OwlCon 2010 Report

Well, OwlCon has come and gone for 2010. My son Giant Boy and I were at the con bright and early Saturday morning in time to play a Truth & Justice event featuring pre-gen characters that were mash-ups of comic book heroes. I played the Black Vision, a Luke Cage-Vision combo. Luke Cage was an ex-con who intervened during an assassination attempt against the King of Wakanda while he was in New York City. Cage was mortally injured. To save his life, the king’s scientists transferred Cage’s consciousness into a synthezoid body. Giant Boy played the Scarlet Spider, who gained his powers when bitten by a Gypsy witch who had been driven mad after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

The other players ran Captain Thor (Captain American and Thor), the Atomic Manhunter (the Atom and Martian Manhunter), Bat Lantern (Batman and Green Lantern), and Wolfeye (Wolverine and Hawkeye). Our mission was to save the multiverse from the machinations of the Leader (Reed Richard and the Leader mashup) and Dread Clea (Dormammu and Clea mash-up, which really isn’t a mash-up because Clea did assume the mantle of Dormammu at least once).

The event wasn’t anything terribly elaborate. It was basically three super-fights strong together with some narrative transitions. We did battle with various mash-up villains, such as the Abominaut (Abomination-Juggernaut) and Gorilla Polaris (Gorilla Grodd and Doctor Polaris). It was an amusing four hours. Truth & Justice uses the PDQ system, a narrativist RPG with a lot of flexibility and room for creative use of character abilities. I’d read a bit about the PDQ system before hitting the con. You can get a free taste by visiting Atomic Sock Monkey‘s freebies area. I’m not sure I’d want to GM the system, but I wouldn’t mind being a player using it every now and then. It has a lot of potential.

The Black Vision had two highpoints during the game. The first took place when he was mind-controlled by the Ace of Hearts. Hearts ordered the Black Vision to fight his fellow heroes. The GM explained that I could attempt to break free from Hearts’s control, but I opted to roll with the setback for at least one round after Captain Thor nailed Hearts with his mystic uru shield.

I looked Cap’s player in the eye and announced, “Mama said knock you out!”

The Black Vision nailed Captain Thor pretty good, and I got some bonus Action Points for opting to let the villain keep the upper hand.

At the end of the game, it became necessary to insert something mystical and something high-tech into the Sphere of Doom created by the villains to remake reality in their own image. Captain Thor tossed in his mystic uru shield. Atomic Manhunter, our resident super-scientist, explained that the high-tech component needed to be extremely high-tech. So, the Black Vision hurled himself into the Sphere of Doom, thus destroying the villains’ plan and saving the multiverse.

Not bad for a day’s work.

After Truth & Justice, I ran an event featuring The Mad Monk’s Revenge. Giant Boy and two friends, Eric and Angela, were part of the event along with three folks I’d never met before. I repeated the event Sunday afternoon for six other players, including the fellow who ran Wolfeye in the Truth & Justice event. Both playtests went well. It looks like my basic set up is pretty solid. I identified a few gaps in some NPCs’ motivations that I need to plug. I also noted a few areas where I need to offer some DMing advice. The adventure has a definite goal, but it’s structure is pretty flexible in terms of how the players go about accomplishing that goal. Consequently, the two groups took different approaches (in a few instances, very different approaches). I think this is a definite strength of the module, but it also makes writing it more difficult. It’s impossible to prepare for every possibility even in a scenario that is a hardcore railroad in terms of plot structure. The looser the plot, the more complicated laying out the plot becomes.

I also used both events for more playtesting of Fencing & Firearms and Rewarding Roleplaying‘s Action Point system. In both cases, the rules seemed to work well. All in all, I’m pleased by the way these products have shaped up. Best of all, everyone who played in the events seemed to enjoy themselves, and isn’t that what gaming is really all about?

While I was running my second event, Giant Boy ventured off on his own to play in a Draw! event. Draw! is a wild west RPG that uses poker chips and decks of playing cards for action resolution. I’m not real clear on how this works since I wasn’t there to watch, but Giant Boy had fun playing the game. I gave him some handy westernisms to help him out. He managed to work “vittles” and “varmints” and “slap leather” into his in-character dialogue.

Next time I get to do the con scene, I’m going to have to keep an eye out for Draw!. I’ve also liked the western genre, and I had loads of fun with the original Boot Hill RPG back in the day.

OwlCon was a good time. Now, it’s back to work to get caught up on my writing. Busy, busy. I’ll type at you again in a few days.

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