Monday, June 15, 2015

My Weekend as a True Booter, Part 2

In Part 1, I began talking about the 2015 weekend of Fear The Con 8: The Octocon. Thursday's festivities were full of games, laughs, stress, and great chicken wings. Oh, and Mikey Mason.

Friday morning couldn't come soon enough.

Slot 1!
We Sell The World
A homebrew of my own creation using the Risus game system, I built a future world in which the people in power -- corporation heads, politicians, other heads of state -- had been usurped by the only people the American public trusted anymore. Advertising spokespeople.

Like all who climb to power, some had turned to eeeeviiiiilll. So a band of heroes, also made up of advertising spokespeople, The Branding Squad, are called in to save the day.

The Priceline Negotiator successfully living up to his (her?) title.
Avital of THE ESTABLiSHED FACTS podcast was fantastically creative as The Priceline Negotiator. Grant of the Saving The Game podcast used his own southern charm to bring life to Colonel Sanders, Joel was hilariously brilliant and pun-filled as the Pillsbury Doughboy, Andrew's beatnik take on Chester Cheetah was refreshingly destructive, and Scott's play of Allstate's Mayhem character was able to destroy much, and in many ways. Al overslept and arrived to the game late, so I was able to make him stand out as The Burger King, who was very creepy and fought, alongside the General Foods International Coffees Army, in the Great Hall of Bill Cosby's estate, where he was ultimately vanquished after revealing a hideous Lovecraftianesque face behind that creepy, creepy mask.

Lots of great D6 rolling, including battling a flying Ronald McDonald in a super-power clown suit, taking down Wilford Brimley and his Oatmeal bombs and Diabeetus Needles, and a highway chase involving Flo from Progressive and her Snapshot devices. Colonel Sanders even used his 11 Herbs and Spices to try to destroy the Lunesta Butterfly, but instead turned it spicy . . . which means that it became a fire-breathing beast from Hell.

A lot of fun and a lot of laughs in this game. The smallest group I was a part of at the con, but one of the more fun, open-ended, do whatever-you-can-justify games. Pure improv.

Welcome to Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High
Slot 2!
MEGA-FIASCO! Reunion: Class of 1994
I wrote a playset for the RPGGeek Fiasco Playset Competition in 2014, and the idea of a high school reunion opening up old wounds sounded like a great opportunity to Fiasco it up.

For this con, I thought it would be a tragedy to run a Fiasco game that only 4 or 5 people could play in, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and crank up to 10 players. In order to keep from running out of variety of elements for our relationships, objects, et cetera, I developed a supplement called The Sevens (which you can find here, along with other Fiasco items I've written) that can help add variety to larger-than-normal Fiasco games. Since we had a short amount of time and we started late, we had to keep our scenes timed at 3 minutes or less. This allowed us to be punchy in the scenes and get to the heart of the matter without spending too much valuable time on nonsensical stuff.

Big Don as Big Joe.
We were still able to develop our characters and their motivations, and there was a lot of creative cross-table stuff happening. McCracker's served up some great food, Lance's non-stoner & non-dealer stoner/dealer character served up some great psychotropic drugs, and the Hairy Beavers of Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High in Effingham proved that they didn't much care for anybody but themselves.

Just.
Like.
High school.

Slot 3!
Fruedenberger: 3 East Wing
Chad Wattler, one of the hosts of the Fear The Boot podcast, and I lived on the east wing of the 3rd floor of the Freudenberger residence hall during our freshman year at Missouri State University. That dorm floor was the basis for this RPG that I wrote, a game using a block tower mechanic and player ingenuity and creativity to try and fight back The Black, a sentient liquidish-wibbly-wobbly-blobbly being that was swallowing up the floor, inch by inch. The setting was during Spring Break, and all the students had gathered with a bunch of beer to party it up all week long, and I had chips for everyone to keep track of how much they drank. The more you drank, the more difficult certain tasks would become, which meant you had to pull more blocks from the tower to attempt something.

What started as a comedy game quickly turned into an effort to fight the black back and survive the night, but in the end, nobody was left alive.

