Pacificon SF 2009 Report

         The Pacificon 2009 game convention continued to be a fine time for me. The sign-up still had a few annoyances for me, but it was better this year than last. Notably, the larp and tabletop RPG signups were at least in the same location, so that was easier to coordinate.

Countdown to Destruction

CR-429 Countdown to Destruction
Fri 7:00PM
by Jeff Hatch
Pulp Adventure (Second Edition)
7 hrs, 6 players
Some gaming experience required
Characters Supplied
In the Dark Future, Necropolis faces a threat not only to the city but to the entire world! Retired heroes join new heroes to defend against a madman who holds mankind for ransom.

This was a pulp adventure using a homebrew system and world that we were introduced to. The adventure was a riff on the Watchmen, where I was playing a detective with a psychic mirror mask who was clearly based on Rorschach. The good side of this was that the PCs all had connections and history, though not all of it was completely clear to the players. We connected up, investigated the slaying of a hero based on Green Arrow, and eventually started our plan to thwart the villain's world-destroying plan. I thought the system was on the complex side for the level of detail and verisimilitude, but then my tastes have been sliding towards the rules-light in general lately. The adventure design was a save-the-world plot that was not railroaded but was strongly directed.

Young Players' Room Games

On Saturday morning, I came in with my family -- and we started him playing in the "Young Players' Room". I stuck around for a little while, playing board games. It's a well-handled side to Pacificon that I'm glad they're keeping, and next time I'll make more effort to run a kids game there. (Though I did run a kid-friendly larp on Monday, so I think I put in my part.)

Togatto Nights

GL-212 Togatto Nights
Sat 11:30AM
Game Master: Devon Apple
Game System: L.A.R.P.S.
7 hrs
25 players
Some gaming experience
Characters Supplied
Thunder will roll at the Eighteenth Togatto Speedway Classic on the planet of Esseles! Nivelm Gorgeby, Overseer of Damorian Manufacturing and proud sponsor of this unprecedented pod-racing event, will launch with an exclusive party at his private compound in the Razenelm District, where he will be delivering an explosive Togatto Speedway announcement that will blow you away! Win a chance to attend this private event, where you can mingle with pod-racing stars Stryche, Geb-D'Narj, and more! Meet with the sponsors and staff who make it happen, and be the first to hear the announcement that will shake the Togatto Speedway with the force of a thousand burning turbines! Togatto Nights!

This was a fun larp in the Star Wars universe, with about 20 to 25 players. My character was Denon Fajio, President of the Pod-Racing Authority. We were travelling in a corporate craft on a brief cruise for those involved in the pod-racing business, including top racers, mechanics, and corporate sponsors. The announcement was about expansion of the speedway into the new Black Desert area. My secret was that I was being blackmailed over my illegitimate son. I enjoyed a lot my side of trying to keep everyone happy over official business -- which I hope I delegated well on, and trying to get around. On the down side, I didn't have a chance to see how my efforts to avoid blackmail would turn out -- and I completely missed the more powerful plot about secret Sith-related forces within the Black Desert.

The lost horde

GR-426 The lost horde
Sat 11:30AM
Game Master: Tricia Miller
Game System: Council of Wyrms
4.5 hrs, 6 players
All ages and experience (kids OK)
Characters Supplied
The time has come for all yearlings to leave the clutch and find there own hordes. Do you have what it takes to live as a Dragon.

I didn't play in this myself, but my wife and son played along with other kids we knew. It sounded like a lot of fun, playing dragons in D&D. My son was inspired enough to want to get the Council of Wyrms boxed set.

Spy Kids to the Rescue

PY-149 Spy Kids to the Rescue
Sunday 11:30AM
Game Master: Michael Mckay
Game System: Fate
4.5 hrs, 5 players
All ages and experience (kids OK)
Characters Supplied
Minion is back, and has kidnapped your parents. You know he must have some evil plans, but they won't let you leave Spy High School because they say it is too dangerous. Characters Supplied

Another kids game I didn't play through. I did watch some of it, though, and had observations. First, FATE / Spirit of the Century isn't especially suited as a kids' game, though no worse than many other choices. Second, if you want to try to encourage pre-teen kids to use narration in a game, then you have to accept some very wacky and sometimes contradictory ideas. Regardless of the real intent, trying to stick to the genre or sense sends the message that you as GM are controlling rather than letting them narrate. (My son at one point piped up "I think he's hinting that we can't follow.") Aside from that part, though, it was quite pleasing to hear kids getting into action-movie roleplaying with enthusiasm -- with lines like "Fire your machine gun at it! Fire your machine gun at it!" And they all enjoyed it as a whole.


TL-398 Stagecoach
Sun 7:00PM
Game Master: John Kim
Game System: Parlor Larp
4.5 hrs, 10 players
Newcomers welcome
Characters Supplied
The Coronado is a high-speed armed transport, owned by the Companion's Guild and operated by Captain Frances Granger to protect their interests in the outer worlds. But in a time of crisis from Reaver attacks, she has agreed to take on priority passengers bound for Persephone. But all is not as it seems. An event heavy on role-playing, with intrigue and tension. Old West or Chinese themed clothing suggested but not required.

This was a small larp set in the universe of Serenity/Firefly using the Parlor Larp rules and style -- the same scenario I had run at GenCon 2007. It again went over quite well, and I adjusted a few things about the background setup to run more smoothly. Still, I think that for future scenarios, I want to avoid having a key character the way that this one has a secret villain. I still might run it another time, though.

A Royal Celebration

XL-396 A Royal Celebration
Mon 11:30AM
by John Kim and Michael Sullivan
Game System: Homebrew
4.5 hrs, 20 players
All ages and experience (kids OK)
The crown prince of Florin is due to be married to the daughter of their greatest enemy. The kingdom prepares to rejoice in a celebration of impending peace. Behind the scenes, though, the castle is buzzing with rumors that disguised pirates are among the guests. This is a comedic fantasy larp, in the spirit of The Princess Bride with nods to A Midsummer Night's Dream along with Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is real intrigue and adventure, but also outrageous talents and improbable plot contrivances. The content will be suitable for both adults and teens.

This was a comedic larp that I wrote and ran together with Michael Sullivan. It went over extremely well, I think, and I'm charged to run it again -- perhaps with a little re-writing. The very loose system had a few points:

This worked almost just as I had hoped, with one exception -- to set a maximum time limit on the steward, who had the power to delegate tasks to others. It worked well for some tasks, but it should be clarified for open-ended tasks like "Keep all the theater people over here."

John H Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Fri Sep 5 14:25:52 2009