July 3rd, 2012


Not D&D Con

The idea for this con came out of mr_orgue's fevered brain, and my dogged badgering but it was jenni_talula who stepped up to the plate and made it happen. She found an excellent old house in the wilds north of Otaki and collected a fine bunch of Wellington gamers for a weekend of gaming in the country. New convention rule: all conventions should have pizza ovens.

Friday Night
The advance party, Jenni, Sophie, Simon and I, scouted out the venue, unpacked the supplies and settled into a couple of beers while discussing the creepiness of arriving at an old farmstead in the middle of the night. As more people arrived and it became clear that we weren't in a horror movie, we divided into a couple of games, Jenni running Fellowship of the Ring with Best Friends and me running Dungeon World.

I'd wanted to get hold of an old school D&D module to run with Dungeon World and over a couple of beers, mashugenah suggested N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God. I gave it a quick skim it looked to be a good blend of social interaction and combat with a solid old school (by my reckoning of the term) vibe. Sold.

The game was excellent. Simon made a Fighter (Hob, a mercenary fellow with a shock of red hair and a nasty serrated sword) and Sophie made a Druid (Denanor, an unwashed, dreadlocked, tattooed elf largely unfamiliar with the “civilised” world). Later we were joined by Svend's flamboyant Bard, Dunwick the Magnificent, but for the bulk of the session it was just Hob and Denanor exploring the situation, getting into trouble, and riffing off each other. The two-player environment was totally different to my previous top Dungeon World experiences, but it was right up there.

The next morning I made a shit-ton of pizza dough then we finished off the Dungeon World game. I reckon there's probably 3-4 sessions worth of game in that module, but Simon had to head back to Wellington in the afternoon, so the players drove to the end and I cut out some of the dungeon to get to the climax. Fittingly, Dunwick was ensorcelled and drowned, highlighting the Hob/Denanor partnership and leaving the game with the same buddy vibe that the first few hours had built up. I hope we'll get a chance to reprise this combination again.

(While we were wrapping up the cult, another group was playing Paul's League of Extraordinary Gentle-Gamers, a double level game in which the players played famous self-confessed roleplayers (including Wil Wheaton, Vin Diesel, and Dame Judi Dench) playing characters in a game.)

Many pizzas later, we sat down for Sophie's Random Dungeon of Random Dungeon-ness, a randomly generated dungeon with randomly generated characters and treasure using the Dragon Age system. As I tweeted at the time, we started with a bang: explored two rooms, killed two hyenas, and found 10,000 gold; one character retired. The game was a lot of fun and I like the Dragon Age system, but I would have preferred to use a less traditional system. The randomising factors that Sophie brought to the set-up were excellent and totally filtch-worthy; hopefully Sophie will reprise this with Dungeon World at some point.

The evening's entertainment was a larp: The Golden Dragon Inn. This will probably be offered again in my circles, so I won't say too much, but I had a great time playing my character and interacting with, and eventually betraying, the survivors of my ill-fated adventuring party. This game also continued my trend of the last few years in which the most enjoyable larps I have participated in, also involved drinking. In this case, notably, a very nice bottle of 15 year old Laphraoig.

Sunday Morning
Before we left the venue, there was time for one more game, in my case Paul's hack of the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying for 4th ed D&D 4e. There were a lot of tired (and hungover) faces around the table, and when Paul started explaining the system at the start, one player dropped out and even I, a self-confessed system crunch guy, started to glaze over at the early morning complexity. In actual fact, the system was the reason I was particularly keen to play it as I hadn't played MHRP before, and once the caffeine and the mechanics penetrated my brain, it became clear very quickly. I think I need to read the book to grasp all the nuances of how the GM is supposed to run it, but the dice mechanic struck me as very reminiscent of Dogs in the Vineyard in the collecting and selecting parts, if not in the iterative nature of the Dogs conflict system. The game itself was quite short and a little disjointed because of various distractions and conditions, but ended well with a big set piece fight against a dragon and a touching moment between my Halfling Paladin and Norms Eladrin inside the belly of said beast.

Thus ended a great weekend of gaming. Bravo all! Long may Not D&D Con continue; there's already talk of Advanced Not D&D Con, Not D&D Con 3rd Edition, and the like, as well as loudly voiced desires to see a similarly themed event in SoCal.