[Big Bad Con] The Aftershow Report!

Sean and co are probably still striking the set, but let's talk about Big Bad Con here! I'm Joey; I met a good deal of you this weekend. It was an absolute pleasure. Looking forward to next year!

Anyway, tell us what awesome stuff you played at the con! Maybe leave constructive feedback, too, because I think this was Sean's first production and I'm sure he would appreciate hearing what we want for next year.

I'm extremely exhausted but eager to talk with you lot, so my contribution will be rather short. I'll be back.

The On Demand room was amazing, constantly bumpin' at all hours. Near the end on Sunday we planted ourselves at an open table and got to try out my impulsively-acquired copy of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Do is probably my favorite game since Apocalypse World. We broke the mold a little bit and played sort of a heavy metal version of the letter "Towards Darkness" by Myles Cocoran, but it worked out great! The lighthearted slapstick element definitely made it across; we didn't have to work to that end at all. We also told a dark story about a world headed for the howling dark, and how Pilgrims Lush Warrior (the drunken master), Voracious Helmet (eater of Melanie's cookies, prior), and Fierce Monk (wise in the ways of Trouble) drove off the foreign invaders and saved the village from a great beast of heaven. It was rad! We also came up with silly pilgrim names like "Bitchin' Ladykiller", who gets into trouble by being totally rad and helps people by getting the ladies. Sorry, Daniel.

The scheduled games were also rad; plenty of Apocalypse/Dungeon World to go around. I would say more on this front, but my energy is rapidly depleting. The con was a great time, I'm exhausted, big thanks to Sean and the volunteers and Endgame and all the others for making it happen!

You guys can take it from here, I hope.

PS Hamish, that was an uproariously fun game of 3:16. Cheers, man!


  • This was an awesome con and I had a great time. I flew up from San Diego which was surprisingly convenient with 8 flights a day and an easy shuttle ride to the hotel. Registering was no problem and then the big surprise of the con, my schedule was printed on the back of my badge. This might be common at other cons but this was the first I had experienced it and it was great. No having to shuffle through tickets or stop by RPG HQ to figure out which room I was in. All the tables were labeled to making it very easy to find my game.

    Another thing I appreciated was the cloth dividers separating all the tables. It is always great if you can get your own room for an rpg but I find that is rare and these dividers were the second best thing. While they didn't cut down on the noise much they gave a sense of privacy that I appreciated and helped enhance the game.

    Friday night I played a fairy tale version of "Penny for my Thoughts" which was awesome and we came up with some great, twisted tales. This is my first time playing Penny though I've owned the game since its release and now I want to play more.

    Saturday morning was BigBadGM with four GMs given random ingredients that they must have the players create characters and run the game while being judged (and harassed by Lenny Balsara). Ingredients in this case were genre:cyberpunk, setting: the moon, antagonist: fairy tale creatures. All four games seemed to be having tons of fun but in the end it was Morgan Ellis who took the crown. Favorite moment in my game was an aspect created called "Happy Ending Virus."

    I later jumped into a Godlike Aerial game with some of the best prep I've ever seen. It had 6 or 7 maps, nice framed pictures of all the characters, 8 page characters sheets in dividers and miniatures. I got to play the engineer of an experimental plane among a group of fighter jocks. Lots of fun roleplaying at the beginning though the game bogged down for me once we got to the fighter combat as the only thing I could do was change my aircraft and I was guaranteed success. So, by the fourth round it was getting difficult to find something interesting to do.

    Saturday night was Heroquest with plenty of Glorantha goodness as the characters get caught up in tribal politics. Game took a little bit to get going but once the players grasped the system and the GM settled into the adventure things really took off.

    Sunday morning was Deleria where all the players were fairy tale creatures. In this case Cinderella, The Big Bad Wolf (how fitting) and I was Wood Building Little Pig. Again it took awhile for the players and GM to get moving but once we did it was a lot of fun as the characters had to battle with the idea and the reality of the real and fae worlds mixing.

    Final game was Lacuna Part 1 which was my favorite game of the con. I'm not sure what the GM did but I rarely actually feel the same emotional response that my character would feel. This game did it as I actually become paranoid and freaked out.

    My only complaints was food seemed tricky a lot of times I just wanted something I could grab quick. I think the con might have been selling food but I didn't realize this toward the end. Scheduling was weird as some games started at 9am and others at 10. It would be nice to have some set (or encouraged) start times so that game might line up better.

    It was great seeing all my old friends and making new ones. Can't wait for next year!
  • It was my first con and was a total blast. The space felt small enough that I was comfortable making friends and breaking into games, and I had a great time. Played in a game of Lady Blackbird, a short session of Free Market, and ran Lacuna on Sunday.

