Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In which the Warlock gets a guest-blogger

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Greetings, all. I’m Mrs. L (personally, I think Madame L has more of a ring to it, but what can you do...?), and the esteemed Warlock asked me to pinch-blog for him while he is off with his lady wife.

Clearly, I was willing, or you wouldn’t be reading this, so I asked him what he had in mind. “Geeky,” he says. Ah. Geeky.

So, I debated whether I should discuss Gargoyles trivia (did you know that Hudson is Broadway’s biological father?) or Glee shipping (Burt/Carole FTW) or feminist Christian theory (...yeah, I’m not touching that one) or even the current story arc in Sluggy Freelance (Zoe will survive thanks to some combination of nanites and magic, just you wait), when it occurred to me...

You folks just met me, so why don’t I tell you about how I met the Warlock?

(And I promise, this won’t be an 8-season ramble narrated by Bob Saget.*)

It was early spring, 2001, in Susquehanna, PA. Mir had fallen into the Pacific, and the Netherlands were about to become the first country in the modern age to legalize same-sex marriage. Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd were melting hearts in Someone Like You, and September 11 was just the day before my dad’s birthday.

The Pennsylvania High School Speech League gathered for its annual statewide competition at Susquehanna University. The Warlock and I were both slated to compete in Student Congress.

I sucked. Few of the bills on which I had prepared to speak came up over the course of the weekend (including the one my school drafted, and therefore would have been required to introduce), and of the ones that did, my turn to speak never came before other students had already made my points.

Granted, in theory I should have been prepared to speak on any and all of the bills. In theory I also should have had teammates help me prepare for these bills long before I took the ride up to Susquehanna. In practice, though, I was the only person on my team, and there’s only so much a single person can do. So it goes.

As an aside, let me give you a sense of how this event works. The bills are divided up based on subject content, and then the students presenting said bills are split into committees: health, armed forces, education, whatever is relevant. The committees then figure out the order in which their bills should be presented. Judges watch the committee meetings to see if anyone distinguishes him/herself. It’s a real chicken-or-egg thing, because students whose bills are presented first are guaranteed to speak early on and score points -- but you have to be pretty persuasive to get put in that position. Sort of earning your unfair advantage, if you will.

A president of the congress is elected to oversee the debates. He or she decides who gets to speak on the bills, pro or con, once said bills are presented. Being friends with the president can help. Electing the president can take hours, especially when “that guy” has something at stake. Which guy? The one more interested in nitpicking parliamentary procedure than in actually debating bills and scoring points. Just as likely to be a girl, of course.

Once the docket and the president are handled, the bills are presented, one per committee and then back to the beginning.

Within each bill, the representative of the authorial school gives a presentation, followed by a “con” speech from someone opposing it. This may be followed by a “pro” speech, back and forth until a vote is called. After every speech, the floor is opened for questions. This was where I shone. Sadly, questions don’t get you points. Speakers are scored on their speeches: how many, and how well done each was, including how well the speaker handled the questions. Having one’s bill pass is a huge moral victory, but you can lose every vote you speak on and still win the competition by a landslide.

During this competition, I was seated next to this guy from upstate. He was smart and funny and nothing was gonna happen because he had just gotten out of a relationship and I was just about to get into one. No, seriously, I’m talking a margin of days on both sides.

So we end up using spare index cards to pass notes during the... let’s call them “less scintillating” moments of the competitions (Shut up, “that guy”). And then, on lunch break, we figured we might as well eat together. In the cafeteria. Which was showing Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on TV.

The rest is geek history. We swapped emails and, eventually, IMs ever since (and we’re pushing 10 years, aren’t we? Wow) but we’ve never actually met each other in person since then. Dude, next time you’re in New York, text me.

*(And that, kids, is how I met your Aunt Robin.)

Mrs. L is also known as Laura Grow-Nyberg.  You can read more of her stuff at Reviewing Whatever and Life is (not) Boring.  She is totally willing to write about Gargoyles, Glee, feminist Christian theory, or Sluggy Freelance.  Also, puppies.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

In Which The Warlock Ships Out for a Week...

