Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Summer 2024 After Action Report

Loot from SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Well I thought the picture of the loot at the top was not so fuzzy, but I’m not going to re-take it now. Hey, I survived another SaltCON both as a player and gamemaster. It was fun, lesson learning, idea forming, friend making and just a little stressful. But I wouldn’t know a convention that didn’t have those.

I did get some loot at this con, but for a while I was worried that I wasn’t going to find anything. The game swap only had one person bring in RPG books and I ended up buying three items from him. The hardbound book Codex of Erde (an earlier edition of the Codex of Aihrde from Troll Lord Games) and two boxed sets of Dungeon Crawl Classic modules called “The Heroes Arise” and “The Saga of the Dragon Cult”. The modules in each boxed set would form a campaign that could take characters from first to high levels. The boxed sets were in really good shape considering their age with only one book showing any damage. I also picked up five token trays that I planned to use for my Star Trek Adventures game. These had been created by a local artist. The convention organizers gave me a set of dice as a thank you for running my games (they were purple, they went to my geek wife) and I also picked up a convention t-shirt. I love how they have a different design each convention.

For the gaming sessions I played in, this is how it went.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- We had to find a lost puppy owned by the local magistrate. Unfortunately this lost puppy was a three-headed hellhound and was burning up the town. And, as fate would have it, we were not the only party looking for the wayward pet.

The One Ring– Set in the times between the events in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, our party had been hired by a not-so-trustworty dwarf in an attempt to find a treasure left behind by his recently-deceased uncle. I really liked the system as it worked very well with the Middle Earth universe that we were familiar with. I may have to pick up this system.

Star Wars D6- I missed out going to this game due to real-world issues and I tried to track down the GM to explain why (apparently no one else had shown up for the 9am game either). But the good news is that I was able to track down an AC tech to fix the air-conditioning unit at my house.

Stellar Odyssey– A RPG created by a Utah author. I had been in some of his games at past conventions and since I suddenly had an opening in my schedule, I signed up. This was a Star Trek inspired game where you play the crew of an intrepid starship doing missions for a planetary union. The emphasis is on social combat (with initiatives and different methods you could use to convince others to see your way/perform an action/etc.) with actual combat limited to a single die roll. The system made sense and really encouraged roleplaying. The starship stats (and how they could be used to enhance your dice pool) also made sense. I may have to use this game in an upcoming Character Creation Challenge.

Ter’Ra’Mentia- This was only an hour long intro session and I was the only person present in the time-slot. This allowed me to ask a lot of different questions without feeling guilty that I was taking away from the other players. I’m also a ‘hands on’ person when it comes to learning a game, so this helped very much. While I don’t know if I’d be able to pick up this game, I now have a better understanding of it. It’s basically a 2d12 system+skill points to beat a target number.

The Walking Dead- This was a scenario set in Utah. Which meant that the players were (mostly) familiar with the area. While it did end early (four players in a family had to go) I did get a chance to try the system. It felt like a game where dread was always around because even with the dice pools, we hardly got any successes. We didn’t have all bad luck, but it didn’t feel like we were in a cinematic cake-walk either. I don’t know how I’d feel about this. The constant wear-down of not getting successes might get old in a campaign. I’d probably have to actually try a campaign to see how I felt.

This is how the games I ran turned out.

The Star Trek Adventures game that I was going to run only had one person show up. It was probably the time slot that I had selected on a Sunday that did this in. I would have run this on a Saturday, but originally a family commitment would have kept me out for the whole day. When plans changed and I only needed to leave for the evening, it was too late to change the date. With the single player I sat down and explained the game basics to him. It was his first convention and I think he was excited to just try something more than Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder.

Basic Fantasy went better than I expected. I got to use a new GMs tool to help draw out the map of the bandit’s lair that the party was trying to escape from (I’ll have a review blog post very soon on this). Most of the players were use to 5e so I had to explain some OSR styles (running away is an option, your character may die if you are not careful, etc.) Well they took this to heart and actually worked together very well to facilitate their escape. While looking up a rule really quick, I reminded myself of one of the basic guidelines for running a game. Keep the flow going and don’t be afraid to make judgment calls instead of slowing down play by looking up rules. I had one player tell me afterwards that he hadn’t been a fan of the D20 games, but would play more Basic Fantasy if offered because he had fun in my game.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, getting together is one of the highlights of playing RPGs. On the first day I bumped into a GM for Savage Worlds. He asked if I wanted to go through a quick demo, which I jumped at since it gave me the chance to check out a system I had never played. Turns out this guy runs an RPG video blog on YouTube called the Ace Roleplaying Games Club. He even named dropped my blog in his own SaltCON after-action report. Thanks Mason.

