Winter War is our local gaming convention. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may have run across a reference to in once or twice, here or there. The very first Winter War I went to was back in 1993, and it had been going strong well before that time.
The con is, at its heart, a miniatures and board gaming con, but it has had an RPG presence for as long as I have been going. The number of RPGs being run has increased over the years. Currently, two of the rooms that once were used for general RPGs are now dedicated to Pathfinder Society and Adventurers League games.
While that’s awesome, ever since Pathfinder Society has become such a large percentage of the RPG tables at the convention, I have wanted to make sure there was RPG representation that wasn’t level based d20 fantasy RPGs. One year I ran Marvel Heroic Events in almost every slot of the convention. Last year I split my time between Shadow of the Demon Lord and Monster of the Week. This year I went all in with Powered by the Apocalypse games, running Monster of the Week, Masks, The Sprawl, and World Wide Wrestling RPG. The one slot where I played instead of running an event was a Dungeon World game.
Originally, I was going to run an Action Movie World game in the early afternoon Friday slot. Then I got my new job. I hesitate to say that I canceled “unfortunately,” because I’m pretty happy that I got the job I have now, but it did make the afternoon slot a non-starter.
The Best Laid Plans
Because I have an hour lunch for the first time since the early 2000s, I decided I was going to run over to the convention when registration opened and get that out of the way. I’ve been mistaken many times in life, and this time was one of those times. There was a massive line, and there was no way I was going to risk being late standing in it. I resigned myself to checking in after work, and just scoping out the convention. I had never had events scheduled in the “B” designation before, so I was trying to figure out where that was.
As it turns out, “B” is the breakfast area across from the check in desk. It isn’t cordoned off exclusively for convention use by any visible signage. From time to time there are also way more events scheduled than the tables and chairs in the nook can easily accommodate. Thankfully, I only had two events in there—we’ll get to that later.
While at lunch, I ran into one of my friends from the FLGS who has been in games with me quite a bit over the years. Since I started the job, I haven’t had as much time to game at the store, so we spent some time catching up. I’m running Storm King’s Thunder online for some friends, and I was comparing notes with how the campaign at the AL game on Wednesday night was going.
It turns out surviving a fight with one giant does tend to lead adventuring parties to be overconfident of their abilities to handle giants in the future. Good to know that seems to be a universal constant.
Second Time’s the Charm
Because I was running events, all I really had to do at registration was check in and get my badge. When I arrived after work, the line was almost non-existent, since it was the middle of the early afternoon slot. I was also kind of happy to have some of the regular con staff greet me by name. It’s nice to be a regular.
More Catching Up
Another friend from the store was signed up for the first game I was running, the Monster of the Week game. We met before the session, and I found out that the FLGS that I had been going to for the better part of a decade was being sold back to the original owners. I was a little shocked, but at least it would still be there, and with owners that were already familiar with the community.
In Real Life, You Sometimes Roll a 7-9
In convention games, I like having one or two players that are “regulars,” just because I know what they are likely to do and I can count on them to drive the story a certain way if I need them to. It’s a really interesting dynamic that you get when you game with someone over the course of years. I also like to have at least half the table of either new gamers, or gamers I only play with at convention time.
I’ve had one really, really bad experience at the FLGS running a game. One of my players was not on the same page that I was on when I was running a Savage Worlds game, and we just proved to be incompatible. That particular player was signed up for this event. I was a little less than thrilled, because I didn’t want to have the same kind of disconnect with his expectations that we had in the past.
Thankfully, it was different running a Powered by the Apocalypse game for him than it was running Savage Worlds, and it has also been a few years since that ill-fated Savage Worlds game. Things went pretty well in the game. The player did have a little bit of a hard time giving up the spotlight when it was time to shift to other players.
The general outline I came up with for the MOTW session was Die Hard plus Japanese horror. That was the jumping off point. I don’t know that it totally embraced either of those extremes, but it was fun, and people seemed to enjoy the session.
Three notable things:
- Two players from last year reprised the hunters they played in that session
- One player reprised a character he played in an Action Movie World one shot (stay tuned for more)
- I totally forgot to bring my list of “Luck moves” for playbooks that don’t have special Luck effects already on the page
Essentially, a game designer who was obsessed with ancient secret societies accidentally summoned an ancient Japanese ninja ghost, and his coworkers locked him on the 9th floor. Fire spirits and lantern ghosts (which had physical bodies made from the dried skin of the faces of dead security guards) tried to kill off the coworkers.
The hunters stormed the 9th floor, and Texas (the Mundane, who was once an 80s action movie star) heard the ghost mention that the game designer was the ghost’s “witness”, a mortal that he wanted to live to see all of the carnage that he was causing.
Texas decided that maybe if he removed the witness, the ghost would give up on trying to kill everyone, so he axed the game designer in the face, screaming “Texas leaves no witnesses!”
The rest of the team performed a ceremony to get rid of the ghost, and Agent Johnson, our Professional, covered up what happened, since it would have been more paperwork to explain Texas’ reasoning to the local authorities.
In the Midnight Hour
The game wrapped up almost an hour early, but no one felt like the session was lacking. I was glad that everyone enjoyed the game, even if I was kicking myself over the Luck moves thing. I talked with my friend a bit after the game, and decided I was going to get some sleep.
Then I went home and didn’t get to bed until 1 am, because I was still a little wired from having a good opening session, despite the potential issue of having a player I once had problems running a game for.