Wednesday, February 19, 2014


MY GRADE: A minus to A.

Dundracon 2014 summary: this was the best Dundracon for me since 2011 (I started attending in 2008). All of my games as a player were good or better and my own game had a stellar class of players (even when I upped the table from 6 to 8 with the permission of the group). I also had some good conversations and the hotel didn't give me any major problems. Oh, and I got to play one board game of my beloved Battlestar Galactica.

As usual remember you can click on the pics to blow them up and get a manual slideshow.

Noel sends two pics as the hotel sets up for the con Thursday night

My KAP game went extremely well. I had a full house with three crashers (including one person who wanted to play it again because he felt some of his players did a poor job at another con when I ran it). Two of the people who got in said I came recommended.

"I really enjoyed the game last weekend, it was pretty inspirational and certainly the highlight of the weekend. The cast of character’s motives worked so well - with a good group of players to bring it alive." --- Kevin S

It was my fifth time running it and this group had some pleasant outcomes which I had not seen in previous runs. They gelled together nicely, too, after a few hours of getting comfortable with one another (every PC was in love with another PC at the table and had other connections). 

There were times when I had them roleplay in separate groups of three or more (8 players total) and by the time of the latter half of my game I could have stepped out for a good half hour before they had noticed. At the end there was a stirring epilogue and 3 or 4 players told me it was a good/great game which is always gratifying to hear.

This is how part of the hotel room looked after the players cleared out. It isn't as big as the ones at Kubla but it gets the job done well enough.

I don't want to give any spoilers since I'll run it again but it just goes to show that Dundracon never lets me down in players when I run (I started with Montsegur 1244 in 2010). Call it what you will, I just call it magical. 

The Marriott Hotel actually gave me a corner room with two beds this year. That was on my “A” list. They broke their word the day of arrival in regards to a cot and mini fridge but those were on the “B” list and because of our dysfunctional relationship (you don't really love me, San Ramon Marriott) I brought a blow up bed of my own in case that happened. Other than that the service was acceptable to good (I got locked out of my room twice on Friday and noticed a few other people did as well in the hallways). The hotel clean up people were very good by comparison (friendly and patient to the point of being saintly).

My tradition of attending the hotel's Monday brunch before a game was awesome as usual. If you include tip, tax and price it's less than twenty dollars. For me it's a good deal since I swipe some food for the rest of the con.

My omelette being prepared.

I liked that this year they showed the stats for first picks and priority slips on all games. I suppose a minority might complain this could hurt the feelings of GMs whose games do not fill or get a low turnout. I'm always curious on the interest level of my games and others that I know. I'd also be curious to see the second and third choice simply to know the totals, as well as how many PS were used.

Brett's Monday Paranoia game was fun, humorous and arguably not politically correct. I played a character devoted to the computer and when I dealt with those vile Commies just before attacking I would say things like, “Communism is a disease.” or “Communism is for the weak and emotionally crippled.” or “A true patriot kills all Commies.” This went well at the table as did killing things for candy, charging others with breaking their security clearances and the need for all of us to avoid being dry humped by Commies. Somewhere in all of this was a train, TNT waiting to go off and a snarky hog tied prisoner (Noel strikes again!).

Friendly firing the first PC got me this Kit Kat. Paranoia RPG is very rewarding game.
The character directly to my right was a very good roleplayer and did a great crying scene in which he slowly killed a stationary train ticket bot even though he belonged to some secret society which practically worshipped them (he had a mission to complete).

In my Battlestar Galactica game Ezra became admiral and president. This is a bad combo, especially for him, because you can never do everything but you look awesome. Fortunately, I was a long term sleeper Cylon agent who got them at the very end by destroying almost all of their colonial ships and reducing their population to zero.

I'm Baltar and that would make Greg G. unhappy.
I learned a lot about Disney cruises from RJ which makes me want to consider them. I've always hated cruises because my parents “made me” go on so many as a kid. I know, I know, it's horrible but there you have it. They were boring half of the time.

Not too bad for the humans. 1.5 more jump tracks and they're home free.

Starbuck and Baltar are the Cylons. Notice almost all of the Cylon raiders are out. It got worse as more fleet cards were drawn and colonial ships are blow up.

Frakkin' Toasters.
Just a fraction of the two salons for the LARP Friday night.

I played in two LARPS this year which were surprisingly very good or better in quality. A few things I like about them that I sometimes don't get in RPGs as well as some other impressions:

      1. I get to move around unlike RPGs in which we are all sitting around the table and things can get sluggish. I'd have to get a break or have a GM who has us all stand up and do a group workout to get the blood flowing.
      2. The gender split was about equal which leads to more texture in female characters being properly presented.
      3. You get to milk more roleplaying scenes (they are rarely cut unlike in RPGs which have many other concerns) and since there isn't an audience waiting and watching for their screen time you don't feel rude or rushed.
      4. It feels something like community theater without the audience.
      5. I don't need a costume though as I keep doing them I suspect I will get one or two.

