Tobcon 3 - report

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Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:18 pm

Tobcon 3 was, just like the two previous events, again a lot of fun. Part of it is meeting up again with those people who have been to previous TimCon-WimCon-TobCon series of conventions, and who have sort of grown into a group of friends who meet once a year. The other part, of course, are the games. And they were fun.

Saturday morning kicked off with a few logistical problems; there were less players than intended, and thus a surplus of games. Toby solved it by cancelling a few games, moving other ones into different time slots, and redistributing players. The game I would run, ‘Big Trouble in Little Kislev’ was supposed to have three players, but I had made six different PCs. So I thought that I could handle up to six players. However, upon checking my materials, I saw that I had only brought four character sheets (I had thought that only three were needed, and I brought a fourth one just in case). Fortunately DKotTM could absorb the other players in his game.

So, Saturday morning I ran Big Trouble in Little Kislev - an action-based adventure with lots of exciting combat scenes, connected by a very thin plot line. The way a proper Feng Shui scenario should be set up. I was a bit nervous, because while it had seemed like a good idea to use a Feng Shui-like system for this adventure, I had only a little experience in running such a game, and that experience was from a long time ago. However, it all went great, from the chase scene with coaches through a crowded Marienburg down to the final confrontation with a malevolent Kislev water spirit way down underground in the city. It was the players who carried the game, though, with excellent descriptions of their actions that drew everyone into the game. One of the best, among many great, quotes in the game: “It’s time to go bear-hunting!”

In the afternoon I played in Steven Hanlon’s game ‘Kemperbad Confidential’. Lots of fun in an investigative scenario, where we were called back to Kemperbad, the city we had fled five years ago after stopping a summoning ritual. The authorities there were still on the look for us, because we had had to kill on of the cities upstanding citizens (and leader of the cult that had wanted to do that summoning ritual) back then. We had to go back because people were preparing for another go of the ritual ...
An excellent investigative scenario with a heavy tint of noir.

Sunday morning I found myself in Tad’s adventure ‘Two Brothers’, about a noble family and their household in the aftermath of the Storm of Chaos. A bleak setting, the game was set up as an investigative scenario, but really was about the household and family falling apart after the Storm, and the patriarch’s desperate attempts to restore order and to bring the house back to its former glory. A bleak and moody scenario.

And Sunday afternoon I played in Toby’s scenario ‘The Exotic Spresm’ - the first time ever I played in one of his games. I wonder now how many great games I have missed in previous cons. For Toby is lots of fun as a GM, he goes out of his way in portraying NPCs (just like he does with his PCs in games where he is a player). We were members of the Altdorf watch and had to investigate the murder of one of our colleagues (yes, this was the third investigative scenario in a row). This investigation was mixed up with lots of everyday events of the watch, which brought the city to life. An interesting plot which set us on the wrong foot a couple of times, and a very enjoyable game experience. So who cares whether it went way past it’s allotted four hours?
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:56 am

On Friday night I met up with ovid and wolf42 for a pre-convention chat. In the morning my game was moved to the next morning because a few people couldn't turn up.

So I played in the pattern killer game, where we all played dodgy types who did secret work for the council, which often included agendas, not in keeping with the glorious Empire. It turns out the deaths were by many different hands, some of them for our characters ends. What followed was a delicate dance of investigation and distraction from stuff that would get us caught, which was a joy to roleplay as it kept all of us on our toes. Strangely we weren't that interested in getting the agitators who turned out to be fairly useless, but as the saying goes keep your enemies close by. While we knew what our real motivations were, who we worked for in the council and our official cover and our role within the group of spies that worked for the council was a bit either vague or was up to us to invent. Having that spelled out would have given me a bit more context to get into the environment my character operated in. It also just ended when the one killer that wasn't us left the city because we failed to learn who it was. A narrative capstone on how the events play out and any backstabbing that would have happened off-camera would have helped wrap the game with a narrative bow. It didn't help that we ran out of time.

