I told Mark Hunt at Gary Con IX last year, that I would run a game of Gang Busters so he can play. Mark is a lot of fun as a GM, it will be fun to see him in action as a player. Of course, it will be Mark’s version of the rules.
Way back when, I was more into reading science fiction than fantasy, and while we played various science fiction themed RPGs and even kluged together one of our own, AD&D was always our go to. I love D&D and fantasy RPGs, but I also love science fiction. I was inspired when I read H. Beam Piper’s Space Vikings [Affiliate Link], to come up with a scenario for a convention. Stars Without Number really caught my attention about that time. So much so, that I backed the Kickstarter for the revised edition. I even have ideas for a campaign, just not enough time to run another campaign right now.
I was the first to submit a game for Stars Without Number [Affiliate Link], and may be the only one. The final schedule of all the games is not yet posted, so time will tell. I got the email with the shipping tracker number for my SWN Revised Edition [Affiliate Link] book from the Kickstarter. It is backward compatible, and I have the new PDF, it will just be cool to have the final book in my hands as I do final preparations. Using the new form fillable character sheet will be fun too!
I’ve run several games of Metamorphosis Alpha [Affiliate Link], the first science fiction RPG, both online and at conventions. I describe it as Gamma World in space, since the rules are so similar. I managed to get a 1st edition boxed set, and will be using that to run my game. It’s not in mint condition, and even though Jim Ward signed it, games are meant to be played. I just love the art by Dave Trampier.
I attended all four days of the expanded Gamehole Con. This year, expansion to a 4 day convention that started on Thursday night was a test. As I arrived to pick up my badge and tickets, I saw Alex Kammer out front. I greeted him and he was trying to work out what was the only problem they had being ready for the con. Some laptops hadn’t been delivered that they would need for controlling some monitors the next day. Very minor. He was very calm and collected. He said that sign ups for Thursday this year were so strong, that it was already decided that they are now a four day con.
I ran three games and signed up to play in three, but only got into two of them. I kept my schedule fairly light. I went prepared to possibly run pick up games, or get into some. I enjoyed just visiting with different people, and enjoying watching people having fun. The food trucks were excellent. I favored the taco truck. Their burritos are awesome! The same truck as last year. I believe they are all the same ones as last year. I tried them all last year, and all were good.
One cool thing is if you buy the soda cup, that may just be for BM’s, I don’t recall, they had two soda fountains set up with free self-serve refills. Since I ran official games, I got to use the GM/Vendor lounge. There was water, coffee, snacks, and a few tables with chairs.
Thursday I ran Gangbusters – Mark Hunt’s new variation that is compatible with the original. (I proofread the current version of the rules he’s working on, and let that inform how I ran the game.) I ran a scenario Mark wrote, called The Con Game. A fitting double meaning, as there was a con involved in the scenario. I had 4 pregens from Mark, and made 4 more since I signed up to run for 8 players. The only issue that I encountered were that they varied from the templates, and it was the second session group that pointed it out to me. I’ll fix it when I run this in almost two weeks at Ucon in Ann Arbor. I made up maps for the locations, just squares on the provided Chessex battlemats, with indicators for doors, stairs, streets, alleys, and vehicles.
I had 5 players most of whom had not played it or not since back in the day. They were quite trigger happy as they shot a couple of the fleeing customers at the speakeasy they raided at the beginning of the session. I had them pick a number between 1 and 15 and for the first I counted out from the front of the list of templates and the rookie cop gravely wounded Claude Arbukle, the beloved vaudeville star. One of the FBI agents on the task force shot another. Counting from the back of the templates, he severely wounded John Marlow, a private investigator. When he found Marlow had a gun in a shoulder holster, he put it in the hand of the unconscious Marlow.
The rookie cop got fired for shooting the beloved Arbuckle, it was all over the papers. The FBI agent who shot Marlow rolled his presence to convince the station chief to take on the rookie cop as a emergency provisional agent, and kept the former rookie cop out of jail. Everyone wondered when they’d get Tommy guns. They finally got enough evidence to do a final raid, and then one of the players got a Thompson. The party gave it to the player with the highest agility. They took out the bad guys, and solved the case. The rookie cop got shot up and narrowly avoided death. I think a couple other characters in that session had minor wounds.
