GenCon 2007, Day 2: Battlestar Galactica, RPG Podcasters, Solomon Kane

Thursday’s D&D 4E buzz subsided by Friday morning, though a bunch of the special 4E t-shirts could be found in the convention hall. I will say there weren’t nearly as many as when 3E was announced in 1999, though admittedly the t-shirts for that edition were much, much cooler (listing all the major changes being made to 3E; we’d kill for that kind of list for 4E).

By the end of the day I’d noticed a grassroots buzz building for an entirely different game: Savage Worlds. By then I was also recognizing just how hard it was going to be to find open wireless at the convention.

Battlestar Galactica

My first game of the day was the Battlestar Galactica RPG by Margaret Weis Productions. I’d picked up a copy the day before, but didn’t have a chance to more than glance through it before the game. It did’t matter — my GM quickly explained the rules, and we were up and running within 15 minutes. The game plays fast and cinematically, using “plot points” to provide the players with the tools they need to make plot-critical rolls (or at least try very, very hard) while at the same time giving GMs a built-in mechanic for rewarding role-playing and entertaining play.

The game itself saw us taking on the role of resistance fighters on Tauris, the outermost of the 12 Colonies. We were a group of Colonial Marines led by a downed Viper captain, and during the course of the game we rescued a human survivor (later revealed to be a Cylon skinjob), fought a running battle with Cylon Centurions, liberated a prison camp, and then broke for open space in a stolen FTL transport. I need to read through the game rules, but I really liked what I saw in game at GenCon.


After GenCon I ran a game of Battlestar Galactica for my group. My Game Day column “Flight of the Cerberus” describes the setup; Battlestar Galactica RPG: Playtest Results runs down what worked and what didn’t in our session.

RPG Podcasters Booth

After my Battlestar Galactica game, I headed to the RPG Podcasters’ booth, where I spent about an hour hanging out, alternatively talking with folks about podcasts and giving people directions to locations in the convention hall (and occasionally, those directions were even right).

The biggest misconception about podcasts continues to be that people think that you need an iPod to listen to them. Debates over what to call them continue within the podcasting community, but it still seems to me that the reason why we have any traction in the first place is because of the podcast name; calling the shows something else risks a slide back into obscurity, and really, no time I’ve heard — from netcast to internet radio — emphasizes the portable, time-shifted nature of podcasts.

Savage World of Solomon Kane

Friday night saw my first Savage Worlds game: the Savage World of Solomon Kane. The setting is based on the Kane stories by Robert E. Howard. It’s not something I have a lot of experience with, but we had a blast hunting the dark woods of 17th century Europe for a headless horseman.

The Savage Worlds game mechanics proved themselves to be just as fast and furious as they claimed they’d be. There were also occasional jaw-dropping thrills as exploding dice and bennies allowed characters to dig deep and fight off the surging evil of the deep woods.

During the course of the day, I came across more and more people discussing Savage Worlds and the pending release of Solomon Kane. Some of it was from people you’d expect — those folks whom I’d been playing the less-mainstream games with — but I’d also hear people talking about it in line or while we were preparing for games like Battlestar.

Gaming Philosophy

After Savage Worlds, our group assembled in one of the two hotel rooms, where we launched into a spirited argument about story games, and how the mechanics of a game can encourage (or discourage) role-playing and storytelling. We were up to 3 a.m. debating that, and while I won’t re-cap it here, you can expect a Game Theory column about it soon.