Once again I’d like to thank the army of volunteers and coordinators for putting SaltCON-Summer together. While I was disappointed in the swap meet (I really wish more people would bring their RPG books looking for new homes) I could see how people were having fun over the weekend. Even the convention organizers. I got to meet up with some friends that I only seem to see at these conventions as well. That is an added bonus to attending the convention.

Also note to self, don’t forget to pack some antacid tablets in your convention backpack just in case the nacho cheese served at the convention center affects me again.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? 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.

Posted in: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for SaltCON Summer 2024

The two games that I am running at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Soon I’ll be enjoying another gaming weekend at SaltCON-Summer 2024 at the Davis Convention Center. As you can see above, I signed up to run two more games again. You can read about my past adventures at SaltCON in my past blog entries. I will be packing my Convention Backpack that I have documented in a previous blog post.

For this convention, I’ll be running two adventures that I did not write. I wanted to try some of the adventures that others had put out. The first will be for Basic Fantasy 4th Edition. Just in case any of the people signing up for my game might be reading, I’ll reveal the adventure after the convention. The second game is going to be a Star Trek Adventures game. Which one, however, I couldn’t say. When I originally signed up, I elected to run a Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire adventure. However, just after I had signed up, Modiphius had released the Star Trek Adventures 2nd Edition Quickstart Rules. So I’m going to give the players who show up a choice. Klingon or 2nd Edition Quickstart. It will be interesting to see how this goes. I’ve read through the Quickstart rules and they sound better. I can’t wait for the 2nd Edition core rulebook to come out.

Here are the games that I’ve signed up to play at SaltCON-Summer 2024.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- The adventure sounded interesting. It’s also being run by a friend of mine so I wanted to support him.

The One Ring– I’ve never played this system before so I thought I’d try it out. Plus I’ve always been a fan of the Lord of the Rings books.

Star Wars D6– A fan-continuation of the original West End Games D6 Star Wars roleplaying game. I haven’t played this system in years.

Ter’Ra’Mentia– This is the fantasy game written by some Utah authors. I met them at last year’s FanX when they were promoting their KickStarter. This will be a demo of the game.

The Walking Dead Universe RPG– The GM is running a scenario set in Utah. I’m very interested to see how this runs.

I know it doesn’t sound like many games. But SaltCON-Summer is only three days instead of the spring event which has four. But, I’m looking forward to sitting down with some friends (or soon-to-be new friends) and throwing some dice. I wonder if I’ll find any RPG bargains in the game swap? Look for the after-action report soon.

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.

Posted in: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Doctor Who, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Movies, Music, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars, Video Game, Website

Moving from 2023 to 2024

Stack of character sheets printed out for the 2024 #CharacterCreationChallenge

2023 was a weird year to say the least. I was able to see a ton of concerts including several that I wanted to check off of the bucket list. These included Duran Duran, Love and Rockets, The Cure, Garbage, and Depeche Mode. I was able to see a live show that featured some of the comedians from “Who’s Line Is it Anyway” (the show had a different name probably for copyright reasons). I’ll be getting the photos for these up in the photo albums.

For the first time in a long time, I had the opportunity to attend a gaming convention. SaltCON Spring, SaltCON Summer and SaltCON End-of-Summer. I know at the beginning of the year, I stated that I only wanted to participate at this event and not volunteer. Well, after much thought and discussion with others, I’ll be running two games next spring. One will be a one-shot for Basic Fantasy RPG that I already had written up and did some polishing on. The other is a Star Trek Adventures: Lower Decks inspired game where the crew will be meeting the cast of Top Core (a sci-fi parody of the BBC show, Top Gear).

