Actual Play – The Doom of Siegsburg (5/21/2010)

GM: Tracy
Players: Mike, Marianne, Sean and Jessie
System: 7th Sea (with Cthulhu variations)

Tracy was running a play-test of the game Chris and she had run at DundraCon and were going to (now have) run at KublaCon. There were some changes that she wanted to try out and I think we gave them a good run.

The story was a well done mystery that leaves the characters spending a lot of timing trying to find something but having very little idea what it is they are actually looking for… and whether or night they’ll like it when they do. Was that sufficiently cryptic enough or should I vague it up a bit more? The downside of AP reports on play-tests is that I don’t want to give too much away.

That being said…

What rocked

The characters (mine in particular, but others for sure) were extremely compelling. I sank my teeth right into Misha (the Eisen ex-soldier mercenary) and played him as a broken man who has fought in a horrible war and returned from it to find his home destroyed. Very cool.

As well as having individually interesting stories, the assembled cast had a fun dynamic. I love games where everyone has the same job but people feel differently about it. It creates a very fun environment when you can have some verbal banter that has the full range of camaraderie, personal curiosity and antagonism. We felt little bits of all three in the game.

There were certain things we took for granted that we shouldn’t have. Good reveal! Others that we were never really sure of till the end.

The game was creepy. Tracy and Chris used an “terror track” system (inspired from the Arkham Horror board game) to ramp up the eeriness of the game as it progress, which created a nice feeling that we shifted from interest to desperation. Never quite to terror, but I don’t think that is what they were going for.

We had a painfully sympathetic danger. The waissen looked and acted like zombies, but they weren’t dead, just people whose minds were shattered during the war. And one of them was my sister. Good times.

Chris and Tracy did a great job of getting rid of the unnecessary 7th Sea crunch. We didn’t have different TNs to be hit based on environment, we weren’t limited by skills like swinging, sliding, rolling or hop scotch playing. VERY thankfully they eliminated that level of complexity both by running a darker game (with less flamboyant swashbuckling overall) and by skipping over nearly all of those rules.

What could have been improved

First, let me distinguish a lead from a clue (at least as I’m using them). A lead sets the stage for the next scene (example: That servant is hiding something in his pockets, I’m going to go find out what it is). A clue has significance to the greater story but by itself doesn’t tell you want to do from there (example: You find a strange pen that is much heavier than it should be). A lead makes it very clear what players should do to follow up on it, where as a clue requires further (usually trial and error) investigation before it leads to a direct action. In some cases I may be splitting hairs (a clue left where the action soon becomes obvious or a lead where the action produces no new information all can blur into each other), but that’s my general distinction.

That said the start of the game was clue heavy and lead light. We spent a while trying to figure out what was significant to the story, what was setting flourishes, and what was there just to creep us out. We talked to Tracy about this after the game and offered up a few suggestions as leads.

Some of the characters had some pretty kick as combat abilities that they very rarely, if ever, got to use. This was only problematic because so much of their point resources were spent on cool combat abilities that they we pretty weak in other regards. My character was a pretty good example. He was rolling 7k3 on most combat rolls, but somewhere in the (2-4)k2 range for most social or investigatory rolls. Considering that the game was nearly all social/investigation, I felt a bit short changed. What it comes down to is that in the roll and keep system, having a 2 in a trait means hitting base TNs (15) can be really tricky, where has having a 3 in a trait makes it trivial. Since almost all our rolls were based on Wits, I felt a big disparity between myself (with a Wits of 2) and the other characters (with a Wits of 3). This is a hard problem to address in many systems because they prize combat so highly. I can’t really say what to do about this except to make sure that every character has something they can do well that will work most of the game.

This is an easy one to do, I’ve done it myself a lot. Tracy forgot to give out drama dice during the game. She’s already got one fix built in (which was to give out an extra one at the start of game) but I think an additional way to make sure the dice are flowing is to put a bowl of them in the middle of the table and allow players to reward each other with them. This is taken right from Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies and it’s a rule I love. Way less pressure on the GM.

