Monthly Archives: June 2014

Treasure Con, Billings Montana, 1983 to 1985

Believe it or not, Billings Montana had its own Science Fiction Convention, Treasure Con, there were three of these conventions before it crashed and burned. Each was nick named after the person organizing it by those who for whatever reason decided there needed to be a nick name. The first was StomperCon, the second was CarolineCon and the third was CowboyCon, the first two I get, the third one I do not, I am sure someone can explain it to me.

tcon_adWhat prompted this is, I was looking through PDF previews of old issues of The Space Gamer and I came across the ad I highlighted to the left. It occurred to me that next year is will be the 30th anniversary of the last Treasure Con. Of course being a middle aged man, this brought with it a wave of nostalgia and fond memories. Treasure Con I is where PezWitch and I reconnected after High School, although that implies we said more than a paragraph of words to each other in High School. By Treasure Con II we were dating pretty heavy, although we were not exclusive at that point. Of course by Treasure Con III we were married and in it for the long haul.

I have to admit, if I (god forbid) still lived in Billings, I would be considering putting on Treasure Con IV on the 30th anniversary week of Treasure Con III. Maybe instead I’ll just start a FaceBook page called “Treasure Con Memories” and see how many people respond and how many people enjoyed it the same way I did. It would be interesting to hear stories, different points of view and reminiscence of a shared experience.

Long term thoughts on my game group

I just wrapped up a series of solo games with the players in my HackMaster game. The idea was to give each player a chance to do something outside the group dynamic and possibly develop their character in some significant way. This was actually fun and running one player through a 3 hour adventure is actually much easier than a group of 5. I wonder why the 1GM-1Player format is not more popular.

This campaign seems to be developing into a hot house of experimentation. One of the other things I am doing differently here is I started the campaign with very little setting detail. I took some basic stuff from the Points of Light setting and started creating an independent island with that setting. The island itself is one big hex crawl and sand boxed environment. I am letting the characters explore their environment and only revealing the pieces of it that they need to know. I am also planning this campaign out to last approximately 3 years. I usually plan things in 1 year cycles, which is great, but is in and of itself somewhat limiting. My intent here is to grow a set of characters from 1st level to something close to 20th level. I believe a 3 year campaign would be sufficient for that. The first year should see them reach 8th-10th level, the second year 13th-15th level and the third year 18th-20th level. The party Thief should lead in levels and the party Magic User will likely trail behind. The campaign is following the three act structure, with each act being roughly 1 year of games. We are currently in Act I where we are introducing the characters and the antagonists, exploring their backgrounds and setting up the over arcing story line. The second act will develop the over all story and escalate the conflict. The third act will move to the final confrontation and the ultimate resolution of the storyline.

I am doing this mega campaign for a couple of reasons. First, as a group we have never gotten characters into what we consider the high levels. We have always historically moved on when characters reached the 10th level range. I think most of this has to do with me not wanting to deal with characters who can take down armies before lunch. The second reason is I think this is going to be the last HackMaster campaign we play. When this is done we will have had an epic 15 year run and I for one would like to move on to a more flexible game system something we can use to develop characters beyond the murder hobo stereotype. I would also like to change genre’s, I owe my group a Cyberpunk game, but I would also like to explore the Horror and Sci-Fi genres as well. Of course the top of my list is GURPS, but two and a half years is a long time and something else might come along that works better for us. GURPS is a well supported system that changes very little between editions and is easy to start “Light” and move to a more complex game without forcing everyone to buy 3 expensive books all at once before they can play effectively. Steve Jackson Games is really great about releasing product in PDF format, which more and more, is my preferred method of collecting game content.

Solo Games Part V

The final instalment of the solo games went to Thor. His character is a female thief who is more on the business side than the picking pockets side. His plot sentence was;

“I want some sort of suspense/espionage scenario that involves me doing cloak and dagger type stuff.

One of my favorite genre of film is Noir and I thought this would be a nice opportunity to allow his character to be cast as a fall guy in a murder mystery, do some 2nd story work, get involved with a much heavier plot and make a few enemies in the process. The story starts out with Tyenvinith getting back to her room and there is a strange man sitting in the chair across from her bed and tells her he has work for her, stealing a a rather pricey piece of art, an ugly statue of a bird (probably the Maltese Falcon). When she arrives at the scene of the theft, she finds the bird has already been stolen and the owner is dead, having been stabbed in the back. It is just at this moment the City Watch arrive and gets a good look at her before she makes her dramatic escape. When she think she has lost the cops, she goes to the rendezvous place to give the bad news, she finds the bird, a bag with 10,000 gold pieces and the dead body of the man who hired her, stabbed by one of Tyenvinith own daggers.

