So in my gaming convention trifecta, I’m going to be attending SaltCON-End of Summer over Labor Day Weekend. My wife had purchased a ticket for me as a Father’s Day gift. It will be interesting to compare this event to the big SaltCON in March and the smaller SaltCON-Summer that was in June. While I do have to take off for a birthday, I don’t have any concerts scheduled for this same weekend.
Once again, I’m really grateful that I can schedule my games in advance. While scheduling mishaps can (and have) taken place, I’m sure that I’m going to have fun at this event. I’ve got an opportunity to play several common games, but several rare games as well.
Game line up for SaltCON-End of Summer:
Hyperborea– A game of swords, sorcery and weird science-fantasy. Reading the description sounded really interesting. This will be my first time playing this system.
Dragonbane– A fantasy game released by Free League Publishing (the same company that released the Alien RPG). This will also be the first time I’ve played this game.
Fallout The Roleplaying Game– Based off of the video game series. I’ve only played part of one of these games, but the world they are set in sounds really interesting. This game was released by Modiphius and uses their 2d20 ruleset. It will be interesting to see how this compares with Dune and Star Trek Adventures.
Low Fantasy Gaming– A system that I’ve been interested in for a while. This has been on the schedule at the last two SaltCONs, but the schedule had never lined up so that I could give this game a try.
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- This adventure is called The Mystery of the Moonstream and it sounded interesting.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition- I actually have two sessions for this system (that’s just how the schedule lined up). I’m wondering how it will compare to the first time I played it at my first SaltCON.
Ghostbusters- The original RPG from West End Games with the D6 system. I’m glad when older RPGs are played at conventions. I’d jump on more of these if they were available.
What should I be on the look out for? Any recommendations for the games I’m going to be playing? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.
Day 14 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge and the subject is “Favorite Convention Purchase”. Well I’ve been to a ton of conventions. I really need to get my convention resume updated and placed on this site. However since this is a challenge geared towards roleplaying games, I’ll have to think about an item I purchased from an RPG convention.
My very first convention ever back in the late 80’s was an RPG convention. It was held at a local library and there were a ton of D&D games going on. Comics Utah ran Kublai Con when it was still around, but heck if I can remember if I had purchased anything from that event. Another gaming store that had been located in the Southtown mall that ran a quarterly gaming convention (I met several friends there for the first time). But I don’t recall if I had purchased anything from these events. In the 90’s to early 2000’s, CONduit had some gaming going on and I know I purchased items there. But it was primarily a literary convention so I don’t know if this would count?
What is your favorite convention purchase? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.
So this past weekend was a very busy one. I had not one, not two, but three events. SaltCON-Summer, a smaller event from the same people who put on the March SaltCON. Then there was the Duran Duran concert on Saturday and a concert put on by The Cure on Sunday.
For my SaltCON after action report, I have to say that I had a lot of fun at the event. I had a chance to catch up with several people that I had met at the previous convention. I also made some new contacts as well. This is one of the things that I enjoy about the role-playing community, meeting new people and discovering what interests that you may have in common.
This convention only used half of the convention center. So the primary gaming room was where the dealers room was in March. The bulk of it being the board games. The various RPGs were located in a section of the main gaming room or in a side room dedicated to role-playing. Sometimes a table would be moved to another room without a notification so on one occasion I had to go hunting. But I was able to find where I needed to be. The dealers were placed in the large hallways. This made it convenient to quickly see what was available. Because of the limited space there were fewer dealers. But a dealer that I had been seeing only at cons was there and I picked up a physical copy of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide for Star Trek Adventures. I was really hoping that he would have had a physical copy of The Discovery Campaign Guide, but the physical book may not have reached vendors yet. There was a game swap room where I was able to find a copy of The Dark Eye. This is a fantasy RPG that has been very popular in Europe. For some reason, it’s been popping up on my radar a lot recently. So since I could get a physical copy at a reasonable price, I picked it up. While I may never have a chance to actually play the game, I will be using it in the 2024 Character Creation Challenge. Since I could also see myself attending future SaltCONs (as long as it remains at the location it is held at now) I picked up a SaltCON badge holder.