Friday night I ran The Con Game again, this time with seven players. They fired into the ceiling at the speakeasy raid, but this time I threw in some hoodlums coming out of the basement leading into the alley. One with a chopper and the other a .38. They killed the crooks, so they didn’t learn anything from them. Again, they wanted access to Thompsons, but until they got to the last location, didn’t have anything to warrant their distribution. Being a bigger group, I put more gunmen in the location and let the players have two Thompsons. They had a different plan, but got spotted on their approach. In the end, the players prevailed. I believe 3 were seriously wounded, and one received a kill shot but made his luck check to have 1 HP. He had another kill shot and failed his luck check, so 1 kill.
I ran both sessions with a simplified combat method. Roll to hit, then roll a d10. 1 = minor wound, 10 = dead. So I let players take up to two 4s or 5s for damage before death. I also used the rule that if they take damage equal to half or more of their HP, they will die without getting to a hospital within the day. In both sessions everyone had fun, and I recall that in the second session there were comments that they liked how fast the combat went.
I had a lot of fun with both sessions and enjoyed how each group had their own approach to solving the case. Until the last Gary Con, I had not played Gangbusters for 30+ years. I don’t believe I ever ran it back in the day. I don’t think we played it very often. So Thursday was the first time I ran Gangbusters. I didn’t find it difficult, since I have ran lots of other games.
I started off explaining the stats, punching score, hit points, and that one can take twice the HP in bruise damage. There weren’t any real questions. All the players had roleplaying experience. I had a blast and enjoyed the surprises and laughs from the players’ actions. I showed off my second round of Mark’s box set, and let everyone take a look. Some thought it might be from the Kickstarter, so I explained that it hasn’t gotten to the point of Kickstarting yet. I did hold up the 100 pages of the current rules I printed using my suggested edits. I only had to refer to them in the first session to figure out who the wounded speakeasy customers were. Also, I clarified the damage rule using the d10.
Saturday night I ran a weird WWII scenario I developed called The Kiel Experiment, using The Front – also by Mark Hunt, based on The Black Hack. I first ran that scenario last November at Ucon for at least ten people, since several GMs were laid low by the flu. Saturday night I only had two show of the four that were signed up. I gave them each two PCs that they rolled up. The one with leadership, I let roll a d10 and get 4 NPC soldiers to help out. The players were a father and son. To set the mood, I asked if they had seen The Philadelphia Experiment – they had not. So I had to explain it very briefly, and that this scenario was my take on the German version. They really enjoyed the session, and since there were only two of them, they finished it in two hours. The next day, the father saw me in passing and let me know that they looked up The Philadelphia Experiment the night before and watched the first ten or fifteen minutes, and really liked it. My bad – I forgot to take a picture of the players at the table.
Friday morning I played a 0 level funnel of MCC (Mutant Crawl Classic) with Jim Wampler. It was a lot of fun. I was amazed – I’ve never had all 4 characters survive a funnel. Out of 7 players, 5 had no deaths. One person lost two and another lost one of their characters. We only got to the penultimate boss monster. It is basically Gamma World with DCC rules. Of course, with DCC type rules, it gets really interesting. We got an MCC button and a pick from a bag of pewter minis based on the original Ral Partha Gamma world minis. I got a rabbit with a submachine gun.
Saturday morning I played a 1st level MCC adventure, again with Jim Wampler. Again we got an MCC badge and a pick from the minis. My character was a mutant with bat ears that gave him echo location. He had a delusion that his dazer gun talked to him, so I had fun with that. His last power was the ability to control anything with iron in it, i.e. magnetism. Another player was way into roleplaying, he said, “That’s my superpower.” He plaid a mutant plant, basically a tree person, that he named Larch. He was in character and wow, I would play with him again!
