KublaCon 2004

         I attended KublaCon 2004 as a game master: running two RPG events (marked below with an asterix) and then playing in four others. From my experience, I have found KublaCon to be very well organized and produced -- probably the best among the regional conventions that I have been to. In order that I played them, the games I was in were:


"Les Coeurs Verres"

Game system:

Buffy RPG

Start time:

FRI, 7:00pm

Category:

RPG
Duration:
4 Hours

Event ID:

02060

Location:

2044-A

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

Michael M. Kelly

Description:

Honoré: The Crescent City Slayer "C'est Mardi Gras!" in New Orleans. La commedia dell'arte is the costume theme chosen by the Grande Krewe of Promethea that the Slayer and her college friends are part of. A powerful Demon and her ghostly servants take advantage of the confusion created by the Mardi Gras Masquerade to prey on our young heroes. All too easily shattered are their youthful "hearts of glass".
CHAR: Provided    LVLS: --    Complexity:Simple    Experience: None

This was the first in three events which were selected episodes in the first season of "Honorée: The Crescent City Slayer". This was an episode about midway through the season -- set in New Orleans shortly before Mardi Gras. The GM first handed out description sheets: with 15-20 words each on physical appearance and personality, followed by 3-5 paragraphs of background. Only after people settled on characters did he hand out character sheets with game stats. There were slightly more choices in PCs than there were players -- of the extra two of the presented characters, one was dropped (Rosa) while the other became an NPC run by the GM.

I picked Moriko Shimatsu -- a student from Japan going to Tulane University who had been a friend of the Slayer when she was a high school exchange student in Japan. She had also recently discovered that she was a kitsune, interpretted as a "were-fox". The other PCs were:

Note that in this game Rosa was dropped, while Roy was an NPC run by the GM. The GM had set out a big (2' x 4' or so) color map of New Orleans on the table, and spent a while explaining the setting. A few times during the game he showed photos of the places we were passing, to add some color into the spot.

The plot was a ghost story set while the PCs were preparing for a costume ball with a commedia dell'arte theme. The key at first was following a random set of people who we overheard at a bar having a fight -- a couple and the man whom the girl was supposedly seeing. Most of the PCs ignored this, but Bibi followed them. It turned out that the two men killed each other with their bare hands (presumably possessed), and Bibi wandered off under the power of a magically-induced hallucination which touched on her background.

We tracked down Bibi, went over the bodies, and had a long investigation phase which hinted at various possibilities but didn't really give any practical information. We learned what we had already guessed -- it was demon(s) or ghost(s) who were preying on jealousy to set men killing each other. After research, the Slayer and two others then went on patrol, which resulted in a completely unrelated fight against random vampires found on the bad side of town. We then proceeded to our costume ball the following day, where naturally the strangeness fell upon us.

So I tried a bit of messing with the plot during this, inspired by the Buffy episode 2.19 "I Only Have Eyes For You". To me the interesting part of that episode wasn't the ghost story -- but the gender role reversal where Buffy was possessed by the jealous boyfriend who shot the girl he loved, while Angel was possessed by the girl whom he shot.

As background, Moriko was supposedly in love with Celeste's older brother Roy who was being run as an NPC. However, her heart was broken. So my leaning was to interfere with this. My push was to try for role-reversal where she takes on the ghost of the jealous man, while Roy is in the position of the girlfriend. It partly worked out with some Drama Point spending and persuasive arguing, but it took some effort.


