Gaming at WorldCon 2015

WorldCon Sasquan Dread Unicorn Games SpokaneThis year’s WorldCon was in Spokane, Washington. Or, as it became know because of the many forest fires blazing in the Northwest, “Smokeane.”

WorldCon is where the Hugos were handed out, and the Alfies too. And I did almost spill my coffee on George RR Martin. Best Martin joke: “Why can’t George RR Martin tweet?” “He killed off all 140 characters.” 🙂

But what about gaming? There was a healthy gaming contingent, with games running till 11 most nights. The Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League was out in force. Lots of pickup games. I ran two games myself.

Game RoomNumenera

On Thursday I ran Numenera as a Monte Cook Games Asset. Makes me sound like a spy! I set out the Numenera play mat from the boxed set, had printed out the pre-gens from Weird Discoveries, put out my Numenera dice, and welcomed five players, four of which had never played Numenera or any Cypher System game.

I ran Inside the Pyramid from Weird Discoveries. Great con game. I had them hunting for a power source to save their home village from the Iron Wind, and find a way out. I think we hit almost every room, and the players quickly got the system. I used a portable whiteboard to sketch out the rooms.

<Spoiler> I did not do a great job selling the “Open the Valve” come on. Next time I’m going to be more subtle. Maybe “Welcome to the pyramid, can I help you?” And whatever they ask for, I’ll say “Not a problem. Open that valve for your answer.”

I decided it would be fun to have the Living Conduit teleport single characters around the pyramid, and that worked well. Especially when the steel spiders slid down on the jack’s head. </Spoiler>

One of the players told me, “I liked a lot of games here, but I’ve fallen in love with Numenera.”

GameLogoRevised13th Age

On Friday I did an official 13th Age demo with help from Pelgrane Press. They sent me a PDF of the 2015 GenCon adventure “Swords Against Hell.” The PreGens included the 13 Icons on the back which made picking Icon Relationships easy. They even sent me cardboard minis for the PCs (which I let my players keep.) Heck, they even sent me a 13th Age Game Master T-shirt that says “Tell me about your One Unique Thing” on the back!

All four players were new to 13th Age. One player picked the Hellsinger class. Those of you who know 13th Age know there is no such class, but it was a simple Barbarian/Bard multiclass that worked great. And not having a shape-shifting druid in my home game, it was fun having one at the demo.

The adventure had a lot of non-combat challenges and a lot of room for the players go wander on a wilderness map I printed out.

They quickly got the Escalation Die and had a string of rolling either 1s or 20s. I had a bunch of dwarven forge plastic imps and Pathfinder pawns for the minis. We had a lively table with plenty of cheering and groaning and cheering again. Everyone told me how much they liked 13th Age.

Reskinning Freeport

GMs talk all the time about reskinning creatures. While this sounds painful for the creature, it just means taking the game mechanics from one creature and putting them in another. Have the stats for a lion, but not a jaguar? Copy the lion’s stats, describe the jaguar to your players, and done.

When I started my current campaign, I got feedback that my players want more intrigue. To me, intrigue says urban. People and factions you see over and over. But a great city is a ton of work, and I have other things to do. So I decided to reskin one of the great cities of roleplaying games: Freeport, City of Adventure.

FreeportI’m running a 13th Age / Dramasystem mashup (and testing Gods and Icons), and I want my city to be a treaty city. A city-state where the treaties that created the 13th Age were signed. And now the treaties and the age is unraveling.

So, not really a pirate city. Sure, a few pirates, but not the swashbuckling sea lords of Freeport. I put in my own ruling class to fit my plans for intrigue. The Faceless Council in place of Freeport’s Captain’s Council.

The Drac family’s legacy of generations of pirate leaders had to go, but a ton of places in Freeport are named Drac. Spelled, backwards, Drac is Card. So Drac’s End, is Card’s End. That works.

Indecipherable ScrollMy city is on a river. So I put a bridge over the river (The Glass Bridge, an ancient relic of elven glory). I take the 9 neighborhoods of Freeport (including Drac’s End) and add more intrigue. Using 13th Age, I have agents of the all the Icons walking the city streets, so I look for cool NPCs and use them as Icon agents.

In this campaign, everyone knows the peace is unraveling, and all the icons are hoping to come out on top.  Freeport comes with built in conflict between classes, guilds, and races. So the 13th Age Icons are trying to use those conflicts.

Even if I wanted to build your own city from the ground up (and I might), Freeport shows how to make a fantasy city work. There are many great cities in rpgs too look at for inspiration. Freeport, Ptolus, The Citystate of the Invincible Overlord, and many others.

Need your own? Try reskinning one you like.