North Star 2019 proved to be a gem of an event. Like so many of the Garrison cons, it falls on the low threshold of possibility with a small gathering of attendees, but this one felt very much like it had fallen on the right side. Yes, there was a little reordering from missing attendees, but the warnings had arrived in good time and Dom made a fine effort of sorting and resorting until we had GMs and games for everyone in every slot.
I GM'd in three slots, played in one. North Star gave me the opportunity to tick a game off the list - running the excellent, FATE-stripped-bare, space opera Elysium Flare with an excellent band of responsibility-avoiders. Blinged to the hilt with more lamination than a croissant factory, I thoroughly enjoyed running this game - despite considerable pre-event anxiety - and discovered a few ideas on the way that I will likely reuse in future FATE games.
John Ossoway ran a good game of Genesys Android, where I decided to leave the books in my bag and let the experience flow. I strongly dislike playing RPGs (strange, but true); so, coming away from any playing experience with high spirits and a tale to tell is good for me!
Then, I ran Valkyrie-9 in Slot 3 (evening session, three players) and Slot 4 (morning session, five players) - a game that constantly surprises me, as players feel their way through the fragments of the investigation at their own pace and make discoveries that almost inevitably end in some grade of disaster. As the writer, I'm pleased when the session comes to a close and I get positive feedback; as a GM, I'm pleased when I reach the end of the session and hear stories and comments, revelations about what happened, what went right and what went horribly wrong.
North Star 2019 was a joy; and banana pancakes for breakfast!
And interestingly the lighter 2d20 of John Carter of Mars (those giant 2d20 dice sit pretty on the map of Barsoom) may have inspired a raffle winner to pick the very crunchy 2d20 Infinity, an RPG that attracted rules light players too, thanks to Graham.
Arrived Friday on Megabus.
Had good pies, played Codenames Duet with Ann. Chatted to Andy and Dr.Bob.
Saturday: lovely Eggs Royale for breakfast.
Then into Space 1889 (Ubiquity version) Might be a little in love with system, and have enjoyed setting everytime played. Played it optimistic and upbeat in line with #hopepunk. Thanks Paul.
After great BLT for lunch we launched into the deep complex SF setting and game that is Infinity 2d20 run by Graham. Twisting and intriguing mystery that melded cyberhacking and noir legwork and ended in a firefight in a war grave of a space cruiser. I tried to think the best in the spirit of #hopepunk but all was corrupt in the end. Love the setting and system, which seems the crunchiest 2d20 I have played and yet quite fine from a player perspective.
Saturday night I was proud to play in Dom's Traveller game in Reaver's Deep. Called Plausible Deniability it would be a great campaign opener and yet curiously worked fine as a one off. Andy L and I were rather #norty and ripped off our naive captain somewhat rotten. I would love to be able to keep playing this each week for a year!
Sunday, overslept, managed to still have an Eggs Royale! Got to Cthulhu Hack game in time. Paul B ran a great scenario “Valkyrie 9” which started to cure me of my tentacle-phobia. Even if we all died, our fun and funny droids made it #hopepunk until the very end.. when it did get a bit dark.. who knew?
I almost totally burned out at that point. However I stocked up with a Sunday lunch and jumped into a FATE game, Red Planet, run by Guy. Now I loved this conceipt which is socialist pulp SF in a very Burroughs like solar system, pitting the utopian progressive materialists of Mars versus the American capitalists, the Stalinist Russians and the 2 dimensional Geometrists. In many ways this was the same setting as Space 1889 but playing progressive socialists rather than progressive Imperialists. We #hopepunked it out of the park!
Great games, great con, lovely people!
North Star 2019, our second outing was a roaring success. A tightly numbered (mid 30s) cohort of attendees all keen to have a good time and play some good games. Great to see a handful of newbies to Garrison cons, our extended family continues to grow. The con reports are extremely heartening to read and makes all our efforts worthwhile.
