May 18th, 2019
I woke up on Saturday morning around 5:00 am feeling somewhat sick to my stomach. I was expecting to not feel well due to the antibiotics I’m taking (2 days left) and the fact that I’d not eaten a lot on the Friday, but I also attributed it to the pizza that we’d had for supper at the Curling Club on Friday night. (Told you the fat and grease of the pizza would come back to bite me.) When I got out of bed again around 8:30 am, I was also a bit shaky and still quite tired. Not enough sleep. My voice sounded a bit raspy when I tested it out, so I was worried a bit since I had two games to run on the day. Figured I would see how the shower helped or hindered me, and took care of some morning toilet stuff before showering. I was pretty nervous about the day, since I was going to be running two games at CanGames this day. After showering I felt somewhat better, but then the diarrhea and the pizza exiting started, and that put a damper on things. Once that was over and done with, I finally got to have some breakfast and felt somewhat better, the hot food and tea giving me some nasal drip, and the tea also helped with my voice. That was good.
After doing the breakfast dishes I went back downstairs, and continued packing the rest of the gaming stuff up for the day, as well as started on the personal bag. I finished all the packing (other than the beads I planned to use for the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game that afternoon, figuring I’d wait for SteveR’s opinion on stuff. My feet were hurting somewhat from the day before, but not as badly as I expected, and I was nervous about the two games today (especially the John Carter one), though my spirits were good. I finished dressing, cut up some cheese and celery for snacks, and added two extra teabags to my tote bag; figured I’d need them if my voice failed on me.
spross arrived at my place around 12:00 pm, and I was feeling rather good at that point and starting to look forward to the afternoon and evening games I was running. He helped me decide on what coloured beads to take for the afternoon game, we packed the car with the gaming stuff and took the food in the decent size cooler that he had bought last year, and then headed out. Traffic on Bronson Avenue was terrible and slow, and by the time we’d bought the sandwiches at Subway, it was already close to 1:00 pm. We got to the venue, and were surprised when SteveR was able to find a parking spot again across from the street from the Rideau Curling Club entrance! The Goddess was obviously smiling on us that afternoon. :) However, it was already after 1:15 pm, and I had to run the first game of the day at 2:00 pm.
I headed into the Rideau Curling Club, taking one of the game bags (which seemed lighter this year for some reason) and my personal tote bag, while SteveR unloaded the rest of the stuff from the car. We went and put everything in the lockers downstairs, other than my personal tote bag, the ones with the dice tray and the material I needed to run the game, and him with his regular bag and the cooler. Then it was back upstairs to check at the Game Registration desk how many players I had for the afternoon game of John Carter and the evening game of Capharnaüm. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that both the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game and the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked games were both full! I asked at the Service Desk and found out that knightbane had claimed his Registration kit, so was at the convention. I sat down for a couple of minutes, and then wandered out onto the curling sheet for a bit. The table where I was running the game, on the opposite wall from the Marketplace right in front of the Open Gaming, was free, so I figured to go back and collect the gaming stuff from where we’d left it at an empty table opposite the convention desks, and then take that and lunch down to the table where I was running and eat.
I headed back to the main convention area, and gathered up SteveR, the gaming material and lunch, and did just that. Two of the other players were already at the table, since it was after 1:30 pm by this time, so it was time to eat. One of the players, Keith, had also backed the Kickstarter at a high enough level, and had most of his John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game stuff with him, and also a neat storage unit that he’d created for himself, with some funky pointy beads and three different sets of the Barsoom dice for use in it. I was quite envious, to say the least. We chatted for a while, while SteveR and I ate, and pretty soon the rest of the six players signed up for the game showed up to play. Just before I set up for the game, two things happened. First, I thought I’d lost my glasses, and was a bit panicked. I needn’t have worried, as they were just misplaced underneath some other stuff at the table. Second, I met knightbane who had come looking for me, and he came over and picked for me the Yggdrasil RPG gamer stuff that I had for him, and then money changed hands. I would have liked to have chatted with him a bit, but time was short and both he and I had games to get to.
