Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review of three RPG battle mats/tiles

Wiz Dice on the left, Role 4 Initiative in the middle and Chessex on the right.

As I was preparing for SaltCON-Summer 2024, I realized that I had not done my review of the three RPG battle mats/tiles that I currently own. So as I was preparing for the con, I had my daughter help me set these out and take some photos for a review. I’ve owned two of these maps for a few years and purchased the gaming tiles last year after I saw them in use at SaltCON-Spring 2023.

The Chessex 26×23.5 Battlemat

So the first battlemat that I had purchased was the Chessex double-sided 26.x23.5 battlemat. The DM for my Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign that ran for several years used a larger version of this product. When my nephew had asked me to run an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons game, I realized that I didn’t have a mat to use. So I slipped into one of my local gaming shops and picked this one up. It has square grids on one side and hexagons on the other. Eagle-eyed readers may spot this map as the background to some of the photos I used for the various Character Creation Challenge entries. Besides the game with my nephew, I was able to use it in a few other games. The surface is a little rough, but I think this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The mat itself is thick and feels solid. However when I drew on it with dry-erase or wet-erase markers, it could sometimes leave the image behind. While I was experimenting with the map for this article, my daughter discovered that using the Mr. Clean MagicEraser would remove the older drawings without (as it seemed) to damage the map. While I could still see some of the older set-in markings, it is a lot clearer than it use to be. Because this map is rolled, I have to use heavy objects to hold the corners down.

The Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat

Just a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to run a OSR game for my daughter and several of her friends who had been playing in a D&D 5e campaign. I had created the adventure myself (and later used it at SaltCON-Spring 2024) and realized that the map I had found on the internet, was too large to use on the Chessex mat that I already owned. So I found the Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat on Amazon. It is also a reversible map with hexagons on the other side. For the purpose of the one-shot, I was able to use the map with a dry-erase marker. However, after the event, I really wished that I hadn’t purchased this mat. First, it’s really thin and flimsy. While taking these photos for the article my daughter mentioned that it was like having a shower curtain on the table. While the Chessex surface felt rough, but durable, this map was wrinkly, sticky and felt like it was going to rip if I wasn’t careful. When I attempted to use it at SaltCON-Spring 2024, I discovered that the markers I had brought would not write on the map properly, so we ended up using graph paper instead. Like the Chessex, the MagicEraser product was handy in removing stubborn markings from the map. The other issue that I had with this map is the poor quality of the printing. As you can see in the photo below, there were parts where the grid had misprints in it or were missing. As a rolled mat, it also had to be weighed down at the corners.

Just one example of misprints on the Wiz Dice mat

Had there been one issue, I probably would have been OK with the map. But with both the misprints and the flimsy/thin quality, I really wish that I had spent my money on a larger Chessex mat.

The Role 4 Initiative Game Tiles

When I saw how handy these game tiles were at SaltCON, I had to order a set myself. I picked up the Dry-Erase Hexagon Game Tiles from Role 4 Initiative. While preparing for the latest SaltCON, I decided that I wanted to get all of the tiles out to make sure that they could handle the adventure map I was planning to use. The kewl thing is that you can start out with a small section, then add the sections as needed depending upon where the players elect to go. While these are double sided, they have hexagons on both sides. One side is solid hexagons with broken hexagons on the reverse side. There is a grid version of the tiles available from the same manufacturer that I’ll have to pick up sooner or later. Where the Chessex surface is rough and the Wiz Dice surface was sticky, these tiles were very slick. While it made marking the tiles easy, you could easily smudge a dry-erase marking if you were not careful. There are thirty-three 1/8″ thick tiles that are six inches across in the box. This makes the box a little heavy compared to a rolled up mat. But I was able to store my dry-erase markers in the extra space the box provided. When we were drawing the full map of the planned adventure, my daughter commented that it was like assembling a map puzzle. Here are some various photos.

First opening the box
The solid and broken hex sides of the tiles
We did a timed test with some markings and it erased with no problem after 30 minutes
All of the tiles assembled in a square like fashion with 28 inches across
Drawing the full map of the adventure

Conclusion:

The rolled up mats are lighter than the tiles. But the tiles offer greater flexibility for the GM. The costs are about the same (Dice Wiz is lower compared to the same sized Chessex mat). If you are going to stick with a rolled up mat, buy the Chessex for the quality. But my overall advice is take the flexibility of the Role 4 Initiative tiles. They also marked and erased easier.