Just a brief off-day post for you, fellow gamers, to keep you appraised of a few things.

Firstly, your friendly neighborhood Warlock is shipping out tomorrow with the PlatinumChick for our long-delayed honeymoon in Orlando. While I might have sporadic access to 'teh Intarwebs', I won't be around enough next week to focus on blogging and the like. As such, the lovely and talented Ms. L (I guess it's Mrs. L now, but let's not get technical) will be providing a guest post next Wednesday. Enjoy!

Also, the WittKrew's GenCon plans are coming into focus finally. In fact, I managed to end up in a very special situation.

You see, Keith Baker--WotC designer and creator of the Eberron Campaign Setting--has been holding a contest over on his blog: Have Dice, Will Travel, for the rights to play in an exclusive, off-the-books 4e Eberron game, with him as GM! And, with a little bit of creative writing on the part of yours truly, I have a seat in this game! I'm definitely excited about this one...

You can see my contest-winning entry at HDWT: Week Two Results.

Adios, fellow gamers! Back in two weeks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Which The Warlock Burns His Wicks at Both Ends...

I find myself situated in an odd position, my lovelies. A few months ago, I posted a review of John Wick’s article series “Play Dirty”, after Kat recommended it. Now, I knew that John Wick was a successful game designer—-Legend of Five Rings stands for itself, to say nothing of his other numerous credits—-but I did not know of the massive controversy that “Play Dirty” had apparently inspired in the gaming community at large. And now, over 10 years after its original publication, Wick’s article again seems to be raising eyebrows, with no less than 3 separate threads on (as I type this, anyway) as well as a scathing review on The Hopeless Gamer (

Now, I’m hardly anywhere near the top of the heap in terms of gaming design or even in terms of games run. I’ve been lucky in my years of gaming to have played with some great people, to have started my own campus gaming club (and convention with it), and to design both unique modules and board games on my own. All this time, I’ve been happy to classify myself as a “Dirty GM”. I’ll readily admit, I have a reputation amongst the Wittenberg gaming community because of it, yet somehow my tables are always full (and often, there’s a ‘waiting list’ to play).

As a GM, I’ve enslaved my players’ characters to illithid and had them eradicate the monastery where they trained. I’ve had characters die, while in the Nine Hells, then convinced them into infernal pacts to return to life. I’ve had characters arrested and placed on trial (as mentioned in an earlier post) for killing foes that they viewed as legitimate adversaries. I’ve had characters trapped for nearly a month of game-sessions on a derelict ship infested with daemons, with nary a weapon between them. I’ve done numerous horrible things to characters, in the name of story…yet they keep coming back.

Why, you ask? Why subject a character to such torture? Why are you such a bad person, Mr. Warlock?

Well, the long and short of it is, in fact, the same reason why Wick’s advice burns so true.

One of the big reasons that people game is, in addition to tell a good impromptu story, to feel heroic. And, at their core, heroes face challenges. Massive challenges. Challenges that we, as ordinary mortals, could not hope to face. When we overcome those challenges, we feel heroic, we feel proud for our vicarious accomplishments, and we enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. A “Dirty GM” is one that finds creative, distinct ways to challenge both his players’ characters and the players themselves.

The Hopeless Gamer contends this view: “Does this mean I've never felt challenged in an rpg? Not at all, when the rules allow it, and the GM plans for a good fight or challenge to overcome, I accept failure. That is, I accept failure when it's a result of dumb luck or my own poor decision-making. Failure because the GM tweaked the scenario and then railroads the outcome of the situation is a no-go.”

