Browsing articles in "Convergence"

Spring Beckons, Hops Call

Jan 5, 2011

What could it be?

Brewing, my friends, is not wife friendly but the sweet smell of hops in my house can only mean one thing….. Get ready.

Convergence Dawns – Mount Evans Take 2

Sep 11, 2010

As I previously stated, our semi-annual gathering of the old gaming group is rapidly approaching. For the first time in Convergence history we will be returning to DU’s Mount Evans Field Station. Last spring was a challenge due to heavy snow to get into the facility. We had a great time in the larger lodge/dorm building

Field Station Cabin

This time around we’ll be in the smaller cabin facility. The accommodations are not quite as nice but we’re going to have a smaller group. Luke is out due to his wedding. Kevin is questionable given his recent move. I’ve never stayed in the cabin but its the same great, very remote location. A little more preparation is required since the nearest town is 20+ minutes down a winding mountain road. The only firm plan I have this time is I’m bring some steaks to grill. Nights will be cool but the day time should very friendly to outdoor gaming.

With the date just under 3 weeks away, I had a twinge of panic. I am the only established GM showing up thus far. I could work on pre-planning games but it has yet to pan out for me. I’m also more experienced at running games off the top of my head. Each and everything I have tried to pre-plan either doesn’t work out well or doesn’t get played at all. So I’m officially winging it.

The players will get to select the games. I’m not going to pack many rule systems. I don’t need them nor do they. If they choose something completely outside of my comfort zone, so be it. I’ll adjust.

All I will confirm is Kevin will be subject to some Panty Explosion at the hands of Randall if he can make it.

It should be a good time.

Leadership Bleed-Through

Jun 13, 2010

I’m one of those people who ends up being a party leader even if the stats don’t fit. I’ve tried multiple times to honestly play the game-engine statistics and stay away from a leadership role. Occasionally, I’ve been lucky with another player stepping up to the plate whose taken over the leadership role. Most times, it has devolved into an episode of the 3 Stooges with 5-6 stooges in play.

Group leaders can be played well, temporally created or just default to someone. I lament the last case. Defaulting seems to fall on the guy who either played a leader last, knows enough about the GM to make good choices, or who succumbs to the bumbling about first and makes a choice. I admit to being annoyed with bumbling. Its cool for an hour or so. My patience quickly evaporates with the lack of forward momentum. So I make decisions outside of what my character’s capabilities.

Upon making those decisions, I admit complete failure in staying true to my character’s persona. In fact, I can recall too many campaigns where I fell into that role.

Behind the screen, I have also seen people struggle with the same issue. Rightly so, one character played to form during our last Convergence. On the ride home, he fed me back my plot line with the statement — “I knew what you wanted us to do. My character isn’t the guy to do that.” It hit a wall so badly, I chose to end the session rather than sit around, doing nothing.

Both failures are completely mine. I either broke character or failed to establish an environment characters could exploit. However, I am tired of being the guy who needs to break character to keep the game flowing. If I choose the path of characterization, will it result in a stalemate with the GM as my campaign did? How many hours of pure boredom can a person take before he succumbs and moves the plot along?

Spring Convergence Summary: Plan? What Plan

Apr 19, 2010

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy! — Robert Burns, 1785

As always, pre-planning results in deviation. Spring Convergence proved to be no exception. Kevin and I both planned to run specific games but as it turned out, neither of us did.

After packing in our supplies into the Mount Evans Field Station / High Altitude Lab, everyone got settled in for the weekend. The location could not have been nicer but it was remote. To start the weekend, several individuals engaged in a fruitless search for a cell phone signal. You know the scene — the wandering about holding up the phone hoping a signal will magically appear. Rather amusing from my point of view considering I’d already stated it was unlikely. Alas, I didn’t snap a single photo of the location or the first “hunt”. If we do it again, I’ll certainly pack a camera.

