Monday, July 09, 2007

The Warlock's Origins 2007 Report--The Events!

Well, now that I've recovered a bit after the Origins Experience, I can give you the run-down on what all happened in the Springfield Mafia's Origins Tour.


Our happy quartet (Lionel, Ebbs, Jules and myself) finally arrived at the Hyatt around 3pm on Wednesday. We only had slight difficulties in finding the hotel, so I can't complain about that too much. Only thing that might have helped more is....well, road signs that lined up with our Mapquest directions. That's life, though. After a quick and efficient sign-in, we unpacked our room and got some grub...just in time for:

Stargate--By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Put bluntly, this was not the way I wanted to start off my Origins experience. I love Stargate (the show and the rpg), so I had high hopes. Ebbs joined me for this one, chipping his way in on generics. The only problem with this was the fact that he wasn't the only one. The game was completely overbooked, with no less than three characters being played by 2 people. I was lucky enough to play a fairly interesting character...who just happened to be an NID operative.

The game started off somewhat unimpressively, with the GM amused with his ability to run 7 adventures concurrently in the same SG the same game-time period. Shrugging it off, we continued on with a scenario in which we may-or-may-not be clones. In order to find out, we sought out some Goa'uld mind-scan devices.

This is where the metagaming stepped in. When the mind-scan device was used on me, the Tok'ra PC who used it critically fumbled. I was shown to be completely clean, unique, and with no signs of mind-alteration. When 2 others went under, though, they used someone with a higher Intimidate score...and were shown to be altered. Suffice to say, arguments ensued, and my character (refusing to take orders from a commanding officer whose mind was shown to be altered), ended up K-Oed, and then executed by the Tok'ra.

End Opinion? A solid D. The DM was too wrapped up in his self-wanking fandom to deal with the elements in-game that were going on. I had negative fun, if that's possible.


With the PlatinumChick already at work, I woke up early for a delve into...

Undermountain Adventures: The Crypt of Yeldoon

I love D&D. Not like this, though. When we joined, there were no pre-gens ready, despite the fact that this was an RPGA-sanctioned event. When I suggested my pre-gen, I was shot down. Instead, myself and several others decided to pick up characters from the D&D Dungeon Delve and take them down a level.

The DM who ran for us looked openly exhausted, and had run the adventure twice during the previous night....and was set to run it 7 more times throughout the con. It showed. Very little description, and very little interest in what was going on. This was made even more frustrating by Mr. Hyperactive. Mr. Hyperactive was a "supreme power-gamer", bringing to the table a Mountain Orc Fighter/Barbarian/Rogue with a 22 Strength. Mind you, we were running on 28 point buy. He and one of his fans ran roughshod over the entirety of the adventure, while I and three others sat back wondering if we could get our credits back.

End Opinion? C-. It wasn't the DM's fault that the RPGA can't give their DMs a variety. If it weren't for Mr. Hyperactive, I might have actually had fun with this...mainly because I would have been useful in any sense of the word.

After Undermountain, I scoped out the dealer room, with my eyes going just about buggy. More on that in the "Swag" chapter. But, after a nap with Jules, we reassembled the Mafia and headed off for...

WEGS--Pigskab's Skewl 4 Wizzards

By this point, I was getting just a touch frustrated with the selections I'd made. If it's one thing that I could depend on, though, it's a great game from the WEGSHogz. El Willy and his crew sure know how to throw down.

Basic premise? As students at Pigskab's, we came up on clean-up duty for the marsh. Survive for one night in the marsh and clean out some of the pests, and the free tutition continues. I ran a Humz Trickster, who was surprisingly good at his Ruggedness tests, despite having only a 22% in it.

With our whole WEGS lovin' crew in the mix, the game was a ton of fun. Unfortuneatly, the PlatinumChick's perennial dice-pox affected her again, and we all got a chuckle at her lack of successes. In the end, the group defeated ToeGash, the chef, and made it back to the Skewl.

End opinion? A. I love playing with El Willy and his crew, and this was exactly what I needed after two really disappointing games earlier in the con. The only reason that this wasn't an A+ was the fact that the WEGS 101 book got delayed for release. If this book had been for sale there, I would have bought one on the spot.