Saturday morning, 7am alarm, and up to a marvellous breakfast readied by my wife to get me out of the house in style. 8am and in the car with a short 15 minute drive to the venue. I always forget how little traffic there is at that time and, as a consequence, how fast journeys can be. Into the lift, open up the main door from the inside, wedge it open and then start on the layout. Most of the tables needed taking up from the lower level, navigating a set of stairs and some manoeuvring onto the top level. I've sort of mastered my own way of lifting them up without destroying my back. Half an hour later I had everything setup. Tony had left a couple of trestle tables out, which was thoughtful, as I needed them last time.
No Patriot Games this time due to staffing shortages, so I have arranged with Jim that I might get trained up to play shop keeper if needed next time. I'd got a nice array of books available for the raffle and Jim kindly sped over to drop them off.
A quick speech of welcome and we are off to the games! All pre-booked as civilised as can be thanks to my SAN lossed colleague, Dom.
Slot 1: A fantabulous blast of Space Opera from our @paulbaldowski using the lightweight version of Fate put together by Brad Murray in Elysium Flare. I was so glad to be able to get a game in of this, and to return to a light version of Fate. We all had a super time with it. I was really glad to flex some Psychic abilities to forge us into the plot and to get a useful scene Aspect out for us to tag. Super start tot he convention.
The usual rumble to Morrisons for a meal deal medium salad, choccy bar, and elite smoothy drink.
Slot 2: Me running Infinity 2d20, a rules crunchy faction laden SF game, bursting with a range of SF tropes and complexities. As @Dom sagely told me I really need to get my own Quick Reference Guide written up to navigate the game in a smooth manner. You know what? I did fine withe the pools, giving each player their own Momentum to look after and being a bit playful with my 'complicate the players' Heat pool. The trick with this hunt scenario was to balance the Infowar quantronic hacking with the realside investigation, switching between both to keep everyone active. I had awesome sauce 5 players who were all invested and engaged. I have to accept it is a good game, plays well, and need to run more of it.
A chicken burger thing and some ale.
Slot 3:@Dom running some classic Traveller. This was a Traveller as any Traveller I have ever played. Shiny starship, disparate crew, privateering and causing trouble. It was like a season opener for a new series with some patterns of interaction quickly settling in play, and the making of an ongoing saga. It was all about the money, and causing trouble. Traveller in a nutshell. Nice.
Slept like a log in the hotel room that is now so familiar it feels like going home. Cooked breakfast, only then realising they have a menu and looked slack jawed at @paulbaldowski syrupped pancakes and bananas.
Slot 4: Me, Starlord, running Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, a rules light Star and Sorcery roleplaying game from Diogo Nogueira. I love this simple system and associated family of games. I am running lots more of them and hope to write my own variant later this year. Got some nice table bling, home printed battle mat too and some flats miniatures with some sound effects thrown in. All completely unnecessary, but what the hey. I had a good time and think that my players did too. I felt a little more open to ad lib with this game as it plays so fast and NPCs are not much more than a HD number and some Vitality points.
The raffle was so heartening. A chance to attach people to games, sowing seeds for some unexpected and more game time down the line.
Slot 5: Remi's (@negromaestro ) Wrath and Glory 40K. We all had fun trying not to succumb tot he chaos unpleasantness with distinct archetypes of the setting. I think, with some work and time playing this magpie system, collecting cool ideas from half a dozen D6 dice pool games, could be a lot of fun. I even saw some of my Wordplay in it, though I can believe that was more of a coincidence! With this ruleset I think I'd want to go out and explore the 40K universe some more, so get on it Remi! Quite expensive, though I may pick up the core on PDF with some credit.
Some quick tidying and I slipped away with another fun weekend under the belt. Although I was gamed out, I still had gaming ideas knocking about my head when I got home.
Thanks to all for coming along and throwing yourself into the event. If possible I'd like to get to about 40 attendees next time if we can manage it.