THG then continues, describing one of the tactics that Wick used to challenge a player who had been taking advantage of the “Dependent NPC” Disadvantage in one of his Champions games. The scenario starts as a standard one: a hated villain places a bomb at the top of a restaurant where the super, Malice, and her supers-hating grandma are eating lunch. The twist is, of course, that the bomb is a diversion, leading to a fight with the villain, who paralyzes Malice, unmasks her, and sends her crashing through the restaurant’s skylight down in front of Grandma, who has a heart attack (and dies) due to the sheer shock of the situation.

In that example, Wick did nothing that was even reasonably outside of his jurisdiction as a GM. Combat between his villain and Malice was rolled, with her failing. As Dependent NPC is a Disadvantage, Wick was well within his rights to place Grandma in peril. Malice’s character—her decision, mind you—did not clear the restaurant, nor did she go save Grandma…instead, she went off to fight the villain; a fight that she lost fair and square. The villain’s actions after her paralysis were simply the icing on the cake of Jefferson Carter’s master plan. Wick did not, as THG implies, "doctor the scenario" or rig the dice. He did, however, stack the deck in the villain's favor, but he did so the way the player themselves requested, by taking the Disadvantage in the first place.

And, lest we forget, Malice “retired” after this scenario. Note the terminology here. Malice retired, not the player. Were I in Malice’s shoes, I’d have probably retired as well, but note that the player stayed. In fact, the player came back for more…particularly at the very end, as Malice’s alter-ego returned to place mastermind Jefferson Carter on trial.

I find it interesting that THG and his group are fans of Icons, particularly, since Icons has a built-in methodology to take advantage of players’ weak points by Compelling the Challenges that a player has chosen, with only Determination points in recompense. In fact, Icons recommends that GMs “compel those things and bring them into the game…since it helps to keep the game more fast-paced, creative, and exciting” (Kenson et al 92). In fact, the game goes so far as to state that compelling a weakness “lets the GM inflict pretty much any effect short of killing the hero outright” and suggests that this sort of compel should be used to take away powers, handicap characters, and expose them to near-death experiences (Kenson et al 77). Can a GM be a jerk for doing so? Yes, if it occurs in every session, time after time. Is a GM “Dirty” for using such a thing? Not necessarily.

A Challenge in Icons could be, for some poor GMs, license to abuse his players. However, Wick’s advice isn’t to do so. Rather, he recommends taking these items into account and using them judiciously. A Challenge isn’t meant to be taken lightly—rather, it’s meant to be something for the player to overcome. As Wick writes in Episode 2: The Return of Jefferson Carter, “The point here should be obvious. Heroes, real heroes, are willing to pay any cost to rid the world of its Jefferson Carters. Any cost at all. I only told you about the characters who failed, who lost resolve…I was testing them. Pushing them…Because a hero isn’t measured by how many times he gets knocked down, he’s measured by how many times he gets back up” (Wick 31).

Wick continues, as per these challenges: “The whole point of mythology is to teach lessons that cannot be communicated any other way. Roleplaying is living myth. We aren’t hearing the heroes’ trials, we are the hero. ..pain is what pushes us, We don’t grow without pain. We don’t evolve without pain. We don’t learn without pain. If nobody ever knocked us down, we wouldn’t know the bliss of getting back up” (Wick 38).

Two other examples seem to continue to come up, in discussion of Wick’s piece: Wick’s use of Luck and Immunity powers. I’ll deal with each of these individually.
Admittedly, Wick does stereotype players who take Luck as an advantage, stating that they “tend to be a little self-centered. After all, they would rather spend points on something that will get them out of trouble, rather than something that would compliment or aid the group” (Wick 15). However, his suggestion of “get the group in trouble” is a perfectly valid one. It’s, in fact, the premise of nearly every RPG out there—a group works together to overcome a challenge.

However, if a character chooses to avoid working as a group, they’re essentially asking to take on the challenges on their own. Playing ‘by-the-book,’ the luck-based player not only decries the other players—“perhaps one of his powers could have countered the effect? If he had stayed behind, he’d have been able to help them out”—and chooses to run-and-gun by himself—“Let’s see him Luck his way out of a combined total of 1,500 points of hard hitting villains” (Wick 16).