Realizing she is being setup, Tyenvinith searches the body and finds the man’s letter of introduction, she takes this, the dagger, the gold and the bird and makes a run for it. Knowing things are going to start closing in on her very soon, she decides to use her connections with HighPorts Mob Boss to get some clues as to what is going on. She quickly finds the Hawala house and provides the proprietor with her own letter of introduction, he mentions her business partner Jerard had visited him earlier in the evening. Quickly explaining the situation to the man he provides her with some much needed information about what is going on. The current owner of the bird, the Inquisitor of the temple of Thoth is a close friend of Iceru, a wealthy local business man. The two have a friendly rivalry going on where they steal the bird from each other. The son of Iceru is Duhir, the leader of one the City Watch squads in Edgewood. Duhir was disowned by his father several years ago because Duhir is a corrupt cop and a very bad man and Duhir has been seeking revenge on his father since then. Tyenvinith is angered that she is being used as a patsy in the schemes of an evil and petty little man.

Tyenvinith leaves for a bit of payback, after making a few financial arrangements. Tyenvinith finds the offices of Watch Squad Leader Duhir and uses her skills to infiltrate the building and sneak into Duhir’s office, she easily opens his safe, finds other evidence of his evil, and places the bird into the safe, but leaving it unlocked. She then plants the bloody dagger and the letter of introduction that was on the body of the man who hired her on Duhir’s desk. She then on her way home pays a couple of people to report the evidence to the other Watch Squads in town, since Duhir’s is well known, it does not take long for him to be apprehended.

 

Solo Games Part IV

My nephew Scott was next in line for solo games. He did not provide me with a plot line. I told everyone when I suggested we try this out, that if anyone did not provide me with a plot to develop for them, that the whole night would be spent doing random beggar encounters. I delivered on this promise, although it was not exactly random encounters. The basic idea of the adventure was, the local beggars know out of town adventurers can not resist a mystery or the lure of loot. So they have developed a scam they pull to get adventurers to give them small amounts of money.

Mercer sets out into the midnight streets, he seems to be accosted by beggar after beggar. Each time he turns them down, refusing to give them money. Until finally, someone close by Mercer does give them money and the beggar gives that person a piece of paper. Mercer immediately see the errors of his way and walks over to see what the paper has on it. The paper says “What you seek can be found at the bar at the end of the world.”. This of course refers to a bar built out on the pier. He quickly heads over there and out back he finds another beggar. This time he gives him money and the beggar hands him another piece of paper. This one says “Go to temple row and find the son of Mal Convoitise.”, he then proceeds to the Road of 9 Temples and finds the temple of Mal Convoitise, he finds yet another beggar with another note provided to him after donating money. This note says “Look Down”, when Mercer looks down he sees he is standing on a manhole cover and Mercer wastes no time in crawling down into the muck. He heads down the tunnel for a short time until he finds a side tunnel that appears to have been dug out well after the sewers were put in. He follows that tunnel until he comes to an underground beggar community and at the center he finds a man selling Rat on a Stick and bathtub gin. He approaches the beggar bar tender and presents him with the pieces of paper, after yet another exchange of money, he is given another piece of paper, “Find the Rat King” it says and after some short directions, mercer heads out looking for the Rat King. While searching for him, Mercer is attacked by two gigantic rats who inflict serious damage to him before running away. Mercer quickly uses the healing spell Legome put in his Ring of Spell Storing and cautiously continued until he found the Rat King. The Rat King is a tall lanky man in a dirty worn black robe and a wide brimmed black hat hiding most of his face. Vaguely Mercer can see his green tinged skin and gnarled teeth, the two gigantic rats flank him. in an ominous voice, the Rat King says “To get your prize you must pay the price!”, “What price is that?” Mercer asks with concern. The Rat King then slowly puts his hand inside his robe, Mercer fingers his Ring ready to respond. The Rat King pulls a tin cup from his robe and thrusts it forward, Mercer says, “Fucking beggars!” as he deposits money into the cup. The rat King gives him another piece of paper that says “Meet me at the fountain.”. Mercer climbs to the surface again and goes to the center of town and finds yet another beggar, the sun is coming up and he realizes he has been running around Edgewood for hours and he is a bit poorer for it and decides to go back to the Inn.

Steam Summer Sale

So every year I break open my wallet and spend about $20 buying Linux games I will likely never play. While I am not a gamer, I would like to see Valve continue to develop for the Linux environment and I am willing to fork out a few dollars a year as a donation to the effort. This year I bought Sid Meier’s Civilization V and the Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, total expenditure, $18.98.

