Actual Play – Sleeping Serpent (7/17/2010) at Good Omens Con 4

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Karen, Loyd, Justin and Xavier
System: Agon

Agon is an action-packed roleplaying game about ancient Greek heroes who face brutal tests from the gods. With bravery, cunning, honor, and strength, one hero will prove to be the greatest and secure immortality in legend.

Agon supports fast-paced, competitive play, with mechanics designed to create an even playing field for players and the game master. Oath-swearing and trash-talking are highly encouraged.

Okay, I’ll finally admit this a month later. I took the entire week off work before Good Omens Con to prepare for both the con itself and my Dresden game. At noon on Friday before the con it finally hit me, CRAP, I’m running TWO games at GO CON! I had an audition game at four in Berkely so I figured I had at least a few hours to prep it. Then I looked at my calendar and was reminded that I had a hotel to tour for Big Bad Con in Pleasanton at 2:30. Which gave me exactly one hour to pack up all my stuff into the car and prep for Agon.

I was SO happy that a) Agon is relatively low prep and b) all my normal props (character tents, power chips with matching portraits, and my Greek Tarot deck) were quick at hand. So I printed off a few more character sheets, crammed it all into a box and raced out.

Then after a day of touring the Four Points by Sheraton and playing in Justin Mitchel’s Iron Kingdom’s game, I schlepped over to my sister in-laws house to finish creating Good Omens dice bags and write the adventure. Thank you, thank you, thank you John Harper for making such an easy adventure creation system in the back of the book. Roll some d12s, keep what you like, chuck the rest and weave it all together. Sure, we’ve got a couple of different communities. Ares wants war, Hermes wants a crown stolen and Artemis wants a hunt. What would each of these establish? That took some thought… and bam! Each of these actions (whichever happens first) will dictate the king or queen of the Island and promote the god that gave them that status to the favored one on the island (god’s are always motivated by self-interest).

As usual I told the heroes that they would have three major objectives but that I left the specifics up to them. In this case they chose to find an oracle, defeat the gorgon and take the crown and then use that to choose a leader to start the war (effectively completing quests given by both Hermes and Ares but only appeasing the latter because they did it in his name).

What rocked

Agon, as always was a ton of fun to run. I take simple tasks like “let’s go talk the oracle” and fill them with cryptic assassins, snakes, spirits, collapsing tunnels and an ornery old hag. It means we’ve got plenty of challenges, lots of strive and tons of glory.

I got players to shout their names. I love that.

Karen was the only player who chose to play a human (not a demi-god) and she had the highest glory at the end, much to the chagrin of the half gods.

I loved having daddy and mommy come down from the heavens to mess with the heroes that weren’t following the. Ah the hubris of man, and how fun it is to smack them upside the head for it.

Lots and lots and lots of smack talk and competition between the heroes.

Openly defying the gods. Loyd took a statue of his mother (Artemis) and used it as target practice with his bow. WOAH!

I was dressed appropriately

What could have been improved

The quests probably would have made a bit more sense of I had thought them out a bit more and not been so rushed.

I kept rolling crazy high. I swear my average roll on 2d8 (keeping only the highest die) was a 7.5. I think it was kind of demoralizing for the players. But on the up side it just meant they spent three weeks in the woods having a drunken bender to recover.

Actual Play – Lockdown (7/17/2010) at Good Omens Con 4

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Teryn, Randy, Elizabeth, Noam, Geoff, and Sam.  Guest starring Chris Hanrahan as Johnny Marcone.
System: Dresden Files

Gentlemen Johnny Marcone has finally been brought to justice. And wouldn’t you know it, over a civil offence! It’s a classic. Never mind that he killed your partner in cold blood and probably caused one sort of hell or another for nearly every cop in the precinct. Tonight he’s in lockup until he can be transferred to a federal penitentiary. You lonely few have nothing else to do but keep the coffee hot, listen to radio chatter, and make sure that under no circumstance, Marcone walks out the front door until the Feds come to pick him up in the morning. He’s the loaded gun.

This was my morning game at Good Omens Con. The game was so much fun to run, I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll try.

An explosive situation: Anyone who knows anything about Dresden will know that Marcone is not a figure that sits behind bars easily. His mere presence will disturb forces political, psychological, criminal and supernatural.

Cool characters: All of the cops in the story had something they really wanted out of this case. To prove themselves, to get revenge for their murdered partner, to see justice done, to get through the last two days on the job, etc. Several of them were corrupt in one way or the other, and it turned out that those two ended up causing as much chaos as any other force in the story.

My Ace in the hole: Well before the game started I had planned to make one of the players be Marcone.  I was warned against this idea though, what if nobody wants to play him or players don’t want inter-PC divisions like that?  I really didn’t want him to be an NPC controlled by me because that would a) take up too much of my brain power and b) make it very hard to differentiate between an extremely powerful character and the GM using my control of the narrative and fate chips to get what I wanted.  It was important that he started the game with 0 fate chips.  Marcone is a monster.  And to do that monster justice I put him in the capable hands of Chris from Endgame.  And man… Chris was awesome.  In the end he walked out of that jail cell without ever going so far as intimidating one of the cops.