If a character is willing to take on those in-game consequences, all of which are realistic circumstances, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Further, it’s legitimate in-game. Many rail against this example, saying that “You didn’t make the character Lucky—you made him Unlucky, because now he’s up against all of those other forces!” To the contrary, the character’s Luck was applied to exactly what the character wanted it to be. Could a random dice roll have been applied to which side of the blast the character ended on, so that there might be a chance that he wasn’t on the same side as the villains? Sure, but it doesn’t change the narrative end result. At the end of the day, his buddies get fried and the villains focus on the outlier.

I’ll readily admit, I thought I had a much harder time defending Wick’s “Immunity” example, if for no other reason than it’s so short. Literally, the sample that he provides is a total of 2 paragraphs. To be honest, that alone speaks of people reading too much into it. But then, I realized something. Incurable, superhuman-only virus? No cure, aside from one that takes away powers? This one wasn’t Wick’s idea at all—this is an adaptation of The Legacy Virus storyline from the X-Men! And, of course, in the comic, Colossus (a character with Immunity if there ever was one) sacrifices himself to make a cure available to everyone.

There’s not an RPG out there that doesn’t say, somewhere in its GMing section that “Story trumps rules.” GMs are expected to come up with ideas that are both out of the book and out of the box to challenge their players. In this case, it’s obviously a major plot point, but it also speaks to the player’s endurance. Did the player change his character, to reflect the changes in him due to Carter’s virus? Did he undergo training with other heroes, to take on a new superhero identity? No…he chose to walk away, unpowered and cowed, rather than forge on. No player should be so locked-into their own character, as to not want to change to reflect a major narrative event. That’s not bad GMing—that’s being a bad sport as a player.

I will admit that John Wick got one major thing wrong. On, he mentions that the first Episode of “Play Dirty” is emblematic of the rest of the article. I beg to differ. You see, I find that a great gulf exists between those who read only the first Episode and those who read the full series. Those who read only that first Episode lose context and miss out on the redemptive message on the resilience of both heroes and the players that come around the table. They miss out on the justification for “underhanded” tactics, particularly as they apply to experienced players (who like to think that they’ve ‘seen it all’). They miss out on the glorious Episode 5, on how to narrate combat, making fights feel real. They miss out on Episode 7, which rips apart three massive Player Assumptions which, when inverted, make for games that none will ever forget. They miss Episode 10, which is geared specifically towards players. And worse, they miss Episode 11, which hits home the emotional point that Wick builds upon through the entirety of the series: that games are capable of changing people, just like his friend “Happy Fun Ball.”

The people that read the full article, though, either become converts (likes yours truly), or at least have their own perspectives on gaming challenged. In this case particularly, you can’t judge the book by its first Episode, much less the cover.

I suppose I’ll leave off with the words of another Wick—Larry Wickman, my pseudo-boss and author of WEGS. WEGS is, at its core, a decidedly adversarial game. The Kreator/Minion Master in WEGS is a role designed to be like a casino boss, smiling to the players and chit-chatting, as he pulls away their stack of chips. Larry sums this the core of “Play Dirty” perfectly, in the opening pages of the WEGS Old Skool Redux:

In any given game, minions will be vanquished, Arks will be lost to the Spheres, and kingdoms may crumble. All this may come to pass routinely during the course of great adventure. As long as the players play their parts and do their best to immerse themselves in this fantastic experience, they capture the essence of the game. That’s the biggest win of all. (Wickman 4)

The best stories out of gaming come out of the adversity of heroes. To pull the punches of the forces of evil, to hold back on providing a true threat to the characters due to the misguided believe that it’s “not fair” to target the players or build in story-driven choices that drastically affect their characters….to do any of these robs the characters of their heroic destiny. “They want to think that last die roll was the luckiest one they ever made. They want to feel that their characters’ lives were hanging in the balance, ready to fall like a pin hanging on the edge of a precipice. That’s what players want. And that’s what a Dirty GM gives them” (Wick 22).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Warlock's Review: "ICONS--Superpowered Roleplaying" (A Playtest Review)

I've been excited to do this entry since first hearing of Icons, back in April. However, I only recently received my hard-copy of the rules, so I held off. Besides, I had more than enough to blog about, with all of the chaos of Origins! But, with the madness of the Big O behind us, I can finally get down to brass tacks.

