July 9, 2008: 8:42 pm: Cons, GMing, Playing

Last year I apparently never actually posted any sort of post-convention report for The Black Road, so this time around I’m going to do it before I forget.

Further details on the games I mention below can be found here.

Slot 1: Sons of Liberty
GM: Jack Gulick

Since this slot took place on the afternoon of the 4th of July, it was particularly appropriate that we were playing a session of Josh Roby’s Sons of Liberty. It’s a game which is described as “a roleplaying game where the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen play Dynasty Warriors during the American Revolution.”

None of us had played Sons of Liberty before (except perhaps the GM), and that may have effected some of the decisions we made while setting up our characters. I played Thomas Payne (who flies around on an ornithopter), and the other players chose Abigail Adams, Rachel and Grace Martin, The Marquis de Lafayette and John Stark. The actual adventure itself was created using a madlibs style form that resulted in some pretty odd objectives.

As for the system itself, I think the problem I (and some of the other players) had with it was that the card game aspect often got in the way of the storytelling. In order to play the most advantageous combinations of cards (something all of the Patriot players must strive to do in order to defeat the Tories) we had to come up with some rather contorted actions to match those cards, which led to ignoring the things that our characters might actually have done in a given situation.

Despite that, I think everyone had a good time, and the over-the-top Revolutionary War setting certainly was fun.

Slot 2: Nine Princes in Spaaace: Star Patrol vs. The Moon Baron
GM: Carolyn Lachance

This was the second installment of a game that takes the Amber archetypes, sets them in the world of serials (such as the original Flash Gordon films), and uses Spirit of the Century as the system.

I played Rick Random, the eternal sidekick, who was actually shockingly competent in a variety of useful skills. He also said, “Golly!” a lot.

More so than the last time we played, I think SotC got in the way, mainly because the GM was so disenchanted with the idea of actually playing through the combats that we mostly avoided them. This resulted in the game being rather short.

Slot 3: Fortune’s Fool: Jumping at Shadows
GM: me

This was the third installment of my pirate zeppelin game, which uses Spirit of the Century as a system. Or at least it did this year. If I run another round of this game next year, I’m probably going to switch to something else, as I’m apparently just not cut out to run SotC. I think the idea of Aspects is great, and I don’t have a problem with being a player in a SotC game, but there’s just too much crunch hidden under there for me to be able to run it effectively.

The session itself involved pirates, airships, ninjas, the Royal Air Navy, clockwork armor, and a giant steam-powered robot! It seemed like everyone had a good time, which is the point, really, though I wasn’t entirely happy with my efforts.

Slot 4: Roanoke: The Other Side of Fear is Freedom
GM: Jennifer Jackson

An interesting take on the fate of the Roanoke colony, using Clint Krause’s Wushu-inspired Roanoke system. The players go into things knowing that the colony is doomed, with the only question being the manner of its end.

In this game I played Cecily Barton, a 14-year old girl who was in an arranged marriage with a much older man, and was also pregnant by him. She wasn’t entirely happy about this. The other characters included the son of one of the colony’s leaders, a transported criminal, and two natives.

I enjoyed the fiction we created, but wasn’t entirely enamored of the Roanoke system, perhaps in part because sections of it seemed under-explained in the rulebook. Still, we managed to save the majority of the colonists, thanks to the brave sacrifice of Ezekiel Finch. Apparently even criminals can be redeemed in the end. My character didn’t even end up being burned for being a witch, which was good, since she in fact wasn’t one. She did, however, get to hit a demon with a stick.

Slot 5: Nine Princes in High School
GM: Jack Gulick

It was the third or fourth time I’d played in this game where Teenagers from Outer Space meets Amber, and it was as silly as ever, despite the amount of meetings and office supplies that ended up being involved in things. I once again played Caine, leader of the Pirate Club, who triumphed despite having his ship burned. By “triumphed” I mean that he got a new one, as he wasn’t really much help with the actual plot. Fortunately, there wasn’t very much plot anyway.

That was my con for this year. It was great seeing both those folks that I only see at TBR and those who I see more frequently, and I hope everyone will be back for TBR 2009. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of The Black Road, and likely my fourth year as con chair.

March 22, 2008: 7:50 pm: Cons, Game systems, GMing, Playing

No posts for almost two months? Argh!

Let’s see, right now I’m basically just playing in one monthly D&D 3.5 campaign (which has been going on for a few years now), with an occasional session of a D&D-like fantasy homebrew. To paraphrase someone else, you game with the gamers you have, not the gamers you wish you had.

Last weekend was Ambercon U.S., and it was the third year in a row of my not attending. Somehow it seems like longer. I think it’s probably unlikely that I’ll be going again, but it’s not impossible.

