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Heading out with Julian, Matt, Martin, John and Neal for a curry at Mela, we toured the Hoburne Park site in preparation for Conception 2016. Its a much better building -more modern, more light and more space, and I figure it could fit around 210-250. The Living gamers are in a nice open plan, well windowed restaurant with table service. Theres a casual social area for board gamers, a billiards room for X-wing/Wings of War big games, and a giant ballroom (with bar) with 20 odd large round tables (easily fit 7-8 with space) for the main gaming and trade hall. Noise could be an issue, but its well lit. Naish are offering a 30 seat and 50 seat buses to shuttle people between the sites, but my feeling is that once folks head over there, they will probably stay all day or for at least 2 slots. Since it just doesnt have the space for all 400 delegates (in the same way the main hall at Hoburne doesnt either) then I suspect there will be plenty of lodge games organised as well. Possibly the committee needs to change sign ups a bit for 2016- maybe with a £15 'all the games you can play" ticket as well as £3 slot tickets to encourage folks to keep the charity monies flowing and folks heading over to the Hall for games. Maybe even do pre-signups with War Horn and then a Mustering roll call? Or splitting the mustering between Hall games and chalet games? Certainly the committee and Naish are committed to playing the hand thats been dealt rather than wasting time with protesting the hand, so I'm sure we'll all make do and muddle through one way or another.
Thursday evening was finished off with a great evening at the legendary cocktail lodge and Matt and Tiffany's incredible hospitality.
Then onto 9 consecutive slots of gaming for Fri/Sat/Sun. I was playing in Mik Reeds excellent Blood & Water minicampaign with Elina, Lynn, John, Steve Elves and Bryan every afternoon and then I was running a Vampire the Masquerade V20 Red List game on Fri & Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I'll group games together for more logic, starting with the 3 individual games:
Session 1 - played James Mullens Trouble makers 80's kid action. I played the outsider, a shapeshifter who'd been separated from his parents and been fostered by a kind families. Good game, but one that I couldn't quite tap into my inner child to channel (hangovers and childish innocence are not good combos) so made my apologies for the second part that I'd foolishly hadn't realised was linked.
Session 4: Chill 3rd Ed: this is a modern day horror/supernatural investigation game that I've never played (though own some old Chill books in the attic somewhere). I was interested to see how it differed from NWOD or Cthulhu. Matt Dawkins ran a good game of ghosts of the past haunting the last covered bridge in Colorado- our SAVE Envoys pretended to be traffic safety officials and went around investigating, getting into ghostly peril until we had uncovered the underlying trauma of the ghost, resolved it, and burnt down the only bridge to town. It felt a bit like the Supernatural tv show, but more team based than the lone hunter brothers. There is a nice pacing mechanic for the game with 7 Light/Dark tokens that each side can flip to manipulate odds and activate good and bad magic- evil can be temporarily defeated (no Dark tokens) but can resurge with a bit of bad luck or human desperation or ambition.
Session 9: I ran my 2004 Heaven & Earth 3e adventure "Welcome to Potters Lake" as a request from Matt Sanderson one of the other UK fans of this obscure gem of Twin Peaksian roleplaying. The Jennings family once more moved into a Potters Lake in a set up that apparently predicted S1 of American Horror Story by around 7 years. This time the family managed to finish the 'Welcome New Neighbour' jam before they fled from Potters Lake on their second day in town, united by the terrifying events they witnessed. Kudos to Elina and Andrew for their tempestuous mother-teenage daughter relationship and the touching scene with Matts heart to heart with his rebellious child.
Blood & Water (Slots 2, 5 & part 1. Mik Reed had kindly offered to run James Mullens RPG (basically Being Human the RPG), despite just coming off a trans-Atlantic flight the day before. We had a semi-detached ex-BB type of house in Blackpool, shared by a Medusa (Emily, cursed by Hera after she slept with a Greek waiter (Zeus) in Faliraki) , a Mummy (Ned a dodgy museum antiquities restorer who'd been possessed by Nephren-Ka when he stole something from his sacophagus. He'd also inherited Evie, the clingy girlfriend/immortal soulmate of Nephran Ka who he'd tired of a thousand years ago but couldnt get rid of), a Vampire (Nicolai with his Master staked in coffin in the attic) and a 9-tailed fox spirit (Jade). We had fun with clearing out the attic, redecorating the attic but an RL emergency had Nicolai and Jade suddenly leaving the game to take care of actual important stuff. A Greek hero turned up to confront Emily, but we concieved a cunning plan to convince the Gods to lift her divine curse by faking her pregnancy.
