So earlier this year there seemed to be this running competition between gencon and origins about who could fuck up their registration system more. Both conventions went out of their way to pull out all the stops and while I could recount the idiocy, it'd only serve to piss me off and those of you who weren't in the middle of it couldn't care less and those who were, probaly wish they could expunge the memories from their brain. God knows I wish I could. Anyway, I arrived at my game a bit early and it was a good thing too. Apparently origins had one more special fuckup with which to grace its attendees. They had managed to oversell almost every single RPG event. You see, usually when you have an event that takes, say 6 people, you remove a slot for every one you sell. The idiots at origins somehow managed to flub this basic premise and didn't remove slots as they were selling them. Thus, an event that was supposed to have 6 people would have 12 show up, all of whom had legitimate tickets. You can imagine what sort of fun this caused. I endeavered to be early to all my events and in general, passed by this problem unfazed but there were a lot of very pissed off people as you can imagine.
Anyway, I got to my AB event and was with yet another different set of GMs. Remember when I said that for some reason the GMs for AB seem to be vastly different? While last night's game was almost completely rollplaying and combat, today's game was more of a mix or roll and roleplaying. The senario was nothing spectacular and in fact, ended quite a bit earlier than it should have. It was basically one encounter and that was it. Pretty crappy overall in my mind. One clear way to judge what direction an event is going to go is what sort of information you're given about a character. I like it when the GM includes not only the character background but little blurbs about how that person feels about each of the other people in the party. It gives you a template from which to build and dosen't require that it all be built on the fly. Anyway, the event was lackluster enough that I didn't even try to put any effort into it and after a couple hours, it was over. It was uneventful enough that I didn't even think about snapping any pictures.
Immediately after that I had a game of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, a zombie/horror rpg system that I had never tried before. It was dubbed Blizzard of the Century and basically involved a buncha people in 1978 who get together to play a game that just came out called dungeons and dragons. They end up opening a portal to some sort of zombie hell dimension and have to struggle to close the portal. I was a little apprehensive going in since I had never played the system before but it ended up being fun and quite hilarious. We were all playing classic 'loser' characters, mostly guys going to community college while working at the local pizza joint and the like. That made for some interesting interactions. Here was my character.
The most entertaining moment of the game was when we were trapped in the apartment of a neighbor with zombies scrambling around outside. The apartment was occupied by a priest and his very elderly mother. Due to some communication SNAFUs (mostly involving wanting to drag in one of the zombie corpses and behead it on their pristine white shag carpeting) the priest got sort of pissy and demanded that we leave. Someone ended up clocking him and tied him up. At one point, everyone else other than me and another guy were out looting/exploring another apartment when the elderly mother crept up behind him and clocked him with her cane. I dunno what sort of stats this old woman had but she did more damage than most of the zombies. She started ranting about how we had tied up her son and that she wanted us out immediately or she was going to clock the guy writhing on the floor again. I did the only thing I thought I could do at the time. I ran over and charged her hoping to knock her down. I missed but she didn't. She whacked me with the cane, dealing a crapload of damage, the only amount I suffered the entire game. At that point, I figured niceties had to go out the window. I kneecapped her with a kick and she went down like a sack of potatoes, howling like a banshee. I then suggested that perhaps we could carry her to the zombie infested stairway and chuck her down it as a makeshift missile weapon. I more or less got overruled on that one.
My next game was supposed to be Fairy Meat, a wargame by kenzerco involving canabalistic fairies but it ended up being canceled. I bummed around the dealer hall for a while, searching for swag and then went to my last game of the night. It was a late started, scheduled to run from 10pm to 2am. The system was called Dread, and was a diceless horror roleplaying game put out by another group whose games I had enjoyed greatly, The Impossible Dream. Basically, Dread uses Jenga as its mechanism. Yep, Jenga. That thingie with all the wooden blocks formed up in to a tower. Whenever you wanted to do something in the game that was outside of your character's expertise or you wanted to do very well at an action, you had to pull one or multiple blocks. Succeed and your character succeeds. Fail, and your character croaks or is otherwise pulled from the game. It became very nerve rattling very quickly as you can imagine. I still remember how even early on, one guy went up to the tower with his hands shaking like a parkinsons patient.
Before the game I had spent some time chatting with another person who had arrived early who turned out to be kenzerco's newest intern. He dished a whole load of gossip and things he probaly shouldn't have, but followed each by making me and the other girl he was talking to promise never to repeat it. Telling complete strangers juicy gossip and then asking that they take a vow of silence never to repeat it probaly isn't the brightest thing to do.
So back to dread...the other interesting thing about it is your character has no stats. Basically, the only thing that defined your character before you got a hold of it is its sex and its occupation. Then what happens is the GM hands you a set of questionnaires with short little essay questions like 'what is your character's biggest insecurity?' or 'what does your character have in his/her pockets?'. Based on these responses, it shapes the skills and abilities of your character. You can more or less make them whatever you want. I became a arrogant, prigish, southern dot-com programmer who felt he knew everything and was constantly complaining about how inconsiderate others were in either not following my advice or otherwise heeding my good sense. Quick to make judgements (almost always the wrong one) and with another player who fell in like a hand in glove as the submissive. It was sort of like a pepperment patty and marcy relationship really. Lotsa fun. Here were some pictures of pulls from the jenga tower of doom.
The event ran very late. I actually lay down on a set of chairs and dozed off for a bit near the end. It didn't actually wrap up until near 3am. The basic plot was that we were all at a self-help whozit in the woods of minnesota. Strange things start happening including nekkid women running screaming through the woods only never to be seen again and things like bodies being found and then vanishing. I of course would believe none of it, and took every oppertunity to report my campmates for breaking rules and disturbing others. One added element in dread is that any player, when making a pull on the Jenga tower, could choose to knock it over on purpose. Their character would die or be eliminated but through that sacrifice they would succeed at whatever it was they were trying to do. At the very end when a buncha cultists were closing in with rifles and handguns, one of hte players decided to charge them to give everyone else the chance to escape.
That's the way the cookie crumbles I guess. At least I lived :).