Templecon 2013 Report
I am still very much a convention noob. I have never been to any of the big ones; Gencon, Origins, DragonCon or the San Diego ComiCon. The biggest convention I have ever been to is PAX East, which is a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to going again. But, of the conventions I have attended in the few short years I have been attending conventions, TempleCon is my favorite. I imagine it is somewhat due to the “first love” feelings I have for it, as it was my very first convention of any sort, but that is not all there is to it. Templecon is an amalgamation of two things I really enjoy, retro-futurism (specifically Steampunk) and tabletop gaming. And this year, in my opinion, was the best year yet!
Templecon is a three-day event held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI. that starts on Friday morning and ends Sunday Evening, usually the first weekend of February. It is chock full of panels, games, entertainment, workshops and vendors. It is hosted by Grant Garvin and Ximon Dunedain, owners of the Temple Games located in Pawtucket, RI. Templecon’s mission, as stated on their Facebook page is: "to provide gamers and fans of Retro-Futurism with a place to meet others and have fun playing the games that they love, enjoying performances and special guests, as well as panels and workshops, and more importantly, to be able to do all that in luxury and decadence." And they deliver, the Crowne Plaza is gorgeous and this year Templecon took over the whole place. It was amazing!
Lori and I, along with our spouses, arrived at the Crowne Plaza Thursday night. Lori's husband was scheduled to run a panel called "Building the Other You: Part 1" first thing Friday morning. He was a little concerned about anyone showing up due to it's early time slot, but was pleasantly surprised at the showing. Shortly before the panel started, I got out of bed and headed down to attend the Privateer Press keynote address to hear what exciting things they have in store for us. Along with a ballroom full of Warmachine/Hordes fans I was one of the first to learn about the new expansion for Level 7 - Omega Protocol, the new deck building game set in the Iron Kingdoms - High Command, and the new Warmachines faction - Convergence of Cyriss. The rest of Friday was spent wandering through the various halls filled with game demos, vendors and all kinds of tabletop gaming. After some Oz Fluxx (a new personal favorite) with some friends and some pizza, we headed up to check out the Marvel Roleplaying game, only to find it already full :(. So we congregated in our hotel room to play our very own roleplaying game based on the characters we have all created for our Steampunk personas. We call ourselves the MISFITs, which stands for Multi-dimensional Investigators of Spacial Fractures In Time. It was an idea we came up with after attending a Steampunk convention two years ago, and we then decided that the best way to come up with stories and adventures was to roleplay them in a game. So a friend of ours is running the game based on the Heroes Unlimited setting from Palladium Books. It's a lot of fun and we play as often as we are able.
Saturday started out with an RPG that is still being developed called, Clockwork: Empire. As far as I know Templecon was the first convention that the developers have run a game at. From their Facebook page: “Clockwork is a forthcoming Steampunk Roleplaying Game set in a Victorian World of Gothic Horror.” This game is well thought out and developed in both setting and mechanics. They use a unique deck of cards to resolve all tests, determine initiative, damage and any additional effects. The pregenerated characters were deep and had personalities of their own, and the storytelling was wonderfully delivered. All-in-all it was a great time. We have been told that we will have another chance to play the game at another local gaming con, Totalcon, later this month. I am hoping after that we will have more details and will be able to do a proper review.
We then all headed down to the Steve Jackson Games demo table to learn how to play Illuminati. My experience with Steve Jackson Games has never really gone beyond Munchkin (which is one of my favorites), except for some dabbling in GURPS, so this was something I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, I was really tired, and although the game was fun and interesting, I found myself struggling to follow along. Lori owns it so I imagine we will have another chance to play sometime in the near future.
We then headed out to our traditional destination for dinner, Smokey Bones, just to rush back so I could get in on the Shadowrun game that night. Previous to this game my only experience with Shadowrun was reading the quick start rules. I was vaguely familiar with the setting, but knew very little about the mechanics. I really liked the planning aspect of the game, using contacts and knowledge about the area to get details about the job. It was a new experience for me, and I very much enjoyed it. Unfortunately our group couldn't come to an agreement about how best to proceed, so chaos ensued, I had a great time blowing the snot out of a break room, and we were, amazingly, successful. Would very much like to get in another game of Shadowrun; well worth it.
Sunday morning rolled around way too early, and we had to check out. After racing the clock to get everything out of the room, and a quick bite of food, a friend and I sat down to play a demo of Hull Breach. From their Facebook page: “Hull Breach! is a new strategic card game that combines everything you love about Sci-fi with everything you love about card games. Hull Breach!(C) was developed by Not-So-Broken Games, Inc., a company of gaming enthusiasts and combat veterans.” Basically, you and your opponent(s) are commanders of your very own space station and you are at war with the other commander(s) and you set out to blow each other to bits. It’s awesome. The game I played is their “alpha” game, their newest version of the game is currently being funded on kickstarter, you should check it out. I am looking forward to playing the game more, and hopefully will run into AJ and the gang again at Totalcon. Seriously, check out their kickstarter!
We pretty much went from there straight to our last RPG of the weekend, Eclipse Phase. Over the years I have seen several video games try to capture the feel of tabletop RPGs, with varying degrees of success, Eclipse Phase was the first tabletop RPG I have played that seemed to be doing the opposite. It totally reminds me of playing a video game. I mostly say this because every character in the game has a “cortical stack” in their heads that stores the characters personality. In the event that your body, or “morph” dies, you aren’t gone, you're just being stored on a chip. If someone recovers your chip and gets a new “morph” you’re good to go. Even if someone fails to recover your chip and you backed it up recently, you will be back, just unable to remember what has happened since the last backup till now. Like I said, it reminds me of a video game. This particular adventure was unique as Lori, my wife, one of the other players, and I were all playing different copies of the same person, or “forks.” It was definitely interesting, and again I would very much like to get another chance to play. Even better, this game was run by Jack Graham, one of the developers of the game. Only gripe, I am not a huge fan of game mechanics that have you roll under something, which is problematic for me as the aforementioned MISFIT game is a Palladium game, and we roll under things, but other than that petty complaint, it was a great game.
During our Eclipse Phase game, Lori’s husband, and two of our other MISFITs, were hosting part two of the “Building the Other You". Again we were all kind of worried that no one would show due to the late hour of the panel, but again we were all pleasantly surprised. Not only did all the attendees from Friday’s part one come back, there were many newcomers as well. He had a great time, and I can already see his future plans bouncing around in his head. This’ll be fun!
I believe what made this years Templecon my personal best yet were the connections I made. Three of the games that I played, and greatly enjoyed, this weekend are made, in part, by locals. The guys who are making Clockwork: Empire, and Jack Graham from Eclipse Phase are from Boston, MA., and the Hull Breach guys are from Providence, RI. It just made me feel closer to the gamer community here in southern New England. I can’t wait for Totalcon, then it’ll be off to PAX East and just a few blinks later we’ll be headed to Conecticon. It’s a good time to be a gamer!