Sunday, November 1, 2015

Con on the Cob - Now With Pictures!

Con on the Cob was a couple of weeks ago, but blah blah excuse here's the damn write-up.

I really like this little con. It's grown from a loose collection of nerds in a smoky-ass hotel in Hudson, OH, to a larger collection of nerds in a hotel that really does not want you to smoke in Brecksville, OH. The gaming schedule wasn't bad this year, though if I had it to do over again, I'd have played with +Sean Patrick Fannon instead of some of the people I did play with.

As an side, there was a time in my life when I could schedule RPGs back to back from 10AM until 2AM and feel no ill effects. And the other folks over 40 in my circles, I'm sure, read this and think "well, duh," but it's actually something of a shock when your body doesn't do the things it used to do. What that means is that I have to be circumspect when I schedule games, which makes it all the more disappointing when those games get cancelled or simply suck. But more on that later.

We were running a booth for the IGDN, as we do ("we" being me, +Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Eloy Lasanta, and +Ryan Schoon). This is only picture I have from the booth, but I think it speaks volumes:

Eloy is very excited to be here
Thursday, we set up the booth, and worked it for a bit. And then I had an evening game scheduled; I was playing something called Ghostories (that's pronounced "ghost stories", not "go stories" or "goss tories", so I have no idea why it's spelled that way).

Gettin' ready to tell some 'tories.
The game is a supernatural investigation kind of game, and that appeals. Basically it's not dissimilar from Chill insofar as you're normal people (perhaps with some low-grade psychic ability) who go out looking into supernatural shit because someone has to. The system didn't leave much of an impression one way or another, though I do vaguely remember feeling at the time that it was too easy to fail rolls.

The scenario set-up was decent, and the GM got out of our way as we roleplaying and figure out our approach. We wound up doing a little ghost-power time travel and, best of all, toward the end the GM didn't try to drag the resolution out into a big thing; no combat necessary, just a broken mirror and the characters could pick their way home. I like investigative games that focus more on the investigation and the creepy stuff, because horror doesn't really have combat the way action/adventure does.

So: Kinda ambivalent about the game itself, but this session was fun. My grade: B+

Oh, one other cool thing: A game of curse the darkness being run out in wild! Not by me! That makes me happy.

Damn, that's a lot of cards.

Friday, though! We arrived, opened up the booth, got to work. I had a game of Chill to run in the evening, but during the day it was all booth. My kiddos were also there for most of the day on Friday, and dressed up because they weren't able to be there for the actual costume parade on Saturday.

Batcael!

Teagan as Cruella de Ville.

That evening, I ran Cold Dark Earth, which you can download for free here. I had lots of people during the day ask if I was running Chill, but both my games were full. I wound up adding a Sunday morning game, so that was encouraging. No pictures from the Chill game, though.

And then sleep. We stayed at the con that night so the kids could get some extra time in doing con things. Saturday morning, and Cael scared the bejeesus out of my by scampering off with a friend and disappearing for a while, but we resolved that, and I had a game at 10AM to play...

...except the GM was hung over and didn't show. OK, folks, if you sign up to run a game at a con, and it's at 10 in the goddamn morning, maybe exercise a little restraint the night before? Anyway. I wound up hanging out with a friend for a while (she was signed up for the same game as me), and then I had a game scheduled at 2PM that actually did happen.

The picture is blurry, sorry. The game was blurry, too.
So, the game was Everybody is John, and the idea is that you're all playing facets of "John," who wakes up naked somewhere and has multiple voices in his head, all trying to get him to do something. When creating a character, you wind up deciding what that "something" is for your "voice," and also what skills you bring to the table. I signed up for the game because I thought the premise was interesting, and I thought it might be kind of like Bluebeard's Bride or Vox. I was...wrong.

The game was played for maximum silly. The first guy to take control of John (I'll get to that) took John down to the grocery store (naked), grabbed a bunch of blue frosting, and started smearing it on the walls because his goal was to paint a room blue. Then the police got involved. Oh, and we had a friend who was an alien. So this is the level of discourse we're on.

I'm fine with that. Silly is good, especially on Saturday afternoon at a con. But there were a few problems. First, the game mechanics are...not so great. You've got five tokens, and everyone bids for control of John whenever someone makes a roll and fails, or whenever 30 minutes of game time goes by with no rolls happening. If people tie, you roll off with d6s. But when you make a roll to do something in game, you've got to roll a 3 or better on a d6 if a skill applies, or a 6 if it doesn't. That all but guarantees you'll be passing control of John off a lot, which is great, except once you're out of tokens you're...out. You can do nothing to influence the game.

Also, there is no group cohesion. You don't get to talk to the other voices (I mean, table talk happens, but there's no effect, it's just talk). It's not like Bluebeard's Bride where it's actually like a shared story. It's six people all trying to tell their own stories, while the GM...well, that's the other problem.

The GM laughed at her own jokes a lot, and her own jokes were problematic. We ended the game with a shootout between "rednecks" and "gangstas" in the "inner city" or "hood" as she called it. I think I may have facepalmed once or twice.

All in all, not impressed. My grade: D, since the initial bits of the game were at least silly enough to be funny.

Right, so, done with that, time to run Chill, which again, I didn't photograph, but I did see some other strange and beautiful things at the con.

Just act natural and switch to a garlic shampoo. 
They've upgraded Ecto-1.

OMG, it's +Andy Hopp! And a cat burrito!
Santa and a goblin chatting with dudes in suits. It's a con!
A very dapper octopus.
Dread, one of my favorites. 
And then sleep. Sunday!

I wound up running another session of Chill Sunday morning, which was fun. I ran Cold Dark Earth again, and the group wound up nearly getting Melissa killed, but saving the day last minute in a very tense graveyard standoff. And then it was back to the booth for a few hours, and then breaking it down, and then home.

All in all, Con on the Cob is a great time. It's a little later in the year next year (November sometime), so if you can make it, come play games with us.