Seven Hills 2019 con reports


Lay member
This was a weird one for me. Fun, but weird.

We had several no-shows this year as usual, plus a couple of GM drop outs due to ill health, back filled by reserves. Even so, I was really surprised by both the number of games that didn’t run, and the very small and sedate queues. By Sunday morning I was convinced something had to be wrong, because it was so massively unlike any previous experience. That said, I didn’t hear any complaints personally, so yay?

I played in Gaz’s Mothership game first up with Mitch, Neil, Debbie, and Ric, an Aliens riff which ended with my xenobiologist character infected, coughing up parasites, and on a one-way suicide collision course. I hadn’t played in one of Gaz’s games in what must have been years, so it was great to finally do so again.

Slot 2 didn’t have any games particularly drawing my attention, so I took time out to chill and catch up on lost sleep after having woken pre-5am. This was a good plan.

Slot 3 was Neil’s Liminal game, Operation Thorn, with Declan, Jamie and Andrew. Not going to say much about the scenario as it’s being run at Expo, but I played Sgt Davenport and loved the character. Nimble AF - his ability to dodge might need to be nerfed a bit :ROFLMAO: Declan’s torch-fu was strong, and we just about managed to avoid death and take down the Big Bad.

Slot 4 I ducked out of, and ran a mission of my own to try and find clotted cream for the scones for Slot 5. I had to go all the way into town - damn you, Morrisons, for letting me down!

In the raffle, the gods must have been smiling on Andrew, as he won his second consecutive Golden Ticket. Clearly he’s now a marked man.

Slot 5 I ran A Taste for Murder with Guy, Alison and Kristy. The Hetherington-Smythe family were truly horrible people, and yes, as is tradition in ATfM, incest featured. We ate scones in the Dungeon, there was death by expensive vase, a debutante ball with some supremely tacky and overpriced jewellery, ghastly Americans, and a story about a cliff top accident that would have been much more believable had it been consistently told by the murder suspects. Sir Geoffrey was arrested for the murder of his wife, Lady Lucille, and taken away in chains.

Roll on next Garricon :)
Thanks to everyone for a cracking event. I had a whale of a time.

We got to scramble in desperation for survival in Mothership. And that's what it was about in the end... desperation. And helping shove Elaine's insane and infested character into a dropship with a self-destruct sequence ready to go. I love a bit of SF horror, and I had the biggest run of lucky dice rolls I've had in a game for a long time. Thanks Gary Bee and my fellow victims.

Then came WW2 spitfire pilot banter, antics, and dogfighting with a WW2 adaptation of Tachyon Squadron. Would I get in another man's plane? Thanks to Declan Feeney and my fellow pilots for the banter and antics, with high stakes at the end when things got serious.

Saturday evening was a lack of sign-ups for my game so I opted to chill out for a bit in the bar, then head home early. There's something to be said for unwinding and not playing in all slots.

On Sunday morning I played Tianxia, run by Pete Atkinson. Corrupt officials, greed, big king fu antics, and a demonic final boss. Who could ask for more? I've had my eye on Tianxia for a while and I had a blast. Thanks again to GM and fellow players.

Finally, I ran a game of Mythras in Ancient Babylon. Piercing axes, monsters, and sorcery, political manoeuvring, where the PCs came out on top by making one of their own, Newt's barbarian, who was perhaps not the most obvious candidate, king. It was a terrific group of players too. A lovely end to the con.

