Alright I was able to get through the month of July, so let’s start the #RPGaDAY2023 challenge that I had posted about previously. The day 1 topic is “First RPG played (this year)”. OK, this should be easy.
Except it wasn’t. I had to go back and check. I thought it was my FarTrek game, but it appears that the first half of the year was under the dreaded “schedule curse”. So my first games were at SaltCON in March. At this gaming convention I was able to play the following roleplaying games in one shots.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition- The GM was really good. If I had a good GM like that, I could see myself participating in a campaign. Lots of stuff in Pathfinder that could become too overwhelming if not handled well.
GURPS– The scenario was set in the Aliens universe. This was where I was glad that I didn’t have to create a character.
Cyberpunk RED– It was good to step back into this universe after I had played the original Cyberpunk many years ago.
What was the first role playing game you played this year? 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.