Props: Do I love props? Oh my how I love props. Here are some of them:

First, the box the game came in.  Which included all the other props, and was a prop itself:

The obligatory Mag light  and skull full of fate chips (6 pointed badges for the mundane cops, 5 pointed for the not so mundane)

Evidence in bags: Case files, confiscated records, Marcone’s watch, media from years of recording (disks, cds, and a flash drive)

Character Sheets (with options for either gender):

Character “tents”

The chief’s Holy Grail (inside I had an actual print off of a scanned image of  Al Capone’s guilty verdict.

Part of the police chief’s attire for his meeting with the Mayor (after arresting Marcone).  He looked very sharp!

Finally, Sir Not Appearing in this Post also include coffee and donuts, which felt perfect for a cop game in the morning . No picture because we already ate them all!

Amazing players. I was tickled pink when Teryn and Elizabeth both picked the dirty cops and Randy was sitting in between them playing the true believer. It was such good interplay. Also Geoff did an excellent cop bent on revenge. And Noam was so great a playing the underestimated cop who “couldn’t keep criminals behind bars” (his trouble). He actually took the compel to just let Marcone walk free (this was of course after they decided that otherwise everyone in the precinct was going to die, but still). Finally Sam played this great pessimistic old timer who was just aching to get out and get on with his pension.

Compels. I know I saw this all the time, but I think compels are the engine that make Fate/SotC/Dresden run.  They give the GM (and the other players) the power to twist the game in interesting ways that stay true to the world and the characters.  The nearly always eliminate the need for Deus Ex Machina and the weave the characters into the fiction like nothing else.   I say it all the time, but I love compels.

What rocked

I don’t have enough fingers and toes.

What could have improved

I should have done a bit more rules explanation (I jumped in pretty quickly).

We got in a time crunch at the end that forced two encounters into one. It ended up working out a lot like the books (a ton of things happening all at once) but I felt a little on the edge as I was trying to keep three different conflicts all running at the same time.

Actual Play – The Longest Night (7/16/2010)

GM: Justin Mitchel
Players: Sean, Ian, and Chad
System: D&D 4E (Iron Kingdoms Hack)


Welcome to the Iron Kingdoms, Scrub. You’ve been hired by Father Thomas to investigate a series of grave robbings. A deeper mystery lies at the heart of these strange events and its going to take guts, luck and a whole lot of bullets to get to the bottom of it. Think you can handle it? Think again!

This was the intro for Justin’s Good Omens audition game. He hosted us in the Double Tree at Berkley which was right on the coast and had a gorgeous view of the marina. All the boats might have biased me some… I love boats.

Justin took an Iron Heroes adventure and setting (originally set in 3rd Edition) and has hacked it into Savage World and then into 4E. We played the latter version and had a rocking good time.

What Rocked

1. His props were awesome. The character sheets were gorgeous and tailored very well for con play (very easy to read and very minimal). The character sheets had beautiful pictures from the setting that matched exactly with beautifully painted miniatures. We each picked up an ornately decorated letter (of our choice) that were placed in the center of the play area which gave our character a bit of story. The game tiles were set up perfectly, as were the monsters. Everything about the game looked like it would have been a demo from a company trying to sell a beautifully finished product.

2. The rules hacks were great. We played pretty close to 4E but he added in aspects (ala Fate) and ported over the races to fit the setting (I believe the Ogrin used the Minotaur stats for example, ensuring it was still a balanced race).

3. The game was quick moving and fun. We had 5 encounters (4 fights and skill challenge) plus a couple minor skirmishes (minions only). I thought each of the fights were fun, had interesting twists and employed some different, cool effects. We fought gobbers with smoke machines, a giant squid in the river, a necromantic priest, and the risen corpses of fallen witches. All in all, good stuff.

4. His skill challenge, something that I feel comes off very bland in many cases, was a lot of fun. We investigated all over, talked to various and sundry fellows (caretakers, nobles and crazies).

5. Justin’s composure throughout the game was upbeat and exciting. He adapted quickly and improvised well and kept the story fun as we rambled this way and that.

6. He was honest with us a players when something wasn’t going to work. One thing I really respect is when a GM can break the game and communicate the players as fellow players in a game we are all playing, rather than just the controllers of characters in a fictional world.

7. He’s just a fun guy to hangout and talk about gaming with.

8. Did I mention his props were great? Yeah, I’m a props whore.

Player specific stuff:

Ian’s portrayal of the squirmy little gobber (read: goblin) was spot on.  He had all this crazy goblin logic that usually centered around not getting dead, which is pretty smart in general, but I drew the “glory hound” trait so we kept clashing with regards to safety.

Chad’s dogged pursuit of the man with the lightning scar was hysterical, especially because he was such an imposing figure to begin with (an Ogrin, similar in stature to an Ogre) that most people just wanted to run away from him anyway, which of course made him all the more suspicious.

What could have improved

There were some mechanical bits that should be cleaned up. Labeling daily, encounter, and at-will powers as such, doing more rules explanation at the beginning, and moving the skills around (or modifying the skill challenges) so that every character had a useful skill in the skill challenge.