DundraCon 2012

         This was my first time back to DunDraCon since 2007. It is technically local to me, but in San Ramon it is about 50 minutes drive - a longer haul than the two other local conventions: Pacificon and KublaCon. I had been convinced to come by people in the LARP crowd at Pacificon 2011. However, this year I attended mostly as a parent since I had my son Milo for the whole weekend. I attended one adults-only game during the day on Saturday, but the rest of the con was generally kid-involved games. I didn't run any games, though I had considered it.

         We first got to the con Friday early afternoon and played until late, and attended Saturday around 10AM to 6PM. Sunday I brought Milo with his friend Griffin, and we stayed roughly 11AM to 4PM.

         The events that I attended were:

Kids Room Friday

Milo and I played Talisman and possibly a few other games in the kids room on Friday evening.

272 ParaNet's Guide to the Supernatural

Saturday 10 AM in Salon B for 6 hours
GM Troupe: Evil Twins
Type: LARP
System: GM Fiat
Players: 25
Provided: All characters provided by GM
LARP Experience: Beginners Welcome
Game Content: Mature Themes
Genre: The Dresden Files
Costume Suggestions: Clothing mandatory

"The Bay Area chapter of ParaNet is taking a bold step into the public eye by hosting the first in a series of seminars at local gaming conventions. The goal of the guest speakers is not to convince the attendees that the monsters of your childhood were real or that the miracle of magic actually exists; their goal is to raise awareness about the real supernatural dangers of the world in any way they can. Attendees will think this is just another seminar about how to run a better game using mythical monsters and a modern twist on magic, but ParaNet doesn't need them to believe what they hear. ParaNet just needs them to listen."

         This was a generally well-done larp based on The Dresden Files. The setting was a panel discussion at a gaming convention, where secretly most of the attendees were really supernatural. The doors then became locked as an evil ritual progressed - i.e. the classic "locked room" larp, which can work quite well. The players and their characters that I recorded included:

It did have the usual problem of a larp with lots of magical powers - a lot of tricky resolution stuff that called for a GM. Still, a generally fun setup that mashed up a bunch of different sources. (Doctor Who seems particularly popular among Bay Area larpwrights, I note.)

Wrath of Ashardalon

Friday 8 PM on Salon 1 Table 2 for 4 hours
GM: Andy "Mr. Many Minis" Flores
Type: Board
System: Dungeons & Dragons Board Game
Edition: current
Players: 5
Provided: All materials provided by GM
Rules Knowledge: Beginners Welcome
Game Content: Family

The lands around Firestorm Peak have grown restless. The few villages near the volcano have been besieged by marauding bands of orcs and kobolds, and more dangerous horrors lurk in the shadows. Worst of all, a new villain calls the mountain home--the terrifying red dragon Ashardalon has turned the volcano into its lair.

Hope appears in the form of a band of Adventurers that arrive in the village of Longbridge, hidden away in the foothills of Firestorm Peak. They are welcomed, but the village elders have little hope that their plight will change. Brave heroes regularly attempt to destroy the evil within Firestorm Peak, but none have ever returned from the dungeon beneath the volcano. Perhaps these new Heroes will be the ones to stop the red dragon Ashardalon and save the village of Longbridge...

Designed for 1-5 players, this boardgame features multiple scenarios, challenging quests, and cooperative game play.

This was a scheduled board game event to play the Dungeons & Dragons board game Wrath of Ashardalon. We had five players, with the organizer participating not playing a character. It worked reasonably, but I had two major issues: (1) it felt like person running was a GM playing the opposition rather than a helper; (2) I really don't think the set-up was quite right - because we had a lot more trouble with this than I have had in other runs of the game.

Kids Room Saturday

Milo played games in the kids room while I was in the larp down the hall. It was pretty convenient, and I thought the kids room was well-run in general.

Kids Room Sunday

I took Milo and his friend Griffin in to the con on Sunday. In the kids room, we played Thunderstone, Magic: the Gathering, and Apples to Apples Junior, among others.

Magic: The Gathering Beginner's Classic

Sunday 3 PM on Salon 1 Table 6 for 4 hours
GM: Michael Smith
Type: Card
System: Magic the Gathering
Edition: current
Players: 5
Provided: All materials provided by GM
Variations: allies and enemies
Rules Knowledge: Beginners Welcome
Game Content: Mainstream

Learn to play Magic the Gathering. Choose your color, keep watch over your allies and enemies, and determine your strategy for victory.

This was friendly game of M:tG with five kids. The GM went and recruited Milo and his friend from the kids room, both of whom were very interested. The organizer had five pre-built single-color decks with various classic cards, kept in appropriately-colored sleeves. It was a multi-player using special enemies and allies rules - the two players to your right and left are your allies (i.e. cannot be attacked), while the two players opposite to you are your enemies.

Overall, the organizer was very friendly and helpful, and everyone who played got a big pile of M:tG cards as a prize. The multi-player setup with kids did illustrate for me one pitfall, however. The youngest player - who was 10 or 11 - was the first to be taken out by his two designated enemies cooperating to eliminate their seemingly least dangerous target. I'm not sure what the best way to approach this is, but it had a awkward social feel to it - even though the player dealt with it quite well.


There was a lot of kid-watching for me this time around, but I felt like organization was generally good.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Mon Feb 18 21:34:43 2013