What is it? Jackercon is the free, online role-playing game convention that rears its beautiful head every couple of months, when a certain D.T. Pints (an active member of the Happy Jacks RPG forum community) gets motivated enough to whip it into shape. It's an extension of the rabid fan base of the Happy Jacks RPG podcast.
To date, Jackercon usually appears about once every 3 months or so (sometimes with longer gaps). It is scheduled for roughly a week, and relies on the HJRPG forum members to just up and volunteer to schedule and run games using G+ and Google Hangouts.
The best place to get current information about Jackercon? Probably the G+ Jackercon community.
Current attendance is not particularly high, and suffers from the usual problems whenever anything is both online and free. It is all too easy to "commit" to a game and then flake out (mostly as a player, but every so often as a GM). This happens with some amount of regularity, unfortunately.
But there have been Jackercons where the attendance was higher, and D.T. Pints has made it known that his mission is to get more participating (which is surely a simple task, as he works on an Alaskan fishing boat, and recently became a new father).
Each Jackercon has had a theme associated with it. Sometimes the theme is conspiracies, or TPKs, or space madness. For instance, some previous thematic titles include:
JACKERCON VI: AND SO THIS IS DRIZZTMAS!
JACKERCON V: "In Space No One Can Hear You..."
JACKERCON 2013 PART DEUX: "WRATH OF THE PANTSLESS"
...and so forth. That said, adhering to the theme is hardly mandatory.
The 7th Jackercon in the series occurred the July 18-25 week of 2015. Although I've gotten to play in 3 Jackercon games in prior years, this was my first time running a game.
As far as con games go, the games I've run thus far are my Lego-driven Savage Worlds games, and I didn't really plan on going any different this time around. But how to run a game with lots of physical props using an online medium?
Running Distress on LL928, online
Distress on Life Liner 928 is a Star Frontiers / Savage Worlds / Lego mashup, which up until now I've run a half dozen times (at cons and for friends). This was the game I wanted to run for my fellows in the HJRPG community.
Originally I was considering using tools like Roll20 (which plugs in very nicely into Google Hangouts) to create a space ship for my game, with suitable PC and NPC tokens.
I knew Roll20 allowed the use of audio tracks (which is also a big part of my game). Roll20's plug-in for music is connected to Soundcloud, which initially I thought might be a stumbling block, but I was able to work around it for the most part. (Although I couldn't upload all the tracks I wanted, and unfortunately it doesn't come out at all in the Google Hangouts On Air recordings, so you don't get that flavor in the actual play recording).
However Roll20 did have its downsides. I couldn't quickly figure out how to use the "fog of war" components to hide and reveal rooms, and I just didn't have the time prior to Jackercon to up-skill in the technical know-how.
So, I resigned to what I initially thought was a second-best course of action... and which turned out to be the best course of action: Use a web-cam to give the players almost the exact same view they would have in a physical game.
And so, for your viewing pleasure, here is the Hangouts on Air recording for Distress on LL928. I will warn that if you plan on ever playing this, don't view the whole thing, as there are spoilers. The first hour or so is character generation (which is definitely a little slower online than in person), and spoilers aren't really an issue. You can also skip around just to get the flavor of the game.
Special thanks goes out to Kurt (D.T.Pints) and Jules (kaitoujuliet) who played in the game, and definitely Kurt for making Jackercon happen, over and over again. I definitely hope to play in the next one, and maybe run some more goodness.