It is that time again to write about my adventures at UCON. As always it was everything I was expecting and more. I did not get to go to any other cons this year due to my new work schedule thankfully if I can only make it to one con a year I will continue to make it this one. With out further ado here is the breakdown of my time for 2016.
Right after getting my weekend + play games all weekend badge I immediately ran across non other then followmeandie's very own Larry Hamilton. He was getting things setup for a White Star game. We had a good time catching up on lives outside of gaming and he was willing to let me hop in and play. I have not played white star before so I decided to just go with what sounded cool and played to my preferred playing style. Naturally I went with a mercenary and got suited up with a laser rifle, power armor, jet pack, and he even let me bring a few cannisters of oil(you never know when you need oil). I decided at this point I was going to be Boba Fett if he fought for the rebels. The rest of the players included a robot, pilot, and 2 space knights.
Here Larry revealed the map and the adventure, we was right in the middle of a battle zone as civilins when we hear a distress call coming from a federation ship. There was a black hole type area generating massive amounts of radation, which I lovingly referred to Cthulhu's butt hole, making scanning difficult. We knew there was insectoid bad guy ships in the area but getting accurate information on them was not easy. We headed for the source of the distress call and found some signs of life needing our help. Since i had a sealed suit and the droid did not need to breath we freefloat on over to the other ship just as it suffers a form of explosion. We adjust to its new movement and board. We find survivors holed up in a sealed room but they dont have enough oxygen to survive forever, so we craft a plan with the rest of the crew to fix what we can to re-oxify the ship where we can and seal the rest while bringing over survival suits and bring them on over to our ship. The poor pilot was having a hell of a time with the controls thanks to the radiation(damnit cthulhu.......) so it took him a few tries to connect our ship with theirs. Fast forward we eventually succeed, rescuing around 28 federation peeps and bring them onto our ship just before theirs blows up losing their captain and a few other higher ranking officers.
We reach out to some of the other federation ships in the area and several hijinks ensued including some fire fights with the insectiods, who at one point had 3 fighters on us 2 of which destroyed themselves by accident and I got onto coms with the 3rd ship that was disabled by our fire and I told them to perform seppuku. Rolling against my charisma and an additional roll he had me make the ship suddenly just goes up in a massive explosion, we may never truly know if my charisma actually worked in talking an enemy into killing itself but I will continue to believe that I did. All around it was a lot of fun for my first time playing White Star and the rest of the table appeared to have a great time too.
I then met up with Ryan Thompson of Gamers & Grognards to go over updating my con character to level 5 for his game he was running after the small lunch break. For those who haven't been following along my previous years posts, my first game of S&W was in Ryan's game running the adventure Eruptor's Vengeance back in 2013. I played a 3rd level elf fighter/magic user who with the help of his friends succeeded in collecting a dragon bane shortsword, which was used to deliver the killing blow on the fateful drake, and collecting a ring of regeneration. Ryan allows those of us who wish to at future cons to bring any characters we have played previously in his games to future games he runs. I have since then brought my elf with me last year who successfully rescued some lost patrol guards from the sewers. Some how going into this game this year I knew it was going to be my dragon slayers last game either via honorable death or retirement as I knew he was heading into a place known as dragon island.
Our adventuring group including some additional cool peeps including Larry, Del Teigel (who is an amazing artist btw), Andrew Moss, and a few other faces who I have met before but sadly cannot recall their names (my apologies guys if you read this please feel free to give me a hard time about it). We apparently got a treasure map during a game of cards from the lone survivor of a group who had been to an island with many untold riches but protected by a great many dragons. I went and collected some 1st level fighter mercenaries (first time I ever brought on cohorts) and we chartered a boat to the island. The first cave we found was completely frozen over with a large white looking dragon sleeping upside down like a bat. We debated for a while if we should attack it or not which the majority felt it was best to let sleeping dragons lie. The next cave over had an invisible dragon laying on its horde which only the wild elf was able to percept. Again discretion was the key to surviving and we left with out attracting its attention. Our luck ran out in the third cave however as we awoke 3 young dragons who went right to the offensive. We thankfully dispatched them quickly and looted their treasure before any adult dragons came out to hunt us down.