Have you used any of these three products? If so, what were your thoughts on them? Are there other mats/tiles that I should look into? 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: 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: Collecting, Conventions, Horror, James Bond, Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

SaltCON-Spring 2024 After Action Report

Loot from the 2024 SaltCON Spring

I survived my time at SaltCON Spring 2024. I was starting to wonder if I was going to get through it. First I was nervous before the start (did I have everything ready for the games that I was running) and I had to take a few breaks to make sure I didn’t get overwhelmed. March definetly came in like a lion with a big snowstorm (with thunder) on Saturday. Luckily my Convention Backpack kept all of my items safe in the nasty weather. But I made it and I enjoyed myself. I even had someone come up to me and identify me from this blog. If you read my blog and meet me in real life, welcome. This gentleman even wanted to talk about the recent Character Creation Challenge.

So how did the games that I ran go? I think they did quite well. Both sets of players told me that they had fun, which was the goal. My Basic Fantasy game only had two players, so I had them use two characters each. They were able to find the lost son of a Dwarf nobleman before he was discovered in an area he wasn’t supposed to be in. And they did it differently than the previous time I ran this adventure so it was interesting to see a different approach to the problem the party was presented with. I’m going to have to re-draw the map before I try to submit it for possible publication within the Basic Fantasy community. As for the Star Trek Adventures Game, I had quite a few laughs as the Lower Deck style characters had to deal with the Top Core (aka Top Gear in space) antics. I encouraged the humorous nature at the table by tossing pieces of candy to the players that got into the spirit of things. I really want to polish up this scenario as well and “publish” it for others to use. Both games had minor hiccups (the draw-able map didn’t like the markers I had brought for the Basic Fantasy game and I had left some papers behind for the Star Trek game) but we got through them.

A special pin just for the convention.

A new thing that SaltCON did this year was running a pin quest at the event. If you went to certain sections of the convention center, you could earn/buy/trade for a convention pin. Just before the Basic Fantasy game, one of the organizers handed me two SaltCON 2024 RPG pins which was a mimic hiding as a book (pictured above). I was instructed to keep one and to award the second to the player at the table I thought did best. As I had mentioned, there were only two players in that game and I thought they both did equally well having to balance two characters. And, in player fashion, they came up with solutions that I hadn’t planned for as a GM. Thank heavens for GM intuition and rolling with the punches. I even got to use the phrase “I’m allowing that because it meets the ‘Rule of Cool’ so go ahead.” When the game was over, I place the pin in the middle of the table and asked the players to decide who earned it. With how good they were, they both pointed to the other guy and said ‘you take it.’ So I made a GM ruling and had them both roll a D20 with the highest roll winning. I didn’t really get a chance to collect any of the other pins, but that was fine.

I also appreciated that the RPG coordinator made special posters advertising the different games. Since there were multiple Star Trek Adventures games, they were all on the same poster. But I really liked the poster they made for my Basic Fantasy game. When the end of the convention hit, I couldn’t find that poster (even thought I had seen it hanging on the wall in the convention center). I’m very grateful to the organizer who tracked it down for me.

The QR codes allowed you to sign up for the game or find out more about it.

As for the games that I played (or attempted to play), here is how they went.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– Turns out I had the same GM as last year. She even recognized me from before. It was the same scenario, so I just ran my character as someone who would want to do what the others wanted to do (without spoiling anything). Luckily we got farther than we did last year so I was able to see some new material. I really liked how I just slipped back into the groove of this game.

James Bond 007– The same game master as before, but a whole new scenario. The GM recognized me as well and even handed me the same character that I had previously played. This and the way the system was set up made it easy to slip back into the game with no kinks. For a game from the 80’s with a little crunch, it ran pretty smooth.

Dreams and Machines– A new game that I was looking forward to since it’s the first in-house IP for Modiphius. I liked the world that the game was built around. The starter set components (characters were created by selecting a series of cards with stats on them) made it easy for a convention one-shot. The GM’s daughter made jokes about how the little girl in the starter set was going to die (spoiler: she didn’t). And I liked some of the changes to the 2d20 system (there were tokens for equipment assets that I was able to use in the middle of game play). But there were other changes that I really didn’t know if I liked or not. Momentum was split with spirit which also had to do with health. It was convoluted and is something that I hope doesn’t make it into the just announced Star Trek Adventures Second Edition (I’ll be blogging more about this announcement later). While I enjoyed myself at the table, I don’t know if I’ll actually be picking up this game.

