It’s been awhile since I was last at UPCON, and it’s always interesting to see what’s new and what hasn’t changed. My main interests at any con are always role-playing games and boardgames, with a little LARP or Animé on the side. I’ll focus this post on the shopping and organised play specifically with regard to role-playing, since that’s our main interest at Rising Phoenix Games.
I was impressed by the range of boardgames available and I’d say that South Africa is enjoying a wide range of games and vendors, so you can usually hunt for a good bargain. Role-playing games, however, were poorly represented, except for the gaming sessions, and I’m supposing this is because of great sites like Drive Thru RPG. Various hobby gaming vendors have told me that they are struggling to get stuff in, particularly Wizards of the Coast stuff (which is generally the stuff I’m looking for), while on the other hand many book stores are able to get role-playing titles in and at much more reasonable prices. Dice, on the other hand, is almost always available at any con, and in more colours than Joseph had in his amazing coat, which is probably why you’ll catch a role-player wide-eyed and drooling talking about “shinies”.
I played in two sessions of organised play and honestly had the most awesome game of the year and the worst game of all time between those two sessions. The best game used the Pokethulhu rules and was part of a campaign called “Ses van die Bestes”, which means “Six of the Best” in English. The game revolves around a team of six heroes and an alternate reality with South Africa as a focal point. We had an excellent GM and a table of great players, and I felt like everyone tried their best to contribute to the story which resulted in me laughing so hard throughout most of the game.
The second session I played was written by a writer who’s games I actually really appreciate, and this made it the third game I’ve played of his. However, the GM and the rest of the table had been playing in this particular campaign for some time, and the character had pretty much degenerated from what I saw on my hand outs into a bunch of over sexually charged miscreants. So, at the point where the session started, things were pretty much a hard-core porno. Now, I know that role-playing games are meant for adults, and that we can expect explicit content, but there is a line. There is always a line, and I think any half able GM should be aware of it, otherwise players will leave the table, which is exactly what I ended up doing. To me though it illustrates the difficulty with this kind of game, at the end of the day a group works well if everyone is of a like mind. Just because we are role-players does not mean we all agree about everything, and that’s cool, but it can make game play impossible if GMs in particular are not sensitive to the feeling of other players.
On the bright side, my own module at UPCON went well. Since I was playing at the time, I only listened in every now and then, but the players were having a ball, which is what every writer wants and the end of the day. Feedback was all positive and I’m looking forward to putting some of the ideas from the feedback into a more finished version of the module.
Well, UPCON 2011 is over and done with, which for me as a writter was in the works for almost half a year. There were highs and lows for me for sure, but I’d say it was worth it, even if just for that one great game. I won’t likely be back next year though, since I’ll most likely miss all the cons till 2013, but I’d encourage you to get to any conventions in your area and see what’s on the go and be involved in the hobby.
Till next time!