Thursday evening we got started playing with me running a Top Secret session. The plot idea was conceived from a book plot I’d read a few months prior. I was pretty certain none of the other players had read the book so felt pretty safe. Much like running modules, I faired poorly. I’ve never been good at the over-arching plot lines or pushing players down a path. Top that with them not expecting me to try to do so; the result was a room of frustrated players along with a cranky GM. I figured it would be a few hours of fast paced fun. I failed. It happens. I accept the blame for not getting the momentum of the game running quickly enough.

Friday was a mixed day. Early on, it was the repeated search for the cell signal from several players. Finally, they broke down and drove down the mountain until they found a signal. During and after the search, the bulk of the daylight hours were spent playing Magic: The Gathering thanks to Randall bringing up a box of decks. Most of us hadn’t played in a decade so it was a respite from the frustration I caused the previous night. Great fun for the afternoon.

Luke turned us back to RPG’s during the evening hours. We quickly generated characters for a 3rd Edition D&D campaign. He made it quick and painless even though Randi and I had only played it once previously and Wheels had never played. The game got us rolling again but I had to bow out early to get some sleep. To be honest, 11 p.m. is far from early to me these days but it was within the context of the weekend.

Saturday dawned early. Due to my double booking, I was headed out at about 7 a.m. for a robotics contest. Kevin chose to join me for the day while the others stayed behind to do as they chose. To make a long story short, the contest was a bust for my team. Known issues were still present and I chose to not try to battle through them. Friends and a cool location were a little over an hour away. I chose gaming over bots. Kevin and I bailed from the contest shortly before noon and headed back to the field station.

Upon Kevin and I arriving back at the field station, Luke wasted no time in getting the game rolling again. He had a plan and was working us along nicely. As with all games, I occasionally questioned the plot in the back of my head but never let that stop me. We took a break for yet another cell phone repast, much shorter than the last since everyone had finally found locations to make calls.

After a bit of pizza, the group chose to continue to play the D&D campaign. In reality, it was a non-decision. Characters were in play. Shifting games would have sucked up more hours. So Luke lead us along an undead filled, twisted plot. Little by little, he sucked every character into the game more fully. The group played until the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere after 2 a.m. I don’t recall the exact time. I’d call that success.

Kevin and I planned games. Neither of us ran them. Did it matter? Not in the slightest. I relearned something about my GM’ing capabilities. Kudos to Luke for stepping up and running a great campaign.

Everyone was very happy with the location even with a bit of a hike due to the snow. Small hiccups were present but nothing unexpected. We’ll likely be back based on the feedback I was given during and after the weekend.

Good fun. Good people. Good location. Great weekend.

With that, I’ll let the others comment on the experience. I had a great time and look forward to the fall.

Slow-Paced Character Generation

Apr 7, 2010
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Several months past, I tossed out some setting ideas for our Spring Convergence. Around the same time, I gave the players the same information posted here and told them to start considering character ideas. In typical fashion, a few people responded with ideas and we’ve exchanged a few emails regarding them.

I admit the details they were given were sparse — a general background, a likely location of play and a few insights into what I have in mind. In fact, up until a couple of weeks back, I had not even chosen a rule system to use. The players were left to consider the character, the crumbs of a setting, and little else. The sandbox was completely open for potential characters.

The wide-open, slow approach is not useful in most groups but it can lead to surprising results. One of my players, Randall, discovered a spark in the idea of the game that lead him to produce a pretty great background. He’s still not transformed it from a detailed history into a rules-generated character. Randomness will not be a factor when that occurs. Translation will occur, not randomness.

I present his concept evolution through time in his own words beyond the break.

Continue reading »

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Gaming at 10,000 feet

Jan 19, 2010

Looks like we’ll be going up for the Spring Convergence. Rather than a hotel, we’re aiming to be a bit more remote this time around. How remote? Well, the University of Denver has a field station partially up Mount Evans at Echo Lake. The facility is around 10,600 foot. The nearest towns are Evergreen or Idaho Springs. We’ll have to bring our supplies in addition to the gaming materials but it should be a great location.