    Free Market was a total mindfuck, in some ways. The whole openness of the game direction and question was really exciting but daunting; I ended up crafting a blank bent on manically recreating experiences using a reality filter brain chip. Our MRC aimed to start a cult consulting business (we make you into a pop star!), and we spent a half hour creating the ephemeral memory of Genghis Khan storming Europe in order to thinsplice it and stamp our logo on the think. We didn't have time to play out the arc, but it went really well and was really cool. I'm hoping to play something like it longform in the future.

    I was super nervous over the Lacuna game (it was my first time running it), so I spent a lot of the day just getting into the headspace for the game; dressed up and brought 'official' materials to the table. It ended up being a huge success; everyone was totally focused on the game (I've never seen this before). I put plenty of bangs in static (perhaps too many), but the players really drove the drama with their reaction. I'll put up a full AP report tonight when I have hands on my notes. Czernia, were you playing Agent Fuller? The reveal seemed to shake him unlike the other players, and I'd love to hear more about the experience!
  • Had a great time running Mouse Guard in open gaming and playing with the Imperial Academy Dropouts (I was the balding guy playing lead guitar and wearing glasses). Unfortunately, a confluence of health/work factors made me unable to attend Saturday or Sunday. But the con was insanely well organized and from my perspective, it seemed like everyone had a blast!

    Great job to Sean and all the other organizers and volunteers!
  • I loved it too. Lots of gaming going on, all concentrated on one hall. There was reasonable sound separation for tabletop games by thick curtains, and a fine large space for the LARPs. Sign up in advance worked well, and one game did character choosing in advance and getting all the material (the TFOS LARP). I didn't run anything this year, between running things at Pacificon and AmberCon NorthWest along with my new job. I played in:

    1) Fri night: Teenagers From Outer Space LARP by Greg Wirth & Sarah Hawklyn
    2) Sat morning: Battlestar Galactica LARP "Flight of the Argus" by Dylan Gregory and Aaron Lopez
    3) Sat evening: Shadowrun 4e "If I Had a Little Money" by Erica Schmitt
    4) Sat Late-night: Game Design Seminar Over Drinks with Ryan Macklin and Leonard Balsera
    5) Sun morning: Devices of a Mysterious and Insidious Nature - Steampunk FATE by Mike Bogan
    6) Sun afternoon: Fiasco by Leonard Balsera

    They were all pretty good, though the Shadowrun game had a glacial pace. Plus I had a great time chatting with Leonard - more to report later.
  • Posted By: Ethan K.Czernia, were you playing Agent Fuller? The reveal seemed to shake him unlike the other players, and I'd love to hear more about the experience!
    I played Graves. It was interesting to see how everyone reacted to the situation but something I was thinking about was my questionnaire I filled out between missions. I had a question "Do you strictly follow orders" and I checked "Disagree". I don't recall how Fuller reacted but I found it interesting that Butler just follower orders and Hacker did not know what to do. She wanted to follow orders but knew things were fucked up enough that it wasn't an easy decision.

    Now that I've thought about it there are some interesting things going on in Lacuna, especially the game you ran. First off the way the table was set up and how you approached us made us feel like we were participating in an exercise/experiment and not a game. You ask us all our real names and wrote them down and then proceeded to give us code names. We were also assumed the gender that we actually were. I think it would have been better if we also used our real ages instead of rolling randomly. This created the situation that I "Chris" was on the slab playing Graves in the Blue City, which in a way was the case.

    This creates a strange sense of immersion that the character and player are the same person. It is a similar trick that movies like the Ring can pull off (for some people) when you suddenly feel that you life is in jeopardy after watching the video the characters on the movie watch.
  • edited October 2011
    Short review:
    Best RPG con in the state. Gave GenCon a run for it's money for quality (not quantity). Definitely going back next year.

    Longer review:
    The con was run exceptionally well. The only problems were with the hotel, how it was run, managed, and the condition. The actual staff were excellent. Food was sometimes tricky, partially due to poor breakfast options and early start times and stretching over lunch. And even with the con special food (good food, good prices, made by the hotel) the wait was 15-20+ minutes both times I went (though I did get a pizza both times, to be fair). But there were other options a short jaunt away, and free parking with in-out privileges. Nothing was terrible about the hotel in my experience (except the quality of the breakfast food in the cafe, and it would have been expensive had it been outstanding). The creepy elevator was great, if unnerving. I never had sound problems. And the con events were all centrally located, well stocked with water, and close to bathrooms that remained clean the entire time.

    Friday evening: Played in Penny for My Thoughts facilitated by my wife. She put on a fairy tale skin. We were all lost in the woods, forgetting how we got there. The "memory seeds" became "breadcrumbs" and many of them had a fairy tale theme to them. Though this resulted in three of them talking about golden threads and/or hair, it worked well. And the play was fun. I've played in a Transmetropolitan themed game too, and am convinced that over-the-top is a great way to play. And the sudden twists and turns of play were still less abrupt than some of the Grimms' tales. 3 or 4 of the stories connected lightly, and 2 of those turned out to be a husband and wife by the end. This was a record for me. My wife would break it when she ran it again the next night when all the stories interconnected in an amazing and beautiful way (she said).