Red Dwarf The Role Playing Game– All but one player knew about the Red Dwarf TV show, so we had just as much fun explaining things to her as we did playing. And she got really involved (she played a cat character). I got to play this universe’s version of Lister (a space bum). The GM had a waxdroid character prepared, but didn’t give it a name allowing the character to decide. So we were running around with a waxdroid of Winston Churchill who was always on the lookout for Space Nazis (not only did we find them, we kicked their fascists butts). I really liked how the system worked and while we struggled (hey were not exactly the cream of the crop in the space corp) it made sense. I really need to get my own copy of this game.

Star Wars Roleplaying– This was a little weird. Not only was I learning about a new system, but the GM was part of a group called RPG Sessions. This is a website that had online tools that could be used for this version of Star Wars and a few other games from the same publisher. While he explained the dice to us (there were a lot of new players to this game), we were primarily playing with these tablets. So instead of learning one thing, I was attempting to learn two. While the online tools helped, I felt that not rolling dice took away my enjoyment (and learning) of the game. However a special thing happened while we were on a mid-game break that I’ll talk about below.

The Witcher Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. I ended up dropping out of these games. I was able to cross my name off the sheet for The Witcher (and there were several people signed up as backups which made me better). There was some nasty weather going on and I wasn’t feeling all too well. I didn’t want to be fighting the storm at midnight to get home. I also needed sleep which caused me to not make it for the early morning Sunday D&D 5e game. To the GMs, I apologize for not being able to make it. I really wanted to check out The Witcher system since I had picked up the PDFs in a bundle sale last year. Hopefully at a future con I can play this game.

Old School Essentials– We only had three players (one very new to RPGs) but we got to fight a dragon that we tracked down. Lots of good roleplaying in this session. Unfortunately all three characters ended up as piles of ash by the end of the game.

The GM for GURPS Star Wars– accidentally left his Star Wars material at home (I know the feeling dude) so we ended up with a pickup game of Dungeon Fantasy. This is also a GURPS system. However (insert Ron Burgundy “Well that escalated quickly” meme) we ended up not getting very far. In fact, we ended up not getting out of the starting building without setting the building on fire (yea, it went south really fast). The party ended up getting kicked out of the town. So the game also didn’t last very long. But the GM, knowing of my past attempts at making a GURPS character, offered to sit down and show me how the publisher had streamlined Dungeon Fantasy. I was able to make a character with the bulk of needed items to play in about 20 minutes.

As for the loot pictured above, I was able to pick up the following items. I purchased the 2024 convention t-shirt (loved the design). There were no general RPG dealers in the dealers room (lots of self-publishers, but nobody if I wanted to pick up a new book from a regular publisher). At the game swap I was worried for the first two days because there was a TON of board games, but practically nothing in the way of RPG books. There were more DVDs than RPG books. But while I was in the Star Wars game that I mentioned above, someone came to the table and reported that they had seen the Star Wars starter set with dice for sale for a very good price. Especially when they discovered that the very expensive core rulebook was included in the box. Since we were on break, I had the guy take me directly down there where I was able to snatch it up (cha-ching, bargain found). On the last day of the con, I came across the core rulebook for The Strange. This is a Sci-Fi RPG that I had been sent a supplement for in the Random RPG book club. Now that I have the core rulebook, not only can I use it in a future Character Creation Challenge, but if I elect to trade/sell/give the books away, I can do so in a set. The last item I got was The Walking Dead Universe starter set. This was a gift from the game coordinator for doing a good job running my games at the con. I was not expecting this and it was very much appreciated.

While I didn’t play as a Captain in the Artemis Bridge Simulator, I was asked to play an walk-on part as an invading Borg Drone. I think it shocked some of the players to suddenly have a LARP like experience happen in the middle of a networked computer game. Thanks guys for letting me play this part (and I didn’t hurt myself too bad when I fell down after being shot with a phaser).

Conclusion:

I am very grateful to all of the volunteers who helped put this convention together. I’ve really been enjoying myself and meeting people from all over the US (and Canada) who travel to the con. I had a lot of fun despite my being overwhelmed in the middle. Not only am I thinking about possible games to run for SaltCON summer, I’ve also talked with another long-time GM who is expressing interest in running a few games.

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, James Bond, Red Dwarf, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for SaltCON Spring 2024

The two games that I will be running at SaltCON-Spring.

