I’m no stranger to tabletop RPGs – I’ve played in a number of different systems, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and White Wolf’s World of Darkness. However, in all my years of gaming, I’ve never played anything quite like Blue Rose. For over a year, I’ve been part of a group that plays Blue Rose somewhat regularly, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
What is Blue Rose?
Blue Rose is a tabletop RPG published by Green Ronin, and is labeled as a romantic fantasy game. It’s set in the world of Aldea, and players can play as a number of different humanoid races or as a rhydan (which encompasses many different types of psychic animals). Player characters have three classes to choose from: adept, which is your typical magic-using class; expert, which includes scholars, spies, tricksters, and negotiators; and warrior, which is your classic fighter class. There are plenty of other aspects that go into developing a character, including their background, goals, destiny/fate, and, of course, their relationships with others – including friends, family, and romantic relationships.
The main focus of the game is on developing relationships, but depending on the storyteller, there may be a fair bit of exploration and adventuring involved as well. The world of Aldea is definitely large enough to do plenty of exploring in, and the core book includes details about many countries outside of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.
It’s no secret to you readers – I enjoy a good role-playing game, whether it’s tabletop or live action. It’s also no secret that I’m not exactly the most organized person at times – I try really hard, though. If I’m not careful, I lose track of my game stuff easily – just ask me how many character sheets I made for my Blue Rose character before I finally figured out an organizational system. (Pretty sure there’s four of them floating out there, including two versions of the digital character sheet I keep as a backup.) I can also get distracted pretty easily during games, and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss something important. After years of gaming, I’ve figured out a few ways to help keep myself organized when it comes to the various role-playing games I’m in.
I recently had the idea to write about the craft projects I’m working on – not just to show them off, but for other reasons as well. I’m thinking sharing what I’m working on might help keep me accountable, and remind me “hey, I should probably finish these things at some point”. Plus, it’ll be good to see the progress I’ve made on some projects – like the Hue Shift blanket, which is slowly but surely getting bigger. I don’t think I’ll make this a monthly series, but I do want to make a post like this semi-regularly – so we’ll see how well this works out.
I’ve been meaning to write a bit about how I’m finally learning how to play Magic: The Gathering – and, well, what better time than now?
My first attempt at learning to play was back in 2005, when I was in college – a couple of the guys in SUNY Potsdam’s Gaming Club built me a simple deck, I watched them play one game, and then I think I got pulled into a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign and forgot about learning Magic entirely. I had that deck for years – I think I ended up donating it to Goodwill a few years ago, before Ross and I moved into our house. (I’m kicking myself for that now – I wonder how much some of those cards might be worth now!) I was still vaguely interested in learning, eventually, but I didn’t know anyone that played – until I met J, anyway.
Last year, I finally decided maybe I should try learning to play again – and J was more than happy to teach me.
I’ve been learning for a while now – I think J started teaching me the game last summer, and I only recently got to the point where I decided “okay, I’m going to stick with this, maybe I should get a deck of my own instead of borrowing one of J’s many decks every time I play.” So, with J’s help, I picked out one of the 2018 premade Commander (or Elder Dragon Highlander, depending on your preferences) decks and did a little tweaking to make the deck a little more powerful. I ended up choosing the Exquisite Invention deck, after looking through J’s copy of it – I’ve been calling it the Thopterpocalypse Deck, because when my deck is behaving, I can generate a lot of thopters and servos to rain down doom on my opponents. (I say when my deck is behaving because the last two games I’ve played, all my land has ended up at the bottom of the deck, no matter how many times the darn thing gets shuffled.) Now that I’m getting a feel for the game, I’m comfortable enough to be silly – like giving personalities to creatures I play, for example. It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s fun to say “oh, the Master Thopterist is in a bit of a mood, so he’s going to attack with his two thopter buddies.” It’s fun to be a little sassy while I’m playing, haha.
