BurritoCon 5

#1
It's a long drive to Manchester from here, which is why I've never been to any of the events hosted at Fan Boy 3: poor travel-to-game ratio. But in this year of virtual cons, that's not a problem.

Game 1

I was up bright and early (by my standards) on Saturday morning for my first game: Tales from the Loop. While I'd never played it before, I've played enough Fria Ligan games to know how the system worked, and we'd all sorted our characters out in advance, so in theory it should have been easy to dive straight in.

In practice, Google Meet decided it didn't like running in my Firefox browser and gave me video but no audio. After poking settings and finding nothing helpful I switched to Chrome, my theory being that Google would make more of an effort to have their product working in their own browser. Thankfully I was right, and off we went.

There was an obvious question of why a bookworm, a jock, a weirdo and a rocker were all choosing to hang around with each other, but when we described our characters and their problems it soon became apparent that we'd bonded over all having lost a parent. And I soon started to realise what's so special about playing a kid. There are things you can't do because you're a kid. But there are also a whole bunch of things you can get away with, because you're a kid.

Playing in 1986 was also an experience. I don't remember 1986 particularly well, but between what memories I do have, the amount of 80s movies I've seen and having just finished series 3 of Stranger Things I feel like I've got a reasonable grasp on the time. So many times I found myself looking at something, thinking 'I should take a picture', then reminding myself that camera phones are not yet a thing. The camera I had in 1986 took 35mm film and it would take several weeks to get the pictures back.

Tales from the Loop is a wonderful game, an excellent implementation of the Year Zero engine, and something I'm keen to play again some time. Credit has to go to Blythy, for doing a superb job running it, and my fellow players, Bud, Kaye and Craig, for being the best friends my wannabe teen detective could wish for.

Game 2

In the afternoon I ran my Liminal scenario, Mother Said I Never Should. Having previously run this at The Good Friends of Jacks-Con Elias, I was keen to see how this would differ from that outing.

The first difference is that we were down one player due to a family emergency. Fortunately the character he'd chosen was not the one that's essential to the plot concept. Tech delayed things again, with people having trouble connecting to Discord video chat, and I made the decision to switch AV over to Google Meet - making sure to open it in Chrome, of course.

Once again, Discord did its job as a dice roller and handout distributor. Liminal is such an uncomplicated system to run that the bells and whistles of a VTT aren't needed, and the Sidekick bot handles the dice perfectly. Taking inspiration from a game run by Paul Mitchener himself, I now barely roll dice when running this game - mathematically I don't think it makes a different on an opposed roll whether I roll the attack or the player rolls defense, and it's far more fun to put it in the players' hands.

Seeing the players create new and interesting characters based on the brief backgrounds provided, and then proceed to find new ways to approach the situation, making different uses of their various talents, was an absolute delight. I've pitched this scenario for two more conventions already and I'm very much looking forward to running it again.

Post-Games

I believe BurritoCon traditionally ends with a trip to the pub, so the Mitchester Arms was temporarily opened for post-game chat. Like the bar at the Good Friends of Jacks-Con Elias, this added back in a little of what's missing in virtual conventions, giving me the chance to talk to people outside of the two games I was in.

Reflections

This was a well organised event with suitably chosen time slots to allow for meals. An evening slot could potentially have been added, but with GenCon on the same weekend, quite a lot of people had other plans. Or were just tired out. The upcoming convention The Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff 3 has three slots so it'll be interesting to see how it compares.

There seems to be a lovely bunch of roleplayers in and around Manchester, and getting to play with them has been a delight. It's only a pity that when things finally return to some semblance of normality that BurritoCon will once again be too far away for me to realistically consider.

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