Session 2 - Blood & Water- with Emily and Ned, we had recruited Stephen Elves and Bryan as Juan Sanchez Ramirez (55 year old pacifist Immortal Sean Connery) and the Fae King of the Tricksters as inherited by Bob the Plumber (he was plagued by gnomes and Fae demanding he take up the role he'd accidentally earned but which he hated). I kept doing my best to rid myself of my eternal soulmate Evie by introducing her to Juan and other suitors, but no luck. We also learnt that "Friends don't let friends get drunk when they can turn their hookups to stone" as a drunken Emily's hookup with hot Greg led to there being some new lewd statuary in the garden, and of our lothario Immortal's threesome, one girl wound up being lifedrained by a hectored Mummy and the other sent to Arcadia for a hundred years when they witnessed the petrified Greg.
Blood & Water- Things drew to a head- Bob had a Winter Queen party to attend, a perfect event to invite Zeus to and convince him that Emily as mother-to-be deserved to look their son in the eyes without petrifying him. Ned managed to get the Sceptre of Amun-Ra to reverse the curse of Nephran Ka and send the old mummy's spirit (and clingy Evie) back to his tomb, Bob made his peace more or less with the Fae and Juan spent a hundred years in Arcadia and avoided the Quickening and final battle of the Immortals.
Overall Blood & Water was our funniest and funnest game- squeky gnome voices, funny jokes and sometimes just the mix of mundane flatsharing and monstrous emotion made for a fantastic game of laughter and feels.
Slots 3, 6 & 7: V20 Red List. -we'd spent a few months on a G+ community planning our characters and discussing the game ahead of time. The premise was a globe-hopping, high level, action based game with the Camarillas secret police (the Alastors) hunting the 13 Kindred Most Wanted on the dreaded Red List. In retrospect I realise the influence of the Blacklist tv show on me, plus the inspiration of the recent Dread Names, Red List V20 book.
Characters: We had Edwin, a grizzled Gangrel Western Sheriff type with a big gun and lethal claws, we had Christine Daae, a Toreador opera singer who had created a new persona for herself as the world famous Lady Gaga who'd unwittingly killed an Anathaema and been conscripted into the Alastors by a Justicar who trained her how to stake their enemies, Sigismund von Streslau, a Ruritanian Tremere who was better at social climbing than magic and Jackie Lacey, whose visual inspiration was a vampiric Don Draper, an undercover agent that could sell any lie.
Episode 1: "Karen Anatos -#5" : the first mission was to Anarch-held Los Angeles to stop a Hollywood horror star named Karen Anatos from revealing to the world that she actually was the Vampire she claimed to be and destroying the Masquerade. Edwinn is hated and feared by the Caitiff of LA and he sent Sigsmund to try to blackmail Jeremy MacNeil on his behalf- while Sigismund managed to Dominate & Presence his way in, but as soon as he dropped Edwin's name, he got a Brujah smack-down. Later Edwin has a high-noon (at midnight) stare down with MacNeil that reveals some info, but confirms that if Edwin comes back to LA, he's a dead man. Christine fares better with her Lady Gaga persona, she arranges to award Anatos the Scream Queen 2014 award at 'Splatter Magazines' award event and gets invited back to Anatos' secure home/haven for the after-party, where she meets her pet wolf Nightfang. While Sigismund and Edwin provide cover and distraction, it is innocent Christine who starts to empathise with Anatos when she reveals that she never knew her Sire and when asked about the Masquerade says "Whats that?". Asking her to trust her, Anatos opens a cut on Gaga's wrist and starts to drink Christines blood, but Christine/Gaga instead slips her stake into Karens heart, Judas Escariot-style, paralysing her. They manage to smuggle Anatos out to their Lear Jet. In the air, Edwin pressures Christine to slay Anatos and claim the Trophy, just as Sigismund tastes Anatos' blood and declares in surprise that she is 6th Gen and a childe of a reclusive German Gangrel Methuselah Brunhilde. Kind hearted Christine doesnt see Anatos as deserving of death- she is too alike to Christine- both forced into vampirism, both stars in the public eye, but Christine was tutored by her Sire and taught to Maquerade while Karen was neglected by her Sire and simply didnt know any better.
Christine pulls out the stake from Anatos' heart and a terrible battle breaks out, rocking the Learjet just as it tries outrunning the rising sun. A frenzying Anatos and Edwin tear into each other with Potence, Protean claws, Celerity and Fortitude, while Christine tries restraining them and push Anatos out the door to potential safety. Sigismund draws blood from Anatos, and luckily Edwin finally takes off Anatos' head. Despite Christines betrayal, the coterie stick together and Edwin and Sigismund pressure Christine into accepting the Trophy reward and acclaim for the one kill the humanitarian Vampire never wanted to make. This session had some great moral quandries and interpersonal conflict, and Christines decision to pull the stake out of Anatos' chest to stop Edwin from killing her genuinely surpsrised us all.
