The 2014 venture into the Colorado Rockies is complete. The event was once again held at the base of Mount Evans at 10,000 feet in the University of Denver Alpine Field station. Holding the event at altitude is not without risk — one of our five participants had regular touches of altitude sickness. Nothing major but it did sideline him on occasion but never progressed to the point I needed to haul him back the thicker air of the Denver area.
We had five participants this year from 3 states. Three of the five flew in prior to the event. Role playing games were slim as I failed to prepare anything prior due to other responsibilities. So card games were the name of the game for most of the weekend — Magic, Munchkin and Drinking Quest.
The newest participant, Garrett, ran the one RPG over two sessions. He used the Big Eyes, Small Mouth RPG with the players involved in an alternate modern fantasy environment. It was odd. It was strange. It was a heck of a lot of fun even if it wasn’t what I expected.
Many thanks to all the guys who always make the weekend enjoyable. Glad you could come up and looking forward to 2015. I may have to invest in a oxygen bottle.
So, I finally managed to run Rot World for a group during my semi-annual power gaming weekend. The attendees were given a choice between AD&D or Rot World. The overwhelming choice was to play RW. I honestly didn’t expect it to get played so I was minimally prepared and I only used the minimum portion of the system needed — character ability and skill checks on the action table. All book modifier tables were ignored in favor of simple difficulty adjustments by the Corpse Master. I love that term.
The players were allowed to pick and choose skills, backgrounds, and place attribute rolls to fit their interest. My major forcing point was to pre-set why they were a group at a county fair in the middle of summer. The group ended up having one ex-military guy, a side show ax and weapon tosser, and a security system specialist.
As for the scenario, it was a pure one-off, use every trope in the zombie genre. I essentially took Dawn of the Dead and relocated it into small, plains towns with minimal entry/exit points. The game opened with a tanker wreck in the heart of town at the intersection of the two major highways. The tanker was leaking an unknown fluid and the cab had been subject to a significant explosion. The players along with a large group of locals went to investigate but were rebuffed by the local authorities. Many hints were dropped that the driver of the tanker should no longer be alive but was still moving. [Exponential decrease in exposure to reanimation].
From that point forward, it was pure sandbox. The military escort planes arrived and blew up key points along the highways , effectively trapping the party from just leaving in a vehicle. Soon afterward, heavy hauling C130’s dropped ground troops and vehicles to reinforce the initial perimeter. Being a town, there will still many avenues for the characters to escape.
They chose to go overland on stolen ATV’s from the fairgrounds but paused as an early perimeter defense sniper took out civilians who left ahead of them. Due to several very, very lucky rolls they managed to escape the original perimeter but paused long enough for a larger, more efficient military force to take up positions well outside of the original demarcation line. I likely railroaded them a bit more during a break by telling a player they were very unlikely to escape the situation.
Prior to leaving the city, the characters were well aware that the high school was an ‘evacuation site’. They were in possession of local security radios and captured a military radio later. After hitting a few different road blocks, they chose to go back into the city and try to work the military as an escape mechanism. The idea of fleeing on foot almost got them captured and detained. They would have been penned up except for great rolls by the ex-military guy and his high personality.
Upon the return, they were looking for supplies so ventured into the heart of town. Being nearly 2 days later, the city was completely overrun with infected but most were contained in the softball field near the high school during the quarantine period. A few zombies were fought but easily overcome. As they were looting the local gun shop, they received a radio transmission from the high school. The force that had been in charge of the quarantine were now trapped and left by the commanding force. The party had to choose between surviving or rescuing people they saw as having screwed them earlier. To up the tempo, I tossed in the nugget that the city would be fire-bombed (napalm) in four hours. That was the last communication the stranded military had.
The party decided to rescue the military guys even though they knew they could get out of the bombing zone. It involved visiting the local farm equipment dealership, a tractor, a HMMVV, and a couple of crop sprayers. It was chaotic with numerous roadblocks to hinder them but they managed to effect a rescue. Once they accomplished the rescue, the party turned to leaving the city to escape destruction.
And again, pure sand box style, the ex-military guy with a phenomenal personality tossed kick the CM worthy die. His roll allowed them to approach and leave the containment zone. That allowed us to wrap up the session in an effective manner.
Of course, given the trope-filled night. At least one zombie escaped to continue the infection.