Later, that night, though...we had enough time to catch a movie:

The Call of Cthulhu--Silent Film Screening

I hadn't prepared myself for a real silent film in this. It was a unique (and pretty accurate) way for Lovecraft's story to be presented. The film was of particular quality, and set the mood very well. It was a worthwhile trip, though the midnight showing (while atmospheric!) left me incredibly tired.

End opinion? B+. Great film. See it, if you can!


Again, waking up early, I headed down to the Rogue Cthulhu room for a healthy dose of...

Call of Cthulhu--No Blood for Oil

I was somewhat disappointed on Thursday because I had actually tried to get in on an earlier CoC game run by the Rogue Cthulhu dudes, called Ex Silentio. Lionel and Ebbs had gotten in on it earlier, but I was shunted out as the last person with a ticket arrived just as the Keeper was handing out characters.

This game made up for it. As an Army Rangers Echo group in 2003 Iraq, we were set to take out an Iraqi oil rig that had supposedly been harboring WMDs. We ventured through an oil-creature infested rig, only to find our Alpha group had already been compromised. Though suffering several casualties, my comm officer managed to use a radio transmission to keep the oil-creatures at bay long enough for us to call in the napalm. Tons of fun, no questions about it.

End Opinion? A-. Some of the guys were a little hesitant, but the group worked really fantastically. Unfortunately, the tactical maps got lost, but we didn't need them too much. Th game was evocative and a lot of fun to play in, especially with the Cthulhu room's decorations. Apparently, the guys liked the way I played, because I picked up some Rogue Cthulhu chips, garnering some free swag from them later in the con--a set of dice, and a set of glass counters.

Strangely enough, the group that I was in had two other Daytonians--one over from Wright State, the other from Wright-Patterson. As we left, we exchanged some info and set off for...

The Paizo Dungeon Delve--Crown of the Kobold King

A fun little game of killing kobolds and saving children, we picked up an unlikely 4th to join us--Adam, back from Cincy! I hadn't expected Adam to join the Springfield Mafia's expedition to Origins, but here he was...ready for Friday and Saturday gaming. I helped him get registered quickly, just in time for us to kill some kobolds.

Since the episode was only 15 minutes long, I'll keep this short.

End opinion? B. The adventure looks good, and is somewhat lethal, apparently. The DM added a lot of description, which left our time being somewhat eaten, but we each got a key to the Paizo chest for playing. In fact, the Wright-State dude ended up opening the chest, winning a free copy of Stonehenge, a new board-game anthology.

Because of Adam's arrival, he still needed to be added to some events and gotten to the room. As such, I ended up missing The Novelists' Workout--Basic Plotting. Eh. I wasn't too concerned. It was free, and I had gaming to take care of!

After a great dinner at a nearby Japanese steakhouse, we arrived just in time to catch our showing of:

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

The Dead Gentlemens' sequel to their prior indie-hit, this movie was ball-bustingly funny. Apparently, we were only the second audience to see a screening of the finished film, which made us fairly privledged.

As great as the first one was, this movie shows the development of DG's producers, writers, and direction. It feels like an actual "film", yet keeps all of the in-jokes and funny situations that bring us gamers back. Their enhanced budget, as well, shows, as the special effects here are better than anything you'd see on Sci-Fi Channel. I'll save the plot for you to see for yourself, but suffice to say that it involves an ancient artifact, god-killing power, and....cross-dressing characters.

I can't wait for this to hit DVD, to be perfectly honest. With luck, the Dead Gentlemen will have their distributor by the time they hit Gen Con, and it'll be out just in time for Christmas.

End Opinion? A+ Fantastic film. The house was packed, and it was totally worth it. See it, if at all possible.

At this point, we decided to relax and play some Runebound back in the room, just so we could rest up for our last two days...and the most hectic to come!


Arising early for the third day in a row, Adam, Ebbs, and myself headed down to the board-games HQ for a demo of:

Dragon War

As one of only 4 people at this game, the game itself moved rather quickly. Choosing a character, we started out on a board of 40 cards, each with 3 spaces. The concept is simple--it's a race game. Beat your fellow characters to the end of the board, and roll a 13 on 3d6 to win the game. The game itself can run with a fair amount of cut-throat behavior, as the game encourages beating the Life out of your compatriots using Fate cards to drive them onto negative spaces.

