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This time, despite us posting everywhere we could of think of online and promoting it at every convention we visit, we had no idea if anyone was even coming. We had half the game offers we got last time and that was the only communication we had from ANYONE. We guessed numbers would be down due to the threatening weather - trains were being cancelled apparently - being held when at a lot of people were at a huge convention, Essen, in Germany and it being half term. But we had nothing to base this on.
The convention was due to start at 10am at Geek Cafe in the centre of Birmingham and we got in a bit early to set up. We owned the top floor of the venue for the event. As you'd expect, it's perfect. I'd prepared some signage for this one. Seeing your logo blown up big and plastered everywhere makes the event feel more real.
10:00am came and people trickled in. Old friends mainly. Five games were offered in the morning. Three of these ran. It's an odd thing, but the shiney, glossy, colour signup sheets were ignored in favour of the hand-written ones. A referee had forgotten to prepare one for his pre-advertised Star Wars game so hand wrote a replacement one quickly. Another Referee turned up to offer Tremulus - a horror game - on spec. Again with a hand-written sign-up sheet. Both of these games filled easily. A mashup of the TV series Supernatural, Grimm and Sleepy Hollow was the beneficiary of the horse trading when the "I Love the Corps" space marines sci fi game only got one sign up and my own Fireball XL5 game left everyone cold - again. I keep offering it at conventions but it never runs. Perhaps a game based on puppet series from 1962 is a bit of a stretch for most people.
I played in the TV series mashup game. This is just another great thing you can do with RPGs - create your own "crossover" episodes between TV series you like.
The game was presented by an experienced referee and was a well researched, well prepared romp. It also came with with a Tsunami of "bling". The full colour character sheets formatted to look like actual FBI records of the main characters were just the start.
Player (looking at the, two, street maps supplied) "Where exactly is it?"
Referee: "Perhaps it'd be easier to see it on the Satellite map" (whips it out).
Newspapers, photo cards for every NPC. Photo montage sheets for every location. Even a 3D Google Earth view of the bad guys' headquarters on his phone! "Impressive" just doesn't cover it, somehow.
I'd only watched one episode of each series before deciding they're not for me. But I got to play Ichibod Crane's straight laced FBI associate, which wasn't a stretch. And I was able to sit back for long periods of time and just watch everyone else chew on the multi-layered mystery. Headless bikers terrorising the city were just the first of many such layers. As I say - a romp.
This game came really close to over-running. I was surprised that the cafe staff weren't more proactive at the tables but, when I nipped downstairs to grab a menu, I found out why. The place was really busy. It's great to see a Geek Cafe being so successful. We had lunch served at our table during play and everyone seemed happy with the food, milk shakes and drinks they were ordering.
Then there was a raffle. I'm not normally a fan of the raffles at conventions. They tend to drag on and eat into valuable gaming time. But the haul of offerings donated from producers for our raffle was just stunning. (And, afterwards, we were approached online by even more companies saying they'd've made contributions if we'd only asked them. And I threw in a preproduction proof of my forthcoming. Fantasy rules - The Code of Warriors and Wizardry. I ran the raffle with a "no nonsense" approach and I think we got through it in about 5 minutes flat. And there were a LOT of prizes.
The winner of my rulebook and asked me to sign it. Nice!
The afternoon slot had four games offered. Three games ran again. The zombie Thomas the Tank Engine Sci Fi game didn't run but we had a D&D 5th game, a game of "Tales from the Loop" (I think some people had come just to try this hot new game) and my own adventure from my forthcoming Fantasy rulebook. Hooray!
I had 5 players. I've run this adventure before, but this group played the scenario the straightest anyone ever has. They listened to the world background and we had three elves, a dwarf and a human rogue. I deliberately don't tell the players the adventure starts at sea, but two players still made Water and Wind wizards. No-one chose to make a wacky character or non standard race. (The Italian dwarf with his pet bear was the weirdest. And somehow, a dwarven Mafiosi worked.....)
Throughout the game they played tactically, using the "doubles rule" to reserve rerolls - which were then well used - rather than constantly introducing new plot details - as so many groups do. It was the straightest play through of the adventure ever, hitting all the beats perfectly. Great!
See? My game CAN be played without going gonzo!
Though the best moment was the wind wizard being pursued by a horde of goblins and luring them into a trap by running - cartoon style - off the edge of a cliff. As one of the other players said - "genius!"
We left the room tidier than we'd found it and checked the takings. Despite the reduced numbers, a £90 donation will be making its way to Birmingham Children's hospital.
So SCJ 1b was smaller than 1a, but was still great fun. The Geek Cafe owner was very happy and wants us back. Players and referees had a good time and there's a donation to charity. Everyone's a winner!
So we'll be back in February. Watch this space for details. I reckon our convention is going grow.
Been around since original D&D
Author of Golden Heroes, Squadron UK, The Comics Code,The Code of the Spacelanes, The Code of Steam and Steel, The Code of Warrirors and Wizardry and The Super Hack.
I attend lots of RPG conventions in the UK. I Attend non-RPG "geek" conventions to promote The Hobby using my "Choose Your Adventure" set up. I blog about both of these things here: https://rpgs4all.blogspot.co.uk .
- Thanks: 836 given/1594 received
- Playing: The odd game at Conventions
- Running: "Code" books - Comics, SciFi, SteamPunk, Anime.The Black Hack.
- Planning: Manifold multi-genre RPG. More Code Books - Fantasyand Horror next
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