Kick back, grab an ale and let me tell a tale of Drinking Quest 1 and 2. If you have not heard of Drinking Quest, it is a card based drinking game modeled after role playing systems. The system is easy to learn, easy to play, and features four quests per deck. Not to mention its hard to write a review after playing. I could have accomplished it but there would have been a) belching, b) emoticons, and c) words no spell checker could fix. All of the above might still apply.
Randall chose to open Convergence with Drinking Quest. After flight delays, random traffic nonsense, late shopping and finally some food, I busted out DQ1. I handed the full rules to Randall and the quick start card to Rob. After nods, we started into the game.
The first quest of DQ1 was our learning round. We double checked the rules. Also, the game reminded us that we are no longer in our 20’s. The game is a lot of fun; has crazy moments, and delivers far beyond what a four decade old body needs in drinks. Perhaps special attention should have been placed on the moderation elements stated in the rules.
Drinking Quest defines what a card system should be in a beer & pretzels environment. Its fun, light, and contains laugh your ass off moments as you or your friends get your ass kicked by a random card.
After 4 days of gaming, I have no hope of accurate quotes from the players but there are select moments that must be paraphrased.
Randall: [Somewhere after Quests 1 & 2 were complete] “Tell the creators there need to be more cards per quest.”
He may no longer hold that opinion after we completed four of four quests in DQ1 and 3 of 4 in DQ2.
Wheels: “I wish we would have had this 20 years ago.” “Do I have to drink again?”
Rob: “A fun system. Damn, is Wheeler drinking again?”
Mark: “Chug. Chug. Chug.”
Wheels: “I spend XP to make Randi drink…”
We could have saved the new quests in Drinking Quest 2 for another night. We did not. Instead, we rolled directly into DQ2 from DQ1.
Rob: “Wait, these stats don’t match the cards.”
Mark: “Huh, that’s odd, oh wait, here’s a DQ2 character sheet.”
Honestly, I was expecting the same stats and character information to flow from one deck to another. It doesn’t but it also didn’t matter. We jotted down the new characters and moved into Quest 1 of DQ2. At that point, I no longer heard requests for more cards per quests. I may have been distracted — I was drinking profusely due to many deaths.
Rob: “I have this defense thing figured out. It’s important.”
Wheels: “Drink biotch (directed at Randall during one of the many failed combats”.
Mark: “Chug. Chug. Chug.”
Enter the Snow Weasel.
The snow weasel was our favorite card. Rob drew it when well ahead of us in the game. Not only did it bite his leg on the draw, it mauled him in combat.
Rob: “Aww shit…”
Group: “*cackling*, *laughing*
Randi: “We aren’t getting through quest 4.”
Overall, Drinking Quest is a whole lot of fun. The system mechanics are very deadly which results in drinking. Not unexpected but I underestimated the number of failures that would occur. Some can be knocked off as poor dice rolls but everyone was drinking most of the time. The entire group gave a thumbs up for the game the night of play, the day after, and it was a point of discussion every day of the weekend. It may be more suitable to folks just entering drinking age and who enjoy power-drinking games but if you moderate (yeah right) any beer and pretzels group will enjoy it. Just have munchies available.
Last Word: Chug Chug Chug!
Four days. That’s how long I have to wait to see good friends again and undertake as much gaming as we wish for a long weekend. Convergence is here yet again. The last one was a bit chaotic but this one just has a good vibe.
Everyone involved just wants to have a good time. The pattern of always trying to do something new is no longer present. Also absent is the need to jack cock around with scheduling for the sake of self importance. We can just be people having a good time without the need to one-up one another. No need for fanciful stories or chests drummed up derived from delusions of grandeur. Just people. Gaming. Cooking. Sipping It’s Only Vodka.
We may play a lot of RPGs or we may play a few. It really does not matter. The decision of what we play is out of my hands as it always has been. As long as we’re all having fun, the weekend will rock. When I fail, we’ll chuckle about it and move along. I will fail. I know that already.
I must tip my hat to my long time players. Wheels and Randall, you make games worth running. You arrive with no expectations, bring high energy, and drive games where you want them to be. The effort is noted and applauded.
Games and gamers come in many forms. Some thrive on the liveliness of conventions and large groups. Others prefer small events focused on smaller groups of well known people. I like both, on occasion, but consider the small group dynamic more enjoyable overall. For the last several years, my original group with a few additional people have headed to a central location for a gaming weekend.
