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The Reefcon Report: 2006

Now that Reefcon’s over and done with, I want to review my experiences there, filter them through the lens of my tastes and learn as much as I can. I’ll break this up into two posts, a straight up report with my initial impressions and some general conclusions.

I wound up playing in two sessions. The first, on Friday night, was a Living Greyhawk module. I was one of seven players, most of whom were hormone fuelled teens (early to late) still in that phase where you’re always trying to verbally one-up everyone else (I know how that feels; I can think of several instances in my youth when I was right there). As an example, my character, the first-level half-elf sorcerer Horst Buholt (the Perrenland region has a distinct Northern European flavour, so I went with a Germanic name), likes travelling on foot (you have to pick a deity for Living Greyhawk characters, and of what I read from the two-hundred-plus page deity document for LG, the god Fharlanghn seemed the most interesting choice) and owns a pack donkey. Of course, once the other players found out, a good chunk of session time was occupied by tittering threats to the donkey’s life. Most of the session was pretty much occupied by that kind of sugar-buzz smack-talking. I took it with a smile and did my best to ignore it, but the session was slow and boring as a result. At the end, the DM said, “I hope everyone had fun; I did.” I couldn’t help thinking, “What - really? You seriously had fun? When?”

The second session was better; the table was six players and they were all adult (and mature, thankfully) players. Our DM was no less than “Unca” Wes Nicholson, a well known name in the national RPGA con scene. Unfortunately he was saddled with a ho-hum Xen’drik Expeditions module, the quality of which he vented his frustration over at the table on several occasions. Most of us used pre-generated neutral-to-evil level 1 PCs (mine was a human sorcerer), and we were given a fairly clear objective in low “fetch this item for your sinister patron” style. Apparently there were opportunities for side-quests and extra brownie-points with our patron faction, but the game had a fairly slow pace and we didn’t really notice any hints toward “Extra goodies here!”, not that I really thought Wes was giving any.

Things really started to drag when we finally got to the first big fight scene, where our PCs were captured, stripped of their belongings and forced into an arena bloodsport rigged firmly against them. My PC spent the fight unconscious after the first turn of combat, and at least two others were also knocked down to zero hit points halfway through. Apparently there was only one real winning tactic for that fight, which only people who passed a Spot check (two of our six, as the dice fell) had a hope in hell of figuring out - except when it wasn’t the winning tactic (e-mail me if you really, desperately want the details).

Once that was out of the way and we were all healed to varying percentages of our maximum hit point totals, we went to the house where the MacGuffin was being kept and raided it. There, I was quite a bit more effectual; I actually found the room where the MacGuffin was kept and kicked the fighting off: 2001 Monolith, four acolytes, almost out of session time – bugger roleplaying it out, use Magic Missile. Unfortunately that’s pretty much all I wound up doing, using my four Level 1 spell slots on Magic Missiles and a Mage Armour. Still, we all had decent opportunities to contribute to the ass-kicking, which was good.

The only real stand-out moments where I felt really engaged by what we were doing were the tense moments before combat started, especially when we were searching a house at the end of the module. At least in the latter fight, there was something of a payoff, instead of being smacked out after trying to be useful. There were other moments of engagement, - my character being held out the side of a ship by another player’s half-orc (by the ankles, I think) while my character heaved his brekky – and the last combat was interesting, but the wole session was still very “meh”.

So I decided that, rather than trek out to Manunda again on Sunday for another session that would likely be all right but not particularly good at best, I’d stay home and help get some more renovation out of the way. That's right; I chose lifting, drilling, cutting and grinding over more gaming.

Still, every cloud ahs a silver lining; I found out that the player of the half-orc who held my PC over the side of the ship while he vomited is looking for a new regular gaming group (she moved up here a year ago), and we exchanged numbers. Of the second group, she the most similar sense of fun to mine, I think, and I'm pretty sure she was about as bored. We both agreed that Living Greyhawk wasn't our style!

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