One thing is for sure – I definitely don’t know nearly enough to make decks on my own. Deck building is insanely complicated. You have to think about how all the cards interact with each other, and how certain cards can trigger combinations that may or may not wipe out another player’s creatures. It’s mind-boggling. I don’t know J does it – then again, he’s been playing Magic for far longer than I have.
I will say, sometimes it’s hard for me not to just buy all the cards I can. I like collecting things, and if there’s something I’m enthusiastic about, I end up wanting to throw money at it and buy all the things. I’m really glad J is guiding me in what to buy and what not to buy, because otherwise I’d probably end up with a hot mess of somewhat useless stuff because I think the card art is pretty. Also, good lord this hobby involves buying so much stuff – not only did I end up buying a deck of cards to play with, I had to get a deck box, and I bought Saheeli-themed card sleeves (since she’s the commander for my deck), and of course I had to get that Doge playmat, and yesterday I just picked up some token counters because Saheeli likes to make ALL THE THOPTERS – and speaking of thopters, I got lucky with that blind bag draw!
I sort-of knew what I was getting into when I got into the hobby – at least with the fact that cards can get expensive and there are LOTS of them, heh – but I didn’t quite absorb just all the little things you need to play Magic. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s not stopping me from wanting to play.
I’m really enjoying learning how to play. Each game is like a constantly shifting puzzle that you need to solve. Sometimes you get lucky and can solve the puzzle early and knock out your opponent, and other times you just end up stuck waiting for a needed card or two that never come up. It’s fun, and exciting, and sometimes overwhelming – and I love it. I’m really glad I got into this hobby.
Hi folks, and Happy New Year! You might remember a post I made a few weeks back, about some resolutions I made for the blog for the year — one of them was writing more reviews, especially for TV shows. I watch (or at the very least, listen to) a lotof TV while I’m crafting, and I mean a lot. While I don’t know that I’d be able to write great, in-depth reviews on the shows I’m watching, I could at least share some of the shows in my Netflix and Hulu queues and share my thoughts on the shows without too many spoilers. (And possibly share some shows I tried out but didn’t quite get into.)
So, here’s what I’m watching this month: Battlestar Galactica and The 4400.
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Battlestar Galactica is a show I’ve been meaning to watch, well, since it came out almost 15 years ago. I had friends in college who were obsessed with it, and I’ve had friends in the years since who were big fans. When I started dating Ross, he was working through re-watching the series and was somewhere in season 2 before Neftlix lost the licensing to it. Now it’s on Hulu, and we’ve started watching it together as our evening “let’s watch this together” show. I’m sure most of you readers have at least heard of it before, but if not, here’s a short summary from Hulu (who explains it better than I could):
Battlestar Galactica continues from the 2003 mini-series to chronicle the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Man after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander (later Admiral) William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, a powerful but out-dated warship at its head. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth.
We’ve only watched the first six episodes (and the miniseries) so far, but I’m already ridiculously attached to many of the characters. When Starbuck ended up in mortal peril in episodes 4 and 5, and then managed to get herself out of it and back to Galactica, I cheered with the rest of the crew and got a little misty-eyed. I feel for President Roslin and Commander Adama as they make some tough decisions in order to keep what’s left of humanity alive and safe. I’m always looking forward to the next episode — and I’m glad Ross and I are watching an episode or two a night so I don’t binge-watch the entire thing over a weekend. I like being able to enjoy each episode, process it, and then go watch the next episode tomorrow.
The 4400 is a show I stumbled across on Netflix while trying to find something to watch while crafting. I’d just blasted through Season 3 of Travelers (a show I really enjoy) and was looking for more sci-fi to watch, and Netflix suggested this. The premise seemed alright (albeit a little cheesy): 4400 people, each of whom disappeared in a beam of light anywhere between 1938 and 2001, are deposited on the shores of a lake in Washington state by a bright ball of light. None of these people have aged a day since their disappearance, and some of them have come back with special powers (such as the ability to heal or see the future).