Actual Play Report – 7th Sea (1/26/2009)

System: 7th Sea

Damn this has been a lot of gaming. Four games in 4 days. I’d say I’m spent but I’ve got Burning Warcraft tonight and D&D coming back up on Friday. I’ll sleep when I’m dead I suppose.

The game wrapped up on Monday, we delivered the last of the letters and overthrew the evil black guard. We fought an impossible fight, eventually surrendered but met a chaplain who showed us a secret passage out of the dungeons and helped redeem the enfeebled Kaius (sp?).

What rocked

The wine. No really, the La Crema Pinot Noir that mrboy gave me some time ago came out and we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit because of it.

A missing player returns. We lost both of our Musketeers and I was happy to have Felix du Chat return in the last adventure. Some of our gags had gotten stale and he brought some novelty to the game. Rock.

What could have been improved

The wine. Yeah, it was fun for me, but I think we were being obnoxious as all hell. None of us were drunk (we each drank about one glass) but we were definitely relaxing our inhibitions and turning the game more into a festival of jokes than an RPG session. I had fun, but I’m not sure those who came later ( the GM and one of the players) did.

Clearly our GM was tired. He didn’t think the game was that night and we dragged him into it. He made a valiant effort but I could tell there were times he just needed us to shut up so he could read in the module and was getting somewhat overwhelmed by our pranks and constant demand for story progression.

And now we’re on to L5R. I’m looking forward to an L5R game that is somewhat long term where our characters can have some in game development as people. I’m thinking I’d like to try a Shugenja again, leaning towards a Crab Kuni or a Dragon (don’t remember the name) Fire based Shugenja. We’ll see when we get together for character creation.

Actual Play – 7th Sea (12/8/2008)

System: 7th Sea

Don’t have nearly as much to say about this game as I usually do.

What rocked

Jeremy is really improving as a GM. He gave us time to play out our own antics, gave me a bit of spotlight when talking to a bear, allowed for our characters to bend and twist the plot somewhat (going back to fight when we I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to run, and sneaking in to see what happened with the secret letter).

Lissel was the new character and she was a lot of fun. The men all went back and forth between acting like fathers and suitors, which was quite comical. As she must remain chaste but is fascinated by courtly love, we had a really good time.

What could have been improved:

They should have just take this module a step further and actually have it take place on a train. Nothing more to say about this.

Actual Play – 7th Sea (12/1/2008)

System: 7th Sea

We finished up the 7th Sea game last night with our heroes arriving in Ussura and delivering the message to Montague, causing him to pack up and leave the frost bitten land.

What rocked

My character’s back story finally started coming out. He was an Ussuran spy who never really felt close to his bonds (in the module at least) and he finally began to feel the call of home. It started with him questioning the Musketeer about his alliances, then his sympathy for the peasants of Ussura and peppering my horrible French accent with a horrible Russian accent (not an easy thing for me to do). At the end he finally assumed the form of a Snow Lion and trounced some brutes.

Our characters as usual were very dynamic, where the module gave us very little room to express our thoughts and beliefs, the other players were the sounding board that validated our hopes and beliefs. We have a cool group that is ready to share the spotlight with each other and actually care about one another’s beliefs.

We met a real live demon, and I think I banished the fucker! We answered all his riddled and gained a boon from him. When asked what we wanted I said “leave this place, return to Legion.” Poof. Smell of fire and brimstone and he was gone. Pretty cool I thought.

I got to use every single one of my performing skills (dance, singing, acting and oratory). How many sessions does that happen in?

I was able to use Wits + Survival in an attack roll on a brute to make the impromptu structure I had created fall down on his head. Fun stuff.
The other players, all of them, were pulling off awesome moves, many drama dice were rewarded.

What could have been improved:

The module was clearly a whirlwind tour through Thea. We saw sea serpents, demons and the power of Matushka. What that was cool it left very little room for our characters. This adventure was really on rails that you couldn’t get off or effect. I think it’s meant for beginning players and our group is anything but. Essentially the module didn’t engage any of the characters on a personal level.

I was really looking forward to time in Ussura. I was hoping my survival and tracking skills as well as my sorcery would have come into play more. In fact, I was just hoping to talk to a fellow Ussuran. The closest I got was a Montaigne solider who had been stationed there for three days. Then the adventure was over. Fairly disappointing.

