Big Bad Con 2015 - Sunday, Oct 18

Wolf Chase 2015, 7am-8am

You read that correctly... woke up before 7am to go on a 5k run. At a game con. This needs to be something that is emulated at other conventions, in some fashion. No, I don't expect it to be popular, but I hope that it does become more so.

Also, I'll preface all this by saying that I have probably never in my life ran this far in one stretch. Like, ever. I have started getting into trail running in a very minor way in the last year, but haven't done so in more than a few months, I must shame-facedly admit.

Anywhos, met up with the crew at the hotel turn-about, and led by Kristin, we all ran off. Fortunately I found a jogging partner in Rob Hall, because we both were able to mostly keep up, but if it wasn't for him, I'd have dropped off somewhere towards the last quarter of the run. And apparently I was a similar inspiration, as we discussed later.

Runners included the likes of Sean, the aforementioned Rob and Kristin (in full mohawk regalia), and Oscar Simmons. I don't really know the rest, but we had a crew of about 10 or so, all up.

A little run from the hotel, near the Oakland airport.

A little run from the hotel, near the Oakland airport.

My friends Gina and Jayson had handed me two free breakfast passes the day before, so after a shower I headed there to chow down. Fortunately I ran into Rob, and we had a pleasant hour long gaming conversation, of the type that I've grown to love at these cons. Before I left I even got to run into Vera and Vivian from the night before, and found out that I may now have gaming contacts in the Sacramento area, which is not far from where the parents are moving; so another bonus!

Rise of Nations (Fate Accelerated), 10am-2pm

GM: Ezra Denney


  • Shawn Enderson as the nation of
  • Tyson Fultz as the nation of
  • Paul Bezultek as the nation of
  • Tomer Gurantz as the nation of Nova
  • Eric Zim as the nation of

I was drawn in for two reasons. One, the title. I love me some Civilization type games, and Rise of Nations was a favorite for a while. Two, the description, which reads, in part: "Explore the toybox that is FATE by trying my new concept where each player will create a nation in a world we will all create together."

I love me some games where you get to play as a tribe, or a voice, or a family, or... a NATION!

We sit down and Ezra is straight with us... he "lazy GM'd" this piece. He's got an idea, and some starting stuff, but he's gonna depend on us to be cool. Fortunately we had a pretty cool table.

We started by defining the type of game we want to play. This was a pretty free-form discussion. We went with pseudo-realistic, pre-industrial revolution type society. That said, and although most of the world is not "fantastical", there was (or will be) a discovery of Dragon bones, which is a power source of a very limited nature. We had agreed that we could do pseudo-scientific, steampunk-style stuff, of a limited nature. Additionally, we wanted to explore concepts such as natural disasters, a large external nation / force, and more.

We each get a pretty simplistic chara... er... Nation sheet. We need a Name, a Capitol, two descriptions of the capitol city, and some Approaches. Approaches will define the way our nation approaches problems and such, and we are to each define 2 of them. And then the fun part... we pass the sheets around and the other 4 players each add another approach to our sheet. In addition, after all that we would need to define their strengths as +3, +2, +2, +1, +1, and 0 (because: Fate).

All the other nations were settled by a far, and powerful nation called Marshak, which is sort of like our story's England, to our colonies. We decide to play the game about 10-20 years after the "revolution", where we beat back the Marshak forces. One of the colonies ends up being is a pseudo New Orleans / hippie-ville, one is a powerful New England type region (with closer cultural ties to the parent Marshak nation), one is a less successful, but industrial area which is still neighboring a region controlled by Marshak, and the fourth is a penal colony a la Australia. 

My nation was none of these, and was in fact made up mostly of indigenous peoples, who also feel a kindred to these Marshakians, because only a century earlier we had begun taking land ownership seriously and taking over neighboring clans and peoples. This is why we felt a kinship with these Marshakians, and also why we were able to secure our borders from them and negotiate settlements. I liked the concept of a never conquered / colonized kingdom, similar to Thailand, of sorts. I decided to have a society which had its upper tiers as a meritocracy, where anyone (male, female, any background) could become a chief engineer... the highest designation. That said, the rest of society functioned in a very region-centric way, where the region had all sorts of local laws that depended on the people who lived there. This meant that specific regions could be patriarchies, matriarchies, or all fashion of various structures... as long as they played by the overriding Nova federal laws, which are punished in a severely harsh manner.