I’m still watching a ton of movies at home thanks to the many streaming services that I have access to. In the theater I did enjoy Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. I also saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I also enjoyed this movie and I hope that the ending would lead to another sequel. But I wouldn’t be disappointed if there wasn’t one. My youngest is a Five Nights at Freddy’s fan so we had to go see the movie in the theater. Not knowing much about the video game series, I thought the movie was OK and I wasn’t bored. In 2024 I’m looking forward to seeing Dune: Part Two, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Television wise I’ve been soaking up all of the various Star Trek franchises (Picard knocked it out of the park and I demand more Lower Decks). The Star Wars episodes have been good as well. I’m sad that Archer is ending, but I’d rather have it end on a high note. What We Do In The Shadows has also continued to entertain me. MST3K season 13 was a blast. I watch so much TV that I am unable to list them all here. On the weekends I’ve still been enjoying Svengoolie and Creature Features. I’m really looking forward to the new Doctor Who episodes after the great introduction from the 60th Anniversary specials and Christmas episode. The Fallout TV series has also caught my attention. I did cancel my Peacock account because there was nothing on it to watch (and I’d go months forgetting it was even there).

Reading wise I’m still going strong on the Star Trek and James Bond comics. While I’m also enjoying the Star Wars comics, I had to move from buying the physical books to a subscription to Marvel Unlimited due to the high cost of the individual issues. Too many Star Wars comics to continuing to buy them all.

I may have made a mistake with my video games. I set up both a Steam account and a GOG account. So I’ve been getting deals on lots of classic games that I use to play. I’ve been trying to play a few others as well such as Fallout New Vegas and a couple of other hidden gems that were tossed my way. But when it comes to time crunch issues, the video games get put off to the side pretty fast. I need to make sure that I’m spending some enjoyment time playing these games.

I want to get some writing done in 2024. I’ve talked about it, but I need to sit down and do it. Hopefully the Basic Fantasy scenario will be good enough to submit to the BFRPG community for consideration. While I also have some fan projects in mind, I’d actually like to have a few publications that I could legitimately sell online.

Keep an eye on this blog for what happens in 2024. Now off to the USS Ticonderoga New Years Eve party. Tomorrow I dive into the deep end of the pool with the Character Creation Challenge.

What did you enjoy about 2023? What geeky things do you want to do in 2024? 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 or click on my social media links with any comments.

Posted in: Conventions

What’s in my convention backpack?

The basics in my convention backpack

I came across a good video from the two guys (Matt and Eric) at The Goblin’s Corner. They talked about what they had in their convention survival backpacks. I had made a comment on their Discord server about the video, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to actually share what was usually in my convention backpack. If you haven’t seen the video, the link is posted above.

Now I’m not certain I’d call it a survival backpack, it’s just a backpack that I’ve used to make my life easier. Not just at conventions but for quick trips as well. Over the summer I had a chance for a quick day-trip on the train to see some family and this was the first thing I grabbed since I wanted to travel light. I also use this backpack to transport my laptop to and from USS Ticonderoga Star Trek Club meetings since I conduct the video conferencing for the remote attendees.

Matt and Eric had their listing broken down into several categories. I’ll be following it roughly (I don’t have some of the items that they included on their list). This includes the bag itself and several categories of what it contains.

The Backpack:

So after looking over several different options for a laptop backpack, I selected the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack. I’ve had this for a year now and I’ve found it very durable. Besides protecting the laptop with padding, it also protected me by having some good pads on the lower back and shoulders. The top handle and shoulder straps are also very well padded. At one SaltCON I had several hours between games so I put on the backpack and hiked a mile to a nearby mall to meet the family and friends for lunch. Even with all of the items in the backpack it was comfortable to walk in. This backpack also had lots of internal and external pockets. One of these internal pockets was for a cell phone charger that you could connect to an external port on the backpack itself. Allowing me to run a charging cord to this port to power up my phone or tablet.

Out of all of the colors that was available, I selected the grey covering. This gave me an opportunity to allow my geek flag to fly. On the backpack I was able to add several geek pins. These included a Star Trek: The Next Generation combadge that I had retired from cosplay use, a D-20 pin to show off my RPG side, a TARDIS pin for my Doctor Who fandom, a Red Dwarf pin (those were hard to find) and a stylized Boba Fett pin that I had purchased from an artist at a convention. I still have room for another pin or two if I happen to come across any good ones.

Now one point from The Goblin’s Corner video that I’d like to re-state here. You don’t need to fill your bag up all the way. It would be best to limit this to 1/3 full so you have a place to put in your purchases and SWAG. Even when I stuffed in my light jacket into my bag, I could tell the difference.