Buffaloraven’s character really didn’t fit in the game (see his review here:, for that matter, none of us really fit. I think we needed a better idea of what this game was going to be about and who were going to face when making characters. I think this is one part an issue with the GM and one part with module. The situation. “You must deliver a message to Montague while evading the L’emporer’s treacherous musketeers” would have really summed up this adventure nicely and given us an idea of how we could make characters that fit into it.

In two weeks we’ll pick up with the 2nd module, my hope is that it is more flexible. If not, I’ll play but probably suggest we pick a different game to follow this up with.

Actual Play – 7th Sea (11/3/2008)

System: 7th Sea

Spirit of the Century concluded and we have moved to 7th Sea. Two weeks ago we made characters and last night we started playing.

Here is our cast.

The funny guys:

Antonio de Montoya del Torres de Punto de yada yada yada: A Castilian swordsman who’s father was killed by a six fingered man, whom now he must avenge. Recently accuses of treason and pardoned by Montaigne, he travels with the group as per the agreement of his pardon.

Captain Enrique Blackhawk – Avalonian pirate ship captain in search of treasure and lost love. He has been well paid for his services.

Felix du’chat (Felix the cat) – Montaigne Porte sorcerer and musketeer. He stood beside Montague on his last stand and now works for his wife to protect him from forces which conspire against him.

The serious characters:

Eckert – An Eisen noble who’s motivations are unknown. Sent by his brother to aid Montaigne. Dressed in Drachensteel, he does not look the part to be sneaking away in the night.

Jean – A musketeer of great skill and strength. He protects Montaigne but more importantly, Thea. He is a Knight of the Rose and Cross and seeks to stamp out the forces of Legion.

Hibou De’Hiver: An Ussuran sorcerer, bound to the Gauis to spy on the Montaigne. He has learned to speak Montaigne with a native tongue and apprenticed himself to the great musketeer Jean in order to learn to Montaigne’s actions. His reports however, are only enough to keep his family safe. Grisha (his real name) is a reluctant spy at best.


The adventure is a module, I believe just called Usurra, but it could be something else. The situation is that Montague has been sent by the Emperor to die in the frozen wastes to the east. Or characters have been tasked by Le’Emperer’s 9th daughter (and Montague’s wife) to find Montague, deliver him a letter and convince him to retreat. Luckily we have two musketeers who respect the general greatly, a Ussuran who doesn’t want war, an Eisen who does not like the idea of the nobility playing games with their troupes, a Castillian who is indebted to the princess and a pirate who will do anything for money. Off we go!

What rocked:

First of Jeremy (the GM) gave us a long time to introduce the characters. We started with the Castilian at the gallows being delivered his pardon at the last minute. The three Montaigne (greatly disappointed that he was not hung) decided that if he was pardoned, and had gone through all this for nothing, that he at least deserved some Montaigne hospitality. Which included walking him through horse shit and eventually buying him a drink. The entire party assembled this way, meeting each other at appropriate venues (the gallows, the bar, and the mysterious cottage). We all sunk into a familial groove of equal parts rivalry, childish insults and loyalty. Amongst another group this might have felt forced, but it worked very well for us.

The lead-ins were strong. All of our characters had very believable hooks into the story, which makes me happy. I hate doing something “just” because. In this case three of us had a built in rationale and the other three worked smoothly.

I got to use the acting skill to cover our exit. I had a roll of 5k3 (for the non roll and keep folk that means roll 5d10, take the best 3 dice and 10’s explode) and got a result of 47 (yep, two 10’s exploded). The world premier of an Eisen opera unexpectedly included six strange characters for all of five minutes.

We had some killer moves. Hibou snuck in the shadows and laid my naked blade at the neck of a captain directing his men against us. Enrique learned how to breathe fire all over two brutes. Jean unloaded his pistol between two others who were stunned by the muzzle flash, Felix swung from a rotting rope to just barely land to face the captain and square off with him. Antonio taught us how a true swordsman fights (disarming a musket from one musketeer right into two others). Eckert showed us the power of the Panzerfist! Right on the mark for 7th sea.

