27 May 2016

Cangames XL, or What I Did Over a Beautiful Long Weekend

It was a beautiful but hot Victoria Day long weekend here.  I, therefore, spent it inside away from the evil, evil sun*.  It was the 40th edition of Cangames, the oldest gaming convention in Canada, it was, indeed, XL, running to the holiday Monday instead of just being three days.  I didn't run anything, but I did play.  More after the jump.

First slot, "Spirit of Disco", Spirit of 77 RPG.  Because character creation in the system is quick, we all created characters at the table.  The game has players pick a role then pick a storyline.  I picked up the Honeypot, the charmer of the group, and the Holy Roller, respectively.  Thus, Sister Cheryl of the Church of the Divine Redemption was created, with a few Moves (special abilities) chosen, including God Is My Co-Pilot** and Sometimes Less is More, which gave Cheryl more armour the less she wore.  Think bikini top and hot pants, in the colour of the roller derby team she joined to thwart the Vermicellis, "Slick Joey" and "Fat Tony".  A WWII surplus Sherman tank got involved.  It is at this point I really wished I could draw well, just to capture the moment where Cheryl rode the tank sitting on the turret.

Second slot, The Warren.  Again, with character creation being quick, we all made characters at the table.  This is not normal for convention games, where most characters are pre-generated, but I got into games that make creating a PC easy.  This time around, I played Bramble, a snowshoe hare.  The Warren, much like Bunnies & Burrows was, is inspired by Watership Down.  Bramble was a swift rabbit, and was a seer, much like Fiver in Watership Down.  We faced adversity, from humans to owls to foxes to corrupted rabbits within our own warren.  But we were innovative rabbits, figuring out how to steal from humans, fight owls by butting heads with them, and developed rabbit law.  We survived, but ended the session with a quest looming to take the Arrow of Corruption to where it could be destroyed.  Or find a new warren away from the Arrow of Corruption.  Bunnies have a far more complicated life than anyone could imagine.

In the third-and-a-half slot of the convention, Ogre.  Why slot 3.5?  I volunteered to go into the Cangames booth in the marketplace to try to get a couple of games on sale there for a friend, so that meant missing the full slot.  Since Ogre was running at 11am, not a problem.  The two hour time slot allowed for two games of Ogre with time left over.  Simple, fast, fun.

Infantry: "Let's try the Tienanmen Square defense!" (photo by author)

Orge: "LOL no. *vroom*" (photo by author)

The fourth slot, I was in a BattleTech game.  I was on the side of the Clanners, Ghost Bear if I recognized the symbol painted on the 'Mech.  Opposing the Clanners was a crack Inner Sphere regiment.  The IS outnumbered the Clanners, but normally, Clan 'Mechs have technology to even the odds.  C3, a command control circuit, on the IS 'Mechs gave them an advantage.  The scanning unit allowed 'Mechs at extreme ranges use the shorter range.  One Clan 'Mech was destroyed through overwhelming firepower.  However, my Kraken (or Bane 3) rained long-range missile fire on the enemy from the top of a wooded hill, destroying two IS 'Mechs in barrages.  The Clanners decided that retreat was the order of the day, though the Kraken's hilltop vantage point became difficult to escape from.

The city was peaceful before the war arrived.  (photo by author)

The fifth slot, I switched back to RPGs, this time the James Bond 007 Roleplaying Game.  I played this in high school, and have worn out my copy of The Q Manual just from re-reading it.  The 007 RPG was one of the first to use a story point mechanic.  Our mission - to find a missing actuary, one who has a doctorate in economics and believes that someone is manipulating the British pound to fail.  He apparently had gone missing in Monaco, but on following the trail of evidence, we concluded he hadn't left London at all.  We tracked down the mastermind behind the destablization, rescued the actuary, and sabotaged the printing presses, replacing Her Majesty's likeness on the counterfeit bills with a Corgi, all without causing too much collateral damage.

The first slot of the morning and the sixth of the con was "Cassandra and the Tesseract of Time", using the Hollow Earth Expedition game (or HEX).  "The Tesseract" was the fifth movie directed by Umberto starring Katrina as the titular Cassandra.  The film's cast and crew were still filming the first of the "Cassandra" movies having followed Umberto into a mountain that led to a strange world where dinosaurs still roamed.  I had played in the first "Cassandra" game, playing the director, Umberto, complete with ruining surprise by shouting "Action!" when several of the others had sneaked up on a Nazi.  This time, I played Galena, the film's supporting actress and mystic consultant.  The GM used several old sets as we travelled to different locations we already knew, since the mountain was sending us through time.  Ultimately, we had to make sure that we got the funding for the first Cassandra movie before we could move on, which was done by leaping through a hole to plummet thousands of feet.  We did survive.

Why yes, we did run into pteranadons.  Several were ridden.  (photo by author)
The seventh slot was a new game - Aftershock, by PAXSims, a humanitarian crisis simulator.  /Aftershock/ was developed as a way to gamify training for government organizations.  The developer was in town on Friday to demo the game at Defense Research and Development Canada.  The Cangames running included public servants and a government contractor***, but all five of us were gamers.  Turns out, our result put us in the top 12% of those who have played the game with the designer, beating the pros over at DRDC.  The game simulates humanitarian aid after an earthquake in a fictional country inspired by Haiti.  The common goal was to get the country back on its feet.  But each of the four teams had its own individual goals.  The foreign military aid needed to reduce its personnel in country by the end of the game while the non-governmental organizations (NGO) needed to look like it was doing something to justify donations.  Talking with the designer afterwards, we learned some of the common mistakes that we avoided, such as not improving the sea- and airports right away.  That alone meant relief supplies could be sent directly to the fictional Carana instead of having to dedicate a team to logistics instead of having the team out in the field distributing.supplies where needed.  Informational and tense, especially on the two-hour time limit to get things done.

Pre-game set up of Aftershock.  Before the tense rescue operation.  (photo by author)

The last slot of the day, I had to leave.  My ride was getting burnt out from the length of the days, as was I.  I signed up at the last minute for a game that was one part Barbarians of Lemuria, one part Kobolds Ate My Baby, and one part GM deviousness.  It was a light game, where character would die, repeatedly.  I left as the game began, and I apologized and still apologize.

The final slot of the XL convention!  Normally, Cangames is three days long, giving attendees, staff, and volunteers the holiday Monday to rest up.  This year was the con's 40th running, so the extra day was added to celebrate.  Very few games were available for pre-register and all the merchants had left the night before.  Games, though, did run.  I chose Feng Shui, based on the ancient Chinese art of rearranging faces.  Characters were taken from the core rules and were laid out nicely.  The players took the roles of police officers in modern day Hong Kong, starting with a chase after a failed bank robbery that ended at a temple.  A brief fight against mooks and their boss ensued, with the cops winning, but not before the floor of the temple where the robbers' van had crashed collapsed, leading to several urns being broken and ancient spirits released.  Worse, a corrupted dragon also got released.  However, with creative use of schticks, we revealed the dragon's true form and banished it.  If there's a sequel to this game, it'll involve the dragon returning as the head of a Triad.

This was a long weekend.  Early rising and late returns home meant enduring some exhaustion through Sunday's sessions.  I still had fun, and that's the goal of the con.

* To misquote Game of Thrones and the Stark family motto:  Brace yourself, summer is coming.
** "Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now!"
*** That would be me.  It's not as glamourous as it sounds; I do IT contracts, not the sexy and overpriced military consultations.

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