I'm happy and energised more than exhausted.
Thank you all gamers and GMs who made this a wonderful weekend. Also for you're all singing Happy Birthday to me. I couldn't even figure out who you were all singing to until I spotted Jamie barrelling at me with cake! It was lovely. I've not actually had a bunch of people sing happy birthday to me since I was 21 and only assuming they did then, I can't truly remember!
So for the con review. We've already been over the events of Saturday morning regarding peopling levels, so I'll draw a veil there. This was such a chillaxed con and people get along so well that it was quickly sorted. Simon Miller's double slot took us back to Iceland and surprised me by revisiting the troubled landscape we'd inhabited previously at Furnace 2018. Geographical locations and names cropped up that hooked back to that time, I really like the rich complexity this added. I died. Fast. As Granny I was the only one to be saved from the shipwreck intact, unbruised, with all my possessions, and a handy goat. I soon after proceeded to walk said goat up a shallow mountain path. Tripped on a stone, stumbled, with the goat rolling on top of me and died a terrible crushing death underneath the small goat. Who was later eaten by wolves. Who were not there at the time. I came back as young boy and really had to prove my manhood in face of an overbearing mother, and despite my own twin sister being much more brave and grown up than me as a sword maiden.
I didn't do any queuing at all for this con so it was very relaxed with time to actually enjoy my dinners and socialise.
In the evening I ended up in Neil Gow's Liminal. I feel so lucky about this because for years I couldn't get into a Neil game for love nor money due to his huge popularity and awesomeness in how he runs his games. So having not queued for a specific game I didn't read ahead either, you don't need to in a Neil game he takes you through it easily at the beginning. I played a psychic, a role I really enjoyed. The game had three scenes, first we rescued children being held captive by an ancient vampire, then we moved to our everyday lives where terrible dreams led us to discover the Vampire Lord's lair. This was especially entertaining when watching it happen to Elaine's character who essentially had a waking dream that forced her into a reasonable response to a horrific attack on her car and person, that was in actual fact a psychotic break and attack on innocent civilians. That was brilliantly done and a shock to us all. Finally we're in the vampire's lair and the big finale fight. Yes, as Jamie says her character and my own had life changing injuries which caused us to retire from our jobs, but come on, we beat a vampire lord with an effin' SNOWGLOBE that's fantastic and totally rates the life changing injuries right?!
In the morning I was in Neil Smith's Drama System, again with Jamie, and also Newt. Honestly didn't mean to team up with the wife for a weekend of pursuing the Neil's of this world but that's how it rolled. I loved this game. This is the sort of game were I ever to feel confident enough to GM it would be this system. Diceless and totally based on what emotional response you can elicit and what emotional need you can fulfill from setting up scenes with other characters. I hope Neil wasn't too traumatised. I played a female cafe owner caught in a love triangle with an ex-bad boy gang member and his ex-girlfriend/ my bessie mate/ the bad ass gang leader. My role involved trying to smooth relationships and keep my man on the straight and narrow for the good of my community, so a festival... Mardi gras... being the hub of the town as a cafe owner a festival to bring the community together and give my man a new focus seemed the right step. The donkey. Well, what can I say about the donkey. "oops"
In the afternoon it was Cthuhlu with Carl Clare. I was back in my favourite investigative role, this time as a sigint. Half way through the game spiralled a little in terms of "let's just shoot them all" madness, but by then my character had seen such horrors that all sense of empathy and connectedness was lost to her, a personality change occurred due to a terrible SAN role, and the red rage descended, enabling my character to truly join the gun bunny madness rather than lose all relevance in the game.
We stayed an extra night at The Garrison as all trains had turned to rail replacement busses so had a lovely evening chatting to Carl and Matt over dinner and drinks. Always great to meet gamers I've not met before and make new friends.
Oh! And how could I forget!! I got a Golden Ticket! Again! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I guess we're not supposed to sign with our real names? I'm obviously Andrew but this is my first Tavern post.
Oh sorry I've recognised a few people, obviously because of the use of real names, and a few people without real names. Then I wondered are we supposed to ask if we know then in real life or respect their online anonymity even if it's likely we do know them, or am I being rude if someone uses a non real name and I don't know that that I know them already... eep. I've just never done forums so this is new to me.


Rune Priest
So finally managed to make my way to a Garrison Con after missing last year’s Furnace due to my broken leg. It was also the first full day that I wasn’t using my crutches to get about though I was topped up with pain meds.

Picked up nice and early, instead of taking the usual train journey I normally take, so we got to the MacDonalds restaurant in time for a quick breakfast before the gaming.