Icons is the brainchild of Steve Kenson, the lead designer on Mutants and Masterminds, and its forthcoming expansion, DC Adventures. Upon looking at the Icons rulebook, it immediately becomes apparant that Kenson is a guy that knows his capes. The cover is a pastiche of several send-ups of classic heroes, swinging into action, while the book itself looks and feels like a comics trade paperback. Kudos are especially due for artist Dan Houser and layout man Gareth-Michael Skarka.

So, on the past weekend, six of the Witt-Gamers pulled out their dice to give
Icons a whirl through the sample adventure: "The Wages of Sin!" To say the least, we were not disappointed.

Icons relies upon random character generation, which may not be to everyone's taste. While rules are given for "point-buy" char-gen, it's strongly encouraged for players to throw down their d6s and see what comes up. Our group came up with the following:

Doctor Ohm: Intellectual genius extraordinaire and master of electricity. (Powers: Gadget Wizardry--replicates Electricity Control and Resistance: Electricity)

Fast Food Frenzy: Superstar celebrity chef and mind-control maven, FFF's brute strength is only further augmented by his legendary Sammich Strike! (Powers: Mind Control and Strike)

RoboRoo: A bionic kangaroo, programmed only for truth, justice, and the Australian way! (Powers: Fast Attack, Leaping, and Animal Control--Marsupials)

Murphy's Law: The unluckiest person ever to stay alive! (Powers: Probability Control--Bad Luck and Absorbtion--Kinetic Energy)

The Grey Lady: The victim of a seance gone wrong, she walks the line between life and death. (Powers: Mind Shield, Life Support, Super Senses)

Out of the characters, Doctor Ohm was hands down the most powerful. Ending up with Wizardry at a power level of 10 (as high as it goes!), he was able to duplicate nearly anything that anyone else at the table could do. While the player didn't abuse this level of power, I did have to adjust a few things in the adventure to keep him from breaking open the plot. I did feel bad for The Grey Lady's player, though. Her stats were abysmally low, and she had almost no combat ability and very little health. I didn't realize until later that the system encourages re-rolls for players who roll a power-set that is so close to identical. Life and learn, I suppose.

As a gamer disillusioned by the complexity of most supers-game rules, Icons was really a breath of fresh air, rules-wise. Based in part upon the FATE system, Icons uses a d6-d6 system, which provides a modifier to one of its six base stats. Want to punch someone? Roll d6-d6 to get a modifier to your Prowess stat. Exceed the mook's Coordination stat (his ability to dodge and the like), and you hit. Succeed by a certain margin, and you can stun him or even send him flying across the street.

The simplicity of the dice mechanic definitely aided my group in terms of roleplaying. While we're a rowdy lot to start with, the ability for players to narrate their own actions and describe their own combat maneuvers allows for a great deal of flexibility. Most of my group had a blast with this, but Fast Food Frenzy's player was probably the most imaginative, slinging explosive sandwiches against Doctor Zin's ninja mooks.

What really appealled to my group the most were the ideas of Aspects and Challenges, especially as they concern Determination. Ever wonder how Captain America can hang with Thor and Iron Man? Determination's the answer, at least as it applies to Icons. Since the player of Murphy's Law had Probability Control as a power, she received a huge pool of Determination, which she could use to alter the plot, providing horrible luck for her foes. Determination has a ton of uses in Icons, but my players seemed most interested in performing Power Stunts (offbeat uses of their powers) and in creating RetCons (changing the plot to add in or alter minor elements).