Solo Games Part III

Next up for the solo game was David, who is playing a Pixie Fairy Cleric named Legome. This characters biggest personality trait is he is in deep denial about his friends. He is a good character in a party of other characters who are extremely chaotic and at least one leans towards evil. None the less he is a fun character. David’s plot line was;

 

“I would like to send my PF back home to attend one of the great gatherings.”

For those of you who have never played HackMaster, every 6 years, all the Pixie Fairy tribes gather for what is referred to as “The Running”. When I first read about this, what popped into my mind was “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in Fantasia, so I took some inspiration from it. This was pretty much how the plot started out. As Legome was laying to get some sleep, he heard the Call to the Running, a local Pixie Fairy tribe was having the great meet. Legome could not resist the call and flew out into the forest to dance to the music only Fay can hear. He saw and danced with a great number of these other Fairies, anticipating a night of drinking and debauchery.

Before he could get to the debauchery, a group of Hunter Grel descended on the area and started trapping the Pixies. Legome quickly assessed the situation and started tracking the Hunter Grel, counting how many there were and how they were gathering the Pixies. Legome followed the grel who was gathering the trapped Pixies from the other hunters to the gathering point. He discovered the collection point guarded by a single grel, he lured the guard from his post and and killed the guard. Shortly, the collection grel returned and Legome was forced to fight and kill him too. However this grel let out a warning scream alerting the other grel in the area. In fairly short order, a grel Shaman named jHim showed up and challenged the Pixie Fairy to a honour duel.

The ensuing fight the Shaman chose to fight bare handed, pounding the little Pixie repeatedly. Legome was forced to heal himself time and time again before finely defeating jHim. Legome then finds himself surrounded by 10 Hunter Grel. The head hunter tells Legome he has earned his freedom and he can go. Legome demands they release the other Pixies, they of course refuse, Legome of course pushes the point and another brawl breaks out. Legome wakes up several hours later beaten, bruised and out of spells, having been dumped in the water trough outside the Inn by the Grel.

Solo Games Part II

Last night was Chad’s turn in the solo game. remember the idea behind these solo games is individual character development, and advancement of a personal story. The plot line Chad supplied me with was;

“I am seen by one of the henchmen of my brother, he follows me for awhile to see what I am up to, gets spotted or attempts an attack and we end up in either a street fight or a duel.”

This is not Jerard

Jerard was the easiest solo game to develop, Chad has been working on a back story since the beginning of the campaign and this really gave him a opportunity to exploit that. So after the parties latest misadventures on their current campaign and the groups gets settled in for the night, Jerard decides he needs to get some business taken care of before they set out on the next leg of their epic campaign for …. Beer. He heads out into the night looking for a Hawala, eventually he finds one and arranges to send money to his family back in his home town. As he progresses through the evening, he increasingly begins to feel as though he is being followed. After finishing his business with the Hawala, he decides to try to spot his stalker. Jerard finds a café to sit down and watch the crowd and quickly spots his shadow. Most everyone on the street are with other people, making this guy stand out. The man is obviously not a professional and when jerard makes him, it does not seem to bother the unknown man much. Jerard quickly confronts the man, who tells him he indirectly works for Jerard’s brother Haral. Haral’s Loyal for life manservant Oetu is in Edgewood running a errand for Haral and he spotted Jerard coming out of the Inn he was staying at. Oetu, looking to gain favour with Haral, decided to add some misery to Jerards life. Jerard gives the man a coin and tells him to go back to Oetu and tell him to stay away from Jerard.The man beelines for Oetu while Jerard follows him.

The man leads him to a bar on the docks, where Jerard quickly confronts Oetu and the situation escalates into a fight between the two warriors. Oetu is more than a match for Jerard and falls under a barrage of powerful attacks from Oetu’s battle axes. With Jerard on the ground dangerously wounded and loosing consciences, Oetu comes in for the kill. Jerard spits on Oetu, who smiles. Then Firewolf, Jerard’s flaming sword leaps into the air under its power and impales Oetu in the chest, piercing the night air with a supernatural howl. Oetu screams as white hot flames envelope him. Jerard passes out.

A while later, Jerard come too and his helped to his feet by the man who had followed him. The man introduces himself as Seyd and helps Jerard to a healer. After being healed, Jerard decides he wants to deilver a message to his brother, Seyd tells Jerard they were in Edgewood picking up a large crate for Haral and the two concoct a plan to use the crate to deliver the message. The pair go back to the location of what is left of Oetu’s body, Jerard scrapes up the ashes and left over items into a bag. They then sneak into the warehouse containing the crate. Inside the crate is a stone bust of Haral and the painting of Haral he sent the sculptor to make the bust. Jerard fill the crate with Oetu’s remains and stabs Haral’s face with a dagger pinning a note to the painting.

Haral,
Oetu had some trouble getting home, so I help him along the way.
Love Jerard
PS – See you soon.