Metaman Troopers: The Legend of Mu

Game system:

Fudge

Start time:

SAT, 10:00am

Category:

RPG
Duration:
6 Hours

Event ID:

32130

Location:

2096-A

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

Robert Boyd

Description:

Ultratokyo, 2023. A band of warriors known as the Metaman Troopers are all that stand between an unsuspecting citizenry and the nefarious Cobalt Concern’s robotic minions. Recently ancient artifacts from the fabled continent of Mu have been brought to Tokyo. Why is the Cobalt Concern going out of its way to get its hands on these mysterious objects? Continues Kubla Con 2003 Metaman Troopers game.
CHAR: Provided    LVLS: --    Complexity: Simple    Experience:None

This event was cancelled. Only two players showed up. We waited about twenty minutes after the start. I looked over the characters in the meantime. As is clear from the description, it was a heavily anime-inspired event. The characters were all color-coded: Metaman Blue, Metaman Pink, etc. -- and the character sheets came in a matching transparent plastic folder. It was a nice touch. The character descriptions did not immediately grab me, but I can't say much without having played. Eventually we called it and went to another event which was lacking in players ("Get Hitler" below).


Get Hitler

Game system:

Gurps

Start time:

SAT, 10:00am

Category:

RPG Duration: 6 Hours

Event ID:

32110

Location:

2079-A

# of Players:

7

GM / Judge:

Thomas Vallejos

Description:

August 1941. A Very Rich American Entrepreneur has put up One Million Dollars for someone to kill or capture Hitler. Are you up for the task? The easy part, if there is one, is to get into Germany. The hard part is to either kill or grab him. The hardest part of all is getting out alive and collecting the cash.
GURPS Basic Set and some information, Compendium I & II, GURPS WWII and GURPS Cliffhangers will be used. Knowledge of said information not essential to play. Emphasis on cinematic game play. I hope.
CHAR: Provided    LVLS: 150 points    Complexity: Complex    Experience: Some

Link to more info on this event: www.home.earthlink.net/~flyingwombat/kublacon.html

This was a GURPS event which was relatively heavy in details both in rules mechanics and WWII history. The other prospective Fudge player and I were thus a little out of place, and we joined two players who were up for it and knowledgible about WWII but new to GURPS. The game had a very long setup phase -- the action started with the PCs all in civilian life and not knowing each other. We went through spending a token extra 5 points on our PCs, being recruited for the mission, travel in secret to England, training there, and equipping.

There was also a huge hurdle of believability in this phase. Our PCs were not particularly a crack troop, nor were we clearly the sort to throw away our lives on such a mission. My PC was a doctor-turned-actor who had never been in any armed service, for example. I think the believability would have been helped a lot and the game would have moved more quickly if preparation had been skipped and our character sheets written up to reflect the PCs already underway on their mission.

The action was a combination of investigation, problem-solving, and tactics as we wandered in disguise to find Hitler. There were a few twists. The scenario was largely based on a non-fiction book on Hitler's personal security. Our characters happened on him during a vulnerable time when he had sequestered himself in a lodge for health reasons. As another twist, without anyone realizing it, my character looked exactly like Hitler. Still, as reality-based problem-solving it was seriously hindered by the initial believability problems.

We had entered into a tactical phase of a nighttime assault on the hunting lodge. We had not yet gotten into the lodge, though. However, at this point it ran overtime and I had to leave for my next event. I'm mildly biased against this sort of scenario though not totally. Still, I think there were many things which could have been done to make it run more smoothly and convincingly.


Heads, You Lose

Game system:

Angel RPG

Start time:

SAT, 4:00pm

Category:

RPG
Duration:
4 Hours

Event ID:

42100

Location:

2071-A

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

Todd Furler

Description:

Angel, the vampire with a soul, (from the TV show of the same name) and his crew need to find out who's responsible for a series of brutally mutilated corpses.
CHAR:Provided    LVLS: --    Complexity:Average    Experience:None

Link to more info on this event: www.anunlikelystory.com

This was an Angel RPG event, with the PCs being the original cast (i.e. Angel, Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne). It was set in-between two episodes of the third season, after episode 3.6 "Billy" (the yuppie whose touch would make men misogynist killers) but before 3.7 "Offspring" (when Darla returns). We picked out the characters mostly by consensus. I played Cordelia in this one, picking near to last -- but I was thrilled since she is my favorite cast member of the Angel series.