First Aid and Health Items:

The health items that I pack plus my water bottle

Some of these items I picked up online, other items just came from a local store. Hand sanitizer is a must, and in the small bottles, can be easily stored. When I’ve finished using a bottle filed with prescription medication, I’ve saved the bottle to use for travel/convention purposes. The bottle in the image contains the standard ibuprofen, but I’ve had others that contained my daily allotment of pills and vitamins. A pack of travel tissues has come in handy on several occasions. While I haven’t needed to use it yet, I’m very grateful that the emergency rain poncho is very compact to keep in the backpack. Another compact item is several KN-95 masks. You can use them yourself if you find out that someone is sick at a convention (convention crud is something I’ve had to deal with in the past) plus you can offer one if you have several available.

One of the items that I did add after watching Matt and Eric’s video was a small First Aid kit. I didn’t really have one before but thought it would be a good idea. I selected a small one that was compact enough to slip into the health portion of my backpack.

Snacks and Water:

Snacks, some electronics, dice and other items

The water bottle that I use is in the previous picture because I wanted to show it next to the side mesh pouch on the backpack. I didn’t want one that was bigger than the pouch, but sturdy enough to be knocked about on the outside of my backpack. Most convention centers now have water refilling stations. With the smaller bottle, it also wouldn’t add too much weight when it was full.

I only show some of the granola bars that I had readily available. But I would also include items like nuts and other high protein snacks. These would usually be something that would tide me over until I was able to get to a proper meal. Plus with them being factory sealed, I could offer it to someone without them worrying about what was in it.

Entertainment, Electronics and other items:

Tools and electronics that I can use

I love living in a modern world with some of the technological advances available right now. When I’m going to a convention I leave my laptop at home, but I bring my Kindle tablet (with the special carrying case that has a Bluetooth keyboard). On this tablet I have loaded the rule-books for the games that I have signed up for and several other reading items that I can use.

I do carry a wall charger for my electronic devices and a Bluetooth headset for phone calls or music. One of the pet peeves that I’ve developed is when people walk around holding their phone in front of them like they are going to take a bite. Talking with the person by speaker phone out in public just bugs me. I really don’t want to hear your conversation.

I mentioned above that the backpack has an internal pocket for a rechargeable battery that can be hooked to an external port. The battery I selected was the RETSMR power bank. It was a little more expensive than the smaller rechargeable batteries that you can find, but it recharged my phone just as fast as it was plugged into a wall outlet. I found that the smaller rechargeable batteries would just barely charge my devices keeping them alive until I could get to a wall outlet.

The grey item next to the power bank is the special cover to my Rocketbook Core Reusable Notebook. I could use a special pen to write down my ideas or notes, and then using the app, scan these notes into a PDF format to send to my cloud storage. With just a spray of water and a cloth, the pages could then be wiped clean. It gave me the benefit of writing things down (and allowing me to remember it better) and having it at my fingertips online. I’ve had this for a year and will probably dedicate an entire blog post to it’s uses. For writing on the character sheets that are given to me at a game, I do carry several mechanical pencils.

Other items in the photo include my big dice bag (not always carried) and the small North-to-South Gaming set that I reviewed in 2022. The 20-in-One Card Deck has also come in handy for a variety of reasons (dice, card games, etc.) Most conventions will sell badge holders that you can re-use at other events. These are handy to also hold business cards you pick up before you can scan them. And the last item you see is a glasses emergency repair kit that I got with my last pair of glasses. You never know when you might need them.

Differences in my bag compared to Matt and Eric’s:

So Matt and Eric mentioned several different items that I don’t find necessary, or perhaps I need to consider. At gaming conventions I’m not really cosplaying so I don’t carry a cosplay repair kit. At the conventions I am cosplaying at, I usually have a special bag with those items in it.

While I have partaken of alcohol at past conventions, it is not the primary reason I attend a con. However I will say that I really appreciated some of the safety points that they brought up in the discussion of alcohol and other chemical items.

This last item I’m still thinking about. Spare clothing. The gaming convention I primarily attend is nearby and I could easily run back home if needed. But that may not always be the case. Even just a spare shirt, socks and underwear take up a little bit of room (if my jacket experience has taught me anything). Especially if I have a backpack full of purchased books. The backpack should contain items I may immediately need (like the headache medicine or snacks). Clothing could easily be stored in my car or hotel room. Perhaps an experiment at an upcoming convention is in order.