So the first game that I signed up to play as Dune: Adventures in the Imperium. I have to say that the GM was very well prepared. He had several fan made reference sheets prepared to help new players (see photo above). The one that helped the most was the Skills and Drives (the main attributes that most characters have). I need to see if there is a Star Trek Adventures version of these reference sheets. Like STA, Dune is using the 2D20 system with slight alterations. From what I’ve discussed in my John Carter of Mars Character Creation entry, Modiphius has done with with all of their 2D20 entries. While we played Dune, I could see some similarities to STA, but I could also see where somethings were different. Both games are cinematic roleplaying instead of tactical. But this helped because the players were planning and working together. I played the spymaster and I had a chance to put some of my skills to use. If I could get into a group for Dune, I could see myself playing in a campaign setting.
As for Weird Frontiers, I had a lot of fun as well. I think that the players at the table got into the spirit of the game. I played a gambler (think of a thief in D&D terms) who had a magical deck of cards (as well as a long range rifle so I was doing a lot of sniping). It was a little weird having to draw a card from a standard deck of playing cards after each shot (the value of the card could benefit or hinder the attack). Sometimes the Aces or Eights (a bad hand to have in western tropes) would come up at the wrong time. I’d really like to read more of the world the writers have put together for this game. Apparently there was a demonic incursion into the 1800’s which was partially driven back by some heroes. Leaving a world scared by demonic creatures that the players had to go hunt. I also enjoyed that I was able to use my special Dungeon Crawl Classics dice that was prepared for the CC-style systems.
Battlestations is a combination board game and role-playing game that the GM had used in a Star Trek setting instead of the in-game universe. The first half of the game was set in the board game scenario, and I kinda just held on for the ride. The board game pieces that were assembled to create the two starships were interesting, but having the odd movement and equipment overheating (limiting what I could do) was a little frustrating. Once we had moved past the board game portion and actually got into the roleplaying, then I really started enjoying myself. I quizzed the GM after the game and he showed me in the book where you could create your own character, so yes there was an RPG element in the game. While I was glad that I had a chance to try a new game, I don’t see myself making a return to this system.
The only game I played on Saturday was Twilight 2000. While it was neat to return to World War III ravaged Poland, I really wish I could remember how the original version of this game played. We primarily went through a hex crawl avoiding ambushes, attacking enemy troops and dealing with villages just trying to survive. This latest edition had to use special dice which was a little clunky. I found the system a little crunchy at times. I looked at the GMs copy of the players manual and enjoyed reading some of the background stuff, but wondered if I could use another system for this setting.
Sunday morning I arrived for my Old School Essentials game and started up a good conversation with a RPGer that lives in the same area that I do. As we were talking, the RPG coordinator came and informed us that the GM had come down with con-crud and wouldn’t be able to make it. While I was glad that the GM was responsible enough not to spread anything around (I’m still a little cautious after the past few years) I was disappointment not to get a chance to try OSE. The RPG coordinator then offered to run a quick pick up game for us. Originally we were going to play Scum and Villainy, but it turns out he didn’t have it in his car, so he brought in Monster of the Week. The coordinator ran us in a western scenario (lots of cowboys this weekend) and I quickly created a character loosely based off of Indiana Jones. The system was very light and practically prefect for a quick scenario. We had fun playing this game.
The last game for the con was the Star Trek homebrew that I had been looking forward to. The creator had a basic combat system for the times when physical combat took place. But there was also a social combat system where you could react in different ways and use different types of voices (are you being truthful? bluffing? forceful? bluffing? etc.) and depending upon various rolls, you could weaken your opponents social standing. The creator was observing us playing the game being ran by a friend of his from out-of-state, so there were a couple of times that we turned to get a rule clarification. But the creator is looking at creating an IP-free version of the game in the near future. I may have a chance to look over the rules and provide feedback. I had fun playing this game as well.
