GenCon 2007, Day 3: Star Wars, Exhibit Hall, Savage Pirates, RPG Podcast Party, Mall Zombies

I woke up far too early on Saturday to get to an 8 a.m. Star Wars d20 game. The game let out early, which gave me time to wander the exhibit hall until exhaustion sent me retreating to my hotel room … only to be called back by a phone call from Erilar about a Pirates of the Spanish Main game that was just starting. Rounding out the day was the well-attended RPG Podcaster Party and an all-out zombie assault on a French-built shopping mall.

Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance

Einstein Bros. coffee and bagel in hand, I headed to my first event, a d20 Star Wars game using the new Saga edition rules. Since I’d ditched both of my RPGA-run D&D games in favor of other systems, this ended up being my one and only RPGA event.

I didn’t know much about the game going into it; I’ve played the game before, but since Wizards cancelled the Living Force campaign, I wasn’t sure what they would do with a Star Wars game.

It turns out that this was part one of a new 10-episode Star Wars quasi-living campaign entitled Dawn of Defiance that folks will be able to play at cons or at home. The game takes place immediately after the end of Episode III, and pits adventurers against the emerging empire’s new legions.

It’s an interesting concept, and apparently the success of this campaign will determine whether a new Living Force game launches. The game itself started off well enough, with our band of heroes delving deep into an Imperial space station looking for a block of carbonite and a cache of ale to be smuggled to Alderaan. Unfortunately the adventure was far too short, using only two and a half hours of a five hour slot.

Exhibit Hall, Round 2

That gave me time to wander the exhibition hall. After getting my bearings on Thursday, I was eager to return and spend some real time in the hall. After spending an hour or so just examining the sites, I picked up a bunch of new games, including Serenity (from, ironically enough, Steve Jackson Games, after Margaret Weiss sold out) and got the Hellboy RPG and Source Book for free.

Getting Hellboy was a nice plus, since all my friends love the comic. While I don’t think we’d use this edition’sGURPS based rules for a Hellboy, its great to have all the background material collected into one source.

Inspired by my Savage World of Solomon Kane game the night before, I also stocked up on new SW materials, including an oversized deck of initiative cards, a GM screen, and a copy of the new Savage Worlds: Explorers Edition rulebook. This tweaked edition of the game only cost $10, and should be a great resource for any SW games I run.

Pirates of the Spanish Main

Eventually, I got too tired to wander the Exhibit Hall any longer, and decided that rather then go to my afternoon game — Spycraft: Farthest Star — I would head back to my room for a nap.

I made it halfway there when Erilar called. There was a Pirates of the Spanish Main game forming using the Savage Worlds rules. And I could get in if I hurried.

So I did what any gamer would do … I turned and ran back to the convention center. There I found it wasn’t quite the normal pirates game. It was one of Pinnacle’s promotional events, and featured Rupert of Survivor fame. With help from the Pinnacle crew, he defended his pirate island from four teams of pirates by sending waves of sea monsters, crazed parrots and coconut throwing monkeys at us. The goal was to storm the island, kill Pirate Rupert, and claim the prize. Alas, my team — featuring Erilar, myself and a third gamer — didn’t make it to the final fight in time and lost, but we still had a blast.

The game used a greatly stripped down version of the Savage Worlds rules — we were essentially mooks attacking a Wild Card-type player character — but it ran fast and furious, which is what you want from a SW game. Photos from the event should be up on the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Society site at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The RPG Podcasters Party

The RPG Podcasters party saw every podcaster at the con, as well as a bunch of their fans, gather for a public meet and great that culminated with the recording of Paul Tevis’ 100 episode of Have Games, Will Travel. As with Thursday’s private gathering, it was great to meet the people behind the voices of the podcasts I’ve been listening to for years. Radio Active was definitely the small fish in the big pond at that event; a few folks had heard of the show (mostly fellow podcasters) and it’s proof positive that I need to do a better job promoting the podcast.

Mall of Horror

After the party, I returned to the Hilton to join my friends for a game of Mall of Horror. It’s a French-designed board game in which players take on the role of survivors of a zombie uprising trying to make a stand in a shopping mall. Each turn, the zombies appear outside of the shops; if there are more zombies outside of a given shop then there are customers inside of it, then the zombies attack. Players must retreat from the shop, and vote on which of their number will be left behind as zombie bait.

I’ll need to play it again, when I’m less exhausted, to decide how much I like the game. At the very least, it’s a casual, social game that should be fun for zombie-loving geeks. Whether it will have legs is another matter.

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