10 people played in this game, and it was the largest game that I was a part of at the con. I felt physically sore after this game, as my stomach was in knots from the tension. Everyone at the table felt the frustration of the moment, and you could tell they were trying to come up with some way to fight it back and survive. But when the breaking moment came and everyone realized that they weren't going to live, it was a sad realization. I personally hated it, because I wanted everyone to make it out alive, and they were on the right track, but someone knocked over the block tower on the last pull.

Slot 4!
The Bard's Bard 4: Bard Corps Action
The puns. Oh, the puns. We were bards, charged with finding the magical instrument which helps provide the members of the Bard Corps with all our magical power, which had been lost on the web of networked lands. In other words, we had to search The Web for the Bard Corps Horn.

Let's just say it got weird.

Wayne Cole, one of the other hosts of Fear The Boot, ran this  game, which has become a tradition at Fear The Con, and I was able to enjoy it with Beth, Wayne's wife Sarah, Wanita, Brian, and Adam Gottfried. We used the Fate System, which was new to me, but Wayne provided everyone that didn't have Fate dice with their very own set. Mine are pretty sharp looking.

We are the Great Bard Corps!
I was given a mug of bottomless beer, which was perfect for Klaus MacSteiner, my German-born Scottish drunken Bardic pirate who couldn't remember the last time he was sober. His tales were always in the form of a sea shanty (or if you prefer, a shanty in the key of sea), and at the end of the game, we all sang a drinking song-styled shanty that I wrote about our heroic adventure for everyone in the hall to enjoy. Not that they enjoyed it, and not that anyone except one person clapped, but it was still pretty cool.

+ + + + +

I had a wedding reception to work on Saturday night, so after I was done working, I swung by the Drury Inn, where all the gaming goodness began on Thursday, to meet up with some guys from THE ESTABLiSHED FACTS and play some more. We got halfway through a Fiasco game when we realized it was way too late and we needed to get some much needed sleep.

Sunday morning, as I was leading worship in church, I had reason to be grateful. God has not only provided me with some of the best people to game with in the last year, but I've also been able to share this hobby with others, my wife has encouraged me in stretching into this hobby and spending time with these people I love (because otherwise, I wouldn't be spending the time with anyone else), and I've been on a creative streak for the last six months and have even more RPG ideas in the clip that haven't been fired yet. Along with all that happening for me personally, a young woman in our church who had been in a coma for more than 3 weeks following a severe automobile accident was in attendance, surrounded by about a dozen people who have been continually by her side throughout her rehabilitation. With the use of a walker, she stood and worshiped with us, singing and praising God for bringing her through this ordeal. And it happened to be her birthday.

The overwhelming sense of gratitude for all these good things flooded my eyes, and I even had to stop singing a couple times before I started crying. I have much for which to be thankful, and it all came into mind in one flash of a moment.

". . . and they all lived happily ever after."
We are given so much in this life, and we have so little time to do anything with it. That's why gatherings like Fear The Con are so important. I'll be heading to Gen Con in Indianapolis later this summer, but a smaller convention that's based around an already existing community is a wonderful way to reconnect with the people and not just the games. The moment I saw people that I'd met last year, even the ones I didn't get to game with, I immediately felt that connection, and the ritual began:

The glance from across the room, recognizing that guy.
The approach, where you both start walking towards each other.
The handshake that isn't enough, so you have to hug.
The giant smile from the fact that you feel like you've been reunited with a cousin or a brother.
The relaxed feeling of being among the indigenous people of your own tribe, as Mikey Mason put it.
The catch-up conversations.
The anticipation of the games you'll be playing with this person.
The standing in line for wings.
The eating of wings.
The digesting of wings.

I'm gonna stop that train of thought before digestion leads to anything else.

All in all, it was a fantastic convention, and something that I desperately needed. Next year, however, there will be no Fear The Con. The hosts will be taking a hiatus from the convention to reevaluate and strategize for future conventions. So that means if a convention with this same group of people is to happen in 2016, it'll have to be homegrown, a guerrilla event.

Here's hoping.

There Is No Box.
Zach

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