The Black Road 2007 is now about three-and-a-half months away (registration is still open), and so far it’s looking like this year we’ve got enough GMs that I’ll only need to run two games. Which is kind of a shame, since I’d like to run three! The ones I’m likely to actually run are another installment of Fortune’s Fool (my pirate zeppelin game using Spirit of the Century), and a game of Best Friends (the details/setting of which I still haven’t decided on). The one I’m unlikely to run, despite wanting to, is a session of In A Wicked Age.

That’s the status of my gaming at the moment.

June 21, 2007: 8:32 pm: Cons, GMing

Self, if you decide to run two games at next year’s The Black Road, don’t pick two systems you’ve never run or even played before, and most definitely don’t have one of those systems still be in development. Coming up with good game ideas is hard enough without having to also learn two sets of rules and figure out how to teach them.

[For those who might be wondering, this year I’m running a pirate zeppelin game using Spirit of the Century rules and also running a game of Afraid.]

April 4, 2007: 7:36 pm: Cons

There’s a thread over on Story Games about The Black Road, which includes me commenting on possibly changing part of structure of the con for next year.

Right now we follow the standard Ambercon method of having people sign up for their games well in advance, but I’ve come to realize that this may discourage some new people from coming to the convention. With that in mind, I’m keeping a close eye on how a semi-scheduled thing works out for this year’s Camp Nerdly to see if it might be something that we could adopt for TBR 2008.

For this year’s con though, I’m considering having a Games On Demand type thing in each slot (in addition to the scheduled games), which would basically mean people showing up with shiny games and deciding what to play.

Any input on either idea is welcome.

February 4, 2007: 3:11 pm: Cons

In recent (and not quite so recent) con news:

Dreamation 2007 (January 25-28) was apparently quite a blast. I really need to make it to this (and/or Dexcon) one of these years.

Forge Midwest 2007 is working on preparations for this year’s con (which looks like it’ll happen in April).

Registration for the first full-fledged Camp Nerdly (a weekend of gaming and fun at a campground in Virginia with mostly SG folks, May 4-6) is now open.

The plan for the Forge booth at GenCon 2007 (August 16-19) was announced, and it seems like it may result in indie games being more spread around the dealer room.

Oh, and don’t forget about The Black Road 2007 (June 29-July 1) too!

January 31, 2007: 10:17 pm: Cons, Playing

There’s an interesting thread over on Story Games (and yes, I do realize how many of my posts are related to Story Games) about playing games at cons with people you know versus playing with people you don’t know.

Personally, when I play prefer a mix, as I’m more at ease socially if there are at least one or two people that I know, but playing with people I’ve never met (or only know from online) means getting to experience new styles of playing and new perspectives on games. When I GM I prefer the balance to lean more toward people I know, as I’m more comfortable running a game if I’m at least somewhat familiar with the players.

The thread’s also got interesting points about getting to know the people you’re playing with, so it’s well worth a read.

November 24, 2006: 8:54 pm: Cons

On Monday we opened up registration for The Black Road 2007 (June 29-July 1, 2007), and as of today we have 10 people registered. Not bad for a con that’s not taking place until next June, and one that’s small enough that ten is a significant portion of our usual numbers. I’m glad our mix of Amber-related and indie gaming is good enough to make people want to come back, though I’m hoping we’ll also be able to add some new people to the mix this year.

For me personally, TBR is likely to be the only Amber-related con I attend next year, as I’m not currently planning on going to ACUS, ACNW is the same weekend as World Fantasy Convention, and ACN is still dead.

October 2, 2006: 8:03 pm: Cons

If you’ve attended Ambercon North in Toronto in the past, and would like to have the chance to maybe do so again in the future, go by Tymen’s livejournal and offer your opinion on one possible hotel choice.

I’m sure he’d also appreciate any other help you might be willing to offer.

July 12, 2006: 8:27 pm: Cons

Some other people have also posted about their TBR 2006 experiences, so here’s a sampling of those:

Ginger: TBR after-action report

Carolyn: TBR: The Roundup

Paul: TBR 2006 Part I (Travel, Social) [plus more in later posts]

Christine: My experience at TBR

Deb: A quick writeup for TBR

Mel: Part 3: Friday 30th June 2006: The Black Road begins [plus more in later posts]

[Edited to add — ]

J.P.: TBR 2006 to Date

: 8:22 pm: Cons

It’s now been a week and a half since the end of The Black Road 2006, so I figured it was about time I got a con report posted. This was my first year as con chair, and things seemed to go pretty smoothly, so I was able to concentrate on enjoying the gaming.

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