So there is a look into my convention backpack. Part of my convention ritual is making sure that I have everything packed up (and electronic devices properly charged) before the convention. I write a to-do list in my Rocketbook. Did I miss something that should be in my backpack? Is there something I should take out? 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 or click on my social media links with any comments.

Posted in: Autographs, Collecting, Comic Books, Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, No One Lives Forever, Star Trek

FanX 2023 After Action Report

Some of the loot from FanX 2023.

2023 marked the 10th Anniversary of FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. I remember when I first heard about this event in 2013. It was announced that Jonathan Frakes would be the guest at a con to be held at a convention center in Sandy, Utah. I had just arrived at a friends house to talk Seventh Fleet business. We had never heard of the company that was putting together Salt Lake Comic Con (as it was called then). The event became so popular (I think the name and lots of advertising helped) that eventually the convention was moved to the Salt Palace (the largest convention center in Utah). In 2013 it ended up being the third largest comic book convention in North America.

So it’s no surprise that ten years later it’s still going strong. Since the Seventh Fleet is given the opportunity to perform our community service mission at the con, I was in attendance to help out. Here is my after action report.

One of the first things that is different this year (for me) is using the FanX app. It had some good thing and some areas that needed improvement. I was able to see a lot of the panels that were scheduled and I could even set up reminders. However the reminders were not very descriptive when popping up on my screen (it’s only in the small notification area at the top). The map was very generic which was bad in trying to find something. Probably the biggest thing that needed to be improved was looking up the panels themselves. In order to see just the panels, you had to select each individual panel room. Then it showed you the panels for that room on that day. It would be very helpful if we could get this information (just the panels) in a grid so I could see if there was a conflict between two panels that I’d like to go see. I could see the value in having the app and I used it several times to confirm times. But I feel that this still needs some improvement before it becomes something to brag about.

Usually at a pop and comic convention there is a LARGE number of guests. Sometimes it is overwhelming when it comes to budgeting money to pick up autographs. As it turns out, this was Christopher Lloyd’s last convention appearance so that made . Something that FanX has finally done is added the autograph prices to their website so I could decide a head of time who I could afford. But I do dislike that a lot of guests (or more honestly, their agents) think, “Hmm… comic con. I’ll jack my prices up by 20-30 dollars.” I’ve found myself getting less and less autographs each convention.

Achievement Unlocked

The main person I was really interested in seeing was Jen Taylor. She is best known as the voice actress who voiced Cortana from the Halo series of video games and TV shows. But the reason I wanted to meet her was due to her work as the voice of Cate Archer in No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in Harms Way. This series is a cult video game that is in IP rights hell. No one knows exactly who owns the rights. So the game can’t be re-tooled for modern computers and added to GOG or Steam. Several years ago Jen Taylor had stated in an article that she didn’t know if there was still NOLF fans out there. I let her know that we were still present and really wished that the game could be re-made for new fans to discover. She was actually excited to hear that we were still out there.

I do have to thank my old roommate who had found this poster for me many, many years ago. He had found it in a gaming magazine and gifted it to me. This is the first time it’s been out of the frame I use in several years. Thank you Gibby.

A look at the autograph.

One of the other guests that I met up with is Science Fiction author Dayton Ward. He has written several Star Trek novels and contributed to the Star Trek Adventures RPG Star Trek Comics and Star Trek magazines. I wanted to make sure that he felt welcomed to Utah. I picked up two books from him. His Star Trek Discovery novel Somewhere to Belong and the Star Trek Kirk Fu Manual (you know I had to add this to my resource library).

After picking up the Alien RPG at the 2022 FanX convention, I was wondering if I could find any RPG books this time around. Believe me, I looked to see if anything jumped out at me this year. A ton of dice vendors. I’d really like to know if they made the dice themselves or ordered it from a third party. There was an author selling a superhero RPG (which is a genre I’m not really interested in role-playing right now) and another author who had written his own 5E guidebook to a fantasy world he had a book series set in. This last one looked pretty, but I couldn’t justify the $50 for the full color version. I did bump into a local publisher who had their first Kickstarter out for the Ter’Ra’Mentia Role Playing Game. This was a fantasy game with a 2d12 system that sounded interesting. I was able to look through the beta-version of the book (about a third in size of the book that will contain player, GM and monster information) and it looked interesting. They are also using a local artist for all the art in the book (none of that AI generated crap). For that alone I’m giving this one some serious thought towards supporting.

