This past weekend I went to Acadecon in Dayton for the first time. It’s a smaller con, a few hundred attendees maybe. I spent way too much money on the (admittedly nice) hotel, but the con staff were all friendly and the whole thing seemed very well organized, which is more than I can say about a lot of cons of this size (BASHcon).
I had registered to run two Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures, and I signed up to play in a few other games over the weekend. This is how things went.
Friday afternoon I ran “Sanctum of the Snail” from Crepusucular #1. Not surprisingly, I can pretty much run this game in my sleep. I had three players—one who had played DCC a few times at cons, one who had played DCC, like, once, and a third who had never played DCC but had heard stories about its unique and deadly experience. All together they had 12 zero-level zeds ready to run through the funnel.
I don’t get a lot of TPKs as a GM. Perhaps my hippy-dippy upbringing has made me soft. But this session wound up a total blood-bath. Things looked pretty promising for the players at the start, when they all got initiative over the Sharkboys and raced through the sanctum door to relative before the monsters could attack any of them. Things went down-hill quickly after that.
Post-game, when I shared the dungeon map and went through the adventure a bit, one of the players quipped “Wow, we really did take the path of most resistance!” Through no fault of their own, they missed every weapon cache, armor stash, magical benny, and treasure pile. Gong farmers fell like cordwood, the party split up, and the “replace your PCs here” room was avoided. Blorgamorg was never encountered.
The swarm of 1hp floating skulls were the worst menace. The fragile little monsters chewed up the PCs while bad dice rolls prevented the heroes from landing blows. The last three survivors managed to make it all the way to the Snail Sorceress’s bedroom, but breaking down the door created a lot of noise that attracted Chaos Slug Men. These wandering monsters were the death stroke for the party. All hands lost.
And yet! Despite that, the players all had fun. They knew DCC’s rep, they knew what they were getting into, and they had the proper DCC experience. Good times all around!
I didn’t run anything on Saturday, but I got to play in three different games. All Out of Bubblegum is one of those one-page mini-RPGs you find on Reddit. This one was about playing 80s action dudes. It was very silly and fun, and run by one of the guys from the Critcast podcast (which I will have to check out now).
|Also, a gift from Chris Lauricella!|
Later, I got to play Shadow of the Demon Lord for the first time. I’ve been meaning to try it out for some time. The adventure was a pretty linear—take this evil artifact to the obelisk and destroy it—but it did a good job of demonstrating the system and setting. That’s what I want from a demo game! The GM was also engaging and system-smart, so kudos to him.
My last game on Saturday was Worlds in Peril, run by another of the Critcast fellows. Worlds in Peril is a “Powered by the Apocalypse” superhero game. I love PBtA games, and I love superheroes, but I’ve never found a supers RPG that I really loved. I’m not sure this is it yet, but I like how “Bonds” worked a lot. I still have to find a group to play Masks: A New Generation with.
On Sunday, my Leopard Women co-conspirator Leighton “Laser Ponies” Connor came up from Cincinnati to play. We had a power-brunch at Waffle House, then went back to the con to do some “Saucer Full of Secrets.” “Saucer” is the zero-level funnel for LeopardWomen of Venus. I’ve run it once before at Gencon, while LC has ran it a couple of times himself at various cons. LC would play some zeroes in this session, but he’s very good at “fading into the back” and letting the other players run things. All together, I had six players with 18 zeds in total.
The adventure started with the gathered zeds receiving their mission from Forecastle J. MacBeth, leader of the Humanoid Coalition and my favorite NPC. The party needed to cross through the dangerous jungle to a crater where an alien spaceship had crashed 72 hours previous. They were to salvage what they could from the saucer and find out what had happened to the previous retrieval team.
The trek across the jungle was treated like a dungeon, with paths connecting to various clearings. No need to overwhelm new players with wilderness-crawl rules right out the gate, I figure. The party encountered a shrine to Fantomah, got the jump on some Martian scouts, fought a deranged Flying Saurian, and avoided the deadly Venusian Bees. Little-to-no casualties at this point, thanks to luck and sound tactics.
When the party arrived at Gorgon’s Gorge, things started to turn. Three giant flaming claws smashed, squeezed, and burned several members of the party before they were destroyed.
Eventually the party found the wrecked saucer and set to exploring it. The radium miner’s geiger counter let them avoid the ruptured core at the center of the craft. The Martian cafeteria seemed promising until mutated slime puddings dropped from the ceiling killed several of their number. The sadistic surgical robot the oversaw the bio-lab also managed kill some of the players before getting scrapped. The Martian barracks were the most deadly of course, as a cadre of Martian pikemen and gunners winnowed down the PC party. When they party eventually decided to examine the saucer’s power core, the co-mingled monstrosity that was once two members of the original team killed several more PCs (It had three attacks!). At long last, the PCs managed to rescue the two survivors from the original expedition and were able to call in MacBeth for an extraction. Of the 18 level-zeroes that started the adventure, only seven made it out alive. That’s what I call a good funnel adventure!
Acadecon was fun, and if Dayton’s in your travel zone, you should consider checking it out. My only real problem was that it was the first convention in a long time (maybe ever?) that I attended by myself without buddies or family. That makes for some boring downtime. If I go back, I’ll certainly need to bring company.