Table setting up (courtesy of Keith Savage)
I finished setting up the table for the afternoon’s game of John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game, with both Keith and SteveR’s help, and then went back to the main area of the convention to grab the sign-up sheet for the game (which was full, of course). I was pleasantly surprised that the table I was at was in a relatively quiet section of the curling sheet, though there were still gamers arriving for their other, various games nearby. When I returned to the table, all the players were there and so we chatted for a few minutes before I took roll-call for the sign-up sheet paperwork. Then it was time for the game.
The John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game scenario that I ran on Saturday, "The Talara Gambit” (long since re-named “Tayla of Mars”), revolves around five or six player characters being sent to retrieve, Tayla, the daughter of the Jed of Holl, from her religious pilgrimmage to the wilderness and time spent with the red Martian Nomad tribes. Needless to say, things don’t go exactly as planned... I’m not going into detail on the world of Barsoom here, but will say that the player characters are all red Martians. The player characters are: Sormar Vaqq, a former airship raider; Hovan Morr, a wandering panthan (mercenary); Djana Thar, a scientist seeking to learn of the past; “Henda Karas,” a princess thought to be dead; Meras Beurr, “Henda’s” bodyguard, in love with her; and Dakko Rovas, a reformed rogue. All of the characters were working for the Jed of Holl, of course. SteveR took on the role of Sormar, Dave played Hovan, Bruce played Djana, Scott played Henda,” Keith played Meras, and Ken played Dakko. I’m not going into detail about the plot here (because I'd like to run the scenario again sometime!), but suffice to say that the adventure went very well, though I did have to cut out a couple of episodes of the scenario and shorten some of the encounters they had during the scenario due to the four-hour time constraints. Once more, there were no female players at the table, which disappointed me somewhat, but that’s the way things go. Most of the players had a passing familiarity with Barsoom and the John Carter stories, though Keith was very knowledgeable about both the books, the movie and the game, while SteveR is a bit more than familiar with the books and the movie.
The session of John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game went pretty well, I thought, and while I was very nervous at the beginning by the half-hour mark of play I was getting into it and not worrying about stuff so much. The players seemed to have an excellent time of it, and Keith gave the other players tidbits of information about the Barsoom setting when it was warranted and also helped a couple of players out when they were struggling with choices and the like. All of the players did a pretty good job of playing the characters, notably Bruce (McDiarmid) as Djana, Keith as Meras, and SteveR as Sormar. Other than SteveR and Keith, the players took a bit of time getting used to the 2d20 Momentum game system, the lack of skills, and the narrative style of the game, but within an hour they were having a blast and getting into the feel of all things Barsoomian. All of the players had moments to shine with their characters, which was important to have, and Momentum was being spent as often as Threat was. Some of the highlights of the game for me included the relationship that played out between Keith’s Meras and Scott’s “Henda”, and how Keith always stayed close to the thought dead princess. The manner in which the player characters pitched in on the airship when the Barsoom storm hit, even “Henda” whom Keith’s Meras insisted stay below decks. The layers of distrust that the player characters had about [redacted], and how she or he came to prove them right. The encounter with the nasty creatures at the [redacted]’s camp and the [redacted], as well as Keith’s Meras shooting their airship as he thought it was about to leave without them when the [redacted] looked like they might get to the airship. The confrontation between the characters and Captain Crim at the airship afterwards. The heroic rescue of Princess Tayla at the [redacted] camp and the escape the player characters made with her, bundling her up in some curtains to prevent her screaming or having a tantrum. Lots of fun to be honest, and a terrific game session at the convention.