We then proceeded to a much larger cave, and I got a sinking feeling. Big caves tend to equal big risks(like big bloody dragons) and sure enough I was not disappointed. Shortly after entering our halfling thief(Del) got caught by a large dragon(don't quite remember now what color) and flew up to drop him. Thankfully he had a previous life as a sailor and knew how to use ropes and knots effectively. He tied his grappling hook to the dragons leg and as he fell rolled some of the best dice rolling Ive seen at a con. Rolling double 20's he caught his hook on a large bit of rock on the wall and the rope held as the dragon went to sweep in to get another victim causing it to go taught and swing the dragon head first into another large rock formation. Due to the critical nature double damage was rolled.....2 points more then it had. For the first time ever I saw a dragon go down via smashing its own skull in via grappling hook. High fives all around we celebrated him surviving his fall(and some healing via my ring of regen) and looted the horde finding some groovy gear and a mysterious potion which honestly must of been a black hole in a bottle as this stuff ate anything.....including the invisible dragon we encountered earlier. Having slain 5 dragons and fat with loot we ended the adventure and returned to our ship. From here I decided my character has had a good enough career as an adventurer that he will head back home and open a bar, retiring for now.
The last event I attended was the OSR panel on aesthetics in OSR products. Special guests was Stacy Dellorfano of Contessa, Bill Webb of Frog God Games, Donn Stroud of Drink Spin Run, and Ryan Thompson. It was a great panel talking about the new art aesthetic being used with the next printing of S&W. There was some great stories shared by the group and the overall tone from the hosts and the audience was a positive one. The fireside chat way they hold these panels every year really makes for a great bit of audience participation. On a side note who I would love to see a podcast of Bill just telling stories for a while.
My brother in law is who introduced me to UCON back in 2013 and so we make it a point now every year to head out together if our schedules line up. We made it to the convention and split up for our separate interests (he is more into board and strategy war games) and I met back up with Larry for Delving Deeper. Again not a system I have played and there was several new faces at the table. I played a fighter(big shock I know) and we went to go rescue some misguided kids who disappeared while the town folk blamed the kindly old dudes in black robes who took up residence in the forest. I had fun and would play Delving Deeper again if I had the opportunity but honestly S&W is more my cup of tea.
Keeping with my current pattern I headed over to Ryan's table and got myself setup with a paladin on a quest to explore a dread burial ground where riches was rumored to be holed up. Several hijinks ensued including a run in with a gelatinous cube, the alchemist getting possessed (and subsequently my being charmed), an undead dude spiked to the wall in eternal torment, and more. Amazingly we all survived but it was close when I was charmed into waylaying another party member with my flaming longsword.
The con had tons of interesting things going on in which I checked out including but not limited to a vendor booth area(picked myself up the monster alphabet...hehehehehe), Bill Webb was available for book signing(got all 3 of my original Rappan Athuk books signed woooo!), a game auction, a vote for worst movie clips(which was hilarious for the parts i was there for, and for the star trek fans there was something very cool known as the Artemis Bridge Simulator. I didn't play the sim but it was pretty bad ass and the guys running it was super nice and talked shop with me for a bit when I was in between events.
Down in the boardgame area I met up with Christopher Badell of Sentinals of the Multiverse fame. A real stand up guy who is definitely passionate about gaming, and he was nice enough to sign some of my promo cards. He even popped into the writing/design talk later in the evening featuring John Wick, Darren Watts, and Marc Tassin. The talk was informational and plenty of note worthy pointers and resources was shared by each of the guests. It was great that UCON had something like this and I hope they continue to do so going forward in the future.
I met up near the end of the evening with my brother in law and checked out an interesting submarine group game. It was essentially a much more demanding game of battle ship for 8 players called Captain Sonar. I took the role of engineer and honestly I think I could have done better. It is a fun game but requires 8 players to really be interesting and would take atleast 2 or 3 games I think before every one really gets a feel for how to play well. If you have the play group it would be an interesting way to spend a board game night.
Back upstairs Dirk Collins, was kind of enough to bring his entire collection of Judges Guild materials for the 40th anniversary of Judges Guild. He had layed out all the maps for the Wilderlands of Fantasy(which is massive!) and was allowing us all to take pictures next to it and to peruse a bit of gaming history. I have a small but growing collection of Judges Guild material and it was cool to see it all there. Too bad I didn't have the time to hop into his game he was running. Thanks again Dirk it was a pleasure to chat and view your collection.
While I waited for my bro-in-law to finish up I stopped in and watched the first little bit of Bill Webb's game of Tegel Manor running the S&W lite rules. Things did not look like they was going to go well early on with some skeletons getting the upper hand and the poor clerics turn rolls not going quite in their favor. From the sounds of things Tegel Manor claimed several victims over the weekend. Alas I could not stay and had to take my leave and return to normal life. It was fun while it lasted and it was great to see many from the community who I feel have become friends and enjoy seeing even if it is only once a year. Looking forward to next year.