In using Determination, I'd definitely recommend using poker chips or some other method of tactilely representing the points. We began the game without said chips, and few people, even Murphy's Law, used Determination at all. After doling out the chips, Determination came in droves.

The thing that really put Icons over the top for me was the simplicity. My group, knowing nothing of the rules (or even of its FATE-based origins), were able to make characters, get a handle on the rules, and play through the sample adventure in 4 hours total. That really says a lot about the system itself. While the book itself doesn't go into much detail about specifics--you won't find the damage stats for a sword or a pistol, you won't find how far someone can run in a round--it leaves such things within the realm of the GM.

However, such simplicity can be a double-edged sword. You see, there's no "Initiative" system in Icons. Instead, I ported in a version of Savage Worlds' system, using playing cards to determine turn order. Luckily enough, that worked well for us, as we were all pretty familiar with SW. Further, while there are stats for "mooks" in the core-book, the stats are left intentionally generic, so that they can be used in multiple ways.

Overall, Icons is the sort of superhero game that really appeals to my table. It's quick to pick up, quick around the table, and allows for massive variety, even within "standard" power sets. While some may not care for the random character generation or the lack of specifics in certain aspects, Icons is well worth the sticker price in all aspects.

(Icons is published by Adament Entertainment, and was created by Steve Kenson, Gareth-Michael Skarka, Walt Ciechanowski, and Morgan Davie. Icons retails for $29.95 USD.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

In Which The Warlock Shows Off His Swag!

One of the best things about the Big O has always been the swag that we bring home, time after time. As much as I love my game room...we're already filling it up, and this trip didn't help that situation at all!

The Swag from Origins 2010

A few comments:

Wild Cards and Icons: While I had actually pre-ordered Icons before Origins, my hard copy didn't arrive until just afterwards. But, Karl's birthday present for me--a copy of Wild Cards, which he won while at Origins, really will make it interesting. I was totally unfamiliar with George R.R. Martin's serial-novelization, but the universe of Wild Cards is a really unique one, particularly for low-powered yet four-color action. I'm looking forward to giving this one a run this weekend!

Steve Jackson 3/$10 Table: Cardboard Heroes Castles and Valor & Snarl: Each year, I make a point of hitting the SJGames table, to pick through their overstock. Since I've been investing in Dungeon Tiles, the Cardboard Heroes Castles were a no brainer this time around. I'm just waiting for the right opportunity to throw down a fully 3d siege! As for the dragons...well, I just couldn't beat the price!

Delta Green: Of all of the Call of Cthulhu settings and scenarios, I absolutely love the Cold War-style paranoia of Delta Green. While the sourcebooks have been hard to get a hold of, the Big O always serves as a great place to find them. Eyes Only was on sale this year, and I found the Cthulhu Live version tucked away on a discount bin! Can't beat that one!

WEGS Redux and WEGS: Dice Rule! Ah, yes! The fruits of my labor! You see, after working for El Willy, editing his text since last July, it was absolutely a blast to see these in print. Plus, I was able to grab up #88 of the first print run on each book--the best Good Shot there is! :D

Miniature Swag from Origins

Like I said, the PlatinumChick and I picked up a ton of minis! She has a propensity to pick up half-naked warrior-women, while I skew more towards monsters (since I GM so often) and towards dwarves (because I like dwarves!). I'm particularly proud, though, of the two mages I found on the discount bin, and the Ptolus Pistoleer that I picked up for $1.50.

Another Craig T. Nelson

And, best of all, I found another Craig T. Nelson mini! Actually, truth be told, I found three: two of which I gave to EEE and L-Train to enjoy. Go Flesh Gordon, go!

Our dwarves, fresh from Sibilant Whispers

Naturally, I gave out the minis to The Professor, Chaotic Frederick, and Karl that belonged to them, but the PlatinumChick's and mine will look great on our mantle. Here's for hoping that I can get them painted sometime soon!

