Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tabletop Tesseract 2

Yesterday, Saturday Night Space Opera presented Tabletop Tesseract 2 at the Source, the only exclusively SF focused gaming con in the Twin Cities, Minnesota (and maybe the state, and maybe the Midwest)! From 10:15 AM-10 PM, we offered 18 games (16 RPGs and 2 board games) run by 10 different GMs. I haven't seen a head-count of participants, but attendance grew steadily through the day!  Almost all the event organizing was the work of one person, Jay Mac Bride! This was a huge amount of work for one person. Jay did everything with grace and style.

I ran "A Cloaked Ship is No Small Flavor" a post-Dominion War Klingon bird-of-prey heist game (so to speak) using Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures RPG. The crew of the Intrepid-class USS John Brown was tasked with liberating a bird-of-prey from a Tholian Web. This was a covert operation, one provoked by the brief Klingon war against the Federation during the Dominion War. In the postwar environment, the Federation is understandably less interested in begging the Klingons for favors when they need a cloaked ship. The players enjoyed themselves, and did some clever things to advance the mission. They were successful.

I was also able to play in a couple of great games.

Numenéra has become my current obsession, and after a couple of weeks of reading the Numenéra 1st edition book, getting the new slipcase edition of Numenéra Discovery/Destiny (essentially 2e), and securing a copy of the Numenéra deluxe boxed set, I was ready to play the game!  Fortunately, our Saturday Night Space Opera group has about four GMs with Cypher System experience, and I'd say that Cypher is probably the most frequently GMed system at our monthly events.  

Jenifer Doll ably ran a great Numenéra 2e game; I really admire her mastery of the system, the preparation she does to ensure a smooth game, and the small touches like the SFnal fantasy coins she uses for XP.  Jenifer really rolled with the punches as players did unpredictable things, or got distracted - or maybe our PCs got distracted... 

I played Heliára, a Cutured Nano who Possesses a Shard of the Sun. I really liked playing her.  She reminded me a bit of Kyra, the female iconic cleric from Pathfinder.  I've always liked that character.

But all of the pregens were memorable and came to life as played at the table: the bardish Marduk, played by Patrick (who actually sang a bunch while in character!); Tars, the tankish Glave played by Jay; and Spraunk, played by Ben. Spraunk belonged to one of the new Destiny classes that specialized in cannibalizing old cyphers and numenera to build new cyphers.

I also had my first opportunity to play Ben Robbins' Kingdom RPG, which is a neat storygame that focuses on exploring what happens when a specific situation occurs in a "kingdom": anything from a nation-state to a starship, in the case of Patrick Shifano's scenario based on "Tambu", an SF novel by Robert Lynn Asprin. We played the crew of a starship in a space empire that rules through the tributary mode of production. The situation that we faced was a distress call from a ship troubled by the breakout of a bioweapon. I played Shipcat (see the paper miniature at the top of the post. Shipcat was also the captain of the ship, although he spent a lot of time prowling in the ducts and vents.

Patrick had great paper minis for use as primary and secondary characters, and had a very nice set of handouts prepared for the game. He did a great job of preparing a situation to explore in advance of our game. One issue with some storygames like Fiasco and Microscope (Ben's earlier game) is that aspects of the setting and situation to be explored can get pretty random, fanciful, and silly when a group of players has to create the entire set-up at the beginning of the game. Patrick very effectively gave us an initial situation with which to work, and that contributed to a satisfying game.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we had 16 RPGs, and of those RPGs, there were a total of 10 systems used. Only two of the ten systems (Stay Frosty and Mutant Crawl Classics) have any degree of family resemblance to traditional Dungeons & Dragons, yet all the games were quite accessible to new players. I think this gives the lie to the idea that the d20 system as represented by D&D and Pathfinder has a special place as a universal or uniquely accessible system.