Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ropecon Day 2

First session was Fane of the Poisoned Prophecies. For some reason this didn't click. I think I castrated the adventure by making it a convention game dungeon crawl by starting right at the main temple. I was warned by the author that this was an odd choice for a convention adventure... but I didn't see exactly how this was going to fit into my campaign and if I buy something I'd like to actually game with it. ahhh well. And just my luck, a fellow Finnish RPG blogger decides this is the session he's going to play, so that blog post should be interesting.

Next up was Cairn of the Skeleton King. This thing KICKS ASS. I mean, KICKS ASS. Starts with a rumble, then has a bunch of fiddly shit that the players can blow themselves up with, has the Random Fireshooting Oil Room of Doom (the look on players' faces...) Good stuff. It's much better playing than it reads, although I still think it could be very well tightened up in two important ways: layout and summary descriptions. One is just personal preference, but the other one is important for giving the basic description up front. Some of those rooms have a lot of stuff to keep track of. I must remember this lesson for my future offerings as well.

Last up was the midnight session of Slave Pits of the Undercity. This is a nasty, nasty, NASTY adventure. First off, only 5 of the 6 signed-up people showed up for the midnight start, and they chose their characters from the pre-gen list... and they tended to choose from the back of the roster, not the front. The high level cleric? Not chosen. The magic-user? Nope, the spell-caster was the illusionist. And they got CRUNCHED in the first room with the ghouls and ghasts. The illusionist ran, everyone else was paralyzed.

... until another (un-signed-up) person came around at just that moment and wanted to play. Someone passed him the remaining unchosen characters and I just said "PLAY THE CLERIC. TRUST ME." Dude automatically turns ghouls, you know?

A couple encounters later, they are in the stables, make short work of the scrubs there, and encounter the doppleganger... in the guise of an escaping slave. "Where are the slaves? Where are the slaver leaders?" Hell, this guy didn't know. So I gave a bunch of bogus directions off the top of my head (without looking at the maps). The party fell for it. They ended up going straight to level two into one of those aspis dens with a bunch of giant ants. That was the beginning of the end, because that combat clobbered them, and they ran from everything else... the game lasted about four hours total, no further casualties, but four of the six people were in single-digit hit points and everyone was out of healing spells. And were tired from two days of gaming. Decided that maybe someone else could take on the slavers. :P

So... 2 days, 6 sessions with 5, 8, 14, 6, 6, and 6 players in each, plus I started getting recognized ("Aren't you the guy with the IV in his name?") by random people, about 65€ in sales from people just at my table (about half of that unsolicited, even!)... and I'm going back today. The GM Prizes are the main reason, but actually talking to some of the industry contacts I haven't had the time to talk to (Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press/Your Games Now is here among others) is another priority, if they're still hanging out.

Sunday's a down day at the con, as I found out last year. Many people show up Friday and either don't sleep at all until the end of the thing, or catch a few hours sleeping for a few hours in their car, or on the floor in random places in the convention hall (the doors have signs saying DON'T SLEEP HERE so they're not blocked), even saw someone camping outside under a tree, and there are probably more of those that aren't doing so in the parking lot.

Lessons for next year: No AD&D. Will use Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry for all rules.

Flesh out everything. Even if adventures have pre-gens doesn't mean those pre-gens are ready to play (Tomb of Horrors, I'm looking at you!). Slave Pits and the Fane of the Poisoned Prophecies were the best for quality pre-gens, actually, with all modifiers and memorized spells already right there.

Don't try 4 hours standard convention slots. Didn't finish a single adventure attempted in that timeframe, which is no surprise, but trying a variety of things isn't as good an idea as it sounds when you keep stopping things at interesting points. Next year, two 7 hour slots each day and we'll finish some adventures.

Unless I just get a vendor table for all my wonderful things I'll have out by then. :P

Talk to you all later. :)


  1. Another good read. I bet someone will sleep in for a couple of days this week.

  2. James, I'm going to follow up with you over email about your Fane of Poisoned Prophecies experience. After running it a con myself, I have some ideas for how to make it more compelling convention experience, but it would be good to validate that with someone else's experiences.