Another year, another visit to the Furnace RPG convention. My (gulp) seventh one. That makes me feel old. It also marks over six years I’ve been living in Sheffield. I’m quite the northerner these days.
I also feel I know a good many people at Furnace, though most I didn’t manage to speak to for more than a couple of minutes, and a few I somehow missed entirely. But what about the games, eh? Well, here’s my “report”.
It’s also a lightly altered post from what I’ve written on a couple of forums. If you know what I wrote there, you won’t find much new here.
Slot 1: Hammer to Fall (Age of Arthur, run by yours truly)
To start off, I ran my own game. And it went well. Actually, really well. I’m still really pleased with how this went. Lots of action, lots of roleplaying, and a nail-bitingly close finish, with excellent players. Seriously, everyone was good. Though I did have to be stopped at the start and asked to explain a bit about the setting. Oh, yes, whoops!
One final observation- when I’m running it, Fate-type games seem to sing with four players, but get a bit bogged down sometimes with five. This one had four players; Bulldogs! (later on) had five.
Slot 2: Dead Man’s Bluff (Dogs in the Vineyard, run by Mik Reed)
This is one I’ve been wanting to try for a while- one of the early “indie” games, where the PCs are God’s watchdogs in a place loosely based on the Wild West. The player characters are pretty powerful, both mechanically, and in terms of power they have in the setting.
What can I say? Everyone involved got really into this. The GM was enthusiastic, and we all got truly stuck in to our characters. The conflict system, while complex, leads to role playing and hard decisions (essentially, “I can win if I escalate this conflict, but do I really want to win an argument by turning it into a fight?”).
We overran, but it didn’t matter. My character died at the end, which felt quite appropriate. It’s a game I could now see myself running with the right group. It would need the right group though. Still, I had a blast.
Slot 3: The Pain of War Does Not Exceed the Woeful Aftermath (Savage Worlds, run by me)
Due to circumstances beyond my control, this was my first go at running Savage Worlds, though I’ve played it before. I’d intended to give this a playtest, and if I had, it would have been improved.
What was it then? Well, World War 2, plus zombies. It was pretty bonkers. I think the players mostly had a good time. Where a playtest would have helped is that I’d have anticipated the swinginess of Savage Worlds better from a GM’s perspective, and maybe not killed a PC in the first 30 minutes with a huge exploding damage roll. Thanks to everyone else for carrying on afterwards and getting into the swing of it. It was a fun mad session.
Slot 4: Something in the Air (Bulldogs!, run by, yes, me again)
More Fate from me, this time in the form of space opera and lots of different humanoid (and occasional less humanoid) aliens. And the different alien species in Bulldogs! are very cool indeed, which is why I wanted to run the game. And I fancied some space opera.
The game went reasonably (not my best, not my worst), though at the start a big long bar fight got rather bogged down, meaning the end got rather rushed. I hadn’t particularly planned the end, leaving it open for the party to decide, which made the game more interesting for me. One thing I’ve learnt from this is that starting (or more or less starting) with a big action scene isn’t always the best idea.
I want to give Bulldogs! another try at a con, probably with the same characters, though maybe cut down to four players.
Slot 5: Something Rotten in Port Sumac (Mouseguard, run by Guy Milner)
Yay! I managed to sign up to a game of Mouseguard. A structured narrative game. Yay! It was good. I do like the structured GM/player turn thing (for the record, for old hands at Mouseguard, we got through 3 GM and 2 player turns), and the more involved conflict subgame worked well with the cards and stuff. Everyone got stuck in to the narrative, which of course is what made it work.
I now have an idea in my head for my ideal narrative game, arising from cross-breeding this with Duty and Honour. I digress. I enjoyed this. I enjoyed everyone I played it with. This and all the other games.
I had a good time, both running and playing games. I’m actually energised by the convention rather than drained. I won a prize in the raffle. I hadn’t mentioned that, but ’twas good. I’ve already got some ideas for convention games I fancy running…more Bulldogs! 1960s Night’s Black Agents. My Ninth Legion Romans in an otherworld game. A 1950s Alien Invasion. A 1970s scenario involving the sudden appearance of superpowers and a rock concert?