Kubla 2009 – Friday 5/22/2009

Where to start? This was a great con, as usual. For the benefit of continuity, I’ll just start at the beginning and try not to belabor any points too long.

Friday Morning 10:30 AM

Bags packed, podcasting equipment ready, game ready, and kids at school! Kevan and Greg showed, we loaded up my stuff and rolled out. One stop at In and Out for lunch (haven’t had their burgers in a while, they were fantastic) and then to the Hyatt.

Friday at Noon (or noon-ish)

Checked into room, check in at the con (although I didn’t have a GM badge because my game was only 4 hours, so I had make up for it in volunteer work, more on that later). Bumped into a number of familiar faces, Cassie (who was running her first con game), Brent, Sam H., Todd, Matt S., Matt E., and the regular con staff (Alexis, Alicia, Becca, etc.). We socialized a bit, I won a single game of Monkey vs. Squid (which was the only game of it I’d play all con) and then I got word of BSG…

Friday from 3 PM to 6PM

Brian, Sean, Sean, Jimmy, and Phil (I’m one of those Sean’s) got together to play the new Battlestar Galatica board game. I had heard very good things about it but was skeptical because a) I don’t like cooperative games with a traitor and b) I don’t like very long games. Well, we didn’t finish the game (though we came very close) but it did relieve me of both of my concerns. Despite the presence of Cylons on the ship, game play was very fun. There was a lot of suspicion but there isn’t an accusation mechanic (except to throw someone in the brig, which I was despite being a human) so we can talk a lot about who is the “toaster” and there are things which will help us guess, but in the end, it’s up to the Cylons to reveal themselves. As someone who only watched the last five episodes of the whole show, I thought the game had a lot going for it. There are enough challenges to keep the game interesting through several iterations, also strategies will vary from game to game and character to character. A thumbs up for BSG

Friday after 6PM but before 8PM

With my gaming coming up soon, I started to get antsy, as I always do. I hit the dealers room, talked with Chris and Anthony, got the rundown of a game called Blasphemy from its designer (basically a board game about prophets all fighting to become recognized), and bought some more red dice from Chessex.

I then got to my room (which didn’t have the long table I requested, but oh well) and started setting up. Here’s a picture of how it looked before people arrived:

After the setup, I checked in with Justin to see how his Firefly game was going and as expected it looked like it was “teh awesome”. Kevan, Cassie and a few others I recognized were in it. I knew that between those players and Justin’s GMing, the game would be killer. Still, they were missing water, so I called the hotel sounded just a touch annoyed and asked for water to be brought. I wasn’t there for it when they arrived but apparently they took me seriously, as six pitchers (yes, six!) of water were brought in for them. Nobody’s going thirst on that ship.

Friday 8 PM – The Gift.

This was my 4th time running The Gift and as in the three time before it was a blast, also the outcome was different, very different from other games. The Gift (which you can read about my previous runs here: http://wildljduck.livejournal.com/55722.html , here: http://wildljduck.livejournal.com/52678.html and here: http://wildljduck.livejournal.com/51280.html) is a great adventure that pits Elves vs. Dwarves under the pretense of peace, which usually doesn’t last past the first few minutes.

What rocked

I asked everyone at the table before we began if they could be a racist bigot. Some said yes immediately, others needed me to qualify that I meant “in game” and with the races of “elf” and “dwarf”. All of them however eventually got into that mindset, which really helped the energy of the game. It started off tense.

The introduction scene, as always, was fun for me. I get to describe how clan Narn (the other group there to congratulate the king) is everything the king wants: obsequiously congratulating him, disarming themselves before entering the hall, and of course offering mountains of gold, gems and a giant marble statue made in the image of the king. All of this is done specifically to make the elves look really bad when they show up looking regal and pompous, armed and most importantly with no gift!

I tried something new with the NPC dwarves, which was very fun and got a great reaction. When they would speak to the PC dwarves they stood up straight, were obedient, loyal, disciplined and everything a good dwarf should be. When I had the very same character talk to an elf, I hobbled over to them (this game involves me getting up a lot), hunched over like and generally acted like a deranged monkey. I would describe the dwarf wiping his nose with their cloak, making “ook” noises and generally being despicable. This really helped to set the tone for the differences between the way the Elves and Dwarves saw each other. And… it was a ton of fun to do.

In the second scene, the Elven captain offered to enchant the Dwarven King’s axe. An ancient and oversized blade that had (supposedly) fell a Dragon. We had one kick ass Duel of Wits. The duel was going to end with the Elf’s enchanted sword and the Dwarves ancient axe colliding. If the elf one the axe would shatter, and the dwarves would be so astounded that they would rush to find another blade and allow the Elves to enchant it as a gift. If the Dwarf won, the Elven blade would snap in two and the dwarves would laugh at the preposterousness that an Elven song could make their dwarven steel “better”. Before the duel started the Uncle, the Seneschal and several NPC dwarves all started gabling over how many pieces the sword would shatter into. They were a bit peeved that the elves wouldn’t take this bet. Hah! Final result was that the Elf Captain won, but with a major compromise. As he had used his grief in the duel and was therefore not long for this world, we agreed that though he won, both weapons should shatter, but the dwarves would be impressed by the spell enough to accept it as a gift. That was frickin epic.

The armor, of course, was revealed. And when it was, boy oh boy did all those dwarves fail their steel tests. Instead of acting on it immediately the king closed the scene and said “Ahh… now what we need is a good bath, lets us adjourn to the bath halls.” Which I thought was a BRILLIANT way of getting the elf prince out of his armor. Unfortunately for the Dwarves the Ranger crept in and spied on them, overhearing all their plots to take the armor once the prince has removed it, so when the prince arrived and found the dwarves in their mineral springs wearing naught but a towel, he was fully garbed in his mail and sword and explained that the captain had suffered too much grief (oh… that was the other great part, when he tried to sing the “song of the sword” to enchant an axe, he failed the roll… he no longer had it in him to create a weapon of war) and now need time with just the elves to lament. This would not pass! The Dwarves, insulted made their first assaults on the dwarves by removing their towels. A naked Duel of Wits (in which both sides lots horribly) was followed by a naked brawl of a ton of dwarves all trying to tackle the elves. The captain managed to clear a patch for his prince to escape but died doing so, as both he and the Warden struck each other with mortal wounds. The Seneschal, seeing his object of desire disappearing, was overwhelmed with Greed and ran off into the halls stark raving mad. What an end!

What could have been improved

The module says that the secrets should be hidden until the come up in game, but I’m beginning to think that is wrong. The only secret that comes up every time is that the elves forgot the gift and that the prince has mithril armor. The captains grief, the seneschal’s greed, the warden’s heritage and most importantly the drunk uncle’s story rarely come to the surface. This is great stuff that I’d like to see played out. Next time (if there is a next time) I’m totally announcing all of that before the game starts and I’ll see where it goes.

Here are some shots of the group:

Friday Midnight till 2:00 AM –ish

Greg, who had watched the game and I cruised around, hung out with Alex and then hit “In and Out” (notice a theme here). We ate, talked and then I fell asleep, pretty much while doing both of those.