U-Con (Ann Arbor)

This past weekend we attended U-Con in Ann Arbor for the first time. First of all, I want to say hats off to the staff that puts together the event. While it is indeed a smaller con, it was excellently run and managed. There were no confusions at registration. Tables were clearly marked with their events. The exhibit hall was small but well-positioned, and I really like how they had a game library where you could just sit down with a few friends and play games that you’ve never heard of before. Misty and I definitely played a few games that will be going on our Christmas list, and a few that she said we probably will not be able to make it to Christmas before we order, lol. Also, a big thank you to John and Christine Du Bois for letting us stay with them. GO EMU!

That being said, we came to U-Con for another opportunity to demo Reclamation. I ran several games over the weekend and they were generally well-attended. I am excited by how willing people are to try a card-based game system (a cardinal sin against the great realm of dice), and also how quickly they pick up combat, which is admittedly handled differently than in many other RPGs. I am still relatively new to running games at cons, but from my limited experience, I have truly come to appreciate how a different group of characters can have a radically different impact on the result of the game. For example, in the New Blood adventure (which is only a two-hour demo), there are of course limited options available, so that one always ends in the general way that I intended, but there are differences. Basically, the protagonists must slip away from a party unnoticed to investigate a home where the family inside never showed up for the event–which is uncharacteristic of them. Each group finds  a different way out of the party. Some groups do a little social reconnaissance on the family before going to the house; others rush right in. Once there, they explore the house in different ways and react to some of the “strange” differently as well.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was “A Pardoning of Sins” where the protagonists are death-row convicts offered a second chance at life by the CDC Witch Hunters. The group is given an overarching objective and each person is given their own side-mission that must be completed in order to complete the quest. The protagonists quickly learn that they are dealing with a very dangerous faction with ulterior motives, but they find themselves with their backs to the wall with no other choice than to tread on and see what happens next. I do not want to spoil all the surprises, because frankly, I intend to run this adventure at more cons, but let’s just say that their are many many many many ways for the protagonists to proceed through the storyline, and most directions end with disastrous consequences. You’d think I would run a simpler/happier adventure where everyone gets a big pat on the back at the end, but that’s just not how I run games, lol. I like gritty, dirty, and frankly, borderline impossible. However, this weekend I saw the first true “protagonists win” conclusion to this adventure. Frankly, it was awesome! I had so much fun playing with that group; it was a good reminder about why I love role-playing. I had just flown in from Dallas because I had been at a week-long conference hosted by my actual real-world job, and I was exhausted driving up to Michigan. However, the people at this con made it worth it!

If you’ve never been, I would highly recommend U-Con. Both Misty and I really enjoyed ourselves, and provided that my real-world conference doesn’t conflict with the date of the con next year, we will definitely be making our way up there again! It also doesn’t hurt that I’m an EMU alumni, and my old stomping grounds are just a mile or so away.

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