The afternoon game was "Rough Night for a Red Wedding" , which being set in Kislev and it's different monsters, traditions and gods is one of the reasons I love going to Tobcon because I play in aspects of the setting I don't know much about. This was a scenario that was mostly based in the same location where we could go back and forth between the same locations as we did stuff which I like as structure as it allows a sense of place, events and relationships between PC's/NPC's to develop. The power balance between the guests and the local Lord we had to keep happy also worked as a nice level of tension as the scenario built to its climax. There two main strands, an approaching peasant mob, and problem come back to haunt the young noble to be married. And a cultist trying to 'help' the festivities that set off an interlocking set of events that kept us busy trying to make sure nothing bad happened to our charge, the princess. In the end, we managed to help uncover the bad thing and save her from death with a secret magical protection a few hours before the wedding.

My game 'Brothers two' ran Sunday morning with five players. Some of my scenarios tend to be experimental and this was one of them, where I broke my usual structure. I think it went well enough after it got started as the hungry players tried to solve the mystery of the hidden food under the house, the starving lord and his three servants and the just returned brothers from war. Time ran out and so I cut it short at the revelation of the family dynamic and not the Chaos band that was going to attack at the end or offer a bargain. I didn't get to do as much writing as it needed to integrate the story, custom hunger mechanics and a better starting off point to the information-heavy beginning. As well as better integration with the character backgrounds to the themes of the story. It may just be it'd too much for a single game, but hope to run it elsewhere again. Thanks for all the feedback in the pub afterward.

For the last game, I played in "The Exotic Spresm", which came with a well-deserved trigger warning at the start. This scenario involved the hardworking and underpaid watch members doing their best to keep the witchfinders off their backs. Unlike the first game on Saturday, it was stated that none of the characters had an agenda, so we could all work together without fear. The background was inspired by an ongoing campaign which meant there was lots of detail and references to things some of the other players recognised as easter eggs. The story itself began with us trying to cover up a murder of a fellow watchman in a delicate situation, then had a few clues to follow until we narrowed in on the culprits responsible. The detail infused in all parts of the story, background, diagrams, handouts all added to the experience to make the story alive. The extra quick scenes that had nothing to do with the main plot helped to show the under-pressure watchmen were subject to and heighten the need to get the situation wrapped up. They were also called back to later on as other things were investigated adding to the sense of place. Toby is also excellent at chewing the scenery with the watch captain or relating a gut-wrenching story from a priestess of Shallya who witnessed something gruesome. We also had time as the last slot to go over time and get the full experience. Some of the detail that was glossed, like finding a severed head from a previous storyline left me a bit confused while it unfolded since I didn't get that it wasn't to be taken seriously. The last big speech of the watch captain could have been cut out since it didn't add to the story and they tended to be like a video game cut scene with no room for player response. Overall an excellent story with a very chilling ending, beyond the normal Chaos does evil because it's evil.
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Toby Pilling
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed May 15, 2019 5:14 am

For the first time, it wasn't a lack of GMs to run games that was presenting challenges to me as the organiser of the con, but a smaller number of players than I had expected. This was due to several regular attendees not being able to make it for various reasons, so I was forced to think on my feet and shift games and players around. Generally the decision was made to have less games but fill up the ones that remained, which I think was the right choice - those games that weren't run can always be saved for next time! Here follows my thoughts on the scenarios I played:

Saturday morning opened with A Matter of State Security which was a murder mystery set in Kemperbad. Its general set-up has been described by Tad above, and I'd certainly say that I enjoyed it, as I always do with the Dark Knight's games. It was interesting that all the PCs had hidden agendas, which led to quite a lot of secret messages being slipped back and forth between players and the GM. We had a stimulating conversation in the pub afterwards though about how, once the players begin to 'grok' a scenario and realise that each holds a piece of the puzzle, they can quickly start to intuit and suspect other PCs of guilt, using player knowledge as opposed to that of their character. I know that my suspicions were only aroused at a meta-game level, but led to my character making accusations based on a process of elimination - poor role-playing on my part! Anyway, our investigations did not unveil the culprit, though they did force them to quit town, thereby saving it from further depredations from that source. It was a fun scenario where backstabbing quickly escalated.

In the afternoon I played Rough Night for a Red Wedding, which I thought was an excellent scenario - Tad again has described it above (indeed, Tad was my constant companion throughout the con!). Theo is an another superb GM and enjoys introducing players to different vistas and cultures within the Warhammer world and I found his take on the frozen steppe of Kislev very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the initial conundrum that was presented to us, of having a procession of peasants holding up our party on the road ahead. It was stated as a bald fact that we could not simply bypass them - the society simply would not allow peasants to hold the road when nobles were approaching. That the obvious solution was ruled out straight away helped the players realise that they were in a different culture with different rules and norms. The rest of the scenario reinforced this and we ended up 'succeeding', which is always nice (though rare).

