Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

North Texas RPG Con 2016

Jerry Stratton, November 26, 2016

Gateway to Adventure: The old TSR product display at North Texas RPG Con.; Dungeons & Dragons; Dungeons and Dragons; TSR; North Texas RPG Con; NTRPG Con

This display brought back memories. I don’t think I ever saw the product display, but the “Gateway to Adventure” image was on the TSR catalog that came with my Basic and Expert boxed sets, and it was filled with strange things I didn’t think I’d ever see.

Last June, I attended the North Texas RPG Con. This was my first gaming convention since Forge Midwest a couple of years ago. Like Forge Midwest, this is a gaming convention where all you do is game—and, of course, chat with people about gaming in between gaming.

Intercrime miniature final fight: The final fight in Jeff Dee’s 2016 Villains and Vigilantes game, Intercrime: Hostile Takeover.; Villains & Vigilantes; miniatures; North Texas RPG Con; NTRPG Con

The final fight with Firearm in Intercrime’s secret lair!

I signed up ahead of time for five games, although I ended up having to cancel the first one due to my mis-entering the dates in my calendar. I ended up playing Villains and Vigilantes, D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and BX.

The Villains and Vigilantes game was under the new, third-edition rules, run by Jeff Dee. The rules seemed very similar to the old rules, except that the attack vs. defense table has been removed and replaced with a simpler d20 roll against a standard target number. And, while it didn’t affect us at the table, there is some sort of a point-based character-creation system.

The pre-gens were pure seventies superhero team, a bunch of mostly-unrelated heroes banding together to have a grand time. Running away with the MVP award, if we’d had one, would be The Schnozz, a Jimmy Durante type with a floppy hat and a big nose with precognitive smell.

“The future,” he said, “smells strange.”

Shutterbug: Shutterbug faces off with a guard in Jeff Dee’s Villains and Vigilantes game at the North Texas RPG Con 2016. (miniature); Villains & Vigilantes; miniatures; North Texas RPG Con; NTRPG Con

Shutterbug takes on an Intercrime guard.

Many of the old V&V standbys showed up, from CHESS to Intercrime, the latter not surprising since this appears to be the adventure Intercrime: Hostile Takeover.

The first D&D game I played was, as far as I could tell, Original D&D. Dennis Sustare ran a real old-school adventure involving modern characters traveling into magical realms, most of which had to do with literary or historical figures. The biggest treasure in that game was probably the signatures on the library card in the Bodleian Library: Tolkien, Huxley, Geisel, Lawrence… no spoilers because it appears to be an regular session, but if you get the chance to play in an “Oxford Tarot” game, take it.

The next game: a takeoff on The Maltese Falcon set in Tékumel and run by Victor Raymond. I didn’t catch the Maltese Falcon references as I hadn’t yet read the book, but reading the book a few months ago I immediately caught on. I have never played Empire of the Petal Throne before this. It was a great game and a great experience.

And my second D&D game, this time Basic/Expert D&D, was in Bruce Heard’s Calidar game. This meant we spent most of the game with D&D characters in outer space, orbiting the planet Calidar and exploring a giant, invisible rock in stationary orbit just above the Eye of Azul on the planet’s surface. It very much captured the feel of the first BX games I played and ran long ago.

And there were a lot more games than that; I had a hard time choosing which games to sign up for.

The convention is pretty much all games—there aren’t any panels, or very few. Even the vendor area is quite small. There was one discussion with Chris Holmes, son of J. Eric Holmes, who wrote the Blue Book Basic D&D. It was very interesting, but, with all the late-night gaming going on the previous two days, subdued.

The session slots are six hours long, which gives GMs a lot more space to play in than the normal four-hour slots at conventions.

NTRPGCon was a lot of fun. I’ll be back again in 2017. If you want to come, sign-up has already started, and some games have been posted.

Tékumel maps: Tékumel maps for Victor Raymond’s Empire of the Petal Throne game at North Texas RPG Con 2016.; maps; North Texas RPG Con; NTRPG Con; Empire of the Petal Throne; Tékumel

The Tékumel maps weren’t really necessary for the game, but made great eye candy.

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