The show follows Tom Baldwin, an agent of the National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC) as he and his partner, Diana, investigate events involving the 4400. It also follows a handful of the 4400 themselves, including the following:
Maia, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared in 1946 and returned with the power to see the future
Shawn, Tom’s nephew who disappeared in 2001 at the age of 18 and returned with the power to heal/kill
Richard, a 29-year-old Air Force pilot who disappeared in 1955
Lily, who disappeared in 1993 at the age of 27 and returned mysteriously pregnant
While the show does have some cheesy moments, it’s pretty enjoyable. It also doesn’t hurt that the show’s creator, René Echevarria, was a writer on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and one of the producers (Ira Steven Behr) also worked on DS9. (And speaking of DS9: Jeffrey Combs, who plays Weyoun and Liquidator Brunt in DS9, also stars in The 4400!) I’m in the middle of season 3 right now (I think I started the show sometime last week), mostly due to all the time off I’ve had recently, and I’m curious to see where the show ends up going. If you’re looking for something in the sci-fi realm to watch and don’t mind if the show gets a little silly at points, you should try The 4400.
It’s the holiday season — a time when many of us have some time off from work, school, or other obligations. And if any of you are like me, you’ll want to spend that spare time crafting, so I’ve pulled together a collection of five free (and in many cases, easy) craft patterns to keep you busy with during the holidays!
The World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits
If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands warm this winter, and have never tried knitting mittens, check out this pattern from Tin Can Knits! With sizes from toddler to adult, you can make mittens for just about anyone.
Here’s another free and simple knitting project — this one’s actually been in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time. And come on, what Harry Potter fan wouldn’t want to make these simple socks inspired by Hermione? You could even try making them in Gryffindor red and gold, too.
I love this pattern — in fact, I love it so much I’ve made two of these shawls. This pattern works especially well with yarn that has a slow color change to it, like the Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake yarns, as it results in a really pretty striping pattern. The shawl works up quickly, and the rhythmic pattern is somewhat soothing to do. If you’re looking for a quick and simple shawl to make, this one’s for you.
We’ll just pretend that in the featured image, Steven and friends are getting ready for the new year, haha.
It’s December! (Well, it has been for two weeks now, actually.) And with the end of the year nearly here, I figured there’s no better time to look back at some of the more exciting things that happened here in Crafty Nerd land, and look forward to next year and where I’m hoping to go with the blog! So, without further ado, here’s a look back at 2018!
Back in May, I started learning how to play Magic: The Gathering! FINALLY. It’s something I tried to pick up back in college, way back in the day, but the guys from the Gaming Club who were going to teach me Magic got distracted by another game and I never actually learned to play — until this year, when J started teaching me the game. I recently picked up my first deck, and did some customizing to it (with J’s assistance, as he’s been playing for many, many years), and won the first game I played with it! I’d been meaning to post about how I started learning how to play, but I only got so far as a half-written draft of a post. Ah well — I’ll likely do a post soon that goes into a little more depth on my start into the crazy world of Magic: The Gathering.
I read a fair amount of books this year, too. I beat my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 25 books, and I’m on my way to having read 29 books this year (I’m almost done with Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay). I really should talk more about books here on the blog, given how much I love reading and how much I tend to read in a year. (If anyone’s interested in keeping up with what I’m reading, you can find me on Goodreads here.)
One of the biggest things I focused on this year was putting together my Sailor Moon costume for Gen Con. This is a cosplay I’d been dreaming about doing properly for, what, half my life now? And I was finally in a position to actually get all the pieces I needed and put together a costume I’d only dreamed about up to this point. Heck, my Sailor Moon cosplay even won a Hall Costume Contest award at Gen Con, which made wearing those terribly uncomfortable boots so worth it. (Next year, I’m investing in a good pair of gel inserts for those boots.)
I started collecting fountain pens, which has been a fun hobby to get into. Granted, I’m not planning on buying incredibly expensive pens or anything, but I’ve got a couple nice ones, and I do love that I can keep using a favorite pen while putting new ink into it to keep things interesting. My 9th pen is due in the mail any day now, and I’m excited to fill it up and add it to the collection!