While the game itself cost only $20 (which led me to consider buying it), each expansion cost another $5, and usually only included optional board cards or a single new character. Kind of a rip-off, to say the least.

What's worse, though...the rules seemed somewhat incomplete. When an event occured in-game that led to a slight dispute, the fellow running the demo had no idea what to even suggest. The small rules packet (a two page leaflet) added nothing, and we had to work by general consensus. Disappointing to say the least. The art, as well, was unimpressive, despite being drawn by a "professional graphic artist".

End opinion? C. Not a bad little game, but the expansion price is entirely too high, the rules need to be refined, and the art....not something I want to look at. I'll stick with Munchkin, thank you!

After lunch, Adam, Jules and I set out to join:

D&D--The Blackmoor Wives' Club

A fun little scenario designed as an intro, we all played at 1st level, taking care of the household chores of some famous adventurers. The game itself was a lot of fun, with a laid-back, enjoyable DM and a good, well-balanced party.

That is, except for That Kid. Oi. A 14 year old, That Kid must have been an ADHD/Aspy, as he ran over everyone at the table, the DM included, frustrating us to no end. He was seated next to a young girl who had barely played before, and had never made her own character. He talked incessantly, even to the point where the DM was becoming openly frustrated.

Very rarely do I raise my voice. With him, I had to restrain from yelling at him several times.
Luckily, Adam's half-orc monk knocked him out...accidentally. ;)

End opinion? B+ Aside from That Kid, the game was a lot of fun, and the scenario was really funny. Well worth the time.

From there, we rejoined Lionel and Ebbs, then attempted to hit up BD's Mongolian BBQ. However, it was packed, and we settled for the food court before hitting up:

Paranoia--Lightning Rod

Lionel had played with the GM we had this with earlier in the week and, when he described the GM's orange asylum jumpsuit, I knew we were into a great game. With all 5 of us involved, as well as a couple from Dublin, we had a blast.

Here, I played the Communications officer, Chuck-R-FAR, as well as his talking hand-puppet Socko. Our job? Deliver devices to a security tower on the outskirts of Alpha Complex. After being sucked into a Vulture Squadron Flyer engine, I knew we were in for some fun. While the game ran down somewhat at the end, it was still an absolute blast. I could have wished for some more inter-party fighting and a little less conspiracy, but that's hardly a problem.

End opinion? B [You are not cleared for this information, citizen!]

We retired back to the room and wished Adam goodbye, then winded down by playing one of Lionel's new games--Unspeakable Words, which I'll describe in the Swag entry--and got ready for our last day's event.


We ended our Origins experience with a familiar classic for our group, but with a new twist:

Arkham Horror--The King in Yellow

We play Arkham Horror quite a bit out here, but with the new KiY expansion, we were all excited. We arrived just on time after checking out and dropping our things at the car. This was much to the chagrin of several players who were trying to get in on generic tokens. Having 4 of us plop down at the table didn't make them too happy....

This game, though? Wow. I've never seen an Arkham Horror game run so positively. Normally Arkham Horror fits its name, as you lose Sanity and Stamina hand over fist, picking up Insanities and Injuries like drinking wine. This time, no. Not so much. Instead, it was more along the lines of "Oh, here...have 15 unique items each. How about some skills? Mythos phase--what's mythos phase?"

Seriously. When the cooridinator told us where the first gate would open and I (playing the scientist) told him that "No, that won't be opening there," the look on his face said it all. I had never been in a game where we were actively waiting for Nyaralothotep to appear, just so we could beat the ever-loving-crap out of him. Very cathartic, but even more unusual.

End opinion? B-. It was fun to beat the crap of the game in the way we did, but I wish it would have been slightly more challenging! The game felt like a walk in the park, compared to what we've played in the past!

This is only 1 portion of our Origins experience. Be prepared for at least two more entries--The Warlock's Swag, and The Con Itself.

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