Just caught the trail end of the opening speech and got down to my table ready for running my first game in Slot 1, Tales from the Loop - ‘Heatwaves and Rain-Guns’.
I had six players signed up and ready to go.

I was also using my new display technique for a lot of my images and maps, reducing the number of physical handouts. You can now remotely control a Keynote presentation on an iPad via your iPhone. Not only control but also interact with it, drawing on the slides as they are displayed. So I had my iPad displaying the presentation to the players, I controlled it from my iPhone, and I used my iPad Pro to record and keep detailed notes. The only things I handed out other than the character archetype sheets and the character sheets were the NPC cards. I like to use them as they are very tactile and the players can hand them around and indicate which NPC they are talking about.

I took the players through the ‘Principles of the Loop’ and started char-gen.
We had a young Rocker called Calver, 11 years old with his drums and sticks and his love of ‘Prince Charming’ by Adam Ant. He had a black and gold Raleigh Grifter bicycle with gear changing handle.
Billy Steve is our 13 year old Computer Geek, with his calculator, playing Van Hallen’s ‘Running with the Devil’. His bike was a sensible Raleigh Willow (it’s not just for girls) with handlebar and rear luggage baskets.
Billy’s younger sister, the Bookworm Jill, gets him to carry her encyclopedias for her as she listens to Nina’s ‘99 Red Balloons’. She had a matching Willow though hers was pink instead of black.
The oldest at 15 is the Jerry the Jock with his ever-present football. He is obsessed with the ‘Ghostbusters Theme’ by Ray Parker Jr. He had a Raleigh Chopper bike with cross bar gear changer.
His 13 year old brother is the Troublemaker Jonny with his cigarettes and lighter who listens to Twisted Sister. He had inherited his brother’s old Raleigh Bomber bicycle.
Last but not least we have our Hick, Joe Sudden, with his sheep dog Shawn, listening to Queen’s ‘I want to Break Free’. He had a Frankenstein bike made up of different types, parts and devices.

I started with the background on Derby in the summer of 1984, hot and humid in the middle of a heatwave. With no water to play in and keep cool and inattentive parents, the Kids decided to head off to a secret lake near Gotham (pronounced GOT-ham) in Nottinghamshire. It only a short bike ride away.

The opening scenes from home covered what supplies the Kids were getting together to take with them. Some were organized and had tents, sleeping bags, food, torches, sun screen, insect repellent, etc. The other Kids were just going to wing it with the bare minimum.

The Mystery starts off with the Kids cycling off to Gotham on the country roads (with the Famous Five theme playing in their heads) when they are suddenly knocked off their bikes by a passing black Mercedes car with the private number plate RAV 1. Fortunately the Kids were able to not only keep their balance but a couple of them were also able to damage the car as it sped past them. The car screeches to a halt and the driver shots obscenities at them. During this confusion one of the Kids was able to steal a computer cassette from the car before the driver sped off again.

What followed was run-ins with robots (old and new), a gang of Gotham Hooligans, a rider of a Grav-Hover Motorcycle, a cool deep water lake (in a drought?), a United Nations task force, rainfall during a drought, and ended with a Roman-candle Windmill.

The game was well received by the players who came up with great ideas and solutions to the Trouble the found themselves in. Though I had to rush the ending a little due to the shorter slot running time.

After lunch was Slot 2 and I was playing in a game this time around. Dragons Conquer America ‘The Mexica Raid’ by Remi Fayomi. Set during the time of the Conquistador invasion of Central America, we were playing the native Mexica people.
We were a mis-matched group of sacrificial captives held in the Capital city. Rescued from prison by one of our fellows, who was an outsider, we set about trying to halt a Conquistador attack at the coast.
Once getting out the city we were fighting through the undergrowth of the jungle, strange Mexica water spirits, and then finally the Conquistadors on the beach.
We also realised that the talk of ‘Dragons’ wasn’t metaphorical as there were real dragons flying and supporting the Conquistador attack.
We charged the beach to get our goal, a ‘bearded man’ to be a sacrifice for our own dragon summoning ritual, I managed to slay a European noblewoman in the process too.
More confusion reigned as we all got split up, many of us were wounded, at the wrong temple, and managed to summon the wrong godly dragon in our ritual.