    Saw Imperial Academy Drop-Outs which was a great addition to the con. Nice variety to get away. And the band is made up of local gamers, so it's cool to see them around for the remainder of the weekend.

    Saturday morning: Was open for me. I got to play Race to Adventure and Guillotine. Both were fun times. Race to Adventure plays great, and is quick, and both times I played it ended up pretty close, with the winner only being really apparent in the last turn or two. I wish I had more open time to drop into longer games.

    Saturday afternoon/evening: Played Godlike, Pacific theater, "Fire in the Sky" with the legendary squad leader Mike Montessa. Had an absolutely blast. He reminded me why I love ORE and shook me out of my story first! mindset that's calcified over the last couple of years. Surprisingly no one died, though my pilot did crash land on the way back from cockpit damage, but survived with a broken arm. Some scheduling confusion had two players drop out disappointingly early, though. I can't really blame the con (and certainly not Mike, they only left because the other game only had two people and couldn't run without them). This has me jonesing to run some ORE.

    Sunday morning: Played in Bulldogs! Fun time. I really like the universe, or at least some of the aliens. Not so hot on the system. It's gone grittier than even Dresden, and yet the subtitle is "Science Fiction that Kicks Ass!" Hrm. The only asses that got kicked were the PCs. And I don't blame the GM because he used the Kickstarter set for PCs and NPCs. I don't know if there was a moment where anyone felt awesome. The game ended a little early because of a mix of hunger, 3rd day exhaustion, and not wanting to go through a fight with our mediocre characters. The thing that did kick ass was the GM and all the other players playing their characters (except for me, which isn't humility, I just picked the wrong character, and didn't realize it until things were underway, and couldn't find the character's voice). In fact, that's what sold me on the aliens and setting, was how readily everyone was able to add punch and variety to their PCs. Especially the player playing Gloop (the slimy tentacled race) did a fantastic job adding a new dimension to the character, as well as the Asubaran (humans) having more personality than a human should.

    Sunday afternoon: I ran In A Wicked Age and it was fantastic. Although my bad time-math came up and I didn't give enough time for Chapter 2, so there was only about 45 minutes after characters, when I gave the first chapter 90 minutes after characters. Despite the second chapter feeling rushed, I think it went off well. There was one conflict I could tell didn't go right (the fertility priest trying to humiliate the monster slayer) but most of the time the players were at each other's throats. I hardly needed any NPCs.
  • Even though it was only its first year, Big Bad Con was the best-organized game con I've ever been to. Around 220 players, 75 games on the schedule, all of which ran (except one D&D game whose players were folded into a Pathfinder game I hear). It was an all-RPG (and LARP) schedule, although there were card games and boardgames in open gaming. Open gaming also had a table with lots of indie games for people who wanted to check one out to play or read. I never saw a line at Registration, it was that quick.

    I had a ton of fun running Monsterhearts twice, Saturday afternoon and evening, with thanks to Joe McD for getting me an updated edition with some new Skins in time for the con. The rest of the time I hung out and talked and had fun, although if I'd wanted more gaming I easily could have.

    The Dealer's Room was excellent, and very conveniently located! It consisted of Chris Hanrahan of Endgame, and some tables to hang out at.

    Excellent venue except for food options, although there was a good Italian place (Francesco's) across the street (closed Sunday) and lots of fast food options a mile away. The hotel restaurant and bar were... not very good. The staff were fine, the rooms were large and clean and had safes, and all the gaming was located conveniently close together, with plenty of water to stay hydrated. The curtains hung to divide the conference rooms into quarters were very nice. Parking was free and plentiful. There was a Gazebo.

    The Imperial Academy Dropouts played Friday night, and the Teenagers From Outer Space LARP
    boogied there.

    Most SF bay area cons use a hideous shuffler system because they feed on the pain of their attendees,
    but Big Bad Con had signups on the web in advance, with some games holding slots open for
    additional first come first serve signups at the con. Everyone's badge had a list of their games, starting times, room number, and table number on the back, plus the entrance to each room had a list of
    all the games for that room, plus there was a huge color-coded chart showing all the games on
    the wall across from registration, PLUS the convention book also listed everything.

    Rooms were numbered 1-5 and tables 1-20, so room 1 had tables 1-4, room 2 tables 5-8, etc.
    That was a really nice bit of labelling cleverness. Each table had a little stand with its number on it.

    I'm definitely going back next year.

    Oh, and how did my Monsterhearts games go? I think this quote from Colin J about his vampire
    nicely captures it: "If eating your brother and then having a threesome by his corpse is wrong then I don't want to be right!"
  • I finally wrote up my con report, Raiding Raider Nation.

    TL;DR version: Great games, well organised; long games made the schedule problematic, hotel was rubbish.
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