It was in some ways a formulaic monster-of-the-week -- a kid turned spider demon that took people's heads. These are common enough in both the Buffy and Angel series, and like those, it was the character interactions among the PCs that made this interesting. The center of the supernatural plot was a kid who had been transformed by a spider demon into a demonic monster that had collected people's heads. For the monster and the heads (which he made into spidery servants), the GM used plastic models of creatures from John Carpenter's remake of The Thing -- using the grotesque spider/human imagery to a different purpose. Ostensibly, the kid's story illustrates seduction by power, a repressed kid drawn into violence -- but the backstory was relatively weak. On the other hand, there were the Main Cast reactions and interactions.

In my mind, at least, what was happening among the cast was everyone's take on the shake-up of relationships that happened in the prior episode, where the darker sides of Wes and Gunn were revealed (3.6 "Billy"). I played Cordelia as more the early Cordelia -- flip and sarcastic, which was really being defensive over her own nervousness, particularly in her attraction to Angel. I always much preferred earlier bitchy Cordelia to the softer romantic interest that she was evolved into. So I took this as opportunity to show her sarcasm as her nervous defense from things she was feeling. There were fun and illustrative banter, but not a lot of progression to this, so it never had much dramatic bite. Then again, the same can be said for many Angel episodes -- so I think this was in fine company.


Betrayed!

"Betrayed!"

Game system:

Buffy RPG

Start time:

SAT, 8:00pm

Category:

RPG
Duration:
4 Hours

Event ID:

52150

Location:

2112-A

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

Michael M. Kelly

Description:

Honorée: The Crescent City Slayer. Episode 1.11 “Betrayed!”
The Slayer and her college friends retreat to “rural” Larose, Louisiana for Study Break before their final exams at Tulane University, while Jazzfest crowds fill the streets and parks of New Orleans proper. But blood is on the bayou as the local ‘gators seem to grow more dangerously aggressive. An ally long thought lost joins the Slayer in her battle against the mysterious creatures who seem to be provoking them. So much for study time . . . .
CHAR: Provided    LVLS: --    Complexity: Simple    Experience: None

I didn't originally get into this one. This was one of the problems which turned out OK. Somehow I didn't get into any of the events that I signed up for for the evening -- in retrospect, I suspect that I screwed up my event slip somehow because otherwise they were fairly organized. So I tried showing up for this event but there weren't any spaces. I then went down to eat my dinner before going home. However, one of the players (Gil) whom I had played with before showed up and said that they were looking for someone to play the Slayer (which apparently no one had picked). He had been looking for Gen Lang (another regular), as apparently the GM preferred a female player for this, but he couldn't find her.

Long story short, I came in a bit late to play the title Slayer -- Honorée. There was some kind of evil Egyptian crocodile stuff going on, and Honorée ended up finding her old mentor -- a huge ex-military man who had taught her martial arts before she was a Slayer, and defended her against Bringers. I had something of a pivotal role, as it turned out that he had gone evil and eventually had to be put down. The story here overwhelmingly was the divide between Honorée (who implicitly trusted him regardless of evidence) and the rest of the cast who had their suspicions about him.


Brawny Thews

"Betrayed!"

Game system:

Conan RPG (Mongoose Publishing)

Start time:

SUN, 9:00am

Category:

RPG
Duration:
5 Hours

Event ID:

--

Location:

--

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

John Kim

Description:

Centuries after Conan was king, the Aquilonian Empire collapsed and Hyrkanian hordes descended upon the west sweeping over the ruins, even into the harsh land of Cimmeria. This was the twilight before darkness for the Hyborians. This is the tale of a band of Cimmerians who came to face the empress of the Turanian Empire. It tells of the indomitable spirit of the Cimmerians deep in the unfamiliar lands of the easterners, in the teeming city of Aghrapur. There is intrigue and action within the forbidden city of the Turanian Empress, as the band seeks to free not only themselves, but their country.
CHAR: Provided    LVLS: 8-10    Complexity: Average    Experience: None

This was my event -- it was a very conscious effort to merge a sort of manly combative game using the D20 system with a strong story based around male roles. This time, I think it went pretty well. It was the first time I had ever GMed D20, so I had some trouble with the combat. But I could see at least some of the effect I was going for. [....]