What could have been improved:

The game started late. Half the crew was out to dinner and didn’t make it back an hour after the game was supposed to start. Then of course there was the normal settling in period. Result: the game ran late and was rushed. This is bad for 6:30 AM wake ups. Next time, people should be on time.

The drama dice currency flowed slowly. We needed to prod a bit for drama dice. I don’t think Jeremy was being stingy, I think he had a lot on his mind between the 6 of us and all the NPCs. We’ve already talked about how to help this out in the future and we’ll probably be using a PTA fan mail style system with a bowl drama dice for us to award each other with.

The 7th Sea combat system is slow. Mostly this is because of the initiative system. I’m a firm believer in systems that say everyone gets one action and that action can be as elaborate as the genre and the mechanics support. In 7th that kind of action might be swing on a rotting rope and diving into a enemy captain, or it might be carving your initials into his butt. Using the multiple action system does two things. 1) slows down the game and 2) makes some players (not characters, players) more important than others. Simply put, the currency of an RPG is spotlight. The more you get to do, the cooler the game is. If you have a 4 Panache, and I have a 1, you get to be in the spotlight 4 times longer than I do. I don’t like this in 7th sea, I don’t like it in Shadowrun, and I don’t like it in Werewolf. There is no system where I find extra actions facilitate cool maneuvers in ways that a little narrative license couldn’t do better and faster (usually because it involves much less dice rolling). Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed with my character (he was a horrible swordsman, just as I expected) but I did think combat ran too long. The solution to this. Easier foes (these guys were TN 20 to hit) or in this case (when we were supposed to run) a much clearer indication of the impending doom facing us if we stayed and fought.

Too many rolls. Many older systems wanted to you to roll all the time, for everything. Roll to hear a noise, roll to notice it is just rats, roll to hear the guards, roll to hear the 2nd set of guards. I think this is a symptom of older tactical miniature games (roll to disengage, roll to move, roll to engage, roll to flank, roll to hold position, ack!) that bled into so many RPGs. Luke Crane’s “let it ride” solution is a good one as is the “forget rolling, tell players what they need to know so the story will move and they will have fun.” I didn’t tell Jeremy about this because I didn’t think about it till later, but I will suggest using one of those two methods for the future.

The spawn of musketeers. At the end of the game, probably because I was tired and ready for it to be over, I got kind of annoyed when we had to roll through a chase mechanic… again. I think wining (or in our case, loosing) should be the end of the chase. Once we had to fight the guys who caught us, it should have been enough to say we fend them off and then escape. This could have really just been me being tired though. Hard to say.

The repartee system was disappointing at best. I used the Charm to woo a barmaid and ended up with a kiss on the OTHER musketeer’s cheek and a bar brawl because her hulking boyfriend was present. The next time I used it was to intimidate the Musketeer captain. It had precisely zero effect in game as the captain never took action against me. I don’t really know what to do with this. I’m was planning on this being a major part of my character’s tactics and I don’t see that actually working much until he is a proficient swordsman (where the intimidate will be useful against his foes).

What I REALLY wish happened?

I wish that in the chase, my character (the Ussuran spy) got separate from the group (he is the slowest) and was able to duck into an alcove and shape shift into a mouse and then scurry away. He would have met back up with the rest of the characters on the street. It would have made them suspicious of him, but only barely, maybe he just found another way out. Also, if his master (the secret Knight of the Rose and Cross) thought something was not right, he’s probably suspect the young Montaigne of Porte rather than anything else. That would have started some good dramatic tension. I’ll have to try and engineer this uneasy uncertainty in the next session.

I also wish that during the bar brawl, I gave up my two actions for an active defense to hip check my fellow musketeer and take his place when he was pummeled by the bar maid’s boyfriend. It would have made for some very humorous irony.

Kubla is King!

Man, I really can’t say enough good things about Kubla this year. Part con, part company and part serendipity, I had a blast.   Warning: This post is very long, read as time allows.

Pre con excitement.