I started 16 different yarn craft projects this year, and managed to finish 10 of them — which, for me, is actually pretty impressive. I made a lot of shawls, a couple of blankets, and worked on a couple of sock projects I started last year (and still haven’t finished). I still need to block some of those shawls I made, and I really need to give my neighbor the mitts I made for her, but overall, I’ve made some pretty darn good progress in my yarn crafts this year.
As always, I have a lot of ideas of where I could improve and what I want to do in the future. Granted, I may not actually end up following up on everything (my eternally distracted brain will probably throw me off track a few times), but for next year, I’m going to try to…
Post more reviews: I read a lot, play a fair number of different types of games, and watch a heck of a lot of TV — which has largely been an untapped resource for interesting blog posts. However, I’ve got that reviews category here on the blog, and I should fill it up with posts on things I’ve discovered that I want to share with everyone. I’m going to try to do one review post a month next year, in hopes that’ll give me something to write about when I can’t really think of much to share on the blog.
Finish more craft projects: While I managed to finish ten of the projects I started this year, there’s still a whole bunch of unfinished projects lurking around my craft room, waiting to be completed. I want to make a list of all those projects, and try and get them all crossed off if I can. (It might be a good use for that craft project database I’ve been working on over on Dreaming Pixels, my personal website.)
Maybe start a Crafty Nerd podcast: I’ve been wanting to do a podcast of some sort for The Crafty Nerd for ages. I do a lot of video and audio editing at work, and I really love it — and I’d love to incorporate it into what I do here at The Crafty Nerd. I’ve been learning how to work with Adobe Character Animator, and I’d really love to use that for a video podcast of sorts here on the blog. We’ll see what next year brings!
So, that’s what happened this year and a little of what I’m hoping for next year! I hope everyone reading this has a happy holiday season and a fantastic new year, and as always, thanks for reading The Crafty Nerd. Here’s to making next year awesome!
So, remember the Hue Shift afghan I started a month or two ago?
I ended up starting it over again, and I blame KnitPicks and their holiday sales.
If you remember from my previous post on this blanket, due to me being impatient and wanting to start the project right away, I went to Michaels and bought yarn that was as close as I could get to the colors used in the pattern. And they were definitely pretty colors, but not quite what the pattern called for.
I was knitting along, making alright progress with these colors, when I saw an ad for KnitPicks in my Facebook feed mentioning that all pattern kits were half off that day. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went to see just how much the Hue Shift kit cost – and when I saw it was right around $20, I caved in and bought it, and figured “what the heck, I’ll just start it over again with the right colors this time.”
I will say, take two of the Hue Shift afghan is going to be a bit smaller, since the yarn KnitPicks put in the kit is sport weight instead of worsted weight, but that’s okay. I’m really pleased with how the afghan is turning out, and the Brava Sport yarn is so much softer than the yarn I was using from Michaels.
You might be wondering, though, what I’m going to do with the yarn I bought previously. Well, I’m one step ahead of you there – over Thanksgiving, I cranked out a new blanket for my desk with most of the yarn from the original Hue Shift yarn batch.
This was pretty simple to work up – I just used two strands of yarn and an L hook, and the stitch is a double crochet. I switched out one of the colors every 4 rows, which let me blend the colors together a little bit instead of having stripes of a single color. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’ve got enough yarn left to make a smaller lap blanket, too.
After I finish the Hue Shift afghan, I think I’m done with making blankets for a while. I have way too many blankets already, between crocheting and quilting, but I figure one knit blanket to add to the pile can’t hurt, can it? 🙂
Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit with keeping up on my daily habits and chores (and, obviously, posting regularly here in the blog) – more often than not, I forget to do part of my routine, or space out on some housework I’ve been meaning to do. So, I thought it was about time to revisit an old friend: HabitRPG. Or, as the site is now called, Habitica.
Boy, how things have changed since I was last on Habitica!