After we finished the game session close to 5:55 pm, I started packing up the gaming stuff while SteveR dashed off to buy us supper at one of the local Chinese restaurants. A couple of the players, including Keith, stuck around for a bit and we chatted as I packed up game materials. The players agreed that they really liked the game and that the adventure had been a fun one, that gave them a good grasp of the world of Barsoom. With Keith’s help, I managed to get all the gaming stuff back to the main convention area, and then delivered the sign-up sheet to the Registration Desk. One of the other players from the game, Ken, helped me lug everything down to the lockers and switch out the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game game materials for the ones for the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked game that night.
I sat down at the table near Daniel Poulin, waiting for SteveR to arrive with our supper, and he and I chatted some more about the John Carter game and comparisons between it and the ones for Star Trek and Conan. I kept eyeing the clock as SteveR was timing it very close before I had to run the game that evening, but he showed up with supper around 6:50 pm, apologizing to me about the delay due to the restaurant being very busy (not surprising, I guess). He had picked us up some Chinese food consisting of beef, bok choy and noodles. By this time, I had the table partially set up for the evening game, and so we tucked into the food though I couldn’t eat too quickly. I finished eating around 7:05 pm, by which time all of the players were present for the evening game of Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked. I went and grabbed the sign-up sheet, returned to the table, took the roll-call, and got ready to run the game for the evening. In my hurry to eat and get set up, I forgot to take my second batch of pills with the evening meal.
Where to start? Well, Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is a fantasy roleplaying game set in an Arabia-like land. It borrows very much from the One Thousand and One Nights of course, but also draws on Semitic myths and legends and other mediaeval epics. I was running the scenario that I had borrowed and adapted from the Al-Qadim setting and spruced up for the game, “The Assassin Within”, in which a group of characters including a scholar visit the scholar’s old mentor and must save him and his family from an assassin and revenge. But who is the assassin? I’m not going into detail on the world the game is set in, but will say that the characters are all mostly Saabi or Shiradi. The player characters are: Abrahim the Wise, a Shiradi scholar; Khaman the Hassanid, a Saabi former mujahidin who was faithful to his cause but betrayed; Jiulia the Duelist, an Aragonian hidalgo living among the Saabi and Shiradi of Jazirat; David the Gentle, a Shiradi physician with a strong sense of morality; Farouka of Dorbayne, a Saabi sorceress raised in Occidentia; and Martuuf the Wealthy, a wealthy Saabi merchant with a penchant for thievery. All of the other characters were Dragon-Marked friends of Abrahim, of course. In my haste to get things going, I forgot to jot down certain players deeds, but still... Richard played Abrahim, Sandra played Khaman, Roddy played Jiulia, Charlotte played Farouka, Jariya played David, and Andrew played Martuuf. I’m not going into detail about the plot here (because I'd like to run the scenario again sometime!), but suffice to say that the adventure went well for the most part, though Andrew (a seemingly younger player) decided to play an irritating, foppish merchant who didn’t want to work with the others at all. He irritated me, and the rest of the other players, most of the evening. I also had to cut out a couple of elements and simply one more to make the scenario fit the four-hour time constraints. Other than Charlotte and Roddy, none of the other players had any familiarity with the Arabian Nights stories and the game itself, so this made the game quite interesting in a lot of ways, to be honest.