The fun started for me 10 days before the con. On Tuesday (the 15th) I play tested my Office Waste game with Erik Woodbury, Travis Lindquist, Steve Dunn, Tracy Pinkelton, Omar Camacho and Matt DeHayes. There were some kinks in the game (as there is supposed to be in a play test) but overall I had a great time. Such a good time in fact that I would have been content even if the actual game had been canceled, had no shows or just sucked at the con. The Prime Time Adventure rules (especially Paul Strack’s variations of them) are fast, flexible and fun. My players were awesome and really confirmed to me what a great idea it was to let players play characters who were normal Joes that got to break free of mundane constraints.

After the play-test was done and improvements were made I spent a few nights helping Eric Woodbury with Arathi Ceasefire (a World of Warcaft LARP). Eric is an experienced tabletop and live action role player, but this LARP needed a lot of WoW background information and a system to be created. Erik, Steve Dunn, Tracy Pinkelton and I had gotten together a few times to work out the system and now it was time to crank out the characters. I made seven of the thirty characters and a few minor props. All in all it wasn’t a giant contribution, but I really had fun developing interconnections between the characters. Sadly my game (Office Waste) and Erik’s (Arathi Ceasefire) were both Friday night. So while I helped prep the game, I couldn’t actually be there to be an assistant GM.

Friday Night (Office Waste – by me)

Erik and I got out of Davis just after 4, which was only about two hours late, so I was pretty happy. We arrived and checked in and quickly assembled 30 character packets for the LARP. I helped Erik carry the stuff to Sandpebble D and then left him to run the game. As I had opportunities to check in on the game (while mine was having a break) it seemed like the participants were having a great time. The follow up that I heard after confirmed just that. Arathi Ceasefire went off like gangbusters.

I had an hour before my game was going to start and a friend of mine that lives in Colorado was in town. We hopped across the street, had a bite as Sizzler and then I bolted back to the hotel to get Office Waste started. From left to right here is Alex and Charles just before we went out to dinner.

Alex and Charles - Before Dinner

My players were Justin, Mike Bogan, Sam, Rasilind, Elizabeth, and Brent. I had gamed with all of them except Rasilind and Justin and I was confidant that the group was going to rock. I was wrong. The rocked hard! Every time I faced them with a horrible traffic, evil bosses, sadistic dot-matrix printers, sensitivity trainers, partnership councils, arrogant IT guys, whiners, annoyingly happy co-workers, strange food fetish co-workers and disgusting, greasy, uncouth co-workers they shined like I could have never imagined. Prime Time Adventures (with variations from Paul Strack) allows the players to narrate both successes and failures. Given this, much of the “story” is put in the hands of the players (where I think it should be). They give direction to the plot and narrate a good portion of the scenes. Between the hot-boxed bathroom, “everybody likes my chili”, the fake then real then mocked dying grandmother and the who-on-myspace dialog, I was practically crying from laughing so hard. My players were nothing short of awesome and they made the game something I will never forget.

Deliriously happy, I met up with Erik and Steve who were drinking with some other gamers. I met (hoping I remember names now): Paul, Devon, Dave and Joe. The guys were all friendly and willing to share their wine so how could I turn down the company. We drank for a bit and then eventually headed up the room to crash.

Saturday Morning (Spirit of the 24th Century – by Mike Parker)

I went to bed late on Friday and didn’t sleep all that well. Noise and an uncomfortable bed didn’t help. To my surprise the alarm clock woke me up around 8ish and I made it to my 9:00 game: Spirit of the 24th Century.

For me this game was lot of firsts. Mike Parker is one of Good Omens more recent GMs and one of the few that has never ran a game I was in. I knew Mike had run several Spirit of the Century games already so I was eager to see what he could do with a system he was comfortable with. Also, the game itself was totally new to me. I had heard Paul Tevis’ review of it some time ago and I was interested in the game, but up till now had never played it. Also, of the players in the group I had gamed with Gerry and Greg Eichner before, but Anton, Stephan and the guy who played RxM-42 (sorry, I should have written down names) were strangers.

There are a lot of game reviews of Spirit of the Century (two of them here: Have Games Will Travel, and four more on RPG net (which you can find by searching the reviews at so I won’t go into the details of the game except to note how I think it is well suited for a con game.