Yes I will be going to SaltCON-End of Summer. My wife purchased a ticket for me as an early Father’s Day gift. So I will let you all know about my schedule when it becomes available. According to the website, it’s larger than the summer event, but not as large as the spring event. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the other two.
As for the two concerts, the first was Duran Duran. The opening acts were Bastille and Neil Rogers and CHIC. It was an interesting combination of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and current. I’ve been wanting to see Duran Duran for a LOOONGG time. When they were having their residency in Las Vegas a few years ago, I explored the option to go and discovered that the tickets were well beyond the price range that I wanted to pay. So I am very grateful that they have returned for a standard tour. I was really hoping that they would have played something from the Big Thing album (one of the first that I purchased from them), but with how many songs they had to choose from, it didn’t make the playlist. Seeing the entire arena sing Rio along with the band was a blast.
I had much better seats for The Cure on Sunday. If you get a chance to see this show, go do it. No only was the admission prices much more reasonable, but the merch prices were reasonable as well. I picked up a t-shirt to wear later. The band itself played for over three-hours. It was very late by the time I got home, but it was very much worth it.
Have you seen these two bands in concert? If so, what were your thoughts? Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.
Wait Carl, didn’t you just attend SaltCON in March? Well yes, sorta. That was the main SaltCON event which is the largest. The organizers also have SaltCON-Summer in June and a SaltCON-End of Summer in September. After the fun I had at the March event, I picked up a ticket for the June event. And then without thinking about it, purchased two concert tickets that happen on the same weekend. Hey it was an opportunity to see both Duran Duran on Saturday and The Cure on Sunday. These are two bands that have been on my bucket. So when I scheduled my games online (which I’m really glad that I’m able to do) I made sure to leave time to travel down to Salt Lake to see the concerts.
Game lineup for SaltCON-Summer:
Dune: Adventures in the Imperium– I missed out on this game last time because there was only one table and it filled up fast. So I jumped on this as quickly as I could. The GM who is running this also ran the Star Trek Lower Decks inspired Star Trek Adventures in March. I’ve also been corresponding with him via email about various STA questions. So I can’t wait to see how Dune compares to STA.
Weird Frontiers– Think Lovecraft meets Wild Wild West. It is using the Dungeon Crawl Classics engine and I’ve never played this before so it will be something new. I’ve already been messaged by the GM advising me to bring a deck of cards. I wonder how this will go?
Red Alert… Battlestations!- A Star Trek inspired game. This being presented by Studio Radd which ran two of the games I attended at the last convention. Again, this is a system that I’ve never played before.
Twilight: 2000– I played the original Twilight: 2000 back when it first came out. I don’t recall a thing about the system but I do remember having a fun time with the group. I wonder how this edition will run?
Old School Essentials– An OSR game, I had to jump at the chance to play an OSR game. I believe this is being run by the GM who ran the GURPS-Aliens game at the last convention. Not only did he do a really good job, he inspired me to go out and purchase the unusual white-board map that he was using (review later).
Where No Man/Species Has Gone Before- The GM of the James Bond game that I played at the last con showed me his home-brewed Star Trek RPG system. Well this time around he has someone running for him at the convention. When he saw that I had signed up for it, he reached out to let me know that this was his game. I think he’s really looking forward to seeing some feedback.
The above mentioned James Bond GM had his game fill up first before any others. So I wasn’t able to sign up for that. However reading the description, it continues the adventures of the ResQ Branch. I’ll have to see how it turns out.
One game that isn’t being played is the Modiphius entry into the Conan franchise. They are currently having a 90% sale at DriveThruRPG on all the books. Since I’m always a bargain hunter, I had to snap those up. It would have been nice to see the game in action at the con.