The time has come again to get ready for SaltCON, a local gaming convention in my area. This is the first of three SaltCONs and the biggest. It will take up the entire Davis Convention Center. 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.

When I first discovered that SaltCON had multiple RPG sessions (and not just board games, which is a massive draw at the convention) I had decided to make this my relax-a-con after volunteering at a lot of other local conventions. However while attending the SaltCONs last year I was talking with the RPG coordinators who expressed interest in having more game masters signing up to run games. Also the fact that I would be getting into the con for free (and get a special t-shirt) sealed the deal after some other bills had pilled up. So I’m nervous, but excited to dip my toe into running one-shots for the convention in the spring. If you can guess from the photo above, I’ll be running a Star Trek: Lower Decks inspired one-shot (think Lower Decks meets the cast of the BBC television program, Top Gear) called Top Core. The second game will be using the Basic Fantasy 4th Edition RPG using a polished up scenario that I used with my daughter and her 5th edition playing friends. It is my hope to take all of the notes from these two sessions and submit it to the Basic Fantasy community for possible publication. I’ve also been working on a Basic Fantasy 4th Edition Reference Sheet that players can use to answer basic questions while the limited gaming session is in progress.

Of the games that I’ve signed up to play, there are a few that I’ve played before and some new ones. They are as follows.

Fallout The Roleplaying Game– After playing this at a past SaltCON, I knew I wanted to play it again. This is the game from Modiphius.

James Bond 007– The classic game from the 80’s released by Victory Games. This will be run by the same GM who ran it last time. He did such a good job that I wanted to sign up again.

Dreams and Machines– A new game released by Modiphius that I haven’t played yet. This uses the 2d20 system that we’ve also seen in Star Trek Adventures, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium and John Carter of Mars. I think it’s a type of post-apocalyptic world some 200 years after a great war with machines.

Red Dwarf The Role Playing Game– The game originally released by Deep 7 in 2003. Not only have I always wanted to play this game as a huge fan of the series, but its currently my holy grail of RPG books to find.

Star Wars Roleplaying– Released by Edge Studio. I have not had a chance to play this variant of the Star Wars RPG so this will be interesting to try.

The Witcher Roleplaying Game– A game by R. Talsorian Games that I haven’t had a chance to play yet. I recently picked up the PDFs in a bundle sale, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- The description of the scenario sounded interesting, so I’m going to check it out.

Old School Essentials– I was going to play this D20 clone at SaltCON-Summer, unfortunately the GM came down with con-crud. I’ve signed up for a session hoping that we can get a chance to try this game.

GURPS Star Wars– The GM will be running a Star Wars scenario using the GURPs rule system. While I hate making a character for this system, I’ve had success with playing the system at past conventions.

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: 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, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Prepping for SaltCON-End of Summer

I’m going to need one of these for the con.

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.

Star Trek Adventures– This game is being run by a friend of mine.

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.

Posted in: Conventions, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

RPGaDay2023 Day 14: Favorite Convention Purchase

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?

This year I’ve been to SaltCON-Spring and SaltCON-Summer. And I documented what I had purchased from these events. So from those two events my favorite convention purchase (at least for now) are the Star Trek Adventures Player’s Guide and the Star Trek Adventures Gamemaster’s Guide. I had purchaesed these from a small local RPG store that had a table at the convention. I was able to support a small business. If you read my after action reports for both events, you’ll see that I also picked up several other books that I plan to use in the 2024 Character Creation Challenge. So it is a possibility that I may change this answer in the future.

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.

Posted in: Alien, Conventions, Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek

#RPGaDay2023 Day 1: First RPG Played (this year)

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.

Alien– I had a lot of fun in this game. It was my first try at the system and I could see that I’d prefer a character that I had made instead of a pre-made one. Besides being a big fan of the Alien franchise, I had met the author of the RPG at a previous FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention.

Dungeon Crawl Classics– I’ve always wanted to play in a level-0 funnel and SaltCON gave me the opportunity to try this out. DCC is another game that I could see myself playing as part of a campaign.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition- A filler game after another game I had scheduled was canceled.

Mistborn– I didn’t really have fun on this game. See the SaltCON Spring 2023 After Action blog post.

James Bond 007– The classic game from the 80’s. It was my first time playing it and I had a blast.

Star Trek Adventures– The GM ran us through a scenario that was inspired by Star Trek: Lower Decks. This was before the new Lower Decks Campaign Guide had come out.

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.

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.

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