In Mike’s game (as per usual with SotC) we created our characters before starting. With a game using d20, Hero System or even World of Darkness I would have dreaded doing on the spot character creation. It can take hours to do and experienced players will end up with much more efficient and “powerful” characters than novices. Spirit of the Century, however, falls in the category of trait based character building which means my “Grew up in a space farm” was every bit as useful and descriptive as Monkey-X who had the trait “Oook Oook”. Character creation is (reasonably fast) and entertaining in its own right. Because this was Spirit of the 24th century, a few things had been changed. We were playing in a high pulp future much like Buck Rodgers or Mars Attacks. Giant Robots, Martians, Space Nazis, you name it.

This took two hours but was well worth it. All of our characters were connected to each other (as part of the character development process) and we had established several antagonists that Mike was able to use as his villains.

In SotC the player describes their character as he or she ages and give them “aspects” which will later be used in the game. I chose to create a “rocketeer” character that was born on a space farm. Quite by accident I named him Davey Rocket and hilarity ensued (along with a chorus of “Davey, Davey Rocket. King of the final frontier.”). As I created the character I ended up with aspects like: An honest face never lies, everyone knows Martians have a glass jaw, a damsel in distress…., and my tribute to Kirk: “But that’s not…possible…” The other characters were similarly rich. Mike did a great job helping us along. As we tried to find appropriate aspects to pull from our history, he was always there with a helpful suggestion that suited the era. After two hours we had a great cast: Davey Rocket, RXM-42 (Android Ninja), Green Something (Martian with only a coincidental resemblance to a mantis warrior found in another slightly larger RPG) Red Starburst, Monkey X (the super intelligent experimental co-pilot monkey), and Doc O, the man of SCIENCE!

Once the game got underfoot, we went from having a good time, to having a great time. Because of our characters backgrounds we managed to have Robot Ninja Monkey Aliens (our side) vs. Pirate Nazi Mind Slavers (the bad guys). The game was completely campy and ridiculously funny. I was quite happy when my rival Hydrogen Hilda (a blue Martian Pirate who worked for the Cult of Hauptman) captured Davey, took away his rocket pack, interrogated him and then had her way with him. Of course RXM-42 came to the rescue only so that I could face my rival again in the field of battle. Mike really impressed me with this game. He rolled so smoothly with our ideas that you would have thought the characters were pre-generated for his story.

As if this review hasn’t been long enough, here is a picture of the players.

Saturday Afternoon (Thy Will – by Todd Furler)

Todd Furler was a new GM to me, but he had come highly recommended. Alex Miller had been in his octaNe game Friday night and Tracy Pinkelton had played Buffy with him in the past. Both told me that Todd was a lot of fun. However, even given that I was skeptical about the game description: “A brutal murder makes you question everything you’ve ever believed. Players in this game must be comfortable having their characters discuss morality and real-world religions.” It wasn’t so much that I was intimidated by the description as I worried that after two very upbeat and entertaining games, this would be a downer. Again, I was happily surprised.

Todd Started the game explaining Unknown Armies as a game that looks at what normal people do when under extreme stress. He prefaced the game with a disclaimer that the game would be disturbing and we must be able to remain detached from our character in order to play. Nobody stirred from their seats. He continued with a few expectations that made it clear to all of us that this would not be a “sit com” RPG.

The story included seven very normal people who all had very different religious views that God had condemned and sent and angel of wrath to destroy. The game spanned five years and in that time our characters were forced to accept realities they really couldn’t comprehend (an example my character who was a happy go lucky pacifist killed someone to protect himself and the others and really went a little nuts when he realized what happened).

By the end of the game, all of our characters had changed profoundly. The atheist had joined Unitarian Universalism. My character who was terrified of commitment married one of the other characters and had children with her, and half of us were killed by the angel of wrath before he finally couldn’t stand the paradox of God’s command, gained free will and was cast from the heavenly choir.

I expected the game to be intense but it was much more than that. The game was full of horror caused both by the world around us and by our own self reflection. I remember at one point taking Jarys (who was playing Eduardo Mendoza the atheist) and literally yelling at him for several minutes because he was trying to give the responsibility of negotiating with the Angel of Wrath to a 13 year old boy. He had very good reasons to do this, but my character who was friends with the boy just couldn’t handle it. We changed, grew, had children and died and we did it all in four hours. Personally I was amazed that Todd told such a moving story in that short of time. This was the most human and most horrific game I’ve every played in. Fantastic job Todd and the same to the other players (who sadly I only got the names of Sam and Jarys who I already knew)!

