OrcCon 2007 Run-down (plus Dim-Sum!)

Last weekend I attended my first ever RPG convention– OrcCon 2007. I also had a chanced to sample some truly excellent Dim Sum at VIP Harbor Seafood in West Los Angeles. I would seriously drive back down to LA, just for that food. Really. If you want to read some rambling observations (with a whole bunch of possibly confusing terminology) about the games I played in while at the Con, read on. Otherwise, just know Teisha and I had a great time. And we also had a truckload of delicious Dim Sum.

OrcCon 2007 was my first con ever, and kind of rushed. Work was harrying me, so I was at the con from 2:30 pm to 12:30 am Saturday– but still managed to squeeze myself into two RPG sessions.

I was an a Shadow of Yesterday game at 3 pm. Very cool, laid-back GM, who had good control of pacing, and kept an excellent handle on the game– and explained it very quickly and clearly for those of us (the majority) who didn’t know fudge dice from our foot. Did voices the way I do GMing, which was kind of validating, I suppose. The game was really stolen by a few outrageous players– The Baron, the Sorceror, and the sychophantic, scheming goblin. Man, the interactions between them were hilarious and very well played. I was a debauched visiting noble, which didn’t give me much to go on, but I established that one of my secondary goals was to keep the kingdom divided so that it couldn’t become a threat, which gave me more to work with. The guy playing the Baronness brought his kid along to play the Baron’s brother, which I have no problem with in theory. In practice, the kid was clearly past his attention-span limit (who knows how long he’d been sitting and playing at the con?) and didn’t do much except be a little disruptive. Halfway through, his mom picked him up, and I snuck Teisha, who had been an alt for the game, in. It was better for her than studying in the lobby, but by the time she joined, the conflict was ongoing, the movers and shakers had been established, and she had never seen the system… so the Baron’s Brother still didn’t end up doing too much.

Overall, I’d rate it a B+ game. Everyone had fun, the players and GM did a good job making scenes interesting and playing in character. More control (player or GM-initiated) of spotlight time would have been nice. As to the system: I like the idea, but not the execution. Flipping through the book during a break, the wonderfully evocative system of keys and secrets seems too tied down with very limited, constrained specifc examples in the book. Maybe an incorrect reading, but I’d rather just make all mine up. Then again, I’m on a Spirit of the Century ick right now.

At 8 pm, Teisha and I got to game together from the get-go, in a Lord of the Rings / HeroQuest game run by one of the new Strategicon RPG coordinators. The scheming sorceror (Alex) from the previous game joined us, as well as Shadow Rat (who ran the SotC Clone Wars game mentioned above), and an an older guy named Tom. Good group, definitely. Once our achetypical roles were sorted out, we quickly established some strong rapport, and everyone was very good at bringing their character to life. Particularly, Shadow Rat ran with his “Leader of Men” shtick and made epic, sweeping pronouncements and speeches, slamming his fist over his heart and giving rallying calls. Meanwhile, Alex played up the cold, distrustful Northman angle well, giving (to me) a Boromir-esque, dark and brooding, but trying to do good kind of vibe. I was the token Elf, and I tried to play that up without becoming a caricature– I had a few nice moments, doing the elvish thing- giving a ancient Clasp to the little hobbit for luck, doing crazy archery, talking in that holier-than-thou “see the big picture” sense. *shrugs*

The GM was clearly of the “ponders, researches, and works on his GMing” school, for good and ill. He made excellent use of evocative descriptions, using multiple senses and trying to convey the mood as well as the location, and it worked well. His energy was nice and high, too, but also very relaxed and willing to help people figure out rolls, etc. HeroQuest was new to everyone at the table except Shadow Rat and I (I may be wrong), but it worked out well. Like can happen with HQ, sometimes analysis paralysis set in when people were trying to figure out augments. So, great GMing in terms of description, in terms of framing conflicts. What I didn’t dig as much (which I expected, coming into a LotR game) was the slavish attention to Tolkien’s world. I’ve read the Silmarillion, but honestly? I could care less who begat who, what year it was exactly, and the true names of the eldrich beasties sent out by the Witch-King of Angmar. But everyone has a taste, and I won’t hold that against the many people who salivate over scriptural accuracy in Tolkien’s fantasy. The game was planned to be part of an on-going campaign at the strategicons, which is a nifty idea, and I’d love to play in part 2– the “pre-scripted” nature only made me feel railroaded for a few moments, and the GM did a good job of making even that enjoyable by keeping the players focused on telling an interesting story.

Two very narrativist games, my only RPG experience since quitting an Exalted campaign and running a Wild Talents one-shot. Mmmm… player control, emphasis on narrative flow. It’s like the nectar of the gods.

In the one hour or so I was at the con and not playing, it seemed pretty busy– but I’ve never been to one before, so it’s hard to judge. NerdSoCal.com did a good job advertising.

I even got some ego-boost. 🙂 On RPG.net after the event, the GM of the HeroQuest game said, “Thank you ParadoxDruid for terrifically playing your Sindarin Elf. Great job! I only wish you were closer to Los Angeles that I could grab you as a part of my regular gaming group.” Also, Shadow Rat chimed in, “And seriously Paradox – you were a damn fine elf and a great role-player who was always raising the bar at the table.” They were both awesome, too, and it was a great experience. Pretty intense, though.

2 Responses to “OrcCon 2007 Run-down (plus Dim-Sum!)”

How fun!

Wish I were cool enough to role-play!

Mallorn - February 20th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

I knew I could have done something better that weekend.

Clonebot2350 - February 25th, 2007 at 4:38 pm

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