I recently attended Strategicon’s labor day convention, subtitled Gateway. I’ve be going to this thrice-a-year show for 30+ years now and will never understand why the show has three different names. Maybe it made sense in the 1990s, but people don’t care that they were three different conventions at one point and now owned by one person.
Stop confusing people.
Alright. So. What happened there and what did I learn by my playtest session of this random game idea I had (and that no one knew about)? And did I even have any fun?
Let’s start with a review of the convention before I get into my new game.
Victor Bugg asked me to come down and be their special guest. Chris Carlson and Jim Sandoval let me run whatever I wanted. I only ran a few game sessions, and didn’t plan for much, so most of my time was spent socializing. I got to see a great many friends.
I ran Black Monk once with a group of old friends, plus three people who had never played the Praxis system before. They were young and a little weird, but grasped the concept quickly. One of them clearly came from D&D read aloud text and didn’t know when to stop narrating things and just let people play. I hope he gets past this part of his development soon.
I also moderated a session of Protocol: $6000 Movie. I didn’t play in it, but Jim and his friends dropped in and they (I think) had a good time. It is a mindless game and the first in a trilogy of B-Movie nonsense.
Butcher Blades Six
Okay. So here’s the real meat of the weekend for me. I came up with an idea for 5E that no one has done before. This would be a mini-rulebook, sourcebook, and adventure: all in one. It would also include a set of unique pre-made character with their own specialized character classes. Anyone wanting to extract the classes from the book could, and there is no reason the character personalities need to be set in stone. I just had a very specific idea in mind here.
Cough. Moving on.
The idea is that an army of undead are rising and whenever they kill someone that person gets added to the army.
Not overwhelming yet. But I'm just getting started.
The book would include six unique character classes/characters who fit the niche of the story. All of them are villains/jerks who take on a small job in a remote village and slowly get pulled into this undead army story. Most against their will.
It is, in essence, a gutterpunk story and not too different from King for a Day (in tone). However, thing go wrong for the characters when they die at level 3, fighting the undead.
There is an arc, I'm just not giving the entire story away on this page.
In the playtest, four of my friends showed up, along with two people who are rank and file D&D players.
Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t really like D&D and haven’t played/gamemastered it seriously since 3.0. So people showing up for what was clearly labelled an experimental playtest with the sole intent of a) ruining the fun with the same bald joke three times, and b) waiting for me to telling them what to do, proved more than anything, that this project is a bad idea.
The characters and the class ideas were exactly what I wanted from the project, but to put 1000 hours into trying to make/publish something of this magnitude, only to have 90% of the 5E crowd treat it like a joke and/or not even back the project, would be a waste of my time.
I have plenty to do.
I have already published a character class for 5E (the fixer). It’s already on DTRPG. And I have ideas for more, including a complete redesign of the original bard class. But these don’t sell for me and I’m not really invested in the format. Maybe when 6E comes out, I can make this new bard and show how a post 2E bard should have been designed all along.
But that's for another time.
I’m rambling now and running out of steam. Overall, the con was good, but not great. It was nice seeing old friends, but by Monday morning I’d had enough. I never really feel that way about cons, so something was in the air and hesitant to say more.
I’ve spoken with Chris Carlson at length about the energy/interest level in the con. And I hope OrcCon 2023 can see renewed energy in games people want to see play.
And to invite real high-level guests of honor and not jerks like me.