Todd Fuller's Thy Will Players

Saturday Night (Office Dogs at the Water cooler)

By 8:00 PM Saturday night I was really beat. I had stayed up till 3AM every morning since Wednesday and as I mentioned my hotel sleep was fitful and less than rejuvenating. I found that I had gotten into Wilson Zom’s Office Dogs at the Water cooler game and wasn’t sure I was up for it. Wilson had adapted Dogs in the Vineyard, a game set in an old west that never was, to modern day corporate world. The characters worked for the Davidson-Oligmueller Group (or DOG) and they were consultants that went from company to company to help them implement and maintain the DOG code. As per the normal DotV scenario each company you visit has some problems and you are there to weed out the corruption and get a company back on track.

Since I had some experience playing and running Dogs, I found myself giving advice to Wilson and the other players throughout the game. Normally in DotV this is encouraged. The players are supposed to add their two cents into every situation, however, I worried that I was going overboard. I talked to Wilson twice about it and he said that I hadn’t overstepped my player role but I couldn’t help but feeling I started the game back seat GM-ing. Once I noticed, however, I started doing it a lot less and intentionally put the responsibility of tackling several key “problem employees” in the hands of other DOG consultants.

We had some good times rooting out the corruption. As per a usual DotV game, the adventure isn’t about doing detective work, it’s about confronting people and breaking them down until either a) you make a judgment about them or b) they tell you something that significantly changes your mind. For the most part I played a DOG who walked into the situation thinking (actually knowing) that I already knew what was wrong with the company. The cool thing about DotV is that players decide how their characters interpret the Faith (in this case the Code) and act accordingly. Even thought my character (Dale Bennet) didn’t have all the information, he was certain of who was creating the problem (Wilson had made it pretty clear) and was ready to take action. Since even the CEO was afraid to fire this employee (who the share holders thought was a wonder boy) we did it for him. Then we canned the CEO and forced someone else to take his position and rehire the ex-CEO as a consultant. The latter part was done as part of a narrative, but firing the wonder boy Bob was a really intense conflict. He pulled out all the stops and after he realized there was no way to save his job he started threatening ours. By the end of it all but one of the characters had to defend ourselves in front of the DOG review board. We managed to keep our jobs but earned some nasty fall out. I think mine was “Can’t find the snakes head to grab 1d4”

Interestingly, some of the best conflict actually arose between the dogs. One of us was skeptical of the DOG Code and when he mentioned off the cuff that ignoring it (in this case doing illegal business) flippantly and said “so what” we had a long and vicious conflict which almost amounted to loosing one of our consultants in the middle of the game.

As always I like that DotV skips past the trivial bread crumb system of GMs giving clues until players figure out what is going on and dives right into “this is all jacked up, what are you going to do about?” Good job Wilson and the other players (again I was too tired to remember the names and didn’t think to write them down).

Although I really enjoyed myself, I wish I could have had a clone that got into Rasilind’s “Mystery Men” game. It sounds like the game was awesome.

Wilson Zom's Office Dogs at the Water Cooler players

After being a DOG till 2AM I meandered a bit and then finally crashed in my room.

Sunday Morning (7th Sea – Jay)

Sunday morning I got into a game that didn’t really fit my play style. There were seven players and the others were having a good time so I politely excused myself. Luckily, Erik and Steve had gotten their 7th Sea mentor Jay (sorry don’t have the last name) to start up a game and they called me to see if I could join. Heck Yeah! I called Alex Miller, got him to join and we started.

Jay had run this game before and had a whole list of pre-generated characters to choose from. Collectively we were Sebastian the archer, Andrew the highland warrior, Allison the pirate and myself, Herbert the cook. The game started with a simple mission: Capture a spy whose whereabouts were known and security was lax and turn her into the Lord Bywood. Well, just in case Jay plans on running this game again I won’t spoil the details but after we took a break, all of us agreed that we must have been hoodwinked and of course, we were right. Good times ensued as we tried to get our reputations out of the mud.