So this is going to be a busy and interesting weekend with the con/concert combination. Will I find any special deals in the dealers room or swap meet? Will I run into more friends that I gamed with years ago? Look for an after-action report that I will post sometime next week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go finish packing for the con.
Will you be at SaltCON? Do you have any convention stories? This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.
So I finally had a chance to recover from my first SaltCON (apparently I was not capitalizing CON as I should have been) and I’m putting my thoughts down here before they all escape my head. TL/DR section: I had a blast and I can’t wait to attend another one.
So if you read my Prepping for SaltCon 2023 blog entry, you will know that I had a signed up for a lot of different roleplaying sessions. Here is how they went.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition by Pazio: I played a half-elf rogue who was working with several other party members to help a merchant named Nelar in recovering some heirlooms from his family crypts. He was planning to sell them in order to save his business. The PF2 system was pretty straight forward. The gamemaster explained the differences in the rules and was very helpful. I liked how he used colored poker chips to represent each “bad guy” and then had a colored stand to represent where each person was in the initiative order. The adventure was very simplistic (get in, get past the defenses and get out) and I’m not certain if it was published or an original adventure. The GM was understanding when my paranoid PC brain went into effect. I thought that someone was attempting to stop us so that they could ruin the merchant’s business. The PF2 rules were not too bad and I’d be interested in playing more. A pre-generated character was used and I’ll probably make a character for the next Character Creation Challenge. I picked up a bunch of the books on PDF from a recent bundle sale. However I really wish that Pazio’s website didn’t suck when it comes to downloading the PDF purchases.
Alien by Free League: I’ve already mentioned meeting the author previously and how I wanted to try this game. When we first started, the large room used for RPGs at SaltCON was filling up. This resulted in more noise which ended up helping with the “lots of pressure” portion of the game since we were in uncomfortable situations. There were only two players for this session and we both played Colonial Marines. We were escorting a group of scientists and corporate flunkies to a new planet to explore. As you can imagine, we ended up running into Aliens, Engineers and Predators. I used a pre-generated character, but would have loved to use the character I had made earlier this year in the Character Creation Challenge. I would like to play this system in a campaign.
Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games: Yes I got to experience a zero-level funnel for this game. I had read about it previously and really wanted to try it. We were going through one of the printed adventures with a full table. It was very interesting attempting to use just the equipment that we were assigned before heading out on the adventure. I was attempting to make the surface under the feet of a summoned demon slippery by using the fine sand carried by a gravedigger. Eventually between all of the zero-level characters we were able to defeat the bad guy. I’d still like to play this system in a campaign.
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition: This game was canceled due to the DM falling ill which was too bad because the adventure scenario sounded really fun. Hopefully the DM can run it at the next con. So I went over to the Dungeons and Dragons Adventures League table and created a 1st level dwarven fighter and jumped into an intro game. We had to track down some bandits that had attacked a caravan. The local league handed out some wooden tokens with logos on them for participating.
Mistborn by Crafty Games: I went into this session not knowing anything about the system or the original source material. I was hoping to learn about both. The books were set in a world were only the nobles were supposed to have magic, but you could get magic by sipping vials of liquid with metal flakes in them, or something like that. The system was really, really funky. The scenario was a murder mystery and our criminal gang was like a group of Leverage type characters, I think. We actually had some combat in the last 10 minutes of the game and it was really bad. I do not see myself playing this system in the future. When I made a character for John Carter of Mars, I was inspired to go download the John Carter books for my Kindle. I was not inspired to go look at the source material for this game.
James Bond 007 by Victory Games: Excellent game master with an excellent scenario. He was able to explain the rules quickly and answered any questions that we had. We played members of the ResQ branch of MI-6 and our job was to help James Bond complete his assignment (keep the bad guys away from him, help if something is incomplete or messes up) without him knowing that we are there. So we have to help fight the bad guys as well as keep undercover. There was an excellent group of players (including one that had never seen the Bond films). Now that I’ve had a chance to try the JB007 RPG system, I’m sad that I missed out on it. However, the Classified RPG is a retroclone of the James Bond game and the GM was using parts of that book.
Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius: This scenario was heavily inspired by Star Trek: Lower Decks. We were a band of misfits working together on a California-class starship under a drunk captain. I randomly drew the human helmsman that was fresh out of the academy (where he had annoyed his flight instructor). So I played the character as a kid with his voice breaking the entire game. I got compliments from the other players for that. It was also good to get another dive into the STA system and I’d like to be able to continue in a campaign and homebrew some items.
Artemis- Dominion War: This was a LAN computer game set up like a Star Trek bridge in one of the side rooms at the convention. One computer was set up for the engineer, another for weapons, science, helm, etc. I was asked to play the captain of an Excelsior-class starship trying to defend the Federation. All of the players were new to the game and I thought we did quite well for a bunch of newbies. This was my only non-RPG game of the weekend. Many thanks to the volunteers of the USS White Buffalo for putting this together.
GURPS by Steve Jackson Games: Yes, I gave a not-so-good review when I created a GURPS character in the last challenge, but the gameplay system itself isn’t too bad. If I don’t have to make a character, then I don’t mind playing. The GM ran us through a game set in the Aliens universe. It had a ton of action and we were either laughing at our jokes or running for our lives. I liked how the GM handed us equipment cards with our ammo limits on the cards. Every time we fired, we had to mark off the number of shots we had taken.
Cyberpunk RED by R. Talsorian Games: So I had played the classic Cyberpunk back when it first came out. I had even made a character for Cyberpunk v3.0 in a past challenge. It was interesting catching up with this universe (there had been a lot of changes from the previous products) and the GM ran it really well (he was the same GM that ran the James Bond game). I was impressed with the system and I’ve moved it up on my buy list. I know at least one friend who is/was playing this so I wonder if I could get into a campaign sometime in the future.
As I mentioned above, I had a lot of fun at SaltCON. I made sure to give some thanks to one of the organizers at the front desk before I left. I had picked up a con t-shirt as well and I’ve already purchased my ticket for the summer event. The spring event sold out and the summer event has even less tickets available. There are water bottle refill stations at the Davis Convention Center. The food sold at the concessions stand was not bad (and about average price) but I also brought a couple of snacks in my backpack to tide me over until I had a meal break. The con is very very heavy on the board game side that it seems to drown other games out (again it went years before I realized there was more than just D&D Adventures League there). Even the swap meet and flea market were 95-98% board games. I think I was lucky to find the three books that I did. I wonder what it would take to get more of an RPG presence in the swap meet or flea market? I’d hate to haul a bunch of books down only to find out that I brought the wrong things. I did like that the swap meet was set up with the game, a post it note with the price, contact info and venmo info for the seller. I could just text the person and get a confirmation that my purchase was complete.
When I was talking about the con online I had a few responses from Utah players saying “Wait? There’s a gaming con in Utah?” and I would provide some details. So hopefully there will be a few new attendees at future events. This event had 2,000 gamers and it was considered a sell out. I’ve been told that the con is always looking for GMs to run games in exchange for free admission (and the number of hours required was very reasonable). One friend even asked me if I wanted to run a game. But that goes back to my conundrum of “I want SaltCON to be my non-volunteer convention.” If I were to GM anything, I’d probably try to run something non-standard or out-of-print like the James Bond experience I was able to enjoy. There were a few people who came by to see if any openings had become available. You’d want to experience something at a convention that you don’t normally get a chance to play or do. A track of these games would really make the con stand out.
