Now that Tacticon is over, I have to focus forward to upcoming events. Scarefest in Lexington is my next big NeoExodus event.
But it would not be right for me not to spend a few moments on my trip to Denver and let you all know of the large amount of awesome the Rocky Mountain Gaming Community has. I mean really.
I flew out of Cincinnati early in the morning and made my way to Denver without issues. From there, I got a car, drove to Colorado Springs where I helped my family with some last minute moving things. Then I went to sign my house away at the realtor. And then to the Red Lion to take a nap. I was beat.
My first - and only - slot was running "As if it could get any worse," re-running PaizoCon special. Once again, we got a different outcome (one much like the play-test). I really enjoy running that one (like most of the NeoExodus specials actually). With that one in the books: much needed sleep.
Friday was another day of GMing for me. I first ran "In Sickness and in Health". This adventure has a lot of nasty to it which made me giggle all the way through. And when I giggle, players shiver. Rightfully, I might add. I know I already talked a lot about this one. Yep, it delivered.
In the afternoon, I ran the "Silver Lining" a Janus Horde adventure, that took a lot of time to form in my own mind, but that with one scene (the finale) suddenly took a life and a shape all its own. The story advances the Janus Horde and the Caneus Empire plot in what I believe is an interesting twist. As always, their is a silver lining to all of this...
Okay that was a terrible pun, but still I think it's funny and very à-propos.
The evening slot had fewer players than expected, but that did not lessen the impact or the fun. Chris-S and I gave our third GM (Martin) the night off to play.
The plot of the interactive dealt with the coming wedding of Tsarina Anayanka (you can read the prologue to the interactive in this blogpost). In short, a number of unaffiliated adventurers were asked by Raina Blanka to meet with the four suitors and recommend the ones they favored.
This being NeoExodus, things could not be as simple as that. It seemed the terror group known as the Folding Circle chose to get involved in the affair by attempting to sabotage the engagement, which they did as all five of its members spread death and chaos throughout Mureath. Makesh, Nysska, Emok, the Destroyer and Haru-anon were all seen in town.
It took the might of the Protectorate Army and the brave action of adventurers to prevent the Folding Circle from disrupting the ceremonies. But in the end, Tsarina Anayanka was engaged to Prince Vladimir Gregorevitch, in the massive Alexeisdom. Their wedding to come later this years (and a narrative is in the works).
For the past cons, I have kept my schedule open on Saturday to play rather than GM. It turned out to be an interesting one...
For the first slot, I had hoped to play Arcanis. but when I got there, I was told to "go shopping" as I was the only player slotted for the event. DANG! I got to play 5-01 Glass River Rescue with Jeff Kokx. A fun event for Obata who drunkenly adventured through the game.
The next slot, I mustered with Calvin to finally try "Rotted Capes" a superhero vs. zombie variant from PCI. I must admit that I am a fan of both genre, just not together. However as I was - again - the only player to show up for this game, I instead went to play some Arcanis! I had promised Peter from PCI that I would try it and when I could, it didn't happen.
However, the game was pretty much 4 players watching two replayers and the GM dominate the game. I left somewhat annoyed that replayers stole the game rather than leave us first-time players fumble through the plot. When I told the GM afterwards that he should focus on the non-replayers rather than a three way, his answer was "What can I say, their characters care about the story."
REALLY? I mean REALLY?
Love those guys but man it sucks to having to shout over everyone to do anything and when all the discussions and plot points are known by some and that they drive the game. I can only imagine how the noobs felt. I doubt you'll see them put Arcanis at the top of their list going forward. (which sucks cuz the *I* can't play in the slots I want)
The evening slot, I was also slotted to play Arcanis. This time they mustered with me as a 7th. Crap! I don't do tables of 7: overcrowded, long, loud, among others. So I got bumped to make sure the replayers got to play again.
So getting bumped (I really felt like I was getting kicked out) from Arcanis I went to speak with Jacque who quickly funneled me to Jeff Kokx's table (again). I got to play the third of the PFS Season 5: The Hellknight's Feast. I was happy to see this was Jeff's 150th table. And so it qualifies him for his fifth star. He's really a great judge and very deserving of the honor. I had good fun even if our table of thugs managed the adventure without too much difficulty. This was one of the most enjoyable PFS adventure I got to play in a long while. I will talk more at another time about my thoughts on year 5.
A few cold ones and I was off to bed.
I woke up early - which turned out to be a good thing because I had to deal with some issues with my move (we were moving during the con).