There are lots of new costumes, lots of new quests, and so many new quest-related pets – I’ll probably never be able to hatch them all!
I’ve also made a lot of progress over the years in Habitica…
…I’m actually pretty close to hitting level 90, and I’m excited about that. Habitica’s done a good job of motivating me to get things done – granted, I’ve only been back at it for a week now, but I find myself adding to-do items to my list as things pop up (the mobile app really helps with that) and actually working to get things done, so I can make some more progress with quests I’m working on as well as leveling up my character. I really hope I can stick with this, because I’ve actually managed to get a lot done with this extra motivation. Sometimes that’s all my brain needs – a little extra motivation.
If you need a little boost with motivation and keeping on top of your tasks and habits, but want to have fun doing it, you should check out Habitica. It’s available on the web, as well as for iOS and Android. It’s free to play (but donating or subscribing will get you some extra goodies), and there’s lots to keep you coming back to the site. Four years on, I still recommend it as a great way to help you get things done.
Yes, there is a board game that’s essentially about making a patchwork quilt. My friends J and Kasi bought this game recently, and when J pointed out that they had a game about making quilts, I had to play it.
In Patchwork, two players compete to make the most complete (and highest-scoring) quilt they can on a 9×9 game board. Gameplay is pretty simple — players move tokens along a board (called the “time track”) to determine whose turn it is, and as players move along the board they can collect extra buttons or small patches to help fill in empty spots on their board. Each space on the board represents a unit of time, and each of the patches has a time listed on them, indicating how many spaces you’ll be moving along the board. (After all, quilting does take time!)
Around the time track is the collection of quilt patches you can choose from. During each turn, players have the option to purchase a quilt patch or earn extra buttons by moving to one spot ahead of your opponent. You’re limited in which quilt patches you can buy, however: a marker works its way clockwise around the circle of patches, and you can only choose from the three patches in front of the marker. This is where sometimes moving ahead of your opponent can come in handy, if there aren’t any patches you can afford or any patches that fit on your board — you can simply choose to earn extra buttons, one per spot you end up moving along the board.
The buttons that players collect are really important. Not only are they the game’s currency, but they also help determine who wins at the end of the game: whoever has the most buttons at the end of the game wins.
As you can see, some patches have buttons on them – and those help you out as you move around the time track. If you move past a button on the time track, you earn a button for every button that’s on your quilt. The bigger your quilt gets, the more buttons you can earn at a time. (At one point, I think I was earning 15 buttons every time I hopped over a button on the time track — my quilt was very decorated!)
When both players get to the end of the time track, that’s when you figure out who the winner is. First, you count up how many buttons you’ve earned, and then subtract the amount of blank spaces on the board from the amount of buttons you’ve earned. Whoever has the highest point count after that is the winner! I didn’t win yesterday’s game, but I certainly had fun playing and will definitely be picking this game up for my collection.
I’ve been wanting to make a Hue Shift afghan for years. Many, many years. Before I got back into knitting and started getting better at it, I was a little intimidated by the mitered squares, and also by the prospect of knitting an entire blanket. I’ve never knit a blanket before, and the Hue Shift afghan looked like it’d be a heck of an undertaking.
However, last week, I went and bought the pattern and headed over to Michaels to find the closest colors I could to what Knit Picks called for in the pattern. I think I came pretty close, but some of them are a little different — and that’s okay. I want to make this blanket my own, since there are so very many other Hue Shifts out there. Why not try to be a little unique?
I just started the fifth mitered square – only 95 more to go, haha. I was originally thinking “hey, if I crank out a square a day, I could have this blanket done in 100 days!” But I know me too well. You folks know me too well. If I try to crank out the blanket on a deadline, it’ll end up taking me three years.