One of the biggest surprises from the con came not from the con itself, but from a friend. Earlier in September comic book artist Sean Von Gorman was in Salt Lake to promote the newest IDW Star Trek comic, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds- The Scorpius Run. Sean was there to sign the Retailer Variant cover that was inspired by the cover of the first issue of Star Trek DC Comics issue 1. I was not able to attend the signing because of another engagement, but my friend had picked up a copy for me and gave it to me at the Seventh Fleet booth. I was very excited.

Speaking of the Seventh Fleet, we were performing our community service charter by raising funds for a special charity. Heroes4Causes is a publishing house creating superheroes that have the same affliction (such as pediatric brain cancer or cystic fibrosis) so that kids can see that they can still be heroes. One of the artists was present at our booth and was signing books and art for donations. To draw in the crowds, we had home-made stand up cutouts of the Star Trek: Lower Decks crew for people to take photos with. We had a lot of people who were wanting photos. There was even a crowd of other vendor chanting “Lower Decks! Lower Decks!” when we first brought in the characters.

Many thanks to Dan Farr, the staff and volunteers at FanX. You helped us perform our community service mission and we had a lot of fun in the process. I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2024 when the convention is held on September 26-28.

Here are some random photos from the convention.

Posted in: Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

SaltCON-End of Summer After Action Report

SaltCON t-shirts I had picked up at all three conventions

So Father’s Day finally arrived for me on Labor Day Weekend. My wife had purchased my SaltCON-End of Summer ticket as a Father’s Day gift. I had a chance to meet up with some of the friends that I had met at previous conventions. Some people were stating that they had recognized me from before. But I had also missed out on talking with a few others. We saw each other at a distance while getting to different events but didn’t get a chance to stop and talk. So sorry if I missed out on talking with you.

One of the things that I had not mentioned in my SaltCON-Spring and SaltCON-Summer after action reports was the available convention t-shirts (now seen above). These shirts were very reasonably priced for the sizes offered. So I made it a habit of picking one up each con when checking in at the registration desk. I’m grateful that they had a non-blue shirt for the end-of-summer event. And speaking of picking things up.

Some of the loot from this convention

The dealer that I had picked up several Star Trek Adventures sourcebooks now had the Star Trek: Discovery (2256-2258) Campaign Guide. This was one of the last books that I need (I’m only missing the Strange New Worlds Mission Compendium 2 hardback). From the game swap area I was able to track down a used copy of Ninjas & Superspies for a good price. I was also able to pick up a used copy of Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing as well. Both of these will end up being used in the 2024 Character Creation Challenge as well as other future themed blog posts.

Not in the photo was several gifts that I had picked up for my geek wife. But from one dealer I was able to pick up a Boba Fett pin and a D20 pin to go on my convention backpack. Hopefully you can see them at the bottom of the photo.

Some of the characters that I had a chance to play

I was able to attend all of the games that I had mentioned in my Prepping for SaltCON-End of Summer post. Here is how the games went.

Hyperborea– Yes this was definitely weird and ran pretty smoothly. The GM knew the game pretty well having backed the kickstarter. I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to play this game again.

Dragonbane– This game really impressed me. The character sheet made sense and I could see the logic behind both the system and the setup. I was originally thinking this was going to be my highlight game of the con, but another game knocked it off on Saturday. In this game your player character could be an intelligent duck. I played a wolfkin who was an excellent fighter.

Fallout– And the game that did grab my highlight of the con was Fallout. Most of us at the table were playing this 2d20 RPG for the first time and it actually made a lot of sense. I quickly understood how it ran (and it explained some items I had questions on other games using this same system). One of the players let me look at his dead-tree version of the book and I’m seriously thinking of adding it to my collection. Especially after I stated thinking of what a Salt Lake based Fallout campaign would be like.