Sunday morning I played in Tad's game Brothers Two, which had a post-apocalyptic feel as it was set in the denuded lands ravaged in the immediate aftermath of the Storm of Chaos. I must admit that I have found my muse strangely fired by the setting and am planning to set my next TOBCON game in a similar one, where mere survival trumps all. I liked the attention to detail that Tad mastered, particularly a scene where we sat down to a formal dinner in the midst of decline and washed our hands in advance of it using ash instead of soap - a historical practice I was previously unaware of. It was a moody scenario of family secrets being slowly uncovered, which was different and interesting. One thing, though - I've realised I am no fan of the Zweihander ruleset, particulary its combat system.

Wrapping things up on Sunday afternoon was my own game, The Exotic Spresm. I really enjoyed running it and it seemed to go well, though with hindsight I'd drop a few of the fluff events so as to keep on time, even if they were valuable in building a sense of place. At least we could overun a bit as we were then graveyard slot, so were able to get a conclusion. I'm afraid though that I'd have to disagree with Tad that it is OK to interrupt a 'monologuing' villain at the conclusion of a scenario - how else do you learn their evil plan?!

I'd just like to thank all the players and GMs for making TOBCON 3 a success. As Wim said above, it has become as much about meeting up with old friends on an annual basis as it has about participating in the games. I also always find the discussions around gaming and WFRP very stimulating in the pub afterwards, and am minded to discuss further some of the interesting topics I found particularly involving, such as Rolph's view that the Undead are the true opposite force to Chaos. Anyway, I hope to read more After Action Reports below. Until next time!
twisted moon
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:07 am

i was fortunate not to run foul of any of the last minute schedule changes at tobcon 3 - my game ran, and all three of the other games i was down to play also went ahead. i think rob faired worst, as neither of the games he had prepared took place - hopefully he can run them next year. he had also gone to the trouble of producing a tobcon special of his fanzine 'carnel'; since i got a copy, i assume he was handing these out to all the attendees.
from my perspective 'a matter of state security' went well, and i actually didn't think it ran out of time. admittedly there was no grand finale, but that was partly because there was no one obvious way in which it could end due to all the various subplots involving the pcs and also due to player actions. for the first time ever i had actually play tested the scenario but, whilst it helped me tidy up a few things to ensure all the pc subplots carried equal weight, the two groups took a totally different tack, with the tobcon group largely ignoring the orders of their superiors to focus on the minor irritant of the pattern killer. sure, we could have continued playing until all the sobplots had been revealed, but the object of their main focus had concluded as tad and toby have indicated above.
in the afternoon, i played 'kemperbad confidential', which was the highlight of the weekend for me. there was a real film noir flavour infusing the whole scenario, although i think the gm was overly kind to us at the end, since most the party really deserved to die for the predicament we had got ourselves into, despite (because of?) my characters best attempt at fast-talking.
sunday morning saw a dwarf-light version of the snow white fairy tail: 'snow whote and rose red', with the pcs an elite band of bounty hunters employed by the wicked step mother to return the eponymous heroine from her hideout in the woods. this rapidly descended into prolonged discussions regarding the human resources policies of our outfit, especially but not exclusively around equal opportunties and the poor gender and worse ethnic balance of the party. personally though, i was most concerned about woodcutters attempting to undermine guild rates by accepting on 30/- for the supposed murder of snow white.
i too played in 'the exotic spresm' which was not at all what i was expecting from the pre-con blurb, but was a very interesting watch procedural. toby gave a 'trigger warning' in advance of play, which has left me wondering, since the offending scene didn't seem worse than many things i have included in tim/wim/tobcon games over the years. i chose the 'perceptive but twitchy' one and then failed to pass most of my perception tests leading me to forget to roleplay being twitchy. nevermind. the conclusion may have managed to fend off difficult discussions on gender identity within the warhammer world, but for how long?
thanks to toby for organising, to rob for the fanzine and to the other gms and players who always make it such fun. see you next year, and if you haven't been along before/for a while, you're missing out.
the dark knight of the twisted moon
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