturb the flow of time, so they only send back the least important people they can: Temps. Before the game, we were asked to fill out our “resume” as character creation. I came up with an incompetent software engineer obsessed with the movie Hackers who was recruited out of time right before the dot-com boom. E came up with a musician that turned out to be too good to be a temp, so she changed her concept to street musician.
The system was neat, though more “gamey” than you might expect after character generation is so simple, since you begin to fill out a sudoku-like grid of numbers that you’ve rolled during the course of the game. Place your numbers well, and you get temporal harmonies that allow you to pull “Bill & Ted”-style time travel feats (“I’ll just go back and leave the keys here!”) Roll or place poorly, paradox happens and the universe begins to unravel. If this happens enough, everybody loses. (We were only one unlucky roll away from this happening.)
The scenario, adapted from an older time travel RPG, involved a menial task to retrieve a Commodore 64 cooling fan from Radio Shack… which then proved difficult when the party found out that World War 3 had broken out due to time paradox. The solution, which involved The Beatles, drugs, and more time travel, leading me to declare it to be Andy Looney’s ideal game.
I really enjoyed it, though going into it I was predisposed to liking it. The scenario was fun, the GM was great (he used all of his various British accents), and the other players were fun (one PC was Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes, leading to a lot of hilarity and brachiation.) I enjoyed the system, though I could see it being streamlined a bit, as some of the paradox mechanics never came up. Also more examples would help, like it wasn’t always clear what the difference between “setting an effect” and “setting the effort” was. Generally, though, if you’re OK with playing Jenga to resolve things during your RPG, you’re going to be OK with messing with a grid of numbers.
Deadlands (Savage Worlds): Trouble at Table Rock
Post Con Carolinas, I’ve been having a hankering for some more Savage Worlds, and it’s been a long while since I’ve played anything Western. Thus we registered for a Deadlands scenario run by Matthew Cutter (brand manager for Deadlands at PEG), and chose our pregen characters. I was Dr. August Chillingsworth, Scientist Extraordinaire, and E was Carrie Bellweather, the Rodeo Queen.
After a short recap of the Savage Worlds rules, we were off, getting the group posse together to investigate a group of cattle being killed by strange beasts. After being ambushed by some banditos (and having a conversation with them where I got to use most of my character’s hindrances), we followed the trail into Table Rock, and some botched rolls convinced us that it was “injuns” and not strange, terrible lizards, even after seeing evidence to the contrary. The finale? We fought a T-Rex (and one of our party members turned out to be a vengeance-seeking zombie), so what more could you ask for?
I continue to enjoy Savage Worlds for convention games and am impressed by its versatility in genres and situations. However, I still have the feeling that I probably wouldn’t want to play it in a long term campaign. I also formulated my own theory of one-shots: if it’s important on the character sheet, it should probably come up during the game. I was happy I got to show off and play each of my character’s mental disadvantages, but disappointed that I did not get to perform any acts of Mad Science.
D&D 4e: The Caprian Foreign Legion Goes to Tea
Did I mention that Piratecat writes epic recaps of his 4e campaign? Yeah, so getting into one of his 4e games was my top priority.
Thanks to the awesomeness that is driving into DC, we were late both days, and so by the time we arrived everyone had already claimed characters. Fortunately, the two left fit us quite well (and were both Rogues.) I grabbed “Tusker”, a half-orc ruthless ruffian rogue (a build I would probably never play myself) and E grabbed a Goblin Rogue who was multiclassed into Druid who could shapeshift into a giant rat.
The scenario cast us all as members of a forgotten military unit, the first RPG game I have played that used the “French Foreign Legion” trope, which seems obvious to use in retrospect. As you might expect, we were unlikely heroes cast into a situation that only we could handle in our own special way.
I’m hoping that if you read this blog you know about the 4e system by now, but what I enjoyed here was a 4e adventure being run as a convention one-shot (and not part of a delve, living game, campaign, etc.) Each of the characters had connections and opinions of each other, as well as roleplaying advice. This is definitely a technique I plan to use when I start running some 4e games at conventions… and would love to see used more often.
Lady Blackbird: Adventures in the Wild Blue Yonder
This we jumped into knowing almost nothing about it. And I know it’s based on an existing system, but I couldn’t tell you what it was! What I can tell you is that the adventure is downloadable for free and it’s a steampunky/science fiction adventure featuring a cast of colorful characters. I played the captain of the good ship Owl, E played a stowaway on the ship.
After taking on a mysterious passenger, the Owl was captured by a ship that bore some semblance to an Imperial Star Destroyer. We worked on the classic breakout to get back to the ship and escape, with some game mechanic-induced flashbacks all the while.
The style of the game was definitively “story game”, with Tom “Madwabbit” serving more as a facilitator then GM, and making sure that everyone was getting their spotlight time. I had fun, though I thought more control of story could have been given over to the players, despite there being at least one player who was clearly in a more “D&D-style” mindset for playing. I believe the adventure is only the first in an upcoming series, so I look forward to playing the next installment… I like playing the Captain!
- It IS possible to attend an RPG convention and play all games with primarily people I don’t know and not have any bad games or bad GMs!
- Be sure to check with the GM at a convention game to make sure he or she is cool with Twittering during the game or other similar activities that might take your attention away. It might work for some groups, but be distracting for others.
- When I play a one-shot game with pre-generated characters, I want to use everything important on my character sheet during the course of the game.
- It’s never a good idea to drive to DC, no matter what time of day it is.
- People who I like online I tend to like in person, and people who I dislike online I tend to dislike in person.
- According to a TPS report filed, Shia LeBouf is part ape.
- DC Game Day is a lot of fun, and I look forward to going again next year.