Episode 2 "Christopher Barrow -#10" an immortal human alchemist who can enslave supernaturals (who have creepy milky-white films over their eyes) and harvests them for sale in clandestine auctions is spotted in London. In my game London has been invaded by the Sabbat led by new warlord Monty Coven who seized domains south of the River Thames, with the Camarilla holding the north after John Dee cast temporary Ward vs. Kindred along the Thames to slow the invasion and allow time for re-inforcements. There is an uneasy ceasefire broken by occasional raids across the river as both sides re-trench and re-inforce and the Anarchs are forced into East London.
In order to find out where the auction is, Christine and Jackie go undercover with the Brixton Sabbat, and learn how to slow-walk the Fire Dance and get into a Vaulderie with Monty Coven. Sigismund and Edwin make deals with John Dee, insult Queen Anne and blow up Lambeth Town Hall in which the auction was occuring with rocket launchers. Christine stakes, burns, drains and eventually tears the head off the immortal alchemist Barrow, toughening her soul to more justified slaughter. Jackie and Sigismund prevent another Anathaema, Dylan Bruce from stealing the Sword of Nul from the auction, and Sigismund acquires the White Amaranth (a rare flower, also in the auction that hides Diablerie stains) from Lady Gaga, in return for fabulously costly ear rings. He gives the magical sword to Dee to fulfill his earlier bargain.
Episode 3 "Dylan Bruce - #3" - returning to war torn London (they'd kicked over a lot of ant hills last time, Jackie Lacey using the Trophy to request a Gangrel strike team assault on Monty Coven) they find the cease fire well and truly broken with frequent daylight bombings and nightly assassinations occuring between Camarilla and Sabbat , the Alastors hunt Dylan Bruce a possibly infernal Ventrue anti-tribu who once singlehandedly slaughtered the Tremere Chantry in Sofia and stole a lot of magical research.
Sigismund begins to suspect that the Sword of Nul belongs to Dylans grandsire the Ventrue Tiamat and he may be intending to diablerise his way up to Methuselah status. They all present themselves to Queen Anne, who really isnt happy with their previous meddleing in her city. Edwin and Christine go meet the mad Ventrue 5th gen Gotsdam in Bedlam, and by the end of it are singing "Mary had a little lamb" like mad people. Sigismund and Jackie visit the Tremere Chantry and are talking to Dee when suddenly the Outer Wards explode and they have to help defend the Chantry from a sudden assualt- seemingly Dylan Bruce has gained control over Barrows mind-controlled slaves and now Lupines and vampires with milky-eyes (and a few of the Brixton Sabbat) are slaughtering their way through the Tremere apprentices and ghouls. Fortunately Edwin and Christine are approaching and join the dynamic battle . Jackie goes deeper into the Chantry to find the sword, and is cut down by Bruce who is using this huge assault as a distraction just to steal it again. But the Alastors work together (Sigismund counter-magics the Deflection of Wooden Doom, just as Christine stealth-stakes him) they stake Bruce and then Sigismund and the injured Jackie fall upon him in a frenzy and drain his blood, Sigismund becoming a diablerist like his Sire before him. Still with the Tremere its often better to ask forgiveness than permission and Sigismund claims the Trophy reward from the Tremere and demands they post-hoc sanction his diablerie. They celebrate in Christine/Gaga's London Haven, the Club at the Ivy, in which Jackie Lacey opens up a recently delivered parcel. Its the replacement sharp Italian suit he was expecting, but there is also a note “Jackie- I know what you did. - Monty” and a ticking noise from the bomb smuggled in beneath it... 002...001....BOOM!
Overall V20: Red List was our most complex, emotional and challenging mini-campaign with a lot of consequences and ripples spreading out across our original World of Darkness from the players actions. I enjoyed running it as my dream 'Global' level in which I got to use a full range of old Vampire books- everything from LA By Night to Chicago by Night, throwing in some old 1st ed adventures like Diablerie: Britain and World of Darkness. Fortunately these days there are good Wiki's so when suddenly the players need to see on of the many NPC's I can just call up their stats online instead of carrying a million books. I think we'll continue with this campaign a bit longer.
Exalted Actual Play: Gem City Watch! || Dark Heresy- Silver Dawn/The Castermere Look/The Beiderbeck Investigation || ASOI&F - A Knights Tale || Cold City: BSG || Rogue Trader: Eastern Fringes Trading Co. || Elric: Inception in the Dreaming City || Masks of Nyarlathotep-7e||Super(Mad)men from the Stars||V20: The Red List|| Dracula Dossier @LongCon2016
- Location: CanWha Corporate Arcology
- Thanks: 34 given/926 received
Glad you had a good time in Blood & Water, I'm very pleased with the reception it's had at conventions over the last two years, so I guess I'll have to actually publish it next.
Keep up with new nano-games and other games in development at the Groundhoggoth blog.
- Location: Milton Keynes, Bucks
- Thanks: 1611 given/1361 received
- Playing: A Smorgasbord of Short Games
- Planning: Spaghetti ConJunction 2a
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