SunnyVale Acres--Draft I

Oh, and what's this? This would be a prototype for a certain SunnyVale Acres board game, about to hit playtesting. I'll keep you posted on the gory details!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

In Which The Warlock Puts the Wraps on Origins 2010...

Man, oh man! I'm almost glad for the fact that things are starting to calm down a little now, with both Origins and the 4th of July weekend behind me. While both were a blast, they aren't exactly "relaxing" endeavors by any stretch!

I had intended on pumping out this entry last week, but didn't get the chance, as I was unpacking all of our swag (to be detailed in tomorrow's entry!) and re-packing for my first trip back to Pennsylvania since Thanksgiving. Plus, I had something else on my mind...more on that in a bit, though!

On our final day at Origins, Karl, the PlatinumChick and I ended up skipping Attack of the Mutant in favor of a little extra sleep, but did manage to wake up in time for a trip through Red Dragon Inn with the amicable Geoff, from Slugfest Games. Little did we know, though, that Geoff is, in fact, their head-gaming-guru. Spiffy, indeed!

I'd heard good things about RDI before, but none of us had any experience with it. Lucky for us, the rules were quick for us to pick up--even with us playing preview classes with the soon-to-be-released second expansion pack! I took up with the Troll Alchemist, while Karl and the PlatinumChick took on the Pixie and the Gnome Artificer, respectively. By the end of the game, Karl was able to snatch away victory from another of the players--another Dayton native, no less!--then rolled a Natural 20 on his swag check, walking away from the table with a brand-new board game!

Even nicer about this, I got to talk to Geoff a little about submissions and the like. While he wasn't that interested in Dungeon Slam!, the idea behind SunnyVale Acres seemed to really intregue him. With any luck, I might just have a buyer for SV Acres, once I get some playtesting in!

From there, we set out for one last go-round in the Dealer Hall, with the PlatinumChick making her yearly mini purchases. Man, if nothing else, we walked away with a ton of minis! That'll all be in the swag rundown pics, coming tomorrow.

After saying our goodbyes to El Willy and his crew, we headed off for a brief lunch at BD's...only to see Willy the 2 and Donnie once more! We palled around for a while over Mongolian Barbeque, then split up, heading back towards Dayton.

On the trip home, though, I got to thinking, as I usually do after our yearly geek-pilgrimage...

• Running Games at Origins is FUN—No, really! I had a blast running players through Survival of the Fittest, and despite my horrid dice luck in WEGS Plume Mountain, the game was a laugh riot. I’m actually contemplating running 6 games, rather than 4, next year.

• Minis are Heavy!—Ugh. This was the one downside about running games that were miniatures-heavy. Between my maps, minis, dungeon tiles, and more…that was a load. I’m really not sure how EEE managed to survive, carting his massive Ninja Nuttiness castle back and forth.

• Anything with Cthulhu in the name sells—This one blew my mind. EEE’s CthulhuTech games all sold out. The PlatinumChick’s CoC games…all sell-outs. As I mentioned to some of my WEGS players, I’m thinking about writing a new scenario: “WEGS + Cthulhu = WEGSthulhu!”. I’m pretty sure that I’ll sell that one out next year!

• There are a TON of games I want to run—This is a big one. I came away from Origins with lots of ideas, ranging from a Wild West-era Cthulhian cattle-drive, to a horrific trip through Castle Glamis (of MacBeth fame), to an Icons version of “The Near Orbit Mass Driver Blues”. As always, once I get them written up, I’ll be test running them at the various conventions around Dayton.

• This year’s WittCon should be a blast—I had a ton of players in my games from the Columbus/Cincinnati/Dayton area, all of whom seemed to show some real interest in a local convention. Plus, I was able to get some information from a Cincinnati-area game store, which sells Ral Partha miniatures, especially the “bulk” minis, sold by the ounce. With a solid core of gamers and a lot of great prospects for support on the horizon, this year’s WittCon may be the biggest one yet!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Warlock's Origins 2010 "Live" Blog--Saturday

Note: While this entry is going up today, it was written just following the day listed. Stay tuned throughout the week for my day-by-day coverage of Origins 2010!

