GauntletCon 2017 and Saga of the Icelanders

GauntletCon, the first

I've talked about the Gauntlet online community and podcast network, and it has quickly become one of my favorite places to learn about new and innovative role playing games out there. Well, it has also become my favorite place to play online games, and because they hit a Patreon goal, they had decided to run their first online gaming convention!

GauntletCon's first convention was October 20-22, 2017. The listed games was insanely good. Here's a sample (first taking a deep breath):

Sagas of the Icelanders, World Wide Wrestling: Gauntlet Roadshows, Fourth World (Earthdawn hack): Ardanyan's Revenge, Rad Hack, Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn, Traverser (run by Paul Czege), DCC, Monsterhearts 2: Seven Spires, Dungeon World (including sessions run by Jason Cordova, and some sessions using Ray Otus' Plundergrounds), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Heroes and Crystal Kingdoms (run by designer Maria Rivera), Survival of the Femmest (Original System by River), Blades in the Dark,  Pugmire, The Veil: Cascade, Alas for the Awful Sea, Dust, Fog, and Glowing Embers, Katanas & Trenchcoats, Poutine, Swords Without Master, Golden Sky Stories, Troika RPG, Peril on the Purple Planet - World of Dungeons, Murderous Ghosts, Dogs in the Vineyard, Rockerboys And Vending Machines (a Lasers and Feelings hack), Libreté, The Black Hack, Godbound, Pigsmoke, Cthulhu Dark, City of Mist, Ryuutama, Atlas Reckoning, Fate Accelerated, To Serve Her Wintry Hunger, Vanagard, Psi*Run, Moldvay Basic D&D, Tenra Bansho Zero, Funnel World, The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth (run by Chris Grey), Legend of the Elements, Threadbare (run by Stephanie Bryant), Into the Odd, Dream Askew (run by Avery Alder), Cartel (run by Mark Diaz Truman), Apocalypse World, Malandros (by Tom McGrenery), Freebooters on the Frontier (run by Jason Lutes), and The Veil: Cascade (run by Johnstone Metzger)

Good lord. This is the bread and butter of toast I'd love to be eating. And in many cases above I listed some of the people running the games in cases where they are the game designers themselves or grand names of the sub-sub-sub culture this is a part of.

That all said, this convention comes one week after Big Bad Con, from which I was away from the family for 5 days, and so negotiating another weekend, or even more than a few games, was unlikely. It also overlapped with Pinecon, a local Los Angeles convention (which I will post about separately), and that was something I could negotiate, because I would be taking the daughter as part of it.

Needless to say, I was feeling sad that I would miss the first Gauntlet convention... but... it turns out I would get to feel a bit of the convention.

The Gauntlet Con Discord

Normally the Gauntlet primarily communicates to its audience via the podcasts, and listener communication is provided through discussion on the Gauntlet G+ community. There is also a Slack channel, but that is only open to individuals who support the Gauntlet at a specific Patreon tier.

During Gauntlet Con, however, a Discord server was created to host convention. This created a really fascinating space that really felt similar to the gathering you normally find at the meatspace conventions. 

For me, the timing was fortuitous. I was just coming back from Big Bad Con, and beginning to feel that con crash low that many of us associate with returning from these conventions. I was having an extremely busy work week. And then suddenly, I was virtually able to jump into these rooms and chat, sometimes in audio forums, with all the people I normally only have haphazard communications with on Slack and G+. The vibe was great and the place was buzzing with excitement. RPG luminaries (I may be stretching this a bit) were hanging out among us common rabble, but mostly it was just like hanging out in the lobby of the hotel at Big Bad Con, hobnobbing with friends, old and new.

Originally I had signed up for a few games, but that was all in the case I would somehow be able to attend them, which I knew was unlikely. I bailed out when that became apparent, and gave my space to other, now happier, individuals. But there was one game I stayed in and played...

Saga of the Icelanders with Gerrit Reininghaus

Saga of the Icelanders is a Powered by the Apocalypse game where you play as an Icelandic settler between the end of the 9th and 10th centuries, also known as the time of the Icelandic Sagas, and tell the stories of the settlers families, their lives, trials and legacies. Discover or change history as you forge a veritable Saga worthy to echo through time.

It's been around for a while, and I've heard great things about it, but haven't ever played. And I know Gerrit through the Gauntlet slack and we've chatted extensively, and only got to play a little bit in the past. Also, this game happened to fit perfectly for something I could squeeze in (although there were plenty of other awesome games during that timeslot).

The other two players included Patrick Knowles and Chris Wiegand (a fourth player was a no show). The other two chose men playbooks, so I chose a woman.

Saga of the Icelanders is one of a few games where the characters have very gendered roles, and some moves are specifically for male- and female- identified roles. For example, men can convince someone of something by insulting them, whereas a woman can talk sense into them. You can do things outside your gender norms, but doing so "tempts fate", which may have consequences. This actually becomes quite fascinating in play.

Per many games of this ilk, you build the world at the table, and as I can attest, you need no knowledge of Iceland, vikings, or their lore!

The story ended up one of my family homestead, with myself as Dala, originally owned by my mother and father, and now in contention with our Godi (i.e. priest) Njal Bardson (played by Patrick) and my husband-to-be Torun (played by Chris). Also, the priest has a thing for my mother, since my father had past a few years back (under somewhat mysterious circumstances). And Torun's son is rumored to have caused my father's death. And then there is my brother, who thinks he should run the homestead. In other words, all good drama-fodder! At some point Gerrit puts away the book with all the external threats, and just plays with all the internal threats we've posited.

We had some supernatural symbolism and interference by the gods, perhaps, and Dala and Torun do marry and take ownership of the homestead, which becomes a flourishing town many centuries later.

Gerrit ran some great characters, and my co-players brought good drama. I had a blast, and this really re-energized me at a time when I needed it.

Interested in the game? You can watch the video, as it can be found on YouTube here (world-building mostly occurs from around 0:15:00 to 0:48:00, break for about 10 minutes, and the game mostly played out from ~1:00:00 until the end):

The Gauntlet Con recordings

OK, so you missed it. But it's not too late! You can still take advantage of all this gaming love by watching some very focused and brilliantly recorded actual plays and panels! The panels each run about an hour, and include advice on playing, GM-ing, running different types of content and inclusivity in games. And the games themselves are under the "day playlists" and include many of the games that ran:

Until next year, for GauntletCon 2018!