MEPACon Fall 2009 Recap

After a few years away, the Blackazor Guild and I returned to MEPACon last weekend, our local gaming convention held near Scranton, Pa. every spring and fall. We used to be regulars at the local convention scene, but over the last few years we been running our own homegrown Nuke(m)Con instead.

We decided to return to MEPACon after Origins, when we had the realization that our local convention might provide the perfect opportunity to run games that we don’t normally play in our weekly game. Stuff like Savage Worlds, Mutants & Masterminds and Call of Cthulhu, which we love, but never seem to get to play.

The Short Road North

To that end, four of us went to MEPACon last weekend. The con was held in the Ramada Inn in Clarks Summit, Pa., which is down the road from Scranton. The con was divided between two ball rooms; the smaller of the two held the RPGA and Living Forgotten Realms games (and perhaps Pathfinder Society as well) while the larger one held one-shot RPG sessions, board games, card games, war games and the like. Between the two rooms was a small vendor room staffed by The Portal (a local game shop in Bethlehem Township). It’s tough to eyeball how many people attended, but I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-150.

We didn’t play Living Forgotten Realms (it being a D&D 4th Edition campaign, and the majority of us not being regular 4E players) and spent most of our time in the main ballroom. I ran three games — a Star Wars: Saga Edition game set in the Legacy era (with 3 players, two of whom were Blackrazors), Savage Worlds: The Day After Ragnarok (with 6 players, two of whom were Blackrazors) and Risk 2210 (four players, all of whom were Blackrazors).

We also ran a number of pick-up games of Munchkin, including Starspawn Munchkin (Munchkin Cthulhu + Star Munchkin 1 & 2) and Firefly Munchkin (Western Munchkin + Star Munchkin 1 & 2).

We also played in Call of Cthulhu and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Ages scenarios, the ongoing campaign Legend of the White Star and pickup games of Who’s a Werewolf? and RoboRally.

The hotel was good, the rooms were adequate (the beds were a bit undersized), and there lots of local food options. The only real complaint is that there were a lot of events that didn’t run for lack of players. That wasn’t a big issue for me, since I had friends with me who made sure my events ran, but I think it was a frustration for others. That said, it was easy enough to jump into another game and I don’t think any one was left wanting.

The Day After Ragnarok

My Savage Worlds event went well, thanks in large part to the playtest I did the Friday before. It was a full table, although one player dropped out after the first hour because he was too tired (and, I think, not all that in to learning a new system).

The gist of the scenario is that our heroes — a group of Americans and British operatives — needs to recover a scientist from his research facility in New York City, and do it before the Soviets.

As before, our heroes approached New York aboard a flying boat, which was badly beaten up on the way in. This time around though, our intrepid hero Jules Drake jumped onto the controls while everyone else parachuted to safety. He then deftly — nay, spectacularly — landed the plane. The party then headed north in their inflatable boat, did battle with a giant mutant alligator (this time a wild card, which made the fight more challenging), finally arriving at the Museum of Natural history just after the Soviets.

A pitched battle erupted as our heroes snuck up on the resting helicopters (the majority of the Red Army troops having gone inside) took out the helicopter pilots, and then got into a firefight with the surviving soldiers and a super ape. Reinforcements quickly followed, but once the heroes had control of the helicopter’s heavy guns, they were able to easily defeat the Red Army. They then used the helicopters to fly to the scientist’s secret backup facility in the Central Park Zoo, and subsequently escape from the New York.

I like the scenario; I think it runs well and it plays to Savage World’s strengths. We had two newbies at the table, but the one who didn’t drop out was able to keep up with the rules fairly well. I think it helps that I tried to keep things as focused as possible, using the basic rules and only throwing in more advanced options when an experienced player decided he wanted to use one (such as double-tap, which lets you sacrifice accuracy to do more damage with a pistol).

I’d like to get some minis and other props for the next time I run it — I think they can add a lot to a game, particularly a Savage Worlds game — but it went fine without it. I’m hoping to run it again sometime, perhaps at Balticon 2010.

Looking Ahead

The Blackrazors had a blast at the con, and we’re looking forward to returning. Our hope is to recruit a few more players from the ranks of the Blackrazors as well as some of our other gaming friends in the Lehigh Valley. We’re looking to attend the Spring 2009 MepaCon (which looks to be held sometime in April). I’m considering running some of my old Nuke(m)Con events, notably my Deadlands and Serenity one-shots.

Those adventures are already written, and really only need a little touching up to be ready for the con. They also have the virtue of having been played before, which means I can spend some more time working on props, and less time scrambling to get the adventure together before the con.

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