A great game though we did struggle with the Mexica names, the Mexica culture, and the nature of sacrifice and bloodletting as part of a way of life. It was good to play outside the usual pseudo-European Middle Ages settings of most fantasy role playing games and the card mechanism is intriguing.
Well done to Remi for running the game.

After dinner in the pub downstairs it was Slot 3 and I was running my Things from the Flood (sequel spin off game to Tales from the Loop) game ‘Computer Cassettes and Crash-test Marionettes’. It would be the first time I was running both this game and scenario. I decided to forego the usual handouts, maps, images, three screen presentation, NPC cards, etc. It was just going to be me and the players with their character sheets. This game was also going to be more macabre.

I had five players, two from this mornings Tales from the Loop game.

I went through the ‘Principals of the Flood’, describing that it is all falling apart and life is boring. We then generated our Teens at the table before the scenario began.

We had Jack the Rocker with his notepaper and pencil. He had been caught at school smoking dope with Jen.
Jen was the Lone Wolf, her only companion is her pet rat, Amy. She had been wrongly accused of smoking dope at school with Jack.
Taylor is the Raver with her spray cans of paint. She had inappropriately invited a teacher, Mr Stevens, to go to a rave with her.
Melissa is a Snob with her loaded money clip. She got in trouble for being absent from school, trouble she couldn’t buy her way out of.
Wolf was the Street Kid with his lock picks. He had been wrongly accused of stealing lunch money from younger kids at school.

The scenario started with a ‘Breakfast Club’ style Saturday morning detention session in the school library. The supervising teacher, Mr Franklin, was too busy playing Doom on the office computer so the Teens were left to their own devices. Left at a loose end there was going to be nothing but trouble.

What followed was strange sirens from the Loop Facility, strange apparitions, weird news about a missing school girl declared deceased after six weeks gone (yet the Teens had spoken to her the day before).
The tension was ramped up and the Teens encountered strange occurrences, crash-test dummies, growing cables, black ichor, and strange tunnels under the school. Then it took a darker turn though the teens managed to destroy the big bad in the end.

The players enjoyed the puzzles and running through the maze of the scenario.

After that I headed back home to Derby. 1ACBFA58-EDCB-4F63-8051-5A98E761FE1A.jpeg


Another great Seven Hills. Thanks to everyone for organising it!

Slot 0 was a great chin-wag in the bar.

Slot 1 was my not-historical-at-all-and-I-don't-care Blue Planet Recontact (3ed) game. It was another playtest of the rules system and the scenario. Both went well, with a strong group of players that really engaged with the game and provided some excellent feedback. Thanks folks!

Slot 2 was Tenra Bansho Zero. The plot involved a cyborg Buddhist monk leading an apocalyptic cult with a sideline in vigilante organ harvesting. Which I mostly ignored to concentrate on chewing the scenery by declaring sororal love for an orbital control system in the form of a living doll. Just what I was expecting from Tenra.

Slot 3 was Owl Hoot Trail, a thinly-reskinned OSR advenure in the Wild West. My first real OSR game, and the mechanics were "meh" at best. The game, however, was great fun, with a stong story, great characters, and lots of fun contributions from everyone at the table.

Slot 4 was my game of Malandros. There was a bit of shuffling around with part-filled games, but I was asked to run the game. I'd prepared for a cut-throat game of internecine gang war in a Rio barrio in 1889. Three scenes in, it had become a cut-throat game of bunting and children's donkey rides. Not what I was expecting, but fun nonetheless!

Slot 5 was Good Society, which featured overgrown flowerbeds, slightly overfamiliar portrait poses, ostrich feathers, and inept dancing. High drama! Oh, there was also the Battle of Waterloo, but that was a mere detail.

All in all, a really fun weekend. Thanks all!