The day didn't go anywhere near there I thought it would, but in the end it was incredible.
Waking up, 5:20am, a good hour drive from Milwaukee to Madison, and I got myself settled in at my table, all set up and ready to run. I even tweeted a pic of my setup.
|Ready to rock 13th Age!|
Just need players... Bueller? Bueller?
Then it all deflated horribly. No players came. I didn't have any pre-registered players, but I thought, "Hey, there will be some looking for a game that will give me a shot, right?"
I was wrong, and even attempts to sell my game in the hallway were pointless. I sat from 8:00 to 10:00am, trying my best to not take it personally. But I did. When I saw the many Pathfinder Society tables - ALL FULL - I felt like the biggest LOSER.
I ran into Chris Perkins of WOTC, and that helped my spirits. He's a cool guy, a great DM. I already thought to myself, "Well, my day sucks hard, but at least I got to meet Chris Perkins!"
Watching Chris Perkins work his DM Magic
I packed up my game, stuck it all in the car and wandered the small con looking for something to do. I ended up watching Chris Perkins D&D Next game, which had Bill Cavalier, the Dungeon Bastard himself, standing nearby and making funny comments as the game progressed. If you don't know who Bill Cavalier is, do yourself a big favor and watch the videos here: dungeonbastard.com
When you see Chris Perkins DM, he's clearly excited about D&D. It shows. He does an excellent job of setting up a scene and describing what's going on to the players. He allows players to try things "outside the box". To me, D&D is not a spectator sport, so enjoying myself watching his game and enjoying it is saying something!
Pathfinder Society, Meh.
My spirits were raised a little more by watching the D&D Next game, but I wanted to be in a game. I couldn't take the possibility of my afternoon Fane of the Heresiarch/4E game going the same route as my morning Crucible failure, so I cancelled it and jumped in a Pathfinder Society seventh level adventure: The Ungodly Lands.
Pathfinder Society was merely OK. Boring combats where everyone kinda stands around and beats up on some monsters until they drop, and everyone argues about what bonuses stack on what, and how far you can move in a round. No puzzles, nothing to interact with really. No chance of character death. Apparently in Pathfinder Society, character death is frowned upon heavily?
The Insurmountable Guantlet of Doom
After my Pathfinder game was done, I ate dinner and thought to at least watch the Dungeon Bastard run his 7pm dungeon crawl game using hybrid old school D&D rules. I had to leave at 9:30 anyway (previous commitment!), so I thought, "Hey, I can enjoy watching him DM his game for a bit before I have to go."
But my luck would suddenly change immensely. There was an opening in his game! I jumped in and found myself in the best game ever. I can now put down Bill Cavalier on a list along with Sersa Victory and Dr. Davy Jones as people who have a finger on the pulse of the kinds of games I like.
|That's right, my DM was THIS GUY.|
(pictured with Jen Page)
Player character death is NOTHING compared to the thought of being shame-ejected out of the game. And we all ate it up. That's right - ejected from the game in SHAME!
Bill's style of DMing combines great descriptions told in dramatic voice. He doesn't shy away from gory scenes, and his Dungeon Bastard humor sprinkles in throughout the game. I found myself laughing so hard at times, and then intensely focused on some obscure deathtrap puzzle with the other players. The tension of crusader death was all about us, and we loved it. He doesn't mind pulling in strange game mechanics - pulling from a strange deck of cards, or fast 'n loose saving throws designed to keep things moving.
Leaving the Con Revitalized
I only got to play 2.5 hours in Bill's game, before I bowed out. That was more than enough to revitalize my faith in epic fantasy dungeon crawls. Any of the day's disappointments were banished forever. Now my only regret is not backing his kickstarter for the World's Worst Dungeon Crawl! If only I knew.
I hope Bill doesn't mind if I steal some of his game concepts to run myself. I'd tell you what they are... nah, screw it... If you want to know, play in my game.
Or better yet, play in the Dungeon Bastard's game!