Sunday was another GMing day for me. I was scheduled to run "In sickness and in health" again but a few drops brought the numbers to 3. So I allowed my "backup" GM, Chris to run this one for me. And I got to play my own creation as Nose-Cutter.
Okay, I knew I was sick, but I grossed myself out. It was pretty sweet. I liked how Chris put his own twist on the adventure. I had a good time discovering NeoExodus from the other side of the screen. I will disclaim myself and make a strong effort not to take over the game and to let the others shine and make the decisions - something fairly easy when playing Nose-Cutter. He's really our most iconic character and the one who appears most often in NeoExodus games.
For the next slot, I was specifically requested to GM the adventure so I did. It was "Silver Lining" again. This time we once again had a full table of 6 players. Silver Lining is fun to run, particularly when running the adventure to players who have a lot of experience with the Janus Horde. It introduces some new elements in the mix, and really makes the Horde scarier.
Then I attended the closing ceremony and snagged a new Pathfinder Corebook (I used to have 2, one got stolen and the other one is dying) - Thanks Jacque. It is always good to hear feedback from the top about attendance and congratulate major GMing achievements & efforts.
Then I went out for dinner with Homer, Ryan and Matt-M at Village Inn (there are none here in Kentucky and I do like VI).
I got me a few goodies while at the con. I took pictures of them to give you all ideas of what will be coming down the painting pipe. A lot of Horde, some Warmachine and a few Bones. I spent some time walking through the dealer room - obviously. I picked up a selection of items I ordered from Gamer's Haven (Shout out!), a few Bones from Total Escape Games (also Shout Out!), and a few toffee'd peanuts from Dustin S (YO!).
I can't wait for my painting table to be back so I can paint. It's been a month and I am suffering from terrible shakes.
GM Rating System
The DGA (Denver Gamers Association) has long been using a GM rating system. A laudable effort. I remember "back in the days" when a "10/10" was very difficult to obtain and was an achievement in itself. GMs with "perfect tables" usually no more than 3 throughout the con were mentioned. I don't know what happened but in recent years, the number of "full 10s" began to grow. A lot. Jeff K even pushed the bar with 9 tables with all 10s.
Where do you go from there?
So this time around, a new thing was tried. Now you would rate the GM in 5 categories with a unique number from 1-5. I'll be blunt: I don't like it. It does not tell me, the GM if I am doing a good job or if I was crap - other than my own gut feeling. Comments were plentiful this time around but still the rating told ME nothing (especially since I did not have time to evaluate the results, where the 5s were, where the 1s were, etc).
The idea is good, but the goal of this is important. Do you seek to tell the GM his strengths without making him feel defeated? Do you seek to find out who sucks as a GM? What?
Personally as a GM, I want to know what I'm good at and what I can improve.
The proposal I made to Jacque and Jenn was to have the same categories however rather than a numeric score, have each player check the GM's TOP TWO skills/ abilities. That way you can average a GM's best ability and know what players like most about that person.
Decisions and Parting Thoughts
The Rocky Mountain community is just awesome. Just. Awesome. I've said it before; it is with a sad heart that I leave it behind. I'm gonna be "the new guy" here in Kentucky. A role I enjoyed playing in Colorado.
I received some very nice testimonials from many players about how I really made them feel at home in the community and how through my personnality and actions, I got them MORE involved in gaming in general. It really touched me because I did not expect it, but I knew it was real and heartfelt. I should do that more myself: tell others who influenced me in the past. I got my chance many years ago when I met the teacher who I can say had the most influence on my young mind: Jean-Pierre Bacon (yes, another JP!). Learning under him made me love math and after a year under him, I was firmly decided to go to engineering school, which took me around the World: from Japan in th east to Colorado in the west (through France, Ireland, and Quebec)...
It seems the stars are never aligned for me to play some Rotted Capes. Another opportunity that did not go off. GAH! I'll never get to play it!
I have heard about a number of changes within the community: big changes coming. I'm both excited and worried about them but I will wait to see how they play out. One good thing is that I am no longer part of it all, so I my involvement will be as a traveling guest, enjoying what I like most: playing/GMing. I have a feeling Kentucky will also have all the same politics. As Genesis wrote "Though names may change, each face returns the mask it wore"... Hummm I really should put that song on... (Can-Utility and the Coastliners from the eternal Foxtrot album, 1972)
After my experience with Arcanis, I decided I would no longer play it at Denver cons, there are too many games I want to play. It is not something I decided lightly, as I love Arcanis but the experience has left me soured about it. I'll play it at origins and other big cons - where I will try and avoid PFS play. I will also be playing the game online when possible.
PS: LET'S GO BRONCOS!