I started with: Nation: NovaCapitol: Refenja which is both a mountain fortress as well as incredibly dense. My leader was Cog Lysa. My approaches that I came up with were Innovate (+3), which is how we solve most problems, and what keeps us ahead of our neighbors and opponents, but also Measure Thrice, Cut Once (+2), which is to say that everything takes a huge amount of time.

We past our sheets around, and I got mine back with these four additional (very excellent!) approaches: Not Paying Attention (+1), Pedantic (+1), Never Look Back (+0), and Tyrannical Politeness (+2).

The game proceeded excellently, with a League of Nations type meeting, which Marshak sent a representative so that its local government could attempt to join. The role playing during this session was excellent fun, and it all continued from there. We had some scenes of conflict, and decided on one action per season. After a season, depending on the action and the situations at hand, our nations may gain aspects, or more likely consequences that would later need to be addressed.

We had a gold rush of dragon bones that caused some havoc, but we soon ran out of time. The 4 hour gaming session had a very long front-load time of nation generation, but in no way did I feel like this detracted from the situation... if anything this made the game that much more enjoyable. Ezra wanted feedback on the game, and we gave it back to him in spades, and all very good sounding stuff. It made me that much more interested in playing in this at a future time, or at the very least seeing what Ezra may come up with later. I wouldn't mind running this at all at a con or with friends. I can even see how you could use it Microscope-style as a world building session for another campaign or game.

As far as the theme, player participation, and overall excitement, I think this may have been my favorite session of the convention (although many others were close, to be sure).

Games on Demand... Forget Me Not, 3pm-4:30pm

I originally had signed up for 3-7 pm game, but I had crossed my name out much earlier in the day, when I realized that I just wouldn't be able to maintain that level of constant go go go.

That said, I was very interested in checking out the Games on Demand, and maybe running something light and GM-less. I brought a bunch of stuff with me, including Microscope, The Quiet Year, George's Children, and...

Forget Me Not. I found three other players to join me in this lovely game: Liz Ruifrok (who played in my Distress game Friday), Rob Hall (who ran with me), and Joyce (who was new to the con, and just getting her bearings). Forget Me Not is a jim pinto / postworldgames GM Zero game, which is a card-based role playing game where you create a story similar to Twin Peaks.

We had a great time with missing garden gnomes, and secret conspiracies between the sheriff, and the local millionaire and rich heiress, and other romantic and non-romantic drama. I'm just glad I got to introduce some more people to this excellent little game!

End of the season, as things begin to wrap up.

End of the season, as things begin to wrap up.

Microscope RPG, 5pm-6:30pm

GM: Tre' Grisby


  • Eric Rollins
  • Kevin Murphy
  • Me (later)

And I thought I was done... I was about to head home, maybe hitting a thrift store or two on the way. But the con just kept drawing me in. And I ran into Tre Grisby running his Microscope game, which had started at 3pm. They had two drop-outs, so it was a three player, and he asked if I'd like to join, mid game. I was a bit fried, but how could I say no!?

And so I joined their game for about an hour and a half. It was an exploration of hidden conspiracies in a real history timeline of the world, from middle ages, to present.

I did have fun watching them conjure Illuminati, and Benjamin Franklins formula for alchemical gold, however in the end my brain just couldn't keep up. Tre and I were struggling with the very historic nature of the game, and it just had a bit of a feel of being in a history class, and at this point in the weekend I couldn't keep up. So I contributed some bits of fun, but then it just collapsed around our feet. Fortunately we devolved into friendly banter about the con weekend, and everyone was getting ready to go their own ways anyways.

Because I'd only met Tre before online (and for a few minutes at the bar on Friday with a random run-in!), it was nice chatting it up, and I can't wait to find him and others online for more virtual con action in the near future.

Eric, Tre', and Kevin for Microscope action

Eric, Tre', and Kevin for Microscope action

...and out

And with that, it was time to go. I headed back to San Jose. My brother and his wife didn't have their baby yet (despite the due date being that Saturday), my daughter was waiting up for me, I got there with no traffic, and had a pleasant morning with my mom and daughter the next day, before an easy SouthWest flight back south to LA. All-in-all, just a wonderful trip and game con, and something I'd be happy to repeat again and again.


Coming home to seeing daughter Nova playing with Kinderbunnies with my mom. Gaming was going on while I was gaming... excellent!

Coming home to seeing daughter Nova playing with Kinderbunnies with my mom. Gaming was going on while I was gaming... excellent!