MACE, the NC Gaming con, was this past weekend. It was a super blast. Even better than I expected.
Friday night – first game:
I played in a Trail of Cthulhu game GM’ed by Jason Morningstar. It was a lot of fun. I was one of the investigators who sacrificed themselves to save the world. I hadn’t played the Gumshoe system before and I liked what I saw of it. Jason said we really didn’t engage it much but the game was creepy and moved along well. We had some hard decisions at times. It was fun. The group was entertaining. Jason ran a good game and is hyper-prepared . The detail and research he put into this game was phenomenal. That was it for Friday.
I got there about 9:45a. I had a Fury of Dracula game scheduled for 9:00a with Chris Norwood. He was going to teach me the game. I was of course late. But all was not lost. I played Jason’s new game in ‘playtest’ The Plant. It’s a solo game which really pulls creativity out of you. It’s kind of a choose-your-own adventure thing but amped up. It has a neat mapping mechanic that I have not seen before. I got most of the way through a game when I had to stop.
I stopped to attend the Industry Pros Panel. I was the only person not connected to he game industry in some way. Attending were – Ron & Veronica Blessing of The Game’s The Thing podcast (more on them later), Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, Sean Patrick Fannon of Shintar fame and RPGNOW.com, Robert H. Hudson Jr. (writer of HERO system), and from Pinnacle Entertainment, makers of Savage Worlds, Clint Black, Matthew Cutter, and Joel Kinstle. There were a couple of others attending who were retailers or in some way associated with Savage Worlds (Heath = pepster on the SW forum). The discussion started with introductions and I learned a bit about each person. Sean Fannon became the ad hoc moderator at this point. The talk turned to Savage Worlds and we talked about licensing. Eloy has just licensed SW for his Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. game and talked about how easy it was to work with the Pinnacle people. The topic turned to HERO system, that it is the granddaddy of many of the system and mechanics in modern games. The question was asked “What in 2009 was the big thing? What surprised you the most?” Pretty much everyone agreed the WOTC erratic behavior and the PDF blunder was the big news of the year. If you are interested in what this is take a listen to this episode of The Game’s The Thing. It encapsulated it well. Someone then asked what do you see happening in 2010. Everyone agreed that fan created, free content of high quality would be the big thing next year. I chimed in that the indie scene had come upon that revelation this year and that there was a good deal of quality free game out there now. I mentioned Lady Blackbird, The Mustang, and Clinton Nixon’s games like Donjon as good examples. It was getting toward ending time by now so the panel ended.
I really enjoyed the panel. All there made me feel very welcome and comfortable. They treated me like an equal or comrade. I sat between Joel Kinstle and Eloy. Joel is a hoot AND he knows gaming. Everyone had a great sense of humor and goofed around with each other a lot. Ron and Sean in particular.
Let me talk a bit about Ron and Veronica. I learned a couple of months ago that they would be attending. Ron’s on Pulp Gamer Out of Character and a few of their shows. TGTT is in the Pulp Gamer Network. I have been sending feedback on PG shows for a while now. We had developed a ‘friendship’ over the internets and I enjoyed the attention the PG gave me. They are one of the main reasons this blog is here. Anyway, Ron mentioned that he an Veronica were going to be at MACE with Clint and Jodi Black. I was very excited to learn this and wrote back that I would really like to meet and hopefully game with them. I ran into them along with Eloy on Saturday morning and I think we were all pleased to finally meet. Both of them are fantastic people. Kind, excited about gaming, and pleasant to talk to. We spoke briefly and I told them I would see them later at the panel as we all need to get to our first games.
Game 1: I played Prime Time Adventures for the first time. The show was about a group of volunteer first responders during the beginning collapse of American society. I played a beat cop trying to maintain some kind of order. We had a very good group of imaginative players. There were some scenes that were kind of intense but nothing way out there. It ended on an upbeat as the preacher diffused a neighborhood group’s taking over of a grocery store. Having not played PTA before but owning the book, I wanted to see how it really worked. It does, beautifully. I am very impressed with this game and want to run/play it again. One of the best parts of the game was I finally met Chris Norwood (GamerChris) with whom I have been talking to on email and his blog for a while now. He played the preacher. AndyK was also in the game and he is an awesome and creative guy. The PTA game was fantastic. I really like the system and Jeff Colliyer did an awesome job as the GM. I think all of us had a blast. I forgot Dave Artman was in that game too. Thanks Dave for joining the game. You are one super creative person. I hope I can game with both you and Jeff again soon.
After PTA a lot of the Story Gamers went out to Kepley’s for barbeque. The food was good as was the service. But the selection was small. We had a good time talking and getting to know each other better.
Lastly was Savage Saturday Night. The Pinnacle guys arranged to have 5 Savage Worlds games run by ‘celebrity’ GM’s. Clint Black, Sean Fannon, Matt Cutter, John Farris (?) and Ron ran various SW scenarios. I played Savage Worlds: Pinebox Middle School. Oh this was a sweet game! Ron Blessing created and ran the scenario centering around a group of 5 fifth graders in detention who become involved in some unpleasantness at the school. Ron’s a fantastic GM who had this down cold and was quick to respond to the curve balls that we threw him. The group was prime. I played the boy scout with the big mouth who turned into a very unlucky clutz. But I did incapacitate the bad guy for the killing blow. Joel Kinstle from Pinnacle as the class clown was priceless. And there was another guy, I don’t remember his name, playing the outcast who played it to the hilt. The game bounced between creepy and hilarious. I was able to see the SW system run by an expert and that helped me as a GM of an SW campaign. The whole experience was really awesome. Savage Saturday Night was a big hit and I hope it returns next year.
I demo’ed Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. with Eloy, the creator, after the Pinebox game. The demo was ok but went too long I think. The combat system demonstrated was a bit too crunchy for me at first pass but I liked the initiative tracker system. I bought the book and will give it a read through review soon.
Stuff I didn’t do but wished I had:
Carrom – Billiboards had Carrom tables set up for teaching people to play.
Auction – saw some great deals
The con was well organized and ran smoothly. The staff was very courteous and helpful.
The building was an icebox. It was freaking cold the whole time. I wore my jacket for everything but the Pinebox game. It was upstairs separate from the rest of the gaming. The rooms were crowded but passable. I heard that the service in the bar was awful. The con organizers had a food stop set up in one of the rooms. You could order Jimmy John’s sandwiches for lunch or supper there for delivery later. The later turned out to be 2 or 3 hours past the scheduled delivery times. There were no stairs.
The best part of the whole con was getting to hang out with people. I got to meet and have supper with some of you, which was cool. I got to strengthen some already existing friendships. Thanks guys. And I made some new and hopefully long lasting friends.
All in all – Super Sweet con. I can’t wait for next year.