As with Nerdly, Colin, Andrew and I piled into Morgan's MAGNUM!!! and hit the 5 for the six hour drive to the Bay Area. The 5 is a long straight tedious highway, but the worst thing about it is the lack of interesting food options along its length. But it does end, so we eventually arrived at the hotel, settled in and went in search of gaming.
I was scheduled to run two games on the books and had others with me for open gaming. I hadn't signed up for anything. One of the idiosyncrasies of the Bay Area gaming scene is a preponderance of six and eight hour games, so there were a few games that looked interesting but were cocooned in overly long slots that I wasn't prepared to commit to. The obvious problem with long slots is that it's a big time commitment to risk on an uncertain game. The hidden problem is that the entire schedule is out of whack and there are few synchronised meal breaks. That made it hard to rally support for off-premises dinning. As a consequence, we suffered through the hotel bar and restaurant until Sunday when we had had enough and went for several drives. But back to the gaming.
On Friday evening we rounded up a few players in the Open Gaming room for Andrew to run Dungeon World. Andrew styles his games as fictional D&D modules for which he names and describes the cover art; this one was Prison of the Ebon Dowager and depicted a gladiatorial arena in a deep canyon. I played a Wizard (my first) and out-guessed myself, not taking an offensive spell thinking I'd level before a significant fight only to be dumped in medias res... But while I was pretty ineffective, it was fun essentially channelling Dr Orpheus for a few hours. Friday night ended with a Barcon gathering in the Gazebo but between the mediocrity of the hotel bar and insufficiently organisation of our own booze, it was relatively tame. I kept a vague eye on the first two Rugby World Cup Quarter finals from the patchy hotel wifi, but didn't really watch them.
The dealer room opened at 10am on Saturday, so I picked up the copy of the Blood Bowl Team Manager card game and in the absence of any RPGs in Open Gaming, opened it up and played a two-player game with Will Huggins. It was a bit of a mission to play without a good read through first, but once we got going it played very well. We joined in a Race to Adventure tournament afterwards, which Will won. Race to Adventure is still in development, but it was quick, simple and challenging, with all of the players about to win at the same time. Only takes about 30 minutes to play through too, so it's a good pick up game with a fair degree of replayability.
In the afternoon, I signed up for Jeremy Tidwell's Doctor Who hack of Apocalypse World, Companions, in which you all play Companions gathered by the TARDIS which is continuing the Doctor's work after his (permanent) death. I played The Wizz, based on various characters in the original seasons, which was somewhat like being the Doctor without actually being a timelord. It's a great hack, well worth playing if you get the chance. Jeremy has done a great job of emulating the feel of a Doctor Who episode.
After a quick bite to eat, I ran my Dungeon World adventure, The Tree of Souls. It went well, although Colin came past to watch for a bit and I now apparently have a reputation for running games with camping (“It's a legitimate strategy!”) as it's a slower paced set-up than Colin's usual style. There are no significant tweaks to be made before I run it at Kapcon at any rate. I had a great group of players, all locals and none of whom had played Dungeon World before, and they got right into the system and the set-up, one of them remarking after the game that it felt very much like an old school OD&D game.
The game finished at midnight, so after some brief post-game discussion, I sought out the wifi and watched the ABs beat the Pumas. Barcon had broken up by the time the game finished, so straight to bed. On Sunday we decided to give the hotel bar no more of our time and money and went in search of a diner for breakfast, successfully.
I had volunteered to run my 3:16 game in the Sunday Morning slot. I did the same multiple-missions-on-the-same-planet thing as I tried at Nerdly, but guided it better this time with explicit linking between missions. This was my game of the weekend I think, as I had some brilliant players. The great lines were coming thicker and faster than I could tweet! So with a couple of games of 3:16 in quick succession (here and at Nerdly), I think that game will go back on the shelf for a while.
After a quick trip to In and Out, Colin ran the first version of his new Apocalypse World/Gamma World hack for Ryan Macklin, Andrew, Morgan and me. Ryan was a gargoyle, Andrew was a radiation priest, Morgan played a giant diesel-fusion-powered robot, and I played a swarm of psychic cats. So that was badass. It's a promising hack, and I'm sure there'll be more said about it here and elsewhere in the future. As part of this, we tested a new XP system which could also apply to Dungeon World; I'll write more on that in a later post. There was plenty of discussion of such things over pizza at Lanesplitter.
Monday was the return travel day, but we began with a trip into downtown Oakland to visit the legendary EndGame. Not only do they have a great selection of indie games, but they have a really good second hand section too. I picked up an copy of the first edition Shadowrun hardback in excellent condition (my softcover is spineless and trashed, held together by masking tape and memories), a copy of the first edition supplement Native American Nations vol 1 (which I hope I don't already have), and a copy of the third edition supplement, Mr Johnson's Little Black Book, all for $20. I highly recommend a trip to EndGame if you're ever in Oakland.
Just around the corner from End Game is The Trappist, where we had lunch, about which I will also say more later. Our time in Oakland ended with another trip to Lanesplitter to pick up a pizza for the long road back to LA.