I was warned ahead of time to sign up for my games as soon as possible using the online scheduling system. The gaming schedules were a little weird when I was trying to coordinate my schedule with some overlapping preventing me from trying out a few systems. Games of a similar nature overlapping each other (two STA games within the same timeframe). I found out later that the GMs set their own times. I would hope that someone could coordinate to try to avoid the overlap. The one GM who ran Dune got a lot of “I wish I could have played” responses so he is planning more than one session for SaltCON Summer. I did like the fact that I could download the schedule to a calendar file that I could import into my Google calendar. I then had it at my finger tips when I needed to check what was coming up (or go back and read the original description).
I made some new contacts at the convention which was kewl. I’ve always felt that RPGs was a social interaction that was better experienced in person. I also had the opportunity to meet up with some gaming buddies that I hadn’t seen in a while. With one, we had 30 years of catching up to do. Besides trying out a few different systems I also got to see some techniques and tools in action. When I got home I had to order the 20in1 Card Deck from Precis Intermedia. I was also impressed with the Roll 4 Initiative Dry Erase Dungeon Tiles that was used by one GM. If I had found either one of these, or a copy of Cyberpunk RED, in the dealers room, I would have picked them up then.
The only real negative thing I’d probably say was the game room itself. As I mentioned above, it got really noisy at some times. During our James Bond game there was some sort of multi-table game going on where some in-game yelling was going on and we had to stop until the yelling had ceased. This really disturbed the other tables and probably should have been moved to another area.
I’m glad that SaltCON is here and I’m also glad that it is only a few miles away from where I live. It was very nice not to travel down daily to Salt Lake like I usually do for conventions down there. It was really good to roll the dice and have fun in a few games over the weekend.
This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.
So I’ll be attending my first gaming convention in a very llllooonnnggg time. SaltCON is a gaming convention that has been running in Utah for years and will be running this weekend. However until recently, I thought it was just a convention for board games. Some friends would be running the Artemis spaceship bridge simulator (complete with lights, sound effects and more) so I’d stop by to help them set up or bring Seventh Fleet flyers. But I never stuck around, again thinking it was just board games. I don’t mind board games, they just are not my draw to a convention.
SaltCON in March is their biggest event (2,000+ attendees). They also hold smaller events in the summer (600 attendees) and late summer (800 attendees). So to my surprise, one of my friends was telling me about how he ran the Stargate RPG at the last convention. I was a little amazed actually and after some thinking (and before the ticket prices went up) I purchased my pass several months ago. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the upcoming con. I wanted to sit down and play as many role-playing games as possible. Thanks to the patience of the convention organizers (who responded to my emails in a timely manner) and the advice from some friends who had attended in the past, I was able to get several games reserved. I’m a little sad because the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium session filled up before I had a chance to grab a seat. But I was able to get seats for the following games.
-Pathfinder 2nd Edition (The scenario sounded interesting and it will give me a chance to check out this system)
–GURPS (The adventure sounds like it is set in Aliens and I don’t have to make the character)
–Cyberpunk RED (I’ve never had a chance to try this new version yet)
Because of the time schedules, there were a couple of other games that were presented that I couldn’t fit in. These included Low Fantasy Gaming and Tiny D6 Frontiers. Perhaps I’ll be able to get in on a pick-up game when I have some free slots open during the con.
The very first “con” I went to was a gaming convention at a local library back in the late 80’s. I don’t recall if it had a name but I remember playing Dungeons and Dragons for several hours. In the early 90’s a local comic and gaming store called Comics Utah ran Kubla Khan for several years. Another gaming store (of a name that I can’t remember) ran several conventions in the mall they were in called WinterGameFest, SpringGameFest, etc. There was also gaming at the various CONduits in which I was able to sneak in a game or two. In a past website, I had a convention resume listed. I need to get that finished for the Blog of Holding.
So I will write up an after-action report when SaltCON is done to let you know how it went. I’ve been planning and prepping (backpack, dice, meals, books, etc.) for quite some time. I’m very grateful that the con is in my county (as compared to most cons in Salt Lake or other distant areas). It will be nice to sleep in my own bed each night after the convention.
Let’s roll some dice.
This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com with any comments.