Attending the event this past weekend up in Stamford Connecticut, I took the MetroNorth train from Grand Central out of New York City. It was a quick trip, my first on the Metro and I arrived at Stamford well ahead of the start time for the Con; I had signed up for a game session during each of the slots for the three days of the event, aiming for variety.
All in all I got a well-rounded experience, sampling some new Game Systems and met a bunch of folks. I’m still new to the Gaming circuit and so my focus was getting exposure to systems beyond D & D.
To this end, I had scheduled in two games I hadn’t heard of before the Con; one of which I ended up missing because of an overrun of one of the slots I attended, but I still got the chance to try out a variant on a game called Paranoia.
Paranoia is a humorous game of a dystopian future where players engage in missions set up by a paternalistic overseeing Computer, where the players themselves take on roles at odds with the tenants of the Computer’s attempt at a Utopian society and with each other. The variant I played changed the setting to a medieval one, with the Computer being replaced by the Church, and where we all played Inquisitive troubleshooters, seeking out devilish creatures. The game was light on rules and heavy on puns, Player-versus-player interaction and side conversations. It’s definitely a game that depends heavily on the sense-of-humor of your fellow Gamers at your table, but it was a good experience, a light session that I could see adding to my weekly gaming group as a breather from our main campaign.
Outside of this game of Paranoia, I stuck close to my D & D systems, playing in a few games of Pathfinder Society, Living Forgotten Realms and Living Divine. As I’ve come to see at Cons, the Pathfinder rooms were bustling, and the usual hard-core’s of that scene were in heavy attendance. The Living Forgotten Realms games had their followers too, but with much less numbers.
The big thing for me, Game-wise at the Con, was my exposure to the Living Divine campaign. An offshoot of Dungeons & Dragons 4E Rules, following the Living Forgotten Realms model, the premise of this shared world setting was that the player-characters carried essences of immortals. The Dungeon Master I played with, Jay Babcock, was the originator to the campaign, and also the writer of the modules I played. Asking around, I found out that Jay was a regular of the Living Greyhawk Campaign world, ‘back-in-the-day’ and from what I’ve learned about that campaign, he seems to have combined the elements of that setting with the rules of 4E and the feel of LFR modules.
I was interested in some of the mechanics of the Living Divine world, chiefly the Chase mechanic, which was a turn-based, card-system whereby the pursuer and the pursued played moves meant to counter one another, and the Battlefield commanding gameplay that had each individual player controlling a unit symbolizing a battalion of troops. The Battlefield mechanics followed the 4E combat rules closely, but with attack, hit point and mobility attributes of the battalions changing over the course of battle. As I’ve never played in a War-game before, this was a good taste of something I always wanted to try.
Aside from these changes, another major addition to the rules are player-character Followers who give in-game bonuses and are used as the aforementioned battalions during mass combat Battlefield encounters. An element of campaign world itself was the absence of magical items, apparently due to the influence and multitude of Divinity in the setting, which makes character-building more crucial, and that looks to be counterbalanced by granting players a new Divine Trait at each level. These traits are basically Feats themed around divine Domains, or specialization areas like Battle, Earth, Fire, Death and the like, which are the player’s divine portfolios, meant to flesh out their characters. I’m looking forward to picking up some more games from the LD-universe and hopefully see a rise in the battlefield, follower and pursuit rules being introduced and applied elsewhere in the 4E world.
Outside of the Games, there was an author but no vendors from what I could tell who attended the Con, a fact I found slightly disappointing. All in all, it was a good experience, with the systems I tried enjoyable and the folks for the most point, despite the usual lack of diversity, friendly and easy-going. Looking forward to the next one.