Instead, I’ll work on it at whatever pace I can manage (and try not to give myself repetitive stress injuries in the process!), and post some updates on its progress from time to time. I want to enjoy making this blanket, instead of feeling guilty about it like I did with the Woodland Blanket. I’ve been wanting to make this blanket for so long, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
I’ve fallen into a new… hobby? obsession? Whatever it is, it ties in nicely with my bullet journalling hobby (yes, I’m still keeping up with that!), and given my love for pens, color, and fancy paper, I’m not surprised I fell into this hobby.
Calling it a new obsession isn’t exactly truthful, though – I was always really intrigued by my dad’s fountain pens when I was a little girl. They were so fancy! And my dad would do silly things like draw smiley faces on my fingers and toes with his fountain pens. It always made me laugh when he’d do that.
When I was a little older, maybe in my teenage years, I decided that someday, I’d own a fountain pen, just like my dad. And, well, now I own six!
What’s interesting about writing with fountain pens is that they all feel slightly different – it’s almost like they have personalities of their own. My green Metropolitan Retro Pop feels like it’s grumpy, and isn’t always the smoothest to write with. (That might be because when I first bought it, I only used it a little bit, then let it sit for two years to dry up… At least I learned how to clean fountain pens, thanks to Green Metro!) My clear Kakuno feels precise, peppy, and energetic. The purple and white Kakuno feels welcoming, friendly, and stable.
Oh god, I’m ascribing personalities to my fountain pens. Please send help. 🤣
More seriously, though, they make writing much more fun, whether it’s for work, in my bullet journal, or in a letter to a friend. I have a different color of ink in each pen, and even more colors to choose from if I want to switch out the ink I’m using. (The Goulet Pen Company’s little ink samples are perfect – I get to try out lots of different colors, and if I find one I love I can buy a big bottle of it.)
It’s been really hard resisting the urge to buy more pens and ink. My wish list on Goulet Pens just keeps growing and growing, haha.
I’m looking forward to seeing what other things I can do with fountain pens aside from writing a lot and playing with different ink colors. Having fancy pens to write with might actually get me working on making my handwriting neater, at least. 🙂
I think I got a little burned out on everything after Gen Con – hence the lack of a post last week. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to get the last of my Gen Con reports put together, and there’s a start to it in the pile of half-finished blog posts I’m accumulating, but I just couldn’t nudge myself towards getting it done. I’ll try to finish it soon, though, as there are some pretty cool vendors and artists I want to share with you all that I discovered at Gen Con.
So that this week’s blog post isn’t all just me being down on myself for not posting last week, I’m going to talk about a Kickstarter whose rewards I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a little while now. Those rewards showed up on my doorstep the other day, and I can’t help but share them with you all, because they’re so beautiful!
Yep, that’s right – the Name of the Wind Art Deck Kickstarter started shipping last month, and I finally got my goodies. They were definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure.
Now, this isn’t the first deck of cards that’s had artwork from Name of the Wind on them – a deck was released a few years ago (also the product of a Kickstarter, if I remember right), with artwork by Shane Tyree depicting the characters we all know and love. I’ve got the Shane Tyree deck as well as the new ones with art by Echo Chernik, and it’s really interesting to see how each artist envisioned the characters.
The coin that I got as part of the rewards is beautiful – and pretty hefty, too! I’d be afraid to flip it and accidentally dent a table with it when it lands, haha.
The prints are beautiful, too – I can’t wait to get them framed. I’ve been especially excited about them, since I love Echo’s work, and it was really exciting to get to meet her at Gen Con. All in all, I’m really happy with the quality of everything – the cards feel great in your hand, and the artwork is absolutely wonderful.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with four decks of Name of the Wind playing cards. 😛
As I mentioned briefly in some of my daily Gen Con posts, I took part in two different LARPs this year at Gen Con, in very different roles. I’ve never actually LARPed at Gen Con before, so being involved in two different games might have been a little ambitious, but in retrospect, I had a heck of a lot of fun. Both games I was involved in were put on by Phoenix Fire LARP, a group that my dear friends J and Kasi run with some of their friends. Since convention halls don’t really lend themselves well to boffer LARPs (or, LARPs that make use of foam weapons for attacking others), J developed the FIRE System, which uses a deck of playing cards to determine damage dealt to characters, help add an element of chance to certain actions, and to help with determining initiative for the players. It’s a really neat system that’s pretty quick to learn.