Ill Fortunes

Game system:

L5R

Start time:

SUN, 4:00pm

Category:

RPG
Duration:
8 Hours

Event ID:

82060

Location:

2044-A

# of Players:

8

GM / Judge:

Greg Eichner

Description:

You are striving to be hands of the Emerald Champion and, by extension, the Emperor. He has set you a task: find out why merchants have been unable to go through Hae Moete Kawa (Firefly River), as the Unicorn have petitioned the Emerald Champion for aid before they run out of food.

Working together is a must - do not dishonor the Emerald Champion with petty squabbles!
CHAR:Provided    LVLS:beginning    Complexity: Average    Experience: None

This was my first time trying out Legend of the 5 Rings. I had a sinking feeling about this since it was scheduled for 8 hours, and in fact it turned out that it even ran overtime (!). To me, the beginning in particular felt almost unbearably slow. There was well over an hour before we started play. I picked a monk-like mystic/magician with powers of magical fire -- not a very flamboyant choice, but I always try out different things in PCs at conventions. The PCs were a group of samurai-equivalents who were on a mission to find out why grain shipments were going missing from some province. We started with a completely gratuitous fight with some random bandits along the way. I had the feeling that this was to make the game more "newbie friendly" by having a sample combat -- though I would have thought that an actually interesting combat would be better for newbies. Oh, well.

Then after some token narration of the trip, we arrived at a town and were introduced to the local magistrate. We started with some scattered clue-hunting, but there wasn't a lot of effort or options at mystery solving. We essentially stumbled into the first clue which was the shipments dumped in the woods with the dead bodies of the caravan, unlooted. This told us that it wasn't bandits or corruption. We then eventually discovered that there were ghosts behind the town who were killing the merchants.

To be fair, the action of fighting the ghosts was entertainingly handled. We went to the town mill, only to discover that all of what we had seen in the town was an illusion -- and we had to assault a bunch of hostile zombies. We then proceeded back to the magistrate and confronted him in a close fight. However, the action could easily have been condensed into a quarter or less of the total event time. The system, too, seemed fairly cumbersome even to experience players, though I didn't learn it well enough for a real review.


Star Trek: Blood Sacrifice

Game system:

HERO System

Start time:

MON 9:00am

Category:

RPG
Duration:
5 Hours

Event ID:

-----

Location:

2044-A

# of Players:

6

GM / Judge:

John Kim

Description:

Captain's Log, stardate 7517.3. A Federation station in orbit around planet Neural has gone silent. Neural is in the Organian Neutral Zone, and by treaty the station is demilitarized and defenseless. Are the Klingons behind this, or is some other force at work? A Star Trek adventure heavy on role-playing and moral dilemma, using the Star Hero rules. CHAR:Provided    LVLS:beginning    Complexity: Average    Experience: None

This was my Star Trek adventure using the HERO System rules. It was a strict original series event -- the PCs were Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, and beautiful anthropologist Carolyn Palamas. It went pretty well -- I had five players, as I recall. Notably, a sixth player had shown up, but walked out after I explained that I had no damage stats for hand phasers, since the rule established in the TV series were that phasers were always one-shot, one-kill. After trying to argue this, he walked out -- apparently intent that stats for phasers were absolutely necessary. All the other players said they were happy that he left given that.

It was based on one of my favorite sessions from a Star Trek campaign I had run nearly 10 years ago. The fun was the ethical dilemma and culture clash as they encounter primitives who had successfully taken over a civilian Federation base via brilliant subterfuge.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Wed Aug 24 23:46:15 2005