I had been eagerly awaiting AcadeCon 2015 for longer than it had even existed in its current format. Back about a year ago it was slated to be a convention in only name as it was likely going to be held in a basement in Ohio in either Michael or Caleb’s basement, I can’t recall who’s. To think it has now come and gone, and supported a group of roughly 150 badgeholders, faculty and Network members, and VIPs, is frankly staggering. The RPG Academy crowd is beaming, and have all rights to do so.
Since the day their Kickstarter funded I had a good feeling about the con (if I’m to be honest I had assumed they’d fund from day one). I wasn’t let down in the least, well worth the nearly six hour drive from Missouri to Ohio. When I arrived late Thursday night I was immediately impressed with the venue, the Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center provided a gorgeous, rustic vibe that only added to the feeling that I was “getting away from it all” for some solid gaming. I arrived at the cabin I was sharing with the creators of the con and was thrown headlong into a game of Mysterium right away.
For those who may have missed my recap of Geekway 2015, Mysterium was easily one of my favorite board games. At Geekway I played the Polish version of the game, it hadn’t been ported to the States yet. The game places one player as the ghost of a murder victim attempting to encourage others to solve their murder. Using cards to represent images sent during the player’s dreams the ghost is essentially sending clues as to the place they were murdered, the person and the weapon. The ghost cannot communicate in any other fashion and has to hope the players interpret the image cards correctly. This copy was the Asmodee version of the game, made for english speaking players, and I have to say I was impressed with the little touches they added to the game. Especially adding a shield for the ghost to use that keeps the various places, people, and weapons organized behind it. We won the game solidly, I made for a much better ghost than I have in the past!
After Mysterium we played a game of King of Tokyo and chatted until about 2 am and the next thing I knew it was Friday morning, time to start the con! I helped set things up a bit and, after the opening ceremonies, I got ready to run what would end up being my only game GM’ing during the con (despite bringing just about every game I own). I simply had to run it though as it was one of the adventure concepts sent in for my contest back in August. I ended up using Garrett Weinstein’s Savage Worlds Deadlands Reloaded adventure The Lady and the Caskett rather than Aaron Tudyk’s The Leeching Jug for 5th Edition D&D because there were already a ton of 5e games being run this year. I plan to craft a One Sheet for the adventure I crafted using Garrett’s concept of a woman collapsing in a small town, handcuffed to a coffin she’d been dragging through the wilds. The concept remains great and I hope I did it justice! Just you wait for the One Sheet.
Running my game, which I think went pretty well, was the only planned activity I had for the rest of the weekend so I was free to pursue games run by others. I ended up running into some friends from Gencon (Dani and John) and was invited into John’s Numenera game for that evening. Highlights include Dani’s animal loving character constantly learning the hard lesson that animals in the world of Numenera don’t love you back, they only hurt you, my Nano evolving into a foodie interested in preparing, and serving, inter-dimensional cuisine, and many other laugh out loud moments. It was the best game of Numenera I’ve ever had occasion to play.
To round out Friday night Lucas, one of the creators of City of Brass and fellow member of the RPG Academy Network, and his buddy Aaron, joined me for a game of Arkham Horror. I didn’t have a lot of hope, there were only the three of us, but surprisingly we pulled it off! I believe by the end of the game we had a total of five rumors going and the next turn spelled certain doom. Not sure if I can ever top that game of Arkham Horror to be honest. I called it a night once more at roughly 2 am, knowing I had to be up again in roughly four hours. It was worth it though.
I almost skipped Saturday morning’s game, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I was fortunate enough to get a seat at Rob Schwalb’s table to play in a game run via his newest Tabletop RPG Shadow of the Demon Lord. The game was raunchy fun, and downright difficult to survive. If you get a chance to play a game of this run by Rob, I say go for it. Great times… though my Goblin PC had to change his pants after the game was over.
Middle of the day antics included me joining a game currently in beta testing called Measure of a Badass. The concept is that you play iterations of action heroes, not specific ones but their aspects. This game was loads of fun. Our GM was was Heather Brooks, one of the Co-Creators of the game. I didn’t know it at the time but this was her first experience running the game solo for a group and I’m not certain she was expecting just how much we were willing to run with the concept of being 80’s action heroes. Many times we took the most outrageous approaches to resolving even the smallest of problems our characters faced, simply to add that 80’s action star gleam to things. The best part hands down was how utterly ridiculous our Wheelman flying our helicopter and our Eagle Eye on board with him handled things. They were all over the place, no helicopter should have been able to do the things they made it do. It was great!
So sadly I had to work on Monday, and part of me really wanted to get home and go deer hunting the next day so I made the difficult decision to cancel playing in a game run by a new friend Rob Stith, a horror game using a system he was designing. By all accounts it sounded great, but if I’d left at 10 pm I wouldn’t have gotten home until 4 am. I’m adding that to a pile of regrets actually.
Biggest regrets, beyond canceling on Rob last minute, would include missing Rohit’s game Sunday morning due to having to leave Saturday night (something I’ll avoid next year hopefully), not taking advantage of the celebrity game designers more, and only gaming with one other RPG Academy Network member (Lucas played in my Deadlands game). Being part of the Network granted me Faculty privileges but other than a few short conversations with the likes of John Wick and Rich Baker, I only really got to meet with Rob Schwalb (no small thing mind you). Even then I didn’t really make huge use of the time for this blog’s purposes. Oh well, I spend Gencon hitting things up for the blog. I was happy to just game at AcadeCon. I was also put out that i once again missed a chance to play a game with the You Too Can Cthulhu gang! I try to get in one of their games every Gencon and fail. Here I had a much better chance and missed it again!
One last regret, I swear. I had really wanted to run a game of ODAM (Of Dream And Magic). Ever since they fulfilled their obligations from their successful Kickstarter I’ve really wanted to either play in a game or run one. I thought about it too late to schedule a game and it just didn’t work out to run a pickup game either. I need to rectify my lack of playing and/or running this system. It looks awesome!
Bottom line I had a blast, I really enjoyed the rustic setting and even the hordes of vultures perched atop the conference center. The lodge was the only source of food nearby, and they made you pay for it, but having a bar on site was pretty slick. The cell service was awful but free WiFi made that manageable. I made a lot of new friends and feel like I deepened my relationships with my network colleagues and friends of cons past. 100% intend to attend again next year. I hope you join me! I feel like AcadeCon can only grow, it’s got a strong team backing it. Trust me when I say they are already planning 2016. Our network channels are humming!
P.S. Thanks especially go to Tressa who not only came through with Ibuprofen to cure an impending migraine but also purchased some metallic markers so I could get the network members to sign the copy of Hoard of the Dragon Queen I still need to send off to Aaron Tudyk! Thanks Tressa!!!
P.P.S If I played a game with you and neglected to mention you by name drop me a line in the comments!