After going through the rules system with the players, though Sandra had some problems getting the hang of them (see below), it was close to 7:30 pm when I started the game, and wasn’t sure that I’d be able to finish the scenario, but that’s another matter. The session of Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked went exceedingly well, all of the players (even Jariya) having a terrific time of it. The adventure played out really well, though the players figured out where the assassin was within about 2-1/2 hours, and everyone got something to do. The trick, of course, was getting to the assassin while preventing more deaths. I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly for the most part, even though I was worried about the complexity of it when it came to Sandra and a couple of the others, but but I was concerned for nothing. They grasped the rules of the game very easily and did a good job getting into the mood of the Arabian Nights once they got into the swing of things. Charlotte was terrific as Farouka, and handled the free-form sorcery of the game really well, though she didn’t think she could do anything at first. Roddy did a great job playing Jiulia, a stranger in a strange land (so to speak), but one who really understands her place in the world and the role she’s meant to play in Jazirat. Richard did an excellent job as Abrahim, leading the party when he needed to and letting the others do what they had to do when necessary. Andrew played Martuuf as a spoiled merchant, with a foppish, high reedy voice and was against everything the player characters wanted to do. At one point Khaman’s player said she really wanted to kill the spoiled brat of a merchant. Sandra surprised me. She had never played anything other than clerics in a couple of D&D games, so playing the mujahidin was completely out of her comfort zone. At the beginning, she had no clue what to do and sat at the table in a disinterested fashion. Around the 45-minute mark, I called a 5-minute break, took her aside, and talked to her a little bit about the mindset of Khaman and the mujahidin. After that, she was a totally different player, getting into the action, taking the initiative, and acting decisively - even going against Abrahim’s advice.
The main highlights of the game for me included the opening attack when the [redacted] was nailed to their host’s door with a khanjar and the characters saw it for the first time - and reacted. Charlotte’s focus on the [redacted] when she realized it was the source of all their troubles. Charlotte’s first use of magic with Farouka, where she did something amazing and said that she really got the magic system! I wasn’t all that fond of the bit at the end where Andrew decided that Martuuf was going to kill everyone in the house, but was immensely satisfied when he attacked the assassin - and died a horrible, well-deserved death. (Even the other party members cheered when he got taken out.) I loved the look of horror on Jariya’s face when she realized that David the Gentle was about to die at the blade of the assassin’s suyuuf when she went to the [redacted] alone and he appeared to strike the character down ‘cause he knew too much. And the pleasure that the four surviving Dragon-Marked felt when they were gifted time at their host’s luxurious estate for two weeks as part of their reward. As I mentioned, Sandra was the big surprise of the night in terms of her play in the early part of the adventure versus the later parts after I chatted with her.
Overall, the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked session of “The Assassin Within” went very well. After the game ended, several of the players stuck around and chatted with me a bit while I took care of starting to pack up my gaming stuff with SteveR’s assistance. Sandra told me that she had thoroughly enjoyed the game once she’s gotten into it and understood the “thinking” behind her character, and she thanked me for that 5-minute pep talk. I blushed, and said that I had enjoyed having her as a player, and she was welcome at my convention game tables any time. Roddy thanked me for running the scenario, and said he had had a great time with it, and Charlotte thanked me for running Capharnaüm again this year, as she’d really enjoyed it the year before and had hoped I’d run it again. SteveR and I finished packing the game stuff up, he went downstairs to the lockers and fetched everything up (including the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game stuff). I drank about half a bottle of water, took some cheese and celery with carrots for a light snack, then handed in the sign-up sheet at the Registration Desk and prepared to head out to the car.
On the drive back to my place, SteveR and I chatted a bit, and he told me that he had played in a game session of Orun that night. I was pleased to hear about the mechanics and something about the adventure, as it’s one of the Kickstarters I’m waiting on for my pledge backed materials. We got back to my place close to midnight, and after SteveR helped me bring the gaming stuff and sundries into the house, he headed for home, and I had a yogurt with a cup of hot tea before I went downstairs. I emptied out the game bags from the day, and started to put the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked materials for Sunday’s game in, but was too tired to finish that. I washed myself a bit before bed, and then crawled in... but I was feeling too much “stuff in my head” to sleep, plus my shoulder was hurting something fierce, and didn’t get to sleep until sometime after 2:00 am.
And that's the wrap-up of Saturday at CanGames 2019. As you can see this entry was a long one, and had a only one photo for the enjoyment of those reading the blog entry. Hope folks enjoyed this journal entry, and if so, please comment with any thoughts you might have on the entry. All I know is I'm just tired from typing this up! :)