Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NTRPG Con 2012 - Saturday

The Saturday morning session was listed in the convention booklet as "Expect the Unexpected".  Four different games had this title and they were in the big room used for the sessions and panels.  The games were Metamorphosis Alpha with Jim Ward, Boot Hill with Frank Mentzer, Cavemaster with Jeff Dee, and Star Frontiers with Steve Winter.  When I was registering for the games way back in April, I had a tough decision to make because I really wanted to play MA because I had seen the conversions listed in my DMG from way back.  I also wanted to see how Boot Hill was supposed to be played.  I had picked up a copy through Craigslist and had been running it based upon my short attention span reading of the rules.  And I wanted to play Star Frontiers because I had bought the set when it came out way back in 1982 or 1983.  So, I metagamed the decision.  Jim Ward had missed the previous year's con because of health issues, and these guys weren't getting any I picked MA.

Well, it turns out to have been a false choice because the con organizers had planned a pretty cool little gaming switch.  Basically, we all met at our appropriate game's table, rolled up characters for that game, and got started.  After an hour & a half, Doug (the con director, for lack of a better title) announced that we were all undergoing a "Quantum Leap" type of experience.  We were supposed to pick up our dice and pencils, and move to the next table over.  We left our character sheets for someone else to play and we picked up a new character. 

So, I started in MA as "Sarge" because I was the oldest player at the table.  I gave orders to everyone except LT, our lieutenant.  He was played by the youngest player in our group.  He had to give me orders and I would interpret his orders to the others.  Jim is a funny GM, but he also plays by the original style of "anything you say, your character says" and "what you say you're doing first, is what you're doing now".  Initially, it was funny.  But that wears off pretty fast.  We were part of the security team called in to check out odd readings on two levels of the 17 level spacecraft.  Our LT wasn't paying attention to the levels listed so he ordered us to go to the top level and work our way down.  Reaching the top level, we discover the place is overrun with 8' long single eyed sluglike creatures.  They radiated hostility and shot us with radiation rays from their single eye.  Our return fire was pretty ineffective.  One of our group was so damaged by radiation that he began to mutate.  Jim said he "couldn't kill us because of the rules" so he threw the guy in a healing pod.  The guy had a crystal baby emerge from his side.  It was telepathic, superintelligent, and very dangerous.  We managed to escape the slugs and go back to base.  We put the baby in a cell and it immediately started hacking the computer terminal in there.  Then we jumped.

My first jump was to Boot Hill.  And for some reason, Frank felt it necessary to give us a lecture on the history of the Arizona & New Mexico territories from 1865 to 1890, tell us of Washington politics during the same period, and fill us in on the complete backstory.  Time lost: just over an hour.  We got all of 30 minutes of play when we "jumped" again.  I think we were part of a bodyguard group for some government caravan or something.  Not sure.

The next jump put me in the Star Frontiers game.  However, because some folks were very upset with the concept of the jumping because they wanted only the one game, they left.  Thus, some games were short by two or three players.  I had to quickly roll up a SF character and I picked a Dralasite, a large amoeba-like creature known for its scientific reasoning ability.  We were on an ice planet hunting down the source of gravitational waves which were causing a serious destabilization of a space station orbiting the planet.  We were looking for a missing away team and dealing with hostile aliens.  We did discover the area in which the waves were being generated just as we jumped again.

Looking around, we were now Neolithic cavemen.  I was a female healer named Healing Milk.  The Cavemaster system is really interesting and simple to learn.  We were literally in the middle of a battle with pteranodons/pteradactyls.  Once we drove those off, we learned we were chasing a group known to be cannibals which had stolen some of our women and children.  The group pushed themselves pretty hard and managed to finally catch up to the enemy.  We made our plans to attack them just before dawn.  As we all charged the sleeping camp, we jumped again...back to our original game.

Sitting back down to my original character, I see some of my equipment had been used or destroyed.  And I had a batch of odd things I didn't know what they were.  We were told that we were currently in the office of the ship's captain and were being chewed out for the damage we had done to the ship.  Apparently, the baby had destroyed an entire level and was draining power from the ship.  Our LT read a note on our map (from a previous group) which just said "big guy", and ordered us all to go visit him.  The "big guy" was a large crystal creature.  It shot two of our characters with some sort of egg laying device.  They died quickly as something ate them from the inside out.  As we ran from the creature, we encountered the slugs.  Ducking into a warehouse, we found several hundred robots.  The LT ordered them to head out and attack the crystal creature and the slugs.  They all tried to move, avoid us, and get to the door....which caused them all to become a wall trapping us in the warehouse.  The slugs and creature reached us at the same time.  In short, we all died.

So, the lessons learned here are: Jim Ward games are interesting but I don't think I'll play in another one.  Same for Frank.  I will try to get a copy of Cavemaster.  I want to play that game some more.  And I'm glad I got to play Star Frontiers again.  It's going to be a game I look for next year at the con.

The afternoon was supposed to be filled with an artist panel, but I was too tired and hungry.  After grabbing some lunch, I watched the raffle and auction.  Dewayne got a nice batch of gaming swag from the raffle.  I got all 5 volumes of the Best of Dragon Magazine in the auction.  Despite buying several tickets, I did not get anything in the raffle....which is disappointing.  The auction had nice stuff as well but the prices were just way too high for this school teacher to afford.  I was supposed to be in Tim Kask's OD&D game in the evening but I just wasn't in the mood for old guy shenanigans so I skipped out.  A group of us sat around and kibitzed in the hotel lobby.  Eventually we started a pick up game B/X D&D game but it broke up at 10 because we're old and tired.  I can't wait until next year!
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