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12 October 2019 - Saturday

9-13:00 Dungeon World, run by same bozo as yesterday!

Again one person just never showed up, but Liralen and Jet (wait, when did Jet become a grownup? what even is time?) made it, along with a couple of people I didn't previously know.

  • Dr Theward Savage, MD (Xander), British imperialist barbarian, born on safari and eager to publish while the wogs perish.
  • Prof Jadaia (Liralen), the wizard who invented the Astral Resonance Tuner for SCIENCE!
  • Allestra (Jet), moon-worshipping paladin.
  • Trixie (Andy), halfling thief determined to get rich selling moon rocks.

It was interesting to see how many of the same choices the completely disjoint sets of players made: having the wizard in the group, the ART being a massive installation in the wizard's tower that made a portal, going to the Moon to rescue someone (in this case, a grad student who had from the locked Astral Tuning lab overnight), heading for Copernicus (although this time, they said that the crater wasn't there before they first tested the ART and now it was locked to that spot).

I had better pacing this time, and just had the Lunars kidnap the wizard and try to use telepathy crystal arrays on her to open communications, which turned out to be the right approach with this group. They were all for talking with the locals and explaining the benefits of being colonized. Dr Savage and Allestra even let the Lunars' minds grow together with theirs, which certainly wouldn't ever cause problems. ("This system of exchanging notional tokens for goods and services seems like it would inevitably lead to perverse incentives.") But they didn't get distracted (much) from trying to rescue the grad student from the clutches of the Reassembled. This time I remembered to mention the poison from the Reassembled, and that was enough to have Dr Savage cutting open Allestra's chest and pressing her lungs to the crystal ground while Prof Jadaia poured on their entire supply of healing potions. I didn't even have to have any mechanical effects! Fortunately, instead of waiting to be rescued, Trixie was busy luring her captors into a landslide-based trap.

The grad student had to be killed, unfortunately, but at least then he was accounted for. The PCs went back to tell the Lunars about what happened instead of immediately running for the portal, so I had them finally get to the portal only to find it being occupied and fortified by the Reassembled. Roll credits!

This time we did use some of my office supplies, although not the easel pad, and many of the cider donuts were eaten, so that was good. When we needed to show what was going on, Trixie's player broke out some little wooden meeples, which was brilliant. I need to get some of those!

13-14:00 Dealer's room, picked up only a few things this time, but did get my copy of BFF from the Kickstarter all those ages ago.

14-18:00 Royal Blood, also run by Carl.

Royal Blood is a Tarot-based magical heist game. The PCs are Royals, half-human and half-idea, but wanting to be more, and this is the one night that one of the Major Arcana is vulnerable to having their power stolen. You have from sunset to sunrise (plus flashbacks) to displace them from the Tarot.

You can redraw, but we all took what the deck gave us for characters.

  • Effervesence, "Ves" (Kona), Prince of Cups, icy manipulator.
  • Helen (me), King of Cups, passionate seductress.
  • Lady Chaos (Pedro), Queen of Wands, ass-kicker.
  • Knight of the Mountain (Jet), Knight of Wands, action hero, the least magical of us and (as it turned out) the only one with a moral compass

We also took the first draw for our target, the Star. Effortless mastery, glamour, glory, we hates them! We hates them so much! (Also we determined a reason why each of us hated the specifically, like dissing Lady Chaos's beloved dive bar.) Then the GM drew for the four obstacles that we would have to overcome before we could confront the Star directly: a skilled minion (the best PA in the world), a loyal bodyguard, vast wealth (embodied in the best security team in the world), and a rival band of Royals also trying to steal the Star's power (which we decided was the Princesses of the four suits).

The way Royal Blood works is that you apportion N×3 tokens among the four obstacles, and then have to go back and remove them, so you get to pick which one(s) you want to see most of in play. Some instinct toward symmetry made us put three on each, but really we should have put most of them on the Four Princesses, because what's more interesting than Carl NPCs? But it worked out in the end, because the Princesses were going after the Star for the hell of it, and were content to try again later. (That will be next year, when Carl does the Four Princess Run as his Royal Blood game for BBC 2020.) We found out what kind of person Helen was when she was willing to hospitalize an innocent bystander to get the Star's PA out of the way, but the Knight of the Mountain wasn't willing to shoot someone in the head, which is a definite moral victory.

It came right down to the wire (we got some good draws at the very end, and the next few cards after that were... not so good), but the Star went down, and the Burning Heart replaced them in every Tarot deck in the world.

That was pretty intense, even though we had very little Tarot lore among the five of us. I would play Royal Blood again, if I had serious gamers and a 4-5 hour slot.

18-20:00 Apparently barbecue is the theme for this year's BigBadCon, or maybe just this year's Carl, because we went to Sauced. The house special is "burnt ends" which are not actually burnt but like twice-spiced and twice-barbecued brisket cubes, and they aren't always available, so I felt that I should have them even though I normally eschew mammal meat. My mouth liked them a lot, but later my stomach was sad that I had not packed antacid.

20:00 Pokemon Go tried to make me late, but couldn't quite! I got into Spire, a game I own but have never played. It is about elves and oppression: the PCs are drow living in a fantastical mile-tall city which has been conquered by the "high elves" with their creepy masks and draconian cruelty and daylight gods, and are all members of a revolutionary/occult cell that worships one of the illegal aspects of the drow triple goddess and plots the overthrow of the oppressive aelfir.

I don't remember any of the names, but this pregen cell had

  • Idol: enchanting art (ours was a dancer), with the power to start a party anywhere.
  • Firebrand: full-time revolutionary soapboxer and fighter against The Aelfir.
  • Knight of the North Docks: more of a knight-themed gangster with an affinity for pubs, but also legally entitled to carry (if not use) a big honking lance.
  • Inksmith - detective pulp writer, with the occult ability to make reality more like pulp novels.
  • Mask: skilled at passing in masked aelfir society, and disguise in general.
  • Azurite: priest of wealth and commerce.

Our assigment from our handler was to steal something from a particular aelfir and make sure she never reported it stolen to anyone. In theory we could have done something clever to deal with the second requirement, but Jenora Ride-The-White-Lotus was busy "improving" the traditional drow art of blood opera by murdering drow on stage, so we were all fine with treating it as a straight hit. We came up with a multi-pronged plan that used everyone's talents whether needed or not, and somehow it worked. The Mask got everyone lots of bonuses, the Azurite procured a duplicate of the object, the Idol made the switch and also got everyone in the theater sloshed, the Knight (me) got cast as someone in the climactic battle, the Firebrand turned off the lights at the crucial moment so a tragic accident could happen, and the Inksmith had a visit with the costar our target had recently dumped, leaving behind a gun that the costar used to shoot the target dead (and a good thing too, we would have had a lot of trouble taking her down on our own, stupid aelfir). Despite the complexity of the plan, we finished by 23:00, which none of the players were really sad about.

With pregen characters and a short session, we didn't get into even a fraction of the occult weirdness that is Spire.

23-24:00 Getting to bed early is not a terrible thing, even if it seems like a waste of precious con hours. I didn't have anything scheduled for tomorrow afternoon because everything was full, but now there's an opening in a She-Ra game (using Savage Worlds, which I don't know but could learn). It's very tempting, but according to Google, if I try leaving Walnut Creek after 18:00, I will end up having to walk home from the San Jose train station carrying all my stuff in the middle of the night and probably die, so apparently I should just go home after the morning gaming. Next year, I will stay over Sunday night and go home Monday morning, which will mean both an extra game and much nicer travel.

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