      1. You need to get up off of your ass and approach other players and vice versa. This may create social anxiety for some but to me it's good practice in socializing.
      2. I am waiting for an intervention from my RPG friends.
      3. The two LARPS were an intrigue Winter Court get together of many clans in the L5R world (Blue Lotus Productions and mainly run by Max I.) and Shiny Games comprised of a couple and their friend and focused on a town economically dependent on a military based which moved into town and set up shop just a few months after 9-11. Of course there were rumors of experiments being done, abuse of military powers and helicopters flying over the fields at night and such.
      4. Shiny Games had amazing props and details of town sections on walls. You went over to them to read the details and could flip a card to get more info at the risk of SAN loss. But you wanted to do this because you had blue tape on parts of your character sheet and could only peel it off when things triggered your memory.
          KEY MOMENTS: being the mayor of the town and getting people trying to handle or manipulate me to their desires; the many props; the detailed handouts in folders and hearing the end story of the players.

      1. Blue Lotus Productions had a lot of people who kindly shepherded me along: Max gave me an investigator who wasn't too complicated to play in L5R politics/intrigue, the only Hare Clan player (Chris) helped me understand many things (as he had been attending for a while) and, of course, Joseph H. helped me when I first arrived.
          KEY MOMENTS FOR ME: watching my comrades fight an Oni, the standoff followed by a duel between the Emerald Champion and the Shogun, the poor Lion Clan who as players kept missing all the fights and then sat in a corner moping that there was nothing to kill, hearing all the secrets of the players at the end even though it took over an hour (you could tell a lot of love was put into this project) and when final accusations were made being the dude in the crowd who called out the forgery, received massive applause from the players and got to speak with the emperor. This is definitely on my radar for next year and methinks I need to do a bit more research on L5R.

L5R LARP: I spent about 70% of my time in this hallway as it represented the secret areas outside of the castle grounds. All the battles took place here much to the discouragement of the Lion Clan who wanted a fight and kept missing them.

Matt S. brought his usual nervous creepy edge in running a horror game which was comprised of people I knew. I especially enjoyed when Aaron made a mistake early and called out, “Bomb!” and proceeded to get that word as his nickname. Mine was Crash but that's another story. There were some nice almost psychedelic descriptions in the end game and I enjoyed seeing how an experienced Keeper used the Void dice given to him by desperate players. Tyson had his usual luck in being the only person to escape fully intact (the other three players of the five were Alicia H, Aaron T and Jeff Y).

The GM tosses out a modest number of dice for himself. Heh.

An amazing roll and yes there were witnesses. I went from almost crippled to completely healed. Thanks, surgery bots.

Aaron's impressive sketching of the game as we played.

Blurry but you get the idea.

As usual Tyson lucks out at the end of a survival roll.

Getting to the hotel before High Noon secures you a good enough parking spot but I noticed more people that I know are coming Thursday evening.

I got to work out for an hour at the gym a bit before my Sunday game. Tyson came in and we talked about a lot of different things.

Apparently, Russian shoe models and I go hand in hand . . . or foot in foot.

Bling! This one is for Duane O!

I shined those shoes after the con. Couldn't be bothered during the con, of course.

FROM THE MOUTH OF THE BRY-MAN: "Great convention. Great conversations. Great roomies.

Thanks guys,


The Sunday bar get together (which was really Monday as we were past Midnight when I dropped by) was a lot of fun and had a few “nuggets of wisdom”, including the expectations of the players, making Gil run a particular WWII game in the “back room” for a 100+ players during a particular Dundracon year, not appearing old because you've never heard of Skrillex dubsteps (transformers having sex), why Ezra was more popular than us based on 33 first choices/priority slips (I kept hoping it was a BSG reference to an episode from the first season) and mostly other acts of tomfoolery.

Yes, the lucky group of us in the bar saw Jesus Christ at 3am and Ezra pointed him out first. Jesus even poked his head around the corner and blessed us before his elevator came down to take him to Heaven. I almost looked at the others to see if one of them was going to have a Stigmata experience on the spot but no such luck.

Others in attendance besides myself were Gil, Mike G, Bryan H, Ezra D, Sarah and Carl R. 

Felipe and others dropped by but they missed the Divine Ascension and the love of Jesus.

We will all never be the same and I'm thinking of giving up all worldly pleasures, joining a monastery and learning kung fu in preparation for when I need to find my half-brother in a racist white man's world.

Until then that's a wrap for DDC 2014. Arguably the best one in some years.