Low Fantasy Gaming– This ran like a D20 clone. In true OSR style fashion, it was quick and deadly. Luckily the rolls went our way and we actually finished the scenario before the allotted time had expired.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- We had to stop some highway bandits while investigating a logging camp that had stopped sending logs down the river. As it turns out, we had to make peace between the loggers and a Fae queen who was not happy.

Star Trek Adventures– A session that a friend ran that was from one of the adventure books. He ran it pretty well, but it also went really late on a Saturday. I took some of the stuff I had learned from Fallout and was able to apply it here. I’m starting to get a better grasp for the game.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition- The first game I was in was part 4 of 5 of a connected story ran over the weekend. The gamemaster gave us a “Previously on…” flashback so that we understood where we were in the storyline. In the last event, we connected all of the clues together and confronted the final boss. The GM had a homebrewed system that he used to allow us to put all of the clues together and find our suspect. Luckily we had rolled well and was able to catch the bad guys before they realized we were on to them. Had we not rolled well, they could have been more prepared for the final confrontation.

Ghostbusters- It was weird when this game ran because most of the other games had concluded for the con. We had a big quiet room to ourselves. I could see where this early D6 system eventually developed into the Star Wars RPG by West End Games. We had to investigate dinosaur ghosts at the New York Museum of Natural History. Yea, we made a lot of Night at the Museum jokes while playing.

Conclusion:

I had a blast at all three events this year. If you are reading this and can make only one event, I’d recommend making it the spring one as it is the largest. The End-of-Summer event was the second largest in scope and layout at the convention center. I was also able to put a bug in the ear of some people to, hopefully, see more of an expanded used-RPG book swap for next year. The bulk of the convention is boardgames, but I’m there for the roleplaying side of things.

Not only am I making plans to attend next year, I’m also starting to give serious thought about GMing a few games. I really like that classic games such as James Bond and Ghostbusters can find themselves on the schedule. Considering I can play 5E or PF2 anytime, I really want to play the more rare games at conventions to make it more unique.

Have you been to any gaming conventions lately? 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.

Posted in: Conventions, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 15: Favorite Con Module/One-Shot

What is your favorite convention or one-shot module is the theme for Day 15 of the #RPGaDAY2023 Challenge. And welcome to the middle of the month.

I’m going to cheat here. Currently my favorite one-shot is the one that I put together for my daughter and her 5E playing friends when I introduced them to OSR gaming. Not only did I have a blast putting together a Basic Fantasy game, I also had several people ask me if I was going to “publish” it. The answer is yes. I’d like to take the information from the first session, polish it up, and run it again. Possibly at SaltCON or another event. After this, I think I’ll have enough feedback to try to get this locked into a PDF print and ready for future game masters who need a convention scenario.

Do you have a favorite one-shot adventure or an adventure that you experienced at a convention? 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.

Posted in: Conventions, Role Playing Games

RPGaDay2023 Day 7: Smartest RPG you’ve played

The Day 7 entry for the #RPGaDAY2023 challenge is “Smartest RPG you’ve played”. Um… I guess I’m not really understanding this one. All systems have different moving parts that work (or don’t) to a different level of degrees.

I think for this topic I’m going to go with a smart game master that I’ve seen running a game that I’ve been in. When I attended my first SaltCON this past March I participated in a Pathfinder 2nd Edition game. Not only was the scenario designed to introduce players to the system, it was also not overly-complicated so it could be ran in a quick time session at a convention. The game master, named Jared Walter, also explained the system to the players (who all had a different degree in RPG experience) and made use of different colored tokens to help keep track of initiative and combat. It was interesting to see how organized he was and it made me appreciate the session more.

On a side note, I also think it’s smart how SaltCON uses the Table Top Events website to help schedule games at the convention. The next SaltCON is coming up on the first part of September and I’ve already got my schedule selected (I had to go over all of the options to maximize my playing time while setting time aside for meals and breaks). I’ve been very impressed with this setup.

Has one of your game masters done something smart to make the game run smoother or more efficient? 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.

Posted in: Conventions, Dune, Music, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Westerns

Of Conventions and Concerts

Loot from SaltCON-Summer 2023

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.

Character sheets I got to take home.

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.

Duran Duran on stage.

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.

The Cure on stage

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.

Posted in: Conventions, Dune, James Bond, Role Playing Games, Star Trek, Westerns

Prepping for SaltCON-Summer 2023

I’m finally going to be able to play the Dune RPG.

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.

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