They have another cabin next to the Whomble Observatory I got the opportunity to stay in it during my college days but it doesn’t appear to be available. Probably due to the potential for altitude sickness and the wicked weather at 14,264 feet. I’d like to game on the summit in that A-Frame. I don’t know what the highest gaming session on record currently is but that’d have to push the envelope.

DU’s site does not have enough photos to reveal the “cool” factor. We’ll fire up the cameras during our stay. We won’t be roughing it by any means.

However, the rule of cool cannot be denied.

Bleak Horizons: More Thoughts on a 2020 Setting

Jan 15, 2010
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I still do not have a working title so the post titles will be ad hoc until I come up with something. For the confused, it is part of a futuristic/modern setting I’m developing for our semi-annual gaming event, dubbed Convergence.

Apparently, I am not alone in thinking about alternative futures but most are focused on variations of Cyberpunk. DataFortress 2020 was relaunched late last year focusing on R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk Additionally, there is a new contest focused on the general genre. Additional discussion is available at 1km1kt.

My setting isn’t focused on cybernetics but will feature the Internet as a significant element of the modern world. I’ve been focusing on defining society within a pretty narrow geographic region within Colorado. Most of the state has been covered and I sent the notes off to Kevin, who has generously undertaken to depict my setting in his words for the state of Wyoming. I’ve not yet focused on Denver, which will be a likely focal point for my campaign. I’m holding off letting the rest of the setting take hold in my mind before transcribing my thoughts.

Several trends within the setting are becoming apparent. I didn’t specifically focus or dictate them but they keep rising up. If you consider the overall breakdown of societal expectations, the trends should be obvious but make for a completely playable setting.

The trends are microcosms, communities and regional. The previous influence of the national government is present but not universal. The ability to remain a stable portion of society is largely defined by the culture of communities and the natural resources available. Mixed economies that are inherently stable prior the break suffer less than those requiring complete importation for survival. They respond and adapt far better than insular communities supported only by a broad, national economy. Localized ability takes the forefront.

Regions with disparate cultural views fracture. Ones with a shared culture, viewpoint, and outlook remain more intact. Communal survival overshadows greed in many areas and dominates patriotism for a fallen nation. Localized focus is exactly what I was trying to achieve.

This experiment is also useful to pretty much any other setting. Why does this community exist where it is? Under stress, who are they and how will they respond? How do they respond to outsiders who might have the power to destabilize the local society? What natural resources are they leveraging, if any, to maximize the chances of the community surviving?

Kevin’s pointed out numerous things I need to consider but there are many more.

  • Is local law enforcement present? Is the military an influence? How and what impact do they have?
  • Crime is going to be present. Who responds and what are the penalties?
  • On that same bent, organized crime is going to re-emerge. What influence do they have and now far can they bend the laws?
  • Refugees from other areas are constantly arriving. How are they treated? If accepted, how they are accommodated?
  • Bartering is back with a vengeance. What is necessary for import? What goods are now desirable for that community in particular?
  • Are corporations taking indentured servants? Are the gangs who control most of the supplies? Is slavery back in fashion?
  • Disease outbreaks will occur. Medical treatment will not be universal and masses will die. How do communities and corporations respond? How about the gangs?
  • Technology is also going to be closely controlled. How do modern standards of watching what you do play out? Are corps able to retain control of their own infrastructure? Are they exposed? What is the new “hacker” community focused on?
  • Medicine and medical capabilities will also be highly sought after assets. The ability to immunize everyone to prevent long forgotten diseases will degrade. Lack of general hygiene and clean water will shift hordes of refugees back into 3rd world situations.

Having more questions than answers makes the setting very appealing. Having it localized rather than global makes it playable and transferable. So many elements are open to interpretation. Players will have the ability to define many elements but not all.

Feel free to poke at any element you like or dislike. What would your local community become after a series of global disasters? How would you respond as the blows keep coming in?

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