While both games made use of the FIRE System, they were about as different as things can get – and I had completely different experiences in both games, what with running one and participating in another. Read on to learn more about Return to Paragon City and Showdown in Sacramento!
Return to Paragon City
Return to Paragon City was the game I helped run – it’s based on the beloved MMO City of Heroes, which I didn’t get to play for long before they shut the game down back in 2012. The game was run as a hybrid tabletop/live action game, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. However, to be honest, when I first volunteered to help run Paragon City, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect I’d be running part of the game by myself, but that’s what ended up happening. And given that it was my first experience running any sort of game, I was anxious as heck about it. I’ve played in tabletop games for years, and I’ve got a year and a half of LARPing experience under my belt, but running a game? Telling a story and keeping track of where everyone is in location to the bad guys and keeping track of the bad guys’ health ended up being a really overwhelming prospect for me. I was so worried I’d mess something up, and then freak out about messing things up, and it’d all spiral out of control. Each playtest we did helped me feel a littlebetter about things, but not much. I ended up showing up to the game in the middle of a massive anxiety attack. Oh, brain. Why do you do this to me?
Anyhow, I told J that my brain was conspiring against me and that I had no idea how I’d be able to run my section of game, so we tag-teamed my section of the event – I’d do the storytelling, while J handled the combat parts. That combination worked out well – during combat I focused on keeping track of where people were on the map and how many hit points the bad guys had, while J handled the actual logistics. And our group had loads of fun! We had some great superheroes in our group, including Professor Photon, Cameraman (who had a camera prop and involved it in all of his attacks), and The Spicy Taco (whose attacks were, of course, taco-themed).
All in all, I learned a lot – and learned that maybe I need training wheels, so to speak, for a little bit longer when it comes to running a LARP.
Showdown in Sacramento
Showdown in Sacramento was an entirely different experience. In fact, the only thing Showdown and Paragon City had in common was the FIRE System – everything else was incredibly different. Instead of being set in a fictitious city full of superheroes, Showdown is set in Sacramento during the gold rush era, and is full of supernatural beings- mages, werewolves, vampires, and fey (in addition to regular plain old humans). In last year’s game, an event happened that caused all the supernatural beings to glow with a specific colored aura around them, based on the type of supernatural being they were. This made things a little… interesting for this year’s game, especially when it came to the political elements.
I like how J and Kasi handled character creation, although I know it resulted in an immense amount of work on their end. Instead of creating our own characters, we were each assigned a character and given a fair bit of backstory for them as a starting point for this year’s game. I ended up playing Lucina Finch, a relative newcomer to Sacramento who’d recently purchased a mine and was planning on using her abilities as a mage to construct machines that would work in the mines, to lessen the potential harm to humans. Having the character information to start from made things much easier for me, especially since I was new to the game – once I got into character and started interacting with others, I had a great time.
Lucina partnered up with two other mages (Isadora and Adelia) to work on making more machines to work in the mines, which was one of Lucina’s main goals for the game. There was also a lot of mining (Lucina had to pay Adelia for the rights to her gold-detecting machine somehow!), a marriage market where Lucina got matched up with a friendly werewolf named Thomas, a number of fights with thugs attempting to raid the mines (Thomas protected Lucina from one such attack by transforming into a werewolf, which Lucina thought was pretty awesome), and even voting on political issues that would affect the supernaturals living in Sacramento both immediately and in the years to come. And with the help of a couple of others, the lady mages found out the source of the auras that were affecting the supernatural folk of Sacramento!
I had a heck of a lot of fun in Showdown, and I’m really glad I decided to jump in and play this year. Granted, doing two 6-hour LARPs over the course of two days was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.