Jay is a good GM. I can see where Erik and Steve got their style from. The players however were really what made the experience great. Early on in the game Lord Bywood asked if we were sailors and being both cocky and drunk Steve said Sebastion was part of the queen’s guard, Erik claimed Andrew was a dancing monkey and for my part Herbert said he was part of the church choir (he was singing a sea shanty when the noble arrived). Advice for those who follow: Be careful who (or what) you shove into a canvas bag.

Sunday Evening (Dealers room and dinner with Greg M.)

After the game, I checked as saw that I hadn’t made it into any afternoon games and so Erik, Steve and I cruised into the dealer’s room. I was glad to see that EndGame was doing well and chatted with Chris and Aaron for a bit. Erik was pretty excited about Battlegrounds, which is essentially a miniatures game made with cards. Much lighter, smaller and cheaper. Best of all, no painting required. It’s been a while since I’ve played miniature games so it took some time to sell me on it. Chad from Your Move Games was very friendly and happy to demo/explain as much about the game as I was willing to hear. Clearly he was exited about the game and as it is non-collectable I didn’t feel like my $15 was going to open a huge can of financial worms. Though interested in the game, I didn’t have the energy to try it on the spot so I chucked the box in my backpack and started making dinner plans.

Greg Matheison was coming to the con to have dinner and see friends (he couldn’t attend more due to work) so I went out to dinner with him and a few other guys. Sizzler again. Their salad bar is really expansive (in addition to salads they have nachos, onion rings, chicken and others) but the fish and chips was pretty mediocre. I used to be in Greg’s bi-weakly game but dropped out due to distance, so it was really great just to hang out with him for a bit.

After dinner, I felt pretty crappy. Greg drove an hour or so to see me and I was bolting off to a game. Only I didn’t get into Noah Hills “Thank you for using the Umbrella company…” World of Darkness game or into Larry’s Srenity game or into Matt Espinoza’s “All Aboard” Deadlands game. In fact I didn’t get into squat. I can’t really complain much, though, that is the cost of getting into all of your picks early on in the con. Greg, Alex, Steve and I decided to wait in Matt Espinoza’ room so that Greg could say hi to him before the game started. When we got there we saw a sea of crashers all dying to get their huckster on. Amongst them was Sam and Joel Mikesell and Brent (Brent I need to get your email address, a last name and phone number wouldn’t be too bad either). It was either Joel or Sam that mentioned we had enough people to start our own game and somehow we roped Greg into running a Shadowrun game for us. Mike Parker offering up his copy of the rulebook helped, but ultimately it came down to Greg being a really nice guy who kicks ass at GMing Shadowrun.

We bumped into Kim in the elevator and dragged her along with us, bringing the total up to seven players. Instead of making characters on the spot we just photocopied the archetypes they had in the book and used those. Sam played a troll named “Sue”, Brent played the Arabic and very professional weapon specialist, and I had Carmen, the gunslinger adept who used to be a normal woman who suddenly found herself field stripping and assembling a Colt Manhunter. Yep, it was the Gina Davis character from Long Kiss Goodnight, but I had fun with it.

For creating a game off the top of his head, Greg had some great flavor. Our fixer John Leningrad was missing his oni-bot (yep her name is Yoko Oni ) and wanted us to find him. We made our way through a troll biker gang (and when I mean make our way I mean put holes in every one of them), a prime runner named Flynn and finally to a mafia warehouse. By then end of the session we were all having such a good time and so tired that any kind of plan we might have been able to think up went out the window. A super powered lightning bolt, a rocket launcher and a dwarf ninja were apparently all we needed to rescue the oni-bot. The game was a lot of fun and a great send off from Kubla.

Monday (heading home)
So as to appease the woman of my dreams who was taking care of my two children over the weekend, I headed home pretty early on Monday. I bought a skull to use as a prop in the flea market and then Erik and I (who were carpooling) headed out.

Kubla was really a blast. I am so glad that I went this year.

I’ll be posting a condensed version of this on the Good Omens website ( shortly.