Monday, 10 October 2016

Furnace XI

The Garrison
Last weekend I had a wonderful time playing tabletop roleplaying games at Furnace XI, held in Sheffield’s marvellous Garrison Hotel. As usual I drove down and back each day, but this year for a change I actually ran a game.

Here’s how my convention went.

Slot #1: Fate Accelerated

This was my slot - I ran The Crasta Demon, a  Fate Accelerated demon hunt set in my own fantasy background. I had a full group (five players) and we finished just about on time, with a fifteen minute break. Everyone looked like they were having fun, and they threw me some curve balls that I had to think about, so that was good.

I tried out my "DramaAspects" again, and again some players took to them and some didn't. I'm certainly going to continue with it.

Because I knew that time was likely to be tight, I didn't roll the dice much, Instead, I assumed that all the bad guys would always roll zero on their Fate dice (actually the most likely result anyway), and that speeded up combat as I always knew what my result was.

There were only a couple of things I would do differently next time, both of which concern preparation rather than my running of the game:

  • For Fate pregens I would give each character five useful stunts, and let the player choose three.
  • I would give each character the rules summary and the background summary (which Richard did for his Owl Hoot Trail game).

Anyway, I'll post the scenario on the blog when I've made a couple of minor amendments to it.

Slot #2: Owl Hoot Trail run by Richard Lock

I played Tuco, a taciturn orc gunslinger in this fantasy Wild West game. Our mission was to find a railroad engineer and save the day from an evil railroad rival. While I took the name from Eli Wallach's character in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I think I was channelling the Man With No Name as I pursued a shoot-first-don't-say-much-at-all policy.

I'd not played Owl Hoot Trail before, and I put my character in significant peril early on when I called out my arch enemy to a duel. It was the right thing to do storywise (him being my arch enemy), but I didn't realise quite how badly it could have gone until much later. Luckily the dice were with me.

I liked the character packs (character sheet, map of Perdition, rules summary) that Richard provided - I will do that next time.

Slot #3: An early night

The biggest downside of not staying on-site is that I miss the Saturday evening slot. But they have a habit of dragging on into the early hours of the morning, and I know I wouldn’t be safe driving back.

The upside, on the other hand, is that I see my family instead, and I was so tired on Saturday that I ended up with a relatively early night.

Slot #4: Spirit of 77 run by Matt Nixon

I played Father Nick ‘The Priest’ James, a tattooed martial artist, and one of four deniable government black-ops assets. Our mission was to capture a triad leader in the top of an office building, which we accomplished after wading through dozens of mooks and causing untold property damage.

Very enjoyable, although once again I found myself slightly dissatisfied with a PbtA game. I’ve now played three PbtA games (Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, and now Spirit of 77) and in each case I’ve come away thinking that I’m missing something.

I don’t think it’s the system itself, as from what I can see it should be right up my street. Instead, I suspect that in each case it has been my lack of familiarity with that particular variant, and how the GM is running it; each time I’ve played convention one-shots, which probably doesn’t help.

In this case, although I was playing a tattooed martial artist, my reading of the character playbook suggested that he was more effective in battle using his revolver. So that’s what I mostly did. It was only at the end of the game, when I mentioned this, that Matt pointed out how effective my martial arts skills could be. It wasn’t that clear to me from the playbook, and I think if I were playing a second session then I’d be more likely to play the character ‘properly’.

Slot #5: Shadow Hunters run by Declan Feeney

I played Claudia Hawk, a vampire combat medic (and yes, that went about as well as you might expect). I was one of six members of a team of government demon hunters – except that we were the clean-up crew hoping to break into the big time. Our adventure involved encountering the kraken at Hoover Dam, demonic possession and a strange ritual at a roller derby. Shadow Hunters is ‘supposed’ to be a comedy-horror roleplaying game, but Declan played it straight, with full-on angst for some of the team, and it was all the better for that.

I found the Demon Hunters system a bit frustrating. It’s a Fate hack, but in my view it’s not an improvement. It seemed much more complicated, and I spent much of the game wondering why they didn’t just use Fate or Fate Accelerated.

Over for another year

So that was Furnace XI. Overall a huge success – I played in some great games, met some new people, and I didn’t disgrace myself running Fate Accelerated.

Here’s looking forward to next year!

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