Well, Gen Con 2018 is all done – which I’m rather bummed about, I had an absolutely wonderful time this year! Thanks to staying in a hotel in Indy, I actually had the energy to post something little each day of the convention, but I’ve got a heck of a lot more to ramble about – so here goes! To keep this one post from getting too ridiculously long, I’ve split out the long and rambly parts into their own posts:
My experience this year was pretty good in general – I kept up on what was going on with the Fans of Gen Con group on Facebook, which was full of good information. From where to find certain games to how long the line for Will Call was, the folks in Fans of Gen Con posted about it all – and it helped me feel a little more connected to the convention in general. I’m hoping I can actually make it to their pre-Gen Con event next year, the Stink, so I can meet more of the great folks in that group.
Speaking of Will Call – what the heck was up with Will Call this year? The lines were insane, from what I heard – this year I ended up getting my press badge with my friend Rachel (of The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast) on Wednesday, and then hopping into the Will Call line – which stretched almost entirely across the convention center. It moved pretty quickly, though – Ross, Rachel, and I were only in line for a half hour. However, Thursday was an entirely different story.
Apparently the line was really, really bad on Thursday – so much for Will Call being such a well-kept secret! I think Ross and I are going to plan on getting my press badge on Wednesday of Gen Con from now on, so we don’t feel so rushed trying to get things taken care of early Thursday morning (and so we avoid the potential horrors of the lengthy Will Call lines).
I don’t know about everyone else, but it felt like some parts of Gen Con were ridiculously packed compared to last year. It felt almost impossible to navigate the Block Party, where all the food trucks were congregated, during meal times (and forget about finding a place to sit!) – and the dealer hall was insane on Sunday. I get easily overwhelmed when there are too many people somewhere, and while most of the time I was fine, there were some spots where I just got so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people crammed into a small area. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to alleviate this outside of finding a new place to do Gen Con or expanding further into the surrounding hotels – it’s just something I guess I’m gonna have to deal with.
I will say, watching the crowds enter the dealers hall on Thursday morning was fascinating. I actually recorded the tail end of the opening ceremonies for Gen Con this year, and at about 4 and a half minutes into the video, you can see the crowd start pouring into the hall (and hear my silly commentary on it, too).
One of the things I love about Gen Con is the fact that I can run into friends from pretty much every part of my life here – over the course of the convention, I ran into a bunch of folks from Kishar, friends from work, my wonderful mom-in-law and brother-in-law, and even folks from SIGUCCS (a professional organization I’m a member of). It’s like one big geeky party that all your friends are at, and it’s fantastic. I always love running into friends and family at Gen Con.
Overall, I had a great time – I got to eat tasty food from the food trucks (including some pierogies from Pierogi Love, and a rainbow cupcake covered in glitter called “The Mike Pence”, haha), I got to wear a Sailor Moon costume I’d only ever dreamed about wearing before, I got to play in some awesome games, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money in the dealers hall (I bought a Utilikilt this year!). All in all, this was a great year, and I’m looking forward to next year’s Gen Con! Here’s a little taste of Gen Con 2018, in photo form.
Googly-eyed Starbucks lady greeted us at badge pick-up on Wednesday.
Cardhalla, on Wednesday afternoon.
The block party!
This is one way to keep occupied while waiting for the dealers hall to open!
The Pathfinder/Starfinder room. Maybe next year, I’ll jump in on a Pathfinder Society game.
Exploding Kittens brought back their vending machine!
This sign made me giggle.
Cardhalla on Friday! I’m slightly bummed that I didn’t get a picture of everything before they knocked it down.
It’s always awesome to spot friends in the crowd – like my friend Chris here. 🙂
The Mike Pence. It was tasty. And glittery.
The 2018 balloon sculpture!
A shot from the costume parade of Ross and I!
Keep an eye out for the more specific Gen Con Reports! 🙂 And if you want to listen to a more detailed (and much more tired) report about Gen Con, I guest-starred on the most recent episode of The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast, where Rachel and I talk about our Gen Con experience!