The preferred location has evolved after stints in cramped hotel rooms and crabby neighbors into gaming at the University of Denver’s Mount Evan’s Field Station. The location is far removed from camping — it has central heat, two bathrooms and a full kitchen. You might even get a internet connection if you are lucky but you will not find cell phone access. Life without the annoying chirps of incoming email, texts, or notifications from social networks is one of the perks. Decoupling yourself from electronic attachments is not for everyone. You must be ready to just game, socialize face to face, and take advantage of the setting.
The idea originated from a discussion between Kevin of KORPG and myself several years ago. The gathering was dubbed Convergence. It slowly evolved into the modern incarnation of friends arriving from several states into a long weekend of game playing, socializing, and solace in a remote area. The original intentions have long been fulfilled and continue to be relevant today.
As the gathering evolved, disparate intentions emerged. The diverging intentions were not intentional. Rather, it was just a matter of group dynamics. We all learned during our childhood that a square peg does not fit in the round hole. If you place one person in a small group dynamic who wants to showcase games of little interest to the other attendees, critical mass is broken. Group dynamics are key in a small gathering. Everyone needs to be on the same page as to what they want to play or would enjoy doing. Each member needs to speak up early and often if the game at hand doesn’t fit for them.
Call it gaming via democracy. I’ve been very pointed in noting to new attendees that the original group is very old game oriented. We’ve tried out a fair share of different systems but everyone agrees that early D&D fits our fancy more than most. Furthermore, those key people don’t play a particular edition but rather a mutant incarnation of several editions ranging from Basic to 1E and through 2E. A huge number of the rules are outright ignore. Perhaps we are gaming neanderthals but we can make games get moving quickly and simply without hours of downtime.
Time is a critical component. The players want to play not spend hours generating characters or learning rules. It is far easier to fall back into a comfort game than to dig through rule books for hours. We will degenerate into telling true stories and drinking beer if the wait is too long. Or bust out a game of MtG.
One new guy gets it. He brought up the possibility of running CP2013 — the original cyberpunk game. He thought it would fit with us and it does in spades. Chargen is pain but it can be streamlined easily or with an assortment of pre-generated characters to choose from. The game systems are not really the question, it is frankly the interest and engagement of the group.
As for time fillers, I have Drinking Quest #1 ready to roll. Couple that with incoming copies of the new revised edition PLUS Drinking Quest 2, the sequel. Bust out the beers, the pretzels, and assorted appetizers.
The end of September is going to a fantastic time.
Tentative date for the Fall Convergence is now slated for September 28th-30th. Although interest was present for a spring event, schedules and life didn’t allow for a gathering. Should be a good time even after a protracted delay. More news to follow once the group and gaming ideas are determined. Given the attendees, we’ll be headed back to Mount Evans if the location is available. Two fly-ins plus two locals make it Colorado oriented for this gathering.
The inaugural date for the Brew & BBQ gathering is occurring on April 13th. I will be hosting the event to demo my all-grain brewing set up. Considering I’ve only used it once, it should be an interesting day. Four individuals will be attending in addition to me with one planning on cooking ribs for the day while we brew up a batch of beer. Brewing, BBQ, and Bullshitting all in one day. Should be an excellent day.
Strangely both dates were set quickly. Convergence took 3 emails and a phone call. Couple more invites will go out for the Fall. Low probability those individuals can attend but its worth an email. B&BBQ took a single email and four replies. No cat herding involved. I like that.
I was hooked after reading the review of Drinking Quest over at Troll in the Corner. An RPG intermixed with enjoying a drink or two? I couldn’t resist. The premise seems perfect for evening sessions at Convergence or for a fun game at any party.
The game includes saving throws, which sucks for the guy who cannot make a saving throw. Okay, he makes one on rare occasion. So rarely it calls for some sort of celebration. Imagine an NFL touch down dance done by a gamer type. Not necessarily pretty but damn entertaining.
Plus I love the artwork and the naming of cards: Killer Buzz, Hungover Goblin, etc. Shades of Munchkin style coupled with drinking and an RPG flavor will please my compatriot islander.
Hopefully the rules are simpler than the last foray into a drinking card game. Not to mention more enjoyable than the catastrophe of an RPG session using cards played previously. I suspect it will be far more entertaining.
Hopefully it will arrive before I depart for VisionCon. My confidence is not high given the order notification: It will ship within a day or two and should take about 1 – 4 weeks for delivery depending on your distance from Toronto. Quick processing of the order but now its in the hands of the shipping gods. Here’s to being pleasantly surprised…
Drinking Quest is available at drinkingquest.com for $25.