We got transported away and these robot “gods” wanted us to retrieve an object. The night before they sent us off, each of us had a visitation from a different one, promising us even more gifts if we gave the item directly to them. Jim took each of us into the hall, so no one else knew what we knew. I have never been in that situation, so I decided, “This is a con, I’m going to go for it.” We finally got to where we could see the object. As soon as Jim was done describing it, I said, “I’m going to run and grab it.” The whole table was a bit surprised I did that. Two other players tried to intervene. One rolled a 1 trying to grab my beloved dazer since my hands were full with the object. Another tired to shoot me with his dazer, and rolled a one. I was amazed and had a good laugh at my luck. I then “spell burned” to use my control ferrous metal, and rolled high enough that I go the maximum result. My manifestation was that I was cold to the touch, and with the max result, I looked metallic and could control any number of objects. (In hindsight, I could have really betrayed the party and just killed them all….) I crushed the guy’s dazer and threw him across the room. We were then transported back, and I tried to run towards the “god” who promised me wealth and power. The other gods and their gated in minions and the rest of the party rolled initiative. I rolled a nine and the player on my left rolled a 20 for initiative. I laughed. He then declared he would use telekinesis to take the object from me, with spellburn. He then rolled a second nat 20! My ability to resist was ruined as my strength was weakened by my prior effort. My magnetic control only lasts 1 round per level. Being 1st level, I blew my chances. He then sent the object to the “god” he was working for. He lived and got all the power and riches and the rest of us were rended by demons. I had a great Magneto impression, but it wasn’t good enough. I had a blast being the betrayer who was himself betrayed. What a way to go!
Friday night I sat in on a seminar by Michael Witwer (Empire of Imagination – AFF), and Jon Peterson (Playing At the World – AFF), and hosted by David Ewalt (Of Dice and Men – AFF) – How D&D Changed The World. It was a great seminar. One participant Christoph, is from Germany, now living in the U.S. He asked about the non-North American aspect of RPGs & D&D. Jon Peterson immediately had answers and talked about games Christoph had not heard of. I got a chance to visit with Christoph afterwards, and more later on Sunday. It is pretty obvious that without D&D computer RPGs wouldn’t exist, or not with levels and hit points. All of those in the entertainment industry who were influenced by D&D, etc. make it seem that we are in a post D&D world, since we can’t avoid mentioning it, and those who never played it know what we mean by many terms.
I was nice to visit for a bit with Michael, but being a busy man with a young family, was only there for the day. Jon meets so many people, I’m not sure he recalled meeting me at Gary Con in the spring. I met David for the first time. He is the only one of the three that I don’t have his book. I’ll have to correct that once I get through Jon’s tome. (My backlog is far too large….)
I also spoke with Pat Kilbane a couple of times, and he is making progress on the D&D History Project documentary. I back the Patreon and last week he showed us a portion of the trailer. All I can say is, it’s cool and I can’t wait for more! I am humbled that he thanks me for my support every time I comment online, or each time we are at a con. I do far more getting the word out than I do finance wise. If you can help out, join the Patreon. The interviews are done, it is down to shooting stills,finding some historical footage, and then the editing.
One of the guys I game with on Roll20 backed the latest Troll Lord Games Kickstarter and got each of us a C&C PHB. I asked Stephen Chenault to autograph it. I told the guys last Wednesday night that I would. Stephen is very gracious, and easily agreed to do so and pose for a picture.
Sunday, I didn’t get the game I wanted. I signed up for Top Secret: NWO by Merle Rasmussen, and ran by him, but didn’t win a spot. I was going to sign up for D&D, but I offered to give Ruty and Satine a ride from their hotel to the con. We were staying at the same hotel. So I got to visit a bit more with them. I offered them a ride to the airport so they didn’t need an Uber, and got them there with just enough time to catch their flight. I did actually get to finish a conversation with Satine Thursday night instead of being interrupted by people walking up wanting to talk to her, etc. I didn’t get to talk much with Ruty. They are both a whirlwind of activity. Satine mentioned a couple of things I don’t think I can talk about. She hinted at more awesomeness to come in 2018. I have no specifics, that all she said.
The dates for Gamehole Con 2018 are November 7-11. The website has already been updated for 2018. Alex and crew are on top of things, and the preparations for next year have already begun. I have been told that UCon in Ann Arbor, MI is the same weekend next year. This is out of control for both conventions as they are dependent on the college football schedule. This affects at least three of the regular cons I attend. If they are the same weekend, I will be attending UCon, since it is only two hours away, and in the same state.