Man, oh man! Origins 2010 hit its WittWEGGin’ climax with a bang, as we headed out for games in the early morning after a late Friday night. Karl was up even earlier than the PlatinumChick and I, as he’s been playing in an ongoing SPARKS Star Wars d6 game. The PlatinumChick and I, though, got to indulge in a rare opportunity.

You see, while we’re both gaming fanatics, we rarely (if ever!) get to play with one another! Usually one of us, if not both of us, are GMing, whether it’s D&D, Call of Cthulhu, or some other system. In fact, it occurred to me as we were scheduling for this year that we’ve never played Call of Cthulhu together before at all!
That’s since changed. Thanks to the noble folks at Rogue Cthulhu, particularly our glorious GM Justine, we joined The Clue of Cthulhu: a scenario based around the board game-turned-movie “Clue”. Deciding to leave my fate up to the dice I rolled randomly…and took on the role of Mrs. Peacock for the duration. The PlatinumChick decided upon Ms. White, who turned out to be a “black widow,” killing her husbands for insurance money. A disgraced possible-Communist opera singer, I started off in the best disguise I could think of: a gruff, Bronx-style street mama that sounded of emphysema. Only when my secret was revealed did I switch a prim, proper, articulate 1920s dame.

The game was an utter blast. Everyone at the table was deep in character, including a fellow named Derek, who I had met twice earlier…both in Stargate Savage Worlds and in Rescue of a Lifetime. Apparently we were on the same wavelength when scheduling!

After a quick lunch, the PlatinumChick and I managed to score probably the biggest win of the whole convention. For the last 4 years, we’ve been trying to finagle a room at the Drury Inn and Suites, which adjoins to the Convention Center food court. While we’ve stayed at the Hyatt most years (and the Mariott down the street last year), we’ve been wanting to find somewhere that we can fit 5-8 people in a room comfortably. Finally, finally, finally…we snagged a suite for next year’s Origins! The WittKids will be living in style!

But, by that point, I was about to head off to my next game, I AM William Wallace: a send-up of “Braveheart”, using the rules from Might, Magic and Lore. I wasn’t familiar with this system, but the staff was really friendly and helpful. Plus, it was nice to be able to talk shop with other designers (including the creator!) as we played the game. Who knows, maybe they’ll be interested in hiring on a certain platinum-coated freelance editor?!

Again, a quick meal (with Minnesota Steve, one of the other WEGSHogz!), our group locked and loaded for our last set of games. This time around, WEGS Plume Mountain was sitting with a full table, including the infamous WEGSHog, Kim the Elf Warrior! While several newbies were in the fray, Kim and Steve were great in helping out with teaching the rules and giving them pointers as they headed into Keraptis’ dungeon.

However, I must say…my dice again betrayed me. The heroes escaped nearly unscathed, with but a single NDE between them! Even worse, the dice were on their side! Ctenmiir took his daily nose-dive into the boiling mud, BiBBle survived a little longer than normal (but still got punked), and the players rolled no less than 3 Wicked Successes (01!) in 4 rolls! Madness!

It was equally great to hear that the other WittKids’ games went off well. The PlatinumChick’s If Train A Leaves at Midnight game sold out, with her hosting the aforementioned Rogue Justine and her father. EEE had a blast with Who Wants to be a Mi-Go? and L-train’s tac-squad took out zombies in Zombie Graveyard. Nearly all of our events went off without a hitch, which was fantastic, and word is slowly spreading about little Wittenberg and its’ mighty gaming community! WEGSVangelize, friends and neighbors!

With one more day in our yearly geek-fest, we’re going out with a bang! Tomorrow brings another chance to play with a creator with Red Dragon Inn and hitting the dealer room one last time before heading back home. Game on, fellow geeks!