Other TotalCon Highlights

I’m having a little trouble coming to terms with what I have or have not posted to my blog about TotalCon. I think this is because Dan and I live-streamed so much to our Wandering DMs channel, I feel like I’ve already covered everything. But, on the assumption that not every blog reader watches our channel, here are some other highlights of my trip to TotalCon this year.

  • As I posted earlier, my opening Thursday game of Gloomwood Falls was a great game. It turns out 3/4 of my group was actually the same players I’d be running a private game of Bryson Springs for on Friday. I suspect they signed up for this game as a booby prize in case the private game didn’t come together. I hope they enjoyed it either way — I sure did.
  • Thursday night’s Bryson Springs game was good, but definitely suffered from two major things. First, that I never bothered to test run the thing so didn’t know what pit falls to avoid. I suppose somebody has to be the guinea pig for new games, but it’s rare I do that to strangers at a convention. The second was that I had some more passive players that were tough to draw out, and one very active player who very quickly went down the “Confusion” route with the Insanity Cards, becoming forgetful and eventually having small black outs. He role-played it really well, but it wasn’t helping that he was usually the driving force in pushing the investigations forward and would routinely intentionally drop the ball completely. He’d interview an NPC, got a lot of great facts out in the open, and then follow with “and who are you again?” I don’t blame him for doing that, but perhaps it would have gone over better had other players at the table been more proactive at running with the stuff he uncovered.
  • Friday I got to play in a Moldvay Basic run of Keep on the Boarderlands. It was definitely a pretty free-wheeling game, and I enjoyed it. I was playing the only magic-user in a pretty large group of fighters, and really enjoyed playing up his quirks. I think the GM felt bad that as a 2nd level MU I spent most of my time preserving my spells and didn’t bother even throwing daggers (I mean, I did have an 8 Dex). Eventually he tossed a wand of magic missiles in our treasure pile which I of course enjoyed using, but I was having a perfectly fine time being the pain in the ass hiding in the back as well.
  • Friday night I ran my second run of Bryson Springs and it definitely benefited from a practice run, and from having a group of players who were all already very comfortable with each other. I’m saving analysis of Bryson Springs itself for a bigger post, but I will say I really enjoy playing with this group and hope I can find a reason to do so again before next TotalCon. We all went out to dinner together beforehand too, and it was nice to socialize with them a little before getting down to business. Oh, and I will say that the open gaming space at TotalCon was perfect. They used the restaurant that serves breakfast, and while the tables are somewhat awkward and we had to push several together, the space itself was underused so we got a quiet, somewhat dark corner to ourselves which both helped the mood and my vocal chords.
  • Saturday afternoon I played the most hilarious game of DCC I’ve ever played. That table was on fire! It was in the Lankhmar setting, and we played some pretty rapscallious thieves. Dan struck up a rivalry with the group’s other wizard which just had me in tears. We ended an hour early, and the GM felt bad and was looking for ways to extend the adventure. We all agreed though that we should end on a high note, and having an hour back to relax is always appreciated.
  • Saturday night was Car Wars, which while fun felt a bit muted from previous years. I think we were missing some of the more loud-mouthed competitors, and/or suffering from lack of younger kids. Usually there’s a whole pack of them, and some of the players enjoy egging the kids on, but both sides of that equation seemed missing this time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my traditional head-on collision with an old friend and an early exit to go watch Rocky Horror.
  • Rocky was a great show. Not sure why but they didn’t sell “shit bags” this year, which was a disappointment. That said, the crowd was much bigger than in past years, so that definitely made it more fun.
  • Finally, on Sunday we ended with my Bossfight for Breakfast game, in which I ran the final encounter of Into the Fire from Dungeon Magazine #1. I was aware of this from the Fear of a Black Dragon review of it — their major take-away being that the best part was the final encounter with an ancient red dragon. It seemed like a natural fit for a bossfight game. For this one I added the twist of having a player actually play the bad guy. Dan got really into being Flame, and despite us not realizing that we didn’t quite run dragons the same, it ran pretty smoothly and I was very happy to only have to adjudicate while Dan got to strategize. I think it resulted in a really good game for both of us and the players. The players brought their A-games as well. We had two players who at first glance looked like D&D moms, both there with one or more of their teenage kids. But let me tell you, of the two groups the moms were the real threat. They both ended up playing magic-users, one of them starting with a protection from evil / extension gambit, and the other coordinating a combined flying carpet / wand of paralysis attack that was ultimately Flame’s downfall. There was some serious expert play going on at that table Sunday morning!

I think that about sums it up. For more detail on any of this, do check out the Wandering DM’s final thoughts on TotalCon video. My memories were far more fresh when we recorded that, and you get the added benefit of Dan’s perspective. Coming up soon, I’ll start dissecting Bryson Springs more minutely.

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